The need for an all Ireland economy

Even well after the rip tide of the Celtic Tiger, the Derry Journal claims that the Republic’s economy is set to grow at 5%, whereas Northern Ireland is predicted to grow at 3%. It goes on to argue that an all island economy is what’s required, with increased integration of roads and transport, energy and telecommunications infrastructures amongst other things.

  • David Antsinpants

    Yeah yeah yeah – we’ve already got an all-Ireland economy project underway, covering all the areas mentioned in this sorry excuse for an article. It’s called the European Union, and by failing to even mention it (and in John Hume’s home town too) the authors show they have another agenda in mind. What these twats at the Derry Journal mean by “all Ireland economy needed” is “please god keep voting for Sinn Fein even though they’ve been caught screwing the northern half of the all-Ireland economy over”.
    Sad. When will republican apologists in the media learn that if people want the party line they can just put up An Pubcrap?

  • David Antsinpants

    PS – would it be rude to mention that removing those “barriers to labour market mobility throughout the island” would mean dropping the stupid Irish-language requirement for teachers, gardai and civil servants?

  • IJP

    Another very poor ethnic-nationalist article. ‘What we’re doing currently doesn’t work, ergo an all-island approach will solve it’, with no explanation as to how or why all-island transport links and such like would actually assist.

    Of course the North should adopt some of the approaches the Celtic Tiger has used, but that is not the same as an integrated economy.

    Indeed, there is a case for an all-island economy liberalizing and opening up the inherent parochialism of the North – but that would require an all-island state (or at least withdrawal from the UK). So the author should say so!

    The reality is that the same model does not work everywhere. For example, social partnership is an idea that the North could adopt even within the UK. However, lower corporate taxes is not. And greater inward investment cannot happen right now regardless of our constitutional position because we do not have the genuinely well-educated outward-looking workforce we like to think we have (even given like-for-like taxes and grants any sensible investor, particularly in hi-wage sectors, would choose the Republic).

    It is entirely true to say the North suffers from parochialism and a tendency to be inward- (and backward-) looking. But you cannot deny it has its own specific set of circumstances, not least social segregation and decay, that do make it a unique place requiring its own unique social and economic model. It was exactly that realization with reference to the Republic, after all, that kick-started the Celtic Tiger.

  • Alan2

    Indeed and an ALL-Ireland economy would require a single currency also and all-ireland laws and everything else. At least in the definition of ALL-Ireland economy hinted at.

    It is worth noting that NI is the fastest growing part of the UK.

  • Alan2

    Although maybe it is just playing “catch-up” as the peace dividend kicks in.

  • maca

    DA
    “would it be rude to mention…”
    Yes.

  • Ringo

    Surely if the last 10 years in the Republic tell us anything it is that you can have an economic miracle without the integration of roads and other transport systems, telecommunication systems etc..

    IJP
    do make it a unique place requiring its own unique social and economic model

    Agreed. The Republics answer isn’t the answer for anywhere else. The 5% in the Republic will probably be the best in the EU, and 3% growth is not too shabby at the moment either…

    Dave Arseoutofpants –
    the Irish language requirement is already under review and is due to be changed, but not for any reason that your hardwired brain could conceive.

  • willowfield

    For most of the Free State/Republic’s history it was an economic backwater, while the UK massively outperformed it.

    How come nationalists weren’t arguing then for an all-British Isles economy?

  • David Vance

    Who needs the Economist when we have that august seat of economic wisdom, the Derry Journal? Republican nonsense, of course.

  • Fraggle

    go complain to the journal’s british owners if you think they are being too republican

  • George

    “How come nationalists weren’t arguing then for an all-British Isles economy”

    I suppose the Dubs remembered that pre-independence that their children had a lower life expectancy than those born in Calcutta, the Corkonians are still going on about their city being burnt and the rest emigrated.

  • Davros

    I suppose the Dubs remembered that pre-independence that their children had a lower life expectancy than those born in Calcutta,

    Oh please George. I just finished reading Ferriters chapter about how your state didn’t give a toss about the urban poor and how the Church opposed any moves to better their lot for quite a few decades after independence. MOPEry.

  • Michael Turley

    “How come nationalists weren’t arguing then for an all-British Isles economy?”

    Before Ireland joined the EU (i.e. when Ireland was “an economic backwater”) the Republic was effectively part of an “all-British Isles economy”. You’ve got a point, of course.

    As a matter of interest a friend of mine had a fellow from the North do an estimate for a conservatory who mentioned that most of his work is now in the Republic. If current economic conditions prevail for a reasonable amount of time will that mean that more Northerners will be attracted towards doing more business in the south thus help establish more normalised realtions (at, for lack of a better term, an organic level). Admittedly, I may be jumping to conclusions on fairly flimsy anecdotal evidence.

  • Ringo

    No one can argue that the isolated Republic’s economy thrived once independence was granted. Equally it was pretty appalling before independence too.

    Time spend as part of the EEC economy compares much more favourably than the other two phases.

  • George

    Davros,
    I never mentioned my state. I was answering Willowfield about why people didn’t want to join a British one. But don’t let that get in the way of having a go at it.

    I know all about Dublin’s urban poverty.

  • Alan2

    Electricity might have something to do with that……

  • Keith M

    It’s time to debunk a lot of nonsense being posted on this thread.

