Category: Ireland

Is Outsourcing Good for Ireland?

Do we condemn countries like India to forever remain in the economoc slow lane by outsourcing our service sector?

Today I came across a blog by a prominent university lecturer. In it he asked the question about whether it was ethical for him to outsource the development of a page on his charity’s website. He asked around and a taxi driver said “Try”.

Of course he got lots of offers. However, all the ones from the US or the UK were a lot more expensive than the ones from India. So, our man the professor thought “Hmm. Well, it is for charity don’t you know”. And so he went along the route of outsourcing. Not what you might imagine when you think of outsourcing. But I really wonder whether little deals like this truly add up to a whole lot more than the big headline grabbing deals we read about.

Of course now our esteemed blogger complains about communication problems but more than that he asks the question? “Did I do the right thing?”. In fact he used the word ‘disloyal’.

So I sent him a reply, with my opinion.

This is what I said:

Yes, everyone has a case or a reason to find cheaper goods or services. We all want a bargain because we are all ‘feeling the pinch’ even if we are relatively well off or if our company is actually doing well. There is always an excuse to go the cheap route and to get these goods and services from abroad.

Are you being disloyal to your home market? Coaching these things in language like that makes the whole thing seem ridiculous but yes, support for your neighbours should come before support for a foreign economy. Not only for ‘nationalistic’ reasons but the fact that you are also keeping the status quo. India will remain a ‘low’ economy which essentially is set up to support us. The system only works when the cost of living is low in India – this way they can ‘afford’ to offer us relatively low prices. So you are creating a vested interest in the part of business owners and politicians, i.e. the ruling elite, to keep India’s economy lower than the West’s.

It’s often been said the reason for the success of any Empire is ultimately money. The supply of goods and services to the ruling country for no or low cost. We don’t have a physical empire now but an economic one.

What do you think? Does outsourcing hurt or harm us. Comments welcome.

Riots in Ireland
Could the England Riots Spread to Ireland?

We well may be used to riots in Ireland and Northern Ireland now. They are often for political reasons but could we now have the sought of riots that we recently saw across the shore in England? Certainly the Irish economy looks to be in a worse shape so could we find ourselves in a similar situation here?

Following the killing last week by armed police of Mark Duggan the riots began. At the start peaceful they soon escalated into something a lot more with people taking part with it seems no care for right or wrong or even life or death. Their own or others.  Mr Duggan, a black man, grew up on the Broadwater Farm Estate in Tottenham, the same place where, in 1985, PC Colin Blakelock, the first policeman to be killed in a riot in Britain since 1833, was shot dead after incidents including the death of an Afro-Caribbean woman, Cynthia Jarrett, from a stroke, during a police search of her dwelling.

The English Prime minister has spoken of a moral collapse and tackling gangs and there has been further uproar with historian David Starky accused of racism by saying on the BBC that “whites have become black”. The common thread, if one can be found, in the reactions seems to be that there has developed an underclass of the unemployed, without hope and without even the chance to hope for a better future who feel alienated and cut off from mainstream ‘functioning’ society?  Do we have the same thing in Ireland?

Well, you could say our inner cities are just as troubled and the riots in England should act as a warning to the government. A few commentators have declared as much. But are they just jumping on the bandwagon? I think Ireland, despite its problems, is in many ways a more unified society than Britain. We know who we are. To be an Irishman or woman or child is something unique and special. We have a shared cultural heritage and shared identity. In England, the life of David Cameron cannot be compared to the life of those taking to the streets to riot and loot. There is no shared ground.

Comments are welcome.


Student's hat

The recent tuition fee rises in England (rising from just over £3,000 each year to just over £9,000 each year) has left many people feeling the pinch and wondering how they are going to fund their way through University. For some, it will mean taking extra gap years in order to save up some money; for others, it’ll mean a bigger debt to pay off a the end; still others are wondering if they can afford to go to University at all.

Education specialists are warning that the sharp fee rise will create a market economy in the education sphere, whereby students opt for studying only the subjects that are directly employable such as business, management and sciences, and refrain from studying more analytical subjects such as English, History and Philosophy. They worry that this will lead to an overall decrease in critical reasoning and analytical skills in British society, and fear that the overall effect will be one that is negative in a culture where, as postmodernism reminds us, we are always in more and more need of those skilled in philosophy and the humanities.

However, worried Brits will be reassured to know that there is another way. Like many other countries, the government in Ireland pays fees not only for Irish students but also for any other students in EU countries. Providing you are a EU citizen and you’re pursuing your first undergraduate degree, you are eligible for free fees in nearly all Irish Universities, giving you access to a wide range of course subjects – and the good news is that you can apply straight from A Levels. There are also a variety of maintenance grants up for grabs which will offset the cost of living.

This means that the only fees that have to be paid are the annual student registration fees. Whilst arguably these are tuition fees by another name (indeed, some University heads have admitted as such), at 1,500 – 2000 euro per annum (approximately £1,200 – £1,800), they are vast saving on the price of fees in England and Wales. You’d be getting a top class education by these standards, too – a recent survey rated Ireland as 8th in the world when it comes to the quality of education.

The Irish degree system is generally broader, too – Irish students applying to do a degree in French and Philosophy, for example, would spend their first two years studying various other arts subjects alongside their main subject. This means that graduates leave with a wide skill base and ability for interdisciplinary thinking that is highly prized by employers.

Therefore, if you are worrying about studying in the UK and fretting about how you will be able to afford it, why not consider giving Ireland a shot? After all, even if you just research it, what have you got to lose!

Jim Eastward - Jedi Jim

Last night’s nail-biting final of BBC One’s “The Apprentice” saw Jim Eastwood – dubbed Jedi Jim by many because of his salesmanship abilities and capacity for talking himself out of tricky situations – fired. The 32-year-old from County Tyrone has charmed his way through the series, leaving many of the other contestants awestruck in his path.

However, he fell down on the finale, which involved developing a credible business plan: Lord Sugar obviously felt that Eastwood’s plan of supplying entrepreneurial e-learning to schools lacked the touch that he was looking for.

Jim Eastwood was easily the best salesperson that the programme has ever seen, giving many memorable moments throughout the series, including a scheme to try to sell umbrellas as a tool with which to ‘point’ to tourist landmarks in Ireland.

He also set an Apprentice first by managing to talk himself out of being bought back into the boardroom by project manager Leon after losing a task – this being the act that coined him the name Jedi Jim by fellow Irishman Dara O’Briain.

It wasn’t all plain-sailing for Jedi Jim however – his charm and salesmanship failed at times to impress many of Lord Sugar’s closet aids, leading to a variety of dessert based insults: apparently, nailing something on Jim is alternatively like ‘nailing jelly to a wall’ or ‘nailing custard to the ceiling’ – though I can’t help feeling the second half would be more difficult than the first half.

Either way, Jim Eastwood raised the profile of business in Northern Ireland and went out from the process in glory with his head held high.

Irish Shamrock

The shamrock is one of the national symbols of Ireland, along with Guinness, horse racers, the Celtic Cross and good food. The term is actually a catch-all name which can refer to any of a number of three leaved clovers that are common across the nation. However, its symbolic value goes much further than this and has been a powerful icon for many different groups and purposes across the years. Here are just a few of them.

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