Ireland is now one of the richest countries in the world. These are numbers for the whole populations. It depends how you slice these numbers up, of course. I have heard estimates that on a business scale Ireland has more wealthy people/companies than everywhere but Japan. Ireland produces most of the world’s software, having overtaken the US in about 2005. Again the numbers can be hacked around but the basic concepts are true. Ireland’s coming!
A significant part of Ireland’s recent economic success has been attributed to the “Social Partnership” – a formalized dialog between, the state, employers, unions and civil society actors. This dialog produces periodic binding agreements that cover minimum standards in pay, employment conditions, social welfare provision and specific parts of infrastructural development. In June 2006, a new partnership agreement (binding for the next 27 months) entitled Towards 2016 [pdf] was announced, setting the agenda for social and economic development for the next 10 years. Ireland and the EU:
Ireland’s membership of the EU has had a big impact on its political culture. One of the most obvious recent effects has been the influx of migrant workers from the ten EU accession states. An estimated 200,000 people have since moved to Ireland since June 2004 making it one of the largest recipients (per capita) of migrant labor in the EU. This has made a measurable impression upon the social and economic landscape. Ireland has recently opted to retain the work permit system for workers from Bulgaria and Romania when they join the EU. The 2004 Irish EU Presidency oversaw the agreement of the draft Constitutional Treaty. Following the French and Dutch referendum results, the June 2005 meeting of the European Heads of State, the Irish Government opted for a pause in the ratification process so as to allow time for reflection and debate in each Member State. It was also during Ireland’s EU Presidency in 2004 that the EU enlarged to encompass 25 Member States. And now (6-NOV-07)…Microsoft has confirmed its plans to built a $500,000,000 Data Center at Grange Castle in Dublin Ireland…count those zeros! “This is the first mega data centre deployment outside the US specifically targeted for the growth and performance of Windows Live services,” said John Mangelaars, vice president, Microsoft EMEA Online Services Group. Those of us who follow these things and have “folks on the ground” know that is no great surprise. Since the harmonization of the Republic of Ireland into Europe and the Euro and the 1998 Peace Agreement in the other country, Northern Ireland, the island of Ireland as a whole has attracted back more of its best and brightest than ever left. When I ran my small web consultancy in Ulster back in 2002 the main issues were lack of broadband infrastructure, lack of market maturity and importantly lack of people to hire. I tried hard on all three areas before returning to a “once in a lifetime” offer from a little outfit called Staples in Boston…but that’s a story for another day… The point here is that now Ireland is BOOMing. It’s full (and I mean FULL) of bright, young, native-English-speaking folks who are looking to the US for more inward investment and partnership. I say the US, which has always had a special relationship with Ireland (since we built their country for them 😉 now needs to look to their Celtic buddies as the doorway to Europe and drop the stereotypical “old country” and misty-eyed views of Ireland as a nice place to go for a pint or a fight…but they’ll keep that on the menu too if it’ll make you feel more at home…it’s all about hospitality over there 😉