Thursday, May 01, 2008

Fine job, one omission

I don't want to be begrudging. I thought Bertie did a decent job delivering his fine speech, although I was surprised Bertie didn't use a teleprompter. He touched all the right emotional buttons, made his points on immigration and US-EU relations and, mostly, thanked America for helping achieve peace in Ireland.

I don't have any real complaint about anything he said, but there was one point that I was surprised Bertie didn't make. The theme of his speech was that in the past, when Ireland needed help, America was there. Now all of that is behind us and a new relationship between the United States and Ireland, inside the EU, is being forged. All fine, excellent actually.

What surprised me is that Bertie didn't take the opportunity to include a little plug for free trade and free capital movement and how these flows in goods, services and investment were benefitting both America and Ireland. He should have told the audience that the number of Americans working for Irish companies is growing rapidly and is now at 80,000. That compares with 100,000 people people employed by American companies in Ireland. It will be good for both countries if those figures keep rising.

I can't understand why he left it out unless it was because he was afraid of upsetting the Obama camp, given Obama's fairly protectionist utterances during the campaign. It's a point that Dermot Ahern has made in the past and I think Bertie should have mentioned it again. I suspect had he included that little tidbit in his speech it would have been news to a large section of his audience. And, it would have emphasized that the new US-Ireland relationship is much more of a two-way street than it was in times past.

Otherwise, as I said, Bertie did a nice job.