Date Published: 18-Apr-2012
Ireland has recently been through a very turbulent period in its history. The economic crisis that unfolded in 2008 has meant fiscal consolidation in Ireland at a scale not seen in many other Member States of the European Union.
While this consolidation is necessary in order to restore the public finances and to help Ireland return to the markets next year, I have always been an advocate of ‘smart’ consolidation.
By ‘smart’, I mean that, while cutting public deficits and undergoing structural reforms, we must preserve and boost our future sources of growth and jobs.
Ireland has always had an important focus on research, innovation and science. Ireland has a strong record of attracting new investment by guaranteeing specific investments in infrastructure and training and by supporting research and development. These are some of the main reasons why Ireland is regaining competitiveness.
Indeed, the signs are positive for Ireland. In 2010, Ireland had the second largest goods trade surplus in the entire EU after Germany, to the value of €43 billion.
Multinational pharma, chemicals and life-sciences firms account for most of this trade surplus. However, other export sectors where domestic firms predominate, particularly food and drink, are also seeing rising exports.
Ireland, with its uniquely well-positioned globalised innovation base, can and will emerge out of the crisis with an improved economy that will compete globally.
And with Dublin as the European City of Science in July this year, there is an opportunity to showcase the open, skilled and competitive aspects of the Irish economy to the researchers, scientists and companies who will be attending this prestigious event from all parts of the world.
Medical technology is a highly significant industrial sector for Europe, most notably in terms of employment, innovation and quality of life. There are around 22,500 medical technology companies in Europe, employing approximately 500,000 people.
These companies have combined annual sales of €95 billion with, on average, six to eight per cent of this being re-invested in R&D. This strong innovative character is reflected by the fact that more than 80% of these MedTech companies are SMEs.
Ireland is a leader in the MedTech sector, employing the highest per capita of medical technology personnel in Europe. Eight of the top twenty global MedTech companies have a manufacturing base here. Over 40 years experience has resulted in a dynamic, well serviced sector and a globally recognised centre of excellence.
The Galway MedTech cluster is an example of a vibrant place for stimulating innovation and promoting entrepreneurial activities in the sector, thanks to multiple interfaces and the presence of academic and private research centres nearby.
Together with the support from the National University of Ireland, Galway, there are now approximately 40 MedTech SMEs located here.
So Galway is not only a labour pool for skilled graduates, but is also an international hub for the start-up of MedTech companies.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.
Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.
She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.
Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.
Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.
When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.
Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.
And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.
All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.
“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”
That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.
For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here
Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013
Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup
Date Published: 29-Jan-2013
Athenry FC 1
Kilbarrack United 2
(After extra time)
For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.
On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.
An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.
However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.
They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.
With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.
Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.
Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.
Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.