Sunday 23 October 2016

Petty politics can't be let threaten economy

Published 04/05/2016 | 02:30

A frugally managed economy is always a valuable national resource.
A frugally managed economy is always a valuable national resource.

Knowing what we do now about economic bellwethers, a forecast that puts Ireland as the EU's fastest-growing economy in 2016, while welcome, will be seen for what it is. A forecast.

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Laurence J Peter - the man who came up with the notion that everyone eventually rises to their own level of incompetence - also said that: "An economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday didn't happen today."

Predicting precisely how an economy so exposed to so many potentially destabilising factors as Ireland's will perform is, at the best of times, a fraught affair.

That is why it is so critical that a sense of real purpose and resolve be brought to the business of forming a government. The vacuum is inexcusable as we enter the third month. Whatever reservations Independents may have, they are of far less importance than the need to get a cabinet in place, and move on with framing estimates and begin the Budget process. We are massively dependent on inward investment. Any anxious twitches suggestive of insecurity at the top will not escape notice.

Just at is heartening that the European Commission should revise its growth forecast for Ireland upwards to 4.9pc for the year, it would be massively irresponsible to jeopardise such figures by manufacturing a crisis out of petty party politics driven directly by parochial concerns.

A frugally managed economy is always a valuable national resource. We paid a heavy price in the recent past for taking positives on our famous "fundamentals" for granted. Against a background of growing industrial unrest and rising public pay claims, we can not make the same mistake again. A balance between what is ethically right and what is expedient must be struck without delay in the government talks.

Bark of underdog will echo in sporting history

The odds on finding Elvis alive and well, or of the Pope being selected as striker for Argentina, were shorter than those of Claudio Ranieri's Leicester giant killers winning the Premier League.

Underdogs don't usually get a chance to bark in the world of professional sport, let alone swagger in the parade ring. But Leicester were chasing a legend, and in the world of legends magic and the impossible are all part of the script.

Thus, when goaded continually by the world's hungriest pack of newshounds on the planet into giving something away on his team's prospects, the genial Italian - deemed not good enough for Greece - replied: "There is a saying in Italy that you do not sell the bear's skin until you have shot it." Well, the bear has been well and truly slain, and Ranieri should be able to warm his toes in its skin's plush depths for many years to come. Famously cagey, he has described how he was once advised that "being a manager was like parachuting - sometimes the chute doesn't open and you splatter on the ground." The chute has brought him back safely, but he will be walking on air for the foreseeable future; and who would begrudge him?

There is an old saying in the cut-throat world of professional competition that: "The only way to prove that you're a good sport is to lose." Mr Ranieri has proven that he is a good sport without taking the trouble to lose.

Trophies, as they say, can only gather dust, but memories like those created by the fabled Foxes will sparkle for a very long time to come in sport's field of wildest dreams.

Irish Independent

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