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Ireland’s Austerity Plan Seen As Model

DUBLIN, Ireland, Dec. 6 (UPI) — As European leaders work to repair torn economies, many are looking to Ireland’s austerity program that officials say is beginning to show results.

A year after Ireland embraced severe cost- and budget-tightening measures and received a $93.3 billion bailout, officials note that the country’s budget deficit is shrinking and its economy is growing at a modest pace, The New York Times reported Tuesday. Exports are up for the first nine months of the year.

Still, some economists said, the austerity program battered Ireland’s economy. Thousands of people have fled Ireland in hopes of improving their economic lot, a trend analysts say likely will continue.

“This is still an insolvent economy,” Constantin Gurdgiev, an economist and lecturer at Trinity College in Dublin, told the Times. “Just because we’re playing a good-boy role and not making noises like the Greeks doesn’t mean Ireland is healthy.”

Under the measures, salaries of nurses, professors and other public sector workers were cut about 20 percent, taxes on housing and water, among other things, increased, and public works investments were nearly non-existent. More tax increases and spending cuts for 2012 are on the way.

“The Irish are being praised for doing what they were asked to do, which is important for bringing investors back to the country,” Sean Kay, a professor of politics at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio, and the author of a recent book examining Ireland’s crisis. “But for the Irish people, it’s not paying off.”

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