The ESRI, in its recent Quarterly Economic Commentary (Spring 2014), suggests that the impact of the patent cliff in 2014 will be much smaller than in 2012 and 2013. In this post I present data that support such a position. I believe that the greatest impact of the patent cliff on Ireland will have occurred in the period from 2012 to 2014. I base this on a simple inspection of the expiration data related to blockbuster drugs produced by multinational companies which have Irish plants.

Before presenting the facts, I provide the usual health warning – there are great uncertainties involved in estimating the effect of the patent cliff on the Irish economy. Most estimates are partly based on an analysis of the specific products losing patent protection and their global revenues. Relatively good data on patent expiry dates and global revenues is publically available. This data can then be linked to the companies operating in Ireland. Based on primary interview data and newspaper analysis, one can get a fair idea about which of the blockbuster drugs coming off patent are at least partially produced in Ireland. This allows us to get some idea as the size of the impact of the patent cliff on exports and GDP.

There are, however, a number of uncertainties. Firstly, although we have good data on when blockbuster drugs are due to come off patent, not all of these drugs actually lose patent protection on the due date. Drug companies do what they can to protect their valuable intellectual property. Most will try to obtain an extension of their patent and some are successful. The granting of one or two patent extensions can seriously alter the impact of the patent cliff on a particular country.

Secondly, even greater uncertainties are involved in estimating Ireland’s share in the global production of a particular drug. Pharmaceutical companies typically operate multiple sites for the production of active pharmaceutical ingredients and drug products. In some cases nearly 100% of the global supply is produced in Ireland, but in most cases we have no information about what share of production is accounted for by plants in Ireland. In most cases the only information we have is that part of the global production takes place in plants in Ireland.

Table 1 presents the blockbuster patent expirations relevant to Irish plants during the period from 2011 to 2016 (data on the involvement of Irish plants is based on interviews and Internet search). The methodology provides no guarantee that all involvement of Irish plants is identified. However the pattern is clear enough to support my main argument.

Table 1. Blockbusters coming off patent* and involvement of Irish plants

Table 1

The data clearly show that patent expirations relevant to Ireland were concentrated in the period 2011-2012. Six blockbuster drugs whose patents expired, with a global sales value of $35bn, were at least partly produced in Ireland (Enbrel’s patent for the USA was extended). Because of the six-month ‘exclusivity period’, during which only one generics company is allowed to enter the market, the full effect on output will only be felt a half year after the expiration date. In addition, the table presents the expiration dates for the USA. In other markets, the drugs developed by US companies tend to come off patent somewhat later. This phenomenon is clearly illustrated in Table 2 which shows that the full effect of the Lipitor patent expiration in the US at the end of 2011, is only reflected in the 2013 global export figures of Ireland. I therefore suggest that the effect of the 2011-2012 cohort (in Table 1) will be fully expressed in the 2012-2014 export and output data.

Table 2. Pharmaceutical Exports (SITC 51 and 54)


The blockbusters that are losing patent protection in the 2013 to 2014 period have far smaller combined global sales ($25bn over the three year period) and, crucially, the data suggest that few of these drugs are manufactured in Ireland. I could only find evidence for one drug, Nameda, a relatively small blockbuster with $1.4bn global sales, coming off patent in 2015. These data suggest that in 2014 we will have passed the peak of the direct impact of the patent cliff on the Irish economy.

This post is based on extracts from my discussion of a paper by Mary Dalton and Shane Enright (Dept. of Finance). “The Impact of the Patent Cliff on Pharma-Chem Output in Ireland”, presented at The Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland, Dublin: Royal Irish Academy, 6 March 2014.












