And he’s not gone quietly. Richard is leaving to take up a position at the University of Sussex, and I wish him well. Moving country when one has young kids is no joke. One doesn’t do these things lightly. Richard has made some important points in relation to Irish public policy on Twitter, in relation to the ESRI and the Irish economy in the Irish Times, and a bit of both today on the News at One (link is to .mp3, about 3:40 in). These are worth highlighting for three reasons.
1. Richard has criticized the independence of the ESRI with respect to its funding sources and the conclusions of its research, especially in areas away from their sometimes trenchant criticism of the Department of Finance. This is a serious matter which deserves some comment by the ESRI in my opinion.
2. Richard now joins 6 or 7 senior academic economists, including world leaders in their fields like Profs Kevin O’Rourke and Liam Delaney, leaving Ireland for more or less the same reason–they see a decade of austerity ahead for Ireland, they feel Irish academia has less to offer them as a result, and because they are research active and employable elsewhere, they are going. This is a problem for Irish academic economics going forward.
3. Most importantly, I think, Richard is a dissenter in many areas of Irish public policy and public life. He has his opinions which, while we don’t have to agree with them all (I certainly don’t), should be respected and given an airing. The fact that he didn’t find a home to adequately voice these opinions is a shame, and something I think we are poorer for as a result.