Sunday Times Fast Track 100; Northern Ireland Nil the rest of the UK 100

The Sunday Times Fast Track 100, is an annual publication which takes a snapshot of the UK economy and identifies the fastest growing companies across the UK. It is an important point of reference as although it does not pick up every successful fast growing business as many choose to avoid the PR inclusion in such a publication gives, it helps the business community understand current trends in business including identifying new areas areas were private sector growth is likely to occur. Entries include businesses from a wide range of industries from Restaurants and healthcare providers though to wind farms and technology.

As I read the through the report however I was dismayed to see that there were no businesses from Northern Ireland included in the report. I have reproduced below (with permission) the map of the UK showing the headquarter locations of the Fast Track 100 as you can see, Northern Ireland has a big fat Zero against it. This statistic might not worry the Sinn Fein Socialists or DUP who have what could be described at best as a ‘distrust’ of the private sector, but it worries me greatly and it should worry all Northern Ireland citizens that we have performed so poorly in this report.

fasttrack

The tone of this report yet again reinforces the points that many of us have made time and time again on Slugger that there is something fundamentally wrong with our cultural attitude to business that is stopping our economy it it’s in tracks and we need to face up to what this is and correct it.

I could speculate as to why we are so far behind the UK and Irish Republic economies and there are many valid reasons that could be mooted, it could be because we lose our brightest and best talent to emigration, it could be prohibitive red tape preventing entrepreneurs setting up and succeeding in business, it could be the cost of doing business in NI, it could be our education system promotes the professions and does little to encourage and promote entrepreneurship as a valid career choice, it could be a lack of finance available to NI businesses? In truth it is likely to be combination of all the above.

Taking the football analogy of my original headline further, if Northern Ireland was to be compared with the economics of a football team, we have basically decided to follow the Real Madrid Model in buying in ‘Galactico” superstars by going down the route of 12.5% Corporation Tax Reform, we want the global superstars Corporates to locate here, maybe they will, maybe they won’t but that is the path we have chosen.

We would have adopted the ‘Southampton’ model which is to identify, invest and nurture local talent and build from the bottom up and ensure these businesses have the access to whatever they need to compete on the world stage, but sadly, our politicians have ‘relegated’ this approach to secondary status.

This report for me, yet again  makes sobering reading and our politicians need to get to the bottom of why we have performed so badly and adopt an economic strategy that actually stands chance of working.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    You hit the nail on the head, Patrick, in saying it’s a cultural attitude to business that is at the root of this. That’s how it seems to me, admittedly from afar.

    I have some experience over here at the junction of private and public sectors. I was part of a research agency primarily serving private sector clients, that merged with one serving primarily public sector clients. I liked and admired the guys doing the public sector work – and I still like and work with them – but I did also encounter an odd cultural cringe from some on that side towards the work we did on the private sector side (consumer input into product development, marketing, media planning etc). It was as if the whole world of consumer research for business – which is actually most of my industry – was not worthy of intellectual effort and was a bit of a joke. If you worked for a big consumer business, it felt at times like you were assumed to be the kind of person who themselves falls for the worst kind of advertising and promotion and who approves of the worst excesses of commercialism. There were genuine cultural differences too between the two teams, it wasn’t all prejudice: they did attract different types of people.

    Just a thought, but I wonder if that same sniffiness infects perhaps some of the social weather-makers in Northern Ireland? I can tell you, it’s not hugely inspiring to be on the other end of it. In our case we were fine – we got on with what we were doing and my successors still are, several mergers later. But attitudes to business and consumer culture do make a difference to whether people feel inspired or motivated to work in those fields. I’m not sure in Northern Ireland that the society fully grasps how vital it is to foster a strong business culture, or how to do that. The small ‘c’ conservative element of NI society is a drag on business progress for a start.

  • Andrew Gallagher

    Not trying to invalidate the underlying point (NI does have serious problems with the private sector), but the evidence here doesn’t say much about it either way. The numbers given above for each region (with one exception, see below) are roughly proportional to population, plus or minus statistical error. NI is the smallest of the regions given (just over half the population of Wales), so could only reasonably expect at most one business.

    The real take home lesson from the stats given is the excessive dominance of London and the south east of England, which together account for well over half of the businesses – with barely a quarter of the population.

  • scepticacademic

    What’s Yorkshire done to deserve being lumped into the ‘North East’?! Typical London bias. North as ‘other’. Btw, these data shouldnt really be a surprise to anyone who’s studied the UK economy.

