Ireland is doing alright in straightened times?

We all have our reading habits and for me, I usually find myself reading the Stephen Collins’ article every Saturday in the Irish Times. He is not someone I would normally agree with as I’m pretty certain he has a sweet spot for Fine Gael (he did, after all, write a biography on both WT and Liam Cosgrave in rather glowing terms) and he likes to over look a lot of what’s going on outside of the Kildare St. bubble, but a lot like Michael Wolff over at the Guardian I like the fact that he is an insider and he is able to see how matters, the machinations as opposed to whether something is right or wrong, actually play out. He can write in a rather detached manner and stephen collinswhilst not a true Blue (at least I don’t believe he is, no matter how sympathetic he may be to their cause) I get the impression that you could have a decent discussion with him on certain matters without him coming across as too partisan.

Well, there is a piece in yesterday’s Irish Times that I read which makes for some interesting thought where he is essentially saying that things are not nearly as bad as what we think it is and that if we divorce the emotions surrounding the whole issue of the austerity measures being enacted in the South of the country that all of the indicators show that the country is in fact doing rather well compared to a whole host of other countries, and in fact is doing better than others who are not under the remit of the Troika. He goes on to cite the results from the UN Human Development Index where Ireland actually did quite well, almost surprisingly well if I may be honest:

The report for 2012 published a few months ago ranked Ireland seventh best off out of 186 UN states. It didn’t generate a lot of publicity here, probably because it runs counter to the dominant media narrative of a country in the depths of depression.

Ireland had slipped two places since 2008 but coming in seventh overall and the third highest in the EU is remarkable given the scale of the current economic adjustment. The UK was in 26th place, and we were also ahead of some long-term rich countries like un grand assemblySweden, Switzerland, Japan and Canada.

So, what I was going to ask is why are we as Irish Nationalists not highlighting results from organisations like the UN more forcefully? Why are we not challenging the narrative that the South is a wasteland the North is ‘lucky’ to be in the Union? I lived in Dublin last year and would make my way back up North for a weekend pretty much every fortnight; as bad as things may appear in the South I always felt I was no longer on a train or bus but some kind of time machine whenever I crossed the border. In fact, I new I was up North not because there was some sign telling me I was but because the state of everything was decidedly less modern, slightly more worn and just had a look of the late 90s about it. Now, I know the previous statement is an objective one of mine, however, I ask you the next time you do make your way up North or decide to shoot on down to Dublin or elsewhere ask yourself if you see as much development North of the border as you do even in a straightened South, personally I don’t think there is.

 

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4 responses to “Ireland is doing alright in straightened times?

  1. I think part of the reason why progress in the south is not being extolled north of the border is that those who are best positioned and who should be vested in doing so, namely Sinn Fein, are conflicted. It would take some awe inspiring political gymnastics to tell an electorate in the south that everything is in dire straits while at the same time telling an electorate in the north that things are actually pretty good.

    • Hi Edge, thanks for dropping on by.

      Nail on the head there, the findings from the UN would actually prove tough reading for SF as it would not help their argument in relation to austerity measures in the South and gaining some kind of power in the South is the real game they are at now, that and I don’t think the vast majority of Nationalism would want to join the South at this moment in time. That’s not to say they don’t want a UI at some stage, but much like picking a wedding date, we always prefer summer as opposed to a dreary winter’s day.

  2. There is an element of smoke and mirrors in Collins’ arguments. They certainly don’t match what is observable all around me. Growing unemployment, poverty and inequality only kept in check by mass emigration (and it really is “mass” now). We may be up there in the indices (arguable though that is) but at what price? WorldByStorm has his take here.

    • Sorry for the delay with the reply Seamas.

      I think the truth lies somewhere in between tbh. I know Collins is a massive FG cheerleader which does him no credit in basically saying that we are not facing austerity, however, I think there is merit in looking at the stats of outside and trusted organisations.

      I will not rehash many of the points concerning the rights and wrongs of what we face by way of the banks being bailed out, but there is an argument to be made about whether we are facing a situation that is as bad as others. From what I can see we are not in the same situation as say Greece, Spain or Portugal.

      We’ve been saying for a while (here’s BD’s take on the matter back in January for instance http://bangordub.wordpress.com/2013/01/17/riders-on-the-storm/) that there are parts of the Southern economy which are doing very well indeed, better than during the Tiger period whether it is engineering or certain parts of financial services (for instance fund administration which I did when I was in Dublin last), these sections are world leading at the moment, however, traditional retail and commercial banking and its lack of lending is acting as a massive drag on the entire economy. It’s akin to Usain Bolt having to wear a yoke and give his opponents a 50m start, so what we need to figure out is how to sort out getting the yoke off our back (the bailout drag) and then I think we will see some more movement in the right direction.

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