“not perfect and not wholly democratic..”

The press conference following the events in Belfast today, live-streamed online at the time, was very interesting viewing. The politicians’ set-pieces are still online here. The BBC’s Mark Devenport picks up on the potential problem with Gordon Brown’s ‘pressie’

The Prime Minister did bring one pressie – telling the Executive they could keep the proceeds from sales of their assets to the tune of £2.2 billion. That’s double the current figure. But is this an enormously generous gesture or an injunction to sell off the family silver at a time when the market price is rock bottom?

Executive sources are sceptical about whether they can get anywhere near the £2.2 billion figure. What was clear from Sir David Varney’s recent report is that Belfast port is the big plum Whitehall believes can be plucked from the Executive’s tree. But Stormont ministers are far from certain this would be such a good idea.

The online clip doesn’t include the journalists’ questions at the end.. nor the moment when, just after Taoiseach Brian Cowen had expressed confidence in a stablity provided for through the Belfast and St Andrews Agreements which bind future governments to the agreed arrangements, NI First Minister Ian Paisley wandered off the feel-good script somewhat. Describing the current administration at Stormont as “not perfect and not wholly democratic, but the best [he] could get for the people of Northern Ireland”, Ian Paisley went on to express a desire to move towards more democratic structures sooner rather than later.. at which point the deputy First Minister intervened and called an end to the press conference citing other engagements for the political couple.

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  • corkonian

    pity they didnt include the journalist questions and answers at the end. but interesting nonetheless.

    however, Brown is disastrous , in that ALL he offers is a sell-off of public assets – no reduction in corp tax or other incentives?

    and then Cowen pledges $1 billion in investment.

    whether the Irish investment is actually from the EU is by-the-by, the British should have seized the moment to do something to help Northern Ireland – and as Tony O’Reilly called for, allowed Northern Ireland to set their own corporation tax rate.

    Now THAT would have been one heck of a gift for the North.

  • But is this an enormously generous gesture or an injunction to sell off the family silver at a time when the market price is rock bottom?

    Mick

    You have hit the nail on the head here, and the fact that few sluggerites have responded to this thread is extremely worrying. What does the silver consist, perhaps it is time the people of the north thought this through as I remember the anger over water charges.

    It is time some people moved beyond the sectarian and left right, north south agenda and asked themselves just what type of society they wish to live in.

    For I have no doubt Browns offer would make many conservatives and lefties like me fume with rage as it is implying that the protestant people can be brought with a handful of coin. It is the most short sighted and contemptible offer ever to come out of Downing street and it tells us more about Gordon Brown,s unfitness for high office to date. i.e. we all have price in his mind. He will be calling the protestant community spongers next!

  • corkonian

    i agree with you Mick – the more i think about it , the more I think that Browns offer is an utter disaster.

    LONG TERM business decisions are not set on whether you can sell off the family silver – they are set on tax breaks, investments, and infrastructure. Brown brought none of that – instead some “smoke and mirrors” figure of “2 BILLION”…

    why not a package of say “hey , set up business here ,tax free for 10 years?” or something more business friendly? Northern Ireland surely needs this. No wonder Paisley, as Slugger noted, slightly drifted “off message”..

    i cant blame him. i’d be furious too.

  • Pete Baker

    Mick

    Credit where it’s due… with the BBC’s Mark Devenport.

  • percy

    guys I think you’re all missing
    “We have no selfish strategic or economic interest” ..
    in other words look to Dublin for lower corporation taxes

  • Comrade Stalin

    For christ’s sake can we forget this corporate tax cut thing already ? The Brits are NOT going to have the City of London up sticks and move to the Titanic Quarter. They are not just going to give us our economy for nothing. To persist in the belief that they will is to put store in a pipe dream. There’s only one way to bring business here – make our economy competitive and attractive to investment.

    The investment conference being held today seems to me, sadly, to be little more than a cynical political stunt cooked up by politicians and, of course, the people at InvestNI to try to make it look as if they are doing something. It won’t result in any actual new investment here any time soon. These people are not so stupid that they can be fooled by a state-sponsored wining and dining at the Culloden.

  • The Raven

    Actually, Comrade, there *will* be investment out of this conference. But it will have been orchestrated and manoeuvred months in advance and will probably have been “on the books” so to speak, for some time.