  • Robin Keogh

    When you look at the census figures of 2011 and compare them to 2001 you see a significant drop in the 18 to 25 age cohort despite the fact that inward migration in that age category should result in an increase. There is an on-going brain drain in the North which cannot be denied. Graduates have no incentive to stay in the six counties so opt to take positions in GB or in the 26 counties were there are more opportunities and a better quality and standard of living.
    It is easy to blame politics and for sure it would be of great benifit if all parties could unite and put in place a deliberate and targetted programme to identify problem areas and design an agreed action programme but the private sector itself is clearly not interested in the North.
    When every news story involves ussun versus themmuns, when politicians cant even host a dinner for two sporting teams withourt bickering, when millions are wasted on protests camps with the support of local reps and when any and all efforts to promote an all ireland economic solution is rejected out of fear of convergence with the south what else can we expect.
    Belfast has a population hinterland of close to one million people and two airports, Dublin has two million with one Airport but has millions more in passenger numbers every year. It is just one area but if Ireland has one thing it does well it is in the area of tourism and Belfast should be able to capitilise on that. The infrastucture is there and the possibilities are obvious but nobody in the industry seems bothered. Instead we have loyalist campaigners going nuts because Ireland T-Shirts are sold in the statelets Airport Shops !
    The report above should be a wake up call to anybody who genuinely wishes to keep young brains at home.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Yeah, they’ve basically taken the European constituencies and merged the Midlands and the North East and Yorkshire and Humber.

    My guess is that it’s likely one of East Midlands, West Midlands, North East and Yorkshire and the Humber are on zero as well.

  • Kevin Breslin

    There are some who would argue that being 2% of the UK population, the region should on average be getting 2%, some who might argue that Northern Ireland being a fourth constituent state should be getting around 25.

    I would say getting 1 on this list would be a massive achievement. 2 is striking even per capita on a one hundred list ignoring the wealth distribution towards the East.

    There’s a few positives to be said from other lists –

    Seven Technologies Group- No. 85 on 2015 The Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100

    Elmgrove Foods – No. 65
    on 2015 The Sunday Times BT Business SME Export Track 100 league table

    Sawyers Transport – No. 35

    on 2015 The Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200

    Randox Laboratories – Rank: 44;
    BI Electrical Services – Rank: 50;
    Tobermore Concrete Products – Rank 66

    …on the 2015 The Sunday Times BDO Profit Track 100

    The Sunday Times Grant Thornton Top Track 250 league table 2015
    Rank: 10 Ballyvesey Holdings
    Rank: 17 Lissan Coal Company
    Rank: 26 GRAHAM
    Rank: 176 Tayto
    Rank: 241 Chain Reaction Cycles

    ————————————————————————–
    My feelings…

    Let’s cut the nonsense about red-tape as the red tape issue applies equally across the UK, and in the case on EU laws similarly the Republic of Ireland and 26 other countries as well. It’s what we scientists can consider a constant.

    If N.I businesses are being harmed by red tape is because they lack the talent to deal with it like everyone else in these islands.

    My own opinion is that N.I. businesses don’t invest highly in R&D or talent development in comparison to their competitors. The tax credit draw downs are a lot smaller, there’s complaining about skills shortages but very little information on how to up-skill without going back to university again or again and again.

    If we can’t engineer talent, we can’t engineer anything.

  • Roger

    Patrick: the name of NI’s neighbour is Ireland. I don’t get why you use ‘Irish Republic’.

  • Robin Keogh

    The legal name of the 26 county state is The Republic of Ireland.The legal and geographical name “Ireland” relates to the whole Island.

  • Roger

    Robin. Not sure what country you are a citizen of? If you’re Irish, check your passport please and let us know what you find.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    it will only change when the private sector manages to expand and offer good opportunities for people to fulfil their ambitions at home.

    That said, it was ever thus and as one who left myself, I think a lot of the brain drain is just inevitable given Northern Ireland’s size and location. There is a big world out there and opportunities are limited in Northern Ireland just as they are in other relatively small and outlying regions of Europe. A lot of young people are always going to want to experience life away from their home environment, mix with people from different backgrounds and so on. That is healthy. Some of those with get up and go are going to get up and go, especially aged 18-24.

    But the key is I think to create in Northern Ireland something to go back to in your mid to late 20s, having experienced London or Manchester or Dublin or New York, when you start to care about quality of life, having a good career without killing yourself till midnight every night, settling down, a place to bring up kids. Lots of people I know left London (where I spent my 20s) to live where they came from or where their partner came from, for quality of life. And I think NI has a lot to offer there.

