President Higgins makes fundamental point about growth for growth’s sake

30 April 2023

Labour workers’ rights spokesperson and economist Senator Marie Sherlock has praised President Higgins for opening a conversation about growth in Ireland.

Senator Sherlock said:

“The President is absolutely right to throw open the conversation about the purpose of growth in Ireland. Many thousands are not feeling it right now because of the incredible shortage of housing and, beyond that, there are ecological and biodiversity costs to most economic activity.

“The reaction from economists is not surprising. Most economists here are not grounded in ecological economics, which holds that there is a limit to consumption growth. Just as bone specialists and dermatologists don’t fully agree on how much suncream to use, we shouldn’t expect all economists to agree on economic growth.

“The President makes a fundamental point about growth for growth’s sake. For the past three decades, we know that unconstrained growth in certain sectors like manufacturing and fuel extraction are imposing massive environmental and social costs on communities.

“It is the State that is left to pay for the health, water and other damage inflicted on those communities.

“No economic growth in a country like Ireland, that relies so much on trade, is not an option because living standards can’t stand still, they either get better or go backwards depending on international trading conditions. For the Labour Party, growth is important but the key issue here is what type and for whom.”

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