Shane Ross

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US Companies, not Irish Pay Deals, Underpin the Boom

Posted on: January 26th, 2006

That is what I argued in the Seanad today. However, some Senators prefer the arguments to be boiled down to the simplistic “Boston vs Berlin” argument, as these excerpts reveal:

Mr. Ross: It is difficult to say “thank you” to the United States, and it is not necessary to do so. However, it is necessary to acknowledge that without the entry of American companies in the economy, the boom would not have occurred. That is the principal explanation for the Irish economy outstripping its European colleagues so obviously and consistently. I am a little more simplistic than academics such as Senator Mansergh——

Dr. Mansergh: I was never an academic in my life.

Mr. Ross: I am sorry. Cerebral people such as Senator Mansergh always dismiss——

Mr. Norris: Cerebral people or terrible people?

Mr. Ross: ——slogans and easy answers with a wave of their hand, describing them as simplistic. I am a simplistic person.

Mr. Norris:
Hear, hear.

Dr. Mansergh:
The Senator is disingenuous.

Mr. Ross: I am quite disingenuous as well! However, I have consistently examined this simplistic argument between Boston and Berlin. The reason people do not like coming down on one side or the other is that we are unapologetically in the Boston camp. We are not good Europeans in the sense that we kowtow to European diktats, as we did previously. In fact, ours is an American led economy within the European Union. That is why we are so prosperous.

That is not an easy thing for an Irish Government to accept or trumpet; it prefers to claim all the credit for the wonderful boom and the presence of the multinationals. It is partly due to the Government but it is also a recognition of a hugely changing trend in the Irish economy. There is full employment but that is due to the fact that there are foreign multinationals here. Thank God for that. The prosperity is due to that and it is continuing daily. While one receives press releases each day from any Department that is vaguely associated with the creation of jobs and from any Deputy associated with the area, the big picture, which is that we are part of the global economy and not a little island economy any more, is something we are reluctant to recognise.

That is why, to some extent, we make such an awful fuss about the partnership talks. This gives us the image of the Government negotiating with its own vested interests, agreeing a pay deal and claiming it as the reason for the Celtic tiger. We hear everywhere and from all sides of this House, day after day, that what underpins the economic boom are the talks and the pay deal. It is nonsense because it is not provable. However, it is easy to say, even though there is little evidence for it.

We must recognise that one of the reasons the partnership talks are so irrelevant and so much of a pageant and so undermining of this House is that Mr. David Begg who will be there in all his glory on the day they all crown each other will represent probably less than one third of the workforce. The employers’ group, IBEC, will be there. Its paymasters include AIB, Bank of Ireland and its main paymaster, CRH, the monopolist. The paymasters also include the cartels and the semi-States which are in the Government’s pocket anyway. The partnership agreement will be a kind of public service deal cooked up between the public service and a few business men who run large banks and semi-State companies.

Who is not in that deal? None of the multinationals… They would not have anything to do with it. They will not be part of the deal and none of their employees will be represented in it. However, the Government will state that it has agreed a great deal for the future of the country, despite this being utterly irrelevant.