After the election, the unity that matters

The clearest sign that effective north – south co-operation is a different ball game from Sinn Fein’s latest campaign for unity has come in the news that the hard-pressed Dublin exchequer will fund 80% of the costs of a £3 million removal of a massive 250,000 tonnes of illegally dumped southern rubbish north of the border. Even Sammy Wilson, soon to be our only DUP double jobbing minister, welcomes the move which was made under EU rules. Removing this running sore will produce a surge of general goodwill. Conor Murphy is too realistic a politician to be convinced by his own rhetoric. The Sinn Fein campaign is the sort of thing politicians do to start a new chapter after an election campaign. Reality -and I would add, genuine idealism – lies elsewhere. The accountants Ernst and Young recently published a report Economic Eye on the impact of the recession south and north. It concludes that the north’s recession will be less severe but the south will bounce back quicker. The unemployment peak is still ahead of us, whatever else happens. The Finfacts summary spells out starkly the size of the bounce-back needed. Adds I suspect Northern Ireland is lucky with a Labour government that sustains public spending in the province, albeit with an estimated £200 million cuts from 2011 on a £8 billion subvention. How much more would the Conservatives cut? The province might get the best of both worlds by benefiting from the Republic’s earlier upswing – always supposing growth climbs fast enough to spin-off into NI.

Job losses in construction across the island by year-end 2009 is staggering, with the forecast estimating 150,000 jobs to be lost in construction across both regions from their peal – Northern Ireland will account for close to one in 15 of these losses.

Employment figures in the Republic will not return to their peak period (2007) until the year 2021 compared to 2018 for similar recovery in Northern Ireland.

In spite of the priority given to helping the construction industry, the Derry to Dublin road upgrade and other infrastructure projects part funded by the Republic is surely doomed, although they’re balking at announcing it. The report shows spells out directly that all the political rhetoric in the world will not reduce the big differences between the two economic jurisdictions. The next analysis I’d like to see is whether an all island economy is still relevant for climbing out the recession. The main message seems to be to stop the foot-dragging over projects like an all-island energy economy and planning new budget priorities for the time of biggest reckoning for public spending, from 2011.

  • oracle

    ” removal of a massive 250,000 tonnes of illegally dumped southern rubbish north of the border”

    I must admit Trinny and Suzanne must be dressing her because there’s no way I would have believed Caitroina Ruane wieghed that much.

  • Brian, what’s going on in Corrib? Also, have RoI assets been squandered?

  • iluvni

    Why only 80% of the costs?

  • Pigeon Toes

    an all island economy

    Hmm now which island would that be? Would that be

    given that its take two years for even this draft plan to bear fruit, for 60/70/80/100? people, what are the chances of this other vision coming to pass?

    Minister for Rathlin?

  • bob wilson

    Mr Walker your lazy jibe about NI being ‘lucky’ with a Labour Govt rather than a Conservative one is typical of than insular thinking and poverty of vision thinking inspired by those who lived their lives in state sponsored journalism.
    This Labour Govt has achieved very little of its goals to reduce child poverty etc but has run up a deficit that will plague your grandchildren yet you think we are ‘lucky’ to have it.
    That sort of thinking will condemn your children and their children to unemployment, a lifetime of uninspiring ‘work’ in the under achieving public service or worse still a job in the BBC.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Give the man his due Bawb – at least from his public sector perch he consistently preached what he believed in: pious, disengenuous liberalism. He didn’t, for example, spend a political lifetime denouncing the UUP as being anti-national & sectarian, before sudeenly realising that two legs were indeed better than four.

  • Brian Wilson’s comment about:

    a Labour government that sustains public spending in the province, albeit with an estimated £200 million cuts from 2011 on a £8 billion subvention

    deserves better than that bit of boilerplate rhetoric from bob wilson @ 03:21 PM.

    First, the hysteria about the debt-problem is this week’s petit-mal. As each of the Tory bogeys fails to deliver, yet another has to be hastily prepped up. A few days earlier, just the same “experts” were pointing out how the Swedish economy had recovered, and repaid debt, while the Japanese approach (see below), applauded by the ranker Tories, had led to a decade of stagnation. This time round [see the current issue of The Economist], a few more bitter herbs needed adding to the stew:

    Even after the recession ends few rich countries will be running budgets tight enough to stop their debt from rising further. Worse, today’s borrowing binge is taking place just before a slow-motion budget-bust caused by the pension and health-care costs of a greying population. By 2050 a third of the rich world’s population will be over 60. The demographic bill is likely to be ten times bigger than the fiscal cost of the financial crisis.

