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Wednesday 22 November 2017

Claire Byrne: It's time to look towards a brighter future, Ireland is back in the game

Plugged in: Computer giant's move here is massive boon for us

There is a row rumbling on between the cheerleaders for Ireland (mostly in Government circles) who say that we are beginning to emerge from our economic nightmare, and the academics who say the cheerleaders are misguided fools and Ireland is a busted flush.

But as they battle it out between themselves, the rest of us are trying to get on with the business of living and making a pretty damn good job of it.

Fair enough, so we are all poorer than we were before, some have had colossal drops in income but life goes on and while the doom merchants might be right about the depth and duration of this recession, their loudspeakers are drowning out the noise made by those who are trying to make the best of it.

Not a week goes by but I get taken to task for covering negative news on Newstalk Breakfast. A few days ago I was told how utterly depressing it was to hear us discuss what Professor Morgan Kelly had to say about Ireland's prospects; he believes, by the way, that we will default on our debt by 2012.

But as a news programme we have a responsibility to report the news and to represent the views of all newsmakers on both sides of the negative-positive divide.

With that in mind, Barry O'Leary, the boss of the IDA, came to see us in studio to announce that the hugely powerful gaming company, EA Games, has decided to open a hub in Galway.

This is a massive boon for Ireland.

Some new computer game releases rake in half a billion in their first weekend on the shelves and it is an industry growing at a much faster rate than the movie business.

Their arrival in Ireland is a significant development, not just because it's a progressive young business with the potential for huge growth, but it's also marks a vote of confidence in Ireland as a country that is still attractive to international business.

Fair enough, so we have had hundreds of thousands of jobs hit the skids over the last two years, but 2010 should be about picking ourselves up, dusting ourselves off and figuring out what is around the corner.

Although there are vast, steep mountains to climb and the banks have left us in a right mess, Ireland and the people who live here still have much to offer. If my generation and the ones coming behind us aren't optimistic about what's around the corner, then we might as well all lie down and accept that it's over.

We have to take the bad news with the good and there is no use pretending that we are not in a tremendously large hole which will take a very long time to crawl out of.

But we have a tendency to throw fuel on the kindling which has an ill wind blowing through it while dousing the flames of optimism.

As a nation, we place more stock in the worst-case scenario than we do in possible best outcomes.

As John Fitzgerald from the ESRI says time and again, Ireland is a small open economy -- when the rest of the world does well, so do we.

If you agree with his assertion then you might also say that we have a sales job to do now more than ever.

Without ignoring our extensive problems, we can all do our bit to lift Ireland out of the gloom or take the opposite view and join the gravediggers in turning the sod of the tomb of the nation.

EA Games has an exciting future. It will need young, talented and well-educated staff to meet its needs and it is coming to Ireland. We have something that a new and vibrant company wants. In the fog of this recession, surely that is something worthwhile to celebrate?

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