    Ringo : “No one can argue that the isolated Republic’s economy thrived once independence was granted.”. Then why were two of the greatest period of emigration in the mid 1930’s and and late 1940’s and 1950’s. Independence made little or no difference to the Irish economy (we roode the same 1920’s boom as the rest of the World) until DeValera came to power started an economic war with the UK which all but bankrupted the country and sent hundreds of thousands of our brightest abroad.

    George “I suppose the Dubs remembered that pre-independence that their children had a lower life expectancy than those born in Calcutta”. This had more to do with the Catholic Church than anything else. Compare the birthrate of the poor in Dublin with any other UK city in the 1800 to 1940 period to confirm this.

    The problem with Northern Ireland’s economy is that years of terrorism have created an overdependence on the public sector as any entrepreneur with a bit of sense wouldnt risk setting up a business in N.I. Meanwhile traditional (argicultural based) industries were dying out.

    N.I. can learn from the Republic in the same way as we learned from Thatcher’s UK in the 1980’s. A mixture of low tax rates, deregulation and competition are what is needed. The one thing that NI politicians already seem to have learned from their southern counterparts is the ability to weild the begging bowl.

  • Ringo

    Keith –
    please take the time to re-read what I posted – I said ‘no one can argue THAT…..’
    i.e. No one can claim that the economy thrived after independence..

    i.e. you’re making my point.

    A bit of debunking required on some of your own statements too though: Making a direct correlation between high birthrate and catholic church teaching is one thing, but trying to strap on another direct correlation with a high infant death rate is stretching it too far. Places that have high infant death rates tend to have high birthrates to compensate – this is generally independent of religion or geography and a symptom of mass poverty.

    And what exactly did we learn from Thatchers economic revolution that we applied to our own? Other than the obligatory ‘privatisation’ (she hardly invented the concept, did she?), what did she inspire us to do as part of the overhaul of our economy?

    Considering most reasonable analysts will attribute the foundation of our success to social partnership programmes and wage agreements it is fair to say that the most we learned from her is how not to go about it. And the privatisation thing is a complete red herring. Even her arch-enemies in Brussels read from that sheet.

    Of the holy trinity of ingredients in your Mary Harney cough mixture for all economies feeling a ikle bit icky – low tax rates, deregulation and competition– the latter two of those three are driven from Brussels through EU directives, not the Dáil. Only the tax level was controlled at national level. Seeing as the north is subject to the same EU directives, it appears a little facile to suggest that cutting the tax rates (even if it could be done locally) would turn the Norths economy into a mirror image of the Republics.

  • George

    Northern Ireland has no control over its economic policy and has no assets to implement anything so it will do what it is told.

    You can’t have competition and all the other things being mentioned here when the place isn’t generating wealth (remember the brain-numbing deficit which is paid off each year by the British taxpayer).

    Keithm,
    apart from Eircom, nothing of consequence has been privatised in Ireland. Thatcher sold 20% of Britain’s financial resources. See the poverty in parts of Wales, Scotland and the North of England as a result.

    We willingly voted in the euro so we don’t have any control over our own money supply – the central plank of Thatcherism.

    Not forgetting Ringo’s point of social partnership with the unions, as opposed to the policy of trying to crush them.

    Interesting that you would like to credit the Irish economic boom on a non-Irish person. Why is that?

    On infant mortality in Dublin:
    In 1911 about 20% of all deaths in the city occurred among those less than a year old, nearly all of these among the poorest classes.

    In 1988 only 1.3% of all deaths in the Dublin County Borough were infant deaths.

    Do the Catholics get the credit as well or just the blame?

  • Davros

    Do the Catholics get the credit as well or just the blame?

    Clever distortion George, very clever. Try and deflect perfectly valid criticisms away from the Church Hierarchy by twisting them into what you represent as sectarian attacks on RC people.
    That’s left a nasty smell.

    The advances in child mortality rates occurred DESPITE the best efforts of the church.

    If as you so arrogantly claim you “know all about Dublin’s urban poverty.” then perhaps you’ll tell us if child mortality figures in Dublin went UP or DOWN comparing the two decades after to before Independence?

  • Keith M

    Ringo, we seem to be at cross purposes. I have suggested that there is a link between high infant mortality and a high birth rate and that there is a link between Catholic church attitudes to birth control and a higher birth rates. Which of these do you dispute?

    I never said Thatcher invented privatisation, I said that we had learned the lessons of what happened in the UK in the 1980’s. By introducing lower taxes and leaving people with more of their hard earned money we created unprecedented levels of economic growth. Whether the impetus for competition and deregulation came from Brussels, London, Dublin or Washington is irrelevant, it is what is needed in N.I. . It is anything but facile to suggest that lower tax rates could benefit Northern Ireland. If a devolved assembly can maintain lower corporation tax in the same was as the Republic’s government has done, then N.I. can also benefit from foreign investment as it has all the same things going for it as the Republic has.

    To George “”apart from Eircom, nothing of consequence has been privatised in Ireland.” Who mentioned privatisation? Stop creating straw men and argue with what I posted.

