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Lack of heavy-industry Ireland´s bliss?


THR

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Nov 15, 2006
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1,010
What are your thoughts? In the late 19th century when Ireland was still part of the UK, the English deliberately prevented any industrialisation from taking place in Southern-Ireland because they wanted to keep the Catholic part of the island as an economically disadvantaged backwater. In the meantime, the industrial revolution went on full speed in the north. In those days industrialisation meant success and prosperity.

However, in the changes of the structure of livelihood the service-sector started little by little to catch up with the industrial-sector. The past 20 years have really seen a complete change. The textile industry in Leicester and the steel industry in Sheffield moved to other countries. The shipbuilding industry in many coastal towns ceased to exist because the Koreans do it so much cheaper.

In the wake of these changes there are a lot of grim towns across the UK which have not really got over the change. Larger cities such as Manchester and Liverpool have been able to reinvent themselves but many smaller towns have become very desperate places.

Ireland has been in many respects lucky to avoid this stage altogether. There are no derelict factory-buildings spotting the country.Ireland has moved straight from the agricultural-economy to the service-based economy without the pain in between with the change of structure.

As I´m writing from Finland, here we have had for decades a very strong paper and pulp-industry which has provided most of the wealth of the country. Nokia is a relatively recent invention.Too many towns in Finland are far too dependant on the local paper-mill.

Paper and pulp-industry is a hopelessly sunset-industry anyway. There have been closures of paper-mills in this country. It was only last year that UPM closed down the Voikkaa paper-mill near where I used to live as a youngster. Fortunately, there have been new jobs created in the area which is the SE of Finland.

Yesterday StoraEnso anoounced the closure of two paper-mills in Finland. One of them is located in Kemijärvi in the far-north where the decision is considered a real death-blow to the already struggling town.

Everyone realises now that this is not the end of it. All the paper-mills will be closed within 10 years and production will be moved to China and South-America.

I can not think of any other blue-collar worker who would earn more than a factory-worker at a paper-mill. Therefore there is a lot of schadenfreude about considering the news as many of those workers will be left with nothing but huge debts for houses in towns where unemployment suddenly soears to 30-40% when the mills close. Who would buy a house in such a town.

However, set against the history, we are really undergoing some sort of period of transition. There will be new movers and shakers.
 

Ard-Taoiseach

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Aug 11, 2007
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746
Interesting...we do have an industiral base here in Ireland. Chemicals, software, pharmaceuticals, medical devices and others are here employing, exporting and expanding. However, we do not have the level of decline in our industrial base as others.
 
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905

Ireland moved from a primary economy (mostly farming) to a tertiary economy relatively easily, and with very little industrialisation in the middle. The EU had no small role in that, with the CAP.
Sorry to hear about your paper industry going down the crapper. Could ye move into a related niche sector, like environmentally friendly, eh, produced paper?
 

locke

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May 2, 2007
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In certain local areas industrialisation was common. Cork and Waterford cities saw pretty substantial industrialisation. One of the first causes of the economic differences between the northside and southside of Cork city was the presence of the tanning industry on the Northside. Anyone who could afford it would pay to live as far away from the tanneries as possible.

Textile mills were common. Around Cork, mills were to be found in Blackpool, Douglas, Donnybrook, Dripsey and Blarney. Gunpowder was made in Ballincollig. There was a brewing and distilling industry in the city and Midleton.

And that's before you start looking at the heacier industries of the twentieth century - boat-building, steel-milling, car making etc.

Certainly Southern Ireland wasn't like Lancashire, the Ruhr or Lorraine, but in individual areas industrialisation occured.

I also doubt that it was a deliberate British policy. More likely was the absence of significant natural resources - no coal or iron ore - meaning that industrialisation needed to be near the coast.
 
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905

Ireland never came close to the levels of industrialisation see elsewhere. We never developed an industrial culture, with class systems and major urbanisation as a result of industrialisation. We don't (outside Cork) have the levels of pollution left over.
 