    Perhaps it needs to market itself more to its expats – and newcomers – as a ‘liveable’ place. Some of what keeps people away is inevitable – it can be a bit parochial, for example; job opportunities will be much more limited than in a big city on the mainland or even in Dublin – but a lot of what keeps people away can be improved Some of the ante-Diluvian social attitudes, the community divisions and ‘offence culture’, the chippiness and defensiveness, for example. There is a cost to the fostering of dissatisfaction.

  • Tim McKane

    We are 2% of the adult population of the UK (Approx) therefore we should have 2 companies if we were representative, but it doesn’t work like that. Our size restricts growth, as start ups find it much harder to gain momentum and generate revenue as the potential market is so much smaller. ( I know this from personal experience. £100k spent on advertising in NI is £5million in the UK, and you have to do the same amount of work). The potential for growth exists outside the confines of the country, but you need to get started before you go exporting. The other damaging aspect that restricts us is that our business community is risk averse, and do not see that the changing world of digital marketing opens up new sales opportunities. Again I have self interest here, but direct experience in people constantly telling us that they are dinosaurs and really don’t think that digital is appropriate for their sector.

  • Robin Keogh

    Ireland has always exported its youth in one context or another and i agree with you that there is a gra for returning home amongst some for the reasons you outline. But why is it that young Protestants are more likely to leave and less likely to return? I think the reason is they see greater potential in GB and beyond and soon lose their connection emotionally to the wee six. While those from a Catholic background who are more likely to return see Ireland as Ireland and are more inclined to bring their skills home even if they do end up in Galway or Cork rather than Belfast or Derry.

    Ireland is beautiful and has everything to offer a young family but parts of the country, particularly the six counties simply dont offer opportunities so the task is to correct this deficit. And if the report released by the Detail on invest NI on Micks thread today is anything to go by, there needs to be a rethink and a serious restructuring of investment policy.

  • Robin Keogh

    I am Irish I have an Irish European Passport. I am from the Island of Ireland, I live in County Wicklow. Anything else you need to know?

  • 23×7

    Student fees will make this even worse. Saddling a graduate with over 40k in debt will stifle entrepreneurship.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    well as one Prod who lives in England now, I can testify many of us find the move over rather easy. I don’t think we lose our emotional connection any more than Catholics do, but I’d need to see a study on that.

    Part of young Protestants leaving is just expectation. You aim for the best university you can and the pool you’re fishing in for university places is UK-wide, so the chances are you’re going to end up across the water. Picking Queens or the University of Ulster, I would expect, and seemed in the case of my friends, to involve a deliberate choice to stay in Northern Ireland, more than just being about picking the right university for you. Some very good, able people in my school year did stay and go to Queen’s for example; but a bunch of us got into Oxford, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, London etc and aged 18, unless there’s a good reason to stay at home, why wouldn’t you try it out? There was a sense it was the normal thing to do, even the aspirational thing to do.

    Quite a few of my friends though came home eventually, basically because they couldn’t see themselves where they were across the water forever and retained very strong connections with home. I considered it when I was about 27 but basically liked London life and friends too much and also found that my job barely existed in N Ireland; you can’t specialise purely in what I do in N Ireland, there’s just not enough work in a region of 1.8 million; in a region of 25 million, there is. That is the logic of ever greater mobility and globalisation, being in the orbit of the really big urban centres means there are many more possibilities and options for you. Going back to NI has to compete with all those.

  • notimetoshine

    I wonder with the huge numbers of stay at homne students, I wonder what sort of demand led reuqired entry grade inflation results at UU and Queens.

    I myself went to Scotland, to one of the ancient universities, to read law. The uni I was at had a higher standing in the league tables, international reputation etc. Yet its entry requirements were lower than Queens. I was always told that this was due to high demand from stay at home students.

    Interesting potential ramifications when one considers where the talent is going and if that talent is potentially missing out on better educational opportunities across the water.

    My sister is a perfect example. She was/is a real homebird and wanted to study a particularly high demand subject. She just missed out on the entry requirements and again could have taken a place on the same course at an English uni with a higher place in league tables, reputation etc. Now she didn’t want to leave home so she went through clearing and took a different course at Queens. She had a real passion for the work, and might well have done very well but went another direction instead, because she was so reluctant to leave home.

  • TruthToPower

    NI economy has been hampered by employment being traditionally provided by public sector and large monolithic industrial employers that has put all employment eggs in one basket

    It’s led to a population that become lazy in thinking that they don’t need to start a business, someone out there will employ them anyway.

