Tiger society 'scary for those left behind'
MODERN Ireland can be a scary place for people who have not benefited from the Celtic Tiger boom, President Mary McAleese said yesterday.
Mrs McAleese told the eighth annual Ceifin Conference in Ennis that many were left behind by a high-achieving and consumerist culture but that the country now had its biggest-ever opportunity to create a truly equal society.
Addressing the theme of the event, 'Filling the Vacuum', the President urged consumers to carry their shopping bag in one hand and their conscience in the other.
"For those who seem to have missed the boat named the Celtic Tiger, modern Ireland can be a very scary place where all you can see in front of you are the far-off backs of those who are making rapid headway in this new time of opportunity," she said.
"It is simply unthinkable that our final destination could be the cul-de-sac of complacent consumerism when we are the first generation to have within our reach the great destination of an egalitarian republic."
Mrs McAleese said many groups in society had been bypassed by the Celtic Tiger - including the long-term unemployed, the disabled, the elderly, lone parents, carers, children born into dysfunctional families, drug addicts, Travellers and vulnerable foreign workers in poorly-paid employment.
The President urged young people to be active citizens in society rather than active consumers.
"We have young people, the best educated in our history, with more money in their pockets and more freedom than any generation before them.
"But sadly some of them fail to see the ugly wastefulness, the obvious dangers and sheer irresponsibility of binge-drinking and of experimenting with drugs.
"They have to take personal responsibility for the trajectory of their own lives and the future trajectory of their communities and their country. They will, after all, be the makers, as much as the inheritors, of 21st century Ireland," the President told her audience.