Hobnobbing at the Consul’s residence
The Irish consul lives on the 52nd floor of a gorgeous apartment in Mid-town. I’ve been in a few nice Manhattan apartments, but this one takes the cake — a two-storey apt. with terrace views overlooking the city. It never rains when you’re there, as if the weather cooperates, and there’s little sense of the dirty, grimy city that lies below.
Anyhow, on Friday the Irish Minister for Tourism and Sport, Mary Hanafin, was over to announce an art festival in Dublin next year called Dublin Contemporary. Earlier in the week, the Minister had presided over a meeting about Ireland’s future, aptly titled, ‘Returning Ireland to Growth.’
Ireland has become a big news story this year. Hanafin complained about the negativity of critics. ‘We have no shortage of commentators who are ready to argue that our glass is half empty, or even entirely empty.’ Dr. Alan Ahearne, the advisor to Brian Lenihan, Ireland’s Minister for Finance, spoke after her, presenting a series of numbers and financial data. Ireland’s debts will peak at 90% of GDP in 2014, he said, when the Eurozone average will be 80%. ‘If our debts are not manageable, most countries’ debts are not manageable.’ Referring to the commentariat’s fear that Ireland’s debts are too unwieldy and hard to tackle, he said simply (and, it seemed to me, rather strangely, since some members of the commentariat seem well informed) ‘I don’t believe that.’
Hanafin did acknowledge the depth of the problem, admitting that ‘the economic challenges are daunting.’ She added, ‘Irish people at home are worried. Everybody at home is looking for reassurance that we can survive.’
Note: My friend Vinny Murphy offers a different take on the event here.