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by Euro Reporter
2012-01-22 09:56:50
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Apologise for remarks on exiles

The row over Michael Noonan’s remarks about emigration continued yesterday, with Sinn Féin calling on the Minister for Finance to apologise for saying it was a lifestyle choice. Mr Noonan had said his comments on Thursday were reported out of context and that he had merely said emigration was a lifestyle choice “for some people”. Speaking at the press conference on the troika’s review of the bailout, he pointed out that three of his five children had emigrated by choice. Sinn Féin TD Pádraig Mac Lochlainn yesterday brushed aside the Minister’s clarification and said they had caused huge hurt throughout the State. Describing the remarks as a disgrace, he called on Mr Noonan to issue an immediate apology. “Regardless of whether or not his comments were taken out of context, the Minister must recognise that comments such as these are causing huge hurt throughout the State as thousands of families have lost loved ones to forced emigration.”

However, Minister of State Jan O’Sullivan said there was no need for a retraction. Mr Noonan’s fellow Limerick TD said she knew what he meant by the reference to “lifestyle choices” but said he probably wouldn’t have used the term if he had a second chance. “I myself have an adult child living abroad who had to go because he didn’t have a job. Indeed, I went abroad myself many years ago to get experience of working in other places. So I do understand what he meant, but I suppose I do also understand the response of people whose children have had to go abroad.” Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton and Minister of State Brian Hayes also defended Mr Noonan, saying that in no way was he diminishing the problem of emigration.

Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea had demanded an apology from Mr Noonan on Thursday and his party colleague Dara Calleary levelled further criticism against the Minister yesterday, saying his comments showed the Government was “out of touch with the reality of people’s lives”. Speaking on RTÉ, Mr Calleary likened Mr Noonan’s remarks to comments made by Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton last year that for some people going on the dole was a “lifestyle choice”. Meanwhile, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said it may be 2016 before the economic conditions are right for emigrants to return home. In an interview with The Irish Post newspaper in Britain, Mr Kenny said he “hated” to see emigrants leave Ireland, but he believed that the situation was “fluid” and those that are leaving would come back when the economic conditions were right. “They will see the opportunities for work at home and ultimately come back. I’d like to think and this is my mantra that by 2016 Ireland will be in that position.”
He added: “Thousands may well leave but I do not see this as becoming a brain drain for Ireland at all. The emigration is fluid and people are leaving to find work and gain experience.”

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Downturn in 2nd year of austerity


Ireland, one of the first countries to receive an international bailout during Europe’s sovereign debt crisis, will suffer a sharp slowdown in growth this year as an austerity program that helped reduce the country’s deficit enters its second year, according to a progress report Thursday from international lenders. Ireland cut its deficit to about 10 percent of gross domestic product in 2011 from 32 percent in 2010, the year that a government plan to bail out six of the country’s largest banks inflated the deficit, according to the report by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The Irish economy will grow only about 0.5 percent this year, down from a forecast of 1.1 percent just two months ago, as the country’s troubles keep unemployment high and prompt Irish consumers to tighten their purse strings, the report said. But the reduction in the deficit is striking, and Irish officials hope it will persuade investors that Ireland is once again becoming creditworthy enough to borrow in financial markets as soon as next year at interest rates the country can afford.

Ireland had to take a bailout of 67.5 billion Euros (about $87 billion) from international lenders in November 2010 after investors, fearful of the country’s deteriorating finances, drove borrowing costs above 8 percent, about the same levels that led Greece to take a bailout a few months earlier. By contrast, Ireland is paying only 3.3 percent on the bailout money it receives. Michael Noonan, Ireland’s finance minister, struck an upbeat tone, saying in a statement that the report “illustrates the ability of the Irish state to implement a challenging program effectively.”  The report was issued as European leaders, like Mario Monti, Italy’s new prime minister, and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France are starting to argue that austerity alone is not an answer to Europe’s financial problems. While the financial markets had an outsize influence in pressuring European leaders to embrace austerity as a way out of the sovereign debt crisis, there has since been a shift in sentiment. Now, investors are increasingly worried that too much austerity is hampering growth, creating a vicious cycle that will make it harder, rather than easier, for Ireland and other weak euro zone countries to pay down their debts and deficits.