    Well the baskets have fallen and the shipyard, Mackies, Enkalon and other eggs all smashed.

    The workforce and their communities are not intellectually geared towards valuing or even expecting education to be their path. Everyone still expects some miraculous inward investment from America that will save us all but the unpalatable truth is that the worlds a big place and NI does not have a God given reason to be the investment region of choice

    Our people need to pull up their socks big time

    We are still stuck in a 1970s half day closing mindset. We regard business and indeed most other facets of innovation as things wile fancy foreign or English people get up to. We are salt of the earth and don’t need to bother ourselves with new fangled things such as fresh ideas and concepts.

  • notimetoshine

    “The workforce and their communities are not intellectually geared towards valuing or even expecting education to be their path.”

    Now which community/workforce would that be? Because education is supremely important in my ‘community’ and young people in Northern Ireland are often very well educated.

    It will take years of sustained investment in infrastructure and skills to pay dividends, and in fairness there are some great success stories already up and about in NI, especially in IT, agrifood and creative media.

  • barnshee

    “There is an on-going brain drain in the North which cannot be denied. Graduates have no incentive to stay in the six counties so opt to take positions in GB or in the 26 counties were there are more opportunities and a better quality and standard of living. ”

    This has been the case for my liftetime

    1 NI has too many people of working age for the jobs available. Additionally a focus on education produces large numbers of aspiring graduates- the atmosphere at (particularly) Queens influences some people out to other UK Universities and at least some of these do not come back.

    There are two choices increase the jobs- how? — or reduce the demand for them-emigrate ?

    2 The public sector in NI pays more -has better pension provision- a guaranteed security of employment short of murder (and not even then) than most of the Private sector. A glimpse at local authority salary levels will inform the situation.

    Private sector expansion is the only answer— one caveat. A long long time ago I worked for an American company (now long gone) They created well paid jobs -very well paid by local standards –their training was superb .

    THEY however DECIDED where they would locate -they TOLD the NI government where they would locate the factory

  • chrisjones2

    ….not when its a degree in law, media studies, etc

  • chrisjones2

    Dear Lord…..here we go again

  • TruthToPower

    Both main communities. Our minorities seem to value education and getting ahead more than we do and by the way, here’s that old investment chestnut. How come my nephew who is studying a degree in Internet and software security got his GCSEs and Alevels without the help of quangos or specially set aside public money for him?

    All these communities need is for, in a mandatory town hall environment , for educated people to tell them to value education and tell them to make their kids do their homework and study in the evenings instead of being lazy irresponsible parents who let their kids roam around or play computer games whenever they like. Too many parents seem to regard their children as little mates or friends as opposed to immature and helpless people who need constant guidance, instruction and discipline

  • Jeremy Cooke

    But where is the industrial strategy to build on – what has the “house of fools” achieved, what have they to say about the core technologies of the future: nanotechnology, general purpose robotics, additive manufacturing, small scale thorium reactors, autonomous vehicles, CGI & gaming etc?

    Until we see NI start to build centres of research and excellence with an eye to the future we’ll still have an economy based on the begging bowl and call centres.

  • Kevin Breslin

    An even 2% would assume that the U.K is a Pareto-Efficent form of a Perfect Communist Utopia when it comes to wealth distribution. The North/South divide is completely smashed in the name of economic equality.

    1% and 1 company is probably a lot more realistic. NI did have that a year or two ago but because it was agri-food business with the current market challenges it fell out of the top 100.

  • Roger

    I asked you to check your passport. What is the name of the State named in it?

  • TruthToPower

    He lives in a former and hopefully future part of the U.K.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I’ve made a serious of balanced points on these matters. In many other tables where the issue is not “Fast Tracking” it does break beyond the 1% and even 2% threshold at times.

    The U.K. is of course not a communist utopia with equal distribution of wealth per capita. Since Northern Ireland is a part of the U.K. issues like red-tape, taxation and several other fiscal issues are constant. The main key difference is that the domestic market is fundamentally different in parts because of being in another island with partition, even then many of these constant fiscal issues remain.

  • Kevin Breslin

    We do have research in these areas and a lot more in our universities.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Under Irish Law it is Éire in its official language Ireland in its secondary official langauge and I am not sure what it is under UK law but I feel the use of Ireland is recognized diplomatically, but in both regions the term Republic of Ireland or Irish Republic are used (Irish Republic not used in nationalist/southern quarters as that refers to an unrecognised state existing between 1919 and 1922 and some might argue much further according to various “post-Treaty Republican” traditions.)

