New Contract for Teachers


Edward Walsh

The McCarthy report comes in two volumes.  Volume 1 provides the broad brush strokes,
Volume 2 the details as to how €5.3bn of flab can be cut from the Irish public
sector in a full year.

The McCarthy team found good reason to scrutinise the €6bn
annual expenditure of the Irish school system. It discovered surprising work
practices and a plethora of special payments made to teachers that are unique
to Ireland.
As a result annual savings amounting to a substantial €425 million were
identified. Teacher unions reacted predictably and trotted out their … Continue reading...

Bord Snip Nua

Saving Ireland from economic bankruptcy is the crisis mission.  It has two phases. The first has commenced. It involves raising taxes to bridge a yawning gap between revenue and expenditure.  It is the crude desperation measure that governments grasp in order to avoid economic disaster.  It is a wise first move in an emergency and signals to the global community that Ireland is no longer in denial and is prepared to take strong measures to save the economy.  It also generates some revenue.  But while raising taxes may help to balance the public finances it … Continue reading...

Ireland 2009: post budget analysis

Only one word matters in rescuing Ireland from its downward spiral: competitiveness. This was the focus of Government policy in the 90s. It created the environment for investment, jobs and spectacular growth. It made Ireland the 4th most competitive country in the world by 2000… and one of the most prosperous.

But then the plot was lost and many government decisions carelessly ignored competitiveness.  Numbers employed in the public sector grew at the fastest rate in Europe:  85,600 were added to the payroll in the past decade[1].  The number of state organisations grew to over 700.  Labour laws were enacted … Continue reading...

Making Ireland Competitive Again

Making Ireland Competitive Again

The economic crisis of 2008 is now drifting towards becoming a national calamity of unprecedented proportions with the prospect of bringing Ireland to its knees again. Unless a survival plan is produced during the coming weeks lack of confidence in government could reach a point where the country slides into the kind of irretrievable economic crises that has waylaid Argentina.


The tsunami-like economic events and the international deterioration of Ireland’s standing and reputation is driven by two separate issues: one economic, the other political. 


The economic dilemma is stark.  The cost of running the Continue reading...

Reform and National Recovery

Addressing the unprecedented crises in which Ireland finds itself calls for swift and radical action. The Government must focus on the two most crucial issues

  • cut public expenditure
  • improve international competitiveness

Annual public expenditure has more than doubled since 2001 to €57 billion and the number of employed by the State has grown similarly to a total of 373,000 people.  Public servants are generally paid more than in competitor countries.  For example teachers are paid 28% more than in Germany and 37% more than in the UK.  Ambulance drivers in Ireland are paid as much as junior consultants in Finland.… Continue reading...

Export Education

International education: addressing Ireland’s shortcomings

Ireland’s reputation as a quality location for international study leaves much to be desired: as a result it is failing to take advantage of quite a special opportunity.  Why special?  Because international students are increasingly seeking out English-speaking countries, and, of course, the only two options available in Europe are the UK or Ireland.

But the UK is winning hands down.  It is one of the world’s most sought after locations. Over 300,000 international students are enrolled in the UK and spend some €5 billion a year there. The British Council sees international education as … Continue reading...

Characteristics of the World’s Best School Systems

Characteristics of the world’s best school systems

Edward Walsh                                                                                   31 October 2008

Competition in the knowledge economy is a race for talent and governments worldwide have been boosting educational expenditure to improve facilities, increase teachers’ salaries and reduce class size. Australia has almost tripled educational spending. In the US class sizes are at the lowest ever and spending has doubled since 1980.  


But to their surprise many governments have found that major increases in investment, reduced class sizes, increased teacher salaries and new facilities have not had any significant impact on student performance as measured again and again by the Continue reading...

University Fees

University fees are going to be reintroduced.  The only question is how and when.


The answer to the first question is found in places like Australia and New Zealand. There, all students who go on to third-level pay fees, but have available a government supported Income Contingent Loan (ICL) system which, when required, covers the cost both of fees and living expenses.


Individuals repay their loans during their working lives through the tax system.  Repayment does not commence until one’s earnings rise above a certain level.  The loan system not only covers fees but also … Continue reading...

Transforming Limerick

Two initiatives that would transform Limerick and its region

In the knowledge economy strong vibrant cities of scale with coherent vision and governance are the key economic drivers of whole regions.

Limerick and its region have great potential but in recent years have not been performing as well as Cork or Galway….and failing to compete in attracting new investment

What should be done to release the potential of Limerick and its region and restore its competitiveness?

First: give Limerick coherent governance.

Limerick city is divided between the three local authorities that govern and manage it. As a result it has … Continue reading...

Ireland’s Energy Policy 2008

Getting Ireland’s Energy Policy Right

Mr Gladstone, when accused of changing his mind responded ‘When the facts change I change my mind; what do you do sir?’


The facts, economic, geopolitical, environmental and technological have been changing rapidly in the energy arena and shifting in favour of nuclear.  Mature governments worldwide are emulating Mr Gladstone.


For good reason: countries with substantial nuclear power programmes are seen to be holding down their energy costs and gaining competitive advantage.


France with its 59 nuclear power plants provides a vivid example.  Electricity prices there are amongst the lowest in Europe. In contrast costs Continue reading...