Things have gotten bad when the oh so polite Canadians laugh at the Irish ambassador.
You can't talk about the financial crisis in Europe without bringing up Ireland, a nation that experienced actual prosperity for the first time in centuries and now struggles to deal with a downturn. They've had to nationalize a bank or two, cut back on spending, and find a way to get spending in line with reduced revenues.
No surprise, then, that even the Canadians find it laughable that the ambassador's residence in Ottawa is being renovated, at a cost approaching seven million Canadian dollars. Even converted to euros, it's a lot of money.
Other residents of the area are upset that some mature trees were cut down to make way for additions and perhaps a swimming pool. Their outrage resulted in a slight alteration to the over-all plan, saving a few trees that were chopped up to accomodate construction. What kind of shape will those trees be in come spring?
Micheal Martin, Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs, realizes that it's a lot of money, but Ireland needs to maintain its embassies, after all. Yes, people do need hospitals and schools and libraries, but the citizens need fine accomodations to house their ambassadors just as much. How would it look, if some Canadian firm considering investment in Ireland had to be entertained in shabby surroundings? Makes the whole country look bad, and aren't first impressions of critical importance?
Wine cellars, billiard rooms, and panelled libraries are the trappings of wealth and success, and that's the image Ireland wants to present to Canada.
So many famine immigrants landed in Canada with literally nothing, not even clothes on their backs. Who wouldn't want to show off a bit when they've gone from abject poverty to wealth, even if that wealth is fleeting?