    I don’t like the term “Legal name” because I think it evokes cracking down on freedom of speech, Official Names are given by Article 4 of the Irish Constitution and the Ireland Act of 1949

    But this is pretty much a big debate.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Names_of_the_Irish_state

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/politics/top-unionists-bid-to-reclaim-ireland-28578877.html

  • Tim McKane

    All the comments below about bickering proven!

  • Kevin Breslin

    He lives in a former Viking settlement too, he could opt to join Sweden or Denmark. 😀

  • Jeremy Cooke

    I know some is done but its too piecemeal IMHO. Why haven’t we got free/cheap startup hubs for CGI in Cathedral Quarter based on UU ? Why haven’t we got a thorium research reactor in Titanic Quarter ? Where’s the general purpose robotics hub in Derry ? The autonomous vehicles research in Queen’s Island ?

    We don’t seem to have a vision of where we want to be in five or ten years and how we’re going to get there. It’s all too reactive.

    Our universities are first class but we’re not exploiting them – we’re too busy with bloody flags.

  • Tim McKane

    Here is a cat among the pigeons – I had the privilege this morning to visit a company that is not sitting back on its laurels, but wants to grow sales across the world. They were able to keep going a few years ago because of the arrival of people from Eastern Europe who were seeking employment and were keen to work. Without them the company could well have had to shut down. This is one of the issues that affects the potential for private sector growth, and local employment, and it is not the only time I have heard this from business owners.

  • Kevin Breslin

    A lot of the companies that hire Eastern Europeans are still hiring locals too, it’s not simply a “them and us” contest. They are keeping each other in work at the end of the day. The founders of Tescos and Marks and Spencers two of our main employers are from Polish ancestry.

    People who have been pushed out of the employment market are very ill-served by demagogues and racists who’s only talent is blaming people and harking back to a day where people were more resilient because they needed to be.

  • Andrew Gallagher

    And also don’t forget, the above measures the location of brass plates, not employment. Few companies operating throughout the UK are going to have their HQ in Belfast. Like I said, there is a problem but this isn’t a good example of it.

  • Andrew Gallagher

    “the atmosphere at (particularly) Queens influences some people out to UK Universities”

    As a QUB graduate and ex-employee, I can tell you that the mythical “atmosphere” is mostly just that – mythical. Coming from a segregated childhood, a non-segregated environment is easily confused with an alien one, particularly by a green 18yo. Yes, the first time you see “MNA” on the toilets in the student’s union it’s a novelty. But that wears off pretty quickly…

  • Kevin Breslin

    Well no, (other than our local SMEs that is that have next to no GB markets) but Belfast ironically can serve as “de facto” Irish headquarters for some companies.

  • Andrew Gallagher

    I haven’t come across that one before. I’m sure it happens, but I’m also pretty sure it’s well outweighed by the number of companies that run their NI operations from Dublin…

  • Roger

    Thanks Kevin. I think if Robin checks his passport, he should be able to work out what it’s name is. It’s not complicated.

    Banana Republic is used sometimes too. But I’m asking him to check what’s in his passport.

  • Tim McKane

    Am I a demagogue and racist? The issue has been that local people are not prepared to travel to work (I had this from a past US Consul who was tired of being asked to bring companies to specific areas of Belfast because people didn’t want to get on a bus), and then complain about those foreigners who come and take the jobs. Those foreigners who have travelled across hundreds of miles for work. The point is that it is not all about people who start businesses solving the problem. We need a culture change that pervades the economy and every area of society.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Freedom of Speech Roger, anyway… I suppose the derogatory names for Great Britain and Northern Ireland are Broken Britain and the Sick Counties respectively, I take it?

  • Tim McKane

    Completely agree – have had the same attitude towards advertising. Now in trying to get companies to understand the value of digital marketing, but all want it to be proven to them specifically rather than looking at how the rest of the world is moving forward, and quickly too!

  • Andrew Gallagher

    “1% and 1 company is probably a lot more realistic”

    … and 0 companies instead of 1 is merely statistical noise. 😉

  • Andrew Gallagher

    “Belfast has a population hinterland of close to one million people and
    two airports, Dublin has two million with one Airport but has millions
    more in passenger numbers every year.”

    Only to be expected. Transatlantic carriers will prefer to operate out of as few airports as possible – the only reason they land in Shannon as well as Dublin is government regulation. Again, this illustrates why you can’t just scale things up and down per head of population and expect to make a meaningful comparison. In many cases, Belfast is perhaps better compared with Cork rather than Dublin.

