This article looks at the failure of successive governments to make full use of the natural resources of Ireland leading to the current strategy of heaping more and more new taxation upon the Irish people to make up for their loss of income
Since the formation of the Irish State in 1922, financial sources for the maintenance and development of the state as an independent entity have been in decline. This has arisen through Ireland’s joining the EEC in 1973 and subsequent Treaties of the EU, to successive governments’ neo-liberal economic policies that gradually reduced the role and income of the state. Contributing to these problems was the loss of fiscal autonomy when Ireland joined the eurozone in 2002.
Sources of income such as customs duties and charges, fisheries, agriculture, oil and gas, and minerals were all affected in different ways, leaving the increasing taxation of the people as the main plank of the government’s policy to extricate itself from the economic crisis. Since the banking crisis of 2008, government borrowing  has increased the national debt  from € 50.4 billion to € 119.1 billion in 2011, more than doubling it in a few short years.
The establishment of a customs union (a free trade area with a common external tariff) was one of the main aims of the EEC. On joining the EEC in 1973, the Irish government lost import duties as a source of income from its main trading partners. Three years later, in 1976, the EEC extended its fishing waters from 12 miles to 200 miles under the Common Fisheries Policy  when it was agreed that fishermen from any state should have access to all waters. Thus, while Ireland owns 23% of the fishing waters  in Europe, it is only allowed 3% of the European fish trade quota. 
Since joining the EEC there has been ongoing change in Irish farming  but “with fewer and larger farms, less employment, more specialisation and concentration of production and growth in part-time farming” yet “agricultural output remains at about the level of 20 years ago”. As a source of employment farming has been in decline for a long time, about 24 per cent in the period from 1980 to 1991 and a further 17 per cent between 1991 and 2000. Recent demonstrations by farming families in Dublin have shown the negative effect of government cutbacks, increased costs and taxes. According to a recent Irish Times  article, “the protest was called to highlight concerns about planned reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy and the upcoming budget. It also highlighted the margins being taken by supermarket chains at the expense of farmers. Placard messages included ‘No Cap cuts; no farm cuts; no extra costs; regulate the retailers.’”
More short-sighted policies can be seen in reports  that the State is “also considering selling off some assets of the forestry body Coillte (The Irish Forestry Board)” to private investors. Coillte  was established under the Forestry Act 1988, and the company is a private limited company registered under and subject to the Companies Acts 1963-86. All of the shares in the company are held by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Minister for Finance on behalf of the Irish State. Profits have increased from a loss of €438K (1989) to profits of €4.2 million (2009). Moreover, the company  employs approx 1,100 people and owns over 445,000 hectares of land, about 7% of the land cover of Ireland.
More state assets
In the same article,  plans to sell off other state assets such as parts of Bord Gáis (Gas Board) and ESB (Electricity Supply Board) and “its 25 per cent shareholding in Aer Lingus” were also being considered.
According to Sinn Féin’s deputy leader and spokesperson for public expenditure and reform, Mary Lou McDonald,  “Both the ESB and Bord Gáis are wealth generating self-financing companies that have invested heavily in first world energy infrastructure across the island and created thousands of good jobs benefiting hundreds of thousands of families over the decades”. She added, ““Fine Gael and Labour’s decision to treat the profitable elements of these companies as a cash cow for bank debt reduction makes no economic sense and reflects the kind of short term policy and political decision making that got us into this economic mess in the first place.”
The extent to which the Irish Government has bent over backwards to attract foreign investment in mining – and in the process delimit its share of potential income – can be seen in an extract from a Government Report  titled ‘Land of Mineral Opportunities’,  published in May 2006. “Tax incentives relevant to exploration and mining in Ireland include:
*No State Shareholding in the Project and No Royalties are Payable to the State.
*Immediate write-off of development and exploration expenditure
*Corporation Tax of 25 percent (reducing to 12.5% for downstream manufacturing)
*Capital Allowance of up to 120 percent
*Expenditure on rehabilitation of mine sites after closure is tax-deductible
*There are no restrictions on foreign investment in Ireland,
*There are no restrictions with capital repatriation from the State.”
