The Guarantee

The Irish Times preview the film with the screenplay writer Colin Murphy and producer John Kelleher here.  There is also a short clip from the movie to whet the appetite. 

Having seen the Fishamble stage production of  Guaranteed! last year I am looking forward to the film version which goes on limited release next week.  They probably took some artistic license with the adaption but hopefully not too much.

30 replies on “The Guarantee”

Thanks, Seamus. I’m happy to report that Colin is also working with Fishamble on The Bailout, taking the story on for the two years following. So people can catch the Movie now and, we hope, the next installment in 2015.

Thought for a moment this was a topical post about the proposed state guarantee of FTB mortgages…

following The Aesthetic Turn in Irish Political Economy a more accurate title, imho, from a citizen-serf prole perspective on the fascist financialization of the Citizenry, would be …

“The Hibernian Guernica”

I will certainly go and see the film if it comes to Belfast. But, if the press release is anything to go by, it doesn’t augur well.

“Ireland was the poor sister of Europe, who finally got a chance to go to the ball. But when she got there, she forgot herself; she stayed past midnight, and suddenly all her riches returned to rags,” the press release continues.

What absolute tosh. Like something Fintan O’Foole would write. Maybe he did. This is the rewriting and falsification of Irish history, in accordance with the diktats of Dublin 4 revisionism. All her riches didn’t turn to rags. Rather, her riches in 2007 fell back to 2005 levels. And are now recovering strongly.

That doesn’t mean its a bad film from an artistic point of view. I haven’t seen it, so am in no position to judge. It might be brilliant artistically for all I know. I saw ’71’ last week (set in Belfast in 1971). A brilliant film, but historically totally inaccurate. Maybe this film is similar. It might be a great deal better than its press release. The real economic history if Ireland is somewhat different to that described in the press release, although it probably wouldn’t make a good film. It can be roughly summarised as follows:

(1) Between 1958 and 2007, Ireland’s free-market low-tax global-trading risk-taking entrepreneurial economy produced growth on a scale few countries have ever experienced. During that period real GDP in Ireland rose by around 800 per cent, by far the highest growth in Europe. Average EU growth in the same period was around 300 per cent.

(2) This growth pushed Ireland’s GNI per capita from approximately 55 per cent of UK and EU levels in 1958 (which was broadly similar to its 1922 level) to 112 per cent of UK and EU levels in 2007.

(3) Accompanying this economic growth there was a population boom. Between 1841 and 1922, while under foreign military occupation, the (now) Republic of Ireland’s population was decimated, falling by over 60 per cent. The only other ‘country’ in Europe to have a population fall (although a much smaller one) in that period was Northern Ireland, which by coincidence had the same foreign military occupier. This population fall continued at a much reduced rate between 1922 and 1961. But, from 1961 on, the economic growth produced a turnaround, And, between 1961 and 2014 the population of Ireland rose from 2.8m to 4.6m, by far the highest growth in Europe in that period (apart from Luxembourg), an outcome which would have been laughed had it been proclaimed in Easter 1916.

(4) Accompanying this population boom was a housing boom. During the period of population decline from 1841 to 1961 very few houses were built in Ireland. Because the population was continually falling (dramatically pre-1922, less so post-1922), there was no incentive to build houses. The upshot was that by 1961 Ireland had an ancient and abysmal housing stock. As late as 1961 half the houses in Ireland had no indoor toilet or running water, the housing stock was the oldest in Europe and the number of rooms per person in Irish households was the lowest in Europe. But, in that year, under one of the heroic 1916 leaders, Sean Lemass, there began a great housing drive. Decade-by-decade the output of new houses was increased, reaching its zenith after 2000. By this time Ireland’s housing stock had been transformed. It now had the most modern housing stock in Europe and all EU statistics indicate that it also had one of the highest-quality housing stocks in Europe. The number of rooms per person was almost double its 1961 level. Slums in the cities, which had been the worst in Europe in 1922, were eradicated. In addition, throughout rural Ireland, and much to the dismay of Dublin 4 Toffs and organisations like An Taisce, where up to the 1960s there had been mainly tiny whitewashed rat-infested thatched-roof cottages, lacking all modern amenities, their now stood hundreds of thousands of bright sparkling brand new houses, each in their own large space, and in every imaginable style from Georgian to Spanish hacienda.

