We think we are good entrepreneurs but facts tell a different story
Why was Ireland so poor compared with its peers for so long, and what is the greatest long- term threat to prosperity? The answers to both of these hugely important questions are closely linked.
Apart from a seven- to eight-year period of spectacular economic growth, until 2002 the Irish economy has underperformed compared with its neighbours almost uninterruptedly since independence. Inept politicians periodically crashing the economy was a major factor. But an even more consistent, if less spectacular failing, has been weak entrepreneurialism.
In the State's early decades, governments closed the Irish economy to foreign competition in the hope that indigenous companies would use their protected position in the Irish market to become internationally competitive. They didn't. By the 1950s the policy had utterly failed and Ireland was falling ever further behind the rapidly recovering post-war European economy.