Oil and Natural Gas
Over the past 15 years gas and oil  have been discovered under Irish waters in the Atlantic  Ocean. However, the government’s “Minister Ray Burke (later jailed for corruption) changed the law in 1987, reducing the State’s share in our offshore oil and gas from 50% to zero and abolishing royalties. In 1992, Minister Bertie Ahern reduced the tax rate for the profits made from the sale of these resources from 50% to 25%.” In May of this year , an article  by economist Colm Rapple stated that a committee that included 12 TDs [MPs] and senators from Government parties and nine from the opposition thought that “the terms at which we give away rights to potential offshore oil and gas reserves are far too generous. […] They want far tougher terms applied to all new licences.”
So how will the government square this dismal history of giveaways with the upcoming centenary of the 1916 Rising in 2016, an attempted revolution which was initiated with a proclamation  read out in the centre of Dublin declaring “the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible. The long usurpation of that right by a foreign people and government has not extinguished the right, nor can it ever be extinguished except by the destruction of the Irish people.”
This declaration was followed up in 1922 with The Constitution  of the Irish Free State (Saorstát Eireann) Act, 1922 which stated in Article 11 that “All the lands and waters, mines and minerals, within the territory of the Irish Free State hitherto vested in the State, or any department thereof, or held for the public use or benefit, and also all the natural resources of the same territory (including the air and all forms of potential energy), and also all royalties and franchises within that territory shall, from and after the date of the coming into operation of this constitution, belong to the Irish Free State”.
There seems to be no limit to the government’s sticky fingers. The National Pensions Reserve Fund  has seen its total value reduce from €24.4 billion in 2010  to € 15.1 billion in 2012 with €20.7 billion of the fund  spent on preference shares and ordinary shares in Allied Irish Banks and Bank of Ireland since 2009. As the government props up the banks and pays off unsecured bondholders, it is likely that the forthcoming significant national commemorations will refocus the Irish people on past conceptions of national democracy. Chicken, anybody?
John Gallen writes:
I thought this may be of interest considering all the coverage of the fighting in Israel / Palestine over the past couple of weeks.
It is often said that Ireland or the Irish are anti-semitic. Something I have never believed. And now we have some proper research from the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism, Tel-Aviv University Their data has been put into a choropleth map by a Evangelos Kapros of TCD. More on him here
Anyway, according to this map there has been 1 incident in Ireland per 2.4m individuals between 2001 and 2010.
The UK – 1 incident per 51,000
The USA – 1 incident per 75,000
So, the likelihood of an antisemitic incident is 32 times more likely in the USA than Ireland and 47 times more likely in the UK.
I think that should put an end to any nonsense of this island being called antisemitic for good. The next time someone speaks out for Palestine, it is more likely a show of solidarity for an oppressed people than any type of antisemitism.
Why Irish Bankers Can Get Their Noses In The Million Euro Trough. While The Rest Of Ireland Struggles « Stirring Trouble Internationally – Around the world
The Winding Stairs, overlooking the Liffey by the beautiful diddy Ha’penny Bridge. The setting is perfect and the people wonderfully less than that.Finance Minister Michael Noonan has signed off yet another half a million euro pay package for yet another executive, cashing in on the job bonanza at the failed Irish banking system.
He even names the lucky fellow who has trousered 500,000 euros of public money: Kevin Blake. There are now, so he says there are now 76 similar pay cheques going out to former officials at bailed out banks in this place.
Just look around at this place. Used to be a great second hand bookshop, then it was going to the wall. A bunch of Trinity College students raised some cash to save it. They did. It was entrepreneurship. A post made earlier today over on Stirring Trouble Internationally – A humorous take on news and current affairs.
It took almost 40 minutes for all the charges against the nun to be read out to the jury of seven women and five men at a special sitting of Sligo Circuit Court.
The trial has been moved to Sligo from the area where the alleged offences took place.
Sister Peter would call her alleged victims to the front of third class at the school to indecently assault them, Aileen Donnelly for the DPP told the jury.
Ms Donnelly went on: “They were brought up to the desk and they were abused by indecent touching.
“This amounted to a system of abuse . . . and systematic indecent assaults.”
Ms Donnelly said the 63 counts would not cover all the allegations, but the prosecution had reduced the number of alleged assaults to help “with the administration of justice”.
Sister Mary Theresa Grogan, dressed in a black-and-white tweed suit and white top, had earlier pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.
The court heard she joined her order in the 1960s and had become a teacher at the Midlands school in the early 1970s.