(5) Accompanying these economic, population and housing booms, social conditions improved dramatically. Ireland’s life expectancy was well below the EU average up to the 1960s, but by 2011 was above it. Ireland was one of the least-educated countries in Western Europe up to the 1960s. By 2011 among the under-45 population it had the highest proportion of graduates in Europe. By 2007 Ireland was ranked 4th in the UN Human Development Index.

(6) All this economic and social progress continued virtually without interruption from 1958 until 2007. Then in 2008 a global recession, the worst one since World War 2. This hit Ireland particularly badly, as it is a far more export-oriented country than most. In addition, the housing construction boom referred to in (4) was by now over-reaching itself and, whereas there had been a housing shortage in Ireland continuously up to 2002 or so, from that year on there emerged a modest housing surplus (of about 30k units, not the 300k units that propagandists claimed). As a result, new house construction fell back dramatically after 2007 and house prices fell. It was the combination of global recession, greatly-reduced new house construction and falling house prices that produced problems for the banks. Many other countries also suffered severe banking problems during this period as well. But, it is worth noting that, even at the trough of the recession in 2009, things had only fallen back to their 2004/2005 level. Well over 90 per cent of the economic gains made between 1958 and 2007 remained.

(7) In the circumstances of 2008 there were arguments on both sides in relation to whether the banking system should be preserved (although I will be very surprised if this film gives both sides). The argument in favour was that Ireland’s free-market low-tax global-trading risk-taking entrepreneurial economy, having produced the goods so spectacularly between 1958 and 2007, should be preserved as intact as possible, so that, when global economic growth resumed and Ireland’s housing cycle turned up again, the Irish economy itself would return to high growth. The argument against, trotted out ad nauseum in the anti-nationalist Irish Times by Morgan Kelly and a host of others was that the pre-2008 growth never happened, it was all an illusion, the fantasy product of a corrupt alliance between crooked FF politicians, builders and bankers and that preserving the system intact would lumber Ireland with such high debts that Ireland would be f*ck*d for a generation, that growth would not resume for 30 years, that Ireland would go bust and become an EU protectorate, that virtual civil war would erupt on the streets, that plagues of locusts would devastate the land, and so on. To sex up their arguments even further, these doom pornographers also claimed that Ireland had such a surplus of empty houses and empty offices that it wouldn’t need to build any new houses or new offices for a quarter of a century, that it would actually have to knock down tens of thousands of houses, and that house prices would fall by 90 per cent from their 2007 levels.

(8) Roll on to 2014 and what do we find (although I will be very surprised if it gets a mention in the film). The Morgan Kelly-predicted doom scenario has gone up in flames, 50-feet high flames, and Morgan Kelly himself has joined a monastery and taken a vow of silence. The Celtic Tiger has returned. GNP growth in Q2 2014 was 9.0 per cent, by far the highest in Europe. Ireland can borrow for virtually nothing on the markets. The Live Register is falling by 5k a month. The budget deficit is melting away and in 2015 will be about half the UK level. Ireland is out of austerity, while the UK isn’t. The balance-of-payments is in huge surplus, while the UK has a huge deficit. The number of overseas tourists to Ireland is up 10 per cent in 2014, while industrial production is up 20 per cent, and new car sales are up 30 per cent. There is a housing shortage, an office shortage, and the government is on its knees begging the recently-despised builders and developers to please please please start building and developing again, while house prices are soaring (not in itself a good thing). And every economic forecast is that relatively high growth, the highest in Europe, will continue in Ireland for years to come.

So, putting all these facts together, I’d say the late and very great Brian Lenehan has been totally vindicated in the decision he made in September 2008. Its just a pity he didn’t live to see it. But, I’m sure he’s watching from on high.

As for the film, I’d still advise anyone to go and see it. I will go and see it myself if it comes to Belfast. It will certainly be much more entertaining than this post, but, if its historical accuracy you want, this post wins hands down.

