It's all very well to blame the bankers and the politicians. What happened in Ireland could not have happened without the wholehearted support of its people, who having lived in a poor country suddenly found themselves living in one perceived to be rich, with rampant property prices and a supposedly booming economy, and loved it. The Irish population can't absolve themselves of all responsibility by finding scapegoats.
I absolutely agree with both yourself and Rob. I always take as a given the public's capacity for self-delusion and greed - especially when the money is flowing. We waded into the deep end with out eyes wide shut. That's what people do - everywhere. That's why the scorpion stung the frog - it's in his nature.
Remember, a similar bubble happened in Holland in 1637 when Tulip Mania hit the country during the so-called Dutch Golden Age. Contract prices for bulbs soared to incredibly high levels and then suddenly collapsed. At the peak of tulip mania, in February 1637, single tulip bulbs sold for more than 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftsman. Many economists regard this as the first recorded speculative bubble. Substitute tulips for property in Ireland and you get the picture. Banks behaved recklessly to gain market share and the public couldn't resist. Sure, I blame them for their irresponsibility and lack of foresight.
What I cannot forgive, however, is the lack of political oversight. Where were the banking regulators, the Central Bank et al while the bubble grew? The regulatory system failed abysmally. The Minister for Finance refused to intervene. The authorities turned a blind eye because the political climate of the day required a see no evil approach. Elections were bought with the public's own money. Public service costs ran out of control. Wages soared. You all know the story by now. Nobody in any elected position of authority cried stop. Instead, the buzz phrase was 'soft landing'.
A few economic commentators warned there would be a terrible day of reckoning. They were told by our then Prime Minister to take a hike. He wondered if they felt that way why the didn't go off and commit suicide.
One of the functions of government is to protect the common good. It didn't happen here. Instead we had a period of hubris, arrogance, corruption and scandals, followed by inordinately expensive tribunals of enquiry, one of which took something like fourteen years to complete its work.
And all this, mind you, in a country whose population is probably smaller than Manchester, England - a country which boasted at the height of the boom that it was one of the richest in the world!