\"\"

Hero-worshiping Obama is not the answer to Ireland's problems

\"\"

It seems everyone in Ireland is feeling great about themselves after the visit of President Obama yesterday. It was the ultimate feel‑good day, with the most powerful man on Earth and "coolest President ever" shaking hands, kissing babies and schmoozing with the Irish people for a few hours.

The President delivered a speech in front of tens of thousands at College Green in Dublin, a beautiful, mostly sun-drenched setting that looked spectacular yesterday. The speech itself, however, was pure cotton candy: tastes good, but when you try to swallow it there's nothing there. If you read it, rather than listen to it, you'll see what I mean.

Yesterday I said it would be "mostly feel-good platitudes and little else." Platitudes may be not quite right, but feel-good Irish-America boilerplate surely is. Yet, that hasn't stopped people describing the speech as "inspiring" and "electrifying."

If people were inspired that's great, but it was a transitory moment. The Obama-high will quickly pass. He won't be back until after he's out of office. He will be very little help to the people of Ireland, who are in the middle of the worst crisis since the early 1920s. He is, after all, the President of the United States. It's not his job to help Ireland.

Yet all over America - and in Canada and Australia and elsewhere - there are people who have a deep affection for Ireland, who can and will help Ireland. People of talent and experience. Creative, clear-thinking people who do actually understand Ireland, have ideas that could help the country and should be taken seriously when they say they want to help.

A week ago one of those people, former San Jose Mayor Tom McEnery offered a critical analysis of where Ireland is now and where we are heading. He also offered three concrete suggestions as to what we should do next.

McEnery's plan is to utilize the diaspora, don't "lose them in a jumble of compliments and forums." McEnery says we should put a successful Irish-American, like Intel's retired CEO Craig Barrett, in charge of Ireland's development agency. It's a fantastic idea.

The doors that are already opened to someone of Barrett's stature, the knowledge and experience he would bring to the table and the common language Barrett shares with the heads of those businesses we need to target for investment would be massive advantages for Ireland as it competes with other EU nations for American and other inward investment.

McEnery {photo} has other ideas on a global Irish entrepreneurs support system and a role for committed, successful Irish-Americans (and others) in the Irish legislature - a revised version of the current Seanad (Senate), the weaker upper house of the Irish parliament.

McEnery's call to action deserves attention, but I fear it has fallen on deaf ears. Such proposals are a challenge to those currently in positions of power here. They also represent a gamble for all, a leap of faith in those children and grandchildren whose stories were cheered yesterday.

The Obama visit was a fleeting moment. It's over and the problems here remain. McEnery is talking about something long-lasting, with the potential to generate work and wealth, to lift the Irish people, possibly save them the fate of another lost generation and to begin to build the broader, non-geographical linked-up Facebook Irish nation that will benefit those "away" and "at home."

Yesterday was a dream day in the middle of a long nightmare. Now as the dream fades the nightmare looms again. It's time to wake up, get to work and grab the helping hand being offered. It's long past time Ireland brought the diaspora on board to help steer the ship. Things could hardly be worse, but the talents and goodwill of the diaspora can lead to our best days.

{Photos from Google images and ITLG.org}

COMMENTS

Log in with your social accounts:

Or, log in with your IrishCentral account:

Forgot your password ?

Don't have an account yet? Register now !

Join IrishCentral with your social accounts:


Already have an account ?

For Newsletter Subscribers – Draw for 1 Prize on December 31st.

Prize: Your Piece of Ireland – a Square of Land in the heart of the Glens of Antrim, Ireland

More details here (or you can buy a little piece of Ireland directly): http://bit.ly/1zew9ox

Terms & Conditions

Or, sign up for an IrishCentral account below:

By clicking above you are indicating that you have read & agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy.


Make sure we gathered the correct information from you

By clicking above you are indicating that you have read & agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy.


You already have an account on IrishCentral! Please confirm you're the owner.


Our new policy requires our users to save a first and last name. Please update your account: