It was a humiliating experience for the Irish people when, due to the incompetence of the previous government and, it must be said, their own greed, they had to go cap in hand to Europe and the IMF to seek a bailout or face defaulting on the country's debts.
The Celtic Tiger had fallen foul of its own success urged on by unprincipled bankers, who have never been called to account for their unethical behaviour that bordered on the criminal. With a new government came tough austerity measures that have heaped pain on the ordinary citizens of Ireland, with job losses or big wage reductions. Benefits have been drastically cut and once expensive houses now stand unfinished, empty or inhabited by squatters.
Worse, a whole generation of well-educated young have left to seek jobs abroad and if history is anything to go by, the majority are unlikely to return. Yet, the country is seeing an upturn in exports and large companies continue to move their operations there. Thanks to John Arlidge of The Sunday Times, we learn that the world's Botox is produced in Ireland. As are enough quantities of Viagra to make bishops reach for a stiff drink, no longer able to preach abstinence due to the behaviour of their own clergy.
Unless the Eurozone collapses, bringing the world to its knees, Ireland is on the rocky road to recovery, doing what its financial masters demand and hailed in Brussels as a model citizen of Europe. But it is paying a terrible price for the sins of the past.