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Ming - minding the gap

De Facto

Ming - minding the gap


De Facto
Liamy MacNally

THERE’S no doubt about i?t – Ming is good copy. Also known as Luke Flanagan, MEP, he has the knack of aiming a question at a target. He is a straight talker, telling it like it is. This does not make him perfect but it often makes him right.
Sometimes he can go on but he is an individual with his own concerns. It is only natural that all people do not share all his issues all the time. That’s life and human nature.
Some might think that his move from the national stage to the international European stage was a blessing in disguise for many ‘in authority’ here. They might feel relieved that they do not have to face Ming across the Dáil floor but that is a poor consolation.
He doesn’t always get it right. He has had a few slip-ups and he can be a bit ‘previous’ on some issues but he tries. He tries hard most of the time. His heart, as older folk might say, is in the right place.
The real issue is the essence of what he says. He can cut through the nonsense of political speak, cover-up and general gobbledegook. Someone recently described him as a ‘BS detector’.
Recently the Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes addressed the European Parliament on a European Investment Bank (EIB) report. He said that countries that were once part of a bailout programme, and have moved back into lending markets having completed structural reform and have got their deficits, down should obtain EIB support.
The EIB increased support to programme countries by 27 percent between 2013 and 2014. It lent €210 million to Ireland in 2010. This increased to €850 million in 2014.
Mr Hayes said: “Here is an example that we can invest more, lend more to countries which have improved their own position as a result of structural reform and as a result of getting an appalling deficit down. And that’s where the gap in investment needs to be encouraged an supported …”
Ming wanted a word about this ‘gap’ and responded: “…[Would] it not be easier to fill that hole that was created by institutions like the ECB when they forced us to save non-systemic banks and left us with odious debt to the tunes of tens of billions of euro? Would it be not better to give us back the money that was robbed from our country than to have us going begging for a pittance in return?”
Mr Hayes replied: “Unfortunately the member opposite does not understand the problems that Ireland has gone through…” and went on to blame the previous Government for the bailout.
Ming expanded later on ‘filling the gap’: “For example, the €500 million we raised from the sale of a Promissory Note bond last December and then destroyed would have filled a few ‘gaps,’ as would the €500 million we raised earlier last year from the sale of yet another Promissory Note bond – together, that’s €1,000 million, which is €150 million MORE than the amount Brian Hayes was bending over backwards to thank the EIB for lending to us.
In other words, you had one EU institution – the EIB – LENDING us €850 million, while another EU institution – the ECB – was insisting we DESTROY €1,000 million. Sure what’s not to understand?”
Ming went on: “The thing though that I found interesting was the Brian Hayes’ main line of attack, that I ‘just didn’t understand’ how it all works. You see if only I understood then I would see that Fine Gael were in fact heroes.”
Some of the greatest economic minds in the world – from Nobel prize-winners Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz, to former IMF senior personnel Ajai Chopra and Mody, to former economic adviser to Jose Manuel Barroso, Philippe Legrain – are now saying that what was done to Ireland was wrong, unjustified at any level, yet here we have an Irish MEP who reckons they too all don’t understand, an Irish MEP still publicly insisting before the world that this was all our own fault.”
One problem here is the dearth of media coverage of European debates. Love him or hate him Ming fills a political gap. He asks straight questions.