    “We willingly voted in the euro so we don’t have any control over our own money supply”. There is a huge difference between the 4th biggest economy in the World which has always controlled its own affairs and a peripheral economy dependant on foreign trade which never had control of it’s own money supply (we went from being linked to sterling to a catastrophic slump to being made to put in controls for EMU and then preparations for the Euro). The point on trade unions also shows the difference between the Republic and the UK. In the 1970’s the trade unions ran the UK (almost into the ground). Thankfully despite all our problems we never allowed the unions have as much power and today trade unions represent less than 50% of the workforce (mainly in the public and low paid sectors).

    Your question on the declining infant mortality rate helps makes my point. As the Catholic Church became more irrelevant, the mortality rate went down!

  • Ringo

    Keith –
    As the Catholic Church became more irrelevant, the mortality rate went down!

    Ahh come on, Keith. You’re suffering from a bad dose of finding the solution (the Catholic Church) and then looking for the question.

    You have directly correlated the influence of the Catholic Church with infant mortality.

    I hope you would agree that the development of a modern health service in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s contributed to the decline in infant mortaility.
    And in that case how do you explain the fact that the hospitals were staffed and often run by religious orders? The influence of the Catholic Church only began to wane in the 1980’s, by which stage the infant mortality rates in the state were long since comparable with figures from other European countries, thanks to an improved health service.

    Contrary to what you stated, the Catholic Church, (through nun’s primarily) played a valuable role in improving the public health, and this includes infant mortality rates.

    It came at a high price – the Government remained deeply indebted to the church for the role it played in providing health, education and social services that the government couldn’t afford on its own.

  • George

    Keithm,
    you wrote “N.I. can learn from the Republic in the same way as we learned from Thatcher’s UK in the 1980’s”

    The central planks of Thatcherite economics were privatisation, control of the money supply, destruction of trade unions and a switch to indirect taxation.

    We have only followed the last one as I pointed out in my other post. Why do you believe the Irish economy is based on a Thatcherite concept?

    Also, the Catholic Church was pretty powerful in 1979 when most of the country went to see Papa Polaka but the infant mortality rate was already tiny. Infant mortality has nothing to do with the Catholic Church.

    Davros,
    if Keithm is blaming the Catholics for the high mortality rate, why is it wrong not to credit the Catholics with getting their infant mortality rate down in the last 80 years? If he can be sublime, I can be ridiculous.

  • Davros

    Did child mortality figures in Dublin go UP or DOWN comparing the two decades after to before Independence George ?

  • Davros

    “Papa Polaka “

    That’s verging on racism in my book George.

  • Ringo

    http://www.cso.ie/publications/demog/irishlife.pdf

    I can’t find infant mortality rates for Dublin but I can find life expectancy stats for children less than one year old in Ireland at that time – and in every time period since 1892 the life expectancy of a child of 0 yrs increased.

    So in a nutshell independence had no significant impact on the life expectancy of children one way or the other.

  • George

    It’s what the Poles call him Davros so why would it be considered racist?

  • George

    I suppose that’s the same Davros book which says Pearse is a paedophile.

  • Davros

    Seemed close to “Polack” which is a pejorative term, and the expression reminded me of people who talk about “darkie Doctors”. If It’s a Polish expression that’s ok.

  • Davros

    Thanks for the Link Ringo: I hate statistics, but the Graph, Life expectancy at age 65 on page 8 is fascinating : A dip after independence.
    Big jump in early 20th century ( generous Old age Pension proviuded by HMG) and a drop, more marked in males, after independence (CnG cut the pension etc )

  • Millie

    The two economies have been converging since the 1960’s, and the Westminster subvention has been the only thing from stopping NI from going under. But never mind all that, can we have a decent motorway between the two biggest cities in Ireland, where else in the world would you have such a state of affairs?

  • Davros

    “can we have a decent motorway between the two biggest cities in Ireland”

    Motorways are bad news. No more.

  • Fraggle

    Davros, I suspect you’d have us using horse and carts rather than new fangled motor cars.

  • IJP

    Motorways are bad news. No more.

    Why?

    They are safe (you are less than a third as likely to be killed on a motorway than other grades of road).

    They are efficient and good for the economy (allowing rapid transportation of goods and information to speed up economic growth).

    They are even good for the environment (allowing constant speed maintenance, enabling speedy transport between urban centres thus limiting the requirement for urban sprawl, and restricting development only to access points).

    Contrary to what the simplistic goody-goodys in the loony left would have us believe, motorways are extremely good news. If you doubt it, try driving Belfast-Dungannon without using the M1…

  • Fraggle

    what exactly is bad news about a motorway compared to the present road to Newry from Belfast?

  • BeanShide

    The only people who would benifit from an all Ireland economy are the rich. These past thirty years or so, all the poor Unionist and poor Nationalist have to show for it, is an inside toilet and bathroom, and now in 2005, they’re still living in poverty, still surviving off the crumbs from the table of the rich.

  • George

    Could the NI roads authority, or whatever it’s called, do me a favour and call the Belfast to Dublin motorway the M1 and not the M2.

    I ended up in Portadown once not knowing that what I assumed was the main road out of Belfast actually went to Enniskillen.

    I think it’s fair to say that the Belfast-Dublin route is slightly busier than Belfast-Enniskillen and deserves the number M1.

