Nine big ideas that could seriously progress Ireland

Big ideas can have a powerful and positive effect on economies and their populations. The 12.5% corporate tax rate was a big idea, as was the IFSC.

Both of those have had enormously positive effects on employment and opportunity for Irish people over recent decades.

The EU was a big idea born out of the carnage created by the Second World War.

Any big idea worth its salt has to tackle establishment thinking and political opposition.

The new idea may require significant legal or government policy changes that seem uncomfortable at the time but prove very beneficial in the long-term.

If big ideas work, they can help position Ireland to advance and progress over coming decades.

If they do not work, like for example the Brexit big idea, they can condemn a country to many years of underperformance and loss of reputation.

I have nine big ideas for Ireland. They are as follows:

  • 1.

    Set a short target date for 100% superfast broadband everywhere.

Of all the infrastructural ideas swinging around at present, this has the best cost benefit relationship and can provide a true countrywide advantage for employers and employees.

  • 2.

    Establish a highly efficient liquefied natural gas (LNG) delivery system in Cork Harbour.

Using a huge ship to handle large volumes of LNG from the US, would strategically wean Ireland off a dependence on East European supplies and provide competition in critical energy costs via the Port of Cork for decades ahead.

  • 3.

    Ireland should become a test bed for electric buses. The main cities should be converted to all-electric buses, funded by the bus manufacturers, and help Irish credentials at the forefront of alternative ground transport power systems and environmental leadership.

  • 4.

    A New Zealand research project has shown that seaweed can help eliminate more than 90% of methane gas production by cattle.

Ireland should fund the R&D needed to commercialise that product as it plays to our potential for growth in dairy production, seaweed availability and environmental commitments.

  • 5.

    A second runway at Dublin Airport is one of those unequivocally positive investments that will help project Ireland’s economy over coming decades at a fraction of the cost needed to add a runway in London.

  • 6.

    Ireland should commit to being a world leader in drone search and rescue (SAR) and fishery patrol technology.

The Irish Navy is already deploying drones but we should develop a world-leading competence in the area.

  • 7.

    A 100% blue beach status should be set for the entire Irish coast.

Dublin Harbour is living proof of how a largely populated area can be developed in a way which cleans up the coast while supporting the economy.

There are many parts of Ireland, near large and small populations, where raw sewage is allowed enter the sea. For a country with tourism and the environment at the heart of its long-term future, this is an abysmal state of affairs.

  • 8.

    China will be the largest and fastest growing economy in the world for the next couple of decades. It is also investing globally and has developed a solid relationship with Ireland.

We should incorporate Chinese as an accessible language for all second levels students in Irish schools.

  • 9.

    A rapid roll-out of the Dutch primary healthcare model, which is among the best in the world in a country not much larger than Ireland, should be a big idea and priority for policymakers.

Delivering such an outcome would move Ireland from looking like an NHS-light system to being world class.

All of these ideas may seem far-fetched. If I had suggested to you in 1970 that Ireland would become the number one country worldwide for foreign investment by US multinationals would you have believed that?

Joe Gill is director of corporate broking with Goodbody Stockbrokers. His views are personal.


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