It took six days and eight-and-a-quarter hours before the taxpayers of Ireland were told something true. And it came not from a government minister, but from Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan in an illuminating interview on Morning Ireland last Thursday.
The previous Friday, we knew for sure that an EU/IMF bailout was on the cards. Weeks of rising interest rates for Irish debt on the bond markets had secured our fate as surely as the government's abysmal handling of our criminally reckless banks had wrecked confidence in this island state.
But, not surprisingly given the performance of Taoiseach Brian Cowen and his management team in the two years since the September night of the bank guarantee, nobody was prepared to offer leadership last weekend. Taxpayers, whose grandparents fought for independence and whose grandchildren will be paying for the decisions of a greedy few, had to endure a line-up of government ministers telling what can only be described as downright lies.
We should know better – after two years of morally dubious decisions, a gross underestimation of the problem and exaggeration of our growth prospects – than to believe anything the current administration tells us. But only in a parallel universe led by this government could downright lying to the people who pay the bills be acceptable.
The most significant truths of our predicament are the things nobody has been saying. As Dermot Ahern tried to persuade us that bailout talks were a "fiction" and Batt O'Keeffe and Dick Roche lined up to deny there were any encounters of any kind with the EU or IMF, there is one certainty that rings true: Fianna Fáil is not acting in the public interest. It is clinging desperately to the distortion that this bailout is not actually a bailout but a loan made necessary by the unstable market situation. To listen to ministers trying to blame Europe for our problems would be comic if it were not so serious.
The Taoiseach himself gave a very telling insight into the government's lack of connection with ordinary people after 13 years in power. Interviewed by Bryan Dobson on RTE's Six One News, he criticised the media for scepticism and refused to get into what he called 'word games' – the new FF buzzword for lies. It's not the media, Dobson had to remind him, it's the people of Ireland who need to know what's going on.
One known known about this debacle is that Fianna Fáil does not want this historically damaging admission – that we can no longer run our sovereign state without outside help – on its watch. History will record that Ireland enjoyed the greatest boom of its history under a Fianna Fáil-led government, but that they blew it.
Let us be under no illusion: Ireland's need to rely on outside aid is a dark day indeed. And this aid is required because of the choices made and not made by Fianna Fáil, the so-called Republican party that boasts of its adherence to the democratic principle of government of the people, by the people and for the people. This is not what generations of patriots died for.
The other known known is that the oft-repeated utterance that the state is well-capitalised into next year is a lie. We have all but nationalised the banks. Their debt is our debt. Citing EU support for the government strategy to save €6bn in budget 2011 is another distraction. The budget is not the reason we are in this mess now. There has been a run on our indebted banks. They have been supported to the tune of €90bn by the ECB; that's almost the size of the whole Irish economy. But international investors are pulling their money out of Irish banks because they can see what we can see: the banks have run rings around the government for two years. To this day they still cannot prise encryption codes from Anglo employees to probe their computer dealings.
The ECB and the rest of Europe want some certainty on Ireland's position. European banks' exposure to Irish debt – running at €480bn – is spectacular. They know that Irish taxpayers, however compliant, cannot possible cover it.
Whether any other political party would have made a different decision about the banks in 2008 is moot. However, the government is to blame for not carrying out due diligence on the banks' ongoing liabilities after it had guaranteed their debts with taxpayers' money. The IMF, like any sensible lender, is now going through the books a full two years later. Lenihan and Cowen let themselves be hoodwinked, and nobody has been held to account.
The final known known is that we have run out of luck. The massive economic gamble taken on the banks two years ago, and the government's inability to respond, reform, lead or inspire in the interim, has sealed our fate. We have been humiliated and turned into a laughing stock. Our recent history has been twisted, corrupted and distorted by Fianna Fáil and their Green partners.
But when we get over our buyers' remorse at having voted them into power, we need to remember we are a proud and independent people who will recover. When we do, we need to make sure the future does not belong to crony capitalists, mediocre politicians, greedy bankers or reckless developers.