Well done to David McWilliams and the Irish Government on the forthcoming conference with leaders drawn from the Irish diaspora.
Reread the piece in the Irish Times earlier this week. Topics to include:
- the global economy: positioning Ireland for the upturn
- Ireland – the innovation island
- promoting brand Ireland through our global cultural profile
- Ireland’s image abroad: what is it now, how can it be improved and what role can new media play
- Ireland and its Diaspora: harnessing unique resource
Would not argue with the relevance or appropriateness of any of these topics.
When I read about other countries beginning their planning for ‘post recession’, for removing some of the stimuli that have been required in the last 18 months – it seems to me that we are a little behind. However this must inform out thinking and approach in the conference. Must understand where the diaspora are coming from – where are they in their cycles?
We don’t need to be thinking that we are the only ones to have screwed up in the last number of years. We have a particular deficit arising from some crazy property lending and some run away public expenditure commitments. However some of the really crazy stuff was in the US – and spread through the world.
Partnerhsip is what comes to mind. What can we do for the diaspora and what can they do for us? I hope that a number of them will spell out in black and white the requirement for us to put our finances on a sound basis – NAMA apart, we have to stop spending more than we earn. But what does the diaspora want from us? Do they have any interest in having more of a say in what goes on here?
I remember listening many years ago to Liam O’Mahony (former CRH CEO) speak at a lunch shortly after he had returned from the US to take on the group CEO role. He spoke of his frustrations trying to resettle in Ireland e.g getting kids back into schools here. He commented on the excellent benefits enjoyed by Irish (and European) workers compared with US workers in terms of vacations, maternity leave, sick leave etc. But he reminded us that we are required to compete in global market places – if you want better benefits then you have to be more efficient or accept lower rewards. And he also spoke of the importance to a city such as Dublin of having corporate headquarters of multinationals located here e.g. CRH – in terms of presence, profiling of the city, sponsorhip of local initiatives in education, arts, sport, etc.
I wonder will much of what O’Mahony was saying previously be echoed in the conference.
I dealt with some related matters in a posting in August: ‘Ireland – continuing to play our part on the world stage’. While I believe Msrrs Cowen and Martin will be doing a great deal of listening during the conference I think it is important that they share their vision for Ireland (including the Irish diaspora) with the conference participants. Unfortunately I do not think a good job has been done to date of communicating this vision – assuming there is one. ‘Smart economy’ comes to mind – but I am not talking about such sound bites. What are our brilliant young people leaving Ireland in the next few years taking with them in terms of a future vision for Ireland? Will there be a real commitment from the Irish government to provide them with a forum in which they can continue to contribute while working and living across the globe? Perhaps some of those attending the conference – who have gone overseas and made theri mark – may feel that this is something in which we let them down or missed an opportunity.
Finally – I do hope that the conference will find room to involve some of the younger Irish about to go overseas or who went reasonably recently. Their perspective is vital.
Looking forward to informed debate and creative, positive thinking.