Looking Beyond the Crisis

A couple of opinion pieces in today’s Irish Times emphasise that the resolution of the crisis cannot be de-linked from planning for a new type of post-crisis socio-political system:

Michael O’Sullivan’s article is here.

Fintan O’Toole’s article is here.

8 replies on “Looking Beyond the Crisis”

You forgot the other opinion piece, the second hand opinion of Peter Sutherland, already noted on here from its initial airing – in the FT of course….

I actually think barry’s point is fair enough.

can Sutherland’s article be read as the current system basically works but requires minor tweaks as opposed to the two referenced links which seem to suggest something more fundamental is required.

The NICE (Non-Inflationary, Constantly Expanding) era is over. What will come next is anyone’s guess. Ireland, almost inadvertently, crafted a vessel that was able to rise with this tide – until the super-gombeens and the greed merchants (aided and abetted by an elected collusion of ineptitude) started blowing holes in the hull. We have to remember that Ireland’s principal link to the global crisis is via the glut of liquidity generated by global trade imbalances – and Ireland’s access to this glut was primarily via German surpluses in the Eurozone. This allowed excessive leveraging of equity and deposits in the financial sector, but the culture of rent-seeking has become more deeply ingrained.

Peter Sutherland, as one of Ireland’s few internationally recognised Grand Panjandrums, feels obliged to spin the line that nailing on a few new planks will allow us to sail on to greater glory.

Unfortunately the craft needs to be refitted completely and, as the thread on the skills deficit initated by Colm Harmon shows, the current system of politcial governance and policy formulation is ill-equipped for this task.

Michael O’Sullivan states that “As a framework for reform we should begin to think of a “second” republic”
In July 1987, I published an article entitled “Ireland’s Second Republic – a view from the future” in Seirbhís Phoiblí (8/2), a magazine issued by the now abolished Department of Public Service. *

The article was an attempt to capture the imagination of how to get out of the then economic and social crisis. It arose from the same concerns that I have referred to in my post in the thread on Skills Deficit.

My fear is that the whole effort of the OECD report (and the various reviews of the Constitution) suggests the continued truth of the late Prof. John Kelly’s 1986 observation “Ireland’s political and official rulers have largely behaved like a crew of maintenance engineers, just keeping a lot of old British structures and plant ticking over”

Given our collective experience of new remedies being applied to the current economic crisis – throughout the world – I just hope that our governing strucutures and those that operate them are up to the job. In the context of the mechanisms we use to govern ourselves, I wonder how apt is Francis Bacon’s observation on innovation “He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils…a forward retention of custom is as turbulent a thing as an innovation; and they that reverence too much old times are but a scorn to the new”

*One thing that annoyed me at the time was that the Seirbhís Phoiblí editor omitted a reference to Citizens’ Initiative, without mentioning it to me before publication!

Our problem, in Ireland, is one of paucity of leadership. There is, not one, I repeat not one politician in Dail Eireann that has a “vision” for Ireland. Nobody has even offered the carrot of a new or revived “decent Ireland” as opposed to the crime ridden, debt ridden, quango ridden, inbred political caste system, that is Ireland at present.

Firstly, we have a crisis of leadership.
Secondly, we have a crisis of democracy.
Thirdly and not least we have an Economic crisis!

Note, the order! Our “leaders” the people who led us into the mess are only telling us that we have an Economic crisis and that NAMA is the solution nothing could be further from the truth!

What they are not telling us is that we have a huge political crisis and hence a democratic crisis. Those that led us into this crisis are incapable of leading us out. The reason for this, is simple. They are not smart enough, have no moral courage and are myopic when it comes to setting social, political, inspirational agendas for a people they purport to lead!

The way we organise ourselves as a society has got to change. We need to change our whole political system to bring people into politics who are not part of an inbred caste. Individuals, who have a vision for the country that is not simply NAMA! NAMA is a synonym for toxicity of our society at all levels. It will lead to death by a thousand cuts for this nation of ours. It must be avoided at all costs, and if it comes, “O wind, when winter comes can spring be far behind”.

Noone can see into the future – but one can make an educated guess as to what a post ‘world crisis’ Ireland may look like.

This government is guilty of many recent policy blunders HOWEVER there is one which ranks well ahead of all of them. NAMA! This will is the most pointless, badly thought out and irresponsible project.

Around the IFSC those who work in the financial sector are in awe of the plan – not in a positive way. As far as we can see it is a complete waste of time and financial suicide as currently proposed. I outlined the many reasons already on this site.

Removing bad loans from one state backed entity (the banks) to another state entity NAMA will have no positive financial effect (i.e. if true market price is paid more capital will be needed in the banks, if instead an inflated price is paid it lead to massive day-one loses at NAMA) and worse it will lead to distressed enforcement as opposed to proper work-out agreementsvwhich put asset/land prices into a death spiral ensuring that NAMA loses billions in the process. In the meantime no finance will be available from any institution for any new greenfield developments.

I really hope the government reconsider this NAMA approach soon – there are better and less risky alternatives. If not we will NOT recover for at least a generation – the amounts and risks involved will ensure this.



These are the news reports that will gather momentum as the public services are reduced! Get used to it.
The consequences may not be so bad as it will encourage people to be more careful and to concern themselves with malinvestment and to see beyond divisive hysteria, I hope!
We can no longer afford 1st world services all over the country. This will reinforce the need for proper planning for cities as the only location for acute and expert hospitals.

@ Pat Donnelly, In an age of microelectronics not to mention nano technology we do not need huge, idiotically named, “centers of excellence”. Just give me an ordinary well run hospital any day of the week! Nothing is a centre of excellence if you have 100,000 sick days registered by the very staff that work in the “centre of excellence” as we have in Tallaght hospital. Why so many sick people, looking after the really sick people, within these so-called centres of excellence? Is it an Irish solution to an Irish problem or just what you get when you commission all these expert reports from various quango’s?

Irish people, and I presume your are Irish, are great at buying into the latest spin doctored slogan such as “Centers of Excellence” or NAMA and muttering it like a mantra hoping it will cure all ills.

How can centers of excellence spring forth from a chaotic and wholly dysfunctional HSE? They can not! A HSE which, a leading economist Jim Power said recently could save Euro 5 Billion if it were run properly.

Hospitals should be reasonably small, localized and well funded directly from the savings gained, as the layers and layers of mindless bureaucracy are slashed from the HSE.

Small hospitals, well staffed by people who know how to use the latest technology, then, If there is a serious problem that cannot be handled with that level of expertise ,and there will be few, send them to your big “centre of excellence”.

Public Private Partnership is just a way of giving state assets to friends in the private sector. It is a another brain wave from the people that gave us the boom to bust economic cycle we are now in.

And, yes we can afford “1st world services all over the country”, we have paid for them many times over. What we cannot afford is to pay and pay again and then have non delivery as is the case at the moment. There is Euro 5 to 6 billion just waiting to be saved by running the HSE with optimum staff levels. Using state of the art equipment in local hospitals. Is this too hard to understand? This will begin to happen when the current discredited minister for health is no longer with us after the next election. Also, we will have far less HSE ambulances with sirens blazing flying up and down the country with terminally ill people on board.

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