  • Keith M

    Millie “The two economies have been converging since the 1960’s, and the Westminster subvention has been the only thing from stopping NI from going under.” NEWSFLASH : Almost every country in the world re-allocates money from its richer areas to its poorer ones. The fact that the British taxpayer is able to afford to subsidise N.I. in a way the much smaller tax base in the Republic would never be albe to do is probably one of the best arguements AGAINST a “united Ireland”.

    “But never mind all that, can we have a decent motorway between the two biggest cities in Ireland, where else in the world would you have such a state of affairs?”. We have a perfecttly good rail connection on the island but some bastards kept blowing it up!

  • willowfield

    Could the NI roads authority, or whatever it’s called, do me a favour and call the Belfast to Dublin motorway the M1 and not the M2. I ended up in Portadown once not knowing that what I assumed was the main road out of Belfast actually went to Enniskillen.

    There is no Belfast-to-Dublin motorway. The Belfast to Dublin road, though, is called the A1, not the M2, and you get to Dublin by travelling along the M1 as far as Sprucefield, at which point you turn off on to the A1. It’s very clearly sign-posted, George, so you obviously weren’t paying attention if you ended up in Portadown.

    The M2 goes north from Belfast as far as Randalstown on the route to Londonderry and Ballymena/Coleraine.

  • Ringo

    at least they had the common sense to start with M1 and proceed to M2.

    We started with M50 (to make the tourists think we had at least another 49 motorways) and appear to be working backwards from there!

  • Fraggle

    “The M2 goes north from Belfast as far as Randalstown on the route to Londonderry and Ballymena/Coleraine.”

    nearly right. the M2 goes as far as Antrim (outskirts) where it turns into the M22 which goes on to Randalstown etc. Aslo, if you were going to Ballymena from Belfast and you carried on to Randalstown, you’d obviously not have been paying attention because the turnoff onto the A26 to Ballymena is clearly signposted. The M2 begins again just outside Ballymena and serves as a ringroad to divert traffic heading towards North Antrim and Coleraine.

    The NI motorway system was, in my opinion, designed by idiotic bigots who tried their level best to make the system useless to nationalists.

  • George

    Detailed reply, are you with the AA Willowfield or a sales rep? I hope you’re keeping your eyes on the road while on here.

    So I have this straight, the M1 goes towards Enniskillen and the M2 towards the city of Derry. The A1 to Dublin is dual carriageway though isn’t it?

    Keithm,
    “Almost every country in the world re-allocates money from its richer areas to its poorer ones.”

    True, but no country in the world runs its richest region so poorly that it becomes its poorest region.

    One argument for a united Ireland is we couldn’t do a worse job.

  • IJP

    George

    DON’T get me started on the NI road-numbering system! It’s a farce. But to be fair you have a similar situation heading from Dublin to Cork, where initially in fact you have to follow ‘Limerick’ and the M50 off-slip doesn’t even mention Cork (or is that a deliberate Dub snub…?!)

    In NI the motorways were simply numbered sequentially – Belfast-Dungannon was first and thus M1, Belfast-Coleraine was second and therefore M2 (except that it wasn’t completed, thus it stops and Randalstown and then bizarrely re-starts briefly around Ballymena). A whole series up to M7 were planned in the late ’60s, however one to the border was only a secondary plan (due, at some stage in the dim and distant future, to be the M11).

    The truth is that historically surprisingly little traffic went from Belfast to Dublin – Belfast-Dublin was also the last major rail link built on the island. As you’ll know, this was because Belfast’s exports at the time headed east, not south.

    Times have changed, however. My own business very much looks south rather than east, hence my call both for a higher-speed rail link (you should be able to do city centre to city centre reliably in little over an hour, in fact) and a proper road (i.e. motorway all the way, regardless of number). There is a requirement for similar north-south links on the west of the island (Belfast-Dublin is bad, but try Derry-Sligo…).

    The A1 Belfast-Newry road is not yet even completely dual carriageway, for the record. It is also windy and badly lit. A dangerous disgrace.

  • Davros

    Why do I hate Motorways ?

    Because they encourage commuting and are responsible for places like Moira. I’m not overly keen on Dual carriageways either.

  • Keith M

    George : “True, but no country in the world runs its richest region so poorly that it becomes its poorest region.”. Please justify how Northern Ireland was the richest part of the UK. If you want to atribute blame for the (relative) decline of N.I. within the U.K. you should start with the terrorists who wiped out business in the last 35 years.

  • PS

    As someone who uses the road twice a week, I have to say that I think the improvements on the Newry to Belfast road can’t come quickly enough, espicially when they are compared with the tremendous improvements made on the Newry to Dublin end of the trip.

    I really don’t think a dual carriageway between the two cities is too much to expect. The discussed part of the road between Newry and Banbridge has been known locally an accident dangerspot for years now.

  • Davros

    I favour improving the Rail service.

  • Liam

    “Could the NI roads authority, or whatever it’s called, do me a favour and call the Belfast to Dublin motorway the M1 and not the M2.

    I ended up in Portadown once not knowing that what I assumed was the main road out of Belfast actually went to Enniskillen.”

    Not sure how you ended up in Portadown either – but it is very easy when trying to get to Dublin from Belfast to get onto the M1 by mistake at Sprucefield, I know loads of people that have done this and it’s impossible to turn around for miles!

    The Belfast-Newry road urgently needs major work and improvements, the M1 was a pointless road in the first place – it just stops dead near Dungannon, in the middle of nowhere!

  • George

    I don’t know how I ended up in Portadown either but I think it had something to do with being on a dual carriageway/motorway with virtually no other cars. So peaceful I just wanted to keep driving.

    How about financing a Belfast-Newry motorway with tolls?

  • Alan

    I was traveling down the M1 at 5.00 last night and it was anything, but empty.

    I agree entirely with the comments on the Banbridge-Newry section. I was driving to Newry in a fog some years ago where the road actually divides and the two carriageways run apart for some distance. It was impossible to see which lane to take at the entrance to the section and I would have ended up traveling down the wrong side of the road had another car not appeared and forced me into the correct lane. One of those moments you prefer to forget about.

  • George

    It was the bank holiday weekend of the 12th Alan so that might have had something to do with it. I’m sure it’s not always so quiet.

  • willowfield

    Liam

    Not sure how you ended up in Portadown either – but it is very easy when trying to get to Dublin from Belfast to get onto the M1 by mistake at Sprucefield, I know loads of people that have done this and it’s impossible to turn around for miles!

    If you were travelling to Dublin from Belfast you would already be on the M1 at Sprucefield. You’d be coming off.

  • Lafcadio

    Rather belatedly coming to the party here, at a time when the conversation has switched to roads – very briefly the appalling roads from the border to the start of dual carriageway heading towards Belfast are a disgrace, and were the bane of my life when I was living in Dublin..

    Ringo – “Considering most reasonable analysts will attribute the foundation of our success to social partnership programmes and wage agreements..” actually no, The Economist did a survey recently on Ireland, and they identified 9 “special factors” which had contributed to Ireland’s turnaround, and of these, the social partnership was the second least important.

    The others (in descending order of importance) were:
    1. More people working (labour-force participation rate increased from 60% in ’80s to 70% in ’90s, women’s participation increased greatly)
    2. Demographics
    3. Low personal taxes
    4. Education
    5. FDI boom
    6. European single market
    7. EU subsidies
    8. Social partnership
    9. Fiscal and monetary consolidation

  • Ringo

    Lafcadio

    You omitted the wage agreement aspect – “social partnership programmes and wage agreements”

    Numbers 1, 3, 5 can be attributed to the wage agreements and number 4 comes under social partnership programmes – the Economist must have taken a narrow definition (but I’ll accept that investment in education prior to the first agreements in the late 80’s played a significant role too).

    Demographics can be discarded in this discussion as it is pretty much beyond influence (regardless of what Keith M would have us believe 😉 ).

    So I make that 6, 7 and 9 are the only factors that involved policy not directly related to the partnership programmes.

  • IJP

    George

    How about financing a Belfast-Newry motorway with tolls?

    Now there‘s a man who’s thinking!

    Have called for that in the Belfast Tele many times, as Northern sluggerettes will know.

    But you try telling a Northerner he/she has to pay for something… 🙂

    Lafcadio

    I read the same article and thanks for bringing it to our attention.

    I’m not an economist, but I would still argue that the ‘social partnership’ aspect should be higher in that list, not least because it appears essential to many of the previous seven (e.g. social partnership was necessary to creating employment, for No 1).

  • Lafcadio

    Ringo – not so, under the “social partnership” header they considered specifically the social partnership with the unions, where wage restraint was traded for more policy influence and lower taxes. However, this is much less important than the other factors identified by the Economist (of which more later..)

    There is some blurring at the boundaries between some of the factors; but point 1 has little to do with the wage agreements – Ireland was playing catch-up, particularly in the area of female participation. Lower taxes were part of the broader social deal. The FDI boom however was due to low costs, low corporate tax rates, an efficient IDA, and a well-educated, youthful and English-speaking population.

    Re demographics – “can be discarded in this discussion” – if only! You have put your finger on one of the more disturbing conclusions of the survey (which was broadly positive, but cautionary), namely that many of the factors causing Ireland’s good performance were attributable to “one-off” changes in the economy which won’t be repeated going forward, eg EU subsidies, lower interest rates in the Euro, rise in labour force participation – increases in inputs, rather than productivity growth (ie more efficient use of the inputs).

  • George

    Lafcadio,
    is this the same Economist which concluded in 1988 that the country was heading for catastrophe, mainly because it had tried to erect a welfare state on continental European lines in an economy that was too poor to support one?

    Or the same one that predicted disaster due to overheating in 1999 perhaps?

    Ireland’s economic success is the result of 40 years (on and off) of hard work by all its citizens, from the zero per cent corporate tax to bring in FDI and free secondary education measures in the 60s to the infamous Mac the Knife budget of 1987 by Ray McSharry.

    How could Mac implement that budget which was probably the single event that finally kickstarted it all?

    The broad social partnership between industry and trade unions which paved the way for positive and constructive relations and helped restrain wage growth.

    Also, since the early 1970s, there has been an extended period of strong productivity growth resulting in productivity levels (as measured in output per hour worked) above those of the United States, the global productivity gold standard.

    Irish growth was fuelled by a surge in the number of workers, from 1.2 million in 1993 to 1.8 million in 2003 but before they used to emigrate, this time they stayed.

