I Was Right, I Am Right And The Best IS Yet To Come

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You may recall the criticism levelled by UCD lecturer Dr Julian Mercille at Marc Coleman (and others) for hyping the property bubble.

Well.

In a lengthy essay that touches on everything from immigration to the French Indian War of 1754–1763, Mr Coleman defends his record, monsters his critics and talks about a little thing called ‘hope’.

Get yourself some tay.

Mr Coleman writes:

Julien Mercille’s article about my record is, as I’ll show beyond doubt, wrong and selective. In truth it is a travesty. With one exception he has quoted without context and commented without understanding.

Using facts and figures – rather than hype – I did more than most to warn of the crisis to come between 2004 and 2007. Others lamented the crisis. I called for policies to deal with it. Constructive realistic ones. Some claim to have “called the recession in 2007”, in an RTÉ documentary on the property crash. I began calling it in 2004. And I didn’t stop until it had come and when it did come I shifted focus to offering hope and solutions. All of this, I will prove beyond doubt in this response.

Compared to the official forecasters – Department of Finance, OECD, IMF and others – I was more accurate and cautious.

Julien Mercille could have prepared a balanced assessment of how all commentators dealt with the crisis. Instead he focuses on me. Fine. I have challenged him to open debate at a time and place of his choosing and with a neutral chair. So far, pas de response. So in the meantime, let me respond in writing.

In fact, let me say en Francais “Merci Mercille” for giving me the opportunity to comprehensively write what I’ve been meaning to write for some time now.

But before that, picture the following: Imagine you have a loved one facing a severe illness and with a 50/50 chance of survival. You are visiting them in hospital. Sure, you’ll make small talk. But inevitably the will turn to their condition. So what are you going to talk about? The 50% chance they will die? Or the 50% they will live? And which of these options do you think will maximise their chance of survival.

Unless you’re an idiot, you know the answer to these questions.

In the grown-up world of responsibility, confidence matters. So does handling news responsibility and in a balanced way. In Mercille’s world of academia, confidence is less important. You don’t have to worry about customers being afraid to spend money on your product or service. Or about your boss firing you because she’s worried about the firm going bust.

Or about losing your pension: Thanks to a sweetheart deal – which, like the Anglo bailout, was conducted behind our backs – academics like Julien got a €2billion bailout of their pension deficit. A bailout we in the private sector, and our children, will pay for too.

Lecturers in UCD earn up to €100,000. And they don’t need to worry about confidence in the economy collapsing because their union – on threat of strike action – can bully Government to keep paying at our expense. And just like Anglo Irish Bank executives pressured Government to bail themselves out, so universities were able to pressure the last government in 2009 to bailout a combined pension deficit of €2billion to cover universities and other institutions like FÁS.

We, and our children, will bear that burden. And whether confidence in our economy’s future exists will have a huge impact on our ability to to do. Meanwhile Mercille’s colleagues enjoy the comfort of living in safety and on high incomes and pensions while hurling from the ditch.

And from several hurlers on the ditch – who won’t meet in open, honest debate – I’m being accused of trying to shore up confidence in our economy’s long term. I plead guilty. Some tell us the long run doesn’t matter – that in the long run we’re all dead.

They usually make that argument to justify us borrowing to shore up their State salary or pension. But there is a long run. Our children live it and so will we one day.

And protecting confidence in it is vital. Absolutely vital. But protecting confidence doesn’t mean covering up. Far from it. Confidence means that if you say something negative – and I’ve been more negative than positive to date – you observe three rules.

Firstly, do it in the right way. Secondly, you do it for the right reasons. And thirdly, you do it at the right time. Doing it in the right way means using facts and figures.

Doing it for the right reasons means doing it in the public interest and not to promote your academic profile or profits from your book. And doing it at the right time means calling the crisis early enough to call for corrective action. Not jumping on the commentary bandwagon after it’s too late (and then claiming to have “called it” before others).

Yes, I attacked “doom merchants”, as Mercille suggests. And I would do so again. What Mercille doesn’t understand is that I gave constant and repeated negative comment where it was needed. And to the responsible comment of others.

Yes, I stressed recovery would happen soon in this century. I stand by that. Current growth data and all forecasts – IMF, OECD and EU – show Ireland outperforming the eurozone and is set to continuing to do so. Belief in the near future and future does not mean denying the truth about the present. And that is the central dishonesty of Mercille’s article.

