Friday 31 August 2012

Patrick McGilligan TD

Statesman and Academic 

A snide reference to Patrick McGilligan by Brendan Keenan in the Irish Independent has prompted me to put some pertinent facts on my blog. McGilligan was one of the most brilliant of many outstanding people who helped to found our state and to serve it throughout it's formative decades.

Patrick McGilligan TD
He was born in Castlerock, Co. Derry in 1889 and he died in 1979 at Our Lady's Manor, Co. Dublin where he had been a patient for some years. The son of a former Parnellite Nationalist MP for South Armagh, he served as Minister for Industry and Commerce, Minister for External Affairs, Minister for Finance and Attorney General in successive governments. But his name will be forever linked with the building of the Ardnacrusha power scheme and the founding of the ESB.

In economic terms, the building of the Shannon Scheme and the establishment of the ESB was a major achievement. Attacked by every vested interest group, refused financing by the banks, scoffed at by the engineers and political opponents, McGilligan gave the country the essential prerequisite for later industrial development and put in place the first ever State body. While in London, he had met a young Irish engineer, Dr.Tommy McLaughlin, who then worked for the giant Siemens Schuckert firm and whose dream was to harness the waters of the River Shannon for the generation of electricity.

With Desmond Fitzgerald at the Imperial Conference in 1931, McGilligan secured agreement on the rights of Commonwealth States to be recognised as separate entities "in voluntary association". This enabled the Free State to order it's own constitutional destiny as it so wished. This is how the Treaty of 1922 was designed to work; move gradually, with agreement, towards the desired goal. The extremists wanted all or nothing—and always ended up with nothing. The change of government in 1932 brought a period of economic stagnation. Fianna Fail's attitude was to avoid involvement with other countries whether it was to our advantage or not. The cry "the English market is gone for ever, thank God" was nothing short of lunacy.

In his 16 years in opposition, McGilligan built up a strong legal practice. Eventually he was appointed Professor of Constitutional and International Law, Criminal Law and Procedure at UCD. He also read widely in economics and international finance and when the first inter-party government was formed in 1948, the Taoiseach, John A. Costello, appointed him Minister for Finance. During his tenure, Keynesian principals were introduced for the first time and McGilligan backed the economic changes proposed by Costello's advisers Patrick Lynch and Alexis Fitzgerald. Unfortunately, the Inter-Party government lost office too quickly in 1951 as a result of internal cabinet problems.When they returned to power in 1954, McGilligan was in frail health and was appointed Attorney-General. However the appointment of Gerard Sweetman as Minister for Finance was also an excellent one. Sweetman initiated a Programme of Economic Development and appointed Dr.Ken Whitaker, at the age of 40, as Secretary of the Dept. of Finance.

The introduction of Export Profits Tax Relief (EPTR), a forerunner of the low corporation tax introduced the following year, would shape industrial policy and overall development strategy for the next 50 years. The IDA had been set up by the first inter-party government, in the face of Fianna Fail opposition, to initiate proposals for the creation of industries and to attract foreign industrialists. The second coalition extended it's powers. Manufacturing exports, which had remained stagnant for years, grew by 18% in the year following the introduction of EPTR and doubled between 1956 and 1960. Manufacturing output and employment grew inexorably from 1957 onwards.

Much more could be written on the same theme. But I will finish with the observation that men of Patrick McGilligan's brilliance and achievement often attracted jealousy from those who were far less accomplished.

Monday 27 August 2012

Donegal Directness Pays Dividends

All-Ireland SFC Semi-Final:

Donegal 0-16; Cork 1-11

For a good number of years, Cork have had the best panel of gaelic footballers in the country. But they fail to achieve their potential. The problem is that when they get within 40 yards of their opponents goal, they engage in a "basket-ball style" ritual of circular passing. This enables the opposition to gather their forces to defend the goal, getting closer to the man in possession all the time. He is then forced to make a hurried pass which is most times lost; or a hurried kick, mostly wide or into the goalie's hands. The attitude should be to get the ball forward as fast as possible. Two players should support the player in possession with the others moving into space to take a pass, where appropriate, or to draw the backs. This action, when done swiftly, will put the defenders under pressure and enable the attacker to get closer to the goal and give him more space to have a shot.

