Here is an article, Celtic Tiger roars again – but not for the poor (7 October 2004) | @achrisafis @guardian. Italicization, underlines, et al. are on our own.
Darren Dent surveyed the concrete walkways of Stella Gardens, the low-rise Dublin estate…
Stella Gardens is on the edge of Dublin 4, the capital’s best postcode and the heart of Ireland’s economic miracle. Here the Celtic Tiger boom of the 90s roared its loudest and Dublin’s newly rich stepped into the satin slippers of the old British colonial masters, taking over redbrick villas now worth millions.
A tiny cottage costs at least €300,000 (£210,000), coffee costs the same as New York and fast food is among the most expensive in the world at €6.50 for a burger at a greasy spoon.
“All this wealth is sitting in one corner and we are sitting in the other,” Mr Dent said of the boom which transformed the country over the past decade. “We feel excluded, we’re not part of this great rich image.”
Just as Ireland’s economic glory days appeared to be levelling out, a leading economist predicted the dawn of a new “golden period” this week, dubbed Celtic Tiger II: The Sequel.
Ireland, once one of the poorest countries in Europe, could become one of the richest in the EU, according to Dan McLaughlin, the chief economist at the Bank of Ireland. He said employment would rise by 50,000 a year and Ireland would have to lure workers from the EU’s latest members in eastern Europe.
This second round of economic expansion would create huge budget surpluses for Ireland. Businesses would continue to flood in: Google opened its first headquarters outside the US in Dublin yesterday.
… According to the UN the Irish are the richest people in the world after Norwegians and Luxembourgers. Dublin – where house price rises have left many with no hope of owning a home – is one of the most expensive cities in Europe.
But the gap between rich and poor has grown so much that the UN said recently Ireland had the highest levels of inequality of all western countries except the US. In spite of its new-found prosperity, Ireland has the highest proportion of people at risk of poverty in the EU. Some single parent families survive on less than €150 a week. Many say they can’t pay for their children to go to the doctor when they are sick.
The elderly, disabled and young are particularly at risk, while immigrants who arrived with the boom often live in appalling conditions. A European report released last week said one in five Irish people was classed as poor: taking home less than 60% of the average wage. The OECD puts the poverty level at about 15%.
Inequality remains the great taboo in a young state with a recent memory of the injustices of colonialism. The church, anti-poverty campaigners and local councillors have criticised the government for underspending on welfare, health and education. Some say the authorities refuse to accept the facts about poverty while the hedonistic rich enjoy high-spending lifestyles.
The ongoing tribunals into Ireland’s culture of backhanders in the 80s have left many fearful of political greed and corruption.
Newspapers question why spending on social welfare is so low when the government has ploughed more than €250m into horse and greyhound racing over the past four years.
Father Seán Healy, the director of the Conference of Religious of Ireland Justice Commission, which issued a report on poverty this week, urged the government to raise its spending on social provisions, health and education, which currently falls below EU norms, and to offer free healthcare for every child.
He said the government was listening to him, despite the former finance minister, Charlie McCreevy, saying he was “spouting rubbish”. The government says it has measures in place to combat poverty.
Father Healy said: “The per capita income is one of the highest in Europe. But there is a realisation that some people are getting left behind.”
Daithí Doolan, a Sinn Féin councillor in Dublin, said people came to him after being evicted from their homes which were knocked down to make way apartment complexes.
Mr Dent, who counsels addicts from Stella Gardens, said: “I see the same people coming in with the same problems … In the poor areas, history is repeating itself.”