Shamrocks and shenanigans

I couple of weeks ago, I went back to see the family in Ireland. It was an interesting trip of contrasts. The country was full of contradictions:

  • The country is growing at an unpredented rate,and the industrial estates look as if they haven’t been finished yet, but that hides the fact that the manufacturing plants in the country are closing up shop and moving to Eastern Europe where there is cheaper labour
  • Jobs are plentiful, but over 100,000 were protesting on the streets at moves by Irish Ferries to employ foreign workers. Ryanair is alleged to be considering a similar move
  • Property is a bigger boom industry than it was in the UK during the late 1990s, yet to quote my source “you can get whatever planning permission you can afford”
  • A ban on smoking in public places was designed to improve the health of the people, yet the only side-affects seen have been, a drop off in tourism with the loss of 48,000 jobs, a decline in pubs and bars and an explosion in off-licences as people smoke and drink at home instead
  • A vibrant media industry, yet everywhere that I went the television was tuned to Sky Sports or Sky News
  • The country is one of the worlds leading exporters of software, yet it is very hard to get a broadband connection
  • For a young tech savvy population e-commerce is still not very well developed. Business still seems to be transacted by phone.
  • For a country that has benefited most from the EU, the union is also being blamed for a lot of pain. Like the fact that from 2008, Irish people will not be able to cut turf in their own land; they will be still allowed to burn turf as a solid fuel