Official Ireland Can’t Spell Innevation #16 #cong17

By Barry Murphy.

I despair when government or oireachtas task forces announce they are carrying out research into how “other countries” do things.

Why? Because as an island off an island with a civil service and body politic stunningly short of life and travel experience or foreign language skills, what they mean by “other countries” is rarely anywhere other than the US, UK or former colonies thereof.

When have you ever heard from Official Ireland about how things are done in Germany, Finland, Portugal or any other non English-speaking country? When was the last time you saw a Continental European of note interviewed on RTÉ to hear about things are done over there?

By continually voting in TDs of extremely limited intellect and mind-boggingly narrow ‘world vision’, we invite the State, through our leaders’ actions and inactions, to stagnate, repeat the same mistakes and do the polar opposite of innovate.

The vast majority of innovation isn’t original. It’s a tweak here and a tweak there. But to tweak an idea, you must first be open to any and all baseline ideas. Official Ireland couldn’t innovate to save its life, because it doesn’t feed off enough different sources of ideas and energy. It hasn’t a clue what’s going on in Estonia, Norway or Austria, never mind exotic places like SE Asia.

So what? Well, the environment for genuine innovation is stifled for those who actually see the light.

I wonder will Brexit at last force Ireland Inc to open its eyes and ears to what’s going on beyond the shores of our nearest neighbour? Unfortunately, having already had over 40 years of EEC/EU membership in which to expand our horizons and having spectacularly failed, I doubt it. The cold hard fact is that Britain’s imminent exit from the EU should really not be anywhere near as big a deal for Ireland as it undoubtedly will become. With a population of 65m, it shouldn’t dominate our (indigenous) trade to such an extent. Why haven’t we built proper business with the 83m Germans, 66m French, 61m Italians and so on? The total population of the EU, by the way, is a staggering 510m.

And yet, new businesses are being opened in Ireland at a rate of knots these days. Therein lies the conundrum. The agents of the State lag so far behind the minds of our people that they can offer, in reality, no more than lip service to the innovation happening all around them.

We’ve got innovation competitions and funding programmes to beat the band, including an enterprise skills programme for primary schools and the well-known Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) competition for 18-35 year olds.

But while government puts these initiatives into place and funds them, which is great, they still seem terminally incapable of any innovation themselves. Well-known venture capitalist, Brian Caulfield, commented this month that the Department of Finance “is implacably opposed to reform” in Capital Gains Tax for entrepreneurs.

Some simple examples of Ireland’s monumental incompetence to make you cry :

  1. We established Irish Water after almost 100 years of the State’s existence and began to charge for water, yet scrapped charges within two short years.
  2. Our farcical parliamentary and “parish pump politics” system remains the same, despite all the promises of the 2011 election, in particular.
  3. We have already begun to repeat the catastrophic housing situation of the early noughties.
  4. We continue to fail miserably to meet our 2020 emissions targets, due to what has been dubbed an “absence of decisions” by the EPA.
  5. Dublin’s integrated public transport system – ‘nuf said. My own favourite in this regard is that Croke Park has twin rail tracks underneath one stand and another pair directly behind Hill 16, yet there is no station at the stadium.
  6. Insert your own favourite here : ___________________________________ !
CongRegation © Eoin Kennedy 2017 eoin at congregation dot ie