Estragon and €4 billionJun 2nd, 2009 | By Ian Poulton | Category: Ireland
Irish politics is a script from Beckett. The electorate accepts the illusion that they have the power to change things, when the reality is that there is no freedom, nor has there been freedom for sometime. Beckett’s Vladimir and Estragon find themselves trapped in a script where there most earnest desire to move, to change, is baulked by the requirement that they must wait for Godot. It is an eerie parallel to being in an electoral process where no matter what happens, we return to the point inescapable truths of being broke. We go to the polling stations on Friday, only to return next week to the air of resignation of Beckett’s duo:
ESTRAGON: What’s wrong with you?
ESTRAGON: I’m going.
VLADIMIR: So am I.
ESTRAGON: Was I long asleep?
VLADIMIR: I don’t know. Silence.
ESTRAGON: Where shall we go?
VLADIMIR: Not far.
ESTRAGON: Oh yes, let’s go far away from here.
VLADIMIR: We can’t.
ESTRAGON: Why not?
VLADIMIR: We have to come back tomorrow.
ESTRAGON: What for?
VLADIMIR: To wait for Godot.
ESTRAGON: Ah! (Silence.) He didn’t come?
ESTRAGON: And now it’s too late.
VLADIMIR: Yes, now it’s night.
Perhaps our situation is even worse, at least they live in the expectation, the hope, that Godot may one day arrive; that Godot’s appearance will make clear those things that are unclear, that he will explain the inexplicable.
There is no such hope from the Government in Dublin:if they know, they are not going to tell, and there is more than a suspicion that they don’t know anyway.
Last week it emerged that the sum of €4 billion would need to be found to allow Anglo Irish Bank to be trading. To put the figure in perspective, it would be like the US Government having to find €300 billion, that’s equivalent to over $400 billion, more than half of the US economic stimulus package. But this is not to do something positive with our economy, this is to prop up a broke bank.
Having €4 billion in ready cash in Dublin is about as likely as Godot arriving. The New York Times report of comments from the Department of Finance has a surreal quality:
. . . a spokesman for the finance ministry in Dublin, said the means of raising the capital would be decided by the country’s debt management agency. But he said the fund-raising was unlikely to affect the country’s deficit level.
Well, there’s still the National Pension Reserve Fund to raid. It was worth €15.5 billion at the end of March, but €7 billion has already gone to support the two main banks. Will half of what was set aside for public sector pensions be poured into the hole in the Anglo finances?
“Let’s go far away from here”, we say.
But we can’t. We have to stay here, because if we try to move there will be a run on our banks, and then there would really be trouble.
Vladimir and Estragon had it easy.