Monday 19 February 2018

Foreign investment can take us so far, but Ireland needs to become self-reliant

Barry O'Leary (left), CEO of the IDA, and Jobs Minister Richard Bruton
Barry O'Leary (left), CEO of the IDA, and Jobs Minister Richard Bruton

Ross Maguire SC

WE can talk about economic growth and economic justice, but when put to the test, our ideas are often exposed as confused. The Labour Party came to power on wonderful slogans expressing justice and the like. But in power, it seems compelled to choose between justice and growth and the electorate perceive Labour as having sold out. Promises were forced to give way to pragmatism. Fine Gael, on the other hand, is committed to growth and not so hung up about justice.

This is based on an idea that growth will, in the end, bring justice and all will be well. Labour has had to buy into this philosophy and must hope against hope that it is true. If it turns out that austerity does not bring growth, Labour is done for.

But Fine Gael's idea of growth is superficial. Jobs figures have become the be all and end all and tiny movements in obscure statistics signal success or failure. And yet everybody knows that there is a pressure on people and on communities, which is stifling.

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