35 thoughts on “Whatever happened to Ireland?”

  1. Very enjoyable.

    Was it just me or was it all deliberately leading to a dig at uni administrators? You never read about the quoted ratios in the media.

    Given where we are at credit wise, 10% of boomtime mortgages rates (ibf) and something like 60-70 straight months of annual contractions in credit to the private sector (CBI), I have to wonder how much worse it could get of monetary policy gets even less accommodating than it is now.

  2. “The Tyranny of weak ruled by the incompetent”? I’d go along with that description.

    Austerity is an Irish theatrical performance required so that the Germans pat us on the back and keep our banks solvent. I’d go along with that too!

  3. An excellent public speaker.

    I find it hard to believe that Central Statistics Office does not have a good handle on SMEs’. Could someone tell him that Kerry Group is a large well managed and profitable international company. I would have respect for Ryanair if the CEO displayed some class.

    The Academic vs Administration wars become hot in trying times, about four times a year I hear it all broken down to the split every year for the last twenty years. Sometimes they use personnel but if budget works better then budget is emphasised. Budget is coming to the fore recently. The IT argument is a good one, but if you ask the IT people they tell you it is no longer payroll and lists of people. They are now wide spectrum service providers to Admin, Academics, Students and the larger community.

  4. He spouts on about successful “recapitalization” of U.S. banks compared with failure to do the same in Ireland. I often wonder why smart economists don’t actually say the obvious. The property bubble/bust in Ireland was orders of magnitude beyond what happened in the U.S.

    Responding to the crisis in the U.S. was painful (see TARP). To “recapitalize the banks” is not some technical trick needing all sorts of smart people to do very clever things. You don’t need a Yale degree to figure it out. It is all fairly simple — all about who pays the tab for the mistakes of the past. The U.S. “mistakes” that fell on U.S. shoulders were simply not nearly as large as occurred in Ireland.

    Why can’t he just say that straight up?

    The U.S. successfully “recapitalized its banks.” Well, of course , they did, American banks’ debts (relatively speaking) were orders of magnitude smaller.

  5. An excellent stand-up performance with lots of dead-pan.

    ‘We know less about Irish SMEs than we do about the Medieval economy’. So what have our economic depts and the ESRI been doing all these years ? Without wanting to disparage some good work that has been done, my feeling is that these institutions are headed by ‘political’ (small p) appointees, who convey tacitly the boundaries as to what is ‘safe’ research in career terms. It’s Hirschmann’s Exit v. Voice as Morgan says, and lots of good folk choose exit. As Joyce (sic) said, survival is about silence, exile and cunning.

    It is true. There are no big companies in Ireland, which means the first thing our economists need to do is throw away the textbook, which is as misleading and stay with empirical data. The DSGE model, like the efficient markets hypothesis is pure ideology, like Mao’s Little Red Book, because it disregards the finance sector. Keynes had it right, and Steven Keen has it righter in that regard. There is no way forward without MMT.

    ‘Our’ FDI sector can’t be examined because it might upset foreign and local stakeholders. Do not enter. Beware guard dogs. The SME sector is just a little too close to home, and it has guard dogs too. The service sector includes folk who provide services to public institutions themselves. There are lucrative property deals and contracts associated with institutional development, and transparency is the last thing that the players want. I audit you audits me audits him audits me nothing to see here.

    To ‘succeed’ in the power game is to have right connections, to be recognised trusted in the right circles, to have the ‘ear’ of the relevant ‘stakeholders’, which is nice elastic term. Putin is a ‘stakeholder’ in the Crimea, especially if he 30,000 boots on the ground. The private school system and the sports club are the places where our clan politics rules and where folk are co-opted quietly into the circles of power. Suitable, reliable, flexible persons, with selective ethical values. Aithnionn ciarog ciarog eile.. Sure everyone is doing it. That casual mendacity, as Morgan puts it, and mutual compromising is probably the glue which sticks most institutional elites together.

