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Recalling the Celtic Tiger

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Edited By Eamon Maher, Eugene O'Brien and Brian Lucey

This book looks at various effects, symptoms and consequences of the period in Irish culture known as the Celtic Tiger. It will trace the critical pathway from boom to bust – and up to the current beginnings of a similar, smaller boom – through events, personalities and products. The short entries offer a sense of the lived experience of this seismic period in contemporary Irish society.

While clearly not all aspects of the period could realistically be covered, the book does contain essential information about the central actors, events, themes, and economic trends, which are discussed in a readable and accessible manner. Each entry is linked to the overall Celtic Tiger phenomenon and its immediate aftermath.

The book also provides a comprehensive account of what happened in this period and will be a factual resource for anyone anxious to discover information on the areas most commonly connected to it. All entries are written by experts in the area. The contributors include broadcasters, economists, cultural theorists, sociologists, literary critics, journalists, politicians and writers, each of whom brings particular insights to some aspect of the Celtic Tiger.

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Harney, Mary (Martina Fitzgerald)

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Martina Fitzgerald

Harney, Mary

Mary Harney left the political stage in early 2011, when Ireland was in economic and political turmoil. She had spent the previous 14 years in government – a time that coincided with the three stages of the Celtic Tiger – its beginning, taming and brutal demise.

As leader of the Progressive Democrats (PDs), Harney first formed a coalition government with Bertie Ahern’s Fianna Fáil in 1997. She was appointed Tánaiste and Minister for Public Enterprise and Employment. Despite leading the smaller party in the coalition arrangement, Harney established a powerful alliance with her long-time friend and political ally, Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy. Together they championed a low-tax agenda to drive economic growth.

Giveaway budgets became the policy norm. The PDs were not slow in taking credit for driving income tax cuts, halving capital gains tax, increasing the state pension and reducing unemployment. Harney’s party gained seats in the 2002 general election and willingly agreed to continue their coalition deal with Fianna Fáil. Despite promises to the contrary during the 2002 campaign, it emerged afterwards that spending cuts were being proposed by McCreevy to counter higher than expected public expenditure and a slow-down in tax revenue.

McCreevy eventually departed to become Ireland’s EU Commissioner. At that time in 2004, Harney voluntarily became Minister for Health – a decision that moved the PDs away from their traditional association with economic matters. While Harney talked about reforming the health...

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