CNBC: Ireland we hardly knew ye!

I know we like to think that our wee island packs a punch beyond its size, but any illusion that we are a household name kind of comes crashing down with one interview on one of America’s most respected financial networks CNBC.

If you have not been following this story, the Chief Executive of the Irish Development Agency, Martin Shanahan was invited onto the programme to discuss Ireland’s tax system which has been debated in the corridors of power in the United States.

However, it didn’t really go that way as the interviewer, Joe Kernan seemed perplexed to find out that the Republic of Ireland uses the the Euro and that Northern Ireland uses the pound. In a comment that would bring a smile to any republican Kernan argued that “you guys gotta get it together” as it seemed crazy to him that one island would have two currencies. An increasingly confused Kernan seemed like his head was going to explode as Shanahan explained to him that for nearly a century now North & South have been divided.

WARNING: Face palm alert for those who wish to read the transcript of the interview provided by the Independent

CNBC’s Kernen: You have pounds anyway don’t you still?

Shanahan: We have euros.

CNBC’s Kernen: You have euros in Ireland?

Shanahan: Yes. We have euros, which is eh…

CNBC’s Kernen: Why do you have euros in Ireland?

Shanahan: A strong recovery….

CNBC’s Kernen: Why do use euros in Ireland?

CNBC’s Kernen: Why wouldn’t we have euros in Ireland?

CNBC: I’d use the pound.

CNBC’s Kernen: We use euro.

CNBC: What about Scotland? I was using Scottish eh…

CNBC’s Kernen: Scottish pounds.

CNBC: Scottish pounds.

CNBC’s Kernen: They use Sterling.

CNBC: They use sterling?

Shanahan: They use sterling. But we use euro.

CNBC’s Kernen: WHAT? Why would you do that?

Shanahan: Why wouldn’t we do that.

CNBC’s Kernen: Why didn’t Scotland? No wander they wanted to break away.

Shanahan: They are part of the UK we are not.

CNBC’s Kernen: Aren’t you right next to er?

Shanahan: We are very close but entirely separate.

CNBC’s Kernen: It is sort of the same, same island isn’t it?

Shanhan: And in the North of Ireland they have sterling.

CNBC’s Kernen: They do?

Shanhan: And in the North of Ireland they use sterling.

CNBC’s Kernen: It is just too confusing…

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  • barnshee

    “It is just too confusing”

    Could not agree more

  • Ernekid

    I’ve had a few conversations like this whilst drinking with Americans in the States. I once ended up giving a ten minute lecture to a bunch of Americans on condensed Irish history touching on the 12th century Norman Invasion, The Flight of the Earls, the Famine,The Home Rule Crisis, Bloody Sunday and the Good Friday Agreement. It started when one asked me what’s ‘Northern Ireland?’

  • carl marks

    used to run a youth hostel, i know the feeling trying to explain the whole thing to foreigners, not just Americians!

  • Michael-Henry Mcivor

    I think we need a new Chief Executive of the Irish development agency-you have to be prepared for all Questions even if some of them were stupid Questions-sell Ireland to investors / holiday makers / world travellers -you should be able to sell snow to the eskimo’s -not look like a smarmy git-

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I haven’t heard it discussed in a hostel for a long time, but I tend to just fob NI as a failed political solution to a problem that Britain inherited from its long history of invaders and foreign rulers and I then name people like the Normans/French, Scottish, Dutch and Germans (well, Hannovarians) as the various powers that be in London (with a little bit of banking thrown in).

    Although not a concise answer it doesn’t bore the pant off them c/o a full blown AG rant nor does it channel them down the biased and demeaning ‘perfidious Albion’ route which I see as a surrender of national pride.

    But, I also say to take with a pinch of salt all versions that lay the blame solely at the feet of one group.

    I’ve heard so many versions of ‘the history’ but only get annoyed about ones that lead to finger pointing.

    It’s a tricky one.

    I did laugh at some boisterous Prods from Belfast in a Melbourne hostel bar loudly exclaiming “we’re PRO-TEST-ANTS but we don’t-PRO-TEST!!!” whilst fleggergeddon was on TV.

    Perhaps you just had to be there…. 🙂

  • Alan N/Ards

    I had an interesting conversation with a guy in a town called Bandera in Texas. He heard my accent and started telling me about “how we are not allowed to speak our own language in Ireland”. When he said “isn’t it garlic you speak” I knew it was time to end the conversation and make a run for it.

  • Niall Chapman

    I live in Barcelona, a big expat city, with people from all over the world, and any time any of my mates Unionist and Nationalist talk about NI politics, the eyes of our friends immediatley glaze over or roll back ( mostly from the Free State, Scotland, England, Wales, Spain). So I’ve learned not to bring it up or change the subject

  • Reader

    David McCann: In a comment that would bring a smile to any republican Kernan argued that “you guys gotta get it together” as it seemed crazy to him that one island would have two currencies.
    It isn’t just partition that they had failed to grasp; it’s Irish independence too.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    No great fan of American bashing (I know too many to generalise) but sometimes….

    I was told by a female cop harper in California that she had been on a guided trip to Ireland. I mentioned that I lived in County Antrim, and before I could begin to extol its beauties, she said, “Hey, I crossed over the Border into County Antrim on the fourth day of my trip!”

    “You are mistaking Antrim for Armagh, I think. Antrim is the only county, dear lady, that does not touch on the border,” I replied.

    “I was told Antrim by the guide, and I looked it up, and it was Antrim. Its just above Dundalk. We stopped for lunch at Crossmaglenn.”

    “That’s Armagh, I have family between Creggan and Crossmaglenn my self, and as long as I’ve lived its been Armagh. And, hey! I live in Antrim, I know where Antrim is and there is no border touching it, honestly.”

    “Hey, man, I know what I was told and the guy was an expert. I crossed the border from Louth into County Antrim,” she said glaring at me and trying to work out if she could arrest me for something.

  • Mike the First

    Amusing piece of confusion, David, but you’ve interpreted it wrongly.

    Kernan wasn’t just confused that NI and ROI are separate, he didn’t understand that the ROI wasn’t part of the UK. And his “one island” comment seems to have been aimed at Ireland and Scotland.

  • Mike the First

    As an aside, Shanahan isn’t doing clarity any favours by referring to Northern Ireland as “the North of Ireland” in interviews.