37th Annual MacGill Summer School & Arts Week
Sunday July 16th – Friday July 21st
GLOBAL TURBULENCE AND UNCERTAINTY
IRELAND AND EUROPE MUST PREPARE FOR A NEW ERA
SUNDAY JULY 16th:
8.00 pm: OFFICIAL OPENING OF 37th ANNUAL MACGILL SUMMER SCHOOL
17th ANNUAL JOHN HUME LECTURE
to be delivered by
Simon Coveney TD
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade
Recital of Music by Debussy, Chopin and Beethoven
by the distinguished Donegal pianist
Winner of the Brennan Prize at the 2012 Dublin International Piano Competition
MONDAY JULY 17th:
11.00 am: BREXIT: THE CERTAINTIES, THE UNCERTAINTIES AND THE UNKNOWN?
On his final trip to Europe, President Barack Obama said that the EU was “the finest human achievement of the 20th century.” In saying this, he showed a better appreciation of European history since the Second World War than some European leaders and many of its citizens. The EU was created and built out of the ashes of two world wars to become a community of 28 nations, including several leaving behind 50 years of totalitarian rule, thus bringing peace, stability, prosperity and social progress to a devastated and demoralised continent. This has not dissuaded the majority of the British electorate from leaving the EU, a decision viewed by all who hold Great Britain in high regard as an act of enormous self-harm, not to mention the potential for damaging consequences to the 27 countries remaining in the Union, and most especially Ireland. It is hard to think of any political decision of such local, European and geopolitical import that has been carried along on such flimsy reasoning. When challenged to say what Brexit means, what does it involve, what will the benefits be and the price, a year on from the fateful decision the Prime Minister, Teresa May continues to utter the platitude “Brexit means Brexit”. As recently as a few weeks ago, negotiators in Brussels were quoted as saying “the British don’t know what they want”. As a result of this massively disruptive decision, we are now facing into several years of negotiations and transitional arrangements that will last even longer, a situation that is riddled with uncertainties. Attempts to distinguish between a ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ Brexit add little to our capacity to predict and plan for the fall-out, which will impact almost every aspect of Irish life, political, economic, social and security. As we face into these unchartered waters it is imperative that we map out the certainties, such as they are, and especially the uncertainties, and what for the moment are the entirely unknowns. We must hope for the best and plan for the worst. Ireland has faced fewer greater challenges in our 100-year history as a sovereign nation.
Pat Cox, former President of the European Parliament, former President European Movement International
Marian Harkin MEP
Dr Brendan Halligan, President of the Institute of International & European Affairs, former Senator, former Gen. Sec, the Labour Party
Alan Dukes, Economist, former leader, Fine Gael, former Minister for Finance
Moderator: Ruairí Quinn, Chair, Institute of European & International Affairs, former Minister, former leader Labour Party
4.00 pm: RESPONDING TO THE SECURITY THREATS AGAINST EUROPE, ITS DEMOCRACIES AND ITS CITIZENS
Security has become one of the major issues of our time and one of the greatest concerns for political leaders and those charged with protecting the citizens. As recent murderous terrorist attacks have shown, the member states of the European Union are particularly vulnerable and especially those which have been involved in the ongoing war against Islamic State which remains a dangerous and lethal threat to democracies everywhere. The EU Commission has recognised the need for more and better co-operation between member states in the fight against terrorist and criminal gangs and particularly between national security services. This has led to the setting up of the Security Union. However, another threat is also causing much concern. This is the threat represented by online terrorism in the form of cyber attacks. As we know, computers are at the heart of all business, public services and government institutions, in fact, of practically every activity of modern life. The capacity that now exists for individuals, organisations or nation states, for whatever reasons, to cripple computer information systems and networks and even influence the outcome of democratic elections from an anonymous source has, as we have seen recently, frightening implications for our way of life.