  • Fraggle

    “How about financing a Belfast-Newry motorway with tolls?”

    A Belfast-Newry motorway would be great but what is needed is a Belfast-Dundalk mororway. The border section (both sides) is the worst bottleneck of the whole road. The Dundalk-border section is ‘in the pipeline’ already though.

  • Ringo

    Lafcadio –

    The growth in the workforce is directly attributable to to the reduction in the tax burden on an employer to employ people. As your question implies, there were impediments to employing people. How else could we be playing catch up? Did Mná na hEireann wake up one morning as say ‘sod the dishes, I’m off to work?’.
    This was achieved in negotations between IBEC, the Unios and the Governments.

    One of the main reasons that Ireland was more attractive to FDI than pre-partnership agreement was the massive reduction in the number of days lost to strikes.

    Lower taxes were a central plank of the agreements and still are. Government promises to cut the tax burden, unions in turn settle for a moderate wage increase, employers create more jobs.

    I don’t disagree with your last statement – the celtic tiger happened to be in the right place at the right time.

  • Fraggle

    Regarding productivity, since 1970, Ireland’s productivity has increased at a faster average annual rate than ANY other country except Korea. Even in the 1980s, the average annual rate of productivity increase was 3.8%. Since 1990, the rate has been above 5%. By contrast, the UK’s rate of increase in the 80s was 1.9% and has been between 2.1 – 2.3% since 1990.

  • barnshee

    “Dave Arseoutofpants –
    the Irish language requirement is already under review and is due to be changed, but not for any reason that your hardwired brain could conceive.”

    The reason it will be “reviewed” is because EC equality legislation requires it. —Northern Prod gets Irish passport applies for big job in ROI does not make the cut- no Irish— gets big settlement -It works believe me

  • Lafcadio

    Gents – this is an interesting “chat”, I’d like to respond, but don’t have the time right now (heading out to the pub to watch Ulster hopefully trounce Gloucester at Ravenhill..)

    Very briefly:

    George – yes the same Economist; but if we’re going to discount the opinion of every publication who has made an inaccurate economic forecast, we will have slim pickings.. It would have been a preternaturally far-sighted and courageous economist in the ’80s who predicted everything that went on to happen in the’90s in Ireland’s economy.

    And to be clear, I’m not trying to say that it’s been all luck and no effort, or that the much-vaunted “social partnership” is worthless – far from it on either count – merely that it’s possible to look at the Celtic Tiger and draw all manner of rosy conclusions, and it pays also to look at the other factors which have contributed.

    Over the last 40 years there has been some horrendous economic decision-making by irish governments as well – response to oil shocks in ’70s for example.

    George and Fraggle – re productivity, it’s notoriously difficult to measure and make inetrnational comparisons. I would have to go and hunt up stats to be sure, but I’d say that if Ireland’s productivity growth is as you’ve described (Fraggle) this is more a reflection of a low starting point in the 70s.

    Speak later.. COME ON ULSTER!!

  • Ringo

    barnshee –
    The reason it will be “reviewed” is because EC equality legislation requires it. —Northern Prod gets Irish passport applies for big job in ROI does not make the cut- no Irish— gets big settlement -It works believe me

    No nothing to do with northern prods at all I’m afraid. Or northern anything, hard to believe as it is. And the passport is irrelevant – why wouldn’t an EU one (which they would already hold) entitle them to the exact same employment opportunities/day in court?

    There are more Lativans, Lithuanians, Poles, Chinese, Nigerians, English, Americans (and probably a few more) than there are Northern Prods resident in the Republic. From the Garda Siochana’s position it would be counter-productive to efforts being made to recruit people from the new communities if the Irish requirement remained absolute. Ditto the Army.

    The teachers are different. I’d like to see Northern Prod make his money back trying to make a case for abolishing the requirement of Irish for a primary school job where teaching Irish is compulsory. In fact seeing as there are plenty of your Northern Prod’s who have this notion that we have this requirement just to piss them off, why haven’t they challenged it in court? Because despite all the bluster there is little chance of it succeeding.

    The state is in contravention of enough EU directives (like most member states) that even if the EU court did rule against us nobody would lose a wink of sleep. If we were that afraid of EU rulings that hadn’t even been made yet, you’d think at the very least we’ed have come up to the mark on the ones that had been handed down and we were facing imminent penalties for?

  • barnshee

    “No nothing to do with northern prods at all I’m afraid. Or northern anything, hard to believe as it is. And the passport is irrelevant – why wouldn’t an EU one (which they would already hold) entitle them to the exact same employment opportunities/day in court”

    Sorry –out of court settlement already made by Revenue Comissioners for prod to “go away”

  • George

    Lafcadio,
    firstly, well done Ulster. What are you guys going to do when Humphreys, who has been carrying that team for six or seven years, finally hangs up his boots?

    Agreed that the growth partly reflects catch up factors but strong productivity growth during 1990s was largely driven by substantial foreign direct investment inflows from the United
    States and a sectoral change in industry, in other words a shift of capital and labour from agriculture and relatively low productivity
    manufacturing towards high-technology sectors including chemicals and IT sectors.

    Throw in the favourable exchange rate (not so favourable now I admit), increased European integration and the young, reasonably well-educated workforce and we have the main reasons.