    For example – First Source’s announcement last week of 800 new jobs? Several recruitment agencies have been doing campaigns to fill those posts since January, before that even.

    Expect another “jobs boost” in the next couple of months. They’ve been planned and agreed with INI from last year.

  • Damian O’Loan

    Interesting development.

    Brown’s career is in danger. He needs the media tycoons, who gave London to the Tories, back on side if he is to have any chance to survive. He’s sold all the gold the Treasury had at rock bottom price already. How can he make friends with the corporate interests again?

    Fair play to Mark Devenport, but to be fair, Brown has form in this regard.

  • ulsterfan

    What is wrong with selling some family silver to get a National Stadium in East Belfast for rugby and football and at the same time upgrade Casement

  • Greenflag

    ‘the British should have seized the moment to do something to help Northern Ireland ‘

    Why ? Haven’t they done enough these past 40 years -keeping the lid on – tolerating one political absurdity after another etc etc etc . Nothing lasts forever and the gravy train eventually runs out of gravy .

    ”and as Tony O’Reilly called for, allowed Northern Ireland to set their own corporation tax rate. ‘

    To be followed by Scotland , Wales , the North of England etc etc . There would be nothing left in the Exchequer to keep Queenie and Co in ermine etc etc .

    HMG is unlikely to do much for NI short of the next election just keep the lid on and hope that there is no ‘hung’ parliament on which the UUP/DUP can ‘pimp’ their way to getting more than their ‘fair share’ of the power sharing spoils .

  • percy

    hey I got me a fan 😉

  • Comrade Stalin

    He needs the media tycoons, who gave London to the Tories, back on side if he is to have any chance to survive.

    Jesus Damian, do the Stoops really have such a low opinion of the electorate that they think they’re incapable of forming an opinion by themselves ?

  • McGrath

    The single biggest attraction to Ireland for an overseas investor, is a talented, motivated, easy to communicate with workforce. The size of the place means that there is really just one labor pool and physical location within the country for the vast majority of company types makes no real difference. The maker / breaker comes down to the money, if I as an investor realize I get to keep more of my profits in the ROI and in fact find that it has a more favourable bureaucracy the decisions are easy.

    Free market economies (George W was waffling about that today – someone must have wrote it down for him) mean that economies must compete too. NI just isn’t that competitive in comparison to the ROI. For that matter the ROI is not that competitive in the world setting any longer, so NI needs to better the enticement rather that just a match with the ROI.

    I firmly believe that trying to transplant intellectual business property from overseas economies provides just short term success, the magnitude and duration of which depends largely on the performance of other overseas economies similar to ours. In short, labours are a dime a dozen and keeping one particular labourer around can largely depend on a fondness for him, which will evaporate when the money tightens or he starts to slack.

    Entrepreneurship, the development of unique products with unique selling points provides us with a way of retaining investment and using all our resources, talents that have long existed in NI/ROI are being railroaded in favour of a few Politicians seeking to retire with icing on their cake or buff their egos.

  • McGrath

    And another thing, why is NI trying to replicate the ROI business model, when everyone knows the best days of that business model are now over.

    The emperor does not have any clothes on.

  • “And another thing, why is NI trying to replicate the ROI business model, when everyone knows the best days of that business model are now over.”

    Well said McGrath, as you said because the emperor in London has no new ideas. Perhaps people in the north need to get things into perspective, unless Brown/whoever can entice the south into Nato the Brits are going no where soon.

    If you are looking to have a low business tax economy you are going down the road of a low wage economy and at the end of the economic cycle many of these businesses will up and leave.

    Instead of this continuos hum we hear in the north about how awful it is that the north has such a large percentage of its people working for the state, rejoice, catch yourself on and remind yourselves that we are in a recession. whilst not as safe as houses, [oops sorry] working for the government during a recession is about as good as any job gets and in a small place like the six it can help keep the rest of the economy afloat.

    Neo liberal economics and its race to the bottom will increasingly be seen by western economists as absurd, china won that round just as Japan did in a previous economic cycle. Although it is a game of two halfs.

