Erin Go Blog

Trevor Butterworth writes on the website about blogging in Ireland and highlights the role of this blog in the domestic political and financial discourse: you can read it here.

Update: this article is also picked up by The Daily Dish, Andrew Sullivan’s blog at The Atlantic magazine site.

20 replies on “Erin Go Blog”

I wouldn’t over-analyse this issue.

It’s easier to talk than write and the Irish still rank among the top in Europe for gabbing on mobile phones.

If maintaining a blog is not related to some earning model directly or indirectly, the enthusiasm inevitably dissipates.

No special social phenomenon to investigate really!

@ Michael Hennigan,

I would tend to agree with you.

However if we did not have broadband then I doubt we would have any blogosphere.

There is no way would I be blogging / surfing if I was paying by the minute (ie Dial up) and in the process jamming the only phone line to the house.

On another point I see Eircom have announced a 24Mb/sec broadband service so maybe next year this site will contain video contributions instead of typing. It would help those who still finger type. Just a thought, afterall one cannot stop progress.

@Philip Lane and colleagues

Take a bow! Fe*k the begrudgers.

And they noticed …. “Given that the Irish parliament just passed a blasphemy law that would not be out-of-place in Iran, Ireland is a reminder that freedom of the press is often easier to take away in supposedly civil societies where there is respect for the law than autocratic ones where there isn’t.”

Kum bak Fader Jack – all is forgiven (-;

I put it to people that the success of irisheconomy is not down solely to the quality of the initial posts, but also down to the comments. Irish people like to argue, everyone has an opinion. Blogging doesn’t really suit most people as it’s an argument with oneself. I think the existence and success of fora shows this to be the case.

For all the criticism of the ‘painful’ format of this site, argument is what it is about. The simplicity of the style lends weight to the comments in a way that is absent from most blogging sites where they are relegated to an afterthought.

I suspect that being academics given the authors on here a tolerance advantage in that they are used to being abused by drunken, ignorant people…

For some reason there is little blog sewerage too.
Our better nature or a secret police at work???
You decide!

@Al, could be because this blog reminds us all of our time in school.

The layout leaves the teacher (original poster) at the top and us pupils below, asking the occasional question. Teacher might occasionally take a wander through the class (post in the comments section) but there is never any doubt who’s classroom it is.

The social norms we learn as five year olds tend to stick with us.

I wonder will there be an exam at the end?

@Philip Lane. Well done and keep up the excellent work. Thanks.

I second the back slapping. It’s nice to see the economic policy in Ireland in a clear light. It makes a change from the staple diet of rte sound bites I had grown accustomed too Keep up the good work.

Yours sincerly,
A now interested (& furious) Irish man.

“Too few of the country’s insiders were willing to write knowledgeably or insightfully about their worlds, and attempts to hold politicians to accountability were few and poorly funded.”

“”They tend to notice things normal mainstream journalists don’t that end up coming into the mainstream. Irish Economy is doing what everyone thought blogs would do. …. “”

This is a compliment to all who contribute and I do wish the anon ones would indicate what secret section of society the represent, even if the judiciary, to improve the weight of their comments. I’ll find out who Zhou is…..!

Perhaps someone else could establish another blog, but what could be anywhere as important as economics? Maybe along the lines of Private Eye? Using anonymisers to avoid libel actions?

I expect the site has been a good resource for people in the media. It has surely been particularly useful for TV and Radio interviewers which in turn has helped improve the standard of public debate and understanding.

Well done.

Isn’t the main reason that this site is better than the other blogs simply that the others (e.g. are of such low quality that they make the level of debate in the alcohol-fuelled last hour of the Dublin Taxi Drivers Christmas party seem like a gathering of Harvard professors?

Having said that, this site is unfortunately moving further and further away from discussion of the state of real Irish economy. Look at the threads in the past few weeks. A disproportionate number are about the environment or about the quality/conditions of economic departments in Irish universities. All very interesting no doubt, but somewhat peripheral to the real Irish economy.

When Alan Ahearne made his ‘State of the Union’ speech at NUIG a couple of weeks ago on the current state of the real Irish economy and the outlook for 2010, a thread was opened which contained a video link to his speech. The total number of responses was 3, of which 2 were totally irrelevant posts by that guy who posts about NAMA on every thread.

The lack of comments does not mean that people did not watch the video. Most people don’t comment in any event.


“A disproportionate number are about the environment …”

I’m genuinely surprised by this remark, John. Climate change targets and policies imply significant costs to the Irish economy in the years ahead. Everything from transport to energy to new forms of taxation and employment creation are involved and, I would argue anyway, are very much a part of the “real” Irish economy that will evolve from this downturn. Our political class are vying with one another as to which party’s policy options are the most ‘green’ and there is substantial pressure on the State to invest scarce resources in green technologies projects and R&D etc. This is probably the only blog site around on which there is a dispassionate and sensible discussion available of the real costs to the Irish economy and future generations of Irish taxpayers of the current green policy direction.


