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Sins of the Father: Tracing the Decisions that Shaped the Irish Economy [Kindle Edition]

Conor McCabe
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The questions surrounding how the Irish economy was brought to the brink - who was to blame, and who should pay for these mistakes - have been rightly debated at length. But beyond this very legitimate exercise, there are deeper questions that need to be answered. These questions relate to why we made the decisions we did, not just in the last ten years, but over the last eighty. How did certain industries become more prominent at the expense of others, banking as opposed to fisheries, international markets as opposed to indigenous industry and job creation? Are our problems structural in nature, and most importantly, what do we need to know to make sure that this crisis does not happen again? These are the questions set by this book. It will look at the development of the Irish economy over the past eight decades, and will argue that the 2008 financial crisis, up to and including the IMF bailout of 2010 and the subsequent change of government, cannot be explained simply by the moral failings of those in banking or property development alone. The problems are deeper, more intricate, and more dangerous if we remain unaware of them, but also potentially avoidable in the future if we break the cycle.

Product Description


"The latest attempt to explain our economic collapse and by far and away the best." --"Irish Examiner"

About the Author

Conor McCable is a noted web journalist on the "Dublin Opinion" and the "Irish Left Review." His specialities are economics and Irish politics.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 501 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: The History Press Ireland (1 Jun. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0079K5MBG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #177,682 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Conor McCabe is a Research Fellow with the Equality Studies Centre, UCD School of Social Justice, where he lectures on Irish political economy. He is from Dublin, Ireland and holds a Ph.D from the University of Ulster.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Dr. Tom O'Connor- CIT
At least half a dozen books have examined the Irish economic collapse in the past three years. All have done a good job in explaining economic policy failure in regard to Fianna Fail, the construction industry, `light touch' financial regulation, and political cronyism. Mc Cabe's book deals with all these issues.
However, it does far more than that. It traces these developments since the foundation of the state and identifies key historical economic policy decisions which establish continuity between past and present. The breadth and compass of the book is breathtaking. It is head and shoulders above the other books and is a tour de force as a critical economic history of Ireland.
Mc Cabe's book demonstrates that an elite class came to power in Ireland in 1922 which had little interest in fostering a type of economic development which would benefit the mass of society. Essentially, this class, drawn from the landed bourgeoisie and their professional descendants, favoured the economic interests of the `rancher class' and ultimately their descendants in the law, construction, politics and high finance. Few would disagree that the two main parties have continued this process to the present day.
It cared little for the pockets of the wider citizenry, persisting with the export of live cattle to Britain, depriving the economy of any spin-off from the practice of an intensive form of agriculture. Private home ownership was institutionalised in the Housing Acts of 1924 and 1925 which offered grants to those who wished to build their own homes, at a time of widespread tenement destitution in the major cities: `This tended to favour the middle classes, rather than the working classes, for whom the housing problem was so severe'(p20).
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sins of the Father 20 May 2011
By frank
This is an important contribution and a radical departure from the received wisdom about the current crisis in Ireland.

There is a hackneyed narrative in Ireland and beyond which lays the blame for the economic and social collapse at the door of venal politicians and their paymasters among the property speculators, with the banks cast in the role of the indispensable vehicle for keeping both the speculators and reputation of politicians afloat.

All this is true but fails to address how this arose. Through a series of lively chapters dealing with specific aspects of society, McCabe is able to trace the origins of the current crisis to the society inherited at Partiton. This society itself is a product of colonialsim, and one which is far from having been eradicated in the Irish Republic.

A very valuable starting-point, then, for an analysis of the inheritiance of colonialsim and hos it still infects the whole of Irish society, focusing on the jurisdiction south of the border.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Adds a perspective with genuine depth and detail 5 Sept. 2011
The mantra from politicians who were at the helm when the 2008/2009 crisis broke in Ireland often was, and still is, one of blaming the broader collective of the general population for 'loosing the run of themselves' in a time of recent prosperity.

The logic, it seems, is that if everyone is guilty, then no one is, and that crucially the genesis for the crisis, in the shape of the Celtic Tiger, came upon us so quickly in the 90s that we were all wrong footed.

The strength of this book is the depth and scale of the analysis. The seeds for the current problem go back not just decades but also to a pre-independence era. Economic decisions made in colonial times were built upon by the Irish founding fathers. Generations of Irish politicians and business elite alike made conscious decisions that set in motion the implosion that has marked the previous few years.

What is more critical is how little has fundamentally changed despite the crash because the reasons for the crisis are, as the book explains in meticulous detail, so deep rooted.

This book is a valuable counter weight to the short sighted analysis that we increasingly hear in domestic Irish commentary of the current economic situation.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Reading 13 July 2011
By Donal
So much of what has been written and spoken about the Irish Economic Crisis in the last few years has been the analytical equivalent of white noise. In this book Dr. Conor Mc Cabe finally adds some much needed clarity and insight to the debate.

Myths and easy assumptions are to Irish political discourse what porn is to late night Spanish television, they've been around so long nobody even considers them odd. This book is the first major attempt to tackle these myths and wrong-headed certainties that I've read. Dr. Mc Cabe has previous in this regard, his posts on the Irish economy on the Dublin Opinion Blog in the last few years have been a rare clear note in the otherwise frustrating din that is Irish Media.

Here the author attempts a really ambitious project, to outline the structural problems with the Irish economy and their roots in the decisions made by successive governments since the foundation of the state. Along the way he tackles all of the major strands which eventually tie the knot we find ourselves in today; Housing, Agriculture, Industry and Finance. The book builds momentum as it carefully details how policy in these key areas have been deliberately and consistently designed to benefit an elite class of middle-men whose stunted vision of capitalism has shaped the Irish Nation into its current Venus de Milo form.

This process is patient, methodical and scholarly but always readable and clear. In fact, given the subject matter of the book and the resulting anger aroused by the picture which develops, Dr. Mc Cabe's writing style and flair for understated satire are essential antidotes which kept me enjoying the book throughout.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive, accessible and eye opening 25 May 2012
By Sartol - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Probably the best book on Ireland, the Irish economy and our recent crash you'll encounter. The historical perspectives on why the country is the way it is and the exposure of the flawed thinking and arrogance of our elites will make you angry and get you thinking that another way must be possible. It's also well referenced and a surprising page turner (really).
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