She left Ireland in 1990 and returned to the Midlands in 2005.
Ms Donnelly said that, on seeing her return, one of the alleged victims made a formal complaint to gardai in January 2006.
The trial continues at Sligo Circuit Court.
Austerity has been an economic failure and a social catastrophe.
Domestic demand has collapsed. Five businesses closed down each day in 2011 – and this year’s figures are likely to be worse. 300,000 are unemployed, and many more are underemployed. Over 1.8 million people are left with less than €100 at the end of each month after paying essential bills. One in ten of us is living in food poverty. One million of our fellow citizens are living in deprivation as measured by the CSO – including over 335,000 children.
And these figures would probably be even starker were it not for emigration: in just one year – between April 2011 and April 2012 – a total of 46,500 Irish people left the country.
Behind each of these figures lie individual stories – and increasingly, those stories are of despair.
Communities throughout Ireland see the economic and social consequences of current economic policy every day. They see that austerity does not work – and they know that continuing the same policy will not produce different results.
An accommodation crisis faces Irish people coming to live and work in Britain. As we reported last week many Irish workers are arriving with little awareness of the high start-up costs and the shortage of accommodation. In the most extreme cases they can run out of money very quickly, have no access to benefits and find themselves homeless or sleeping rough, a report from the Crosscare Migrant Project warned. And when people do find somewhere to live they end up paying large sums for poor quality, cramped accommodation with little hope of moving up the property ladder because of the high deposits and advanced rent payments demanded by private landlords.
Today we reveal the extent of the problem nationwide — with other major cities including Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham, reporting a massive housing problem. And we also highlight the human cost of the crisis, with the sobering story of one young man’s depressing experience. In London, Leslie Ryan, a housing officer at the London Irish Centre said: “People underestimate the initial expense involved in moving to Britain. People stick it out for a long time at home. They hope to avoid immigration, spend a lot of their savings in Ireland and then arrive here strapped. People might think £1,000 is enough money to arrive over with. It’s not.”
In Liverpool, Breege McDaid, from Irish Community Care on Merseyside, said: Landlords are stricter, rents are higher, there’s a lot of low quality accommodation and a lot of Irish people want to live in the city centre. People don’t have the fall back position of staying with family and friends because their support network is at home. And when they do find somewhere to live the accommodation can be smaller than what they are used to. Space becomes a side issue.”
And in Birmingham, Norah Cox from Irish in Birmingham, said: “Prices have gone up, availability is less and there’s not much building going on.” The impact on emigrants, as our special report this week reveals, can be devastating. Newly-arrived Stephen Ward, from Co. Down, explains how he was almost driven to despair trying to find somewhere to live — before he was eventually directed to an Irish housing support organisation in London. Meanwhile, there are warnings that things are going to worsen…
Advisory services are now pointing to the introduction of benefit caps in April 2013 which will have a harsh impact on people living in social housing. The austerity-driven measure will drive more and more people into an already over-subscribed and cramped private housing market place, it is predicted. Adding to an already dire situation with potentially catastrophic circumstances for not just the Irish in Britain but everyone looking for somewhere to stay in the country’s overcrowded towns and cities.
Stephen Ward has been sleeping on a sofa at a friend’s house for nearly three weeks. It wasn’t the start to London he expected; but then he didn’t expect it to be so difficult to find somewhere to live. This is London, after all!
Picture the scenario. From the window of the aeroplane the city stretches out to infinity in every direction — a grand stage for a glut of reality TV shows like Location, Location, Location, Property Ladder and Homes Under the Hammer. Finding somewhere to live? Piece of cake! So the plane lands, you grab a copy of the Evening Standard, have a quick scan of the property listings, toast your new town with a few scoops, then settle on the sofa to nurse a sore head — just for a few days until you find your feet. The days pass, so do the weeks and before long you’re not toasting your new home but cursing it. Your neck hurts from the arm of the couch, your feet ache from tip-toeing about all the time and your new room doubles as the recreation area by day as well as that not so comfortable rest area by night. Welcome home? Correction, welcome to your new life in Britain. Stephen is not alone.
For many Irish people arriving in Britain, this is very a familiar story. Because London’s streets are not paved with gold, but people…and lots of them. Free movement around Europe and the draw of London’s durable economy has made Britain the convenient country of choice for the continent’s upwardly mobile — not just plane after plane-load leaving from Ireland.
