Do you dare to hope?


Last Sunday afternoon, an hour of rugby was played during which the
entire nation held its breath. Twenty minutes into that dramatic game against
the All Blacks, Ireland delivered a hat trick of tries, which put them 19
points ahead.

Nobody expected that. And nobody dared to hope we could win. Not out
loud at any rate. But for the next hour, until that gut-wrenching moment in the
81st minute (and the heartbreak that followed as New Zealand took
the second conversion kick that won the game), every spectator dared to believe
it was possible.

My colleague Eamonn Donnelly is a big fan of the 1986 John Cleese film, Clockwise, from which he likes to quote
the ultimate response to sporting defeat; “I can take the despair. It’s the
hope I can’t stand”.

‘Gutted’ was the word on everyone’s lips. The sustained hope, followed
by crushing disappointment, was exhausting. And if optimism is exhausting to
sustain on the terraces, it’s even tougher on the economy.

A bit like the watched pot that never boils, the parched economy was
never going to spring forth growth just by staring at it hopefully. ‘Green
shoots’ was a phrase born of desperation, not optimism.

So, as the last of the Troika representatives are checking out of their
rooms at the Merrion Hotel and we wave a final goodbye (don’t let the door hit
you on your way out lads), do we dare to hope we’re in a better place? Do we
dare to afford ourselves the luxury of optimism? Do we dare to interpret light
at the end of the tunnel as…erm…light at the end of the tunnel?

Well, last weekend’s polls revealed that more than half of respondents believed the Government had done a
good job on leading Ireland out of the bailout. But 74% didn’t believe it would
make much difference to them personally.

The Troika’s departure is welcome. But we need more to convince us we’re
getting out of the crisis that brought them here in the first place.

To that end, there was some good news this week on the jobs front,
as it was revealed that 58,000 more people are in work that a year ago. Growth
figures mean very little unless there’s a measurable growth in jobs, so this
was welcome news.

We’re going to need that kind of job growth to be sustained in order to
address the trail of economic and social destruction that’s still all around

Focus Ireland this week reported a significant rise in people accessing its homelessness services,
while the Growing
Up In Ireland
survey reveals that two-thirds of families with young
children say the recession has had a very significant effect on them, with 43%
cutting back on basics and a quarter finding it very difficult to make ends meet.

Also this week, the first personal insolvency deal was revealed to have
involved a public service worker in Donegal,
and it emerged that 10 people a day are seeking help with insolvency

The same set of CSO figures that revealed growth in jobs also revealed
that in the past four years, public sector weekly earnings have fallen by €47.88, compared with a decrease of €2.41 in the private sector.
That won’t come as a surprise to most IMPACT members, but it is likely to have
a continuing effect on consumer demand, whatever about sentiment.

So, while
news of job growth and the Troika’s exit brings some hope, optimism remains
more of a lifestyle choice.

In the last
edition of this blog, Bernard Harbor talked about the economic positives of a living wage.
This week, Hennes & Mauritz (H&M), the world’s second-largest clothing
retailer, laid out a plan on Monday to pay a living wage to some 850,000 textile workers by 2018.

Perhaps you could dare to hope.

Niall Shanahan

Communications officer