Sir Julian King, EU Commissioner for the Security Union
Ben Tonra, Jean Monnet Prof of European Security & Defence Policy, UCD
Michael C. Murphy, Security Analyst, former Senior Intelligence Officer, Defence Forces
Moderator: Lucinda Creighton, former Minister of State for European Affairs
8.30 pm: IN AN EU WITHOUT BRITAIN, IRELAND CAN AND MUST PLAY A FULL PART AT THE CENTRE OF THE UNION
Ireland has benefitted greatly from EU membership since our accession in 1973 – not just economically but socially and culturally as well. Our laws in various domains have been influenced by European policies and its judicial institutions and perhaps most importantly, we have grown in respect for our own history, culture and identity. We have matured as a nation and the experience of sitting at and presiding over the meetings of the various institutions and legislative bodies of the European Union as equal partners with the other member States, including the United Kingdom, has been very important in our development as an independent nation. Whilst we now generally perceive ourselves to be in favour of the European project, this attachment is sometimes interpreted as superficial and liable to change if circumstances warranted it. Several referenda have, for whatever the reasons, indicated that our understanding of and enthusiasm for the concept of a united Europe was less than whole-hearted. Soon, for the first time, we will be in the European Union without Britain. We will need support and understanding from the EU but in return there is room for us to play a greater part in its affairs and not limited only to those issues that concern us directly. In those times when we have occupied the presidency of the Union, we have done so with ease and effectiveness and our diplomats have shown how skilful they are. It was Garret Fitzgerald who showed the way by his enthusiasm for the European project and his belief in putting into it as well as taking out.
Pat Cox, former President of the European Parliament, former President European Movement International
Seán Donlon, former diplomat, UL Chancellor, board member of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, chairman of the Press Council of Ireland
Dr Brendan Halligan, President of the Institute of International & European Affairs, former Senator, former Gen. Sec, the Labour Party
Moderator: Prof Brigid Laffan, Director of Schumann Institute, European University Institute (EUI), Florence
TUESDAY JULY 18th:
11.00 am: THE URGENT NEED FOR REAL NEW POLITICS AND STRONG, EFFECTIVE AND FOCUSED GOVERNMENT
We are going into a new era with new challenges and we need a strong democracy with good governance. Throughout Europe, swings towards right wing xenophobic nationalism and even totalitarian rule have occurred. There is a sense that traditional politics as we have known them are no longer suited to the problems of the 21st century and populism has taken hold and could in time become a major problem for all of us. This disenchantment with the political elite and with “the system” is particularly strong among the younger generation. So far, we have in Ireland escaped this malaise although our levels of disaffection for politics and politicians are extremely high. This has grown in recent times with what is seen as the paralysis of government and administration, and the failure to deal adequately with major issues such as Irish Water, An Garda Síochána etc and the incompetence revealed by the botched Sean Fitzpatrick trial etc etc. In the post-Brexit situation and in an increasingly challenging environment, such failure cannot continue. We need good government and genuine “new politics” is called for with new standards of honesty, effectiveness and accountability. Playing politics and short-term decisions for political expediency will land us in serious trouble.
Moderator: Mark Hennessy, News Editor, Irish Times
2.30 pm: COPING WITH BREXIT: IS OUR INFRASTRUCTURE FIT FOR PURPOSE?
Fortunately, Brexit has some positives for Ireland, relocation of financial and business institutions to this country being the principal one. Depending on the scale of it, this will put more pressure on our infrastructure than already exists. Our lack of long-term planning combined with the ravages of the recent recession are, as a result of our recovery, now catching up with us and present us with a serious challenge. Our infrastructure is already creaking and plans for it are inadequate. We hear much about pay cuts during the recession: it is true that the public pay bill declined by about 13.5%. However, during this period, investment in vital infrastructure fell by 64.3% and it needs to be restored in the context of other current demands on the public purse. Infrastructural deficits are in evidence everywhere: water, schools, broadband, housing, health and public transport. If we are to attract jobs from the UK and elsewhere in the areas of banking, insurance and legal services etc, investment in infrastructure has to be a priority.
Moderator: Samantha McCaughren, Business Editor, Sunday Independent
4.00 pm: THE GROWING DISAFFECTION FOR THE EUROPEAN PROJECT: HOW TO RISE TO THE CHALLENGE?
Throughout the EU there is growing public disaffection for “Brussels” and threats from extreme Right parties in particular to follow the example of the UK should they come to power. After 20 years of rumbling about the so-called “democratic deficit” and other misinformed negative commentary, these rumblings have now reached a crescendo of openly hostile, anti-EU protest that poses a threat to the very existence of the Union with very little defence of the European project, that is until Emmanuel Macron made it one of the themes of his presidential campaign. The Euro sceptics have been bolstered by the fallout from a decade of austerity which is still being felt in many parts of Europe with high rates of unemployment and little or no growth. This allied to the problems caused by large-scale immigration and the need to settle these immigrants has created an explosive situation in which fear and insecurity are easily exploitable. The slogan of Marine Le Pen during her election campaign, Nous sommes chez nous, or, This is our home, was intended to appeal to the instincts of people for whom the European ideal of solidarity and shared values is now anathema. Taking together with the remoteness of the EU administrative and political institutions and, it has to be said, inadequate visionary leadership, all of this has created problems which need to be addressed by the member states working in tandem with the institutions of the Union.
