Assessing the Boom
Ireland’s Celtic Tiger boom took everyone by surprise. Internationally, Ireland was not looked to as a model of successful development and was classed as one of the poorer countries of the European Union (EU) up to the early 1990s. At home, the deep recession of the 1980s had sown a defeatist attitude, nowhere better captured than in the series of books published in 1988–9 that all drew similar conclusions: that the independent Irish state had become an economic laggard over the course of the twentieth century compared to a range of other European states, both capitalist and communist; that this was due to the poor quality of governance and the inability of the state to develop coherent policies adequate to the developmental challenges it faced and that the prospects for the future were grim indeed as the barriers to economic success grew ever more formidable (Girvin, 1989; Lee, 1989; O’Malley, 1989; Kennedy et al., 1988). Yet, despite having an impact at the time, these books were quickly forgotten as the severe cutbacks implemented by the incoming Fianna Fáil government in 1987 began to yield, not a deepening recession, but ‘an expansionary fiscal contraction’ (see Boylan, 2002: 20–1): growth quickly returned and by the mid-1990s Ireland was being recognised as a miracle economy, earning the title ‘Celtic Tiger’ as its high growth rates compared favourably to the success of the East Asian tigers.
KeywordsEuropean Union Foreign Direct Investment Social Partner Gross National Income Service Export
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