    The banks were lending, the state was borrowing, the deals were being done. What could be less surprising than the fact that the institutions accumulated a cohort of opportunists, lobbyist, fixers and hangers on ? What could be more natural, in terms of our traditional morality, than to put them on the public payroll, or escalate them upwards internally, to places where they would be insulated from the effects of the inevitable crash ? Now that we have nationalised our biggest bank, we have added a whole cohort of fixers to the public sector, opening the door to covert, selective debt write-downs.

    It can’t all be said in 25 minutes, but the sale of sound non-core assets has surely made it harder for our surviving banks to reach a viable state. A smaller pool of weaker assets is recipe for takeover, at best. Given the centrality of the SMEs to the domestic economy, the inevitable tightening of rules around global profit shifting, the dependence of SMEs on local bank credit, and the unresolved, and politically toxic mortgage arrears problem, the further erosion of sovereignty is a racing certainty. It follows that the fate of our public institutions, including the health and education systems, is no longer in our own hands.

    Most of Irish society was beyond the Pale, that is to say outside the feudal norms of western Europe until relatively recently. Like so many other races, the Irish had the status of savages. Our elites eventually made their way up in various ways, including force of arms, and by integrating themselves over time into our planter institutions. We are not as far from Central Asia as we like to think.

    Development is a painful business. The Wars of Religion took place in Europe a few hundred years ago, and were extremely bloody. We still had a partial theocracy in 20th century. 300 years out of step. No wonder our dominant classes are not very Burgerlich.

    I see no need at all to get away from the morality issue in economics, provided it is not framed in the restricted, racist way which stigmatises the periphery and lauds the core nations. Economics was always political economy, and there is no decent politics without morality.

    http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Theory-Moral-Sentiments-Adam-Smith/9780486452913?b=-3&t=-20#Fulldescription-20
    One doesn’t have to go to church to recognise that moral questions have been central to all human societies. The communist regimes tried to provide an ersatz version of Nirvana and it didn’t wash. The Wall St shopping-mall version of the Good Life is no better. There are winners, certainly, but there are just too many losers. We thought we were in business class, but we are getting bumped down, as a people, to economy.

    My guess, as a non-economist, is that ordo-liberalism is not the same as neo-liberalism, and that a dose of burgerlich morality would be a good cathartic for the incompetents mentioned by Morgan, Those public servants and ‘favoured ‘ purveyors of services to the public sector whose competence extends only to ‘fixing up’ themselves, their families and their cronies could do with a bit of attention too.

    Given the depth and likely trajectory of the current crisis, public servant and professionals have a duty to their institutions and our society which supersedes their other obligations. This principle needs to be vindicated by vigorous exposure in as many fora as possible, and would at least provide some morale boosting entertainment for the dominated.

  6. @ Mickey

    Kerry and CRH are the exceptions . I thought the point about the catholic church providing the sense of duty that FF lacked was good as well.
    No sign of transparency or accountability in the new politics either.
    Quelle immense saloperie.

    Those economics grads must get some land when they start working in the PS or the banks.

  7. text from Blind Biddy in Kharkov with the re-constituted Irish Brigade:

    James Clarence Mangan’s elegiac poem-in-translation celebrates a royal splendour, as absent in his day as in ours:

    O, where, Kinkora! is Brian the Great?

    And where is the beauty that once was thine?

    O, where are the princes and nobles that sate

    At the feast in the halls and drank the red wine?

    […]
    Stand ye now for Erin’s glory! Stand ye now for Erin’s cause!

    Long ye’ve groaned beneath the rigour of the Northmen’s savage laws . . .

    Men of Erin! men of Erin! Grasp the battle-axe and spear!

    Chase these northern wolves before you like a herd of frightened deer!

    http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/brian-boru-master-of-psychological-warfare-1.1712291

  8. @PQ
    Ireland First a group of seventeen influential Irish business experts which included Frank Flannery and Angela Kerins, lobbied to prevent the government banning upward-only rent reviews in existing leases. This lobby was successful. On the sixth of December 2011 Michael Noonan announced to the Dail they were dropping this reform.

