It's hard or impossible to make the following point without sounding like a xenophobe, angry young man, or just a plain ol' racist, but Irish companies' off-shoring of jobs to countries with cheaper wage bases like India was and isn't good for the country's economic future.
I've been thinking about this point over the last few days as I've been speaking to various Irish cellphone providers for support switching networks, and most of the voices speaking back to me have been calling from places like Pakistan and India.
I'm all for integration, multi-culturalism and a mixed multitude of people in Ireland, and these things can only be for the good of the country, but I think we have to ask ourselves the question whether it was necessary or good to move as many jobs overseas as we eventually did?
For companies, the dilemma is a pressing one. The combined effects of the Celtic Tiger and robust minimum wage legislation together led to what many Irish companies and overseas firms would see as unsustainably and unrealistically high wage levels, which in turn would hamper the bottom line. As a result, the companies moved their jobs to places like India where they could hire workers for less.
We have the Cork Jazz Festival going on in Cork at the moment, and it's wonderful to see the city awash with the sounds and sights of foreign accents. Less transiently, you'd be hard-pressed to argue that the influx of foreigners to Ireland has been without its benefits, and easier-pressed to say that it's been for the benefit of a country. Yet multi-culturalism shouldn't mean an abandonment of patriotism and I think we should do our best, particularly during the current recession, to hire our own workers if that's at all possible.
Allied Irish Banks, although hardly the Irish taxpayer's best friend at the moment, at least has its call centre based somewhere in Ireland. Yet try dialing up a hotline for support when your Blackberry, mobile internet, or something else technical has gone bust, and you'll have your call routed to somewhere in India.