Just Whose Recovery Is It?

Election time in Ireland again. They try to convince you that their not lying, you try to convince yourself that it can be different this time around. It won’t work, nothing ever works when everybody is lying.
The coalition is trying very hard to do what they castigated others for in past elections, making sure everybody looks at the economy. No need to look anywhere else. Just look at all the jobs, jobs and more jobs. Every coalition T.D. mentions jobs so much that it should be a drinking game.
The opposition isn’t much better. Fianna Fail is convinced that the government stole their answers to the quiz. Sinn Fein’s leaders have a skeleton popping out of the cupboard every few months. Renua and the Greens are parties in name only.

Ireland’s economy in the past five years has undoubtedly gotten better. More jobs in the economy mean more people with better spending power. Irish companies are now global operators and Ireland Inc. has quickly grown a reputation for a good place to work or do business with. It is something to smile about, it is a real positive. I have yet to be convinced of the government’s ‘strong role’ in making that happen.
But there is more to building a country fit for purpose than just jobs. Sure lots more people have jobs now than they did five years, but now lots more people are paying lots more from their pay packet too. USC, Household Tax, Water Tax and now a waste management tax has shown the government’s ravenous approach to what people have in their pockets. Rising rents and higher than the European average household amenities don’t help either. The rising tide is not bringing all boats.

In this job you get a lot of photocalls come across your desk. Some minister somewhere is announcing something at somewhere or other. But it’s all a con. The real opportunity is that they get to be a media whore, shaking hands and taking headlines.

The recovery has been led by the business men and women who took a broken country and mended it again. A grassroots movement of start-ups who have scaled global heights and small businesses who are small only in employees, not in stature.

This government has tried to convince us all that ‘they’ have brought hundreds of thousands of jobs back to Ireland. I have yet to be convinced that this is even partially true. Irish business hasn’t invented new ways of doing business, a grand zenith of capitalism it is not. However, it has found something that it lacked for decades, self-belief. Within that self-belief is ingenuity, skill and business savvy which still has the ability to surprise even me.

Yesterday the MD of the Rye River Brewing company, Niall Phelan, let fly on the companies Facebook page at a local politician. He had gotten election leaflets in his door on behalf of Anthony Lawlor, T.D. for Kildare North. In it, the leaflet Lawlor made the bold claim that he been integral in ‘delivering’ 150 new jobs at the brewery.
Phelan was not impressed and wrote a reply which culminated in “…Our team at Rye River have worked bloody hard and taken huge personal risks with plenty of sleepless nights to create those jobs. Mr Lawlor, you have just lost any chance of any vote from me, because if you’re claiming this, what else can I not believe on your leaflet.”

For a government that spent most of it’s time in office blaming Fianna Fail and then saying they were hamstrung by the EU, it seems a big swing in attitude to start taking kudos for this recovery.
The narrative of the upturn has been written by smart, brave people. Throw into the mix a little luck with the bounce in the U.S and U.K. economies as well as low oil prices. Both of which the government has no control over.

We are here because people followed an idea or believed in a product. This recovery is one of the great stories of Irish business. This recovery belongs to the thinkers and the doers, not to Irish politics.