By Thomas Friedman
Yes, the country that for hundreds of years was best known for emigration, tragic poets, famines, civil wars and leprechauns today has a per capita GDP higher than that of
It tells you a lot about Europe today: All the innovation is happening on the periphery by those countries embracing globalisation in their own ways - Ireland, Britain, the Scandinavian and Eastern European nations - while those following the French-German social model are suffering high unemployment and low growth.
By the mid-1980s,
But it still did not have enough competitive products to sell because of years of protectionism and fiscal mismanagement. The country was going broke and most college graduates were emigrating.
'We went on a borrowing, spending and taxing spree, and that nearly drove us under,' said Deputy Prime Minister Mary Harney. 'It was because we nearly went under that we got the courage to change.'
The results have been phenomenal. Today, nine out of 10 of the world's top pharmaceutical companies have operations there, as do 16 of the top 20 medical device companies and seven out of the top 10 software designers. Last year,
'We set up in
'What attracted us? A well-educated workforce - and good universities close by.
'I believe this is because there are enough people who remember the very bad times to depoliticise economic development.
Added Mr Dell: 'They are competitive, want to succeed, hungry and know how to win. Our factory is in Limerick, but we also have several thousand sales and technical people outside of
Intel opened its first chip factory in
'We have 4,700 employees there now in four factories and we are even doing some high-end chip designing in
Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said: 'I have met the premier of
Ireland's advice is very simple: make high school and college education free; keep corporate taxes low, simple and transparent; actively seek out global companies; open your economy to competition; speak English; keep your fiscal house in order and build a consensus around the whole package with labour and management - then hang in there, because there will be bumps in the road - and you, too, can become one of the richest countries in Europe.
'It was not a miracle, we did not find gold,' said Deputy Prime Minister Harney. 'It was the right domestic policies and embracing globalisation.' -- NEW YORK TIMES