Wednesday 22 May 2019

Editorial: 'We are enjoying the best of times - let's avoid the worst'

'The current impasse in the London parliament threatens to deliver us the very worst of Brexits without a deal, and a suggested transition period to January 2021 allowing Irish business to plan for the fallout.' Photo: iStock
'The current impasse in the London parliament threatens to deliver us the very worst of Brexits without a deal, and a suggested transition period to January 2021 allowing Irish business to plan for the fallout.' Photo: iStock
Editorial

Editorial

Just as we are beginning to emerge from the aftershocks of a harsh economic decade, we understandably dislike hearing that hints of economic storm clouds are yet again detectable in the middle distance ahead of us.

Christmas, and the sales which immediately followed, delivered many vignettes telling us that the boom times were in many ways back with us. But as the year 2019 threatens to land with something of a thud, we had better beware of challenging times ahead.

We all know Brexit is the big one here. And we also know we'll know more about how this one is lining up before the first month of the new year is off the calendar.

Even a good Brexit will be bad news for Ireland. The current impasse in the London parliament threatens to deliver us the very worst of Brexits without a deal, and a suggested transition period to January 2021 allowing Irish business to plan for the fallout.

We must continue to acknowledge that much of this is beyond Ireland's control. But it is time to increase the pressure on our political leaders and senior administrators to tell the nation far more about Brexit planning. We need to see more being done around the things over which we have some control.

And speaking of such matters brings us to another challenge: moderating public service pay demands. This also comes to a crunch in the coming month with nurses already signalling strike action and now warnings that other grades in the health services are stepping up their campaigns.

Here again we need calm heads and optimum use of the industrial relations machinery to resolve matters. Overall, there is a reasonable record of discourse here, and damaging conflicts are avoidable.

The other threats to our economic well-being have also been well rehearsed in the closing weeks of this fading year.

They include the threat of serious international trade conflicts, EU and other international pressures on Ireland's corporate tax regimes, and this country's inordinate dependence on high-tech multinationals.

Negative factors from some or all of these potential threats could come at us in 2019. That means we must all realise that Ireland has to be in the best economic shape we can be to cope.

Ten years ago, when recession hit like a hammer, Ireland was unduly ill-prepared. It's not yet clear that the bitter lessons of that "lost economic decade" have been taken on board.

We acknowledge that both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are providing overall political stability for all of 2019. But the job for everyone in 2019 remains a simple one: avoid plunging us back into another recession.

Irish Independent

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