• Germany's news in English
 

'Ireland must recover so people come home'

Published: 15 Mar 2013 08:13 GMT+01:00

Currently holding the presidency of the European Union for half a year, Ireland has gone from the eurozone's biggest worry to something of a poster child for austerity-led recovery from the continent's sovereign debt crisis.

The three subjects the country wants to emphasize while holding the presidency reflect a careful nurturing of the tender shoots of recovery, Mulhall told The Local in an exclusive interview at the Irish Embassy in central Berlin.

"Every country has the chance during the presidency to put its own stamp on the EU. We are trying to draw on our experience during the last four or five years of serious economic crisis and the gradual recovery. We believe that's relevant to the rest of the Union. That is why we are trying to emphasize stability, jobs and growth during our presidency."

Yet concern remains that much of the optimism has been fuelled by disembodied numbers on paper and that little is being felt by the 4.6 million people in the island nation. Mulhall agreed that many Irish had yet to see concrete improvements in their lives.

Feeling effects of austerity

"People in Ireland are feeling the effects of five years of austerity, cutbacks and reduced expenditure as well as increases in taxation," he said. "But these things have to be seen as part of an overall complex picture. My view is that it should be a priority for Ireland to continue to improve our position, strengthen our competitive economy so that we can win back credibility in the international marketplace. We want to be able to borrow what we need without support from the EU and IMF."

He said the Irish economy had grown by 1.4 percent in 2011, by close to 1 percent last year, and that growth of 1.5 percent was expected for this year. But the task of repairing the economy was made significantly more difficult by the fact that Ireland's export-based economy's main partners were also struggling, he said.

"The environment in which we are making this recovery is so uncertain and weak. We have an export-oriented economy whose main markets, the UK and Europe, are in difficulty," he said.

"We have to continue to work hard to create jobs in Ireland that will give our young people the opportunity to remain at home and make their plans in Ireland - or for those who have left, to return. We need these people to fuel our development in the years and decades ahead."

International firms seed Irish start-ups

The presence of large corporations such as Google, Intel and Hewlett Packard in Ireland, attracted by low corporate tax rates contributed to the recovery, and was important not only in creating jobs, but in seeding new companies, said Mulhall.

"Ireland missed out on the industrial revolution, so we do not have major companies like Siemens or Bayer as a base for our development. But the big companies which have come to Ireland have not only employed many Irish people who are attractive as they are well-educated and hard-working - they have also led to new Irish firms being set up by those people."

Although migration of young people out of Ireland to escape poverty and seek their fortune abroad had been a part of Irish history for the last 150 years, it was still sad to see it happening again, he said.

"The renewal of emigration from Ireland is a very sad story and that is why I think we have to redouble our efforts to ensure that these people who have left in the last few years have the same opportunity as in the 1990s to come back."

Tradition of leaving and coming back

"I believe that most Irish people probably would want to come back even if they are in countries where standards of living are high. There is a strong pull from home and family. I expect that people will come home. There is a tradition of leaving and coming back."

About 15,000 of those who have left have found their way to Germany, he said, with a long-established community in Munich and a seemingly younger one in Berlin.

Many have at least a working knowledge of German, he said, and many Irish-German marriages had also helped make for well-integrated new members of German society.

"Irish expats here are not always fluent, but in general Irish people integrate well," he said.

"The majority of people who come here are already well educated and don't have much difficulty acquiring German language skills. It may be that some are working in environments where they can manage just with English. But I think most people are trying to improve their German."

Important to learn German

He encouraged his countrymen to learn the language, as Germany was Ireland's most important eurozone partner.

"Having the language is an asset in Ireland, yet the first foreign language generally learned in our schools is French, I think about three times as often as German. The amount of German being learned in Ireland is increasing though - although it is difficult for schools to change their areas of expertise."

As one of those Irish expats, albeit in the cushioned environment of the ambassadorial job, Mulhall said he loved being in Germany for four reasons.

"I love Berlin, it is an exciting city with the feeling that it is still developing. It is not finished yet. There is lots to do, and lots to see without it being a metropolis.

"I also love the variety in Germany, which is possibly not something seen from the outside so much. There are so many strong regional identities.

