A year and a half ago, the Irish economy nearly collapsed. Domestic fiscal and financial woes collided with a global economic tsunami that prompted questions as to whether we had any control over our economic future. Since then, things have improved, and thousands of businesses across the country continue to successfully trade their way through the crisis.
While major challenges remain, we have passed a number of difficult but crucial milestones on the way to recovery. It is essential that we now channel our collective efforts into restoring the country’s reputation and our economic fortunes.
We have overcome economic challenges in the past, and the business community, for its part, is ready and able to again play a major role in the recovery.
Years before the property bubble began sucking resources from the productive parts of the economy, Ireland had a sustainable template for economic success. From 1993 to 2000, Ireland cultivated a dynamic, competitive, productive economy, which delivered growth, wealth and employment levels never before witnessed. We retain the skills and ambition to do so again.
Enterprise can again lead the country out of recession by doing what it does best: trading Irish goods and services, providing jobs, creating wealth and ensuring a sustainable economic future.
Getting people back to work is the single biggest challenge facing this country. While the economy is now on the verge of exiting recession, the shape of the recovery and its capacity to generate new employment will depend significantly on the Government’s enterprise and employment policies, and on the capacity of private enterprises to grow.
To drive economic recovery, the Government must also revisit the public capital investment programme. The pipeline for new capital projects has become worryingly empty. The Government urgently needs to set out a revised investment programme for the coming years, which takes into account the policy implications of NAMA and the new reality of the public finances.
The economic crisis will leave emotional and financial scars on Irish society, but the best way to overcome these is through rebuilding. It has reinforced the need to foster an outward-looking enterprise-led economy. This is where our economic success came from in the past, and it is where our future must rest. To achieve this we need to work together and take advantage of new opportunities as they arise. It means dealing soberly and decisively with the economic realities we now face.
We all need to look forensically at what went wrong. We must learn the lessons and ensure that a crisis of this magnitude never happens again. While we cannot change the past, we must change our future.
This is an extract of Danny McCoy's op-ed in the Irish Times on Friday, 16 April. Read the full text of the article here.