A Call for a Public Retraction from Garret Fitzgerald

In the last 2 years or more, serious academic economists such as Morgan Kelly, Karl Whelan and other contributors to this blog have been subject to a campaign of anti-intellectual abuse by the ‘leaders’ of public opinion in Ireland.  The ad hominem attacks on Brian Lucey were unforgiveable.  Some of these opinion formers (those who work in the financial services sector) may shortly be unemployed.  Those who remain should be shunned, certainly by academics.

However one name sticks out – former Taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald.  Let me make my personal position clear: I can think of almost no one in Irish public life whom I have admired more. Let us not also forget that he served as a faculty member of the economics department in UCD for part of his career.  Consequently, his “gratuitously condescending comments….. regarding the NAMA dissenters”, to quote Kevin O’Rourke earlier today, were particularly puzzling.

Garret, I know you have the dignity to restore your reputation.  Now do so.

79 replies on “A Call for a Public Retraction from Garret Fitzgerald”

Let’s not get too hyperbolic shall we? You post as if any dissenting criticism was ‘anti-intellectual’ which in itself implies that only those who disagreed with NAMA were intellectual. That is demonstrably false, and you do yourself a disservice in this crass attempt at points scoring, and appeals to elitism.

If you are going to throw something like that around have the decency to at least a) provide a link to said statements, b) show that that position had not been reversed in the intervening time. Whilst the individuals involved may feel some form of vindication at any forced mea culpa, this call comes off as crass, particularly whilst rome burns.

(Also yes, there is a certain irony in a reply like this being posted under a pseudonym, feel free to highlight that in any reply if you wish.)

Al, thanks for the link, I thought this was aimed at something else, so in effect I offer my own mea culpa.

However, the post could do with a bit more clarity, and I still dislike the implied status of what makes an intellectual. There is enough anti-intellectualism going around these days that it dosn’t need to be reinforced by the boundaries of what marks an ‘intellectual’ being so rigidly specialized.

We should be doing as much as possible to be promoting evidence based reasoning, and that its ok to change your opinion in the light of new data as any decent scientist/empiricist would do, such that when an employee of somewhere like Davy offers a public riposte, they are compelled to back it up with some data.

The great Dr F did exactly the same thing in exactly the same way during the currency crisis of 92/93. He supported the authorities at every turn, forecast permanent economic nuclear winter if we devalued and berated any other economist who dared suggest a lower currency might actually be a good thing.
He and Suds led the charge, donned the green shirts and accused dissenters of being traitors. And then, to cap it all, he subsequently rewrote history when he argued that fighting the good fight, until capitulation, was somehow worth the losses in output and employment (and sheer misery of 15% mortgage rates – yes 15%).
Of course, the economy started to grow on the day of devaluation.
You can have a fine mind, be full of noble intent and still be very, very wrong.

Very strange… If I was in the mood for cracking heads, Garrets would be well down the list.

Garret was just one of many who, for whatever reason, backed the official line….

Gene Kerrigan today had a very perceptive article in the sunday independent…. ye will probably notice a number of people who were backers of the old regime now trying to figure out what they need to say in order to blend in with the new.

I’m sure the IMF boys cant go for a leak without some useless bureaucrat sidling up to them and express support for them and dismay at the old regime.. and Lenny and Cowen are starting to find people no longer laugh quite so much at their witticisms.

+1 Celtic Phoenix…. apart from anything else, picking on an old man is distracting from the real traitors.

Michael
GF has been on a “dont scare the horses” gig for a while, althou recently it has been “just yet”. I find it best to generally admire his writings and not get too hung up on it. As for myself, mostly i ignore the ad homs but sometimes do point out that ad hom attacks can shade into something more legally dubious, usually when the subject of said ad homs ignores them. Ad hom critics are like bindweed- impossible to eradicate but ocassionally need to be cut back, hard.
GF : He is like most commentators, self included, sometimes right, sometimes wrong. Its about trends. There are many many people on the blog here who have been pretty unquestioning “party line” supporters. Others have been sneery snarky hurlers on the ditch. Others seem, frankly, monomanical and/or demented…..Mostly, they can be ignored. Others are genuine, sometimes ferocious, critics but capable of engaging and discussing.
I wouldnt single GF out too much. Theres at least one other former leader of FG who deserves much much harsher scrutiny. But i would look forward to a piece from him, from Liam cosgrave (if able), from J Bruton, from Albert (if able) and even from Cupboard Bertie as to how they see things, as ex leaders of the government. A few hundred words from each would be a nice coda to the First Republic.
Now, wheres me popcorn…BC is to FINALLY address the nation tonight.

