In times past there was a perception that certain Irish political leaders had a tendency to “‘doff the cap” or “tug the forelock” to their betters. There are phrases that encapsulate such attitudes. “Castle Catholics”etc.
In recent years Ireland has regained a certain self confidence. Our people have proved themselves as educated, eloquent and intelligent. In fact we have established ourselves as European leaders in business and industry. We have moved into the top 10 world countries in terms of income, living standards and quality of life. We did well but mistakes were made. Thanks to an insane bank lending policy and Government fiscal drunkeness, we fecked it all up. Except not entirely. Our economy faltered badly. Unemployment went through the roof, but you know what? We are still much better off than we were ten years ago and compared to the Northern 6 eastern counties we are light years ahead economically. Ironic given that the Irish economy was largely industrial based and focussed around Belfast 100 years ago. As an Island, our economic strength now is based upon knowledge, education and transferrable skills.
The economic future for the North lies, not with low wage call centres or disappearing engineering jobs but with high economic value added jobs and supporting service industries. In other words, not with Tesco but with Google.
The call centres will keep retraining their ever turnoving and mostly student staff, why? because they get a payout from Invest NI every time they do. NOT because they are investing in their staff. I am in the midst of putting together an analysis of this.
The Supermarkets are expanding at a rapid rate. Each with a huge job announcement and a smiling, pin striped Politician. What happens next? The jobs are low wage. The local butchers, the greengrocers, the Bakery all close down. The town slowly dies, it’s social fabric collapses and we are all the poorer. The same can be said for the Pubs regarding the cheap drink although I would rather spend my £3 in my local, not for the liquid in the glass but for the uniqueness of my Publican, the quality of the conversation in his bar, the watching of a match with the company and comments that surround me and the very real recognition that I am actually valued as a customer.
I can’t better Oscar Wilde’s words about Knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing
Meanwhile, Enda Doff’s the cap when Angela say’s she won’t budge on a retrospective legacy debt deal today. Two words come to mind which I’ll not repeat here