  • Greenflag 2

    ‘If we can’t engineer talent, we can’t engineer anything.;

    Whats needed is to deengineer NI politics but thats not possible without deengineering NI . While university education has much to commend it be it in the arts or the business orientated or the hard sciences it’s not the answer to increasing whats called ‘entrepreneurship ‘ in Northern Ireland or elsewhere . Of course for a few at the cutting edge of technology or software and in those fields its a must but even then Bill Gates did well without a degree . Having worked with several hundred ‘entrepreneurs ‘ approx 350 individual businesses over a period of two decades I noted that only three of the founders had degrees and they were NOT the most successful not by a long shot .

    The local political and economic environment is the main factor and future uncertainty re the political situation in NI is no help either . Government when it has too big a share in the economy as in NI can be counterproductive to ‘entrepreunership ‘and probably is . Only a small percentage of people anyway are psychologically capable of being ‘entrepreuners ‘ i.e starting something from little or nothing and by this I don’t mean buying a pub , a shop or a some franchised service . That small minority in NI are more likely to emigrate to the UK , Republic or further afield to achieve their ambitions and who can honestly blame them ?

    But for small time entrepreuners to achieve ‘lift off ‘ NI also suffers from having too much of a public sector dependent economy . As Truth to Power puts it above and I quote

    “NI economy has been hampered by employment being traditionally provided by public sector and large monolithic industrial employers that has put all employment eggs in one basket”

    Indeed . Unfortunately the monolithic employers also tended to cater for just one section of a divided community just like the Stormont Government .And we know where that led 🙁

    NI has to be deengineered but that will take time and by then the competition will have moved so far ahead that catch up will be difficult if not impossible . Its a Catch 22 more or less . Its as good as it can probably get without massive political overhaul and nobody in NI has the stomach for that -not yet anyway !

  • Andrew Gallagher

    Is some of that a result of the micro-ghettoisation of Belfast, where a journey of a few streets becomes mentally inflated into an epic quest? 😉

  • Roger

    Don’t follow. Sorry.

  • Robin Keogh

    Eire

  • Roger

    Really? Yours must be a special issue!

  • Surveyor

    Does Northern Ireland even have it’s own economy? Doesn’t all the tax that’s collected not just go back to London to be divvied out between the regions anyway? Or am I missing something?

  • Andrew Gallagher

    There’s more to the economy than tax.

  • ted hagan

    I am Irish with an Irish passport and come from County Antrim. For clarity’s sake there is Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Now enough of the petty stuff.

  • barnshee

    And I can tell you that I had three close relations who went to QUB open days for their potential degree subjects – and all opted for GB universities after the visit- and theynot the only ones

  • hugh mccloy

    Robin is everything that exemplifies a “shinner bot”, one of these guys that would come out with ‘I studied politics’ statements which is meant to represent some level of superiority over us normal free thinking folk. Next he will be telling us he finished his philosophy degree and this qualified him to be a finance spokesperson for the party.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Politicans are easy scapegoats, sometimes. In terms of division I would say they are the symptom not the cause. In terms of skills development the Haldane Principle ensures a policy of university knows best applies. In terms of the high level of public sector without it the place would have collapsed during the Troubles carried out by direct rule ministers who had cared less for this place than “our lot” do now.

    Little of this matters.

    Engineering is not the solution to ideal problems under ideal circumstances it is anything but. Engineering doesn’t require any deengineering.

    We can’t blame them for why our workers aren’t the best in the world at what they do and only do what needs to be done. Necessity is the mother of invention, and its father is Resourcefulness.

  • Zig70

    You want the problem of cultural attitudes to travelling to work to change but you don’t want to investigate it or accommodate it? Why can’t everyone be like you?

  • Kevin Breslin

    Nope, I assure you that you very much are not. I was trying to be complimentary, sorry if it reads differently.

    My problem are pessimists who want people to have a chance to fight rather than a fighting chance. The former self pity, the latter encourages self improvement.

    My apologies for any offence.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Well the first people to accuse the Republic of being a Banana Republic were the people from the Republic. I was trying to say that the other places had their own self-deprecating labels.

