The last instalment of my Writing about Ireland tips will focus on the part of Ireland I know best, the Republic. This is the part of Ireland that comes to mind for most people when they think about Ireland. Dublin, cobblestoned streets, Trinity College, Oscar Wilde, Yeats, Guinness, Temple Bar, stag weekends, shamrocks, St. Patrick's Day, Catholicism, dancers who never move their arms - we've got it all.
And a bit more besides.
We're in the grip of a pretty awful recession, deepened by the reckless actions of our banks and the Bank Guarantee Scheme, where the State assumed responsibility for all banking debt, which they seem to be determined to pay for solely by depleting my paycheck :p Taxes are increasing, we're seeing cuts to public services (numbers of teachers for students with special needs, for example, are being reduced) and to state payments like pensions and social welfare, and unemployment is high.
'High' at the moment means circa 15%. I like to put a positive spin on it and think that employment is at 85%.
So things suck, but we're not Greece (yet!). There have been no serious protests. Some people feel we should be taking to the streets because the State and its people are paying dearly for mistakes made by private corporations, who are still giving payrises to their employees and paying themselves substantial bonuses. Personally I think that is pretty disgusting, and have been tempted more than once to knock on a few CEO's doors and ask for my cash back, but I'm not sure street protests are likely to help much.
We're seeing a lot of businesses closing - I know I'm making very conscious consumer choices these days, ensuring I give my business to companies that I especially want to support and not just buying from the closest outlet. There was a period just after Christmas where it seemed like a major retailer was closing every few days, but thankfully that has slowed.
That's how it looks from the streets.
There's a lot of anger towards our previous government, who signed the Bank Guarantee Scheme and budgeted recklessly during the boom years. There is anger towards our current government for not going far enough to reverse those things.
We do have a lot of cobblestones, though. And Guinness. And I have no idea why the dancers don't move their arms.
If you ever find yourself writing about Ireland and want to check things, please feel free to give me a shout - during November, I'm usually on the Nanowrimo forums offering help. And there's almost always a decent contigent of North Americans writing about us, which is very flattering!