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What's up, Europe? Irish continue to muddle

A tricolor Irish flag

Kai Ryssdal: Well, it's over -- the European thing. Germany finally got what it wanted, hammered the Greeks into submission. Soccer, people, I'm talking soccer. The European championships, Germany beat Greece 4-2 today in the quarterfinals. The debt crisis is still going strong, which gets us to this. "What's up, Europe?" Ireland today and Louise Williams of the BBC. We had her on a couple of weeks ago talking about the Irish referendum on the European bailout package. Louise, good to talk to you again.

Louise Williams: And you. Kai, how are you doing?

Ryssdal: I'm well, but I'm calling you to find out what's going on over there. So what's new?

Williams: OK. So the last time I spoke, I was in kind of this moment of tension. The referendum was under way. How were we going to vote? Nobody knew what would the outcome be. We've come to the end of a series of weeks of really quite intensive debate about what is Ireland's role in Europe; what is Ireland's role within the eurozone? All of those big questions. I'm not saying that we came up with the right answers or if it's even clear the referendum that we voted on, what the implications were, but we did have that debate. And now not much. Do you know, it's sort of... Well, kind of our eyes are turned toward Greece, toward Spain. Nobody wants Greece to go through more pain, and yet their economy at the moment would be somewhat weaker than ours. So if they were to leave the euro, would that strengthen our position as a small country within the eurozone or would that make us even more vulnerable? We had that very intense discussion and new don't quite know what's going to happen next and maybe the whole project will be thrown out the window anyway.

Ryssdal: It sort of sounds like the Irish are doing what the Irish do, which is just muddling through.

Williams: You know, that's really it. And kind of keep the head down, Hope that we'll get along. Show that there's lots of goodwill to do what Europe wants us to do. And I think there's a fair chance that we will manage to muddle through this crisis, but who knows?

Ryssdal: What's the fun news, Louise? Come on, help me out.

Williams: I know. I know. You want me to be upbeat, I know. OK. So we did really badly in the euros.

Ryssdal: Oh, in the football, in the soccer game. Oh yeah.

Williams: Yes. I mean really badly, Kai. Total humiliation. We sang beautifully after the matches, I will say that much. But I don't know if this picture will have reached you in the U.S. But it's a photo that was taken at Dublin airport and it's a photo of fans that were leaving for Poland.

Ryssdal: For the football game, for the Euro 2012?

Williams: Exactly. And they have the tricolor of the green, the white, and orange. And printed across it -- I don't know how they got this printed up -- but they got printed across it, "Angela Merkel thinks we're at work." And they're at Dublin airport flying out.

Ryssdal: That's actually horrible. Come on.

Williams: No. It's hilarious. It's absolutely hilarious. But not only was that hilarious and made us laugh like drains, but that banner has just been sold at auction for about 20,000 euro. And all of that money is going towards cancer charities and children's cancer charities and all sorts of brilliant causes.

Ryssdal: Oh, that's good. That's good. So good does come out of the European debt crisis yet, right?

Williams: Just about. And we had a giggle about that flag. Come on! You've got to be cheeky about it.

Ryssdal: No, it's good, you're good. You're right. Louise Williams, she's, where are you? Dublin?

Williams: Dublin, absolutely. Gray, old Dublin.

Ryssdal: All right. Very good. We'll talk to you soon.

Williams: Talk to you again.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.
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