What Kind Of Government Do We Need?

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IRELAND - CIRCA 1969: A stamp printed in Ireland issued for the 50th anniversary of Dail Eireann (government) (1st National Parliament) shows Dail Eireann Assembly, circa 1969.

An opinion piece in this weekend’s Sunday Business Post called for more Irish businesses to make their voices heard when it comes to Irish politics and government. It’s an interesting “call to arms” and prior to reading it I had been mulling over the results of this general election and how it could potentially impact business.

There are two topics that you’re warned to avoid discussing: religion and politics.

In Ireland both topics are always quite contentious. I personally have opinions on both. Anyone who knows me would know that I generally have an opinion on most things! But when it comes to business I need to set those aside. Ultimately, as a business, we can never be seen to be aligned with any particular political party or religious grouping. Over the past 12+ years we’ve done business with pretty much every political party in Ireland. It’s business. As long as our clients don’t break the law or our terms of service, we’re happy to do business with pretty much everyone.

Last year during the marriage equality debate I broke that rule (sort of). I personally took a very clear public stance on the debate. Not only that, but we as a company made it very clear where we stood. Unsurprisingly we upset a number of our clients, but we also found that a much larger number of our clients were vocally supportive of us taking this stance.

But that wasn’t about political parties or ideologies. It was about people and society. The society we live in and how we can help, in our own little way, to shape it.

As a business we exist in society. We have staff, we have clients, we have suppliers. Each and every one of those groups is made of people with feelings, emotions and a personal life experience.

So what kind of government do we want?

First off let’s be clear. Neither personally, nor as a business owner do I really care which party or parties end up in government. What does matter, however, is what that government does (or doesn’t) do and how it impacts businesses and our staff.

Ireland needs a stable government, but above all our elected officials need to put aside their differences and form a government as quickly as possible. Failure to form government quickly or any hint of instability will hurt us all.

Indigenous Irish businesses are the backbone of the Irish economy, but more often than not we feel that our government is more interested in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) than nurturing us. Unlike a multinational, an Irish owned and run company has a strong link with this country. We aren’t going to pack up our bags and move overnight. Yet time and again we see successive governments fiscal policies catering towards the big multinationals. Meanwhile small Irish owned and run businesses are paying more and more tax yet getting very little assistance.

Penalising entrepreneurs is bad for the country. I’ve no issue with those of us on higher salaries paying our fair share, but discussions of putting a disproportionately higher tax burden on successful entrepreneurs is both illogical and destructive.

Governments do not create jobs. Politicians do not create jobs. Claiming that they do is both misleading and disingenuous. Government and politicians should facilitate business, which in turn creates jobs and grows the economy.

Taxes need to be levied in order to fund public services, but they shouldn’t be applied in such a way as to make it unattractive for people to work or make it hard for businesses to give their employees incentives.

What kind of government will Ireland end up with when the dust settles on the 2016 general election? I honestly don’t know, but I hope that whoever is in power realises that they need to nurture indigenous business and not penalise us or our staff.

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