In 1987 Brian Lenihan Sr told us sternly: 'We can't all live on a small island'. With the publication this week of the ESRI's forecast that 50,000 people will leave Ireland this year the spin machine, which has been chuntering along steadily since recession hit, has burst into one of its periodic spurts of overdrive. Piaras Mac Éinrí traces a history of emigration, and the governmental obfuscation that seeks to characterise it as individual choice, and not the consequence of systemic failure.
According to a 2008 report by the Commission on the Social Determinants of Health, 'Social injustice is killing people on a grand scale.' Justin Frewen and Anna Datta examine the health effects of inequality, and argue that an equitable health service alone is not enough to ensure equal health for all.
The onset of recession has sparked a systematic assault on the notion of the public good in Ireland. The vilification of the public sector in the media mirrors the ambition of the government to erode the institutions of state provision. The political prejudices of Fianna Fail are only too apparent in their plans for third level institutions. In this essay, Colin Coulter takes a look at what the authors of the crisis have in mind for higher education in Ireland.
The onset of recession might have been expected to ensure that those jaded ideas that got us into this mess might be set aside. In reality, however, the end of the boom only appears to have strengthened the authority of neoliberal doctrines. Hugh Green maps out the strategic poverty of public discourse in Ireland during the crisis...
While the recession has been disastrous for hundreds of thousands of Irish people it has also represented a major opportunity for unscrupulous employers. A new generation of talented young Irish graduates are increasingly expected to work long hours for nothing as 'interns'. The depressingly predictable response of our national broadcaster has been to cast this grinding exploitation as the very last word in glamour. Angela Nagle takes up the story.
In the years of plenty, health provision in Ireland continued to fall far short of that in other comparable countries. As the recession takes hold and public expenditure is slashed, the health services available to most Irish people will deteriorate further. Here Justin Frewen and Anna Datta make the case that more spending on health is not only ethical, it actually makes a great deal of economic sense as well.
Welcome to CrisisJam
As the prolonged period of economic boom came to a close, it might have been anticipated that there would be an opening up of public discourse in Ireland, that space would become available for new ideas and fresh thinking. In reality, of course, the opposite has proved to be the case. The Irish political establishment continues to peddle those ideas and to pursue those policies that plunged us into crisis in the first place. This poverty of word and deed is more often than not echoed in the compliance of the corporate media.
One of the mantras repeated endlessly in the Irish media is that the country is broke. Apparently those vast fortunes accumulated during the boom have all disappeared like snow on a ditch. It came as something of a surprise then to learn that in the days leading up to Christmas eight people were willing and able to part with €4,000 a piece for Hermès handbags stocked in Brown Thomas.