    It is probably true that labour productivity growth will never again reach the very high rates of the late 1990s.

    According to paper I’ve linked below the causes of labour productivity growth include investment in human, physical and knowledge capital.

    The OECD says economic conditions that support high productivity levels or strong, long-term productivity growth rates are:

    sound macroeconomic fundamentals
    a regulatory environment favourable to business and entrepreneurship
    good access to risk capital
    the skills, knowledge and educational attainment of the workforce
    conditions favourable to R&D activity.

    “Empirical evidence from OECD countries suggests that a sound macroeconomic environment, including well-managed public finances, not too large a government sector and price stability, can contribute to raising trend productivity growth in the medium term through a positive impact on confidence and by promoting efficient resource allocation.”

    This is what Northern Ireland needs to address.
    The size of government has a huge impact on
    productivity growth and Northern Ireland has the largest public sector I know of.

    It also needs to move into high-tech industries where productivity gains can be made rather than basing its growth on call centres and the like.

    This employment is welcome, of course but it is not a substitute for jobs further up the economic food chain.

    Very, very worrying is the fact that the number of people outside the measured labour market actually by more than 33,000 in 2004.

    I think it’s 39% of the NI population that work as opposed to 47% in the rest of the UK and in the Irish Republic. Unsustainable if NI wants to compete with the rest of the world.

    “The composition of public expenditure also appears to be important with a greater positive impact for productive investment, including expenditure on infrastructure, and investment in
    education than for expenditures not directly related to growth including inefficient systems of subsidies and transfers.”

    For inefficient system, insert Northern Ireland’s huge public sector.

    Got that piece in quotes from
    “>this interesting if lengthy paper on productivity in Ireland.

  • George
  • Davros

    What are you guys going to do when Humphreys, who has been carrying that team for six or seven years, finally hangs up his boots?

    I suspect they will fall to bits George.

  • PS

    Being replaced by Connaught in the Heineken Cup is a real possibility, but the most noticable effect will be the end of the unbelieveably frustrating comments EVERY half time of an ireland matches on the BBC as the text messages of “Why isn’t Humphyreys on”, “its a a big anti Ulster bias” etc etc fly in, no matter how well Ronan O’Gara might have been playing

    Since at least 01

    Humphreys – Great fly half
    O’Gara – Better

  • ShayPaul

    As a fan of Humphreys I have never forgiven him for having two left feet in the match in Dublin against France several years ago.
    If my memory serves me well we lost 10-9 in the rain after leading for the majority of the match and conceding a scrappy try despite a glorious defense. Humphreys missed a sitter penalty in the last minutes and every time I think of him I see the ball sliding wide of the post in the rain.

    We did of course sink the french the year after in Paris to break a memorable string of losses to them with 3 tries from Brian O’Driscoll, and I was happily there to see it.

    Despite a memorable victory in the 3rd half in temple bar, when we sank the guinness along with the what was left of the french supporters, that penalty miss still sticks in my throat.

  • George

    Connacht (not Connaught as I far as I know PS) have to win the European Challenge cup first though I think. If this happens will Ulster have to win the Challenge Cup to get back into the Heineken Cup?

    Lafcadio,
    The other post should have read:
    “Very, very worrying is the fact that the number of people outside the measured labour market actually rose by more than 33,000 in 2004.”

  • PS

    Christ, I can’t believe my spelling has been anglised like that. Don’t know where that came from, Connacht is of coure the right spelling.

    As far as the Heineken Cup is concerned, I believe the rules have changed a small bit in that the IRFU are entitled to take Celtic League standings into account, though i don’t believe they have to do so.
    Therefore, if Connacht were to finish above Ulster in the Celtic League, the Westerners would have a fairly goos claim to be deserving of the third irish place in the competition given their impressive record in the secondary compeitions and Ulster’s failure to qualify for the quarter finals since 99.

  • George

    The IRFU that considered getting rid of Connacht altogether are now going to boot Ulster out of the Heineken Cup? I doubt it personally.

    Any chance of getting all four teams in?

  • CavanMan

    Humphries or O’Gara,why not both? Try Humphries as a full back or a centre…he has the flair to play any position in the backs.

  • Davros

    I would reckon that while O’Gara might be a shade more consistent as a kicker, Humpries is the more rounded and versatile player. He also seems to me to direct play more than O’Gara. Am I right in thinking that Ireland has a better record when Humphries is playing instead of O’Gara ?

  • ShayPaul

    No Davros the opposite is true

  • ShayPaul

    Well I said that rather quickly – but am convinced it is the case, will check the stats and let you know.

  • PS

    Even as far back as the Brian O’Driscoll hat trick in Paris which set off this (relatively) golden age in Irish rugby, O’Gara was the first choice number ten, though it wouldn’t be fair to say that he was the sole, only even the major, contributing factor. Humphreys is the record Irish points scorer, while O’Gara is the record scorer in the Heineken Cup and no doubt in the fullness of time he will eclipse Humphreys’ national record.

  • Lafcadio

    ahh this is more like it, rugby rather than economics! A good victory last night in horrendous conditions..