Next week Irish planners will meet for their annual conference in Limerick. It is interesting to see that Professor Louis Albrechts will give a keynote speech and which will presumably pick up on the subject of his 2010 paper entitled: More of the same is not enough! How could strategic spatial planning be instrumental in dealing with the challenges ahead?. In this paper, Albrechts coincidentally touches on many of the same themes that I blogged about last year (see here and here). He makes the case that the environmental crisis, the energy crisis, the financial crisis and the subsequent economic crisis, to name only a few of the interlinked crises of our times (to which I would specifically add the inequality crisis), must compel decision makers, planners, institutions, and citizens out of their comfort zones, to confront their key beliefs, to challenge conventional wisdom and to embed a future-orientated perspective in their practice.

However, it seems that the Irish planning profession is still reluctant to give up on the status quo just yet and more of the same is good enough for the time being. This year’s conference is entitled50 Years of Planning: Time to Lead Change and Plan for Growthwhile that of last year’s was ‘Achieving Competitiveness & Promoting Innovation – The Future Role of Planning’ . All of the neoliberal buzzwords in just two conferences! This is not an academic irrelevance, nor a trivial observation, but is entirely symptomatic of how firmly co-opted the Irish planning profession has become in the governance machinery of the current economic hegemony. These are the implicit values which shape the spatial outcomes of the planning process and which are evident everywhere – from the over-dominance of the Greater Dublin Area, to the disintegration of our town centres, to the empty shells of vacant retail units. What is remarkable is that this post-political consensus seems to hold true universally throughout the profession to the point of being almost invisible and entirely unquestioned. Without applying a critical perspective of this sort, we cannot even begin to understand the dynamics that led to the catastrophe of the Celtic tiger, and planning’s key role therein, or even to plot a course for planning’s future role in society.

Like Albrechts, I agree that it should be unthinkable (and unacceptable) that planners remain as neutral observers and refrain from playing an active role in the construction of future visions of society and to build the case as to why society should try to construct these futures. After all, isn’t this the very raison d’etre of planning? However, as much of this process lies in making tough decisions about what is most important, it inevitably involves values and making these values explicit. As Albrechts notes, the current reluctance of the planning profession to explore new concepts, new ideas and new values and to look for alternatives to business-as-usual is leading to the worst kind of myopia: that of a place blindly lumbering into the future unable to see the pitfalls ahead.

If we just take the looming climate and energy crisis, which is indisputably the most defining global challenge facing humanity of the 21st Century, there is more than ample evidence that the current entrepreneurial value discourse of growth and competitiveness are not just problematic but are actually driving the problem. The recent IPCC AR5 report, which explicitly references the important role of spatial planning in climate change mitigation and adaptation, should be a timely reminder to the profession of the absolute urgency of exploring what values are needed to adequately plan for the challenges and opportunities ahead. However, as planning in Ireland seems keen to continually justify its existence within the myopic parameters of the neoliberal orthodoxy, I do not hold out much hope for the type of planning that can embed the necessary transformative practices which Albrechts argues so convincingly for.

Gavin Daly

The IPI conference will include a Panel Debate – “If planning is everything, maybe it’s nothing” – The next 50 years


  • Frank McDonald, The Irish Times


  • Conor Skehan, School of Spatial Planning, DIT
  • Ian Lumley, An Taisce
  • Niall Cussen MIPI, Department of the Environment,    Community & Local Government
  • Mary Kelly, Chairperson, An Bord Pleanála
  • Brendan O’Sullivan MIPI, Centre for Planning Education  & Research UCC


'Disneyfication'? Sources close to the plan have denied any connection between Frackaballooning and the film 'Up'

‘Disneyfication’? Sources close to the plan have denied any connection between Frackaballooning and the film ‘Up’

Plans were today unveiled for the sale of a large amount of Dublin. This includes the discussed sale of Foxrock to Los Angeles, Rathmines and Phibsborough to London, and the Liberties to New York. The proposal, which entails air-lifting large swathes of land, is being made possible by methods similar to fracking in combination with hot-air balloon technology. Many in the industry are referring to the method as ‘Frackaballooning’.

