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Imagining Ireland in 2037

Posted on March 12, 2017 by Tom Healy

Tom Healy, Director NERI
Tom Healy, Director NERI

What will Ireland look like on Friday 13th March 2037?  Nothing like what we thought it might look like today, Monday 13th March 1997. Smartphones, the Celtic Tiger, Depression, Recovery, Trump, Brexit, gay marriage, talk of a united Ireland, an Oscars mix-up, etc. Rather, then speculate on the next twenty years, we ought to focus on what we can and should do now to make a different Ireland possible in 2037 beginning with:

  • Decisive emergency, legislative and policy measures to tackle the greatest single social policy failure in decades – the housing crisis. This will take two decades to fix.
  • Courageous and decisive measures to tackle the second biggest social policy failure and move towards a European, single-tier, public health system that works for citizens of all ages and social background (yes it can be done).
  • Clear headed thinking and action on the development of a strong, competitive, export-orientated and innovative enterprise sector when some of the multinationals have flown and not been replaced.
  • Education, training and enterprise policies to boost employment participation, raise skills, transform company cultures and ensure decent jobs that pay and reward ability.
  • Greater social and economic equality so that no child, family or worker lives in material deprivation.
  • A fundamental and measurable shift in patterns of production, consumption and behaviour in the direction of zero carbon footprint.
  • A balanced and reformed tax code to ensure a wide and sufficient tax base to provide quality and accountable public service to a growing and ageing population, a fair distribution of taxes and an effective social support network for the young, the sick, the old and those in between jobs.

Now, I leave the George Bernard Shaw a great Irish playwright, critic and polemicist ask:

You see things; and you say "Why?" But I dream things that never were; and I say "Why not?"

O, and if it should come to pass that southern Ireland were to become such a beacon of prosperity, fairness, tolerance and vindication of human rights that an overwhelming majority of citizens in both parts of the island wanted to move towards some form of political unity with close and ‘scandinavian ties’ to our sister island then:

While we leave those things to time, circumstances and the future, we must each one of us resolve in our own hearts that we shall at all times do everything which within us lies to obtain Ireland the fullest measure of her rights. (Charles Stewart Parnell, the ‘uncrowned King of Ireland’, in a speech in Cork in 1885).

(adapted slightly from an article in the Sunday Business Post on Sunday 12th March 2017)

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