Monday, October 04, 2004

Why the EU sucks part 3

The Telegraph offers a lightweight discussion of rising prices in Ireland.

I can only confirm this by way of anecdotal evidence. I have visited my family in Ireland annually for the last 24 years, and I have definitely noticed the rise in prices since the Euro. Now they are pretty much identical to London. (I have experienced + my family in Italy tell a similar story.) This is a real shock to me because when I visit my family in the wild west of Clare I do not expect to pay London prices. For example, in county Cork (a bit posher than Clare I admit), I have seen main courses in restaurants for E20 and had a fairly good 4 course meal for E42 (wine + extras not included). For about E20 I can have a main course here, at one of the best restaurants in central London. To me, this says something is not quite right.
Perhaps I am being naive?
However, I am pleased Ireland is enjoying economic growth after its troubled history. Each time I visit, I notice the progress, and actually feel proud. Nearly every small town has some internet access and some towns, like Ennis, have really embraced IT. My family in Clare only got an indoor toilet towards the end of the 2oth century and still do not have central heating. Electricity was also a relatively recent development.
I am told stories of relatives who had emigrated to America returning home in the 1950s + 60s, who were shocked + upset at the living conditions of their Irish family.
This is of course what the charm of Ireland is for tourists - friendly, simple people with funny looking houses and customs, living in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. What is not seen is the grinding poverty and extreme social conservatism. I welcome any improvement in this respect.

Interesting stat from the story: This year a record 600,000 (out of a population of four million) have sought holidays abroad, leaving the home tourist industry in the doldrums.


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