Tuesday 16 January 2018

Kenny and Noonan now need to listen for a change

IHAVE attended literally hundreds of conferences on the state of the Irish economy over the years. Many of them have been opened with much fanfare by senior ministers, who usually speak for around 20 minutes before rushing off to some other event.

Some of the political speeches are good, while others offer nothing more than platitudes, but there seems to be some sort of unspoken rule that prevents the minister or Taoiseach from ever leaving the podium, taking a seat and simply listening to the other speakers for a few hours.

That's a shame. While some conferences are undoubtedly dull, others are fascinating and involve some of the country's brightest specialists talking in detail about topics that they have researched for years.

These people have ideas that could help solve the crisis and the knowledge to ensure that those ideas matter.

Looking at what a shambles the political class made of this country, it is surprising that they remain confident enough to lecture experts in all sorts of fields, while not bothering to listen to those experts themselves.

These thoughts were provoked by the news that Michael Noonan was in Washington the other day to attend the annual Bilderberg conference, where the wealthy and the influential gather to chinwag about world events. There is nothing particularly wrong with Bilderberg; it is just a more secretive version of Davos -- the overhyped Swiss ski resort where Enda Kenny likes to go to trash his own country.

The problem is not the secrecy, but rather the fact that Mr Noonan is not really leaving his intellectual comfort zone. Mr Noonan will have heard variations of the Bilderberg beliefs many times before. Indeed, he will have expressed many of those views himself many times before. What he needs -- and what we need -- are a few fresh ideas.

There would be nothing wrong with Bilderberg if Mr Noonan was in the habit of regularly attending weekend think-ins in this country as well. Smart people need to get inputs from many places. The problem with Mr Noonan is that this is not the case.

Going to Bilderberg once a year to freshen up your thinking is like watching Fox News and ignoring every other channel. It makes life simple but it ain't sensible.

Indo Business

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