In the context of Ireland’s austerity programme it is useful to comparatively examine what other countries have done to tackle the economic recession.
In sharp contrast to Ireland, the Dutch cabinet agreed last April to wait until 2011 until introducing public spending cutbacks. This was agreed by all social partners. The Dutch set aside €80bn to stabilise their banking system and invested €6bn into a variety of stimulus/support packages for the economy. These were aimed at labour market-education, infrastructure, sustainability-innovation and maintaining social benefits.
They have also maintained minimal level of wage increases (between 1-2%). You can read more about it here. You can also read about the ‘economic crisis team’ that was assembled last March. It included trade unions and employers and aimed at increased employment mobility and labour market modernisation.
The key difference is that there public finances are in better shape than ours. Why? They have a sustainable tax base and they did not have a big an asset price bubble as we did. But, they still have a deficit and still need to borrow.