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Is Ireland really on road to recovery?

Friday, July 12, 2013 - 02:34

July 12 - Ratings agency S&P has upgraded its outlook for Ireland from 'stable' to 'positive' on hopes the government may cut its debt faster than expected. But as Ivor Bennett reports, the mood in recession-hit Ireland remains far from positive – as leaked tape recordings from failed Anglo Irish bank fuel anger towards the banks – and renew calls for a public inquiry into the country’s financial crisis.

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Is this the moment the tide turned? Angry protestors hijacking a property auction in Dublin. Over a hundred lots were going under the hammer - many of them homes that had been repossessed by banks. Punters hoping for a bargain were booted out. Until now, protests like this haven't been seen in Ireland during the crisis. Constantin Gurdgiev is an economics lecturer at Dublin's Trinity College. SOUNDBITE (English) CONSTANTIN GURDGIEV, ECONOMICS LECTURER, TRINITY COLLEGE DUBLIN, SAYING: "Historically if you look at the Irish society in general, it took a very long period of time, centuries of oppression, before the Irish people actually rose. When they do rise they tend to create quite a significant havoc if you want, and dislocation and change, but it takes a long time for that anger to build up." But the build up may now be over. The final straw being last month's leaked tape recordings from the failed Anglo Irish bank. Top executives can be heard mocking their lenders; joking about a blanket guarantee on deposits. SOUNDBITE (English) UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN, SAYING: "I was absolutely disgusted." SOUNDBITE (English) UNIDENTIFIED MAN, SAYING: "It's my generation that's going to be paying for it well into our 50s and 60s. It's really just a disgrace." SOUNDBITE (English) UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN, SAYING: "Enough is enough. We as a nation need to stand up, be counted, and come out and have these people jailed." At the time, Ireland's bank rescue was hailed as the cheapest bailout in the world. But 5 years on, 64 billion euros later, it doesn't look like such a good deal. The economy's back in recession. Unemployment has tripled since the start of the crisis. Signs of austerity aren't hard to find. SOUNDBITE (English) REUTERS REPORTER IVOR BENNETT, SAYING "This building behind me is just one of the many reminders across Ireland of its economic collapse. It was supposed to be the new Anglo Irish headquarters before the bank was liquidated. It's now going to be occupied by the very institution that bailed it out, Ireland's central bank." The Anglo tapes have renewed calls for a public inquiry. There still hasn't been one since the bottomless bailout was signed off. Not a single banker has been put on trial. Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin insists the government is doing what it can. SOUNDBITE (English) MINISTER FOR PUBLIC EXPENDITURE AND REFORM, BRENDAN HOWLIN, SAYING: "We have to shape an inquiry process that is constitutional. Otherwise, the worst of all worlds is that we would embark on a frail inquiry that will be struck down by the courts. So we've worked very hard to ensure we'll have a robust mechanism that will get to the truth." Ireland is still on course to be the first euro zone country to emerge from a bailout. But it's clear its poster-boy image is starting to fade.

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Is Ireland really on road to recovery?

Friday, July 12, 2013 - 02:34