Ten Predictions for Post Tiger Ireland

If David McWilliams can take credit for the phrase ‘Celtic Tiger’, can I be first to use the phrase ‘Post Tiger Ireland‘? Looking 5 years out, whether or not the Irish property market has a hard or soft landing, Ireland is going to be a very different place.

We were looking at buying a car in Smiths Ford Garage in Drogheda. The Sales guy (very personable but old school salesman) knew that we were coming in. The car we looked at had a flat tire. In Tiger Ireland , this wouldn’t have mattered – he could shift his quota of cars in the first week of the month. In Post Tiger Ireland (TM), cars are still going to sell , but the salesman is going to have to work for his money – doing the basics like fix the tires and clean the car properly.

So, anybody want to put money on the following not happening over the next 5 years?

  1. Not a national disater:
    We’ll have a hard / soft / gentle as a feather (delete as appropriate) landing in the housing market. This will be talked about as a ‘national disaster’. It won’t be – the non construction 73% of the economy will continue along, maybe a little bit more cautiously, but it will carry on.
  2. We’ll find a way to ‘blame the Brits’
    (and everybody else) but unlike the last 800 years, we messed this one upselves. Don’t expect this to stop an unwanted increase in nastiness towards anybody looking non-Irish. The majority of the bullies will be those who left education early to take advantage of the construction boom and are now left high and dry. Sales of Harp Lager to increase?
  3. There will be an increase in the politics of envy.
    Before we were living the Irish Dream – everybody could make it big. Now, expect punative (an ineffectual) tax proposals on property developers , complaints (but nothing done) about high public sector wages and pensions and demands from the ‘losers’ to be compensated (reform of stamp duty anyone?).
  4. Ireland will become (even) more like Britain
    A mature but growing , first world economy. Yes, they’re our closest neighbour (geographically and culturally) , we support their football clubs and spend money in their chain stores. Expect the politics to become more similar – the key debate will be around improving the quality of public services (Health, Roads, Schools, Policing).
  5. At least one major multinational will pull out with job losses in the thousands.
    There will be demands for government to ‘do something’ (the time for action will be 5 years too late). Away from the headlines, Irish Startups (in knowledge sectors such as IT , Financial Services and Pharmaceuticals) will create jobs, but in smaller companies.
  6. Ireland will grow older.
    The average age of the Irish population will grow older as the baby boom passes. It’s possible that we could have too many schools in 15 years time – at least until the current babies have kids of their own. Another Irish Property Bubble in 2027?
  7. The ‘New Irish’ will draw more talent into the Irish Economy.
    Many ‘New Irish’ (choose this weeks PC term) are here to stay for the same reason that many Irish people still live in England and the US. Would you take your 5 year old daughter back to school in Poland if she only spoke English? ; Migrants tend to follow where friends and family have gone before. This will give the Ireland a boost as we get the cream of overseas talent, even when other EU desinations become available. Expect more Paul McGraths on the Irish Football team.
  8. Suburbs are the new Ghettos.
    Carbon taxes and higher fuel costs are here to stay. Traffic jams in Dublin are going to get even worse (think pre-congestion charge London). Doing an expensive 2 hr commute will become less and less attractive, especially when house prices fall. Poorly built boomtime housing will decay quickly when not maintained leading to a vicious circle of decline when those that can afford to get out, will.
  9. IT will be the major growth factor in the Irish Economy.
    Despite all the buzz around Green, Space and Nano technologies, few of these are ready for widespread commercialisiation. Not only will IT be the direct engine of growth, but it will enable growth in other industries (e.g. Irish Business using Skype videoconferences to offer Financial Services to the City of London).
  10. Something will happen that we can’t predict.
    In the 60’s , few foresaw the viciousness of the troubles. In the early 90’s , few predicted the robustness of the Celtic Tiger. What does this decade hold? A 9-11 with Irish linked perpetrator’s? Large scale social unrest caused by the Euro-straightjacket? Miracle cures for obesity, cancer and smoking? I have no idea.

There are some of these predictions (especially number 2) that I don’t like. What do you think?`]

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10 comments

  1. Observer · October 22, 2007

    I’ll bite.

    All post-boom economies go through a phase of “burning off the fat” that sets the platform for the next boom.

    Slowly but surely a critical mass of the Irish voters will realise that they are paying (money down the drain) for the luxury of “old money” sitting on their assets.

    Working in Dun Laoghaire I can assure you the picture looks bleak. Falling population, closure of businesses and schools. Yet if you look at the socio-economic indicators it shows you the highest proportion of people within top two social classes in the State. The establishment look after themselves, not the common good. The result is a not-an-inch mentality, effectively blocking any development that looks as if it may “change the view”. Entrepreneurs, creative talent et al will get the message to go elsewhere.

    The rot will set in and in ten years time everyone will still be blaming everyone else. Only a few months ago a senior writer in one of the Dublin dailies (no doubt a resident) blamed the declining population on the building of apartments in “high rises” (there are no buildings in DL over the height of six storeys). The sad thing is this warped logic is not challenged and nearly applauded as someone standing up for “democratic rights”. Yeah. It is all about the here-and-now “view”.