This week, Mr. Sarkozy met with French unions and business representatives to discuss how to improve the country’s competitiveness, increase growth and create jobs. In Spain, the new government is forging ahead in changes to labour laws, including trying to reduce wages, in a bid to bring investors back. Mr. Monti recently told Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany that if the Italian government were restrained from stoking growth, Italians could soon march in greater numbers in the streets against a multibillion-euro austerity plan that Germany and others want the country to embrace in a bid to avoid Ireland’s fate. Ireland has been held up by Germany and other European countries as a model of how to tackle austerity. The country had a small growth spurt last year after three years of contraction, largely because of a surge in exports from pharmaceutical companies, which have a strong base in the country because of a low corporate tax rate of 12.5 percent. But the rise in exports was not accompanied by huge numbers of new jobs. And a worsening economic environment in Europe — the region is expected this year to experience its second recession in three years — is likely to slow the pace of Irish exports. Despite the progress in reducing its deficit, “Ireland nonetheless faces considerable challenges,” the report from international lenders said.

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A history of Ireland in 100 objects


In the 100 years after the Anglo-Norman invasion, more new towns were established in Ireland than at any other period before or since. Many, such as Athlone, Kilkenny and Kildare, developed round castles. The existing Hiberno-Norse cities of Cork, Wexford and Limerick were rejuvenated, while Henry II declared Waterford and Dublin royal ports, personal possessions of the monarch. The balance between urban and rural Ireland shifted, with the towns becoming centres of an increasingly efficient governing bureaucracy of mayors, judges and tax collectors. These urban centres were also rivals, however. Waterford, where both Strongbow and Henry had landed, initially enjoyed the biggest boost, becoming the main link between Ireland and the royal house of Anjou’s rich possessions in France. In the early 13th century, however, this pre-eminence was threatened by the rise of William Marshall (Guillaume le Maréchal), husband of Strongbow’s daughter. Marshall, who developed his own port at New Ross, became immensely powerful, effectively ruling England as regent for three years after the death of King John, in 1216. With the accession of Henry III, Waterford again pressed its claims to a monopoly on shipping. The result was a compromise: all ships would have to land at Waterford except those connected to Marshall’s English or Irish possessions.

The compromise was unenforceable, and there were several pitched battles as Waterford men tried to prevent ships landing at New Ross. Eventually, suffering from the general decline in trade in the 14th century, Waterford’s authorities took their claim for a renewed monopoly to King Edward III. To present their case, they created the four-metre long charter roll, containing documents or transcripts going back to 1215, with 17 remarkable illustrations. Among them are portraits of five kings of England, including the earliest contemporary portrait of a medieval English monarch, Edward III; the earliest portrait of a judge in either Britain or Ireland; the earliest images of justiciars (governors of Ireland); the earliest image (right) of the medieval mayors of Dublin, Waterford, Cork and Limerick; and the earliest view of an Irish city, Waterford itself.

Eamonn McEneaney of Waterford City Museum calls the charter roll “the mediaeval equivalent of a PowerPoint presentation”, designed to “flatter the king, add weight to the legal arguments and keep those listening to the mayor’s presentation focused on the facts being elaborated”. As an exercise in verbal and visual persuasion, the roll is a brilliant early example of targeted advertising. It did the trick: the king restored Waterford’s shipping monopoly. The bitterness of the fight over commercial privileges between Waterford and New Ross shows that, even in the crisis-ridden 14th century, there was much to fight over. The Anglo-Norman colony’s variety of trade can be judged from the range of goods on which tolls were levied in the towns: wine, salt, foodstuffs, horses, cattle, hides, wool, cloth, iron, lead, tin, dyes, timber, millstones, nails, wax and so on. Town life was abuzz with small industry. An early roll of citizens of Anglo-Norman Dublin lists goldsmiths, tailors, shoemakers, weavers, mercers, cordwainers, tanners, saddlers, smiths, carpenters, masons, fishermen, vintners, butchers, bakers and millers. Most, to judge from their surnames, came from southwest England. Their descendants became a permanent part of Irish life.



        
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