Before taking it apart, however, let me mention one irony. On the day I wrote this rebuttal I was preparing for a radio show on the threat of anti-immigrant sentiment.

Now [Quebec, Canada-born] Julien Mercille is an immigrant. One of a quarter of a million who have been welcomed into this country to work here. Had they read “The Best is Yet to Come” they would have realised that chapter 12 was a call to action against the threat of racism and anti-immigrant sentiment. Ironically, on the week that Mercille attacked me, ESRI research showed that what I warned about was coming true: In its latest Annual Monitoring Report on Immigration, the ESRI shows an alarming rise in antiimmigrant sentiment.How ironic that on the day I am preparing for a show to counter this scourge I am defending myself from attack by two people who have been welcomed into this country.

The irony becomes clearer below when I explain why Peter Sutherland launched my first book.

As an esteemed guest of the nation, Mercille might want to spend some time learning more about his new home before running it down by attacking those who point out that future, and by confusing confidence in the future – which I have – with a denial of the present situation – which I definitely don’t.

If he did he’d know that in 1957 we were on our knees but by 1967 we were one of Europe’s fastest growing economies; that in 1987 we faced unemployment and debt levels higher than now but by 1997 were so successful that a picture of Ireland was on the front cover of the Economist magazine with the caption “Europe’s shining light”.

I have never denied the awfulness of the present. Far from it. Since 2004, I have – as I show below – been a leader in warning about the coming crisis and proposing constructive policy prescriptions.

Had Mercille read the book he has commented on instead of just linking to some extracts of it – he’d know that chapters 4, 5 and 6 warn of the crisis, explain its monetary, fiscal and microeconomic (spatial dysfunction, lack of competition and poor planning) roots.

Only a fool judges a book by the cover. And perhaps a title – based on my outlook for Ireland after 2020 (as the book makes that clear) – has fooled some. They are the type of people who invest in shares without reading the prospectus. Who crosses the road without looking? Either too stupid or lazy to read what is put in front of them.

Had they read it they would know that there is a good reason why I gave a book tile “The Best is Yet to Come” on the cusp of a recession: In 2006, it was my privilege to interview the man who saved us from the very first crisis mentioned above: In 1957, T.K. Whitaker became secretary of the Department of Finance at a time when as he said to me himself: “In 1950s Ireland, there was a sort of fatalism”.

By publishing a document that explained the crisis and charted a way out of it, he transformed our future from despair into hope. It was Whitaker who later received one of the book’s first drafts – before a title was chosen – and in discussing the draft with him he stressed how the publication of a plan – even if it wasn’t fully carried through – was instrumental in changing the national mood from “ We can’t succeed” to “We can succeed”.

In that earlier interview (published in the Irish Times in May 2006) he had said “here was Ireland at that time – the mid-1950s – plunged in despondency – emigration very high. Very little in the way of employment. Parents asking themselves where their children were going to get job. Oh, a palpable, thick air of despondency!”

Now as Lloyd Bentsen might say, I’m no T.K. Whitaker. But I was inspired by him. And by the transformations his work wrought in Ireland between 1957 and 1967.

At a time when others were preparing sensationalist books filled with nothing but despair, I decided to publish one that would be frank about the coming crisis and its causes but which would focus on the hope and possibilities that awaited us beyond that crisis.

When others negotiated huge profits for sensationalist tabloid analysis, I donated profits from my book – which was a bestseller by the way – to the Forgotten Ireland Fund which was set up to help those who emigrated from Ireland during the bleak 1940s and 1950s.

For that reason I was honoured that the Fund’s founder Peter Sutherland spoke at the launch. Another was that, like me, Peter Sutherland was passionate that we should have free entry for workers like Mercille to work here. And because he opposed prejudice against immigrants, which I devoted an entire chapter of my book to combating.

So my book was not an economic forecast of the immediate future, but a warning about it. And it was much more than that. It was a vision of what Ireland can be not in the far distant future, but in the relatively near future, i.e. from 2020.

Instead of recognising the whole of the book Mercille – despite his supposed breadth of academic focus – is at best lazy and at worst deliberately selective and misrepresentative.

Not that he is the first. A recent book by Shane Ross shows a photo of myself and Peter Sutherland at the aforementioned launch with no mention of the charity the book profited.

But then Shane Ross was never much of a fan of people who gave away profits: He reportedly praised – as late as 2004 – Anglo Irish Bank and Sean FitzPatrick and Michael Fingleton for their pursuit of the profit motive.

