Irish economic regeneration linked to Easter Rising
Irish economic regeneration linked to Easter Rising

The 26-County Taoiseach Brian Cowen invoked the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising in five years’ time as he made a “rallying cry” urging people to make short-term sacrifices to allow a return to prosperity by 2016.

During his speech to the annual dinner of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, he emphasised the need to have the country on the best possible economic footing so as not to fail those whose sacrifice led to the foundation of the 26-County State.

“Yes, we were a generation that lived at a time and place of prosperity, but when challenged we looked to the future and looked beyond our own self-interest and said that, yes, this is a country that is worth working for and building.

“Yes, we can say in 2016 when we get to O’Connell Street and look up at those men and women of idealism that gave us the chance to be the country we are that: ‘Yes, we did not fail our children, but we did not fail our country either,’” he said.

Cowen’s Fianna Fail-led government has been blamed for squandering the wealth generated by a boom in property values in Ireland and is now facing major economic problems such as rising unemployment, emigration, bankruptcies, foreclosures and a soaring budget deficit.

This week unemployment in the 26-County state hit a 15-year high of 12.7 percent, while hundreds of thousands of public service workers are currently involved in industrial action over pay cuts. Some 435,000 people are currently receiving jobless benefit, while twenty-two percent of Irish people are considering emigration as a result of economic difficulties according to a recent poll.

During the course of his speech, Mr Cowen said that his government was determined to continue making difficult and painful decisions for the common good and that its strategy remained to fulfil key medium-term goals.

He also strongly rejected the belief that the country’s prosperity was founded on construction alone, arguing there were many other factors at play, particularly the presence of US multinational companies availing of Ireland’s low corporate tax rate.

He said that some accepted that Ireland simply had a domestic demand that fuelled prosperity, that it was “construction per se and nothing else.”

However, while Fianna Fail’s poll rating has stabilised in the twenties after bottoming in the high teens, the main opposition Fine Gael porty has its own difficulties. The resignation of a high-profile TD, the economic journalist and former television commentator George Lee, after only nine months in politics has come as a blow to Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny.

“Despite my best efforts I have had virtually no influence or input into shaping Fine Gael’s economic policies at this most critical time,” said Lee.

“The role I have been playing within the party has been very limited and I have found this to be personally unfulfilling.”

Lee said he would be quitting both as a public representative and as a member of FIne Gael.

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