Monday 26 June 2017

David McWilliams: Without planning, new Ireland will be unpleasant, angry and unstable

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister Simon Coveney at the Launch of the National Planning
Framework for Ireland 2040 at Maynooth University. Photo: Damien Eagers
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister Simon Coveney at the Launch of the National Planning Framework for Ireland 2040 at Maynooth University. Photo: Damien Eagers
David McWilliams

David McWilliams

It's good to get things put in proportion on occasion. Two weeks ago in the Indian city of Jaipur, a taxi driver asked me how many people lived in Ireland. He and 800 million other Indians had watched the Irish cricket team run India close in the Cricket World Cup. In that one 2015 performance, the Irish cricket team was watched by more people than will watch the national football and rugby team, plus every golfer, all our GAA teams and every Conor McGregor fight put together in 2017. That's how big India and Indian sport is.

So when I replied that there was about six-and-a-half million of us on the whole island, he laughed and said, "You live in paradise". He went on to point out that we live in a peaceful part of the world, surrounded by fish, not antagonistic neighbours, with lots of water and fresh air, lots of arable land and only a handful (by Indian standards) of fabulously wealthy people. We chatted about cricket (my spoofery to his encyclopedic knowledge) and went on to politics. The first generation of post-colonial Indian leaders, particularly Nehru, was very taken with Ireland. The driver concluded that "with a good plan, you in Ireland can do anything".

Flicking through the Government's "Ireland 2040" plan, I couldn't help returning to the taxi driver's parting words: with a good plan, we can do anything. And he is right. Relative to the rest of the world, we can look to the future optimistically, if only we can get a few things right. The government's 2040 plan is a good start.

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