“SKY just confirming EU meeting has agreed bailout plan between €60-100.

Disgusted with RTE, they would have rushed a news program for cowen opening a Spar a few years back.”

From politics.ie

Not sure 60b even will do it: 3 years at 15-19b sovereign = 50 say ; plus redemptions ( 2011-13 : CP 6.4 2011, bonds 4.4, 5.6, 6.0 = 22.4 ) 22.4 plus bank recap at 30 gets you the 100…

Are hurt feelings or reputations really the most important news event of the day? Seriously? I thought the famous Irish thick skin had managed to survive the recession and would help us get out the other side. Clearly we can’t be sure of that. At least Lucey takes his doses of criticism like a man. Love him or hate him, but the day he starts backing down is the day i’ll really start to get worried about this little island. Ditto Dr Fitz.

Eoin Sq. Your the ferocious one in my point. And your right. Today the First Republic died. Now….how to build the second. Sod the present shower (all parties) and lets get thru the next three years. At the end lets have a new polity.

@Brian Lucey

At what time and on what channel is BC finally going to talk to us? Not near a TV at mo – hope it’s RTE online! As Sarah would say: “pesky iPods!”

Apparently Joe its now 815 presume on RTE. It will contain the words “going forward” and “hard decisions” in great abundance.

One term I think we won’t hear from Cowen or other government sources tonight is ‘Croke Park deal’ (other than: ‘the Croke Park deal won’t be affected’ or something similar).
Pity there aren’t any online bookies who will take bets on this — I’d put my money where my mouth is at ten to one.

@BL – thanks.

I’m also expecting to hear “but we’ve still got our 12.5% CT rate (that was never actually discussed).” I expect he will also throw in the odd: “in the best interests of the taxpayer.”

We could have a game of bull5hit bingo. Put up the phrase you think he will use the most and see who gets the most hits.

I was going to say he should wake up and smell the coffee and resign. But it’s hard to smell the coffee when your nostrils are full of bull5shit.

Anybody who thinks Ireland will be out of the woods in three years is even more delusional than those who bought into the whole crony fraud in the first place.

@Michael Moore

Surely Dr. FitzGerald’s single most damaging contribution to the current crisis was his failure to bring AIB to heel when Insurance Corporation of Ireland went bust. Focussing instead on how he behaved towards other Irish economists during the NAMA debate does look a bit insular, even if it is a fair grounds for complaint.

@Celtic Phoenix

Certainly Dr. FitzGerald is nothing approaching the worst rogue in the saga of modern Irish banking, but his Insurance Corporation of Ireland surrender may have contributed gravely to where we are today.

5/1 sez the opening line is “as a nation we are living beyond our means”

10/1 sez he sings the Lakes of Ponchartrain

@Joseph

“Put up the phrase you think he will use the most ” — Chuckle.

plus the phrases BC will certainly NOT use.

I just realised the Wrath of Khan is on Film 4 right now. Are we about to feel the Wrath of Strauss-Kahn? And yes, i apologise unconditionally for that terrible attempt at humour…

Garret Fitzgerald is another politician doing what Irish politicians do naturally and without hesitation. They support their friends and relations by pouncing on people who in any way threaten the well being of a member of their clique. You do not become a leader in Irish politics by taking the high road of principles or morality.

Why do I have to listen to BBC and sky for the latest news. Am really glad that my licence fee pays for quality like fair city but it won’t kill me to miss it just for tonight.

He gets ten points for every mention of “currency” but minus five for every “partners”.

bjg

@Bond. Eoin Bond…

Wrath of Khan is on Film 4? Again? They just had a massive Star Trek weekend not too long ago.

I’m intrigued by your idea of our current travails being the Wrath of Strauss-Kahn. Does that mean Brian Cowen is Kirk and Brian Lenihan Spock? I shudder at the notion.

@Carolus

“One term I think we won’t hear from Cowen or other government sources tonight is ‘Croke Park deal’ (other than: ‘the Croke Park deal won’t be affected’ or something similar).”

