TRANSFORMING IRELAND 2011-2016: THE FIRST HUNDRED DAYS, THE NEXT FIVE YEARS
The 2011 MacGill Summer School will be held in Glenties, Co Donegal from Sunday, July 24th to Friday, July 29TH inclusive.
The school will again be focused on reforming the Republic and will take up where it left off last year when up to sixty speakers dealt with the economic crisis in which the country finds itself and with the urgent need of reform of our institutions-social, economic and political.
Since last July, the economic crisis has, if anything, deepened with, in particular, the amount of recapitalisation needed by the banking system steadily growing, the state having had to have recourse to the international Monetary Fund and the European Union in order to meet its daily budgetary requirements and keep the economy afloat and unemployment at a record level. The gap between the
Expenditure of the state and its revenue is unsustainable.
A new government led by Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore took power following the General Election of February 25th. The Fine Gael/Labour Coalition in its Programme for Government, Government for National Recovery 2011-2016, commits itself to tackling many of the issues raised at the 2010 MacGill Summer School and contained in the publication, The MacGill Report 2010—Reforming the Republic, launched in December last.
“By the end of our term in Government”, they state, “Ireland will be recognised as a modern, fair, socially inclusive and equal society supported by a productive and prosperous economy.”
Apart from confronting the challenges presented by the perilous state of the economy, high unemployment, massive public debt and the crisis in the banking system which, not unexpectedly, are their priorities, the Government is committed to an extensive programme of reform including constitutional and political reform, public sector reform and reform of the health service and of our education system.
Reform of our political system as well as of the public sector was singled out in Glenties in 2010 as absolutely essential to the task of climbing out of the recession and creating a well governed, economically sound and healthy society. It was clear that not only do we have an economic crisis but a political crisis as well. As now agreed by many commentators and members of political parties, our political institutions including the Dail and Seanad are no longer fit for purpose. As Enda Kenny himself stated two years ago at the 2009 MacGill School in his address, A New Politics for a New Society,
“We cannot fix our economy or create a just society unless and until we also fix our politics.”
At last year’s MacGill School, Dan O’Brien of the Irish Times said:
“Without reform of the political system, the disasters of today, the 1980s and the 1950s are destined to be repeated at potentially ever greater cost.”
The political landscape has, of course, changed utterly, at least on the surface, following the General Election in February and the implications of this development will be analysed at the 2011 MacGill. More importantly perhaps, so also will the proposals of the new Government for fundamental reform of our political institutions, including the houses of the Oireachtas themselves, and the progress being made towards their implementation. Our education system as well has featured many times in the MacGill deliberations and, recognised as it is as one of the key factors in our prospects for recovery, will be high on the agenda of the School in 2011. So also will the health service which has featured so often in the debates in Glenties.
Whilst bearing in mind that the new Government will have been in office for a little more than a hundred days and its priority will be to get its strategy to deal with our dire economic situation underway, MacGill will provide an important and timely opportunity to look at what has been begun, what more there is to do and how and when it is going to be done.
Involved in our daily symposia will be members of the Government itself, representatives of the opposition parties, heads of business and industry, economists, trade union leaders, academics and journalists—and, of course, the very well informed and concerned members of our audiences for MacGill prides itself on its tradition of being a very democratic institution.