Prof Brigid Laffan, Director Schumann Institute, European University, Florence
Ruairí Quinn, Chair, Institute of European & Int. Affairs, former Minister, former leader Labour Party
Bill Emmott, Editor-in-Chief of The Economist, 1993-2006. His latest book is The Fate of the West (2017)
Moderator: Pat Cox, former President of the European Parliament, former President European Movement International
DUBLIN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE SESSION
8.30 pm: WITH DEVELOPMENTS IN THE USA AND THE UK, THE THREATS TO IRELAND’S ECONOMY HAVE INCREASED – HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND?
Our economy has made a remarkable recovery in a relatively short space of time and growth of 5% is forecast for this year and next. Jobs are being announced almost weekly and unemployment has dropped to an amazing 5%. It is hardly surprising that public sector unions feel that the time has come to get back to the remuneration they had before the recession. However, it goes without saying that Government will have to look at the bigger picture and to the internal and external threats to the overall economy. The national debt is still too high and €1.24 billion will have to be borrowed this year to cover current expenditure. Public services and vital infrastructure are crying out for investment. The exchequer returns earlier this year are also cause for concern, having shown revenues coming in at 2.4% lower than forecast which, if the trend was to continue, would reduce further the fiscal space. And on the horizon is Brexit. Where negotiations between the UK and the EU will lead us is anybody’s guess. It is almost inevitable that our economy will suffer, at least in the short term. Even more worrying is the thinking of the US President Donald Trump on trade and on US direct investment overseas. This was of the order of $340 billion last year and US companies employ about 150,000 people in this country. President Trump’s stated policy is that he wants to bring at least some of these companies back to the US. Caution then would appear to be an essential element of our economic policy.
Moderator: Sean Whelan, Economics Editor RTÉ, former Europe Editor
WEDNESDAY JULY 19th:
10.30 am:** LIFE IN THE BORDER COUNTIES POST-BREXIT – THE CHALLENGES?
Borders everywhere exact a price, ranging from minor inconvenience of identity checks to costly tariffs on cross-border trade, to smuggling and other kinds of criminal activity and, at worst, terrorist violence. The border between the two parts of Ireland has seen all these problems since the foundation of the State. Today, as a result of EU policies, this border no longer exists and as is well known in Donegal and in all border counties both in the North and South, people travel freely and unhindered by any controls and this applies to all lawful commercial activities. With the encouragement and help of the European Union, joint social and economic initiatives have been increasing for the benefit of those living and working in the North and the South. The genuine fear is, despite the reassurances of senior EU and UK and Irish leaders that all efforts will be made to avoid a “hard” border, there is much concern, particularly in the region most affected, that this will not be possible. If, of course, there was to be an agreement on free trade between the EU and the UK much of the problem would be solved although the UK opposition to freedom of movement which, following the recent terrorist atrocities, might have intensified, would be a considerable obstacle. In a period of such uncertainty, how do we prepare for whatever scenario emerges?
Pearse Doherty TD, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Finance
Colum Eastwood, leader of the SDLP
Dr Eoin Magennis, Senior Economist, Ulster University’s Economic Policy Centre
Paul MacFlynn, Senior Economist, Nevin Economic Research Institute N.I.
Moderator: Mary Coughlan, former Government Minister
** Please note earlier time
2.00 pm:** POPULISM – THE RESULT OF GROWING INEQUALITY OR A BREAKDOWN OF DEMOCRACY?
Disruption of the established political order all over the world is attributed to the rise of what is referred to as populism which is defined as: the quality of appealing to or being aimed at ordinary people. Whatever the definition, populism is deemed to have triggered extreme movements of the right and left, the emergence of dictatorial rule, the fragmentation of the political spectrum and decimation of long-established political parties as well as, of course, the vote for Brexit and the election of the current President of the US. It is not a new phenomenon and the best and most extreme example has to be the taking of power by the Nazi party in Germany in the 1930’s and the tragic consequences. Recently, we have witnessed in France the rise and rise of the Front National with its appeal to young unemployed, to those disaffected with politics of the Right and the Left and, above all, those who believe that the high levels of immigration are destroying French identity and society. The conditions that fuel populism in all cases are broadly based disillusion, anger and resentment at a growing inequality, loss of vital services and other deprivations that create a strong sense of injustice, fear of the future or a feeling of being left behind. Importantly, in most cases there is a real basis for these feelings of resentment towards ‘the elite’/traditional politics. However, populist parties and movements try and manipulate and intensify these emotions but promise solutions that are rarely, if ever, achievable. Street protests threaten to usurp the role of elected parliaments and reform of traditional politics is necessary to counteract this development and that of social media which enables, at no cost, massive reach with simplistic but potent messages that traditional media find impossible to counter.
