Father Iggy O'Donovan on the mood of Ireland after the bailout announcement
Commuters wait at a bus stop in the early morning light in Dublin, Ireland, on November 22, 2010. Anger mounted in Ireland Monday after Prime Minister Brian Cowen confirmed the European Union had agreed to his request for a multi-billion-euro bailout.
TEXT OF INTERVIEW
JEREMY HOBSON: So what's it like to live in a country that's about to be bailed out? Let's find out from Father Iggy O'Donovan. He's the parish priest in the Irish town of Drogheda just north of Dublin.
Father, thanks for joining us.
IGGY O'DONOVAN: Thank you very much.
HOBSON: So what's the mood there among the people you're talking to about this bailout? Are people relieved or embarrassed or what?
O'DONOVAN: In a strange way there's a certain level of relief. Because the arrival of the IMF and the European Central Bank, at least it has given us a degree of certainty. There had been the feeling in recent months that we were totally drifting, leaderless. We had the mother of all real estate booms, and it came to a shuttering halt. All our eggs were in that basket, and we had a mighty party. We have the mother of all hangovers now.
HOBSON: But there was a lot of push back by the government saying that you didn't need a bailout. It seemed like there was some level of embarrassment about getting help from Europe. But is that your sense?
O'DONOVAN: There was a great pride there was that Ireland had broken away from Britain, become a fully fledged member of the European community, there was confidence. There was that pride. And now that we've had to go cap in hand, we handed over our economic independence literally to the IMF and the European Central Bank, and we simply had to admit that we simply were unable economically, to manage our own affairs. It's embarrassing.
HOBSON: And is it something that everyone is talking about? I mean, is it the topic of conversation in the streets, in the pubs, places like that?
O'DONOVAN: It is. And we're a pretty patient people in some ways, in that unlike the Greeks and the French, the Irish generally don't take to the streets. We're happy to go on the chat lines, on the public radio, and complain about the government and so forth. But if I could sum it up this way, what's happened to us recently, it's a massive surgical operation carried out without an anesthetic, on a patient who thought he was in the best of health.
HOBSON: Father Iggy O'Donovan, a parish priest in the Irish town of Drogheda. Thank you so much for joining us.
O'DONOVAN: Thank you very much indeed.