Memoir

Upstart

Friends, Foes & Founding a University

 

 

 

 

Memoir published by The Collins Press, 2011… Continue reading...

Paris Agreement: €30bn Cost for Ireland

The Paris Agreement will cost Ireland more than €30bn. Although the Attorney General advised the Government that it is necessary to have an indication of the overall costs of complying with the Paris Agreement on climate change prior to Oireacthtas ratification[1] the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten has yet to reveal the cost.

If the full costs, direct and indirect, are made known, as they were in Germany, similar excitement can be expected in Ireland. Peter Altmaier, Germany’s Environment Minister said that the transition to renewable energy may cost up to a staggering €1,000bn during … Continue reading...

Making Ireland Great Again: or at least a bit better

Larger budgets are frequently demanded by public institutions as a prerequisite for development and reform. Yet in many cases much can be achieved without any additional funding, and sometimes with less, provided leadership has the courage to shake things up, redeploying existing resources, amend the law…. or just be bloody-minded.  Some examples.

HEALTH

The Irish health system has been ranked as the least efficient of the OECD’s 24 countries[1]. From the report it can be deduced that the Irish health budget could be cut by some €4 bn if OECD average efficiencies were achieved and by over €5 … Continue reading...

Public Pay and Health: daunting challenges for government

By 2000 Ireland had become the fourth most competitive country in the world[1].  Growing at 11 percent, the economy was the most successful in the EU[2]. There was full employment[3].  The budget was in surplus[4]. Public debt, at around 20%, was, after Luxembourg, the lowest in the EU[5].

Less than a decade later, Ireland was insolvent and in the hands of the Troika.  Competitiveness had plummeted by 35 percent[6], unemployment was growing towards 15 percent[7]. The public sector pay bill had become so great and social … Continue reading...

Electoral Reform

On 26 October 1989, just 17 days after the Berlin wall fell, I was in Estonia’s second city, Tartu, as guest of the Communist Party. I was there as president of the University of Limerick, at the suggestion of the philanthropist Chuck Feeney, to sign an agreement with the rector of the University of Tartu.
Estonia was on its knees after 50 years of Russian occupation. Queues stretched onto footpaths outside drab shops. Shortages and neglect were evident wherever we visited. Hopelessness and decay was enveloping.
The formal dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 further compounded Estonian’s problems. A … Continue reading...

Teacher unions frustrate reform of Irish education

Over the years the Irish teacher unions have demonstrated a remarkable ability to improve pay and conditions for their members. Periodic threats of industrial action, backed up with the possibility of an escalation to the ‘nuclear option’ (refusing to mark the Junior or Leaving Certificate examinations) have consistently won the day. As a result Irish post-primary teachers are now amongst the best paid in Europe and enjoy the developed world’s shortest working year : their schools remain closed for 198 days annually .
Having so successfully pursued their legitimate mandate, related to pay and conditions, teacher unions are now attempting … 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...