Oh, how quickly an alleged ‘game-changer’ in Europe can soon dissolve into a blame-changer.
Is it just a week since the Government was leaping all over the deal to raid Cypriot bank accounts, and hailing it as a good move for Ireland and the Eurozone — and yet another triumph for Dublin’s rotating presidency of the EU?
For ‘rotating’, now read ’rocky’, as we tremble on the edge of an emergency exit from the euro by the island state, and face the certainty that the confidence that European savers had in the bank guarantee only days ago is now shot through like Swiss cheese.
Fans of Greek mythology might be tempted to believe Enda Kenny, self-styled King of Europe, was befallen by hubris.
There he was, lording it in Washington DC, spouting on about how he was the Irish president of Europe, meeting the Irish ‘president’ of America (as Barack Obama looked on, suitably bewildered), while back home all was turmoil.
How fitting that this was the week the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee warned the Department of Foreign Affairs to spend less time on Ferrero Rocher receptions and focus more on financial management.
While it is all very lovely that Ireland has the six-month-long nominal presidency of the EU, the way Mr Kenny & Co have tried to large it up has been more than faintly embarrassing.
Irish ministers do not even chair most of the relevant summit meetings and have minimal influence over the agenda, yet Dublin grandly claims credit for anything that has moved on the European stage since Jan 1.
While the Government may be smugly pleased with itself at the way it has been ‘running’ Europe, does anyone remember from whom we took over the presidency of the European Council?
Oh, yes, that’s it, it was Cyprus — and what did they claim as the big success of their six-month run?
Oh, yes — that’s it, it was a magnificent deal to secure the banking system.
I wonder how that striking success is working out?
Though blindingly obvious to ‘the real world’, from-the-off, that the ram-raid on Cypriot bank accounts would never work, once sanity finally dawned on the euro heads that this was a non-starter, Dublin was quick to try and unscramble itself from the mess, suddenly pointing out that all the big countries were still in charge, not them — but, by that stage, the damage had been done.
Cyprus was previously only known for two things: being a shining example of British post-colonialism — as, like India/Pakistan, Palestine/Israel and dear old Ireland, it had been left partitioned, divided and in a state of constant political tension; and being the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love.
Aphrodite, was, of course, born as a result of Cronus of the Titans ripping off the genitals of his father, Uranus, and throwing them into the Aegean Sea.
Aphrodite grew so beautiful that Zeus, king of the Gods — or, to put the Irish Government’s spin on the current power play in the EU, let’s rename him Enda — had to intervene as he feared her charms would unleash war among the gods, and so made her marry the ugly occupant of Mount Olympus, Hephaestus.
Not that Aphrodite let that stop her, as she soon took up a passionate affair with Adonis (after acting as his surrogate mother — Greek mythology makes even the plot lines of EastEnders look vaguely believable, by comparison).
Now, the two great gods of Europe, Germany and Russia, rage over who will win the financial heart of Cyprus once more.
It is easy to understand why Frankfurt is very reluctant to underwrite a Cypriot banking system so twisted out of shape by Russian mafia money — but why was this off-shore hot-cash stash allowed to join the EU in the first place?
But making the little investors pay for the pain with a ‘levy’ of up to 10% of their savings showed the lowest form of emotional intelligence.
Who across Europe will believe the bank-savings ‘guarantees’ now?
Irish ministers were quick to insist that such a thing could never happen here — but it already has, and at their own hands.
This is the Government that raided pension pots with a similar ‘levy’, and Finance Minister Michael Noonan shows no remorse for ripping €15m out of the accounts of credit unions with the liquidation of Anglo.
The Taoiseach, and others, were quick to fall over themselves, insisting the situation in Cyprus is “unique” and “unprecedented” — but everything is unprecedented until a precedent has been set.
And that precedent to rob the bank-savings of ordinary citizens, in order to pay for the greed of the capitalist casino cowboys, was set at 4.30am in Brussels last Saturday, when Ireland and the rest of the Eurozone insisted the little people had to stump-up for the sins of others.
It is not as if the EU did not have forewarning of the crisis, as Cyprus first announced it would need a bail-out last June — which is exactly the same time Mr Kenny and Co insisted they had achieved a “game-changer” deal and would soon deliver a massive write-down on Ireland’s €60bn bank bail-out debts.
A huge question mark now hangs over that — especially as Dublin has shot itself in the financial foot by accepting that Cypriot debt would not be divided between sovereign and bank liabilities, as it insists ours should be.
If Mr Kenny fails to deliver the deal, or comes up with a dodgy fig leaf effort like the one on Anglo promissory notes, the issue will become a blame-changer instead.
In the public’s mind, it will switch blame for the unsustainable banking bail-out debt legacy from the last Fianna Fiasco administration to this Slump Coalition.
If that comes to pass, the legacy of not-so-mighty Aphrodite will leave Enda: King of Europe looking as (politically) castrated as Uranus.