Did any taxpayers money go towards the making of this film.
I heard recently that recipients of the Aosdana Cnuas objected to the concept of touring second levels schools to share their artistic works – probably as there was no such work.
The Dept of Arts Culture etc should be abolished and it’s budget assigned to Sport.

Great comments at 4 and 5. GREAT comments. Uber logical. UBER. Great history at 4 particularly. Amazing stuff. And they say Irish schools are failing? Let alone the hospitals ? Obviously lobotomies are ten a penny.

JtO’s posts should be paired with the soundtrack to Mise Eire and featured in Ireland’s Own. No economic insight is needed to enjoy them and they can help relieve stress after a busy day.


Yes, paragraph 4 is certainly a sign of failing schools, or old age, or posting too late at night, or something, as in the cold light of day I now see that I wrote ‘their now stood’ instead of ‘there now stood’. Shameful.

As for the film, let’s hope it gets a better box-office response than the response on here. The opening night and only a handful of posts have turned up. I’m sure there would have been a lot more in the days before the Celtic Tiger made its comeback.


Your own posts should be set to the tune of ‘Rule Britannia’ and sung at the Last Night of the Proms.


You have a point there!

From the review!

“The tightening of belts led us to misery, pessimism and, ultimately, the imposition of water rates.”

This certainly qualifies as a good schoolroom example of bathos (which it is to be hoped is not reflected in the film).

By the way, you very skillfully got over the years of stagnation and falling population post-independence until the intervention of Lemass and, perhaps more importantly, TK Whitaker.

For the record, the point that I was referring to is in the concluding sentence of JTO’s contribution at 8.31 i.e. in relation to the more subdued nature of the debate now that the country is clearly emerging from recession.

I am not participating the other exchanges.

For the record, I try to avoid ad hominen, but felt that the JTO contribution, in its ignoring of the agonies, still ongoing, of the last years, merited comparison with the musings of William Joyce.

A movie like this should have some poetic licence and the main protagonists in the drama who represent the politicians should be convincing.

Jason Robards played Ben Bradlee, the Watergate era Washington Post editor who died this week, in the 1976 movie, “All the President’s Men.” A year later Robards impressively played a fictional president Richard Monckton (based on Richard Nixon) in a TV mini series. In 1980 he was cast as Franklin D. Roosevelt in ‘FDR: The Final Years’ (1980).

The guarantee movie should have blazing rows with the bankers, lots of effing and blinding (an Englishman who had been transferred from the UK to run a Dublin subsidiary, once told me that his biggest adjustment was getting used of the colourful language) and as the night wore on, maybe some alcohol to suggest the ultimate irrationality.


Thanks for the usual blizzard of statistics and you’re obviously convinced yourself.

I do rank Ireland and China as among the great beneficiaries of globalization.

It’s a unique feature of development since the dawn of the industrial revolution that since 1945 poor countries without significant natural resources to export can aspire to be rich or lift many out of poverty.

There are 13 cases of average growth of 7% over 25 years and nine were in Asia – several have depended on FDI. These are Botswana, Brazil, China, Hong Kong (China), Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Malta, Oman, Singapore, Taiwan , and Thailand.

Frank Barry has pointed out that the increased Irish growth in the 1960s “simply matched the levels recorded elsewhere in this period, which has been termed ‘the European Golden Age’.”

In 1970-2008, real Irish GNP per capita was 2.7 times 1970, compared with real GDP changes of 2.4 in Austria and Spain, 2.2 in UK and 2.1 in Italy.

In current price terms World Bank data show that Irish GDP per capita in 2008 was 86 times the level in 1960 (when it was lower than GNP); Spain’s was 87 times – maybe Spain had higher inflation?

Ireland has done well but like China churning out iPhones without much local value added or innovation, a lot of Irish FDI staff are in administration.

It’s premature to brag about Ireland overtaking x or y country and while GNI and GDP can flatter, we rank with Italy and below the euro average for Actual Individual Consumption per capita (which includes government services), which is regarded as a better metric of standard of living.