Good to know that ryan tubs, pat kenny, declan collier, cowens 6 advisors on <800K per year, etc etc… will still be able to get their 2011 maseratis , even though the country is now being part funded by international agencies.

the notion that the state is createing new millionaires every few years while the minimun wage is cut is a chilling reality.

also..just been watching the new Ad for T2 at dublin airport. very timely . hope collier and the lads had a good laugh helping make that.

Just occurred to me, what with the abundance of incompetance and the language difficulties and everything. Is it possible they might actually agree on 12.5 %, er, but for the interest rate, by accident?

@Ron
“just been watching the new Ad for T2 at Dublin airport”

The Irish elite are dab hands at black humour.
One of my loved ones was hospitalised some months ago in The Galway Clinic.
Cost per night (two-patient room, and excluding medical care): approx 900 euro
Name of Ward: Mother Theresa Ward.

@Carolus

“Cost per night (two-patient room, and excluding medical care): approx 900 euro”

On a serious note….i hope your loved one didnt have to spend too long in hospital.

regarding the cost per room…i guess..you cant but be impressed by that level of corruption.

@Ron

16 days. Paid for by the VHI. Total bill approx 20k euro.
Don’t ask me how they make their actuarial calculations.

Information for foreign readers: thepropertypin.com is an excellent site for Irish opinion and Irish analysis of the Irish economy. Thread on press conference running there now. politics.ie is much more political and has a government/vested interests troll problem – as irisheconomy.ie has – but is also an excellent site for gauging opinion among those who follow Irish politics closely.

Where in the name of God does anyone think Sherry Fitzgerald auctioneers would be without NAMA? As for NAMA beag? Was Garret not the beneficiary of both bank benevolence and forgiveness after the heady days of his Guinness Peat Aviation share collapse. Eaten bread is quickly forgotten and people like Garret could not possibly countenance debt forgiveness for “ordinary” people. Garret was not going to be allowed to be humiliated in public so a little cosy arrangement was put in place for him.

As we know from his speeches in the Dail, Garret never considered himself to be ordinary. In fact his “pedigree” and presumably the “pedigree” of his offspring is of the “unflawed” variety. Hence, if a NAMA is required to save the breed so be it, and if an IMF bailout is required to save the NAMA then that is what we must have otherwise the breed might not survive. Any dissenters must have flawed pedigrees.

@ Michael

I’m not an intellectual myself but I would be interested in you thoughts on what I think is a brilliant scheme. See, we have 200Bn of deposits. If we sold these to the Chinese at 50c/€ (I understand the going rate is 75c) that would amount to a 300Bn turnaround in our financial position. Gee, we could afford a space programme on that!! I must be missing sumfin’, please explain.

@Michael Moore

“a campaign of anti-intellectual abuse by the ‘leaders’ of public opinion in Ireland. The ad hominem attacks on Brian Lucey were unforgiveable. Some of these opinion formers (those who work in the financial services sector) may shortly be unemployed. Those who remain should be shunned, certainly by academics.”

First, suggest you think about toning down the “anti-intellectual” line. Some of the people I have noted laughing (they’re mainly not Irish) loudest since the 2008 bank guarantee as the bonkers script has been followed would probably be inclined toward physical violence if called “intellectuals”.

Second, people outside the university sector have also been pilloried for being critical of establishment policies by the dorks that run most things in Ireland. There’s no point in winding them up, it has been an expensive experience for some.

Third, you may be being a bit naive in thinking that analysts or economists in private sector or public sector that have demonstrated poor judgement will loose their jobs. Who would be in the queue over the failure to snap out of the nationalistic craze that propelled Euro entry (during a property boom when interest rate needed to go up, not down). Who misjudged the sustainability of the property market in 2005/6 when the ESRI wimped out and went native. Who failed to see immediately how ridiculous was the idea that he state could guarantee not just the deposits it might have needed to but, pointlessly, the existing bonds too?

Fourth, GF SURELY cannot be the right guy to siingle out. He may have got stuff wrong but at least he has a non-zero level of integrity

Convenient mike problems during the Q & A.

One of the most significant days in the history of the State, says the RTE News headlines (or something close); I stood and saluted.

@ Michael

I note you have not replied to my suggestion. That’s understandable given my self confessed sub intellect. But if I told you the idea was not original but was actually the brain wave of a super intellectual would that induce you give it some respect?