Dr Niamh Hourigan, Dept of Sociology UCC
David Goodhart, journalist, author of: The Road to Somewhere – The Populist Revolt & the Future Of Politics
Pat Rabbitte, former leader of Labour Party, former Minister
Moderator: Prof Roy Greenslade, Prof of Journalism City University, London
** Please note earlier time
4.00pm: RESTORING TRUST AND CONFIDENCE IN AN GARDA SÍOCHÁNA – THE TIME FOR TALKING IS OVER
Reform of An Garda Síochána has featured several times in recent years at the MacGill School. In last year’s programme notes it was stated that: A sequence of investigations into An Garda Síochána, from Morris through Smithwick to most recently O’Higgins and their disturbing findings, together with revelations by whistle blowers, paint a picture of a police force in need of fundamental reform. The Garda Inspectorate reports have very authoritatively confirmed this fact. Most recently, the new Independent Policing Authority issued a trenchant critique of the management culture of An Garda Síochána and has made it clear that it wants to see results. At its first public review of the performance of An Garda Síochána by the new Policing Authority last January, Commissioner O’Sullivan was challenged to account for failure to implement hundreds of recommendations set out in eleven Garda Inspectorate reports over the previous 10 years. The Commissioner pointed to the 13-point reform plan published last year as evidence of serious intent to take action. In recent times, as many as 18 enquiries have been conducted or are still in progress into extremely serious Garda-related problems. More recently, we have had further controversy related to the whistleblowers as a result of which a tribunal has been set up under Supreme Court judge, Peter Charleton, as well as the revelation that the number of breath analyser tests carried out had been inflated by one million. The Policing Authority has held public hearings involving the Garda Commissioner who has also appeared before the Public Accounts Committee. In May a Commission on the Future of Policing was set up by the Minister for Justice. All of this is doing nothing for the rank and file Gardaí on whom the citizens depend, nor for the trust in which our police force has always been held. Action to give us a modern, professional highly trained and beyond reproach police force is now well overdue. What form should that action take? – that is the question.
Brendan Howlin TD, Leader of Labour Party
Kathleen O’Toole, Chair of Commission on the Future of Policing, former head of the Garda Inspectorate
Denis Bradley, columnist and political commentator, former Vice-Chair of the N.I. Police Authority
Pauline Shields, Deputy-Chief Inspector, Garda Inspectorate, former senior officer RUC and PSNI
Moderator: Conor Brady, Sunday Times columnist, former Editor of Irish Times, former member of GSOQ, author of The Guarding of Ireland – a History of An Garda Síochána
8.30 pm: PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE: A NEW RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE NORTH & SOUTH OF IRELAND IS NEEDED
Much progress has been made in recent years since the cessation of violence in Northern Ireland and the decommissioning of arms by the Provisional IRA to normalise life in the North itself and to establish good relations between North and South. However, years of violence have left deep scars and a great deal of hurt, suspicion, fear and anger in the North. Sectarianism and segregation remain facts of life there. It is true that power sharing has made a huge contribution to normalisation of society and to the building of trust, as has the work done by Dr Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness in particular. Now we have a new post-Brexit situation with the risk that the two parts of the island will once more be divided by a border making trade and commerce and life in general on this small island more difficult, and making essential co-operation in infrastructural projects and in socio/economic development more unlikely. Neither part of the island can afford to ignore this reality and irrespective of the Brexit talks and what emerges, efforts should begin now to see what new structures could facilitate bringing the two parts of the island closer together for the good of all the people of this island . This will not be achieved by talk of a united Ireland or border polls. What is still needed, as John Hume kept repeating, is a uniting, not of territory, but of hearts and minds. If the French and Germans were able to come together in the aftermath of the death and destruction of the Second World War to bring about the European Economic Community, surely it is possible for the people of this small island to follow their example.
Mary Lou McDonald TD, Vice-President, Sinn Féin
David Gavaghan, Chair, Confederation of British Industry N.I.
Dr Katy Hayward, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Queen’s University Belfast, and a Board member of the Centre for Cross Border Studies
Edwin Poots MLA, Northern Ireland Assembly DUP member for Lagan Valley, former Minister for Health and DUP chief negotiator at recent inter-party talks in N.I.
