I'M AN AMERICAN in Ireland but too long in the country to really have an unblemished perspective about the country. But my personal opinion is that Ireland is on "pause" at the moment.
Some of my perspective perspective comes from looking at the pace of life around me while standing in my corner shop or going on walkabouts in County Tipperary. I get put on "pause" when driving through the centre of town a lot. I see "pause" in the air while watching retail shops just ticking over. The town councils and national government seem to be on "pause" because they just want to keep the lights on. Contractors providing services to the retail sector and to the government feel "pause" in the form of slow payments. To me, it feels like Ireland is on "pause."
Where I work, upper management has taken "pause" to mean sweating assets or consolidating services. That's a wonderful idea on paper but when the assets are more than 30 miles apart, it beggars belief that someone can double-job between two geographically distinct premises. And yet that's what has unfolded during the past year. We plan to see more of the same managerial techniques because we're on "pause" because the cuts in funding continue.
The current weather pattern has put summer on "pause" in Ireland. I vividly remember my first summer in Ireland during July and August 1995. It might have been the loveliest summer weather in Ireland over the past 17 years. When I told Irish friends living in America and Germany about the sun, most thought it was a passing anomaly because my reports were nothing like their experience in rain-marked summers before. The summer of 2012 is more like a typical Irish summer with five rain days with two sun days pausing the rain showers every week. The predictable weather pattern helps sell fake tans.
One big factor that will give "pause" to national plans is the location of confident Irish twentysomethings. The Irish Exchequer counts on them to hold down jobs, pay taxes and to fund critical services like hospitals. Unfortunately, a large cohort of Irish college graduates have packed their bags for better opportunities overseas. This fact appears in "live register" data because the recently departed don't sign on for social welfare benefits since they've left the country.
I've become accustomed to Ireland on "pause" and feel obliged to contribute to culture and innovation. My seat is the Institutes of Technology sector where "pause" has reduced the unapologetic consumerism that previously contaminated the attitude of returning students. Witin a month, I suspect to be joined by students who want to blend confidence and creativity in projects that may get Ireland out of the "pause" mode.
Previously: "New Ireland" on my blog, May 26, 2004.