But when it comes to housing, supply is short, demand high. Ditto rent and council tax costs, not to mention the financial outlay needed to get to the first rung of said Property Ladder. In some areas the outlay feels like it could plug a budget deficit. Irish welfare groups based in Britain and support agencies in Ireland say securing accommodation is now the single biggest issue facing Irish emigrants to Britain. Money is tight, while property finite, often small and sometimes of poor quality. The market place is full of home-run opportunities for landlords while the bleachers are bulging with desperate would-be tenants, trying to enter the field of play. You can buy your way in…if you have enough money. Many don’t. Many arrive unprepared, armed with neither money nor knowledge of how things work and the time it takes for a wheel full of spokes like National Insurance and Bank Account numbers to turn.
Stephen had ticked the boxes when he arrived and had a big mark in the one that counts, or so he thought. He had secured a nursing job in a hospital before he arrived from Banbridge in Co. Down. He thought that everything else would fall neatly into place. A few days on the couch, a bit of rooting about on the web after collecting that coveted first paycheque — but the weeks passed while he waited for the hospital to clear his paperwork and before long he was out of cash and sofa time. “I ended up in a desperate situation,” he says. “With a job lined up I thought everything would fall into place. But after a few weeks I just about had enough money to get the Tube up to the London Irish Centre in Camden. I was close to tears to be honest. I didn’t figure it would take so long for my paperwork to be processed and didn’t bring enough money from Ireland to get me through that start-up period. I didn’t know what I was going to do.”
The experience chimes with a recent report by Crosscare Migrant Project which revealed that finding somewhere to live and arriving with enough money to live in the interim are among the most acute problems faced by thousands of newly-arrived emigrants. “People underestimate the initial expense involved in moving to Britain,” says Lesly Ryan, a housing officer at the London Irish Centre. “People stick it out for a long time at home. They hope to avoid emigration, spend a lot of their savings in Ireland and then arrive here strapped. People might think £1,000 is enough money to arrive over with. It’s not.”
One man who knows just how tough the property market has become is William MacGowan who has worked as an auctioneer in North West London for the last 22 years. MacGowan said the current demand for housing far outweighs supply. He is extending his business reach further into Greater London in order to secure accommodation for his clients. “It is the most competitive I have seen the market in over 20 years,” he says. “There’s nearly nothing to be had in North West London right now. The opening up of Europe has made Britain far more accessible, banks aren’t lending money to build and there’s just not enough accommodation to meet the needs of all the people coming in. The shortage of work means it’s more of an issue because people just don’t have the money. Tenants are in a worse position to do deals with landlords and the day is gone where you would have a list of properties to choose from. People think because of the size of the cities here they are going to have a huge choice but London can become a very small place when you are looking for somewhere to live. When you are on a budget you take whatever you can pull-off.”
And it is not just London that faces a housing crisis. Breege McDaid from Irish Community Care in Merseyside said securing accommodation for Irish clients in Liverpool has become an issue. “A lot of people are fine but it’s a big area for us because it’s more difficult now. Landlords are stricter, rents are higher, there’s a lot of low-quality accommodation and a lot of Irish people want to live in the city centre. “People don’t have the fallback position of staying with family and friends because their support network is at home. And when they do find somewhere to live, the accommodation can be smaller than what they are used to. Space becomes a side issue.” It’s a similar story in Birmingham. Norah Cox from the Irish in Birmingham said there is a shortage of property there too and more and more people coming into the city. “Prices have gone up, availability is less and there’s not much building going on. It’s not just Irish people who are being affected. It’s everybody.”
Back in Camden, the London Irish Centre directed Stephen to Innisfree Housing Association, who provide supported accommodation for their clients, 60 per cent of whom are Irish. “I lived in London before, for seven years,” explains the 27-year-old, “but returned to Ireland for two years, so when I was coming back I knew what the property market was like but I just ran out of money. I was skint. But the guys in Innisfree managed to find me a room in one of their houses in West London. There are five other people in the house and all of them came there through Innisfree. They provide support with the deposit and you just start paying rent once you are working. “It was a comfort to know I’d be living with other Irish people, people who know where you are coming from, have similar interests in sports like the GAA, and music. You would have concerns about sharing space with so many people, but it’s something you have to accept as part of city life here.