    In an article in the Sunday Independent dated 13th March 2011 by Ronald Quinlan headed ” Nama will hinder recovery business experts warn”it states;
    “Outside of Nama’s remit, but still in the area of property, the same source said the new Government needed to move to end the uncertainty surrounding the future of upward-only rent reviews for commercial premises. Under the Programme for Government, the Coalition has given its commitment to end upward-only rent reviews for existing leases.
    Commenting on this, the source said: “The rent review issue has to be addressed now. The uncertainty surrounding this is having a serious and direct impact on our potential to attract foreign direct investment. Nobody wants to put their money into commercial property in a country where the goalposts can be moved overnight.”
    It is understood that the co-chairs of Ireland First — One 51 chief executive Philip Lynch and Rehab chief executive Angela Kerins — will lead the various delegations once meetings can be agreed with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the Government.”

  9. Morgan is on good form there. On university ratios etc ; the HEA publish profiles each year. UCD has approx the same number of core academic and admin people . look for Key Facts and Figures, and within that Institutional Profiles or Staffing Details (terms change). From 2007-12 UCD core academic staff fell by 18%, nonacademic by 25%. Across the university sector the figures were 3% and 10%.
    I for one would love MORE academic administrators but only if they are allowed and empowered to do their jobs which is to support people like me in the core mission of engaging with teaching and learning. I am skeptical of global brand initiatives and the like

  10. “I for one would love MORE academic administrators but only if they are allowed and empowered to do their jobs”

    I question whether there is any defensible role in universities for fulltime professional managers and from what I’ve seen there is only limited need for fulltime administrators.

    The most important avocation in a university ought to be that of academic. The presence of professional managers is direct evidence of an organisation where the key people have voluntarily or involuntarily abdicated responsibility for leading their own organisation.

    In a university that is designed to be efficient and flexible and focused on objective performance (as measured by relative pricing of courses fees) the academic staff will do almost all management and much of the administration themselves. Academic staff organised according to the present rank structure, operating within a well-designed set of self-service SOP’s many of which are semi-automated, would have little difficulty in discharging routine administrative tasks to do with teaching, examinations, research administration, contracting, recruitment, performance management etc. Mid to senior ranks already spend a small proportion of their time on management tasks, and should have no need for ‘offices of XXX’ and ‘directors of YYY’. The basic idea is to require all staff to behave as adults, to do all dimensions of their jobs and to be accountable to their community.

    Specialist administration such as IT, HR, facilities management, accounting, healthcare, alumni fundraising are more cost-effectively outsourced. Non value-adding activities which have little to do with providing more and better teaching and research outcomes (PR, property lets, ‘innovation’, the conference business etc) are largely ’empire-building’, are distractions from core purpose, and I would argue have no place.

    This lean model has been used for decades by some of the most profitable, stable and highly-regarded professional services firm, who typically aim for a ratio of ‘client-facing’ staff (academics) to administrators of approx 10:1. Perhaps such focused structures offer some lessons for academe?

  11. Morgan Kelly appears not to have considered the new Examinership legislation is relation to SMEs.

    Examinership legislation obliges the ‘court’ to put the preservation of jobs at the top of the agenda. Banks, following the Finlay Geoghagen judgement in J.D. Brian Ltd, are now in a much worse position regarding floating charges. These floating charges will now rank behind preferential debts such as those of the Revenue Commissioners.
    (see legal ref below)

    In addition, contingent liabilities on receivership / liquidation, principally redundancy pay and receiver costs, means the banks will get diddly squat in situations where they foreclose. They will be entitled to the benefit of any fixed charge on the buildings, or chattel mortgages on equipment, but will have to queue up behind the revenue and redundancy pay after that.
    Therefore there is is little monetary advantage for banks to foreclose on SMEs.

    The second issue, that of the SME dependence on the owner, is probably not as strong as he believes. ANy of the larger SMEs, particularly those exporting, should have a reasonable cohort of capable people, if the owner decides to bail out.

