Lest anyone be under any lingering illusion, the Celtic Tiger is this week on a par with the Book of Kells: glorious but of another time.
The economic woes that have befallen the republic in particular, and to a lesser extent Northern Ireland (thus far) due to less exposure in the Six Counties to the private sector, are more than familiar to those of us on this side of the Atlantic who take a strong interest in Ireland’s economic progress and prospects.
We, too, are deeply concerned and, yes, more than little angry and frustrated over the way things have turned out.
The talk of an all-party Irish government is an interesting development and comes at a moment in time when the stability of the present coalition looks more than a little uncertain.
Such a government would be the political equivalent to, say, nationalizing the banks. It would presumably remove most of the cut and thrust of daily adversarial politics and perhaps, only perhaps mind, lead to policies that would begin to drag the economy back into something approaching a healthy state.
Such a form of governance would, however, be an extraordinary development. Even during World War 11, or the “Emergency” as it was called by the de Valera-led administration at the time, there were general elections in the then Free State with something approaching normal political differences of view expressed across a range of issues.
We are not now in a global war situation, though the economic travails being faced by the republic’s population, which so recently enjoyed seemingly endless days of largesse, do have the whiff of an economic emergency about them.
Nevertheless, the thought of an all-party, or most parties, national government is a little premature, its actual emergence even less likely.
But that doesn’t mean that the government headed by Brian Cowen should not keep an open mind with regard to arguably sound criticism and ideas being lobbed from the lately bestirred opposition.