The Irish are particularly noted for story-telling. Indeed, one of our more endearing traits is the ability to spin a yarn and have it believable right up to the very end. This is the bedrock of some of our best nights out.
It’s vitally important however that when it comes to developing our economy for the future that fact is separated from fiction at a very early stage of the story. Over the past number of months, the discourse has swung wildly from Brexit being the end of our world to being the source of all heavenly opportunity. My sense is that while neither extreme is true, the truth will land based upon what we ourselves demand and negotiate as outcomes.
This is not a time for spinning stories to suit a political agenda. More than any other country we will be exposed and affected, positively or negatively, by the result of impending negotiations. Therefore, the stance in all areas, trade, agriculture, financial services etc. must be completely joined up and thought through.
For example, the papers are rife with discussions of Bank A or B possibly locating to Dublin – great, but can we actually cater for this? Let’s consider –
Thankfully we are once again at close to full employment for professional services – so where will all these new bankers come from……returning Irish you say. Let’s have a look. In our recent Economic Survey with Trinity Business School we found that of all returning Irish, just under 15% of returning Irish were relevant or interested in Financial Services, hardly sufficient. So, we must have systems in place to attract and cater for those with the skillsets we will require.
We must build quality housing and quickly. Where is the plan? On a shelf in report form is not good enough. Is there buy in from planners, developers etc. to produce the numbers of quality stock in a short period. If not, who is working on this and if it’s not being worked on, why not. Are our planning laws ready and fit for purpose so that housing can be provided quickly and efficiently? Our Economic Survey again showed the massive strain a lack of housing and resultant inflation was placing on competitiveness in Irish business. We must act immediately.
I could continue referencing school’s infrastructure, transport, personal and corporate taxation, regulatory frameworks, and many other challenges which we need to face down to maintain our growth and ensure that Brexit has a minimal effect on Ireland. The beauty is that ALL of these issues are for the most part under our control. What I would like to see is someone appointed to ensure that all of these issues are being addressed in a coordinated plan.
To quote Brendan Behan – “If it was raining soup, the Irish would go out with forks.”
I hope that’s not the end of our Brexit story.