    However there is a much more serious issue in relation to SMEs, not specifically spelled out by Morgan Kelly. That is not the issue of foreclosure, but that of long term bleed of profits and cash, to pay down SME loans and the property banks loans of the owners.
    SMEs will therefore be deprived of necessary investment to replace equipment and make the necessary investment in product and market development.
    That, IMHO, presents a more serious long term threat to SME jobs.

    [It should also be said that he hit the nail on head as far as the official view of SME goes: SMEs are an embarrassing appendage to the smart multi-national economy that official Ireland believes we have]

    https://www.google.ie/search?q=finlay+geoghan+belgarth+motors&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&channel=np&source=hp&gws_rd=cr&ei=aJocU8icO4iL7AbD1IFA#channel=np&q=finlay+geoghagan+belgarth+motors+fixed+charges&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&safe=off

    http://www.reddycharlton.ie/news-and-publications/single-view/article/belgard-motors-is-a-floating-charge-an-effective-means-of-security/?cHash=6bcdbbdab8d11b279c8f62783471fbed

    The banks, regardless of ECB prompting, will not get their loans backs from failing SMEs.

  12. At a family event today I had an in-depth discussion with an in-law who is a partner in an accountancy practice, is a Chartered Tax Adviser and a Personal Insolvency Practitioner. He works with a lot of distressed SME’s as well as self-employed people attempting to put their tax affairs in order. Some of his observations include:

    1. Banks are turning term overdrafts into loans in many cases.

    2. Debt forgiveness/debt restructuring has been taken out of local bank branches and has been centralised in Dublin. He doesn’t think there is any favouritism at work. The local bank manager can lobby for you but the decision is being made by debt management teams in Dublin who just want figures and then decide.

    3. The entire crisis has been a boon to the professional services industry – estate agents, rent receivers, accountants, valuers, insolvency practitioners, etc. He agreed when I quoted David McWilliams’ observation that NAMA was a bailout of the professional classes.

    4. Many SME owners took out personal mortgages to buy premises and then rent these premises to the businesses. Those mortgages are often in heavy negative equity and if the banks foreclose the business will disappear with the loss of jobs.

    5. He doesn’t understand why the banks haven’t moved on the buy-to-lets and he sees a huge problem here and particularly when – around now – many are starting to come off tracker mortgages.

    His practice is a regional one and business for him has been quite good although it is hard to get paid. Overall he says that while there are problems he doesn’t think it may as serious as many people believe but he admits there is very little centralised information. An SME owner may have had the property mortgage from one bank and either an overdraft or term loan from a different bank.

  13. @ Elia

    “Many SME owners took out personal mortgages to buy premises and then rent these premises to the businesses.”

    Your informant hit the nail on the head there! And they did so because of the various tax reliefs allowing them to offset the cost of borrowing against other rental income. The problem is that this – largely FF but with general popular backing – largesse inflated property prices and most of the investments are now under water.

    MK has succeeded in drawing attention, as with regard to his earlier noted prediction, to the fact that the emperor has no clothes. The saving grace is that others across across Europe have little clothing either, if for different reasons, a fact to which Minister Burton drew attention – with some difficulty – on The Week in Politics (7 minutes in).

    http://www.rte.ie/news/player/the-week-in-politics/

  14. Govt and commentariat reaction to this will be interesting. Watch the spin.
    German banks just as vulnerable as many others in the Eurozone……
    Ireland another ‘Cyprus’? Interesting!
    If ‘armageddon’ is triggered, leading to big numbers of small employers going under on this island with knock-on effects on jobs – well then a very different scenario for ‘social cohesiveness’ (aka ‘social apathy’) on this island.
    Not only are there far too many administrators in all third level set-ups here, there are far too many third level providers- massive duplications/triplications etc – major restructuring required…
    Not enough commentators like Kelly – even though he is ‘an economist’….

  15. @ brian lucey

    “I for one would love MORE academic administrators but only if they are allowed and empowered to do their jobs which is to support people like me in the core mission of engaging with teaching and learning.”