"Thirdly working here is great for me - over the last four years since I got here Germany has become a more important player in the EU and the world. For a diplomat it is fascinating to be here and to see this process.

"Germany is more important for Ireland too - it is our fourth biggest export partner, our second most important export market for services, and the second biggest inward investor. We expect some 500,000 Germans to visit Ireland this year.

"Lastly, I like Germans. People are straightforward here. As a foreigner you can access Germany pretty easily. If you ask a question you will get a clear answer. That's important if you want to get to know a country. That last thing you want is to be caught up in a cocoon that you cannot break out of," he said.

"Germans may be reserved but when you talk to them you will get a fairly clear picture of things which is very refreshing."

Hannah Cleaver

hannah.cleaver@thelocal.com

twitter.com/hannahcleaver2

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

12:34 March 15, 2013 by royp
He is probably wrong about everything in this article

1. The industrial revolution was started by Scotish Engineers in the UK, Ireland was part of the UK at that time and Irish cities were involved at the get go, especially for ship building.

2. The German industrial revolution was created mostly by irish business men, who used uk industrial technology for mining, and applied it to coal and steal mining in the ruhr pot area, the first borse, and idustrialized mines etc were by Irish surveyor Mulvaney, this is why the football teams in the ruhrpot have irish colours and songs etc, because of their link to these Irish created companies.

3. Current irish emigration is to mainly Australia & Canada, it is very unlikely that many of these people will ever come back, as they have moved their complete families.

4.Also the new EU rules on residency rights for welfare and benefits, means that this is determined by the previous 3 years so those who leave a country and work in another country will loose all rights to health or welfare after 2 years, so by far more likely to stay in new country, even if you loose job, as there will be no entitlement to healthcare or welfare back home.

5. New research shows that Ireland is the most internationalized western country, in every measureable standard, so why return, to work for an American corporation, in Dublin, drink coffeee in starbucks eat in an American theme restaurant, shop in a UK shopping martket chain, or buy clothes in either an American or Uk chain, watch American tv, go on holiday to continental Europe? there is nothing irish left in Ireland anyway, it is international land like Dubai, Frankfut or Singapore.
14:57 March 15, 2013 by Navigator_B
Any Irish emigrant who returns to Ireland will have to spend the rest of his or her working life repaying debts of private banks that the Irish state has been forced to take on. Last month the Irish government did a deal to repay €30 billion plus interest over the next forty years for the debts of just one bank (Anglo Irish). Of course the government thought this was a fantastic deal because they will nearly all be dead from old age when today's young people will still be paying for it.

The Irish economy is not doing as well as the figures quoted by the ambassador might suggest because the growth in GDP includes the exports of foreign multinationals who include Ireland's top five exporters, led by Google and Microsoft. These companies produce very little in Ireland but they make use of its low corporation tax to export their products and services (and profits!). If economic growth is measured more realisticaly by excluding these foreign exporters, GNP (not GDP) fell by 2.5% in 2011, the latest full year that figures are available for.  
21:21 March 20, 2013 by strahlungsamt
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
12:13 March 21, 2013 by Istabraq
@trahlungsamt

let me know when you see some 1€ Ryanair tickets. I haven't seen any of those in years. At least not from and to Berlin.
Today's headlines
Forest tragedy as best man kills groom-to-be
File photo: DPA

Forest tragedy as best man kills groom-to-be

A family outing turned into tragedy on Monday, when a best man in Thuringia accidentally killed the groom-to-be just days before his wedding. READ  

Slash CO2 emissions to save oceans: scientists
A humpback whale breaching. Photo: Wwelles14/Wikimedia Commons

Slash CO2 emissions to save oceans: scientists

German scientists said on Monday that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions must begin falling immediately if mankind is to have any hope of preserving Earth's oceans as we know them today. READ  

Weekend heatwave to follow Tuesday showers
Sun shining through an apple tree in Düsseldorf. Photo: DPA

Weekend heatwave to follow Tuesday showers

Germany can expect a cooler Tuesday with heavy showers in the west of the country before returning to high summer conditions over the weekend, the German Weather service said. READ  