THR

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Nov 15, 2006
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It must have ben something of a conscious choice to keep (Southern) Ireland out of the industrial revolution as NI has its fair share of industry. In the 19th century and the early 20th century people thought that industry would be around forever to provide the largest chunk of wealth.

As a result, Ireland today lacks the depressive towns where factories have been closed down and which have turned into very depressive places as a result because they have not been able to reinvent themselves.

In Britain larger cities such as Leicester(textile) and Sheffield(steel) have recovered but there are numerous smaller towns which are completely rundown.
 

Guinnesslad

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Sep 23, 2007
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25
I always thought that the service industry was rather fleeting though, which worried me as most countries would have heavy industry to fall back on.
 

Ren84

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Jan 14, 2011
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50,016
Apologies for the necrothread but with the recent discussion of Ireland's improving economy one thing we never attempted to rectify during the "boom" was the traditionally small to non existent industrial base in Ireland and coming up with a plan to try and grow this sector of the economy. Instead we poured time, money and energy into services, principally the high tech sector through encouraging foreign multinationals to invest in Ireland, something that was well meaning but unable to scale up to meet our employment needs, particularly when you consider very few are actually employed in a technical capacity compared to the claims.

The Silicon Docks area is part of Docklands and instead of a sometimes cited direct jobs total of 40,000, the number of tech professionals working in technology firms in the area may well be at about 7,000.

Hype and the tech world are handmaidens but there was silence when Elan, an indigenous biotech firm founded by an American resident in 1969, first became a shell operation and then it was sold off to an American white-label manufacturer - in 2001, Elan was the 20th most valuable drugs company in the world.

It was also extraordinary in 2006 when a new public science policy was announced and no lessons had been learned from the demise of the indigenous tech firms that had triggered high hopes in the 1990s. By 2008, IONA Technologies was sold off to an American firm of more recent vintage and today employment in the indigenous tech sector is about 10,000 - equivalent to the combined employment in the Irish operations of Apple, Intel and Google.

70% of Google Ireland's staff are from overseas;

Silicon Docks is a sexy story with the likes of Google and Facebook drawing attention - that is fine and the jobs are welcome but Patrick Honohan, the central bank governor, who is a former professor of economics, said in a speech [pdf] last March: "In the interests of robust diversification, most Irish economists observers would hope for a greater convergence towards normality in this aspect of Irish economic development, with a stronger emergence of innovative Irish companies alongside those steered from abroad."
Dublin's Silicon Docks: Separating hype and reality

That's the problem with Ireland's economy, it's grossly imbalanced in favour of low tax shell operations with minimal job creation in the country. Leading industry names in Ireland like Google hire mainly from non English speaking countries for language localisation staff.

If we are to have a truly sustainable economy we need to reduce the obsession we have with light industry, especially software and technology companies and build up our indigenous industrial base, with a particular emphasis on industrial development like steelworks, refineries, machine building, etc.
 

Analyzer

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Feb 14, 2011
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46,201
Ireland never came close to the levels of industrialisation see elsewhere. We never developed an industrial culture, with class systems and major urbanisation as a result of industrialisation. We don't (outside Cork) have the levels of pollution left over.
What about SECD and the rugger bugger network ?
 

dammit_im_mad

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Feb 3, 2013
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I do remember the asahi asbestos plant and the sugar factories etc.
and there's still that filthy aluminium plant in limerick.

don't worry, although we partially dodged one environmental bullet, fracking, GM crops, and large incinerators will get here and wreck the place soon enough. when we go looking for our next bailout money after the next crash, there will be lots more conditions attached. between that and TTIP we will be well screwed.
 

GDPR

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There was plenty of heavy industry in the North.

Ireland doesn't stop at Dundalk, you know.
 

Carlos Danger

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The present day costs of setting up steelworks, refineries and machine building are astronomical. Then there is the issue of sourcing materials, importing said materials, transporting them, and exporting the finished product.
 
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