Tuesday 12 December 2017

Ivan Yates: ‘Partnership’ became a dirty word but it’s what we need right now

Partnership: Bertie Ahern pictured speaking to the media in 2007
Partnership: Bertie Ahern pictured speaking to the media in 2007
Ivan Yates

Ivan Yates

A RARE advantage of ageing is the ability to recall events of yesteryear. In the political context, most people below 40 can't remember much prior to Bertie Ahern's era. Yet many of the economic problems that the country confronts are similar to those of previous times.

I refer to the late 1980s. Ireland endured several years of high unemployment, low investment, mass emigration, penal taxation, fiscal rectitude fatigue and disillusionment with politicians. In the face of severe budgetary cuts, Taoiseach Charlie Haughey commenced a dialogue resulting in the Programme for National Recovery, which was launched in October 1987, covering a three-year period. This was modelled on previous similar national understandings in the 1970s.

Instead of a laissez-faire approach to improved investment levels and enhanced competitiveness, government negotiated with employers and trade unions to provide a tripartite platform from which confidence was restored. It worked, with an average annual GNP growth of 4pc up to 1990.

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