At the same time what was I doing? During my MBA year – and straight back from the ECB where I had monitored overheating in the Irish economy – I was warning publicly about the Irish economy, at first in Magill, and then the Irish Times.

And when it came to writing my books, I donated its profits (it was a bestseller) to charity. A year later, as Economics Editor of the Irish Times, I ended the policy of bank economists writing regular opinion pieces for the Irish Times precisely because I felt that – driven as their organisations were by profit – no bank economist, however honourable and professional they were, should have a regular opinion piece.

And Mercille is criticising me? Moi? Mon Dieu!

Had Mercille done any research he would have known all this. But he hasn’t even bothered to interview me. Instead he has pulled some quotes off the web and pulled his “analysis” of them out of his derrière, David Drumm style.

That “analysis” begins in the same vein as the photo in Shane Ross’s book. In a similarly dishonest way a photo of myself and Brian Lenihan is presented at the top of Mercille’s article. “Ah so Marc was pals with Brian Lenihan! Sure we know it all now”, is the most likely desired reaction of readers. But had he done honestly what PhDs are supposed to – research – a totally different truth would have emerged.

That Brian Lenihan was one of many guests at an event that included trade unionist Seamus Dooley (of the NUJ), David Murphy of RTÉ (who has lead analysis of the Anglo tapes), Brendan Keenan of the Independent and others at this conference which I initiated and paid for myself (there was no entrance charge) at which media was analysed and discussed in a frank and open way with no holds barred. Brian Lucey was invited to speak but was not available.

So three years before Mercille thought of it, I initiated leading figures from all sides of the media, politics and the economy to engage in Ireland’s first, full and frank discussion about how our media was covering the economy. Yes, bad news needed coverage, we all agreed. But good news needs coverage too.

And bad and good news needed to be covered properly and proportionately. Giving front page coverage to a research note by a teenager in the city of London predicting Ireland would default while relegating an OECD forecast that we would outperform the eurozone was not only dishonest: It was exacerbating an already bad situation.

Good news is still getting its boots on while bad news has travelled around the world: Bad news, in the right way (facts and figures) for the right reasons (the public good and not fat book contracts) and at the right time (just before the crisis is no good) is always welcome.

But that is not what we were getting. And I took a stand against this. And I’m proud of it. Had he any real interest in media coverage of the economy Mercille would have interviewed me and obtained and a balanced report of this conference which was the first significant event on this topic.

PhDs may have opinions. But their reputation rests on academic rigour and balanced research.

And as I’ll show now, there is no balance or rigour in his work.

Let’s take his article’s disparaging quotes – its disparaging nature derives from the photoshop introduction and cherry picked quotes – the following: “His [my] optimism was displayed again in a January 2010 article entitled “All signs indicate we are turning the corner on to recovery”.

Now had Julien done his research, this is what he would know about the Irish economy in 2010: For the first time in three years GNP growth was positive at 0.9 per cent for the whole year and reaching over 4 per cent a year by the third quarter. Employment began rising for the first time since recession and consumer confidence stabilised. Tax returns were also, by November 2010, half a billion ahead of schedule. Retail sales even grew for the first time since the recession.

All of this can be verified by looking at the CSO website and by exchequer returns for 2010. In other words I was absolutely correct: The economy did turn the corner in 2010. And I was right to write, on February 7, 2010, that the armaggeddon brigade may argue otherwise but the evidence suggests we are on “the slow road to recovery” and that “the signs of recovery are everywhere”.

Any rational assessment of the data taken at the time will show that this was the case: The economy was, according to all data taken at the time, recovering. That it relapsed in 2011 before growing again in 2012 is not only not my fault (I think Mercille would blame me for bad weather if he could) but because of policies that I expressly opposed in principle (the Croke Park deal) and in application (the failure to write down bondholder debt).

The initial crisis of 2008 to 2010 was caused by a domestic incompetence I had railed against. The relapse of 2011 was also caused by factors I had railed against. And by an imbalanced economic comment that – while negative comment was needed – was too imbalanced and too late to do any good and may have been instrumental in tipping us over the edge.

On one point I grant Mercille a superficial accuracy. On another fair comment. The consensus of institutions and economists – including Brian Lucey and others – who believed in a soft landing in 2005 did include myself, but only with a caveat: As I made clear in the Irish Times on March 31, 2006 and again on July 6, 2006, a soft landing was dependent on Government reigning in rampant spending and credit. An honestly researched piece would have clearly stressed that caveat. Mercille did not. So his analysis is rubbish.