    We need to get back to sound economics and a mixed economy which can take some of the strain in the bad days, the north has a head start here, do not throw it away for short term gain which will allow SF and the DUP to appear good. [temporally]

  • x

    folks, anyone who has been watching this for some time will be very aware, the varney reports were designed to kick the corporation tax issue in to touch, the investment conference was desgined to throw sand in the air so that the DUPs particulary won’t have to explain where the demanded financial package went.

    Inthe reality that 2008 there will be little or no inward investment to NI, our “skills” are not unique and the good will factors due to the “peace process” have been over exploited.

    Brown’s £1b give away is nothing of the sort and our politicians have been hoodwinked again.

    Clearly politicially St Andrews was a disaster Minister Ruin has proved all the safeguards aren’t worth a penny candle. The death of Paul Quinn and the subsequent cover up proves that underlying all the chuckles there remains dnager tensions. The 11 Downing Street meeting and promises of generous financial support were hollow and the edifice we call Stomont is built on very precarious shifting sand.

    added to all this the lack of capacity and competance of our MLAs and the real picture of Northern Ireland is very bleak.

    But hey, its friday, its stoppe raining so we should be soooo grateful for allwe have!

  • Flat Earter

    “not perfect”
    Yes, quite. Our coalition partners continue to murder, our education system is a mess and we have IRA representation on the victims’ commission, the policing board and every other institution of government, etc.

    “not wholly democratic”
    No, completely undemocratic. A government which cannot be removed without an opposition. “Not wholly democratic”? More like completely undemocratic!

  • Greenflag

    McGrath,

    ‘I firmly believe that trying to transplant intellectual business property from overseas economies provides just short term success, the magnitude and duration of which depends largely on the performance of other overseas economies similar to ours.’

    Economic development is not easy . Every economy on the planet bar none has at one time or another ‘borrowed’and ‘benefited’ from foreign investment . What’s critical is that the ‘investment’ acts as a multiplier generating more economic activity than would have been the case without such investment . In that respect FDI has been a resounding success in the Republic . It’s virtual absence from NI over the past several decades has ‘retarded’ the NI economy and made it more dependent on the public sector . In retrospect it’s at least debateable whether a hypothetical absence of the ‘Troubles’ would have made any significant difference to the overall NI economy’s ability to attract sufficient FDI to generate the kind of growth rates which the Republic achieved. As of now and looking forward NI can hope to attract some ‘goodwill’ investment but the reality is that their best bet is to hope for ‘overspill’ from the Republic-such as in the recent Robinson /Cowen Financial services deal for Belfast.

    Mick Hall,

    ‘ Well said McGrath, as you said because the emperor in London has no new ideas.

    Neither has the Emperor in Washington and even some of the would be new emperors or empresses 🙁
    But it is becoming clear to a greater number that the extreme religious ‘right’ in the aftermath of the defeat of Communism has gone too far in it’s ideology -so much so that the ‘contradictions’ both political and economic are mounting up’ just as they did for Soviet ‘communism’ in the 1980’s. A majority of Americans have moved to the centre left . The promise of compassionate God based ‘conservatism’ is now seen as a political mirage that turned into an economic and diplomatic shambles for America in the world .

    I suspect the post November period in the USA is going to show a radically different American face to the world.On the one hand while it may be a more pleasant face for European ‘liberals’ it may not be from which NI will ‘economically’ benefit to any great extent nor for that matter will the Irish Republic .

    ‘Perhaps people in the north need to get this into perspective, unless Brown/whoever can entice the south into Nato the Brits are going no where soon.’

    The Republic should be in NATO regardless of whether the Brits are going , coming ,staying , leaving or might leave . It’s time we got over our ‘false’ neutrality syndrome .

  • Greenflag

    Flat Earther,

    ‘No, completely undemocratic. A government which cannot be removed without an opposition. “Not wholly democratic”? More like completely undemocratic! ‘

    While it is true that the present NI constitutional dispensation does not conform to the standard ‘democratic’ model there are good reasons for this . A short read of Northern Ireland’s political , economic and constitutional history 1920 through to the present should be enough to convince even the most skeptical (and I include myself in that group0 that what NI has at this time is all that is possible for a long time to come .

    The only way for any Northern Ireland State to become a ‘normal’ democracy would be in a post Repartition situation where Nationalists/Republicans would form approx 10% of the population and not 47% . In a smaller predominantly Unionist State there could be a ‘loyal ‘ opposition i.e one not waiting to topple the State after the next election .

