Incarcerated against its will in Nov 2010, the freshly released prisoner of Frankfurt must now prove it is a reformed character if it is to survive on the outside of the EU-ECB-IMF strait-jacket.
The troika said they had to throw Ireland into the economic isolation unit for its own protection — and theirs, lest its financial sickness contaminated the rest of the feverish eurozone.
And now, with one bound — well, countless killer budgets and €30bn worth of misery cuts and tax hikes — we are free, sort of.
Because in their customary, not-at-all-sinister way of speaking, the troika intend to keep Ireland in what it terms “post-programme surveillance” and will effectively still be calling all the shots.
But do not expect Enda Kenny to dwell on that when he pops-up on TV tomorrow night in a vainglorious and largely pointless bid to wrap himself in a pre-Christmas feel good factor.
Occupying the same slot as Love/Hate, Mr Kenny’s address is likely to be nearly as disappointing as the last, limp effort by Nidge and Co.
Unless Mr Kenny decides to slaughter a cat live on air in a shock opening homage to Love/Hate (unlikely), he will be left just flogging a dead horse for five minutes.
The Taoiseach will Love to claim credit for giving Ireland back its economic sovereignty, but Hate to point out this is largely an illusionary step.
While it is important to get the international message out that Ireland Inc is back in business, yesterday’s
back-slapping fest by The Smug Brothers, Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin, was bubble politics at its worst.
Asked about sluggish consumer demand (‘cos nobody’s got any spare cash), Howlin haughtily responded in his best Marie Antoinette “let them eat cake” voice with: “Try booking a restaurant in Dublin tonight,” in an attempt to convey the image everything was swinging back into the good old times again.
Oh, that must be the reason why record numbers of people are queuing at charity food banks and soup kitchens for hand-outs — because it is just such a bore being turned down for a table at one’s favourite Michellen star eatery.
Still gloating over Forbes magazine citing Ireland as the best country in the world to do business in, supposedly left-leaning ministers like Howlin are strangely sheepish about discussing the fact that one of the prime reasons the business bible gave Ireland the title was because of its shockingly high jobless rate.
It is so much easier to pick and choose from a lumpen mass of the unemployed and, luckily, they tend to be so cowed by the experience and so grateful for being lifted off the dole queue they are much more pliable when it comes to watering down those irritating little luxuries of the past like trade union rights.
Forbes does not delight in the brand slogan “capitalist tool” for nothing, but you really would have to be a capitalist tool of the highest order to revel in the wasted lives of mass unemployment, especially when even the IMF has expressed alarm at the country’s “staggering” jobless level which it estimates is really 23% when those on training and dead-end placements are included.
One major American media outlet the Cabinet is not so keen on is the New York Times after its now infamous profile of Ireland which used the example of a recession-ravaged ex-businessman reduced to shooting pigeons for his dinner as a metaphor for a wider Ireland still scavenging on the economic margins.
Doesn’t the New York Times realise he turned to pigeons because he probably just could not get in at his favourite €200 a head restaurant due to the crush?
As part of the bye-bye bailout orgy of self love being performed at Government Buildings, ministers paraded along a velvet rope-style set-up passing from camera crew to camera crew in a performance reminiscent of the garish pre-Oscar ceremony on-the-red-carpet shows.
Nobody shouted out: “Who are wearing, Mr Noonan?” Or: “That neck scarf is just fierce, girlfriend, where did you get it?” at Joan Burton, but the replies that came from the ministers were vacuous nonetheless.
If it had been an Oscar acceptance speech by Mr Noonan he would most likely have won as best supporting actor in a subservient economic role to the troika.
And in the schmaltz usually seen at such gatherings, Noonan actually said the Irish people were the “heroes” of the day.
But his gushing Oscar speech would surely go along the lines of: “I’d just like to thank all the little people that made it possible for me to bask here in this international glow — the disabled, the blind, the elderly, the young unemployed, it’s just too many to mention, but all those we screwed with our drive-by economic cruelty over the past couple of years.”
There is actually about €800m unspent from the bailout loans which works out at some €200 for every woman, man and child in the country.
Rather than sit through Enda telling us how great we all our tomorrow night, wouldn’t it be better if they just bunged us the couple of hundred quid each so we could go out and celebrate for ourselves?
But obviously, dinner is out of the question as Howlin and co will have nabbed all the top restaurants.
In their world the boomtown seems to be back and the only rats are the ones trying to prick their post-bailout bubble of complacency with the harsh reality of what life is actually like for so many people in Ireland today.