May I comment on James Gleeson’s response (letter, December 08) to Jackie Cahill’s advocacy of consideration of an ‘exit strategy from the Euro’?
He refers to ‘Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) companies and the 100,000 highly skilled personnel they employ, earning very good salaries.’ Between their employees and the much less well-paid employees of their suppliers, those companies account for little more than 10% of our Irish workers overall.
As in the US, they show impressive growths in output, exports, imports and profits, but because of their use of labour-saving technologies they add little to employment overall. Besides, the pharmaceuticals who account for most of them are set to face lower sales due to suppliers of generic drugs availing of the expiry of patents.
I don’t think we should expect many more jobs from that sector, nor from high-tech firms who fill vacancies by hiring people from elsewhere. Nor, if only in view of the long-term viability of those firms, do I think that we should fashion our education services to produce highly skilled technicians (including those with Masters and Doctorate post-graduate training) that they could train at their own expense via in-company e-learning courses.
Exiting from the Euro would be inconvenient for the FDI companies. But they would adjust and carry on as usual. What concerns them is a red herring in the context of that exiting. What now makes Irish farming prosperous would also maintain that prosperity.
But exiting would visit enormous hardships on the rest of us. We would be deprived of the ECB support that has rescued our Banking System from the horrendous folly of bonus-driven Bankers, and the Bailout that has rescued our Public Finances from the opportunistic folly of our Politicians. No one twisted our arms to borrow and spend recklessly to cause the damage of the pre-2008 years.
Our Politicians have yet to do even 50% of what must be done to rectify that damage by eliminating non-essential Public Spending.
For example: they would save a €1,000,000 or more if they took non-essentials out of our Public Education services. Finland produces the most literate and numerate adults in the world, and yet schooling doesn’t begin until the age of seven, preceded by a pre-school year that focuses on essentials. A similar policy here would both cut school costs dramatically and free up teachers for essential schooling. Elimination of the non-essential Transition Year would have similar effects. Maximum use of e-learning would decimate third-level Education costs to have both results also.
Unlike cuts in the Health and Welfare services, those Education cuts wouldn’t put people’s lives in danger.
Joseph F. Foyle,
Self Help Africa
Though your pages would you permit me to express my sincere thanks to all of the people of Tipperary who lent their support to the work of Self Help Africa, in the past year.
We are well aware that many people have less money to spend, and less that they can afford to give to charity in these difficult financial times.
Yet the people of Ireland remain remarkable in their kindness and generosity, and in 2011 we saw time and again examples of the empathy and understand that exists in this country for the poor of Africa, with whom we work.
In 2011 we were all reminded again of the extreme vulnerability of tens of millions of Africa’s rural poor – when haunting images hunger and famine in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya returned to haunt us.
People rightly wonder ‘how can this be’ and question whether the problems of Africa will ever be solved?
Self Help Africa believes that is that significant progress has, and is being made – but that more is needed if images of hunger and famine are to be consigned to history forever.
There is a greater awareness today of the huge importance of small scale agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa, and the vital role that farming must play if Africans – the majority of whom live on the land – are to live free from hunger and poverty.
It might be difficult to discern but during the recent Horn of Africa crisis that message could already be seen – as we witnessed how regions of Ethiopia that had been most affected by drought, did not experience the same ravages as their neighbours in Somalia.
This was in part because of sustained recent investment and support for farmers and food production systems across Ethiopia, and the resulting ability of communities to cope better with the kind of extreme weather events that occurred in 2011.
At Self Help Africa we believe that farming communities are vital not alone to averting future famine, but must also at the heart of our efforts to lift millions of African people out of extreme poverty. It is a vision that is shared by people across Ireland – and for their support in the past year we are sincerely grateful.
Ray Jordan, CEO, Self Help Africa