    But Unionists be they DUP or UUP appear to have no stomach for such a smaller State. So what NI now has is about as good as it will ever get for both Unionists and Nationalists . As for the current NI Assembly ever delivering ‘normal democracy’ ? to NI . When you see pigs fly maybe !

    Be grateful for the ‘quick ‘ fix that has taken all of 40 years to deliver to NI:(

  • Greenflag

    You make some very interesting points with which I do not disagree, but I cannot see what the people of the south can gain from the following,

    “The Republic should be in NATO regardless of whether the Brits are going , coming ,staying , leaving or might leave . It’s time we got over our ‘false’ neutrality syndrome”

    As far as military matters are concerned, leaving aside the nelson over rendition out of shannon I cannot see anything wrong with the Republic of Irelands neutrality.

    Best regards

  • McGrath

    GF:

    As of now and looking forward NI can hope to attract some ‘goodwill’ investment but the reality is that their best bet is to hope for ‘overspill’ from the Republic-such as in the recent Robinson /Cowen Financial services deal for Belfast.

    “Spillover” puts it nicely. Nor would I look a gift horse in the mouth, but this is not a core long term strategy.

    NI has very little home grown long term sustainable export business. Notables are Norbrook, Powerscreen (now merged), Wrightbus, and none of these are powerhouses.

    Foreign investment it to be welcomed, but with wave of recent foreign investments / mergers, the business plans are written overseas which put us pretty much at their mercy.

    The current investment drive will just make the NI economy top heavy, lots of cash, no foundation.

  • cynic

    “What is wrong with selling some family silver to get a National Stadium in East Belfast for rugby and football and at the same time upgrade Casement ”

    ..because we cannot afford them and if we had the money better to spend it on investments that will bring future real jobs and boost the economy not drain it. Theres no real money to be made in NI football nor jobs to be had in NI football or rugby

  • Greenflag

    ‘I cannot see anything wrong with the Republic of Irelands neutrality.’

    If you were British you might . These islands share a lot of common values and if there is ever to be a UI or some other longer term arrangement then being part of a common defence area with the UK makes politcal , economc and military sense .Apart from that our Defence Forces would benefit from up to date training along with other NATO forces

  • Greenflag

    McGrath,
    ‘but this is not a core long term strategy.’

    Of course . As a matter of interest what do you think should be the ‘way forward’ economically for NI ? You sound somewhat defeatist in your approach :)? Muddling through with whatever MMG’s Exchequer can afford to subvent seems to me at least one option . Unexciting perhaps but then NI can probably do without any more excitement for a generation or two .

  • McGrath

    GF:

    For one, NI, even the ROI needs to take more advantage of its intellectual capital and build modern cottage industries were the stakeholders can build and retain equity. We are selling ourselves short by simply being prepared to be the laboring workforce of large overseas organizations.

    Effective privatization of various government services, eg division of the water service into agencies with boards of trustees. Public bids on contracts for rubbish collection and disposal etc

    Scaling back of public housing construction, refocus on construction of affordable housing for first time owners as so reducing anti-social burdens and reduction of government administration.

    Those are a few.

  • Dave

    McGrath, if you want “spill over” from FDI, then look to the country that gets the lion’s share of it: the UK. The UK gets more FDI that China and the US combined. For example, 5,700 U.S. companies have operations in the UK compared to just over 600 in Ireland. FDI created 2.6 million jobs in the UK compared to 150,000 in Ireland – that is significantly less, even allowing for the per capita adjustment, than the UK. Indeed, Irish-owned companies employ more people in the U.S. than US-owned companies employ in Ireland.

    “If you are looking to have a low business tax economy you are going down the road of a low wage economy and at the end of the economic cycle many of these businesses will up and leave.” – Mick Hall

    Rubbish. Ireland has one of the highest minimum wage rates in the world. It also has a minimum unemployment rate that is almost 3 times higher than the UK rate.

  • “Rubbish. Ireland has one of the highest minimum wage rates in the world.”

    Dave

    Not really sure what point your making beyond being somewhat rude and proving my point that is, or did you mean average wage?

