Who Is Barbara Nolan?


Barbara Nolan is Director of the European Commission Representation. A former tax inspector, she has worked for the EC since 1989 serving as Head of Unit in the Education and Culture Directorate General and was the EC spokesperson for Employment, Social Affairs and Health matters between 1993-1999.

Her views were expressed most recently in an Irish Times article headlined  ‘Reality Is That Austerity Would Be Worse Without EU-IMF’.

In it she states:

…the idea the EU-IMF programme was put in place to “save” German banks, while convenient, is far too simplistic. Most of the money being loaned to Ireland is to cover the day-to-day costs of running the State. Without this financing, the country would have no option but to immediately close the gap between spending and revenue. This would imply austerity on a draconian level.

The financing gives the Government the time and space to gradually reduce its budget deficit to a sustainable level.

If the programme were truly to rescue the German banks, why not keep the funds in Germany and directly inject them into that country’s financial institutions? Why risk lending money to Ireland? Why also lend money to Portugal and Greece?


She adds:

While the country is by no means out of the woods, it is important not to lose sight of the progress that has been achieved over the past year. Growth has resumed, on the basis of a strong rebound in Irish exports.

Of course, the domestic economy remains weak and unemployment is still far too high. But this is a reflection of the dramatic shrinking of construction’s share in the economy and the fact the high indebtedness of Irish households is holding back spending.

Furthermore, it is arguably only due to the programme that there has been such progress in repairing Ireland’s banking sector. While the job is not yet done, Ireland is on track to having a better-capitalised, smaller financial sector, vital to supporting the country’s economic revival.

And concluded:

Finally, thanks again to the programme, sheltered sectors of the economy, such as the legal and medical professions, are being opened up. This will bring prices down for Irish consumers and reduce costs for businesses.

With the ongoing turbulence in markets affecting more and more countries, the safest place for Ireland to be right now is in the programme, with its stable source of financing, now being made available at an interest rate that is far below what many countries are paying in the market.

While there is certainly an understandable temptation to blame others for the country’s predicament, Patrick Honohan concluded in his 2010 report that “although international pressures contributed to the timing, intensity and depth of the Irish banking crisis, the essential characteristic of the problem was domestic and classic”.

The simple truth is, the measures Ireland is taking under the programme would have had to happen anyway. Without the support of the EU and the IMF, they would have been far more painful to undertake. The real charade would be to pretend otherwise.



(RTE/Photocall Ireland)

56 thoughts on “Who Is Barbara Nolan?

    1. Thom

      Ms. Nolan should be tarred & feathered like her predecessors in France after the occupation.
      Her little Vichy HQ (the offices of the EU Commission on the corner of Dawson & Molesworth St.) should be burned to the ground.

  1. Dave

    And yet again the fact that European banks who lent money to Irish banks didn’t do their own due diligence on what they were investing in is ignored. Yes the Irish banks were a complete joke but if these European banks had actually looked at what they were investing in they shouldn’t have lent the money. They didn’t. Their fault. Their debt.

    1. Dave

      Correct but as she says that isn’t the whole story. Even without those debts the fiscal situation would still be dire.

      1. cluster

        Both sides are kind of right. We are being screwed but we allowed ourselves be the fall guy by acting so irresponsibly. Now we are left in a situation where we lie back and take our painful medecine (no guarantee it will work) or we revolt and we take our pain some other way.The question is which course is more painful and damaging…

        We elected Bertie Ahern as our taoiseach for three terms in a row. What did we expect?

      1. WhoCares

        What actually constitutes “hate mail” ? I

        From wiki:
        The text of hate mail often contains profanity, or it may simply contain a negative, disappropriating message.

        If I send a mail that just says “I don’t like you” – is that hate mail?
        Not that I intend to of course… :)
        Also, if I am a former bank CEO who sends hate mail, do I get away with that as well i.e. is it only a “crime” for normal citizens?

      1. Bob Banner

        Welp, either way, try to remember that emailing a press official isn’t going to change anything about the troika.

    1. Figlen

      I’ve just sent her a ‘love’ mail. For the general sake of Karma in the hopes that they leave poor Dirky be.

  2. cyclecrunk

    bloody guvn’mnt, forcing us to take out those huge loans to buy 4 houses so we could let them to those stupid furenners. Oh look, it didn’t work, let’s blame it on everyone else but our stupid greedy selves. let’s occupy the banks, let’s call this woman a bint. you knobs.

    1. ivan

      that’s part of the problem, dude, but as Dave up there says, there HAS to be a responsibility on the part of the lender as well, to do their own research. I’m on the board of the local credit union. If somebody earning sod all wants to borrow €20,000 for a round the world cruise, we’d never give it to them. We look at their income, the nature of the asset being borrowed for and make a judgement accordingly. If we didn’t, we’d cop flak from our own investors.

      Yes, in the case of the housing bubble, we are at fault, but lenders can’t just give stupid loans and demand repayment in the same way, if they didn’t do any legwork themselves, rather just focussing on the ‘guaranteed’ repayment.

        1. kolmo

          Yes, count me out of this “we” business, I borrowed fk all, saved cash, bought with cash..(granted, I didn’t buy a house..). As a self-employed person in a relatively volatile industry, one has to base one’s spending decisions on actual reality and not on what the telly tells me to buy

        2. ivan

          Sorry John. I didn’t mean to paint everybody in the country has having actively participated in the madness. “We all partied” gets right on my tits as well, but I presume you can see the bigger point I’m trying to make – that a lender/investor-in-debt has a responsibility to do some class of due diligence as well?

          1. John Gallen

            Absolutely Ivan! With ya on that.

            PS – I’d love to give a slap to the tit that came up with the ‘we all partied’ line. That person deserves a shoe up the hole from each of the (near) 99%!

      1. cyclecrunk

        it is, we are paying for the loans taken out by the banks to lend money to builders and buyers of property, either for speculating or for living in. So, yes, we are paying for the stupidity of people who bought or were willing to buy, ludicrously expensive property. Anglo mostly gave loans to builders, the suppliers of property buyers. But no, let’s not consider that, let’s just blame the bankers, the builders, the germans who are lending you money to pay for those f**king 280 unionised civil servants’ wages. Do wake up, knob.

  3. Sido

    She may have a point. The bigger point is the socialisation of debt. Whereby the citizens of a country pay for the debts of that countries failed banks.
    This is not the capitalist frame we are supposed to be working under.
    This is a peversion of capitalism to a bizarre form of socialism.
    “Each Bank unto it’s Needs”

    1. Damian Tubbritt

      Yep. She says “If the programme were truly to rescue the German banks, why not keep the funds in Germany and directly inject them into that country’s financial institutions? Why risk lending money to Ireland? ”
      Because that way the Irish couldn’t be conned into picking up the tab.

      1. martinm

        That’s the flaw in her argument. In that case, the German banks would get their money, but the German taxpayer would be giving it to them, with no hope of return. Right now, the German banks are getting their money, *and* the German taxpayers / IMF are getting their money back. We’re the ones that are paying.

  4. Derek

    When I left a comment on this story calling Babs a traitor yesterday, Broadsheet.ie removed the comment! So tell her to keep her knickers on, can’t blame broadsheet or the staff!

    1. Holly




    1. Tom Red

      And not at all condescending. Especially not while eye-hummping Vinny Browne because he wouldn’t play ball earlier.

  5. John Fitzpatrick

    I am totally amazed that all the defenders of austerity and advocates of paying bondholders and ECB/IMF/EU are all paid for with taxpayers money. Not one member of the private sector agrees with them, and yet they control everything including the vast majority of the Irish and European media, Vincent Browne excluded of course.

  6. david brady

    a few points
    all loans are supposed to be stress tested. were these carried out on loans to anglo? not likely as these banks always knew that their friends in high places wouldn’t let them down. same as the favoured banks in the US
    was any austerity mesasures placed oin employees of the EU?
    any chance that i could get a job with a 6 figure salary?
    do i have to be as patronising as Babs if I get this job?

  7. read twice

    “If the programme were truly to rescue the German banks, why not keep the funds in Germany and directly inject them into that country’s financial institutions?”
    Indeed Babs. Why not bail out German banks for all the world to see? Why instead lend the money to Ireland?
    So let’s see. German (w/b)ankers gambled money on Irish (w/b)ankers, seemingly unaware that the Irish (w/b)ankers were even worse at picking a good bet than they were.
    Irish (w/b)ankers go bust. The possibility looms that they will apply for bankruptcy to gain protection from their creditors, the German banks. Result: major gambling losses for the German banks.
    But if the German government bailed out German banks by giving away German tax revenue to private companies, they’d suffer the backlash of the German taxpayer. They wouldn’t do it.
    Much better to lend the money to Ireland, a sovereign nation that cannot apply for bankruptcy. Lend the money to Ireland, on condition that Ireland socialises the debts of Irish banks. Hey presto, German banks, who gambled on private institutions, now own sovereign debt. And the German loan to Ireland is just a loan – it needs to be paid back. Win-Win.
    A few Germans will moan about bailing out the PIIGS, but their anger is directed at the untermensch on the fringes of Europe, not the German government and certainly not the upstanding German gambling institutions.
    Now Babs. There’s your answer. Where’s ours/Vinnie’s?
    And I mean an answer that “addresses the question”. Not a rambling, meaningless string of buzzwords and euphemisms.

    1. Commissioner Frilly Keane

      Doubt’ja kid

      Everything over 20 words that I’ve put together around here this week never appeared.

      Btw the best snapshot on this subject, to date.

  8. John

    I hope we need a referendum on fiscal Union. It will fail as long as we are still pumping money into Anglo.

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