Issue 82 A Republic of Missed Opportunities

Working Notes Issue 82 Editorial

on Tuesday, 12 June 2018. Posted in Issue 82 A Republic of Missed Opportunities, 2018, Back Issues


As a society, Ireland puts effort into remembering. Orchestrated campaigns have been launched for the “decade of commemorations,” as we mark the centenary of the decisive events, from the 1913 Lock-out to the cessation of the Civil War in 1923, that established modern Ireland. Yet right in the middle of that period, in 2018, we reach the landmark ten years since the end of the Celtic Tiger.

As Ireland considers its distant past, its present reality is shaped by the decisions made in autumn 2008. Reflective pieces on this last decade of economic turmoil tend to take a financial bent and imagine a happy future where the Tiger roars again. It seems that no remembering of this last decade can be conducted which is not centred around analyses of GDP, GNP, and official statistics. 

Crisis Ruins and their Resolution? Ireland’s Property Bubble Ten Years On

on Tuesday, 12 June 2018. Posted in Issue 82 A Republic of Missed Opportunities, 2018, Back Issues

PdfIconCrisis Ruins and their Resolution? Ireland’s Property Bubble Ten Years OnTen Years On

Cian O’Callaghan

Cian O’Callaghan is Assistant Professor of Geography at Trinity College Dublin. His recent research, which was funded by the IRC, has concerned the impacts of Ireland’s property bubble and associated crisis, with a particular focus on housing.

What your sandwich says about you

In a well-known advert for Bank of Ireland, a young man sits at his desk while his co-workers are seen leaving for lunch. “Tom is on a journey,” we are told. “Every dull homemade ham sanger with just a tiny bit of mayo brings him closer to a deposit for his first house.” Tom is depicted as hardworking and frugal, putting in place the necessary sacrifices now to secure his future home, in contrast to his co-workers’ extravagance. Alone in the office, his sandwich bursts into song, the bread lip-syncing to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.” The advert ends with Tom browsing through property websites.

This advert responds to a new post-crisis economic reality, the parameters of which are in one sense strangely familiar. Banks have returned to a business model of pushing mortgages and stoking property market inflation. In recent years, we have seen the Government reintroduce measures to incentivise private market supply, such as a grant for first-time buyers, and the use of Public Private Partnerships to redevelop social housing estates, while vested interests have lobbied for the loosening of planning restrictions. Within the context of the scale of Ireland’s still recent property bubble and banking collapse, the normative return of such marketing is itself noteworthy. But if we look closer we can also see the subtle changes in these discourses.

Ireland and Climate Change: Looking Back and Looking Ahead

on Tuesday, 12 June 2018. Posted in Issue 82 A Republic of Missed Opportunities, 2018, Back Issues

PdfIconIreland and Climate Change:Looking Back and Looking AheadLooking Back and Looking Ahead

Sadhbh O’Neill

Sadhbh O’Neill is a PhD candidate and Government of Ireland Scholar based at the School of Politics and International Relations, UCD.


Climate policy falls into that strange category of things government does not want to do, but must do. There are no (or few) votes in it. Doing it properly entails more effort and higher taxes. It involves uncertainty, complexity and a fractious mix of potential winners and losers. In the short term – which is the only temporal frame of reference available to political actors – it is not obvious what the rewards are, except perhaps the warm glow of civic virtue. For decision-makers, climate policy is viewed as a cost, a regulatory nuisance, an administrative burden with few effective change-agents making things happen on the ground. Talk of co-benefits such as cleaner air and healthier waterbodies count for little in this assessment. The “deep” Irish State is still hoping that magical thinking will part the clouds and deliver the ultimate techno-fix: altered strains of cow, citizen and machine will descend from the sky, and nothing else will need to change.

Framing the Tiger’s Death: How the Media Shaped the Lost Economic Decade

on Tuesday, 12 June 2018. Posted in Issue 82 A Republic of Missed Opportunities, 2018, Back Issues

PdfIconFraming the Tiger’s Death: How the Media Shaped the Lost Economic Decade

Henry Silke

Dr Henry Silke serves as Lecturer in Journalism at the University of Limerick’s School of English, Irish and Communication and directs the school’s MA and Graduate Diploma in Journalism.

Ten years on from the property and banking crash many of the same issues still set the news agenda. Property continues to make the headlines. We are currently in one of the worst housing crises in the history of the state, fuelled by ever growing rental inflation where landlords, despite recent reforms, can seemingly still raise prices and evict, while tenants have little serious recourse. A lost generation, too young during the period of cheap credit pre-crash, and getting older while paying exorbitant rents, have little chance of ever qualifying for a mortgage in the current inflationary climate. In the absence of fixity of tenure, this leaves them without hope for a secure home. Public housing remains, despite numerous promises, something from the history books rather than a serious option for most working people. Cost-rental models remain hypothetical.

Writing the Stories of the Celtic Tiger

on Tuesday, 12 June 2018. Posted in Issue 82 A Republic of Missed Opportunities, 2018, Back Issues

PdfIconWriting the Stories of the Celtic Tiger

An interview with literature scholar Marie Mianowski

Economic analysis has no monopoly on how to examine economic history. The death of the Celtic Tiger is a phenomenon that can be represented in graphs, in tables, in charts, and also in prose. Irish novelists have taken to the page to account for what life was like on this island during the Celtic Tiger and after 2008, and their work is too often overlooked in policy discussions. A de-facto assumption may be at play that what cannot be counted cannot be considered. Such strident empiricism would be hard to defend philosophically or politically, but a culture persists which holds that the policy expert might consider the Arts in her spare time, but for research, a certain understanding of Science prevails.

When we remember the role that literature has played throughout modern Irish history, any omission of writers from our group of interlocutors would be tragic. Marie Mianowski is Professor of Literature at Grenoble Alpes University. She studies Irish literature and has written extensively on the reflection of the Celtic Tiger era and its aftermath in the contemporary novel. Her book Post Celtic Tiger Landscapes in Irish Fiction was published by Routledge in 2016.1 I interviewed her about that book and more broadly about how the novel can be a window through which we consider the impact of the economic crash and subsequent recovery on Irish society.