Farmers and the economy
It takes a while to turn a supertanker. In this case, the supertanker is the German political system and German public opinion.
Its Chancellor, Mrs Merkel has been the subject of ridicule and vilification for sticking to her guns which, when it is boiled down to basics, was that countries in the Eurozone must not spend appreciably more than they raise in tax revenue.
Those against operating in such a normal framework have been accused of wanting to inflict austerity on the vulnerable.
Much more damage has been done by our own administrations having let spending get out of control with political and public sector pay out of synch with the rest of Europe and all supported by a distorted and unsustainable tax system.
Last weekend's summit of EU leaders was more productive than many people had dared hope.
Colm McCarthy goes into the broad details on page 25.
Despite the derision heaped on it by many, the Government's broad strategy has been clear and focused: work with our EU partners, take the agreed steps to get the deficit under control and keep negotiating for sensible objectives at every opportunity.
Principal among these objectives was the removal of the debts of our fallen banks from the country's debt load and a willingness to discuss how practical help could be given to reduce borrowing costs.
Already, there has been significant easing in the interest rates on Irish bonds and if we stick to the IMF, ECB, EU programme agreed over the next two budgets the way should be cleared for a slow resumption of improved services.
However, the burden of adjustment is not being sensibly spread. Permanent public sector workers have effectively suffered neither reductions in pay, job security or diminution in very valuable pension rights.
The examples of the dice being loaded against, for example, newly qualified teachers is real and wrong. We have broadly chosen to cut back on services and schemes for the many to preserve privileges for the established.
The 34% reduction in farm schemes versus the 3% reduction in public service remuneration is an instructive but not an isolated example. Nevertheless, we should not tar all the public sector with one brush.
In many areas, we are seeing competence and commitment but the strident negotiating stance of the representative bodies tarnishes their members.
The key imperatives for the next two years are to facilitate growth in the economy, to remove the clear anomalies that block people accepting offers of work at what is almost the highest minimum wage in Europe and to recognise where we are out of line in facilitating development.
The overall economic environment is clearly improving for the country, we should not fear greater EU supervision of the economy.
We have shown too often that our political system does not reliably meet the real needs of the country.
Mrs Merkel has done us a favour by insisting that eventual EU solidarity on our debts and bank supervision has to be matched by an acceptance of EU involvement in our budgetary system.
These should be the lasting outcomes of last weekend's agreement.