Well done to Donegal. They played some very good stuff. However, if Mayo get to the final, my heart will be with them. It would bring back pleasant childhood memories. In my mind, I will hear again the great voice of Micheal O Heithir intoning the names Sean Wynne, John Forde and Sean Flanagan; and others like Dixon, Mongey, Carney, Mick Flanagan, Solan, Langan and the Mulderrigs. Sorry I omitted the great Paddy Prendergast from the full back position, which I have now rectified.

Monday 20 August 2012

Tipp Minors Show Craft and Skill

All-Ireland MHC Semi-Final:

Tipperary 2-16; Galway 1-14

Tipperary minor hurlers had a nice win over a highly rated Galway fifteen. They showed great skill in handling and striking. I liked the way they harried and blocked opponents when possession was lost. On the negative side, they seemed to take a doze at times; also over elaborate passing at other times. More concentration and 60 minutes of determination will see them over the line in the final. It would give me extra pleasure this year as the team is captained by fellow parishioner and fine young sportsman Bill Maher. Finally, if Galway had been playing anyone else yesterday I would have been backing them to the hilt because they always produce such skillful players when one considers that they have ploughed a lone furrow in the West since the G.A.A. was founded

Dark Day for Tipp Senior Hurlers

All-Ireland SHC Semi-Final:

Kilkenny 4-24; Tipperary 1-15

Tipperary suffered their heaviest defeat ever in an All-Ireland semi-final, or final, in Croke Park yesterday. The All-Ireland final of '64 was well avenged. I could throw in another one before I was born - Killarney 1937; remembered especially for the outstanding displays by the two greats from Carrick-on-Suir, Willie Wall and Jimmy Cooney - when Tipperary's victory margin was a point less than yesterday's defeat. The obsession to get the ball into the hand which has permeated through hurling for more than 30 years eminently suits certain counties - not Tipperary. If Tipperary's senior All-Ireland's are not to be even more sparse than they have been for the past 47 years, they will have to return to their traditional style of first time striking on the ground and in the air and avoid handling when ever possible. In the scrummages, the ball should be worked out to an alerted team mate, by hurley or boot, who should move it towards the opponents goal as quickly as possible thereby avoiding the mostly unproductive attempts to get the ball into the hand. There are times when it is more beneficial to handle the ball and place it to the best advantage of a team mate—a player's instinct will dictate when this should happen.

For hurling in general, the great skill of ground and air striking should be cultivated in players from a young age. This is not happening at present despite the fact that large amounts of cash are being apportioned to coaching. Referees should receive directions from Central Council as to how they should react when a player "pulls" on a ball and contact is made with an opponent accidentally in the process. They are making erratic decisions at present.

Monday 6 August 2012

Donegal Determination and Skill

All-Ireland SFC Quarter Final:

Donegal 1-12; Kerry 1-10

Donegal's victory over Kerry was based on tremendous physical fitness and presence; top class organization and skillful use of the ball. When they moved the ball forward at a fast pace—as they did on a few occasions—they got terrific scores. I do not think there would be much envy, anywhere, to a Donegal-Mayo final!

Bridge Too Far for Gallant Crew

All-Ireland MFC Quarter-Final:

Tipperary 1-8; Mayo 0-19

The defeat of the Tipperary minor footballers was a very sad moment for me. I believe that complacency was the main cause of this setback. No matter how hard a manager and selectors try to dispel such notions, it seeps into the players minds and the underdog is given the opportunity to capitalize. Having longed for football success at national level for more than sixty years, I want to say to every member of the panel of players, to the manager and his fellow selectors: "Thank you". I have witnessed many false dawns in the past but, with youth at the helm, I feel that on this occasion it will prove to be a springboard for future success. I would like to see young people with good football lineage filling key positions at board level.