    “Implicit in your statement is that academic administrators already employed are currently not allowed or empowered to their jobs”. In that case, I would just like to know what it is they do presently? Morgan Kelly is very scathing about what they are up to and I presume there is not that much of a difference between Trinity and UCD. What is it, they do presently, that can be pared back or abandoned altogether so as to support you more effectively in your role?

    I was at a talk a few years ago, where Colm McCarthy said that most quango’s in their formation, had hollowed out whole government departments, and that these should be wound down and their functions taken over once again by the departments that spawned them. We now see that most government departments no longer consider themselves to have the necessary expertise and are consequently spending hundreds of millions getting advice from so called “experts”. There is also the point that when the functions of government departments were hived off, those left behind remained on the same salaries and pay scales even though they were saying bye, bye to a lot of their ‘work’ or are we to believe that such outsourcing freed them up to do the jobs that real brain power was required?

    We have exactly the same problem in the HSE where front line staff are few in number but administrators are ubiquitous. This ubiquity has not improved the delivery mechanisms of the HSE or patient outcomes and I suspect the same has happened with administrators in Trinity, UCD and from what I hear even the DIT’s.

    I agree with Kelly. This country and it’s coterie of tax payers cannot afford the creation of any more ADMINISTRATORS.

  16. @ Elia

    One obvious conclusion from Morgan’s comment on the fragility of SMEs is that the core businesses have durability.

    Surviving from early 2008 as a crazy boom was winding down, then a brutal bust and still standing after six years is a big achievement.

    You can bet that every one of them on the creditor side, have been victims of bad debts.

    However, as Morgan said there is no detailed information on the loan issue to inform on how property related loans could be separated from the core businesses.

    Why is there no information? Even in a crisis, the comfortable decision makers move ever so, so slowly, if at all. :roll:

    On the small number of SMEs that grow, low entrepreneurship levels (it’s the same in Germany but it has a large number of Mittelstand medium-size family-owned companies that develop skills in niche areas over a long time horizon), lack of an international trading tradition and therefore low export intensity; looking to property to invest for long-term security.

    It’s amazing that after 60 years of State supports, Enterprise Ireland does not commission any longitudinal studies on the development of firms (this was confirmed to me by the Enterprise Dept in 2012).

    It also appears that there is a lack of Irish research being done by people with a good understanding of international trade developments.

    @ Robert Browne

    At end 2013, in whole-time equivalents, the Department of Health etc had 1,700 staff, Children & Youth Affairs 480 and the HSE 98,955.

    As Charles Lamb wrote about being a clerk at the East India Company: “I had grown to my desk, as it were; and the wood had entered my soul.”

    When operational functions are moved to a quango, the administrators of course remain at their desks and attrition through retirement eventually wears down numbers.

    As would happen in any organisation with such a system, it would inevitably also wear down the spirit of the motivated.

    William Whyte wrote in his classic book, ‘The Organisation Man’ (1956), that corporate norms based on the pursuit of safety and security and characterised by conformity had spread to academic and scientific institutions and prevailed in the white-collar suburbs then proliferating across America.

    In his view, the bold visions of individualists had been replaced by ”the modest aspirations of organisation men who lower their sights to achieve a good job with adequate pay and proper pension and a nice house in a pleasant community populated with people as nearly like themselves as possible.”

    As for universities, the UCC management must have been thrilled that Barroso agreed to accept an honorary doctorate as public relations is a big deal these days for these institutions and I understand from an insider that is a key factor in selecting people for the honour.

    Administrators are needed for chasing for recognition and raising funds from government and the private sector.

    So passing fads are indulged and last year Trinity announced the launch of an ‘Entrepreneurship Hub.’

    The typical high-tech startup founder in the US is not Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook but an individual of about 40 with obviously long industry experience.

    More generally, the consensus  of  research  findings  is  that  “entrepreneurship  is concentrated  among individuals in mid­career,  i.e. between thirty-five and forty­-four  years of age.”

    It is fatuous for every university to aspire to be ‘world-class.’

    A World Bank report noted that [Philip G. Altbach (2004) has accurately observed, the paradox of the world-class university is that “everyone wants one, no one knows what it is, and no one knows how to get one.”]