    And the SUV Greens of Dun Laoghaire will continue to defend an exclusive golf club in Dun Laoghaire as a “green space” and conveniently ignore their own policies of densification.

    My prediction – a future Taoiseach will use the precedent of Adamstown by creating special development products in Dublin to cut through the crap of such establishments at the critical point when their numbers don’t carry political weight and the logic of common good and sense is overbearing.

  2. Alastair McDermott · October 26, 2007

    Do you not think we’re passed the “blame the Brits” mentality?

    As an example I offer the Rugby World Cup – I think there was a certain amount of genuine support for them here that they’d never have received in years passed.

    – Alastair.

  3. admin · October 26, 2007

    @Observer : Thanks for the comment. Like the Chinese curse goes ‘may you live in interesting times’

    @Alastair : See the ‘we’ll become even more like Britain’ comment (not a bad thing). When times get tougher, I think we Irish will always find a way of blaming somebody else.

    Paul

  4. Bruce · October 26, 2007

    very clever.
    introduction sounded very similar style to a David Mc Williams, but the predictions were great, especially the first six, very tuned in to Irish society and the way things happen here.

  5. admin · October 27, 2007

    Bruce,

    Thanks for the compliment. If David McW can make Economics sexy, then maybe there is hope for us tech bloggers 🙂

    Paul

  6. John · November 4, 2007

    “The majority of the bullies will be those who left education early to take advantage of the construction boom and are now left high and dry”
    This is a typical piece of stuck up snobbery that holds this country back. You are in the same bracket as those you obviously look down on.

  7. admin · November 4, 2007

    John,

    I’m not sure what you’re trying to say, but I suspect that you disagree with me!

    I’m just wondering who I’m looking down on? If I’m ‘looking down’ on the property developers that made millions despite leaving school before 16, then I doubt very much if they care what I think!

    I happen to be a strong believer in education (covered in other posts on this blog). Despite having benefitted from it, I also believe that the current Irish education system is fatally flawed i.e. if you’re no good at cramming for exams then they don’t want to know. And thats before you get into the ethics of forcing Irish language education on people before ensuring basic literacy is in place. Again, I’m not sure if this can be seen as ‘looking down’ on anybody.

    If the blogpost implied that racism is the fault/responsibilty of only one section of society and the rest are blameless, then you’re correct to point it out as misleading and wrong; But I don’t see how forecasting that a group of people – manual labour (who worked hard to do well in the boom ) will be hard hit by what comes after can be seen as ‘looking down on’ anybody.

    For the record both Grandfathers worked as manual labour – either on the docks or as groundsmen. My parents were schooled before the era of free secondary education. I’m full of respect for people who value education because they have had to fight for it , but am also very glad that I had it a lot easier.

    Paul

  8. John · November 4, 2007

    Paul
    “If the blogpost implied that racism is the fault/responsibilty of only one section of society and the rest are blameless, then you’re correct to point it out as misleading and wrong;”

    That is exactly what I am pointing out.

    That statement is so self righteous and self congratulatory and implies that only the poorly educated proles would stoop so low.
    “But I don’t see how forecasting that a group of people – manual labour (who worked hard to do well in the boom ) will be hard hit by what comes after can be seen as ‘looking down on’ anybody.”

    Thats not what was said in your predictions-dont try to back out of the implied idea that you consider yourself above “the majority of the bullies who left education early”. Talk about sweeping generalisations. Apply your logic to racial/gender situations and you might end up with “the majority of the conmen are immigrants” or “the majority of single mothers are only looking for free housing”. Your idea as expressed above is very similar to those put forward by those who practise discrimination but cant see it.
    My view is that real racism will begin when immigrants can compete for jobs in the “closed shop” professions in Ireland. Do you think that Solicitors/Doctors etc will not try to bar the door pretty quickly (and effectively) if their piece of the pie is threatened? They are not uneducated. Look at the hospital consultants reaction to proposed reform. They are not uneducated.

  9. admin · November 4, 2007

    John,

    You’ve obviously taken offence to the way that the piece was written; Fair enough. Without knowing me, my background , or my views on this or other topics, it’s a bit of a jump from ‘I disagree with what you’re saying’ to saying that I consider myself better than anybody else.

    I tend to agree with you on the consultants being overpaid and overpampered. However , 20 years ago, I remember that the most non-white faces to been seen in Ireland were Indian and Pakistani doctors that had come here to work in the health service.

    The basic point being made in the original post is that there are sections of Irish society that are going to be hit harder than others by the end of the boom. We’ll either fall back on our traditional rememdy of ‘blame the brits’ or a new option, blame the new arrivals.

    It’s more likely that the groups losing out the most will do the most complaining; not because they are more or less racist than any other part of Irish society, but because they will feel the most aggrieved by their change in fortunes.

    Paul

  10. cr · April 21, 2009

    Its actually funny to see all the (head in the sand) nay sayers who would happily jump on you from a great height back when this was written now eating their words. this article is very close to the mark.

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