Not much sweetness in Ireland’s post-bailout “success”

Fintan O’Toole of The Irish Times has an op-ed in The New York Times about Ireland being the first country to emerge from its Eurozone bailout. The headline tips off his opinion: “Ireland’s Rebound is European Blarney.”

In part, his piece says:

Everyone wants Ireland to be a good-news story, proof that a willingness to take the pain of prolonged austerity will be rewarded in the end. Ordinary citizens are hungry for some hope. The government, in the words of Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore, was “determined that Ireland would be Europe’s success story.” An influential board member of the European Central Bank, Jörg Asmussen, says, “The Irish program is a success story.” Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany praised Ireland as an example of how crisis countries could turn themselves around.

The only problem is that, for most of us who actually live here, Ireland’s success story feels less like “The Shawshank Redemption” and more like “Rocky.” We haven’t been joyously liberated; we’ve just withstood a lot of blows. We’re still standing, but we’ve taken so many punches that it’s hard to see straight.

Ireland was forced to take 67.5 billion Euro in loans starting in 2010 to prop up banks over leveraged by the property bubble of the 2000s. The damage spread as far as a commercial real estate development in Tampa.

Ireland exited the bailout in December. A few weeks later the country held its first bond sale since reaching the milestone.