  17. Whilst the warnings of ‘The Prophet’ are once again welcome, if only to debunk the PR flummery we are being fed on a daily basis regarding the ‘economic recovery,’ the most depressing aspect of all this is that six years down the road there has been no effort to reveal how and why the country has been landed in this awful trap.
    No banking inquiry to identify those responsible for this horrible mess.

    Most of those responsible still enjoy a lifestyle way beyond the reach of most of those left to pick up the tab, the Irish taxpayers. We do not need a witch hunt nor an inquisition tribunal, but we need to identify who and what was responsible for the crisis.

    Patrick Neary, the Financial Regulator at the time, got a massive €630,000 retirement pay-off and a bullet-proof public service pension of almost €143,000 a year, €2,750 per week, for the rest of his life (index linked).

    Many others who were in charge at that time enriched themselves enormously with huge salaries, bonuses and Rolls Royce pension pots.
    In the three years between 2005 and 2007:
    Bank of Ireland chief executive, Brian Goggin, paid himself €23 million.
    Anglo Irish Bank chief executive, David Drumm, paid himself €21 million.
    AIB chief executive, Eugene Sheehy, paid himself €11 million.

    Even when Sean FitzPatrick was declared bankrupt, the courts could not touch the half-share of the couple’s wealth owned by his wife Catriona. Even with his share of their wealth sold off, Mrs FitzPatrick’s added up to a hefty €3.6m. That includes properties interests and an entitlement to half of Mr FitzPatrick’s €3.4m pension pot from his former employer Anglo, which is now being paid by the Irish taxpayers.

    These and many, many more have got away scott-free after having destroyed the wealth of a generation.
    .

  18. @finfacts

    It is fatuous for every university to aspire to be ‘world-class.’

    A World Bank report noted that [Philip G. Altbach (2004) has accurately observed, the paradox of the world-class university is that “everyone wants one, no one knows what it is, and no one knows how to get one.”]

    If you’re looking at research (rather than say teaching undergraduates) and at Ireland specifically I’d say it’s actually relatively clear-cut. The chances of bestowing ourselves a world-class university, in the sense of a tier-1 research university—think Oxford, Cambridge, UCL, Manchester, a few other UK universities, or take your pick of glamorous American institutions—in the foreseeable future are basically zip.

    But Britain is full of universities—think Bristol, Nottingham or Southampton, though the exact placement depends on which dodgy world ranking you look at—which most punters in Britain think of as boring redbricks and many here have scarcely heard of, but which have maybe 50th-100th or 50th-150th world positions, making them big world players by any objective standard. Academics are downwardly mobile in general: these universities (I’m pretty sure) staffed themselves for the most part by offering lectureships to people who got PhDs in Cambridge, UCL or the like. It’s evidently much, much easier to be a world tier-2 university in these parts than it is in most of Europe, never mind Asia or the developing world: you’re perfectly placed to pick up the scraps that fall from the first tier’s table, because the tier-1s are not only Anglophone but very often actually in England. English-speaking, a short Ryanair hop away, increasingly the same shops and telly: this isn’t a much more awkward or alien destination than Nottingham or Glasgow. It’s one of this country’s few obvious areas of comparative advantage, so much so that as far as I can see it can only be a scandal that we don’t have one or maybe two tier-2 research universities here.

    This is only reinforced by the fact that at the moment the US/UK university ecosystem is going through a Malthusian population crisis, with top-drawer postdoctoral researchers across the hard sciences desperately seeking employment anywhere at all.

  19. @anonym

    The chances of bestowing ourselves a world-class university, in the sense of a tier-1 research university—think Oxford, Cambridge, UCL, Manchester, a few other UK universities, or take your pick of glamorous American institutions—in the foreseeable future are basically zip.

    This is so Irish all right, we think we are a medium sized country when we have a population of less than greater Manchester. Why would we have a world class research university?

    The second Irish bit is to imagine that focussing on building at least one second tier university seeded with UK refugees is somehow a surrender. We are not without advantages as you say and a second tier university is still a thing to be proud of. There is not a shortage of things to study in the world.

