Memoir

Upstart

Friends, Foes & Founding a University

‘Ed Walsh is one of the most dynamic, challenging and infuriating figures in Irish public life. His story is utterly complelling’ Fintan O’Toole

Ed Walsh returned to Ireland in 1970, a young man in a hurry, to set up an institute of education. He found a decaying mansion on a riverside site, gathered talented young people and secured funding from the World Bank and European Investment Bank to build what became the University of Limerick. Along the way, Ed made powerful enemies as he challenged official cant, traditional academics and clerical humbug. This … Continue reading…

Irish Health System Reform: reallocation to the front line

 

 

Ed Walsh                                                                                             20 November 2013

 

Misallocation of health resources has resulted in staffing levels that depart not slightly but starkly from international norms: too few in the front line….too many in offices.  International data highlights how far Ireland’s health system has strayed.  A recent study by Paul Redmond of Public Policy.ie, which took into account national age profiles, places Irish public expenditure levels as the highest in the OECD.[1]

In 2009, after the annual cost of running Ireland’s public health system had mushroomed to over €15 billion, it was ranked by the OECD as the most … Continue reading…

Reforming Irish University Governance

Background
Once most of the world’s best universities were in Europe
• Governing board members drawn from within
• Many board members
• Rectors and Deans elected
Now they are in the US
• Governing board composed of external members almost exclusively
• Limited number of board members
• Corporate approach to governance and management
• President and Deans appointed
European Governance Trends
• Influenced by US
• External membership of governing boards increasing
• Corporate approach to governance and management being introduced
European Reform
Denmark and Finland have led the way with radical reform of university governance.
In 2003 … Continue reading…

School-based Assessment: Deemphasising the Leaving Certificate

Ed Walsh

The startling rate at which the Irish school system is falling behind was highlighted in last December’s OECD’s PISA report
• In a decade reading levels in Ireland have dropped from 5th to 17th.
• 23 per cent of male teenagers are functionally illiterate.
• In only three years Ireland’s math ranking has dropped from 16th to 26th place

Also multinational heavyweights, such as Craig Barrett of Intel, John Herlihy of Google and Ray Stata of Analog Devices are no longer lauding the Irish educational system. They are doing otherwise and speaking frankly of its serious deficiencies. They … Continue reading…

Reforming Irish Education

Ed Walsh

The Celtic Tiger success of the 1990s was built on high-tech manufacturing. While this is still important for Ireland there has been a steady shift in activity and job creation towards knowledge-base service enterprise. Products, rather than being exported on trucks, now more usually travel over the internet.
Competition in the knowledge economy is a global race for talent. The talent required is different to that which won races in the industrial economy. As a result competitor countries have been taking radical action to transform their educational systems. Ireland has not. Its international rankings, especially those of its … Continue reading…

13 Steps to Reform Irish Education

1. Secularise and reform the education of primary teachers: more civics, science, math and modern languages.
2. Limit places in teacher education, making it an elite profession from which all but the most suitable are excluded
3. Upgrade the performance of existing teachers by boosting in-service education undertaken outside school hours and between terms
4. Increase the length of the school/college year to the EU average and reduce holidays to new public sector norms
5. Introduce rigorous teacher/faculty member assessment and link outcomes to award of annual increments
6. Publish separate competitiveness school rankings within disadvantaged and other categories
7. … Continue reading…

My Education Week at Limerick, January 1970

Since 1845, when Limerick failed to get one of the Queen’s Colleges that went to Cork and Galway, a campaign for a university in Limerick simmered. Eventually in the 1960s it flared into a boisterous national campaign organised by the Limerick University Project Committee (LUPC). After the tragic death of Limerick’s flamboyant Minister for Education, Donogh O’Malley in 1968 the government yielded, but refused to establish a constituent college of the NUI in the image of Cork or Galway; instead an institute of higher education was announced. While mention was made of ‘Ireland’s MIT’ and parallels were drawn with the … Continue reading…

Beal na mBlath Address

Michael Collins Commemoration

Beal na mBlath

Ed Walsh

21 August 2011

It is some 47 years since last I stood here.
It must be admitted my motives were romantic rather than political:  I was madly in love with Stephanie, the
youngest daughter of Fine Gael TD for Cork, Stephen Barrett.

There was also another good family reason for being here….of
which I was unaware at the time.

It certainly had nothing to do with my mother’s side. They were happy
to see Ireland part of the United Kingdom and the British Empire: indeed their
world started to fall apart when … Continue reading…

Martin McGuinness

The peace process emerged from the Hume/Adams dialogue of 1992 and these discussions laid the foundations for everything that followed. Hume facilitated the entry of the IRA/Sinn Fein into the Peace Process in return for which they undertook to

·         Decommission IRA arms

·         Disband the IRA and its Army Council

The former has been delivered but there are questions about the latter.

Significant developments, such as IRA cease fires, were normally made public by press statements issued under the pseudonym of P. O’Neill of the Irish Republican Publicity Bureau, Dublin. No statement has been issued from this source stating Continue reading…

Wake-up call for the small nations of Europe

A Wake-up Call for
the Small Nations of Europe

Ed Walsh

The relief and satisfaction in Ireland, following the
Euro-summit, that reduced interest rates and extended loan repayment periods,
is similar to that of the inmate returned from solitary confinement to the regular
prison cell.

The reduction of the harshness of Ireland’s sentence was
triggered, not through compassion for a small country, but by financial market
events that threatened two large economies, Spain and Italy, and the future of
the Euro in a way that concentrated minds in Brussels and Berlin.  Finding rational solutions for economic
recovery in countries large … Continue reading…