    George – Humph hasn’t been “carrying” Ulster at all for the last few years, he’s been a fantastic asset, as is any world-class no 10, but this season his form has been very patchy. Ulster have a good young side, and hopefully Paddy Wallace can step up and finally pull his weight at out-half over the next couple of years. Further down the line we have the Ireland U-21 World Cup finalist Gareth Steenson to hopefully come through..

    As for the old Humph vs O’Gara debate – for starters, anyone who says that over the last 5-6 years either one has been streets ahead of the other is simply wrong – until this year there has been little or nothing between them. They offer different things to the team, for me Humphreys is by far the more naturally talented footballer, and still has a good break and lots of pace; O’Gara on form is a superb tactical kicker, and behind a winning pack gets the backs outside him moving well.

    Last year if O’Sullivan had been picking on form, Humph should have started all year. O’Gara was patchy throughout (except for a flawless performance against England), and looked very slow. However EOS seemed to decide that it was time to bed O’Gara in for good, and it paid off – and O’Gara has looked stronger and quicker this season, and is now here to stay..

    ShayPaul – what about O’Gara against the All Blacks a couple of years ago, when we could have beaten them in their backyard if O’Gara hadn’t had a shocker with the boot? That still hurts me to think about..

    As for HC qualification – even though I think Ulster will finish above Connacht in the Celtic League, the IRFU’s declaration that they would use league position to determine HC qualification was rendered meaningless by the proviso that they reserved the right to nominate clubs for European competition next year. And realistically even if Connacht finish above Ulster, there is hardly a chance that the IRFU would relegate Ulster, probably the most consistently well-supported (and thus cash-generative) Irish club, to the “Bic Biro” Challenge Cup. An interesting complication would occur if Connacht won this year, as according to European rules, they would be entitled to automatic qualification to the HC…

  • Davros

    Hasn’t Humphreys had injury problems on and off all season ?

  • ShayPaul

    Lafcadio

    Don’t dispute your remarks, but can’t get that penalty out of my head.

    I think you’ll find however that Ireland have a better result record with O’Gara (not necessarily his performance but that of the team when he is present).

    I’m not knocking Humphreys he is a class act, if anything it is a coaching thing, the team should have been balanced with both of them in.

    Yes I felt it against the blacks, but against the frogs that day we were robbed, and I knew for a cert that he’d miss the penalty when he stepped up to take it. I probably hate myself ever since for being right.

  • Henry94

    Slightly (well totally) off-topic but this is an interesting article about

    “>the Sweedish model

  • Henry94
  • Davros

    Damn- I fell for it 🙂

  • maca

    “Connacht (not Connaught as I far as I know PS)”

    Some very interesting info (related also to the discussion on lough/loch last week):
    The spelling Connaught reflects the former English practice — in Ireland, though not in Scotland — of representing the Gaelic voiceless velar fricative ch as ugh (compare lough for loch), (u)gh having been used in Middle English for the same sound. Although this sound later disappeared from English, the spelling of words like “thought” and “caught” remained unaltered — and in a further Anglicization the “new” English pronunciation of -aught was even applied in England to titles like that of the Duke of Connaught. In Ireland, however, the original pronunciation having remained intact, the Gaelic-style spelling Connacht is now used more often in English. It may have gained currency by mistranslation of the Irish name into English: in Irish, the form “Cúige Chonnacht” (province of Connacht) is almost always used, and this may have led to people misunderstanding “Connacht” as the Gaelic version instead of “Connachta”.

  • Ringo

    Henry94 –

    very interesting article on the Swedes.

    Something that I find very interesting is this obsession we have (certainly in the Republic anyway) with the way the Swedes do things, especially when contrasted with a complete lack of interest/regard for the way the US does. It seems Sweden is the benchmark for all reports on social services, health services, work practices etc.. regardless of whether they are the world leaders or not.

    Only the UK is used as a reference with anything like the same frequency, but considering the similarities in systems, culture and economic models this is not surprising. But the impression I get is that Sweden have overtaken the UK as our primary reference for determining what we should do as a society and how to go about it. (Rightly or wrongly the Britsh model was often used as a template for how not to go about it, but a reference point nonetheless).

    The debate last week regarding the relaxation of the planning rules to accomodate Ikea was a good example. If Ikea was Wal-Mart I think there would have been uproar. If it was British it would have ruffled a few feathers. Even if it was Irish it probably would have drawn more criticism, but because it comes from that most noble of nations
    we tut-tut a bit, but secretly see it as another step on the road to enlightenment.

    There is scant regard for American society here, despite all the cultural, economic and family links to the US. Our economic model is closer the US model than the Swedish, but this similarity to the US in ecomomic terms is often overplayed. Despite all the other obvious connections with the US (and pretty much a complete lack of them in the past 1000 years with the Swedes) the number of reports or policy documents from a political party, government agency, government hired consultacy, watchdog or NGO detailing the way forward that quote ‘the Swedish model’ is astonishing. There is pretty much universal acceptance of this. Invariably if there is criticism it is because we ‘can’t’ do like the Swedes, not we ‘shouldn’t’.

    Maybe….. that’s the source of all our strife in Ireland too – We had only just begun to get used to being a Scandinavian society at the start of the second millenium when the your ancestor, Henry2 ;p , and his mates went and upset the apple tarts (as Bert would say)! Maybe it worked both ways – did we also become a bit more Scadi than the Scadi’s themselves? 😉