The latest ESRI survey may indicate that there is some gloom out there and the contents will add to it after the No vote in the Lisbon Treaty referendum.

The ESRI seem to be taking a very pessimistic line and suggests that the taxpayer is going to find it hard to fund the public services in the next few years.

A pull back in special pay increases in the public sector seems inevitable if lessons have been learned from the past.

Back in the eighties there was deliberation on this matter for 6 years from 1982 to 1988 before the nettle was finally grasped by Ray McSharry, then Finance Minister.

The ESRI report coincides with the new pay talks so there could be major pressure on the politicians to deliver on pay from the public sector and this is pointed out by the ESRI, or Economic and Social Research Institute, which is Government financed.

Ireland is not alone in having an economic downturn so we should not get too depressed about it. Some sacrifices will need to be made in the near term, if this is done then we will be better prepared for the future.

Oil prices are a huge burden at present. This cannot be ignored and individuals and businesses must economise. Demand will fall for oil and this is already happening in the United States.

The Saudi increase in supply should assist in encouraging a price drop, where markets are subject to massive speculation. A fall in the price could assist in economic recovery, this could be followed by a fall in interest rates.

But in the meantime, we face the worst possible scenario in Ireland with falling tax revenue, high oil prices, a property supply problem and a No vote in the referendum.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen could not be faced with much worse a scenario. Bertie Ahern must be happy to be out of his old job in these circumstances.

The ESRI have said that we are in negative growth at the moment. Here in Waterford the difficulties at the crystal factory have added to the uncertainty.

The USA, Ireland’s number one investor, is almost in the same position as it suffers from a property crisis. How Ireland will fare will depend on how America bounces back.

This could happen in the second half of next year if predictions are correct, assuming oil prices fall back. The American Presidential Election will also have a part to play in the near term, as the Republicans try to keep out Obama and the Democrats.

Here in the south east, we should try and look down the road and see the various investment projects lined up for the future. The new Carlow bypass makes Waterford far more accessible for visitors and persons doing trade. In two years time the dual carriageway will be running from Carlow down to Waterford and the new city bypass will be open.

Building plans for Ferrybank Quays, the Glass Social Centre site and the Brewery complex are still being pursued, so there is considerable investment in the pipeline for Waterford.

So while the economic news may be gloomy in the short term, we need to think a little bit more in the medium term. Things may not be on the up but there is far greater employment today than there was in the eighties.

The pharmaceutical plants are doing well, as are financial services. Retail has undergone huge expansion as has leisure, so there is not too much to be compared to the mid-eighties.

Keeping the public finances and inflation in check must be the priority.