More signs of the return of the Celtic Tiger from today’s Irish Times:

What an October for Ireland’s tourist industry. On budget day Michael Noonan announces the retention of the 9 per cent tax rate on hotels and restaurants (a decision naturally opposed by SIPTU). On Tuesday, Lonely Planet ranks Ireland as the 5th best tourist country in the world. On Wednesday, some international body (can’t remember which) announced that Ireland has 4 of the top ten hotels in the world. On Thursday, the CSO announce that the number of overseas tourists is up 10 per cent in 2014. On Friday ‘The Guarantee’ is released, which is likely to bring thousands of millionaire Guardian journalists to our shores. And now this news about the convention centre. Its all a vindication of the high level of construction of tourist facilities implemented by Bertie Ahearne and continued by FG, and which would not have been possible without the involvement of the banks and the building industry.

Had the advice of the doom economists been listened to, none of this would be happening. ‘Column’ McCarthy argued repeatedly that the convention centre was a waste of money and should never have been built. The same ‘Column’ also posted here repeatedly that the new T2 Terminal at Dublin airport should be mothballed even after it was built, yet the number of people passing through the airport has risen by 3.5 million in the past two years and looks likely to rise by far more than that in the next few years. If his absurd advice had been listened to, the queues at Dublin airport would now stretch to the border.

And to cap the week off, it is reported today that the Irish Times has lost a big court case in Europe in relation to its vendetta against Bertie Ahearne, will have to fork out a fortune in costs, and might even go BUST. The communist-run NUJ are apparently fuming. Some mornings you wake up to so many items of good news that its actually a health risk.

@Michael Hennigan

“The 1960s has been termed ‘the European Golden Age’.”

To digress slightly, have you any thoughts on why the ‘European Golden Age’ has turned so sour? Lets have the benefits of your immense wisdom on why so many European countries are so stagnant. I’m sure, unlike others, you won’t blame it all on the Euro, as I am sure you are intelligent enough to know that the stagnation in continental Europe long preceded the Euro.

As you correctly suggest, in the 1950s and 1960s continental Europe was enjoying spectacular economic success. It was that success that triggered the previously-hostile UK to apply for membership of the EEC (with Ireland following in its wake). But, today most of continental Europe is a byword for stagnation and pessimism, France is the prime example, but others too. In the 1950s and 1960s France was having an almost Celtic Tiger-like boom. Now its going down the plughole at a rate of knots.

The rot in France and most of Europe started after the pervert-led pseudo-revolution in 1968. This led to a host of unwelcome developments that permeated not only France but eventually a lot of other continental European countries too. In particular, the high taxes required to finance the bloated welfare state (with a 35-hour week and retirement at 60) destroyed the work ethic and entrepreneurialism, the sexual revolution destroyed the traditional family and left an astronomical number of single-parent families in need of taxpayer support, the trendy French liberals with their absurd theories destroyed the education system (look at France’s PISA results compared with Ireland’s), industrialised abortion has turned continental Europe into a geriatric continent, with most European countries now having far more people over 65 than under 20. No country can survive all this. Ireland’s success was because it was more resistant to all these trends, at least up to now. The core objective of Dublin 4 liberalism, the lefty-leaning Irish Times, and I would guess the makers of this film, is that every one of the developments that brought down France and other continental European countries should be replicated in its entirety in Ireland.

More good news for Ireland’s tourist industry. I am now off to Donegal for the weekend (and so will be unable to continue this discussion). That’s assuming I can get past the hordes of starving children, ebola-stricken women and destitute men on the Lifford side of the border.

@Joseph Ryan

I suggest you go and see the film ’71’ (set in Belfast in 1971).

If you lived in Belfast in 1971 as I did, you’d find the ‘agonies’ of Dublin in 2014 to be pretty small beer.

Some further action by Cameron offstage.

It seems he only goes to Brussels to be insulted. The irony of Hollande saying that the UK must “stick to the rules” will not, however, be lost on many observers. In this instance, the UK will have little choice as it has had the major role in designing them; ever since Margaret Thatcher negotiated a permanent rebate on the UK net budgetary contribution. The furore may be expected to subside.

It has to be said that if all the ‘prices will rise forever’ or the ‘soft landing’ crowd of the mid 00s were deserved of the intense diatribes they got here and elsewhere, then surely all the doom pornographers of the late 00s and early 10s deserve to be called out for committing a similar crime.