    Mcgrath

    Here you seem to be caught in a thatcherite time warp, or are you asking for the state to subsidize middle class first time buyers at the expense of those who cannot get on the property ladder due to a very low income, just as Thatcher did,

    Most of western Europe does not see home ownership as a priority, nor that desirable. What we need is an adequate supply of first class homes for rent.

    You seem to have been caught up in thatcherite thinking, home ownership good all else bad. There is absolutely no reason why public homes should become sink estates, to suggest that they do is simply middle class prejudice.[I’m not saying you said that]

    What the rush to buy property has done, is saddle young people with enormous debt, hence they are forced to put off having families, hence the birth rate drops, the tax base suffers and government fill it with overseas newcomers. And you talk of reducing anti-social burdens.

    What we need is some joined up thinking and an attempt to change peoples mindset about housing in the UK and Ireland, a home should not be a short term investment but a place to live and prosper in.

    The UK property market has been the curse of much of the EU.

  • McGrath

    MH:

    Here you seem to be caught in a thatcherite time warp, or are you asking for the state to subsidize middle class first time buyers at the expense of those who cannot get on the property ladder due to a very low income, just as Thatcher did,

    Most of western Europe does not see home ownership as a priority, nor that desirable. What we need is an adequate supply of first class homes for rent.

    I wasn’t focusing on the middle class. I think affordable housing can be created by changes to planning permission rules that would keep the greedy home building industry in check.

    Balanced supply, coupled with structured mortgages for first time buyers with rules on speculation would keep pricing reasonable, even for lower incomes.

    I’m an advocate for the responsibility and motivation that comes from home ownership. Subsidized rental promotes a vicious cycle that places a burden on the remainder of society, subsidized ownership is a mechanism to lessen that burden over time.

  • Greenflag

    McGrath,

    ‘For one, NI, even the ROI needs to take more advantage of its intellectual capital and build — were the stakeholders can build and retain equity. We are selling ourselves short by simply being prepared to be the laboring workforce of large overseas organizations.’

    I agree . However it’s not all one way traffic . Take CRH (Cement Roadstone Holdings ) Which was established by Tom Roche with 500 pounds in the depressed 1930’s and today employs thousands of people around the world and has sales of 22 billion dollars – almost one third of Northern Ireland’s total annual private sector output.

    ‘Effective privatization of various government services, eg division of the water service into agencies with boards of trustees. Public bids on contracts for rubbish collection and disposal etc’

    I’m as much of a ‘capitalist’ as the next man however what has the above strategy actually achieved in Thatcherite or for that matter post Thatcherite Britain ? Has it improved services or has it merely exchanged paying higher wages (living wages) to public sector laborers to paying ‘minimum ‘ wages to private sector laborers ?

    ‘Scaling back of public housing construction, refocus on construction of affordable housing for first time owners as so reducing anti-social burdens and reduction of government administration.’

    Given the present climate in ‘housing’ generally in the english speaking world the emphasis should be on scaling back the anti social activities of the financial lending sector who have preyed on the weak and sold mortgages to people under circumstances that were less than transparent -Northern Rock etc etc .

    But in total what you have put forward makes sense however it’s my contention that it will need a lot more than the above to drag Northern Ireland’s economy up to the level of the average UK region never mind attain any near parity with the Republic’s .

  • McGrath

    GF:

    Given the present climate in ‘housing’ generally in the english speaking world the emphasis should be on scaling back the anti social activities of the financial lending sector who have preyed on the weak and sold mortgages to people under circumstances that were less than transparent -Northern Rock etc etc .

    The reckless lending stemmed in large part from pressure from greedy home builders, that pressure created a false demand by opening up the opportunity for people to buy houses that normally couldn’t afford them. Then the knock on effect was home builders continuously scaled up construction specification.

    See my previous post.

  • Greenflag

    Mick Hall,

    ‘What the rush to buy property has done, is saddle young people with enormous debt, hence they are forced to put off having families, hence the birth rate drops, the tax base suffers and government fill it with overseas newcomers. And you talk of reducing anti-social burdens.’

    Good points and to some extent true. Not sure if a correlation between the birth rate and housing debt has been proven . IMO birth rate reduction has been correlated mostly with higher incomes and educational level in the past . Many of the newcomers are prepared to work for wages that the ‘locals’ won’t . This phenomenon is not just prevalent in NI/ROI/UK .