  20. He has a point. There’ll be mad pressure on national banks to sell loan books at discounts.
    This is potentially positive in that it becomes the mechanism for delivering debt write downs – bit that’s only of the new debt owners don’t think that seizing the assets ect wouldn’t be better for them.
    Bottom line is that there will be a swop of debt from regular banks to private investment funds. What happens after that is a guess

  21. @Shay: spot on. Unfortunately we have a problem with being a small country, which is what we are, unlike say the Danes (to take a not very random example). Thus, we don’t support football clubs that are not “world class”. The Danes support their own teams, and you know what – they end up being not bad. In footballing terms, we should aim for LoI clubs to be as good as say AaB or FCK. In academic terms we should aim to be as good as Copenhagen or Aarhus. That would actually be pretty good. (It would take money and more importantly a cultural shift among the people who run universities so that they didn’t waste the money, but that is another question.)

  22. @Kevin O’Rourke

    Unfortunately we have a problem with being a small country, which is what we are…unlike Denmark.

    (1) Oh to have the national self awareness of Denmark.
    (2) Do you think that this is recent?

    My memories of the early nineties was that we knew that we were pretty insignificant in terms of international power but that we were happy as a kind of exemplar of neutral small republic (UN commitments, reasonable civil rights and that sort of thing. (I think of it as the tail end of the Douglas Gageby era).

    I wonder myself whether the old decision making structure of the EU gave Irish governments (and elites) the impression that we were, at some level, on a par with Germany or France as powers were transferred to the EU in the nineties before the decision making structures were made more representative (if not accountable) later. Then when the decision making structures became more representative Irish elites (especially the media) failed to see the implications. Only in a EU without executive power could we hope to be equal partners.

    Digression:

    Something that made me chuckle was when the Irish government was voting again on the Lisbon treaty they looked for a permanent EU commissioner for every country as a sop when:

    (a) On a talent pool basis Ireland should have one commissioner every (number of commissioners)/(EU population/Irish population) terms of the commission. It had to move in that direction and it was an affront to common sense and decency that Ireland demanded a change.
    (b) If EU commissioners are in a purely bureaucratic role why would it matter to policy decisions how often we got a seat anyway? (obviously the commissioners do have a quasi political role and represent their national interests).
    (c) It ignored the fact that the new qualified majority measures in the council of ministers meant that Ireland was subject to but not a significant contributor to EU policy decisions affecting almost every area including economic and monetary policy.
    (d) Our interests were not closely aligned with those of most of the EU’s most powerful countries and they now has the whip hand.

    The explanation for all of the above is that the Irish state walked into irrelevance due to status anxiety among civil servants and senior politicians, along with a desire for a number of high status (and highly paid) EU postings vastly out of step with our relative size.

    Obviously many problems of policy and analysis led to Ireland’s current sorry state (Boston or Berlin anyone?) but international liberal affect, elite status anxiety and class interests trumping national interests have to be the big ones.

  23. North Carolina University has 180,000 students, about 17 colleges….we have about 200,000 people attending 3rd level and at least 30 providers….something strange here….
    Interesting the lack of comment, good/bad/ indifferent from Kelly’s economic colleagues on this blog….wonder why?

  24. The LoI is never going to be able to match Danish soccer. GAA, rugby and England next door.

    http://www.independent.ie/sport/soccer/eamonn-sweeney-a-glimpse-at-another-world-29436329.html

    “And what the likes of Molde and the teams who’ve visited The Showgrounds before them, Spartak Trnava, Vorskla Poltava, FC Bruges, all the way back to Red Star Belgrade in the ’70s, get is football of both a higher standard and a different type than the League of Ireland fan is used to. Everyone is that couple of yards quicker than you expect, the tackles are that bit stronger, the striking of the ball that bit crisper.
    Adding to the novelty of the experience is the fact that you’re seeing football on the European rather than the British and Irish model. So basic ball control is better, players try to play through the middle at high speed and there’s a more subtle quality of thought at play. No one ever just slings in a cross, the ball gets cut into the box at angles you’re not accustomed to seeing. It’s a vision of football from an entirely different tradition.”