Merkel's office hunted journalists' sources
Photo: DPA

Merkel's office hunted journalists' sources

The scandal around an investigation into journalists reporting on classified information deepened on Tuesday as new information showed that officials from the Chancellery and the Interior Ministry tried to uncover reporters' sources. READ  

'Hot Boy from Germany' wins Vietnam Idol
Image: Fremantle Media/YouTube

'Hot Boy from Germany' wins Vietnam Idol

A 22-year-old from Hanover has become the latest winner of Vietnam Idol – bagging $27,000 along with his new title. READ  

Man promises to stop coffin naps in public
If you want to rest in place while you're still alive, a car park isn't the place place to choose. Photo: DPA

Man promises to stop coffin naps in public

When a man walking his dog alerted police to the fact that a black coffin was lying in the middle of a public parking place, the cops were surprised to find someone inside. READ  

Court orders boss to pay worker for changing
Photo: Pixabay

Court orders boss to pay worker for changing

A mechanic from western Germany is set to receive €350 in back payments – after claiming he should be paid for the time he spent showering and getting dressed for work. READ  

In Pictures
Wacken festival draws metalheads of the world
A reveler at Wacken Open Air 2015. Photo: DPA

Wacken festival draws metalheads of the world

Armies of black-clad fans gathered for the world's biggest heavy metal festival between Thursday and Saturday, marking 25 years of headbanging fun in the small town of Wacken in northern Germany. READ  

Railway sunbather brings trains to a halt
Photo: DPA

Railway sunbather brings trains to a halt

A plucky sunbather brought train services in North Rhine-Westphalia to an abrupt halt at the weekend - after deciding to catch some rays on the tracks. READ  

Spiegel: Merkel wants fourth term in power
Angela Merkel. Photo: DPA

Spiegel: Merkel wants fourth term in power

According to Germany's most influential political magazine, Spiegel, Angela Merkel has decided to run for a fourth term in power and has already started talks on who will run her campaign. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Business & Money
Start-up helps new Berliners short cut bureaucracy
National
The 1,000s of Germans massacred after the Second World War
Sport
Germany star scores own goal with PR gaffe
Features
'Women-only' parking: sensible or sexist?
Politics
Satire and reality blur in parody party's strife
National
13-year-old boy detained for trying to join Isis
Culture
Berlin restaurant serves up Greek Crisis Menu
Rhineland
Doctor on trial after woman wakes in morgue
Society
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Sponsored Article
Outsourcing drives Apreel's Europe growth
Society
Police bust kinky Bavarian couple over painful love-making
Politics
Merkel brings Palestinian girl to tears
Hamburg
Amateur archaeologist finds Nazi gold hoard
National
Could Merkel learn a lesson in love from this doppelganger?
Travel
Why you should stay in Germany for the summer holidays
Sport
German press tell Schweinsteiger 'good riddance'
National
Hamburg gets a bouncing 100kg baby girl
Society
In North Germany, money sometimes DOES grow on trees
National
Hero mechanics stop Bavaria shooting spree
International
Denmark says that border controls are coming
National
Did hackers take control of German missile battery?
Politics
Munich gives gay pride green light
Business & Money
Berlin rent controls hit prices hard
National
Fighting to breastfeed in public without shame
Society
Ice cream for dogs 'gobbled up in one gulp'
Education
Are hotpants a feminist issue?
Rhineland
Lion cub reunited with mother
National
How the heatwave is cracking Germany's Autobahns
International
Why the French are more sympathetic to Greece than the Germans
Sponsored Article
Crans-Montana: International expat hub
Gallery
Police seize pensioner's WW2 heavy weapons haul
National
How to survive the Europe-wide heatwave
Sport
Is Schweini already out of the door at Bayern?
Politics
How German media shaped the Greece crisis
National
Car assembly robot crushes worker at Volkswagen
Rhineland
Weathermen red-faced over heatwave snow warning
Society
An eye for an eye? Mum protects child in playground with pepperspray
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's final day in Germany
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's second day in Germany
National
Queen Elizabeth II's first day in Germany - as it happened
National
Bus passengers tell fake racists where to get off
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

7,099
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd