Ireland: cleaner, greener and more prosperous | Brunell

This St. Patrick’s Day (March 17), the Irish have lots to celebrate. Ireland is cleaner, greener and more prosperous.

Ireland is an island nation roughly one-third the size of Washington with 4.7 million people. It is no longer the agrarian country that its patron saint converted to Christianity in the early 5th century. Today’s Ireland attracts tourists, high tech companies and manufacturers from around the world.

One of the keys to its economic growth is its low corporate tax rate of 12.5 percent, which is nine points lower than the new U.S. level enacted by Congress late last year.

Not only are lower taxes driving the Irish economy, but it is rated as the world’s ninth most “economically free” economy, based on an index created jointly by the Wall Street Journal and Heritage Foundation.

Tourists are flocking to Ireland. Last year, it welcomed nearly 10 million visitors. Irish Central reporter Mairead Geary wrote: “Ireland feels like a dear old friend.”

Ireland prides itself on attractiveness. Good music, folklore and a friendly people are augmented by “Tidy Towns” with freshly-painted buildings and no roadside litter.

Just as in most urban areas, the Irish have their share of street garbage in the inner cities and discarded needles from drug users; however, the Irish have some creative solutions worth considering.

Business leaders have been integral to the anti-litter cause. The Irish Business Against Litter sponsors annual competition between cities and towns. IBAL measures Ireland against other European Union nations. In 2017, it found that 88 percent of Irish communities were deemed as clean as the European average and 10 of the 40 were among the “cleanest.”

SuperValu, the nation’s largest supermarket chain, sponsors the annual “Tidy Towns” competition. The overall winners in four categories: villages, small towns, large towns and urban centres are awarded cash prizes and have their names engraved on perpetual trophies, which are as coveted as hockey’s Stanley Cup.

In Waterford, where the famous Irish crystal is made, business and city leaders decided to sponsor “street art” competition. Rather than having old downtown buildings tagged with repulsive graffiti, they encouraged some of the world’s best spray paint artists to come to Waterford Walls International Street Art Festival each August.

Last year 40 artists participated and 40 drab buildings now have eye-pleasing murals. One painting is of an old fisherman and it ties Waterford, a southern port city, to its rich waterfront history. Today, people come to admire art. The idea spread to Derry and Belfast.

Americans could learn from the Irish. Not only is Ireland a country that has lower taxes and is high on the economic freedom list but it also has fresh ideas to control litter, turn unwanted graffiti into attractive murals on dreary old buildings, and, revitalize country villages, towns and cities.

According to Litter in America’s fact sheet, litter cleanup costs us an estimated $11.5 billion each year and business pays about 80 percent of expenses. Annually, Americans carelessly toss out 250 million tons of wrappers, bottles, cans, cigarette butts, needles and bags of garbage.

The Irish learned that not only do visitors want good entertainment and welcoming people, they also want uncluttered communities, shore, and country side as well.

Families who migrate to Ireland to work for software, pharmaceutical, medical technology and financial services – the new Irish economy – not only want good jobs, safe streets and quality schools but also places to live that are clean and tidy. People in America share that goal.

This St. Patrick’s Day, we may want to look to Ireland for innovative ways to make our country cleaner, greener and more prosperous.

Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He recently retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, and now lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at theBrunells@msn.com.

More in Opinion

2020 Census and the importance of being counted

Census affects everything from government representation to federal funding.

On the road to recovery to ride again | Dinsmore

A dad never likes to be awakened by a 6 a.m. message… Continue reading

China’s mighty migrating mandate

Country has to get serious about its trash problem as its fast-paced economy expands

Yes, Virginia, lawmakers did raise a lot of fees and taxes

They passed 51 bills to bring in more money. Democrats pushed major tax hikes past a resistant GOP.

Nation sorely lacks positive role models

Our culture has forgotten the importance of role models to future generations

Legislature: History, investigations and new laws

The 2019 session of the Legislature included controversy, compromise, surprise, new law and more.

Max fix critical to Washington

Boeing needs to get the 737 back into service – safely and soon

Gov. Jay Inslee. FILE PHOTO
Governor’s watch: timing is everything

Inslee, possible candidates eye 2020 race

KCLS provides summertime opportunities to read, learn and grow

June is the end of the school year, but it’s the beginning… Continue reading

Could Seattle put on a World’s Fair today? | Brunell

On April 21, 1962, the Seattle World’s Fair opened. The “Century 21… Continue reading

Removing Snake River dams is unwise | Brunell

There are dams that should come down and those that shouldn’t. Hopefully,… Continue reading