    Debt in the EZ is of course also a vision of morality from an entirely different tradition.

  25. Sorry, last post was filled with errors.

    @Kevin O’Rourke

    Unfortunately we have a problem with being a small country, which is what we are…unlike Denmark.

    (1) Oh to have the national self awareness of Denmark.
    (2) Do you think that this is recent?

    My memories of the early nineties were that we knew that we were pretty insignificant in terms of international power but that we were content to be a kind of exemplar of neutral small republic – UN commitments, reasonable civil rights and that sort of thing (I think of it as the tail end of the Douglas Gageby era).

    I wonder myself whether the old institutional and political structures of the EU gave Irish governments (and elites) the impression that Ireland was on a par with Germany or France in terms of influence as national powers were initially transferred to the EU in the nineties but before the EU decision making structures were made more nationally representative (if not accountable). When the decision making structures did become more representative Irish elites (especially the media) failed to see the implications. Only in a EU without executive powers could Ireland hope to be an equal partner with states ten to fifteen times its size.

    Digression:

    Something that made me chuckle was the second vote on the Lisbon treaty. When the Irish government was pleading for some cosmetic changes to persuade the hoi polloi to change their minds the top priority was a permanent EU commissioner for Ireland (and therefore every country). Of course there were a few problems here.

    (a) On a talent pool basis Ireland should have one commissioner every (number of commissioners)/(EU population/Irish population) terms of the commission. It had to at least move in that direction and it was an affront to common sense and decency that Ireland demanded a change.

    (b) If EU commissioners are in a purely bureaucratic role why would it affect policy decisions how often we got a seat anyway? (Obviously the commissioners do have a quasi-political role and represent their national interests and we were acknowledging that problem while at the same time making it worse).

    (c) It ignored the fact that the new qualified majority voting measures in the council of ministers meant that Ireland was subject to but not a significant contributor to EU policy decisions affecting almost every area including economic and monetary policy.

    (d) Our interests were not closely aligned with those of most of the EU’s most powerful countries and they now has the whip hand in the event of any disagreements or conflicts of interest (like let’s say a huge financial crisis).

    The explanation for all of the above is that the government of the Irish state waltzed the country into a trap due to status anxiety among civil servants and senior politicians, along with a desire for a number of high status (and highly paid) EU postings which was vastly out of step with Ireland’s relative size.

    Obviously many failures of policy and analysis led to our current sorry state (Boston or Berlin anyone?) but international liberal affect, elite status anxiety and class interests among the connected trumping national interests have to be the big ones.

  26. I agree with Shay Begorrah that there is no way a country the size of Ireland can have a first class research university. The drivers such as Silicon Valley, German manufacturing, Canadian mining, London’s financial sector, US military research, Russian cold weather expertise for example, are missing.
    We could look inward, as some people do, Gaelic studies, wet and cold agriculture, religious studies, peculiar politics.

    What will Ireland do now, have we recognised our mistakes and accepted responsibility. Have we joined political parties or formed new political parties with a view to displacing the usual suspects. Will we continue to wring our hands, gnash our teeth and descend into helpless terminal depression which we self medicate with alcohol. After all reality is for people who cannot face up to drink.

    The sense of entitlement of the Irish upper class is brazen (pronounced brayshen in Kerry).

  27. @Michael

    It’s hard to see what value the big 4 Auditing forms bring to their business clients either

  28. @Mickey Hickey

    I agree with Shay Begorrah that there is no way a country the size of Ireland can have a first class research university.

    Modesty compels me to say that it was anonym who argued this (convincingly), I was just agreeing with them.

  29. ‘Business depts/schools at 3rd. Level in Ireland’

    Clueless about the real world of ‘smes’ with a smattering of theoreticals about mid-sized and multis.
    ‘Entrepreneurical Studies’? Complete joke.
    About 37 ‘business depts’ on this little island….massive overlapping producing next to nothing useful….

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