I second Michael’s call. GFitz attacked the intelligence, integrity and professionalism of any economist that did not parrot government dogma. He should retract his remarks. Otherwise, his legacy is stained by his behaviour over the past two years.

Those who were positive MUST APOLOGISE. It is unacceptable that any economist worthy of the name should be positive.

@ Michael

Please give me an answer. I can assure you the suggestion came from an intellect beyond our ordinary powers of comprehension. What is wrong with it?

Both Garret FitzGerald and Alan Dukes were wrong about the bank guarantee and NAMA. I think that some guarantee had to be given for AIB/BoI on 28 Sept 2008. No way to Anglo – it is not systemic. Then a reflection period. R Bruton was correct in principal on his bank policy. he was insufficiently clear in his public explanations. I have ranted against NAMA and FF Bank policy for 2 years. Lenihan was induced to look after the German, UK and French banks first. He is clearly clubable. Selling the Polish Bank was stupid.
We need an election to establish leadership, honesty and fairness. I’m sure Brian Lucey is well able to find the F Youse expression to repulse any assault from Garret or Mr Dukes.
I make no pretense to having an academic handle on economics – all science and medicine in my case. However, it does give me the advantage of not being pre-programmed. I publish what I think and why on my website. This site here is essential for educating people like me. I learned long time ago from Paul Tansey that everything has a cost and you cannot indefinitely spend what you do not have.

Some of these opinion formers (those who work in the financial services sector) may shortly be unemployed. Those who remain should be shunned, certainly by academics.

Assuming that this thread is not an attempt at sarcasm, it is petty in the context of the developments on Sunday.

It’s a little late in the day to ask that boom-boosters be shunned when they had free rein during the bubble.

We don’t know how many academics shared their views as it was only after the soufflé deflated that it was uncontroversial to tell the emperors that they had no clothes.

There was always some taskforce, review group or commission to aspire to.

Crticism was usually sotto voce, or in code, which is often typical in Ireland to avoid a bun fight at all costs. Morgan Kelly changed that ineffectual style with his targeted broadsides.

In March 2008, the ESRI and NCB Stockbrokers issued reports on the economy and Bertie Ahern showed how useful the boosters were to him: “Economic forecasting, as we all know, is an uncertain exercise and, for a small, globally-integrated economy such as us, the uncertainties that are out there at the moment are magnified. There’s no doubt about that and this is apparent from a whole range of forecasts currently available.

“But they are all very different. I’m not getting into the business of which one is right. NCB (stockbrokers) this week published a forecast of 3.5% of GDP growth for the year so here you see, in the one week, [ forecasts] that are going from 1.8% to 3.5%.”

Providing the intellectual underpinning for both the ignorant and intelligent who had skin in the game, was the chief cheerleader among economists, Dr. Dan McLaughlin of Bank of Ireland who could opine with impunity on RTÉ, helpfully interviewed by an economic illiterate or a multimillionaire who had done very well from the bubble.

On May 11, 2007, McLaughlin told builders “that one often hears that growth is unbalanced but a glance at the data from 2001 to 2006 shows average GDP growth of 5.3%, with all components growing in a 4.5% – 5.5% range. Others complain that too many resources are being devoted to consumption but consumer spending in Ireland amounts to 46% of GDP which is not only below the eurozone norm (55%) but has fallen steadily for the past forty years. Household savings in Ireland is also relatively high (at around 10% of household disposable income), which is similar to Germany and substantially above the UK (5%) and the US (zero). This also means that many people benefit from a rising rate environment but this view is also rarely heard.”

It was all grand and many believed it.

@ MarcusOC

He should retract his remarks. Otherwise, his legacy is stained by his behaviour over the past two years.

If you think this non-issue is a big issue, you must live in a comfortable cocoon.

Michael Hennigan

There is plenty of time, now, Michael, to sort out who was involved and what they did. Enquiries will not be established at the cost of billions to m’learned friends. Old fashioned jeering in the streets with the odd rotten tomato. These decades, Michael, are going to be savage and we deal with our failed heroes first, as an appetizer, preparatory to the main course.

Suppose we discovered that Phytophthora was deliberately introduced into the potato fields? Would we erase all genetic traces of those involved, so that their DNA would cease to decorate the earth? What happened then, if deliberate, qualifies now as genocide under international law.