And while I stressed that prices were overvalued from late 2005 I did, as Mercille says, argue that with proper policies this could be corrected without grievous falls to equilibrium. Had Government spending not risen by one third since writing that, and had regulation been curbed (I was writing in 2005), this could have been possible.

That policies I opposed publicly and repeatedly were continued and that this led to a crash – which I did everything to warn about (see below) – is not proof that my forecasting was wrong but proof that my policy commentary was right.

Blaming me for the stamp duty debate is ludicrous. House price inflation is a monetary factor, not a fiscal one.

Compared to the billion a year or so taken in residential stamp duty, the tens of billions rise in mortgage credit between 2004 and 2008 – and not the absence of a property tax – was the cause of house price rises. The fall in prices slowdown was likewise caused by the sudden collapse in credit and abolishing stamp duty would have done little to counter that.

I was one of the few to predict (in 2006; see below) the exact timing of the recession beginning in 2008. Like most economists and institutions (IMF, OECD, ECB, EU Commission) I did not foresee the extent to which global factors would exacerbate it.

Unlike those institutions, I am not paid to do so. My job is to call the economy as best I see it. That I beat some of the most reputable institutions in the world in identifying the year the recession began – a full 15 months before it happened – would in most people’s books constitute a reason for praise.

That Mercille ignores this renders his analysis partisan and useless. Nor do I apologise for urging people to buy houses for residential – as distinct from financial – investment; I always stressed that residential purchases are for the long term and that private family criterion should drive them. Unless you want to sleep in the garden and rent out your house, rent to value ratios and comparisons with US house price peaks and troughs are ludicrous.

It may be different in Quebec but in this country renting is a highly imperfect substitute for ownership. Poor security of tenure means rent is dead money and involves the risk of moving your family around like nomads. I did urge people to be cautious about the prices they pay. And Mercille is right to say that I urged them to pay no more than 2006 prices.

That’s because I predicted that nominal incomes – which are used by banks to calculate prices – would not fall below 2006 levels and this was a safe floor. Of course I implicitly suggested they pay as little as possible. As CSO earnings data show, nominal incomes are at or above 2006 levels, interest rates are below 2006 levels, employment levels are at late 2004 levels (1.9 million) and the population is 400,000 higher than 2006 levels.

So, somewhere between 2004 and 2006 there ought to be an equilibrium that, once normal lending resumes, can be reached. And no, I didn’t cause our bank lending contraction, although Mercille might try and pin that on me too.

I can claim fair comment in that one, like most others, I didn’t foresee the extent that policies I had argued against would be implemented to the detriment of the banking sector and property markets. Along with meteor strikes, papal resignations and earthquakes, policy errors are hard to forecast. Policy errors are not economic fundamentals. They are rather discretionary decisions by politicians who are about as predictable as Irish weather.

I made my predictions based on fundamentals and they were the best that could be made at the time. Nor can anyone say that – where banks with tier one capital ratios of over 10 per cent and their vaults are stuffed with tens of billions in deposits – that anyone has been proven wrong or right about the housing market for the simple reason that there is no market to speak of. Given mistakes by the last government, and regulatory changes since 2006, price levels in that year are now unrealistic.

But that was not the case when I was commenting. And in a nation whose population has risen by a third of a million in 5 years, mortgage drawdowns are less than a tenth of peak levels when they should be at least half. Only when normal lending resumes can anyone’s call on where the market will settle be judged and when that happens I’ll take fair criticism like anyone else. Like the OECD and Central Bank I believe that between that debt-fuelled frenzy of overvaluation and the equal and opposite extreme of undervaluation lies a happy medium where prices will settle if given a chance.

Like the man who is caught cold by wearing T-shirts in winter, our regulatory regime is now wearing a heavy coat in June: From low capital adequacy ratios that were too low in the boom, we have overly stringent ones now. Having pleaded for moderation in regulatory and sanity in regulation – heavy coats in winter and T-shirts in summer – I can’t be blamed if someone else catches cold.

Of course the housing market should never drive growth again. But until it at least normalises, the economy won’t grow either. As well as credit, this means one more crucial ingredient: Confidence.

As the wise T.K. Whitaker would agree – confidence matters in economics as much as credit and an absence of either can choke a recovery that should otherwise be happening.

