Ireland is picking up Europe’s bar tab: Ganley
One of Ireland's top businessmen and political activists has warned that the country is worse-off than it was three years ago and is not yet out of the woods.
Declan Ganley was speaking to CNBC after Ireland announced that, following a difficult dose of austerity, it would become the first euro zone country to exit a bailout this weekend.
The country's Finance Minister Michael Noonan told CNBC late yesterday: "There's a great sense of achievement at having completed the task I set out to do almost three years ago," adding, "We had a major economic and financial crisis that needed to be addressed. We addressed it by a series of progressive measures which we implemented on a time frame."
(Read more: 'Sense of achievement' as Ireland leaves bailout)
The country has relied on 85 billion euros ($114 billion) in international bailout loans and assistance from its fellow euro countries, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Central Bank (ECB) for the past three years. In that time, the Irish government has implemented stiff austerity measures and overhauled the banking system that brought the country's economy to its knees
The last of Ireland's bailout loans was paid out earlier this year and now the country has to go back to paying its own way. Four other euro zone countries have received help to manage their debts: Greece, Portugal and Cyprus got a sovereign bailout while Spain's banking system was helped out.
However, Ganley argued that the country was in a worse position than it was at the end of November 2010 and that nothing had been done to resolve the issue of the bank debt, which has been "left saddled on the Irish taxpayer."
"It's easy to be popular and everybody's friend if you're paying everybody's bills," Ganley told CNBC,"We have not rocked the boat. The Irish government has not rocked the boat. We have not demanded that this debt be federalized or written off. We bailed out the failed private risks and socialized those risks after they had failed of bond holders right across Europe, including in Germany. We are stuck with the bill."
He added, "We're like the last guys left in the restaurants after everybody else has done a runner and we've been left to pick up the tab. It's easy to be popular if you're the person that's doing that.
While Ganley's is currently the chairman and CEO of Rivada Networks, a telecommunications company, he is best known for being one of the country's most successful businessmen and political activist.
Ganley has long been critical of the European Union and describes himself on his Twitter biography as a "European federalist." In 2008 he campaigned successfully against the Treaty of Lisbon, which aimed to increase the power and responsibilities of various EU institutions. Four years later, he was part of the "No" vote for a referendum on the European Fiscal Compact, which set strict budgetary discipline on EU members.
Back in 2009, Ganley formed a political party named Libertas that campaigned during that year's European Parliament election, although only one candidate was elected.
Ganley has often been critical of the way Germany and France have conducted themselves during the euro zone crisis of the past few years, and he told CNBC that the possible new grand coalition in Germany could cause yet more problems for Ireland.
"We have a German coalition agreement that we're hearing about that is ruling out Eurobonds," he said, referring to the plan to set up bonds for the entire euro zone. "If there is any help for Eurobonds, it seems the Germans will only be prepared...to look at them in a future context in terms of debt going forward but not retroactively."
(Read more: Ireland risks long-term pain for short-term gain)
Ganley, who told Irish Journal in April this year that he was considering setting up a new political party, expressed his anger at other euro zone nations which he accused of breaking European treaties and laws in order to secure the bailout. "They used Ireland to create a bank shot, that is to bounce the money through Ireland and back into their own banks and insurance companies, and that's never been exposed. We don't even know who they are," he said.
"I think once we expose that and open that fact to the cold light of day I think that the moral pressure will be brought to bear that will create the kind of pressure that we need to bring about that debt right off or debt relief."