“The cost of accommodation means you will have to be earning big money before you can afford to have your own place. But the bedrooms are big, there’s a garden. The people are nice, hard-working.” Jean O’Rourke, a Housing Officer with Innisfree, explained you need both money and time to adjust. “The initial start-up costs of finding somewhere to live would surpass most people’s expectations. Paying a month deposit and typically, six weeks up front, that’s the first thing people don’t realise. Then there’s the actual experience of actually living here, of adapting to big city life. Houses and flats are typically small, people live in less space than they are used to and the standard of accommodation is not always very high.”
Take it from Stephen Ward, the best approach is to do your planning before you leave. “To be fair, you’re at nothing if you arrive in Britain now with a couple of grand in your back pocket,” he says. “You need that much to get you through the settling in period, to cover your deposit and rent up-front. If you don’t…well, there are some great support services or you better find a friend with a good sofa.”
via Mean Streets.
via Mean Streets.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny donned a leprechaun outfit and shiny brogues in an effort to affect the outcome of a meeting with Angela Merkel where he outlined the desperate and pathetic state of the country which he believed had a “Fiscalholic” financing problem, “basically a disease” that was “genetic, so not really our fault, technically”.
In a move described as “Economic Trick or Treating”, Kenny approached Merkel with the hypothetical situation that if a retroactive bank bailout – or “treat” – was not forthcoming, a chronic and grinding European financial meltdown – or “trick” – would take place thanks to the jaw-droppingly large amounts of debt amassed by the state and the bone-headed repeat-performances of unwise investment and fiscal eejitry shown by the government and Irish citizens since the initial bust.
“We’re lost – we’re still all desperately buying small houses in the middle of nowhere for €400k. I see it as being like an abusive relationship, with the Irish people representing the battered wife, but also the abusive husband who – in a way – batters himself to punish himself for cheating on himself with himself – on himself but, also, TO himself WITH himself…if you get me.”
“BY himself, as well” he added.
An exciting new venture in Westmeath’s bustling Zombie District
“I just laid it all out for Angela and the Leprechun outfit really hammered my point home. I told her about our “Fiscalholic” nature and that our problems with money were down to a “disease” and that it wasn’t our fault, and to leave us off. I said that we were basically sound and just wanted to have the craic and that the weather was bad here all the time and all our kids are going to Australia and we’ll probably have another bad winter and that the roads needed mending. I told her about Mick Wallace, who doesn’t pay tax because he doesn’t want to, and nothing happens. I then told her about how it was Fianna Fáil‘s fault and the unions were at me and that the hospital consultants all laughed at me for driving an ’09 car.”
“I said that, really, if Europe wants to stay viable, she should make an effort to stem Irish emigration. We just show up and puke everywhere. That really made her think”.
Kenny did a series of forward-flips to round out his presentation to the German Chancellor who then clapped and whooped as the Taoiseach threw out chocolate Euros from a plastic “pot o’ gold” in a display of extreme irony
Famine! Plague! Tsunami! The one thing Ireland won’t do is . . . – The Irish Times – Sat, Oct 13, 2012
AT THE LOBBY of Agriculture House, a man at the front desk can’t find the number for the Office of Emergency Planning. Another man doesn’t think Brian Spain, the director of the Office of Emergency Planning, who I’ve come here to meet, even operates from the building. They discuss this for a few minutes while rooting around for the piece of paper with phone numbers on it (“It’s always going missing!”), before one of them says, “Right!” and takes me along a corridor, up a lift and to the correct door. His key card won’t open it. What if it was an emergency, I think, but Spain, a calming presence, comes to get me and I pull myself together.
You may have seen shots of the National Emergency Coordination Centre during news briefings at the time of the volcanic ash cloud or the extreme weather events of the past few years. It is not, as depicted in disaster films, in a bunker 100m beneath the Dáil but on the second floor of a central Government building. (“The space was available,” says Spain. “We were based in Kildare, but it was thought that it made more sense to be closer to government”.)
It is, at first glance, an underwhelming open-plan office, with conference and briefing rooms attached. This belies what is, in fact, a sophisticated communication system designed so the lead department in any emergency can come in and instantly plug into a national network. Communication is everything in times of emergency.