Joe McHugh TD, Government Chief Whip and Minister of State at the Department of Culture with responsibility for Gaeilge, Gaeltacht and the Islands.
Moderator: Denis Bradley, columnist and political commentator, former Vice-Chair of the N.I. Police Authority
THIS DAY’S PROCEEDINGS ARE PRESENTED COURTESY OF ALLIED IRISH BANKS
THURSDAY JULY 20th:
11.00 am LITERARY GLENTIES: a tour of places associated with PATRICK MacGILL and BRIAN FRIEL, guided by Joe Mulholland
2.30 pm: MUSICAL INTERLUDE with pianists James O’Malley and Evin McGarrigle
Music will include Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue
4.00 pm STRATEGIC PLANNING FOR THIS COUNTRY IS MORE VITAL THAN EVER
If we are to meet the needs of a fast-changing Ireland and continue to grow our economy, we need to plan a lot more. Our population, now at 4.7 million continues to rise with more demands on all services including health, education and, of course, as we are now witnessing, housing which is in crisis. With a gradual ageing of the population, we have a growing dependency ratio with all that it implies for the future. The fact that the country is beset with huge problems to do with the provision of services and inadequate infrastructure is due to some extent to shortage of funds as well as to the emphasis in the economy on reducing taxes. However, it has more to do with the short-termism and improvisation that are so embedded in our political culture. It is not that long ago since the government was giving away billions of euros in the form of SSIAs and conceding wage increases that were a multiple of the rate of inflation while, at the same time, social housing, broadband, water treatment systems, provision of childcare services, nursing homes etc were starved of investment. Several attempts at long-range spatial planning were abandoned in favour of short-term vote-catching fiascos like decentralisation. On top of all of this, we lost our competitiveness and brought about a property bubble-encouraged by the electorate which, in turn, took the brunt of the punishment. We cannot any longer put up with planning cycles that correspond to the electoral cycle. Without adequate capital investment in the future, in our education, in broadband, in climate change, in housing, in technology, our economy will not cope with the myriad of threats which confront us in the longer-term.
Moderator: Dr Eddie Molloy, Management Consultant
8.30 pm: OUR DYSFUNCTIONAL HEALTH SERVICE – ARE WE ABOUT TO FIND THE REMEDY?
It is no exaggeration to say that our health crisis is still in crisis. Waiting lists are getting longer. At least one in eight of the population is waiting more than a year to see a consultant. Overcrowding in emergency departments is also worse than ever. The mid-Winter surge in numbers on A&E trolleys are now almost as predictable as Christmas itself. Children must endure severe pain, physical and mental for years awaiting treatment. HIQA and investigative reports expose a catalogue of shameful failures for which no one ever appears to be accountable. Meanwhile, population growth including an ageing demographic section place increasing demands on already overstretched services. All of this in spite of the fact that Ireland is high among the largest spenders on health in the European Union and the budget allocated to it keeps growing. The main reason for this crisis, in fact, has been the politicisation of the health service resulting in the public good being sacrificed for vested interests and short-term local gain. Yet another effort has been made by the present government to depoliticise the health service with the setting up of the cross-party Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Healthcare chaired by Roisín Shortall TD. Its purpose is to seek a broad political and informed consensus on a comprehensive vision of our health service-structures, funding, culture, staffing, management and governance. Its report was submitted to government in May.
Dr Rhona Mahony, Master of National Maternity Hospital
Roisín Shorthall TD, Chair All-Party Committee on Health
Susan Mitchell, Health Editor, Sunday Business Post
Tony O’Brien, Director-General, Health Service Executive
Moderator: Dr Donal De Buitleir, Chair, Publicpolicy.ie, former member, Health Service Executive
FRIDAY, JULY 21st:
THE PUBLICPOLICY.IE SESSION
11.00 am HOW MUCH FISCAL SPACE DO WE HAVE AND HOW SHOULD WE USE IT?
The industrial action, last year, by the Luas train drivers in pursuit of a considerably high wage hike followed by the threat of a controversial Garda strike in November which cost the Exchequer €50 million, ignited discontent across the public sector. It also signalled the end of pay restraint and the demand to return to the wage levels of 2007 when, in fact, they were unsustainable even then as were house prices and government spending in general. Furthermore, our lack of competitiveness was pricing us out of the market-place. The latest public service pay agreement, concluded several months in advance of the October budget, limits the Government’s capacity to address many other pressing needs, including reduction of the still huge national debt, restoration of severely depleted essential services and investment in infrastructure that is so crucial to maintaining economic progress. It has been pointed out, particularly by the trade union-backed Nevin Institute, that the best way to put more money back into people’s pockets is to restore our public services. Another boom-and-bust cycle is certainly not in the interest of anyone but in particular of those who depend on the public purse, especially in such an unstable and unpredictable environment.
