Saturday, January 7, 2012

Irish Times: President tells audience in Denmark of 'ethical dimension' to fiscal crisis

Irish Times (Dublin, Ireland) - Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Author: DEREK SCALLY in Aarhus
PRESIDENT MARY McAleese has described the financial crisis in Ireland as a 'failure of ethical infrastructure'.

In an address in Denmark , she said the global economic crisis had 'hit us full in the face' and that, parallel to recovery based on policies such as 'competitive' corporate tax rates, was a need for a debate on ethics.

'I have almost no doubt that there was as an ethical dimension to the crisis, the global economic crisis and I think we could also say the same in Ireland,' she told a packed auditorium at Aarhus University in western Denmark . 'If your vision stops with me and my ego, and my needs, my company and my profit and my bonus, not thinking of the long term and the long-term damage that some decisions can effect the lives of others -- we are seeing the fallout of that.'

She said it was essential to step back and take a broad view of the crisis to prevent another. 'Good regulation is one but the best regulation is the regulation of the self, being practised in the skills of doing the right, sensible and careful thing.'

In her address about the role of small nation states in the world she stressed the EU's role in Ireland's economic transformation and insisted the peace process would not be derailed by 'bonkers' breakaway paramilitaries.

Earlier in the day, Mrs McAleese visited the island of Samsoe, west of Copenhagen, where a bright red barn houses an energy revolution .

With a ginger cat winding around her ankles, and straw piled high in bales behind her, President McAleese heard how this rural Danish community set and met the goal of complete energy independence in less than a decade.

The 4,000 islanders manage their own electricity production from 11 wind turbines and the heat produced by the biomass incinerator, distributed to homes via an underground pipe network.

As well as energy prices up to 20 per cent below market rates, islanders say the project has fostered a greater sense of community responsibility.

'The island people are independent and want to be able to manage themselves . . . this project encourages that and builds an enormous sense of pride and achievement,' said Soren Stensgaard, deputy director of the island's new Energy Academy.

With a nod to Viking raids on Ireland, he added: 'If we can in some way help Ireland's green energy revolution , perhaps we can make up for our forefathers.'

They already are, working with Shannon Development through the EU 'Biomob' project to develop a renewable energy project suited to Irish communities. 'Samsoe is a demonstration of community self-help and energy production. It demonstrates that it can be done,' said Dr Brian Callanan of Shannon Development.

President McAleese praised the island scheme and expressed hope for similar projects building on Ireland's rural infrastructure. 'Ireland's group water schemes are perhaps nearest model of resourcing,' she said. 'I'm so incredibly impressed to see a community take on a big project and make such a success of it.'