A lot of the reason Ireland's new headline fiscal numbers look so bad is that they're far more honest than equivalent data being presented elsewhere in the UK, for instance.
Having said that, because Ireland has large cash balances in its National Pension Reserve Fund net government debt will actually be around 70pc of GDP, not much more than in the UK. Consider, also, that in contrast to Ireland, the vast majority of Britain's massive public sector pension liabilities are unfunded and off-balance sheet.
Ireland's annual deficit figure projected to balloon to 32pc of GDP also warrants examination. This number actually includes the cost of the bank bail-outs, unlike its UK equivalent. Labour buried the cost of the RBS and Lloyds capital injections, not including them in the published deficit figures, a convention the Tories look set to continue. If Ireland followed the same methodology, its 2010 deficit would be 11pc of GDP, similar to the UK.
British ministers argue that bail-outs are "financial transactions" from which the government may eventually reap a return. So they shouldn't be included in the deficit. Such a position not only undermines the UK Government's fiscal credibility effectively "banking" a return before it has been made. It also means the UK Government is petrified of taking the necessary steps to force banks to disclose their smouldering off balance-sheet liabilities, write-off losses and engage in root-and-branch restructuring as that would cause the public finances to collapse.
But, by revealing the banking sectors' vast losses and outlining a credible plan to fund them, the Irish have taken a step that others have not yet taken.