Two years after being hit by recession, nothing remains of Ireland’s golden years of double digit growth but a sense that the country is back where it began – mass unemployment, mass emigration, and trains that still take 4 hours to cover a piffling 200 km coast to coast. With drastic cuts to public services announced for the December 9th budget, intended to boost the shrinking economy (-7.5% for 2009), the mood is increasingly bitter. The Irish Times leads with yesterday’s demonstration in Dublin, one of a spate of protests to culminate in the national public service shutdown 24 November. Although the European Commission is giving Ireland an extra year in its timetable for restoring the public finances, Taoiseach Brian Cowen is adamant, arguing in delightful officialese that “adjustments” – i.e. cuts – are necessary now, otherwise later “a greater adjustment would have to be considered”.