    We’re not Scnadinavians or French or Germans in our attitude towards property ownership. In those countries ‘landlords’ are strictly regulated and are fined if they allow their properties to fall below standard. The history of landlordism in Ireland and Britain is replete with terms such as Rachmanism -slumlord – etc etc .

    McGrath,

    ‘Subsidized rental promotes a vicious cycle that places a burden on the remainder of society, subsidized ownership is a mechanism to lessen that burden over time.

    One would hope so however today’s market has just blown the bubble on property for some time ahead . I read that in parts of the USA people who have purchased homes two years ago when the market was it’s height are now walking away from their homes and leaving them empty sometimes indeed vandalising the property and removing any fixtures of value . Why pay back a mortgage on a property that cost 250,000 dollars and not only can’t sell for 250,000 or even 200,000 and if offered at 170,000 will be on the market for a year or more and perhaps not sell at all ?

    Tough times ahead for the private housing sector . In the meantime people have to be housed and I agree that ‘subsidised’ ownership is probably the way to go however subsidised ‘rentals’ will be necessary for those on the very lowest rungs of the income ladder-unless of course you have no objection to seeing families living on the street? No doubt some of the ultra right wing lunatics would have no problem with that . Neither did their predecessors in the 19th century . I would hope that there has been some advance in our thinking since those times .

  • Greenflag

    McGrath,

    ‘The reckless lending stemmed in large part from pressure from greedy home builders, ‘

    I’m not suggesting that home builders are not ‘greedy’ or were not pushing sales as much as they could . But behind the ‘builders’ were the banks and financial lenders who made it far too easy for people to buy. No deposit and no interest loans -balloon payments etc etc . By about 2003 anybody who could afford a mortgage and pay it either had one or did’nt need one. At that point the finance sector realised that the only way to increase their sales was by selling more ‘mortgages’ -The only market left was that section of the population who were barely able to afford the rising house prices . These people were sucked into one of the greatest ‘scams’ ever perpetrated by the financial sector/banks/building socieities/mortgage brokers etc etc on consumers within living memory . The reason the banks/building societies could do this with impunity was due to the deregulation of the banking sector and through the creation of all kinds of innovative investment products that bundled all of these sub prime loans into ‘investment caches’ that were sold at high interest returns to the market .

    These people have a lot to answer for as indeed have the western governments who bought into deregulation of the banking sector in the hope that those running the banks and finance companies would somehow be above ‘ripping off’ the punters .

    Wrong call on human nature I’m afraid .

  • McGrath

    GF:

    Of course subsidized renting will always be a necessary and important factor in society, and as such should meet good standards. But modern society it shouldn’t continue to be a necessity or even the first preference of wide segments of society.

    In the middle to latter parts of the 20th century, this was the possibly the single biggest improvement in the quality of life for much of Irish society. But this also played a part in NI becoming a public sector driven economy.

  • Greenflag

    McGrath,

    ‘But modern society it shouldn’t continue to be a necessity or even the first preference of wide segments of society.’

    Unfortunately it is a necessity and the conditions of modern life in the western world generally have made it even more necessary than probably say 10 years ago . I agree that home ownership will remain the first preference for the widest segment within modern Irish/British society somewhere between 65 and 85% most likely. But for the rest the State must take the responsibility for housing be it through subsidised ownership or rentals imo.

  • McGrath

    Wrong call on human nature I’m afraid .

    Posted by Greenflag on May 10, 2008 @ 08:01 PM

    Lending institutions and builders get their feedback from the real estate agent/ realtors to sell houses. It goes along the lines of whats selling, whats not selling, what needs to be built / done to make things sell. About 4 years ago, supply was starting to exceed demand, so the pressure came, mostly from builders who were sitting on inventory, to increase demand. The lending institutions caved in, mostly because because the investment pools they borrow from to fund mortgages were flush with cash, caused by liquidation of equity by homeowners in previous years.

    Yes, deregulation of banking fueled a lot of this, but the home building industry has a lot to answer for to, they are there own worst enemy. Instead of scaling back when indicators showed supply was high, they found a way to recklessly continue, then everything evaporated.

    If you look back, the home building industry runs itself into the ground once every 10 to 15 years. I follow the property markets in the USA and Australia in detail, its the same story, with the exception that the Australian market seems to have shown some restraint and is still is good shape (comparatively)

    I call human nature on it all. Regulation is (was) in place to control human nature.