We need to see how bad this is now. But we have lots of time to choose. This is the ultimate form of accountability. As a trained lawyer, take it from me that laws use structural accountability to squeeze and release individuals from their guilt and to allow society to move on. In the absence of formal accountability, individuals are left to decide what to do. That is the Irish system at the moment.

You have a weak stomach, Hennigan. The decade of the long knives lies ahead. I suggest you stay in Malay territory? I am hoping I resist the temptation to return.

@ Pat
I have said it before… repentance, justification, establish God’s economic “academia”, sanctification, restoration.
As long as I stay humble and continue to do and say this (Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy) I will never say: “What a fool I was.”

Now if only the leaders would fear God more than the bankers.

On the day a ministerial car ran over a protestor outside government buildings, this seems excessive nursing of a minor grievance.

@Robert Browne
+1
I have it seems an old fashioned view that if someone is unable to manage their own finances they are hardly in a strong position to advise the rest of us. Being further compromised by accepatance of a debt cancellation by AIB makes things immeasureably worse. I pointed this out a few times in this blog but was immediately berated for daring to impugn the integrity of this national treasure.
Having said all that what was the immediate trigger for this post?
Is it really just his general position over the years. He is an old man – just leave him alone.

I nearly physically bumped into GF on Dawson Street the other evening. How does one properly address a former Taoiseach?

Anyway, I just wanted to comment that apart from the initial post being ill-defined this discussion is seriously cringe inducing. How about deleting it?

@FjH
“We should be doing as much as possible to be promoting evidence based reasoning, and that its ok to change your opinion in the light of new data as any decent scientist/empiricist would do, …….”

That sort have thing should have been taught as basics for debating in schools to abrade obstinate teenage egotism

“How does one properly address a former Taoiseach?”
Howyra Garrett, looking well. This is and should remain a low power distance society.

@ AMcGrath

Will do!

I had this argument with Garret before by email, his “excuses” for the want of a better word were so weak that I did not even bother responding to him, waste of time. National treasure? So is Brian Lehihan!

In Ireland decisions made in back rooms are made and etched in stone, then if needs be, we are given the erudite and complex formulae as to why the decision “had to be made”. Only game in town stuff, followed by a load of complex formulae never to be seen or heard of again once the legislative ink is dry. Certainly, never to be examined again after it blows up!

The blanket guarantee is a good example of this. The whole of Europe was shocked to wake up to the news that Ireland, a country with a structural deficit of 20bn a year had just given a reckless blanket guarantee worth 440bn in the small hours of the morning, no other country in Europe would have dared to implemented such an undemocratic and suicidal “strategy”. However, we are told, time and time again that the whole of Europe fully supported this great idea. If you repeat a mistruth in Ireland enough times it becomes ‘the truth”. That is how naive we are if the master says so, then it must be true.

If it was such a great idea why did it end in abject failure? If you are going to tell an economic lie, tell a great big whopper or take a small kernel of truth and make it the foundation stone for a great big Pyramid. Irish people, in my view, are almost incapable of objective analysis if their salary their perks are threatened.

BTW election in January!

‘I can think of almost no one in Irish public life whom I have admired more. Let us not also forget that he served as a faculty member of the economics department in UCD for part of his career.’

Oh dear Lord.

Garret in the 1980s was the trendy homeopathic medicine that the idiot snobbish insecure Irish middle-classes used to try to cure the cancer of Haugheyism. He was infinitely worse than Haughey because he successfully masquaraded as the cure whilst the disease got worse. He was the ultimate fool to Haughey’s knave.

Furthermore he believes we are a low income tax economy. See Gurdgiev’s blog to explode this myth. He is the ultimate tax-and-spend high-priest of the entire ‘public service’ parasitic class.

Fianna Fail know (in their hearts) that they are crooks. Garret is much, much worse – he represents the most venal, pompous, arrogant statism and he thinks that he’s morally good – and seemingly there are plenty of fools who believe him. Idiots who, because Garret can use a knife and fork, and who because he speaks with an assured disdain to and about people who have many times his knowledge, remember him as some kind of moral hold-out against Haugheyism, forget that Garret’s problem with Haughey – just like Labour’s problem with FF today – wasn’t that they were looting the exchequer and taxpayers. It was that looting the exchequer and taxpayers needs to serve a higher purpose.

He doubled the national debt and said that Labour made him do it.

