We desperately need inspirational men and women to build on Ireland Inc’s incredible reputation abroad, writes Dan Kiely, CEO of Voxpro

IF THE events of the past week have taught us anything, it is that there are times when it is necessary to place the nation’s interests before those of the individual.

Thankfully, the vast majority of us will never find ourselves in such a position. We will never be asked to prove our patriotism, apart perhaps from waving the flag or singing ‘Amhrán na bhFiann’. Almost certainly we will never be called upon to sacrifice ourselves for the greater good but, then again, neither were the men and women of 1916.

They were not expected nor indeed requested to lay down their lives for Ireland. No one told them the time had come to break the chains that bound us to Britain, nor ordered them to leave their families, homes and jobs to take up arms on behalf of their country.

However, they were people of principle and did not shirk the responsibility. They understood what had to be done and were compelled to do it. They believed they had an obligation as citizens, as leaders, as Irish men and women to do the right thing, even if it meant the ultimate sacrifice. These ordinary people decided to commit extraordinary acts.

And we should be eternally grateful that they did not shirk the responsibility and leave to others what they felt, what they knew, to be their duty. One hundred years on and the call to sacrifice, so selflessly answered by the generations before us, sounds out once more, inviting patriotic men and women to put aside personal interests for the good of Ireland.

Every one of us was asked during the poignant Easter commemorations to “remember, reflect and re-imagine”, Well, we have rightly remembered and we have suitably reflected. Now, the time has come for all of us to turn our thoughts to re-imagining the Ireland we want for ourselves and for our children, just as our forefathers and did when they laid down their lives a century ago.

As a self-employed businessman, responsible for the livelihoods of more than 1,500 colleagues in my company, Voxpro, I am no stranger to sacrifice.

Together with my wife Linda, we have, on many occasions over the past 20 years, placed the interests of the organisation before our own, making personal sacrifices along the way. Trust me when I say that some of them caused us many a sleepless night, but we knew, ultimately, they were for the greater good.

It is therefore with some authority that I now call upon our present leaders to step up, take action and put our country before personal and party interests.

How many times over the past few years have we heard our politicians praise and thank the people of Ireland for the sacrifices made during the difficult times we have endured? How often have they stood upon the steps of Dáil Éireann and commended us for our willingness to support the difficult decisions they had to make? Unlike other nations, we, as a people, stoically accepted the cost of our mistakes in the interests of national stability. We understood that steadfastness and prosperity go hand in hand. And when called upon to do so, we, the Irish people, proved our patriotism. It is high time our politicians followed suit.

Let’s rebuild country to honour dead heroes of 1916

The decision of the electorate in February’s General Election was abundantly clear. The people want change and stability. And there is only one possible political combination which can provide both. Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil must answer Ireland’s call and form a coalition government. And they must do so immediately, even if it means signing their political death warrants.

Now is the time to build on the inter-party co-operation they have shown over the years at local authority level. Now is the time to repeat the consensus they displayed during the Marriage Equality Referendum.

Now is the time to recall shared legacies of the past, while embracing a shared vision for the future. Now is the time for patriots.

Business abhors uncertainty. And the people from Google, Airbnb, Nest and Stripe with whom I deal on a daily basis make strategic decisions months, if not years, in advance. They have chosen to operate out of Ireland and with companies like Voxpro because of this country’s stability and predictability. Even during the turbulent times of the recent economic crisis, Ireland shone like a beacon of constancy in a sea of global turmoil. Our measured response as a nation to everything that was thrown at us merely enhanced that reputation abroad. Conversely, the present period of uncertainty, brought about, primarily it has to be said, by the very people we entrusted to steer our ship of state, is doing this country’s interests some disservice and may yet have adverse economic consequences for years.

As a nation, we face pressing social and economic problems that require, nay demand, the immediate formation of a stable, cohesive national government, capable of seeing out its full term. I, and doubtless most of my fellow countrymen and women, care little about who holds the title of Taoiseach. We do care, however, that our cities have adequate quality housing to accommodate those who wish to set up home and contribute to the economic growth and prosperity of the nation. We do want imaginative leadership capable of creative solutions around education, health and planning. We desperately need inspirational men and women to build on Ireland Inc’s incredible reputation abroad and guide us through the uncertain times ahead. And we are entitled to expect that the sacrifices we have made as a people collectively, be reflected in the courage of the decisions made by those we have elected.

And so, I challenge our parliamentary representatives to ask themselves one question. A century hence, what will be said by our great-great grandchildren about the class of 2016? That like their forebears, they too were a generation of Irishmen and women prepared to rise up and sacrifice themselves in the cause of their nation’s interests? Or that they failed to answer the call to duty, abrogating their responsibilities in the process.

Vox populi, vox dei — the voice of the people is the voice of god. Ireland has spoken and those who have inherited the mantle of leadership from our dead heroes would do well to heed what she has said.

Dan Kiely is chief executive of Voxpro

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