I was watching the party leaders debates on TG4 last night (as Gaeilge!) and was struck by two things.
- The fetishization of Irish land that all of the major party leaders express (Sinn Fein was not represented – Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour were the only debaters) strikes me as very similar to the way that land was talked about during the famine. If only (leaders at both times said) Irish land could be maximized, the current economic problems would either go away or be largely mitigated. I can’t think of a time (and I’ll admit, my recall of early modern or even pre-1800 Irish history isn’t as good as it could be) when Ireland has reached this magical maximization of land use. I wonder if its not something that’s easy to invoke, because of its misty-far-off possibility.
- American tourism is another big key to saving the Irish economy. As an American, I don’t believe I’ve ever heard the actions of another country invoked as a significant column of any kind of reform. Perhaps immigration, but even then the American debate is about what Americans can do to defend the border, not what Americans can convince Mexicans and Other Dangerous People ™ from entering the country illegally.