And while attempts to blame the media for the crisis are ludicrous, neither is the media exempt from blame: I have constantly stressed that negative coverage was needed, but that it needed also to be constructive and hopeful and the possibility that the absence of this in 2010 played a tipping point role in the bailout of 2010 cannot be discounted: The evidence for this is overwhelming:

By 2010 Ireland had corrected a serious balance of payments deficit, thanks to rapidly improving competitiveness (it has by 2013 improved competitiveness by 20 per cent, according to the harmonised competitiveness index). Our fiscal deficit is now a year away from being in line with the 3 per cent rule, employment has consolidated at 2004 levels and is growing and confidence is gradually returning.

In the last three years we have shown we are not Greece. And yet many were determined to paint us in this way.

Mercille cites me from October 2008 attacking those I deemed to be engaging in “illiterate panic-mongering” who had “no quantitative discipline to back their statements”. But attacking irresponsible negative comment is not attacking negative comment that is balanced and well trained.

On several occasions I quoted favourably from warnings issued by Brian Lucey and Constantin Gurdgiev. I also invited both to the media event I organised.

Mercille would know it if he did his homework. But he doesn’t do his homework: The “coup de grace” for his article is his failure to acknowledge – apart from a passing link – my record during the boom:

In September 2004, I warned that Bertie Ahern’s announcement, that he was a “socialist”, was a precursor to a spending binge that would erode our public finances and competitiveness. I got that right

A month later I warned (at the Kenmare DEW conferennce) that the Stability Pact had been eroded and that this threatened Europe’s financial stability (the paper was published in the ESRI QEC). I got that right.

Within a day of starting at the Irish Times as Economics Editor – on July 5 2005 – I challenged Brian Cowen directly on the stability of our tax revenues, which were already over reliant on property taxes. Later that month (July 29) I warned that bank lending was excessive. In the following month, I wrote several more articles in that vein. I got that right.

In September 2005, I interviewed ECB President Jean Claude Trichet and the interview carried clear warnings to our financial regulator to act on credit growth. He got that right and I reported it.

I also interviewed Central Bank governor John Herlihy and challenged him on lending growth and on the absence of data on equity withdrawal which I warned was leading to a possible debt crisis. Seems I was correct there too.

In March 2006, I began an article on the economy with the words “Stop the Economy I want to get off” and contained warnings about the lack of financial regulation that could not have been more stark “Nobody, absolutely nobody, is in control”. I got that right.

In July 2006, I gave a caveat about my earlier statements on the housing market, warning the government that growth rates were “lopsided” and “crazy” and that “remedial action is needed now”. The Finance Minister Brian Cowen even responded with a denial the following week. I got that right and the Finance Minister got it wrong.

In October 2006 I addressed ISME’s annual conference in Killenarden, County Laois and in front of around a hundred delegates I warned that a downturn was not only on its way but predicted that this downturn would start in 2008.I clearly remember this because I was introduced by chairman George Lee.The recession started in 2008 at almost exactly the beginning of the year.

On December 28, 2007, on the Breakfast Business Show with Damien Kiberd, I was one of three economists asked to forecast growth the following year and I was the most pessimistic of the three. My forecast was not only the lowest of the three economists but also lower than the forecasts of the OECD, IMF, EU Commission and Department of Finance.

But Mercille has chosen to focus not on all the other institutions who were more optimistic than me. But on me. Dit-moi Julien, pourquoi? Strange that within a day or two another ten articles attacking my record should pop up. Perhaps it’s a coincidence? Mais peut-etre, non.

So if we are judging my record during the boom – and that boom lasted between 2004 and 2007 and stopped in 2008 – the following is clear:

– That I persistently and repeatedly warned at every available forum and venue that our economy was unsustainable, that property prices were overvalued and that policy action was needed immediately.

– That I persistently and repeatedly called for inflationary policies – SSIAs, rampant growth in credit and government spending and weak regulation – to be curbed.To say or imply anything to the contrary is a travesty of misrepresentation?

As for the future, Bill Clinton, the ESRI, Eamonn Gilmore, Bill Gates and many many more – all far more accomplished than either myself or Julien Mercille – have absolute faith that the future of this country is a fantastic one.

