* Pubgoers cynical as they watch PM's announcement
* Austerity to continue despite multi-billion euro savings
By Stephen Mangan
DUBLIN, Feb 7 Watching from behind pints of
Guinness as their prime minister announced an historic deal to
reduce Ireland's debt mountain, the drinkers at Mulligan's pub
in central Dublin were in no mood to open the champagne.
Thursday's agreement to stretch out over four decades the 48
billion euros ($64 billion) of repayments on debt needed to bail
out the country's worst lender sparked applause in parliament.
But for workers who struggle to make mortgage payments on
houses worth a fraction of what was borrowed to buy them, the
prospect of their grandchildren still paying off the debt in
2053 was little cause for celebration.
"I hope that this means things will change, but I don't
think they will," said Turlough O'Brien, a gravedigger from
north Dublin. "We're still going to have austerity and the Irish
public will still have to carry the can."
A line of middle-aged men watching Prime Minister Enda
Kenny's speech on a small TV behind the bar debated what the
deal would mean for a weary Irish public facing a sixth year of
austerity since the financial crisis began.
In a country where promissory notes and the pitfalls of
monetary financing have become staples of drive-time radio, the
details of the deal were not the problem.
Most had given up on any idea that the country's politicians
are focused on easing the economic pain of Ireland's workers.
"It's positive news, but I don't think this will change
anything for the ordinary Joe Soap," said Mick Kelly from
Leitrim in western Ireland.
TV pundits said the deal should shave around 1 billion euros
($1.34 billion) off the government's annual expenditure, around
one-third of the budgetary consolidation planned for this year.
But with deficit targets from the International Monetary
Fund and European Union still in place, that will likely do
little more than slow the onslaught of austerity, said John
Lawlor, 56, a civil servant from Dublin.
"A deal had to be achieved for this government to stay
because the public just couldn't take any more cuts," said
Lawlor. He has been a regular at the pub for more than 25 years
and last year his debts increased by 25,000 euros.
"What the people are going through is terrible," he said.
Some younger punters expressed satisfaction with the deal
that they believe will signal the start of Ireland's economic
turnaround and improve its global standing.
"If we didn't pay, Ireland's credibility would have
disappeared and the repercussions could have been very serious,"
said Robert Wall, 25, who is studying to become an Irish
While exports are growing and house prices have finally
stopped falling, one economic indicator showing little sign of
life is drinks' sales.
Despite being famed around the city for the quality of its
Guinness, Mulligan's has not been spared the effects of the
downturn, according to its co-owner, Gary Cusack.
"Austerity has definitely pinched our trade year on year as
more and more taxes come in, so hopefully getting this deal will
be good all around," he said.
"People don't have the few extra bob for a couple of pints
anymore. What I'm hearing every day from people in here is that
it can't get much worse than it is now."