For me at least, JTO is doing a very entertaining job of holding their feet to the fire. I’m not wholly convinced by his narrative as of yet. I want to believe, I do. I’ll need to see the real income growth before those near fantastical GDP growth figures mean anything to my life. No wage growth coupled with plenty of tax and rent hikes makes one a cynic.


via Michael Hennigan here’s your Weltanschauung in one handy document

the problem with it is that it not resilient enough. When TSHTF the weakest get punished regardless of whether or not they deserve it. BOHICA is painful.
Changing narratives are worse than 3 days on Lough Derg in bare feet in the rain eating toast.
You don’t want it to happen again.

jto – my mentioning of ‘comments 4 and 5’ meant yourself and tulls posts in their entirety (rather than just part 4 of your comment) if ya get me ; )

The play was a triumph- putting it on screen will have been challenging but I look forward to seeing it. Let’s not judge it on the review

I’m with DOCM

“The tightening of belts led us to misery, pessimism and, ultimately, the imposition of water rates. ”

Ooh let’s shoehorn a current issue into the review to make it more, real.
Water Framework Directive anyone? It was adopted in 2000 – with all targets to be met in 2015. We *might* make it….

@ that legal

‘It has to be said that if all the ‘prices will rise forever’ or the ‘soft landing’ crowd of the mid 00s were deserved of the intense diatribes they got here and elsewhere, then surely all the doom pornographers of the late 00s and early 10s deserve to be called out for committing a similar crime. ‘

I would not regard those groups as comparable. The former had, in many cases, a major financial vested interest in ‘puffing’ the economy, that is to say in creating a national Ponzi scheme. The state and its finances were put into play by international and domestic ‘movers and shakers’. Lots of professionals, including MSM professionals, found it too scary to dissent. Making magic money was the New Normal.

I submit that the term ‘doom pornography’ is a blanket slur on those who question the cute hoors. The worst that can be said of those of us who don’t buy the Happy narrative is that we may be erring on the downside. While I have no quarrel with JtOs Nordie perspective, he is a bit in thrall to the Anglo-American neo-liberal agenda, and certainly lacks detailed DOCM’s knowledge of European affairs.

To describe the economic history of Ireland as a ‘free-market low-tax global-trading risk-taking entrepreneurial economy ‘ is a distortion and a gross oversimplification. It completely misses the way in which Ireland’s sovereignty has been ceded to Big Biz, or inconvenient facts like the fake services exports highlighted by Michael H.

It further glosses over the disreputable fact that too many well placed politicians and public servants leveraged their position in the state to divert huge assets into their extended family circle. The most obvious example was the profiteering and corruption entailed in moving central Dublin slum-dwellers into estates with little or no social provision. We might not have Ebola but we sure do have Love Hate.

You are right to be suspicious of the Recovery narrative.Our state and banks are being propped up by historically unprecedented and unsustainable Central Bank money printing, including the notorious ‘Draghi put’. The prices of financial assets, and commercial property are thoroughly distorted, just as the flows within our domestic economy are hopelessly concealed within GDP growth figures. Having the ‘right’ demographics won’t help much if and when interest rates rise.

A couple of items for JtO’s reading list in Donegal, both by Frank Barry, sometimes of this parish.

1. The mystery of Ireland is not its rapid convergence, but its delayed convergence.

2. About that rapid growth …

As Honohan and Walsh point out, if Ireland had been a US state its population growth in the 1990s would have ranked it twenty-third of the fifty US states, while no fewer than nine US metropolitan areas with populations of
over 1 million grew faster than Greater Dublin.

Also very interesting remarks about problems in governance, as manifested in the land market with knock-on effects on housing and yes, even benchmarking.

@Paul Quigley

“The worst that can be said is that we may be erring on the downside.”

Yes, my own forecast that Germany would lose 9-0 to Brazil last June was fundamentally correct, although it erred somewhat on the downside for Germany.

@Paul Quigley

“It further glosses over the disreputable fact that too many well placed politicians and public servants leveraged their position in the state to divert huge assets into their extended family circle.”

