On paper, it appears that Ireland has fared particularly well through the government’s tough austerity program, which was a condition of the 67.5 billion euro international loan it received during its severe banking crisis. For example, interest rates on 10-year bonds have fallen from 14.5% to 3.5% and newspaper headlines continue to announce the creation of new jobs. However, the austerity program has taken a large financial toll on many Irish citizens, many of whom are barely holding on.
The hardships faced by many Irish citizens are the result of the two main components of the austerity program: government spending cuts that equate to 20% of the nation’s GDP and the introduction of new taxes. Many have hailed Ireland’s emergence from the international financial rescue program as a sign that Europe is moving past its long-lasting economic crisis, but others believe that this achievement is marred by the fact that Ireland’s economy and standard of living have declined. Going forward, it is predicted that financial troubles will continue for Irish citizens in order to maintain the nation’s creditworthiness with international investors.
Greece, Portugal, and Cyprus have yet to emerge from their multibillion-euro bailouts and Ireland is being used as a symbol of recovery for these nations. Unfortunately for the citizens of these three countries, Ireland also symbolizes the financial strain and hardships that will likely be required for a recovery to take place.