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A long road ahead

Well the presidential and royal parties have both departed Irish shores, though it's fair to say that there is something of a warm afterglow that will linger well into the summer.

But that is an afterglow in a very specific context. The people who call the island of Ireland home must deal with multiple contexts, not least the dire state of the economy and, in the Republic's case in particular, an economy that is now carrying a huge debt load as a result of the ECB/IMF bailout.

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For Taoiseach Enda Kenny and his government, the first weeks in office must have seemed like a colliding mix of euphoria and profound worry.

The weeks and months ahead, meanwhile, will be especially challenging with little time for the traditional summer somnolence that has long characterized Irish political life.

The government's ability to steer a fiscal course is, of course, limited by the strictures placed on it by the terms of the bailout. Hopefully, those strictures can be eased over time, though Europe lately comes across as something of a cold house for Irish concerns.

Still, there is hope. Meaningful economic growth will eventually return, led, as should be the case, by exports and real world economic activities such as tourism, rather than false gods such as real estate bubbles.

And while we do not wish to see any return to forced mass emigration from Ireland, South or North, it is to be hoped that the Irish government will be able to secure a visa deal along the lines of the E3 scheme that exists between Washington and Canberra.

For now, it would seem that small, incremental steps to recovery is the most attainable form of progress.

But Europe has to be ready to encourage bigger steps, and not frustrate Ireland's recovery by stubbornly sticking to terms of the bailout that Ireland, in the long run, might find itself unable to meet.