‘Conned’: a German view of Ireland - European News | Latest News from Across Europe | The Irish Times - Sat, Jul 06, 2013
The truth about what happened to this country is bad enough without having to fall back on the lazy unchallenged assertions in this piece originally published in the German Sueddeutsche Zeitung last weekend, reprinted in today's Irish Times. There isn't a single alternative or opposing view expressed in it. The author tried to contact Tony O'Reilly (of Providence Resources) apparently and didn't bother contacting anyone else it seems, when O'Reilly didn't reply. The enormity of what actually did happen to our banks, is obviously sufficient to view other controversial issues with a particular slant - a slant that it has to be said is widely expressed on the Internet (on sites like this), but I think the readers of Sueddeutsche Zeitung deserve a bit better than that.
Here are a few facts that the author might not know, but which would have exposed the issues raised as somewhat more complex than how he presented them.
The big difference between Ireland and Norway with respect to oil, is not the licensing regimes. It is the fact that Norway had lots of oil in locations easy to extract, whereas Ireland's unknown amount of oil (none of which has been extracted) is in locations where it's very difficult to extract.
Who would this be now? Providence Resources pumping up their own finding because they need investment? Because nobody else is saying that.Even the oil companies concede that Ireland is surrounded by massive riches.
Ireland also has a legacy of over 100 dry exploration wells requiring more generous terms to kick-start an exploration industry. It's all very well for some commentators like Fintan O'Toole to argue we should leave the oil in the ground. While that is an arguable position, there can't really be any debate until we get past the lies and disinformation.
The author quoted a fisherman in relation to the loss of fishing resources when we joined the EU. It's probably true that the Irish fishing industry was sacrificed in favour of other sectors like agriculture. But, it's another thing entirely to make questionable (and almost certainly wrong) comparisons between the amount of money we lost over fishing, and the amount we gained from the EU.
Lastly, the banking crisis is not the worst thing happening to Ireland right now. Two thirds of the increase in our national debt will be due to borrowing money to fund entitlement spending since the crisis begun, and only one third of it due to the banking catastrophe. This more than anything probably explains the the docility of our reaction to the crisis (so far). Simply put, there hasn't been large scale austerity in this country.
If anyone has been 'conned' here, it's the German readers of Sueddeutsche Zeitung. They'll have to go somewhere else for better analysis of Ireland's troubles.