I write regarding your article “One hungry tiger” (3 December, page 32). As in most reports about Ireland’s economic woes these days, the writer stated that the once-mighty Celtic tiger has accepted an £80bn bailout.
The truth is that it has been forced to accept a loan from the EU and the IMF, for which it will pay some £8bn-10bn in interest. This equates to the average household in Ireland contributing about €7,500 (£6,385) a year for the period of the loan and a savaging of the living standard of ordinary citizens, most of whom had nothing to do with the mismanagement of the economy.
The author also fails to mention that, during the Celtic tiger years, Ireland provided jobs for tens of thousands of UK and other European construction workers which in turn benefited many UK families, the UK economy and in particular the economies of Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.
That said, the article is a positive reminder of the centuries of cultural and working connections between the UK and Ireland. As in previous decades, the UK will once again benefit from those very talented, highly skilled and professional (albeit hungry) Irish workers. The Irish, after all, helped build Britain - we see this in London’s underground tunnels, the roads connecting UK cities, the housing and flagship office developments in places like Canary Wharf and the City of London, and more recently the 2012 Olympics site.
The difference is that having started out as “navvies” in the 1800s and 1900s, digging the tunnels and laying the roads, we now also bring cutting edge architectural design and engineering, exceptional project management services and a much needed entrepreneurial energy to the construction industry. Indeed, many of the most successful UK companies will have an Irish person either heading or contributing positively to their success.
Overall, and despite our economic and political troubles, we will, I suspect, continue to work closely together for the benefit of both countries well into the future.