The Republic of Ireland, having been only the second European nation requesting and accepting a bailout, is now ready to exit the eurozone’s financial rescue programme.
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Instead, Ireland will begin funding itself via the international and domestic markets.
“We are confident we are making a clean exit,” said Michael Noonan, the country’s Finance Minister.
“We are doing well.”
Of the eurozone’s bailed out countries, Ireland will be the first to exit the programme overseen by the so-called troika – comprising off the European Central Bank, European Commission and International Monetary Fund – and will consequently be pushed as evidence that bailouts, austerity and reforming markets work.
Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commision, has enthused “Ireland has basically recovered all the competitiveness it has lost in the previous decade,” and, with its previous record and commitment, he stated he was “pretty convinced… that the growth in Ireland will be sustained.”
When the Irish Government rescued its reckless banks by taking their debts on board, it struggled to finance itself.
Consequently, on the 21st of November 2010, with a bitter mood sweeping from border to border, the nation accepted its EUR 85 billion rescue.
Preceded only by Greece, Ireland was the second nation to accept the bailout; later followed by Portugal, Spain and Cyprus.
“Having obtained our political independence from Britain to be masters of our own affairs,” the Irish Times wrote at the time, “we have surrendered our sovereignty to [the troika].”
Yet following the bailout, and after launching a strict diet of spending cuts, raised taxes, squeezed salaries and placing itself as an industrial hub for many of the world’s technology giants, Ireland gradually returned to growth.
This process has taken the better part of three years to achieve its end, and now, the nation is escaping its bailout shackles and facing the financial markets once more; rather than relying on other bailouts for further recovery.
No imminent victory
Victory, however, was bought at no small cost.
From 2010 to 2013, homelessness increased by 20%. The Growing Up in Ireland survey found that in 2013, 60% of families were struggling to make ends meet. Lastly, 75,000 nationals left Ireland last year – with a total of 200,000 individuals moving primary to the UK, America or Canada since 2008 in order to find work.
As Noonan has stated, Ireland still has a long way to go.
He has announced that the tough policies which have governed Ireland for the last three years will not be instantly relaxed – although the government may decide to cut income tax over the next two budgets to bolster the economy.
“If we can make changes which help the economy to grow better and create extra jobs,” he stated, “those are the kind of things we’ll do.”
Maker sure to read our guide to living in Ireland for expats.
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