  • Greenflag

    McGrath,

    ‘In the middle to latter parts of the 20th century, this was the possibly the single biggest improvement in the quality of life for much of Irish society.’

    Indeed and on both sides of the border.

    ‘ But this also played a part in NI becoming a public sector driven economy. ‘

    That it did but the reason for this was the huge difference in the economic experience of the North versus the South in the period say 1974 through 2005 . The latter’s economy has tripled or more in that period, and wages , productivity and social welfare benefits have likewise increased . here was huge FDI in the economy as well as dramatic increase in population via immigration etc .

    Without that kind of economic experience Northern Ireland’s economy languished and thus more and more people had to be housed under subsidised ‘rental ‘ schemes . The Republic ‘lifted’ itself beyond that level . Had NI experienced the same rate of economic growth as the Republic it would not now be so public sector dependent .

    The cure has to be to get the private sector working at it’s maximum before it’s priced out of the economy by an overpaid and extortionate public sector .

  • McGrath

    GF:

    That it did but the reason for this was the huge difference in the economic experience of the North versus the South in the period say 1974 through 2005 . The latter’s economy has tripled or more in that period, and wages , productivity and social welfare benefits have likewise increased . here was huge FDI in the economy as well as dramatic increase in population via immigration etc.

    Which draws into light how pathetic the current NI economic strategy is. Actually, I’m honestly not convinced NI has a economic strategy of any merit. The current strategy seems to be based on a “whats working for the neighbours, must work for us” attitude. Worse still, current economic planning in NI seems to be driven by the egos of a few politicians.

    I think we will see in the near future that BIFFO cant debate his way out of the receding economic climate, and G Brown most likely is going to end up in opposition government, if not on the back benches.

    When NI’s economic strategy stops be driven by political ego and stops being propped up by new rounds of funding by FDI and entrepreneurship starts to lead the way, there will be serious gains.

  • Greenflag

    ‘I’m honestly not convinced NI has a economic strategy of any merit.’

    Neither am I for what it’s worth .

    ‘ The current strategy seems to be based on a “whats working for the neighbours, must work for us” attitude.’

    The Republic /Free State went through the same process 1922 to 1957 and again briefly from 1977 through 1987 . No radical departures of any kind were considered . If policies had’nt first been tried out in the UK then Irish Governments did’nt want to even hear of them .

    ‘ Which draws into light how pathetic the current NI economic strategy is’

    It’s probably the worst timing possible for the new Assembly to be given the reins. Realistically they can’t do a lot economically -they don’t have the powers to do much other than redistribute funds between various departments and interests.

    Biffo has til 2012 to make his mark . It won’t be easy but I still believe he’s the best we’ve got . Gordon Brown has a more difficult task and has less time to turn around . He’s less lucky than Biffo in that the Conservatives are at least an opposition that seem capable of winning the next election. What has Biffo to face ? Kenny and Gilmore ? He can wipe both away any day in the Dail with his little finger . The opposition will have to find a ‘heavyweight’ candidate for the alternative Taoiseach position and I don’t see anyone on the horizon at this stage.

    Two years is a very long time in politics . Only a year ago Mr Brown was popularity incarnate. He may rise again .

  • What has not been mentioned here is that state funded social housing in the rest of the UK gives people an opportunity to get on to the property ladder. This now applies not only to council houses but also housing associations.

    One of the problems with the developers is they have brought up large tracts of land, often brown field sites, which they sit on, thus making the demand for their product all the greater, as to is the price. For example this has happened in London although the Brown government and Livingstone have attempted to over come this by 50,000 new builds.

    The need for social housing in some areas comes not just from people on low incomes, for example a worker in an essential service who is a first time buyer, [health care,education, transport, police etc] would have one hell of a problem buying a home in London.

    As to Brown, it hardly matters what he does in the coming year, by and large he is a safe pair of hands politically and in any case the election will be decided on two things, the worlds economy and whether Cameron cocks up.

    We should not overlook the fact that the NL spin machine has not been let loose on him yet. I wonder if deep down NL wanted johnson to win London, as unless the tories can keep him out of the UK on a perpetual overseas tour he will undoubtedly muck up and splash Cameron with the back wash.