Former US President Bill Clinton gave some interesting observations on leadership during his visit to Ireland last week. The weakness of Irish leadership after the great financial revelations has filled many with despair but President Clinton’s words were hopeful. Perhaps we can get him as a special friend and adviser to our current government to get us over this hump in our history.
The admission of faults and failure and a road map for the future are essential.
People need hope and this is sadly lacking at present. Can the people be brought on board in what is a war-time situation where everyone needs to pull together.
In a radio interview, he highlighted the challenges the Irish economy faces, saying: “If you lose your financial system you’re toast as creditors can fear public debt won’t be paid.” He also outlined his vision for what politicians need to do to solve Ireland’s economic crisis and return to growth.
Thursday last was a problem day for Ireland on the economic front and it became very clear that we have to take some tough medicine. Mr Clinton was asked by Newstalk how our leaders could bring people along with them through these tough times.
“You do (bring people with you), because, firstly, of the EU requirements on the budget deficit and, secondly, because, at some point, creditors who can build a private economy worry that too much public debt can’t be paid and, if your credit’s ever questioned, then it’s almost impossible to grow. What I think is important is that if we’re going to ask the people, not just here, but also in the United States or anywhere else that, if we’re going to swallow difficult pills in the short run, that medicine has to be coupled with a strategy to get well. You have to say: “It’s going to be horrible for two year but here’s what we’re going to do to get bank lending going again in Ireland. Here’s what we’re going to do to get foreign investment going again. Here’s how all this works so that you and your children and your family and your community and our whole nation will be better off. And five years from now you will see we’ll be more productive than ever before, we’ll have it worked out.”
“In other words, it’s very important not to tell people who are already suffering how bad things are. They know it’s bad by looking at the unemployment rate – everybody knows that. People don’t need a lecture about how bad things are. They need to be told that, if you’re going to do something tough today, it’s because it’s the only way to get to a better tomorrow. And then they also need what you’re doing positive to build a better tomorrow.”
President Clinton was asked what one piece of advice he’d give to Irish political leaders:
“I would say do what you have to do to preserve the credit and the stability of the country. Because if you lose your financial system you’re toast. But since there’s no growth now, do what you have to do and no more. Then spend all the rest of the rest of your time trying to build a new Irish economy and telling the people you’re doing it and how you’re doing it.”
150th Anniversary Supplement
This week we publish a special 150th anniversary supplement. We hope you enjoy it as it marks the ups and downs of Waterford over this long period. We may find times challenging today but there were even more difficult times before when we had world wars and civil wars. Expectations were lower then. Today it is hard for people to be told that, a few years ago, we were one of the richest nations in the world but now we have high unemployment and huge national debts brought on by a bank crisis rescue.
A newspaper depends on the people it serves. The Munster Express has always been well supported by its readers and advertisers and with their support it made this publication possible. We hope you enjoy this special supplement and keep it for the future. If some of your friends or relations missed it we will have extra copies available.