Prof Peter Clinch, Chair National Competitiveness Council, Prof of Public Policy UCD
Sheila Nunan, Gen Sec, Irish National Teachers’ Organisation, President ICTU
Stephen Kinsella, Senior Lecturer in Economics, Kemmy Business School, Univ of Limerick
Moderator: Ingrid Miley, Industrial Affairs Editor RTÉ
2.30 pm: Musical Interlude with pianists James O’Malley and Evin McGarrigle
4.00 pm: THE FAILURE OF GOVERNANCE AT ALL LEVELS AND ACROSS ALL SECTORS OF PUBLIC LIFE: IS MORE ENQUIRIES TO BE THE RESPONSE?
Over several decades now, public life in Ireland has been dominated by tribunals, commissions and enquiries, some of which have caught the public imagination, not for what they have achieved but for the length of time their proceedings lasted and for the level of costs, mainly legal, which they have incurred. Many of the findings of these bodies have never been implemented and can presumably be located in the archives of government departments and various institutions gathering dust. Occasionally, an investigation has resulted in reforms of our systems of governance but frequently, usually for reasons of political expediency, the can is kicked down the road, solutions are fudged and the deficiencies remain and have to be revisited. Never is anyone held accountable. The widespread failures of our home-grown systems of governance have been highlighted at all levels and across all sectors of public life in this country for decades; the economy, services such as water, healthcare, childcare, An Garda Síochána, the voluntary sector etc. We have recently witnessed the dramatic outcome of the botched trial of the former banker, Sean Fitzpatrick as yet one more example of incompetence. Accountability and a “the buck stops here” mentality appear to be totally absent from our governance. The former head of HIQA, Dr Tracey Cooper, remarked on leaving Ireland in 2014: “whenever something goes wrong, nothing seems to happen. You have not yet cracked accountability.”
Dr Eddie Molloy, Management Consultant
Dr Elaine Byrne, barrister and columnist, author of Political Corruption in Ireland 1922-2010
Catherine Connolly TD, Independent
Gerard Howlin, columnist and public affairs consultant
Moderator: Dr Don Thornhill, former Sec Gen Dept of Education & Science, former Head of HEA
8.30 pm: THE WIND IS IN OUR SAILS BUT A NEW LONG-TERM VISION AND PLAN IS REQUIRED
Last year, the anniversary of 1916 prompted soul-searching and reflection on our journey as a nation and re-setting our aspirations for the future. Today, we face levels of uncertainty, unforeseen a mere twelve months ago, and corresponding risks to our economic well-being, national security and social cohesion. However, in the first decades of a new post-1916 millennium we are also in a new era-socially, economically and politically and have much to celebrate. On the one hand, there is the excellent work being done by the government and public servants in representing Ireland’s interest in Europe, particularly in relation to Brexit. There is impressive economic growth reflected in a sharp drop in unemployment and significant progress in rebuilding the capacity of the public service. But, on the other hand, we see rampant short-termism and even incompetence and failure to deal effectively with problems that have been around for years and are still unresolved. We see, not “new” politics but the politics we have known for years which are no longer relevant and inimical to the national interest. In the choppy seas in which we find ourselves, inadequate leadership and governance will sink us. We are in a new place: we will soon be in the European Union without Britain and which, in economic, political and social terms, will be a shock to our whole system. We can and will adjust to this new reality but not without pain and certainly not without wise and skilful management and adjustment. The situation in Northern Ireland and between North and South will require new approaches, a new vision and strong and skilful leadership. Our relationship with the US, which has been traditionally close, will to some extent change and we need to develop alliances, not only with our partner-states in the EU but with democracies with similar interests and outlook everywhere. These are exciting but difficult times for this small country and we have attracted the attention of the world for all the best reasons. But now is also the time when we need effective and imaginative governance into the future.
Without the help of our donors, organising this, the 37th Annual MacGill School would not be possible and we express our profound gratitude to them.
Donegal County Council
Allied Irish Banks
European Commission Office in Dublin
Raidió Teilifís Éireann
Dublin Chamber of Commerce
Donegal Local Development Company
Titanic Quarter Belfast