  • John Collins

    Well it was no great shakes either when it was under GB rule from 1801 to 1922. Apart from the fact that Dublin went from being the second city in the Empire to having worse slums that Calcutta, the country endured a massive famine and massive emigration as well as a 20% drop in its population, while the larger islands population increased by about 150%
    Apart from that a BBC news report has just stated that David Cameron’s ‘friends’ in European have just told him that they cannot facilitate his request for change in the workings of the EU, so there goes a Brixit. I think the UK have more to worry about than reuniting with the ROI at the moment. Apart from that it is quite possible that the electorate in both jurisdictions would not want it anyway.

  • barnshee

    Or am I missing something?

    Yes —basic economic knowledge add tax structure knowledge— for a start

  • Greenflag 2

    LIke it or not the politicians determine public policy including economic policy . The result of previous policy/policies is there to see . There are no ideal problems and no ideal circumstances and political conditions are never perfect and always in flux. If necessity is the mother of invention and it’s father is resourcefulness then the NI economy is an orphan .

    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-35024375

  • Surveyor

    Oh basic economic knowledge. As if that exists, it’s nothing but an abstract concept. Still if you enjoy living under the illusion that Northern Ireland is an equal partner in relation to England and London then don’t let me stop you.

  • Robin Keogh

    Cork is only a fraction of the size of Belfast although i do take your point that carriers prefer to fly into one large airport. However its not just transatlantic business that is flying – pardon the pun. Uk and europe is masdively bigger than the belfast region also. Ultimately all wealth is created socially, large population areas offer opportunities for growth but those oppotunities have to be correctly identified and exploited effectively. There has been an abject failure on the part of invest NI to do such.

  • Robin Keogh

    We are discussing opinions, and I am not a pokitucian so i can bicker till the cows come home.

  • Brian O’Neill

    Play the ball not the man Hugh. Keep it civil.

  • barnshee

    ? How could a pop of 2.7 m be an equal partner with England pop 53m and London 8m ?
    well same
    1 taxation system
    2 same health service funding/access
    3 common political system
    4 more generous social security payments

    with additional benefits
    1 a local devolved assembly where many partially educated locals can
    2 squabble over the extra funds (particularly) London supplies

    England should be so lucky

  • Greenflag 2

    NI has a population of 1.8 million NOT 2.7 million
    I guess what you are saying is that England is less equal than NI -Hint -don’t let them know 😉

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I agree, business conservatism and lack of ambition seems to be a real problem. Possibly changing in the business services sector though? Seems to be booming and employing high quality people working to high standards. Just in my old field, having recently had dealings with some NI lawyers – streets ahead of where they were 20 years ago.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    that’s it – that’s where conservatism is a problem – there’s a mindset of being wary of an opportunity rather than going for it. It’s not just N Ireland, it’s a kind of cultural divide between the cosmopolitan and small-town, which happens all over the UK. You don’t have to be in a big city to be part of the former culture, it’s about confidence and the willingness to take on risk to achieve things. Northern Ireland has some of the former and way too much of the latter.

    Belfast is a city that could go either way; and in its heyday of course it was a genuine global player in its chosen fields, shipbuilding, linen, rope, engineering, etc. What I’m saying is, its attitude has become more small-town than it needs to be. I’m observing generally here and it may have changed in the last decade or so. But if you’re navel-gazing as much as we have done, or just seeking escape from the madness, as the middle classes have tended to do, it doesn’t make for being tuned into global business developments and well positioned to prosper from them. I see it as a cultural problem as much as an economic one. But I do see chinks of light, because I sense younger generations are reinventing NI in a positive way for themselves. Let’s hope that finds an expression in business success (it doesn’t necessarily follow).

  • Old Mortality

    A lot of parents put pressure on their offspring to stay at home – with cars often providing an incentive.There’s also a pretty witless fear of higher fees and consequent debt levels (cheap AND with contingent repayment terms – pile it on!), ignoring the possibility that future earnings could render the liability trivial.
    I’ve heard that some years ago, long before fees were a concern, irate parents confronted the headmaster of a rural grammar school because he was encouraging his more able pupils to apply for Oxbridge.

  • barnshee

    Sorry confused % Pop with actual Num.

  • Tochais Siorai

    The founders of Tesco and M & S were significantly different, Kevin in many respects to their fellow Eastern Europeans in that both were Polish Jews, an extraordinarily talented bunch who could perhaps lay claim to being the most entrepreneurial in history amongst other things. We could do with some more of them arriving now to shake the place up but unfortunately that’s not going to happen.

  • Tochais Siorai

    ‘….without killing yourself till midnight every night…..’

    Ah surely you made it past midnight a few times, MU.

  • Tochais Siorai

    Isn’t the Shannon rule not long gone, Andrew?

  • Tochais Siorai

    The state’s name is ‘Ireland’ on all international treaties, passports etc etc.

    The only official international bodies afaik to use ‘Republic of Ireland’ are UEFA and FIFA.

  • Tochais Siorai

    Scotland leaves Wicklow joins.

    Now that’s a long shot.

  • Tochais Siorai

    The first time I heard it used in that context was the Boomtown Rats song around 1979ish.

    They were cranky after being refused a permit to play an open air gig (Leixlip Castle I think). Decent tune though.

  • Tochais Siorai

    Oops, just realised you were probably talking about work.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    well yes. The law firm I was at thought nothing of all-night meetings to close a deal. But there are only so many you want to do. They were excruciating. That said, I’ll be working most of tonight for a deadline, but at least what I’m doing now is interesting (it’s for a sport governing body). And I’ll do it from home, watch the United match, have a nice dinner and put my kids to bed. An improvement.

  • hugh mccloy

    Fair point, You have never seen me on the gaelic field then 😉

  • barnshee

    They know and thankfully they appear to be making the natives more and more responsible Who knows- accountability might just follow

  • Greenflag 2

    ‘Who knows- accountability might just follow’

    When the union jack is lowered and HMG says bye then you’ll get responsibility and accountability . Otherwise its hand holding from now to then – keeping them on a tight leash /rein etc .

    Appearances can be deceptive . HMG is good at that

  • Greenflag 2

    It happens a lot on SOT – confusion I mean ; Some don’t even admit it so well done 🙂 kudos

  • Greenflag 2

    Yes theres debt, recession , and hedge funds and algorithms and bought politicians and the IMF and Griftopia and a whole lot else besides :;)

  • Greenflag 2

    The Republic’s government seems to be getting the message .

    http://www.rte.ie/news/2015/1208/751977-science-innovation-2020/

  • Greenflag 2

    Ethnic minorities have played a significant role in economic development all around the world and have done so for centuries . European Jews from Poland , Germany ,Russia or elsewhere , Lebanese Christians in Africa and elsewhere and Chinese ethnic minorities in South Eastern Asia . Not widely known is the role of French Huegenots in the early stages of the English industrial revolution .

    Historically Jews in Europe were ‘preyed ‘ on by their Christian rulers since the Middle Ages . Chinese ethnic minorities were routinely slaughtered by local political elites and mobs in south East Asia and Lebanese Christians are as of now facing community extinction in Lebanon . In 1926 when Lebanon became independent some 85% of Lebanese were Christians mostly Maronites .Today they are 25% . Beirut is no longer the Paris of the Middle East .

    Various minorities have reacted differently to discrimination by majority communities . In pre democratic eras the reaction was mainly based on how best to survive . In that context knowledge /education / economic power offered better chances than ‘revolution ‘ or rebelling against the King /authorities etc . That success came with a price tag as we all should know from the history of the last century.

    For anyone interested in how economically powerful minorities are doing in today’s world I recommend read of Amy Chua’s ‘World on Fire ‘ an account of how exporting free market democracy can breed ethnic hatred and global political instability . The same could be said or at least posited for the local effects of financial sector led capitalism in western societies in particular the USA & UK .

    More recent immigrants to Ireland -North or South are looking for a better life than they can get in their home countries at this time. When they see what the ‘natives ‘ take for granted they find it very different from their previous experience in their home countries . Most are not ethnic minorities in their countries of origin apart from the Romanian gypsies .

  • Greenflag 2

    Culture change will come with political change and political change with economic change . As of now the latter at least locally in NI is held in check by the fear of political change and by cultural economic norms belonging to the last century or centuries among significant numbers in the population . Change will come but it won’t be for a while yet and may take another generation or two or three until the politics are sorted as they say . There are those who will rightly say that NI has’nt got that time to catch up and I would agree with them . But learning democracy takes time and tolerance for differences perceived or imaginary or real takes even longer and is nowhere guaranteed .

  • Greenflag 2

    ‘We don’t seem to have a vision of where we want to be in five or ten years ‘

    True – But we know exactly where we all were in 1690 , 1740, 1798 , 1848 , 1912 , 1916 , 1920 , 1969 , 1974 , 1998 etc .
    Wired to a past forever in the future 🙁 It will take a shock to the system or a black swan event and even then either might just be a throwback to future similar to the past . But don’t give up -there’s always hope.

  • John Collins

    It is one about fifteen years at least

  • John Collins

    Or Scotland as a former Irish speaking colony might re join the ROI. Although on second thoughts no thanks.