Paula Clancy: Looking for something else on the web, I came across Ireland’s entry in the 2009 Index of Economic Freedom, published by the right-wing Heritage Foundation in the United States. According to this entry, the Irish economy is the 4th freest in the world – and 1st in Europe. The report was obviously prepared some time late last year, and transports one back to a halcyon age where “Ireland’s efficient business environment continues to attract significant foreign investment” and our “competitive financial system [….] facilitates dynamic entrepreneurial activity” while “all financial institutions are in private hands” and Irish banks are “well capitalised”.
The report also lauds our “flexible labour regulations” which mean that “dismissing a redundant employee is relatively easy”, and notes approvingly that “the overall freedom to conduct a business is well protected under Ireland’s regulatory environment”.
With an astonishing lack of prescience, the Heritage Foundation – whose mission is to “formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense” – fails to discern even the glimmer of a dark cloud in this vista of economic freedom.
Now that the clouds are here, I guess we can comfort ourselves with the thought that we may be broke – but at least we’re economically free.
Dr Paula Clancy was founding director of TASC. She served in that position from 2001 to 2010 and returned to it for a brief period from 2014 to 2015. She is a member of the Board of TASC and is Chair of the TASC Research and Policy Committee. Prior to 2001, Paula held senior academic and management posts in third level education. Paula is author/co-author of a range of major research projects in the fields of political analysis and democratic accountability. She has authored a number of articles on the consequences of austerity in Ireland since the crisis.