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Editorial / Periscope - Niall O'Dowd
October 22, 2008
THE worldwide economic slump has hit Ireland hard, given the fact that it is the most open European economy and therefore most affected by international recessions.
Added to the woes in Ireland is a massive property bubble that is bursting all over the country at the moment. The days when an apartment in a rural Irish town matched the price of a similarly sized one in Manhattan are surely gone now, but it was unsustainable in the first place.
The euro has also begun to fall against the dollar, a welcome respite for Irish in America who have recently found prices in Ireland, from airfares to hotels to ordinary purchases, to be way out of line.
The role of the American multinational in the success of the Irish economy is well known, and the underpinning of the Celtic Tiger has essentially come from the pharmaceutical, financial services and technology companies who have located there from the U.S.
Ireland’s low business tax rate has allowed such companies to relocate very profitably there. The fact that the country is English speaking and is a gateway to the European Union also ensured that American companies would chose it as their European location.
The low tax rate has been key. This was a fact acknowledged in two of the presidential debates by Senator John McCain, who stated that Ireland’s low rate of business tax was an example of what could be achieved by America as well.
There is much discussion about what will happen in an Obama administration, and whether he would insist on companies repatriating their profits back in America as he has stated in the debates.
That, however, appears unlikely according to several key Washington insiders who have looked at the issue. The legal and political issues involved and the sheer power of the corporate lobbies to pretty much keep things as they are would very likely result in no change –- something that would come as an enormous relief to the Irish government which is under pressure in the new reality since the economic slump.
The future remains uncertain for the global economy, but the Irish/American relationship is more important than ever, a fact that makes the role of the Irish diaspora even more important in terms of the future.
This Irish government has grasped that reality and is working hard to formulate a strategic policy towards the diaspora in that regard. We look forward to its conclusions.
Ceol Na Gael
DURING a recent fundraising drive for Ceol na Gael (Music of the Irish), the Fordham University radio program broadcast every Sunday in New York on WFUV 90.7, the announcers stated that over 50,000 people now listen to the show every Sunday afternoon.
That is a tremendous number and a real tribute to the student presenters who have made Ceol Na Gael one of the most listened to Irish programs in America.
The show is an eclectic mix of Irish music of all varieties and entertainment and community news. Like all college shows its charm lies in part in its young presenters and the sheer love they show for the music of their forefathers. We wish them well in the future.
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