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NESC Publishes Council Report 135: Ireland’s Five-Part Crisis, Five Years On: Deepening Reform and Institutional Innovation

Dublin, Ireland

Ireland’s Five Part Crisis, Five Years On

Ireland needs deeper reform and further institutional innovation if progress to date is to lead to stronger economic recovery. This is a key conclusion of this NESC report on Ireland’s Five Part Crisis, Five Years On.

The report identifies the need to integrate and balance three different types of public-sector reform: (i) fiscal-driven reform delivering fiscal consolidation and discipline; (ii) substantive reform of services and programmes to underpin future prosperity, high participation and social cohesion; and, (iii) system-oriented reform for the delivery of high-quality services, continuous improvement and policy adaptation.

At today’s launch, NESC Director Rory O’Donnell said ‘The journey from boom to bust, and the struggle to find a way through the consequent five-part crisis, has highlighted the fact that strategies and policies can only be provisional starting points. What is critical is good systems for monitoring success and failure and institutional arrangements capable of review, learning and policy adaptation’.

This conclusion is based on enquiry into four areas of policy, detailed in the report: SME finance and investment; enterprise policy; green economy; and activation. The Council acknowledges the importance of recent policy action and reforms including the Action Plan for Jobs, Pathways to Work, the newly-formed State Bodies Group focused on finance and business growth and the forthcoming Medium Term Economic Strategy.  It identifies that a range of Irish public-sector organisations have already demonstrated the combination of innovation, quality and accountability that Government is committed to achieving more widely. However, the Council points to the value of policy review and learning from the achievements and problems in these and other areas. It notes that the central challenge is to both increase innovation and accountability at the front line and build a supportive centre capable of spreading best practice, and leading policy review and learning.

In closing, Dr. O’Donnell argued that ‘To enlist widest possible engagement across Irish society with the reform and recovery process, people need a positive perspective on the future of Irish economy, society, environment and the role of the State.  In this report, the Council provides elements of such a perspective’.  

Note to Editors



In 2009, NESC published Ireland’s Five Part Crisis and Challenge. Nearly five years later, the current report Ireland’s Five Part Crisis, Five Years On — Deepening Reform and Institutional Innovation points to some key areas of recovery: significant fiscal consolidation, some recovery of competitiveness, export growth and the resilience of Foreign Direct Investment. However, it also notes that domestic and international factors continue to constrain recovery, in particular the fragility of global growth, weakness in the Euro area, low levels of investment, high levels of overhanging debt and the scale of unemployment.


Download Documents

To download the report, executive summary and appendices, please visit the publications page.

Launch Details

The report will be launched at the Royal Irish Academy, Dawson Street, Dublin 2 on Thursday, 7th November, 2013 at 8.30 am.

This report was circulated to Government Departments and noted by the Cabinet at its meeting on Tuesday, 5th November, 2013.

The full report,  Executive Summary and  a number of background Secretariat papers will be published on the NESC Website, at midnight on 6th November, 2013.

For further information please contact Dr Larry O’Connell, Senior Economist.


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About the National Economic and Social Council (NESC)

The National Economic and Social Council (NESC) was established in 1973.  Its function is to analyse and report to the Taoiseach on strategic issues relating to the efficient development of the economy, the achievement of social justice and the development of a strategic framework for the conduct of relations and negotiation of agreements between the Government and the social partners.  The Council is chaired by the Secretary General of the Department of the Taoiseach.  It comprises representatives of trade unions, employer bodies, farm organisations, community and voluntary organisations, environmental organisations, key Government Departments and has eight independent experts.