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Political language, disagreeing while saying they’re agreeing… December 20, 2012

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.

There’s an excellent example of political language meaning whatever the hell you want it to reported in the SBP at the weekend in relation to Pat Rabbitte and Lucinda Creighton’s musings on the €3.1bn promissory note which is due to be paid in March. As Niamh Connolly reports last week we heard this from Rabbitte when asked if a bailout would ensue on foot of a lack of agreement on payment of the note:

“Personally, I don’t think it is as stark as that, because we didn’t pay the promissory note this year and, as far as I am concerned, we are not going to pay it next year. It’s as simple as that,” Rabbitte said.

Seems clear enough. ‘We are not gong to pay it next year’ (though if one reads the first four or five comments in this thread here one will get a real sense of how even that is ambiguous in terms of what is really happening… ).

Creighton when the issue was raised said:

[while an agreement would have to be found in March:] “I don’t think it’s helpful to say ‘we will not pay’. That suggests that we might default, which is not the case. We have to remember when you say ‘we will not pay’ that this has all sorts of connotations and can be interpreted a thousand ways by the markets. As soon as we start sending out messages to the market that we might default, why would anybody come and invest here?”

But wait, didn’t Pat Rabbitte say ‘we are not going to pay it next year’. Isn’t that effectively the same as ‘we will not pay’, at least in so far as ‘we will not pay… next year’.
Apparently not. In this instance when she heard Rabbitte say ‘we will not pay’ she interpreted it as the following:

“I know exactly what Pat Rabbitte means and it’s very much in keeping with the sentiment expressed by Michael Noonan. But obviously, we have to do everything by agreement with the European Central Bank.

And further:

“We’ve spent the last number of years making it very, very clear that Ireland is a safe place to do business – you can invest your money, buy bonds, bring your company here, and you can invest in a thousand different ways in Ireland. That message has been heard loud and clear, and international investors are responding to it, so I would be very cautious about using that language because it can be misinterpreted. I would say that it’s for the government to manage this process, to deliver on our commitments and the expectations of the public by March, and we will do that.”

But Rabbitte’s language surely fits precisely in to the sort of language that can, at its kindest, be misinterpreted? Surely? No?


1. CL - December 20, 2012

‘we didn’t pay the promissory note this year’-Yes they did.


2. Jim Monaghan - December 20, 2012

“words mean what I want them to mean” said humpty dumpty


3. doctorfive - December 20, 2012

What worries me is we are now being asked to view Minister’s not wanting to pay the promissory note as some sort of breakthrough or progress.


4. John Joyce - December 20, 2012

The Department of Finanace has stated on more than one occasion that the promissiory note was paid this year as a government bond. The minister is lying and it would be nice not to see this lie repeated as if it’s fair comment – i.e. a balanced side of an argument.

We paid. Fact. Stop treating it as if there are two sides to this. They aren’t.

See page 22, note B of this report from the Department and stop treating a lie as a side of the story. A lie’s not a side of a story. It’s just a lie.



5. CL - December 20, 2012

If Rabbitte gets his way and they don’t pay the promissory note next year in the same way they didn’t pay it this year,…it will be paid.


6. greengoddess2 - December 20, 2012

From Dan O Brien. Conservative. But still…..



CL - December 21, 2012

Dan O’Brien was a litle late getting there. Here’s a letter in the Irish Times a week ago from Andy Storey and others:

“It is entirely untrue that the promissory note was not paid this year. The promissory note was paid in full.”


Tomboktu - December 21, 2012

Ah but, that doesn’t matter. It’s only true now that Dan says it’s true.


7. CL - December 20, 2012

Pat may have to pirouette from his previous position.


8. doctorfive - December 20, 2012


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