29 December 2006

What a difference 30 years makes

As is usual at this time of year the press is carrying numerous stories relating to the opening of Cabinet papers from 1976. It is ironic to think that a previous Labour government was considering scrapping the Polaris fleet (the predecessor to Trident), albeit to help stave off financial meltdown.

The Irish State papers for 1976 are also opened today. One item in today’s Irish Independent shows how the Irish government’s finances were so stretched at the time that it could barely afford to pay fares for a visit by the Taoiseach to the US.

The US Government had agreed to pay the costs of an Irish delegation to attend St Patrick’s Day celebrations. The only thing not covered was the delegation's air fares. The cost the tickets was such an issue that the Government decided not afford to present a copy of 'The Orderly Book of General Burgoyne for the Saratoga Campaign' worth £5,000 as originally planned. A present worth just £160 was given instead and the rest was spent on the tickets.

Not much of a story perhaps and certainly not earth shattering but consider Ireland’s change in fortunes since then. Since the 80s Ireland has transformed itself into a vibrant and prosperous nation.

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