**The man who foresaw our decline and fall needs to get back on track
Read more: irishexaminer.com/opinion/co … z0PB3U74LF
By Fergus Finlay
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
I WAS listening to David McWilliams on Ryan Tubridy’s radio show the other day.
Fine fellow, that David McWilliams. Always full of interesting ideas and good catchphrases.
Anyway, as far as I could tell, he was promoting a conference due to be held in Dublin Castle next month. It’s his idea, apparently, and it’s going to bring together a lot of Irish people who have made it abroad.
Their energy and their creativity are going to help us to get off our own backsides and start tackling the problems we have. It wasn’t all that clear who’s coming to the conference – Chad Hurley, the founder of YouTube and definitely someone with an Irish surname, was mentioned — but they’re all going to bring fresh thinking.
Our interaction with them is going to create a real buzz. And who knows — apart from new ideas and new ways of looking at the world, they may decide to invest something in the ould sod.
Now, I have to say this seems to me like a pretty good idea, and David McWilliams is getting a lot of support and help from the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin, and his department.
In fact, McWilliams has been enormously impressed, he told us, with the professionalism of the Department of Foreign Affairs. It may not have been their idea, but that didn’t stop them getting involved with real gusto and enthusiasm.
But what struck me as a little odd about the interview was that in the middle of it, Tubridy asked McWilliams “what about the naysayers? What are you going to do about them?”
“Ah sure,” he replied (I’m paraphrasing now because I didn’t write down his exact words), there are always naysayers and begrudgers in Ireland. If you listened to them you’d never get anywhere. Just ignore the naysayers would be my advice, and get on with the job."
Tubridy actually felt a little more strongly than McWilliams on the matter. Anyone who didn’t agree with McWilliams’s “fantastic” idea was only a begudger, and Tubridy knew what needed to be said to begrudgers. Unfortunately, he said it involved phraseology that couldn’t be used on early morning radio.
What a strange and mysterious exchange that was. First of all, nothing in the interview had suggested that anyone was actually opposed to the conference.
As far as one could tell, everyone who had been asked to get behind the idea had done so immediately, with a heart and half. The Taoiseach was sending out letters of invitation, the entire State apparatus was being mobilised to ensure everything went smoothly, and the whole thing was, in McWilliams’s words, a joy to be involved in.
So who are the naysayers? And secondly, isn’t David McWilliams the very same fellow who spent years warning us that the Celtic Tiger (a phrase he invented himself) could only end in tears?