And their faith is justified by hard facts of which here are a few that Mercille is obviously unaware:

– Ireland remains the most open economy in the world.
– Our exports are growing at twice the rate of world trade.
– According to the Legatus index of world prosperity we remain, despite recession, the 10th most prosperous nation in the world.
– Our living standards remain above the EU average.
– While far too many of our citizens suffer from unemployment our social welfare rates remain decent and protect us from the divisions seen in Greece and Spain.
– We remain world leaders in Foreign Direct Investment and attract more US investment than Brazil, China and India combined.
– We are the first country in the world for the value of investment and the 2nd country in the world for the value of investment per capita, according to the IBM (2011).
– We have the capacity to feed 50 million people in a world whose population will rise to 9 billion between now and 2050 and where food demand will rise by 70%.

– We have the capacity to service the growing demand for goods and services of an extra billion middle income families that will enter the economy between now and 2025.
– Almost uniquely in Europe and, despite the recession, our population is growing with child birth and immigration counter balancing emigration. This means the pensions crisis will be less severe here in future (our public pensions crisis is a different matter).
– Unlike their predecessors, who emigrated in the 1940s and 1950, those who had to emigrate will be back with greater skills and experiences to help Ireland reach its full potential.
– Because we ignored the advice to leave the euro and devalue we have put clear blue water between ourselves and Club Med. Had we taken that advice our bank debts would have been serviced in a useless devalued currency, our cost of living – already too high – would have soared further and our precious high technology industries would, along with other investors, have fled.
It may not have been popular to call out how wrong these policies were but it had to be done and I am proud that I did it.
Grevious policy failures have done more damage to the country than I expected. But they were grevious failures that I opposed all the way and I am not to blame for them and implying that I am is perverse and dishonest.

It will take a few more years to achieve. But we will “rock and roll into this century”. There will be debt to overcome and it will be far more onerous than it should be but far from denying that I have been on the right side of that debate calling for a debt writedown (even challenging Minister Varadkar to hold a referendum on it).

As one who fought against dysfunctional policies I refuse to be blamed for them, or their impact on what is other-wise and should and can become a sound and prosperous economy.

Finally, a few asides: As a geographer Mercille should also have some grasp of spatial economics. My book pointed to the serious failures of planning and land use in Ireland and how this contributed to property overvaluation and by extension bank failure.

Alone amongst books on the crisis, mine tackled spatial, planning and regional and local government issues and the related microeconomic mistakes that did much to lead to financial disaster. That a geographer Mercille overlooked suggests that the knowledge he acquired, he cannot use it. There is a French term for that: Idiot-Savant.

Perhaps it would be kinder to say that from one of his most recent papers – on the drug trade in Afghanistan – he has committed the mistake of stretching his mind too quickly and too far, both geographically and in terms of grasping subject material he has spent too little time researching.

And as someone who was welcomed into my studio – on at least two occasions – to promote his views Rob Kitchin might have done me the courtesy of clarifying mine before he wrote about them.

For someone who works for the National Institute of Regional and Spatial Analysis he might also have balanced criticism with praise of how mine was the first book to identify the spatial, regional, local and planning policy failures behind the crisis, that it renewed debate on implementing the Kenny Report, and started debate on densification (which was absent from the public domain) and how I called for better regional planning to lower property price pressures, lower our carbon footprint and increase the quality and ease of life.

And all of this in 2007, at least two years before the chorus of negative books from authors now celebrated as “calling” the boom.

He might also have recalled my persistent and ultimately successful campaign against the disastrous policy of decentralisation in the Irish Times.

Thankfully, the vast majority of immigrants in this country have far more confidence than Mercille about our future. Nearly half a million non-nationals have made this country their home and from all over the world. It is not just a massive complement to us, but a huge vote of confidence in our future.

Now Julien Mercille is a Quebecois and, as much as I love the Quebecoises, it is a sad fact that gave into and accepted colonial domination.

As Mercille will learn the more he stays here we are different. We never give in. And we fight honourably. To date my request for a debate with a neutral chairperson (Constantin Gurdgiev for instance) – and which was out of courtesy even emailed to Mercille in his native French – has gone unanswered.

I suspect his ancestors may have fled from the battle of Restigouche.

Yes we don’t give in. And we will recover. When we do, it will be no thanks to those who enjoyed the protection of State secured pay and pensions (the highest in the eurozone) while sneering and sniping at those of us who are trying to make this country work again. And who struggle in the risky private sector to generate the taxes that pay their lavish pay and pensions. And to keep alive that most precious of things: Hope.

© Marc Coleman

Picture use for Dr Julien Mercille’s post was our responsibility. .

(Pic: newstalk)

Ireland After NAMA