    It must be hell trying to sleep, if you’re an Economist journo with all that hanging over your next deadline.

    Yet, hidden in the middle of that article, is the germ of what Brian Walker warns:

    What should policymakers do? A sudden fit of fiscal austerity would be a mistake. Even when economies stop shrinking, they will stay weak. Japan’s experience in 1997, when a rise in consumption taxes pushed the economy back into recession, is a reminder that a rush to fiscal tightening is counterproductive, especially after a banking bust. Instead of slashing their deficits now, the rich world’s governments need to promise, credibly, that they will do so once their economies are stronger.

    Fair enough.

    Our problem is that the Cameroonies have not laid out their hand. What, if not exactly, at least in essence is the proposed Cameron “austerity” package? Whenever anyone starts to come clean (as did Andrew Lansley before a drawer-full of socks was inserted) a blackout is imposed. In the world of barking insanity occupied by the likes of Jonathan Isaby at ConHome (and formerly a star of the Telegraph) numbers like an instant whip of £50B+ are called for.


    the rain falleth not alike on the just and unjust fella,
    For the unjust just stole the just’s umbrella.

    And it rains harder on NI, Scotland, and Wales than on the natural Tory heartland. It could well be poached Salmond for supper. With respect to the UCUNF crowd, one seat (at best) is not going to rescue NI from a severe shearing, particular since the implied targets feature public sector employment, and public pensions.

    Back barely this side of the certifiable, the John Redwood line (the “real” Tory Chancellor?) seems to want 20% off, based on some notional “public demand”. Pause. Take a deep breath. That’s £1½B out of the NI economy.

    The last time we went that route (1979-81), even the Tories became restless (that was the whole point of “The lady’s not for turning” speech, delivered to the sceptics of the Tory Conference). It took a small colonial war to dig the Tories out of that electoral mess. It took NI rather longer (see other threads of the last few days).

  • Brian Walker

    A splendid essay Malcolm. I didn’t really mean to set the rednecks on fire. I just think that if you’re dependent on the public sector, you’re lucky it’s not being drastically cut. Only the public sector will fund the development in skills needed to develop the private sector, so for NI, it’s a no brainer. I’d rather take my chances with this brand of Keynesianism and hope that as the boats rise, the debt will go down just a little more.

  • Pigeon Toes

    Given that he thread has had only seven other responses, it would be hard to see how anyone is “on fire”.

    Exactly whom are you referring to as “redneck”?

    Off to see my great-uncle and cousin Billy Bob….

  • “an all-island energy economy”

    Did you read that BT link, Brian? The BT article actually deals with networks across the UK and Ireland and energy flows in various directions. For example, the Republic is looking at the link with Wales.

  • PT, my reference to strange goings on in Corrib hasn’t exactly set the place on fire. Perhaps that story about a fishing boat being scuttled by armed raiders was a figment of the owner’s imagination.

    Will our local administration flog off the alleged oil and gas resources around Ballinlea in North Antrim for a song? Could the underground extent of the find lead to a battle royal between Belfast, Dublin and Edinburgh – or do Belfast and Edinburgh have to play second fiddle to London when it comes to the ‘exploitation’ of natural resources?

  • Pigeon Toes

    Belfast and Edinburgh have to play second fiddle to London when it comes to the ‘exploitation’ of natural resources?

    They all seem to fairly adept at the exploitation of taxpayer resources.

  • “Conor Murphy is too realistic a politician to be convinced by his own rhetoric.”

    I’m too realistic a blogger to be convinced by Conor’s rhetoric. FoI requests have put his underlings and their associates in a bit of a tail-spin. Now if only the MSM had the gonads to do similar research to that carried out by my associates …

  • Talking of Conor’s rhetoric, he may have to eat a little humble pie re. the new RIFL catamaran.

    An MLA tells me that a RIFL director was anxious to provide assurance that the new catamaran would go into service by July 1.

    A little bird tells me that the catamaran hopefully will begin its sea trials by that date and that with a little bit of luck it might be in Ballycastle by the middle of July. After that come the familiarisation procedures for the crews and, presumably, final certification by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. The MCA has already got its fingers badly burnt so it will need to proceed with great caution as the eyes of the maritime industry continue to monitor its surreal behaviour.