The markets continue to be in a bad mood following another failed EU finance summit. Political leaders struggle to reassure them and the head of the ECB Mario Draghi uses his monthy statement to openly ask what’s the matter with them. The markets reply that “It’s nothing. I don’t know, just the time of year, I s’pose, you know. The dark evenings.” The ECB issues a statement saying “I know what you mean. I’m the same way myself.” This temporarily placates traders but it isn’t long before they resume selling of Italian bonds saying “It’s therapeutic.”
Rumours of the euro collapse fly around Dublin after reports that plans for a return to the punt currency are at an advanced stage. It is alleged that ‘The-Only-Artist-In-The-Country’ Robert Ballagh has received an email from the Department of Finance telling him to “expect plenty of currency-designing work soon”. A Central Bank official strenuously denies that they are creating coins and releases a statement saying that a tender document looking for applications to supply mints was “for the other type of mint – Silvermints, Polos or the ones with the polar-bear.”
There is public outcry as IMF observers stationed at all major St Patrick’s Day parades around the country are seen to go up and down the route asking children “Where did ye get the money for the ice-cream?”
The ink from all copies of the Programme for Government fades and the pages are now blank. In a solemn address to the nation entitled “You Can’t Break Promises If You Didn’t Make Them”, the Taoiseach announces a new tax on blind widows.
April is now the traditional month for high profile state visits as the new North Korea leader Kim Jong-Un makes a state visit to Ireland. Gaff prone TD Mick Wallace inadvertently threatens to de-rail the occasion when microphones in the Dáil pick him up whispering to Luke Ming Flanagan “The problem with the North Koreans is that they’ve got no Seoul”.
Media commentators are amused by the similarity of Enda Kenny’s speech to Kim’s – particularly the line: “We have fought against the Imperial Enemy and will continue to defeat the Capitalist American devils and their craven British lapdogs. “
Overall, the visit is judged to be a success as Kim visits pharmaceutical plants, farms and the Guinness Storehouse. North Korean TV has a different spin on the occasion as it presents a programme called ‘Dear Leader Singlehandedly Shows North Korea’s Great Factories, Farms and Cultural Magnificence Centres to Surprisingly Large Irish Delegation’
The political overtones of the Eurovision reach a new level. The Greek entry consists of a little girl being menaced by a large man wearing lederhosen and driving a tank. The Irish entry is another fiasco. Entitled ‘Misty Ireland Beardy Thinking Song’ it is written by John Waters but its deep and meaningful lyrics jar with the jaunty disco beat and the energetic performance by Jedward.
After a year attempting to impose financial discipline on its EU, Germany tries a new tack and hires the services of an Irish mother. Angela Merkel releases a statement apparently giving up on the project saying “Look, I don’t care what ye do. Ye’re old enough now to look after ye’reselves. All I can say is that I’m very disappointed in the lot of ye. But if that’s the way ye want it, fine.”
Within half an hour, all 27 Euro countries have signed up to a wide-ranging fiscal pact and said they are very sorry and didn’t mean to be selfish. Dr. Merkel also receives a gift of a spa treatment.
Ireland votes yes to the new European Fiscal Discipline plan by a narrow margin but the government is accused of cynicism by holding the referendum over three separate days with polling stations only open during Ireland’s Euro 2012 group matches.
Things are now so chaotic within European financial circles that the contagion spreads to other forms of market. The prices for chutneys, bacon jam and artisan bread fluctuate wildly as panic sweeps the Farmers Markets. Towards the end of the month, the Cattle Marts are sucked in and become nervous. Bullocks are increasingly giddy and farmers note that even most placid of cows are particularly skittish. Mart regulators move to calm the cattle with the release of emergency liquidity in the form of molasses.
There is respite from the unrelenting economic bad news as Ireland continues to attract foreign direct investment. Santa Claus announces he is moving his European distribution and supply chain headquarters to a purpose built facility in Little Island.
Controversially, Santa will benefit from a complex three-country tax avoidance scheme negotiated between Ireland, Bermuda and Lapland. Similar to the so-called Dutch Sandwich scheme, this arrangement – known colloquially as a LapDance – means Santa is only required to pay two dinkies and a surprise to Revenue once a year.
The authorities announce a novel plan to simultaneously clamp down on both racism and violent crime by sending the most hardened Irish criminals back to where the immigrants came from. Members of the McCarthy-Dundons and Westies gangs are sent to Somalia where they are reported to have had the corners knocked off them while former paramilitaries end up in Chinese re-education camps. The Sunday tabloids are distraught as the supply of 40% of headlines dries up overnight.
There is further good news as Ireland’s plummeting labour costs cause several Indian companies to locate call centres here. As these centres are intended to cater for the South Asian market, Irish employees undergo intensive small-talk training to ensure that the customer-service experience for the Indian consumer is as familiar as possible. Stock phrases are learned off such as:
“What about that cricket nah? We have England in the WorldCup. C’mon you boys in white!” and
“The weather’s terrible isn’t it. But it’ll be great to see the rain, thank Gods”
Some expert impersonators are encouraged to make the even more efforts to appear as if they are in fact in Bangalore by pretending to shout at someone in the background:
“CHAI- WALLAH! More tea over here now! Stop dreaming! Who do you think you are man? Slumdog Millionaire?!”
There is trenchant criticism of Croke Park Mark II. The wide ranging deal sees senior public servants retain their existing pay and conditions as well as now being entitled to free cake for life. “We believe we have got a fair deal for all the people of Ireland” says Labour Party leader Eamonn Gilmore, brushing the crumbs from his lap. Meanwhile, the lower paid and self-employed will now be required to pay a tithe to their local judge or face having the thatch on their house staved in by The Peelers.
Despite the best efforts of all concerned, the euro collapses and the punt returns as Ireland’s currency. There is an hilarious hitch as new notes and coins to the value of nearly £10 million are created containing an unfortunate typo in the word ‘Punt’. The currency is quickly recalled but not before a delighted population get their hands on some of it. New collective nouns are quickly ascribed to the various denominations of the currency. Two coins are known as ‘A Right Pair Of ’, the twenty is called ‘A Shower Of’ and a fifty is known as the ‘Enough Of The’
The run-up to the 2013 budget is a blizzard of mixed metaphors as so many kites are flown they become stuck in the trees bearing the low-hanging fruit. Another VAT rise finally snaps the patience of the electorate. The Black Economy overtakes the Official Economy. Black Elections are held and a new Black Government consisting of fly-by-nights, duckers-and-divers and wheeler-dealers takes power. Production and employment soar as the new government tells the Official Government, the IMF and the EU that Black is the new Black.
We can only hope.