I am not criticising the number of threads related to the environment. In fact, Richard Tol is to be congratulated on the frequency with which he opens environment-related threads here. I wish other academics were as proficient at opening threads as he is. My criticism is more directed at the lack of the threads on the overall economy and on important aspects of the economy such as housing, external trade, inflation, competitivenesss etc. The site is called after all. The environment is part of the economy, but only a part.

The response to Alan Ahearne’s lecture was particularily disappointing. I assume it was because the message he gave wasn’t what most posters wanted to hear. Contrast with the response each time a thread is opened on Morgan Kelly’s latest article in the Irish Times.

Another example. An international report on house prices was published earlier this week. It basically compares current house prices in English-speaking countries. Very relevant to the NAMA debate and so on. I thought it might have got a mention here. Actually, it didn’t even get a mention in the mainstream media. Only Finfacts reported it. The report basically makes a nonsense of Morgan Kelly’s claim that house prices will fall by 80% from peak. The report showed that, even by 2009 Q3, median house prices in Ireland as a multiple of household incomes were allready very low and Ireland was the only English-speaking country with no cities where housing was ‘severly unaffordable’.

@John the O
Perhaps no-one is interested in demographia because by their own standards, their figures for Ireland are bunkum.

“Affordability ratio: median house price divided by gross annual median household income”

“Ireland: Housing in Ireland has become moderately unaffordable with a Median Multiple of 3.7,
showing a trend toward historic norm of 3.0.20 Housing had been affordable as late as the middle
1990s, with a Median Multiple below 3.0. The extent of Ireland.s recent housing affordability
improvement is illustrated by the EBS/DKB Affordability Index, which indicates that mortgage
payments have been halved in Ireland since the peak of the bubble in relation to first home buyer

Footnote 21 reveals:
See: EBS/DKB Affordability Index uses a standardized two-couple
household and is based upon average after-tax income.

So, for every other country they use median income and median prices. For Ireland they use estimated average income and PTSB prices… even for economics it is desperately random stuff.

@ JohnTheOptimist

You make an interesting point re Alan Ahearne.

Given that Ahearne’s and John FitzGerald’s comments got a lot of media attention, it was strange that no professional colleague had anything to say.

I guess there is the common small society reluctance of putting noses out of joint.

You never know who could be your boss some time!

A classic example in history was Philippine military governor Arthur McArthur’s disdainful treatment of the the new civilian governor William Howard Taft who within a few years became secretary of war and president. Three decades later in the 1930s, Arthur’s son Douglas said his subordinate officer in Manila, Dwight Eisenhower, was “the best clerk I ever had.”

Re: yoganmahew message (January 28)

Yoganmahew suggests that the Demographia report uses a different standard for Ireland than for the other six nations: “So, for every other country they use median income and median prices. For Ireland they use estimated average income and PTSB prices… even for economics it is desperately random stuff.”

This is incorrect. The Median Multiple (median house price divided by median household income) was employed in Ireland and in all five other surveyed nations (United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand). This is indicated in the text.

On page 16, we indicate the Median Multiple (median house price divided by median household income) data for Ireland, calculated. We then continued on to offer additional indication of the trend by citing the EBS/DKB Affordability Index, as follows:

“The extent of Ireland’s recent housing affordability improvement is illustrated by the EBS/DKB Affordability Index, which indicates that mortgage payments have been halved in Ireland since the peak of the bubble in relation to first home buyer incomes.”

Further, Footnote 21, to which yoganmahew refers, indicates that the “EBS/DKB Affordability Index uses a standardized two-couple household and is based upon average after-tax income,” not that Demographia does. As noted above, Demographia uses the Median Multiple.

Wendell Cox
Co-Author, Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey
Principal, Demographia (St. Louis)
Visiting Professor, Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers (Paris).

Further to Mr Cox’s comments above, the Annual Demographia Surveys should be used as a tool to stimulate constructive public discussion and necessary political action, to ensure the destructive housing bubbles do not get underway again.

This public conversation and political response is certainly happening in New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the United States. Google News and Blog Search “demographia” and “housing affordability”.

The question that needs to be asked is – why hasnt this got underway in Ireland yet? I would be most interested in learning why.

Congratulations to Michael Hennigan of Finfacts though – for his superb recent article on the Survey.

As a New Zealander with Irish forebears and in having visited it last year, I have a special interest in Irish issues.

Hugh Pavletich
Co author – Annual Demographia Survey
Performance Urban Planning
New Zealand

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