“A number of years ago the Radiological Protection Institute and the Department of the Environment conducted a fairly big exercise on our plan for a nuclear incident,” says Spain. “One of the recommendations that came out of that exercise was the need for a suitable location to manage a major emergency.”
“Is there an underground bunker at all?” I ask, hopefully.
“No,” says Spain. “This is not designed as a nuclear bunker, and all the advice we have is that if there was a nuclear incident abroad we wouldn’t need a nuclear bunker here.”
One thing that is in keeping with Hollywood depictions of disaster is the fail-safes they have for power outages. “This is totally power- and telecommunications-independent of the rest of the building,” says Spain. “If the power goes out we go on to the Department of Agriculture generator. Then we have another generator down below. Then a second generator – and as a final failsafe we have a plug in the wall where the Defence Forces can roll up with a mobile generator to plug in.
“Basically the only thing that could put us out of action here is if we physically couldn’t get into the building. And there are even plans for that,” he adds, lest I’m worried.
A Framework for Major Emergency Management, published in 2006, established a clear hierarchy in times of crisis. Departments were assigned leadership in different types of emergency management (the lead departments for 41 types of emergencies are clearly laid out), and emergencies could be scaled up from local to regional to national emergencies.
The approach we take to major emergencies is what Dr Caroline McMullan calls an “all hazards” approach. McMullan teaches on the emergency management master’s course at Dublin City University, and they work closely with the Office of Emergency Planning.
The specter of the immigrant ship lies in wait once again according to Martin Hughes.
Mr. Hughes a leading financial expert has warned that Ireland’s enfeebled economy will soon be dependent on payments sent homes by emigrants.
He is predicting that by 2020, the collapse of the economy will force emigration to levels that will see the country’s population drop to figures last seen in 2004 that in turn will pull down consumption levels and real estate prices.
“Quite different but not, we must add, altogether new. Having not depended on remittances for many decades, Ireland, like Portugal, will come to rely on these once more.”
If this grim scenario is true, it would seem like we are wasting our time repaying the bankers debts. Perhaps the better option is to repudiate the debts and suffer on our own terms. This option might be a brutal but swifter option in getting the country back on a firm financial basis.
Whatever the case it looks like a return to the sad,bad old days of the 50’s where Ireland depended on immigrant money to keep the country ticking over
Opinion polls show a majority of two to one believe Ireland is trying hard to fix the economy. Surprisingly, a greater percentage of Irish people than Germans believe that we should be trying harder to fix our economic mess.
Yet on the other hand, most German people know bugger all about Ireland.
Why is this? Quite, simply because we are a small tiny country that suffers from the illusion that everyone knows us. Those that are familiar with Ireland recognise us for the craic and drinking. Therefore, lads no need for a screaming fit each and ever time some one mislabels us as British.
Please do not shout I’m Irish, God dammit, otherwise people identify you as being touchy and unhinged. However, this is OK if you need to be alone.
Irish, Ah British if only I had a pint for every time I heard that I be a happy man.
Irish what are they, pet animals? Can I have one are they cuddly?
What, There are Irish people here, right beside us, mother of Jesus, in our town, how terrible? You mean the Christ on a wafer brigade, bog-trotting culchies, stealing our jobs raping our woman. Oh well I guess it’s better to be Irish than Welsh. You’re from where…I hear they eat their young.
You know I just love walking down Kurfürstendamm with my midget girl friend and she decked out in bottle green hot pants adorned with shamrocks and a pig under her arm. You should see the looks we get. I told her if anyone calls you, British just smack him one.
THIS GOVERNMENT came to power offering fundamental reform, declaring that “failures of the political system were key contributors to the financial crisis”. Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore spoke of radical, root-and-branch change that would meet the needs and aspirations of the Irish people and a constitutional convention to deliver in that regard. Now, one-third of the way through its term of office, the convention has yet to be established and its agenda is a poor shadow of what was originally indicated.
Last week, Mr Kenny said he hoped to make an announcement about the convention “shortly”. He did so at the launch of a book on Eamon de Valera’s 1937 Constitution that identified the German, French and Polish constitutions that helped to shape it; the political astuteness that directed it and the skilled draughtsmanship that gave it flexibility and endurance. The Taoiseach made no reference to urgent transformation. Instead, he thought it “timely” to look at the 75-year-old document and ask if it met the needs of a modern nation.