Anyone can make allegations like this (and the Left in Ireland is full of people who do), but produce hard evidence. I saw in yesterday’s UK papers that the people’s champion, Tony Benn, left £5 million in his will (he gave it all to his family and nothing to the Labour Party or the various causes he supported). How does £5 million compare with, say, what was left in Brian Lenehan’s will. How do those ‘giants of the left’ Bill Clinton’s and Tony Blair’s bank balances compare with Bertie Aherne’s? I’ll hazard a guess: very favourably.

@Paul Quigley

“The most obvious example was the profiteering and corruption entailed in moving central Dublin slum-dwellers into estates with little or no social provision.”

I concede advantage to you there. I know very little about life in housing estates in Dublin. Happy to be corrected. But, I spent half a day in Tallaght in 2012, which is supposed to be a prime example of what you say; it had shopping centres, leisure centres, swimming pools, library, GAA, rugby, soccer fields and (I think, although I wasn’t on it) a LUAS line to the centre of Dublin. Much superior to similar areas in Belfast


Who has suggested that malpractices are the exclusive preserve of conservative parties or politicians ? The evidence of planning corruption, to give one Irish example, is pretty clear.

Tallaght is much larger and more socially heterogeneous than you suggest. There is plenty of serious and chronic disadvantage to be found.

@ JtO / Paul

As we are now at the end of a thread which is quietly finishing: some rambly thoughts.

I do indeed walk through every day the inner city areas of Dublin that John once did in his youth. As chance would have it, for a period once a year I also catch the LUAS to Tallaght where I work with local transition year students on a project called Tenderfoot.

On the North Inner City I very rarely or never fear for my safety. Certainly some areas are rough: there is a public squalor in the streets and poverty has made its mark once again. It is a bit like William Blake’s ‘London’. But I don’t have a reactionary mind so I don’t yearn for the society of the 1950s/60s. Were it possible to ‘go back’, yes, I would like to go back to a time say, before heroin came into the city but not to the social structures and mores of the time. The Marriage Bar can stay gone. But that is just wishing. What I see is a deep lack of resources – due to a financial crash – which is being played out in flats, houses and on the streets and, at best, will take years to move again in a more positive direction. Whilst the people about are as heterogeneous as you might expect I still find it a lively, friendly open place to live.

Though I don’t have that desire to go back neither do I think a capitalism that delivers insecure work which requires all adults to work all the hours they have to survive and pay for accommodation is the way to go either.

The end of the LUAS line into Tallaght is fascinating because, just like the uncompleted Anglo building, it marks the over-reach of the Celtic Tiger or the point at which you can see, not so the ruin, but the uncompleted statute of Ozymandias. The last stretch is made up of very large concrete-and-glass structures which have never been fully occupied since Tenderfoot began in 2007. Since then, the end-of-the-line Starbucks has gone as has (I think), a Marks and Spencer and two SPARS – though an Aldi remains. But if SPARS can’t make it I think one can say there are problems. But it remains true that the Square and developments around are unrecognisable from the Tallaght of the 1980s. An aside; I still can’t quite my understanding around how building a very large shopping centre can bring life to an area, it seems to much like Baron Munchhausen pulling himself up by his own pony-tail. A good sense of where were at is that there is indeed a very fine Library across from the Civic and people do use it but the Library is offering less than it would like or was intended when it was opened.

Each year I find myself heartened and reinvigorated by the young people on the course. As part of writing a play we discuss issues of public and personal interest to bring up subjects of what it might be interesting to write about and whilst some of what comes out can be erratic (as it would be with any group I expect) I get the impression that people are thinking and exploring the world collectively and for themselves: that is not merely regurgitating what is expected from them. And I often find myself being caught on the hop by some insightful opinion or counter argument. Tenderfoot, for example, remains the only Irish project I know of to dramatise the Arab Spring in a play called ‘Lybia’. In fashion terms I have noted that things have become a bit more drab over the last few years and a fellow tutor has noted that fewer young people are as engaged with creative writing as schools have had to cut back on extra-curricular activities but, as I say, the liveliness of mind interest in the world is all there.

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