Monday, March 3, 2008

An alternative All-Islands solution

Feeney in Thursday’s Irish News on why Northern Ireland will be likely to remain (in his words) an "economic basket case":
As the US massages its figures and juggles interest rates to try to deny its economy is in recession there is fat chance of American investment coming here. Already the investment conference scheduled for May has been downgraded to a much smaller event.

Secondly, the arrival of eastern European states in the EU has meant Brussels money winging its way to them along with multi-nationals anxious to take advantage of low pay.

Third, given those facts, why would anyone want to come here when they can get better financial terms in the Republic or lower overheads in Slovakia or Poland?

Already Dublin is finding it difficult to keep Dell and Intel manufacturing in the Republic and that’s with the power to adjust taxation.

I’d have also added the reluctance to dismantle the ridiculously over-heavy public sector and the inability of the two main parties in our coalition "government" to move outside their sectarian comfort zone, but relaying that first truth might upset those public sector workers (which by the law of averages must make at least 50% of his readership) enduring Brian's article and since Feeney is also content to remain also firmly within the self-same metaphorical ghetto as the DUP and SF, then he is hardly going to highlight the latter cause, is he?

But you’ll never guess his solution to Northern Ireland’s economic problems.
No,you probably will:
There is an alternative –?to cooperate more closely with the Republic in a single all-island investment body but unfortunately we have a DUP minister in charge of what is laughingly called ‘the economy’.

OK, for the sake of argument let’s run with BF here and let’s move back to Feeney’s three factors:

Would an all-island investment body stop the oncoming US economic recession?
No.

Would an all-island investment body mean more EU money for NI, would it reduce wages here to E.European levels?.
No.

Would an all-island investment body make NI a more attractive place to invest than the ROI, would it reduce the overheads here to Slovakian and Polish levels?
No and no.

Irish republicans urge "all-island" measures on such diverse subjects as road safety, suicide and even sex offenders, ignoring the fact that simply putting them all on all-island basis would achieve exactly diddly-squat squared in terms of solving these real social problems. Their and Feeney’s mindset is locked in a 1970s zero-sum version of Irish nationalism which is physically incapable of seeing solutions beyond their own prejudices.

So here’s my alternative, one that would never have occurred to Feeney and Co- the DUP join forces with the Tories, the SNP, the Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru in pushing the government in Westminster to reduce the level of corporation tax throughout the UK.
Would that solve the three problems that Feeney has highlighted?
No, of course not, but it would give a real tangible boost to small business and entrepreneurs here, put them on an equal playing field with their competitors in the Republic.
And they are "competitors", just ask those Aer Lingus workers at Shannon.

6 comments:

Kloot said...

Irish republicans urge "all-island" measures on such diverse subjects as road safety, suicide and even sex offenders, ignoring the fact that simply putting them all on all-island basis would achieve exactly diddly-squat squared in terms of solving these real social problems.

I dont necessarily agree with that statement. There is a lot of merit in some social issues being tackled uniformly across state. Sex Offenders being a good case in hand. Should a sex offender be required to be listed in one state but then move to another and not be tracked ?

Should a motorist be allowed to put the foot to the pedal when living his state of residence and moving crossing one or more other states during a journey and not have fines/points enforced.

Should facilities that cross states, such as roads, rivers, canals be managed independently by each state without cooperation and official planning.

Id say no, and there are many other areas where equal cooperation makes a hell of a look of sense. In no way does this threaten the sovereignty of the cooperating states. It makes a lot of sense and does achieve results

Kloot said...

Of course, there is a big difference between cooperation and amalgamation.

I take it its the amalgamation route that you would be opposed to.

O'Neill said...

Cooperation between two EU states which share the same island makes sense of course...although I still think in areas such as "suicide" both countries would get as much benefit, if not more, by studying examples further afield rather than taking the parochial approach and just limiting it to what goes on in NI and the ROI.

Re the sex offenders example, SF wanted an all-Ireland register to prevent the problem you identified, but with it being so easy to move between Britain and the ROI now, it actually makes more sense to have such an agreement which covers all of the Uk and the ROI.

Again with the road example, why limit it just to NI and the ROI? I'd suggest a EU-wide penalty and points scheme.I'm not sure how I'd sell that to the David vances of this world though!

The problem I have with Feeney and other's "all-Ireland" solutions is that it is presented as the be and end all solution- having cosy N/S chats or even joint policies about social problems, does not remove those social problems. Indeed in many ways NI is much closer culturally and socially to West Scotland that the rest of the island, when dealing with matters such as domestic violence and alcholism there is as much benefit to be had combining ideas and policies with Scottish authorities as with the ROI ones.

Kloot said...

but with it being so easy to move between Britain and the ROI now, it actually makes more sense to have such an agreement which covers all of the Uk and the ROI

Why limit it to the just the UK and Ireland. Id be in favour of an EU sex offenders list.

Again with the road example, why limit it just to NI and the ROI?

Why indeed? Where cooperation is required it should be facilitated.

O'Neill said...

I'm waiting with bated breath for Feeney or Ogra SF to advocate such a British isles and/or European Union-wide solution to our social and economic problems!!

Kloot said...

Completely off topic, apologies to all, but check out http://www.catholic.ie/

An atheist has registered it and posted a pretty funny video

"Thats Ireland" posted on it earlier

http://thatsireland.com/2008/03/04/atheist-registers-catholicie-domain-name/