Too many of the Irish middle classes – yes – even the ones with PhD’s simply – have no concept of personal responsibility or morality. Fitzgerald’s account of his role in the 1980s bears this out. He adopts the position of a gifted amateur who fiddling around (imposing higher taxes to underwrite Haughey’s generosity to his friends in the public sector – (sound familiar?)) whilst things got worse speaks as a witness rather than a responsible participant. Fitzgerald is what some committee came up with when the call went out to design an ‘honest statesman’. In any other country in the EU he would have been a junior lecturer in an economics depatment in some regional city – oh. wait. I forgot. That’s what he was.

He believed that if ‘the democratic will of the people requres’ that taxes should be as high as 80%. He can see no conceivable wrong in expanding government.

‘Let us not also forget that he served as a faculty member of the economics department in UCD for part of his career.’

I’ve a better idea. Let’s forget it entirely.

I can think of no one in Irish public life who I admire less.

@BL

There was an awkward pause as he decided to stop to let others past too. I just stared at him, weighing his soul and his past with my eyes, while trying to think of a good birthday present for my little sister.

@Brian Lucey

Alan Dukes has a lot to answer for.
He should have resigned as Chairman of Anglo for being so wrong when the first tranche of loans went into NAMA.
But then Alan was never wrong.
Ever.
Not that he did it for the money – to be fair to him.
But he was wrong, very wrong, very very wrong, and that is objectively(not subjectively) far worse.

This transcends arrogance. The former Taoiseach of the country isn’t giving economists the respect and deference you’ve come to expect over the years? Spare us.

And as for anti-intellectualism; after the events of the last few years, do Economists really qualify for the term anymore. You seem to function as a kind of upgraded PR cadre for financiers. Putting regression plots in your papers does not make you intelligent.

@ PMcD
Best post on this thread.

@ Brian Lucey
Invitation to take Garrett to pieces – declined. Nice one.

I think there ought to be a link to that discussion between GF and KW about the deficit. Also your man from the IT as well. That was a really low point of the debate in my opinion

I can think of no one in Irish public life who I admire less.

I cannot believe that some kind soul hasn’t taken pity on Paul McDonnell here with the name of at least one former Taoiseach to “admire less” than an octogenarian whose main vice was faith in people’s good nature.

Hello…megalomaniac alert!
1 know nothing of economics but I suspect my business knowledge far exceeds many of our economics lecturers in Ireland simply because I’ve balanced a till and therefore have more business experience than most people who teach economics or become finance minister- I saw this coming in 2004 and I’m only a lay person..so what if brian lucey did too, anyone with common sense saw we were overvaluing our property etc

But lay off Garret Fitzgerald. He’s an old guy and so what if he disagreed with you guys. Your comment is a bit childish

Incidentally, the one failure for which Garret’s sojourn is generally known was in his riding to the rescue (ICI) of the shysters and crooks who constitute the Irish insurance industry.

Ironic – one would think that this would earn him their lasting gratitude.

How does this deserve a thread all of its own with the house falling around Fianna Fáil ? The fatal Irish capacity for backstabbing and bitching never fails to amaze me. It must have been a joy to be a Redcoat back in the good old days. Get the Paddies squabbling and steal their potatoes.

How do y’all think this thread looks to all the foreigners reading it ? Great PhD material.

Just because he’s old doesn’t mean he’s wise. FG leaders are a strange bunch. They seem so convinced of their own intellectual superiority that they lead us to forget that many of them were more ego than IQ. Leo will fit the mould quite nicely. Poor Endas way too nice for them.
What a ruling class we have!!! Like something from the Irish RM. FF stablehands have made a mess of it all and now the squires of FG will have to teach the profligate peasantry some manners.
Give me a break!

@EWI

“I cannot believe that some kind soul hasn’t taken pity on Paul McDonnell here with the name of at least one former Taoiseach to “admire less” than an octogenarian whose main vice was faith in people’s good nature.”

Roy Foster attributes to Conor Cruise O’Brien a comment that Garrett is nice but only just nice enough to still succeed in politics. Garrett was ruthless when he wanted and knifed more than a few people on his way to power without a blush. Now ruthlessness is a necessary vice in a successful politician; I think one of Brian Cowen’s flaws is that he lacks sufficient ruthlessness. Think CJH. It’s just that you should realise that Garrett’s affable exterior conceals a steely core.

When all is considered, is’nt it the so called intelligensia of the country that have us where we are – intellectuals my arse – we are the laughing stock of Europe- God help us

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