He criticised the fact that some doctors were so very highly paid compared to their German counterparts and that about 20% of workers were public servants. He said the Irish were “coarse” and that we could think of nothing better to do with our newfound prosperity other than to buy new cars.
It would be interesting so to hear how Herr Pauls might react to the revelation that new car sales rose by almost 30% in February. Would he see it as a reckless waste of capital or a justified indulgence after years of Berlin-imposed austerity? Would he see it as a return to the Celtic Tiger excesses that almost broke this country?
It is is unlikely, though, that the car salesmen satisfying this demand will be too bothered. The sector has, like many others, suffered years of retrenchment and falling sales. According to the Central Statistics Office, 35,489 new private cars were licensed in the year to the end of February.
This represents a considerable improvement on 2014 and, even if viewed through the most cautious perspective, reflects a renewed economy. It suggests too that many people are confident enough in their future to borrow and spend money — the circle that is the lifeblood of an economy such as ours.