FORMER taoiseach John Bruton has called for a wide-reaching new development model to be drawn up for Ireland’s future stability, warning that a return to so-called normality cannot be expected once the recession runs its full course.
Addressing the annual dinner of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA Ireland) at Thomond Park, last night, Mr Bruton – who is EU ambassador to the US – said: “Ireland needs a new development model. The credit crisis is a symptom of a shift in the world economy that will not reverse itself. We need a new approach that faces realities as they are, not as we might wish them to be. Normal conditions, as we once thought them to be, were unsustainable and will not be returning, ever.”
Part of Mr Bruton’s vision is a system that manages to keep graduates in Ireland.
“The greatest risk we now face is that we may lose a whole generation of young people to emigration; our best educated generation yet – leaving Ireland, never to come back. There is a comforting assumption that, just as emigrants returned in the 1970s and the 1990s, this generation of potential emigrants will return too in 10 or 15 years. This is unrealistic,” he said.
Mr Bruton also suggested a green paper discussion on the public finances, specifically the fiscal burden of an aging population and how best to tackle the issue, which he claimed could be a huge problem for Ireland in the coming decades.
ACCA Ireland president and newly appointed director of the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA), Brian McEnery, told attendees: “While the Irish culture and indeed the culture of the Irish is wonderful and celebrated, a lack of accountability has no place in the noughties – we need to expect better of ourselves.
“While recognising that we are a small country, in which everybody knows everybody else, we cannot continue to support a level of coziness in our banking, regulatory and indeed political system which results in a lack of oversight and accountability.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved