Over the past seventeen years, the Irish economy has transformed from a sleepy, depressed backwater of the European Union to the “Emerald Tiger” (Inglis, 2008). A considerably lower rate of corporation tax increased Ireland’s attractiveness as a location for foreign direct investment and significantly contributed to the era of prosperity. As a result, the country witnessed rapid economic growth, low unemployment, immigration and fiscal stability. However, it is not unjust to state that current Ireland represents a shadow of its former self. National outrage at government policies has the country in a state of disarray. Therefore, one must pose the question, where did globalised Ireland go wrong?
The purpose of this paper is to discuss, in relation to Irish society, the benefits and/or problems associated with economic globalisation. Firstly, it was deemed appropriate to define the term globalisation. Secondly, this paper will analyse the origins of globalisation in Ireland and the corresponding advantages and disadvantages. Finally, within the current economic context it is of relevance to address the trepidation now facing the Irish government due to globalisation.
The term globalisation has many definitions. In general, the concept of globalisation is inadequately understood and habitually blamed for avant-garde world ills. For the purposes of this paper, globalisation refers to the “shrinking” of the world and the increase in world consciousness. It describes changes in society and the world economy. Put simply, it is understood as a situation where the world is becoming a smaller place through developments across various sectors. As a result of globalisation western culture is creeping in more to everyday lives. However, Ireland pre-globalisation was a culture developed over centuries, inherited through socialisation (Inglis, 2008). It would not be unjust to state that a common perception of Irish culture was based on the catholic principles of chastity, humility, piety and self denial coupled with low levels of education and mass emigration. Moreover, it was known as the “Potato Country” where the poverty trap between rich and poor was ever widening. Unfortunately, for many, this remains a reality today. Indeed, Ireland is associated with having one of the highest income inequalities of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operative and Development) countries.
As stated previously, throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s the Irish economy grew at an uncontrollable rate. Globalisation had peaked and The Celtic Tiger was born, bringing with it substantial benefits such as low income tax, mass immigration and the highest levels of employment the country has ever witnessed. Of course, these factors brought with it significant other developments contributing to Ireland becoming a globalised nation. Improvements in technology, particularly the increase in internet usage, a considerably more educated work force and an influx of new employment terms such as flexible work practices introduced by multinational companies all assisted in making Ireland a global nation. However, the most noteworthy economic development in globalising Ireland were the social partnership agreements. Such agreements were essentially tradeoffs between the government, trade unions and employers who recognised the economy of the 1980s was in dire straits (O’Sullivan 2010). The agreements were advantageous to both employers and employees. In return for incremental wage increases, employers would benefit from increased production which inevitably led to increased company profit (O’Sullivan 2010). In turn this drastically enhanced public finances and until recently inflation was controlled at a considerably low rate. Such employment conditions, improved government finances in hand with an improvement in standards of living made Ireland an attractive place to seek employment.
All of the aforementioned factors attributed to Ireland rapidly...
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