While Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore’s campaign to restore Ireland’s battered reputation continues abroad, one Northwest MEP came up with the novel idea of inviting foreign politicians to Ireland in an effort to promote international understanding of our dire financial plight.
45 politicians from nine different European countries descended on Sligo last weekend hosted by Independent MEP Marian Harkin, to discuss the Irish crisis and the EU response.
“It was a great opportunity to put the enormity of the crisis into context in a straightforward and non-confrontational atmosphere,” said Ms Harkin. “We explained that Ireland’s is the second largest bank bailout ever, and that we are being forced to cut GDP by 20 per cent as a result of the austerity measures, a feat never successfully achieved by a developed economy.”
“It was emphasized that there needs to be burden-sharing where bank debt is concerned and that responsibility cannot rest on the overburdened shoulders of Irish citizens,” she added.
It wasn’t all banks and bailouts though, as the visiting delegation also got a chance to sample the beautiful scenery and cultural history of Sligo and Leitrim.
“The icing on the cake was how impressed our visitors were with the landscape,” said Ms Harkin. “Also I was very pleased when one of the senior delegation members assured me that Ireland had gained friends and supporters over the weekend,” added the Independent MEP.