A spokesperson for NEGEQT-RealEstate stated that the appeal of this approach was because of the perception internationally of good value in the Dublin market at present and also cited a number of other positives to the plan: “First and foremost, it allows us to get building again and presents a very real opportunity to open up more land for much-needed market-driven housing, particularly in Dublin. In fact, with this new technology, we can now sell the city over and over again. At the moment everyone wants three bedroom houses so we will provide that. In the future those demands might change, so we will just repeat the process but provide something else. Finally, it ensures that we reach our emigration quota each year, while allowing people to remain in their homes and maintain a direct connection to Irish soil. It really is very exciting and very sustainable too.”

Given their respective prime locations, Foxrock and Sutton are perhaps two of the most noteworthy of the sites included in the plan. One well-known journalist commented that it was a logical step: “with their sale to Los Angeles, those living in Foxrock and Sutton will still have lots of open space and a similar commute time, but will get a lot more sun.” The auctions are being held by a firm new to the Irish market, called FLAIR, who are specialists in Frackaballooning-driven sales. One representative commented on how the bidding at their first auction had been frantic: “It has been great really. Welwyn Garden City and Letchworth were engaged in a bidding war to buy Mount Merrion, only to be gazumped by a phone-bid from Ebbsfleet.” But word is that the level of interest in the technique reaches far beyond the neighbourhood/village scale. It is believed that a number of FRITS (Frackaballooning Investment Trusts) are interested in entering the Irish market in the coming months. Some sources believe that within five years Dublin could be in the top ten global destinations for Frackaballooning. All indications show that this will have a trickle-down effect and allow the gradual sale of most of the country: ‘Well we are starting in Dublin because that is where there is most demand, but I could definitely envisage the sale of Eyre Square as a very real possibility in the future’.

Perhaps the most exciting part of the initiative is the sale of the majority of Georgian Dublin. This is seen as a win-win for both Chaing Mai, who get a new theme-park/film-set and for Dublin to correct the wrongs of its Georgian ancestors. A representative of the Mock-Georgian Appreciation Group, who have single-handedly championed the cause of late 20th Century faux-Georgian architecture for nearly four decades, commented: “really, the wealthy elite of the 17th and 18th centuries didn’t have the wealthy of today in mind. Therefore, the sale of Georgian Dublin, and its replacement with fake-Georgiana, presents the possibility to right their wrongs in terms of both the social environment and the physical context. None of the wealthy in Dublin want to live in Georgian Dublin, so they must really dislike Georgian buildings. We must assume that they prefer faux-Georgian architecture.” The social goals are being promoted through the incorporation of smart technology, which sees a new force-field placed around the entirety of Georgian Dublin so as to preserve it for the wealthy and well-to-do for eternity.

Meanwhile, the newly laid out Faux-Georgian Mile will seek to reflect the dignity and grandeur of the planned ESB replacement, which, based on a recent competition, is to be a relocated Fitzwilliam Hall. The gap left by the removal of Fitzwilliam Hall from its original location will be a replica of the current ESB headquarters building, albeit shrunk to fit the site. As a means of reflecting the inter-subjectivity of the two buildings, they will swap facades for a period of two hours per day at rush-hour. The Faux-Georgian Mile plan has, however, not been without its detractors. A small group have already demanded the reconstruction of the ESB Headquarters according to the original 1964 specifications, while another group have demanded the preservation of the original, including the removal of the boom-time pink paint. There have also been rumours of a student sit-in, but according to a number of sources there was too much wrangling between those desiring retention of the original and those in favour of a reproduction.

The creation of more vacant space also creates the potential for a strong cultural component. One well-known cultural commentator stated that as part of the plan each area of Dublin that is to be sold off will be recreated on a scale cardboard cut-out model and placed at the centre of a new pop-up park that is to be located on the former site of Kilmainham Hospital, which is being sold to Canada. This is so as to promote discussion about the relationship between Frackaballooning and society.

Aside from the modernist heritage enthusiasts, Frackaballooning has only had a few objections, most of it from ‘activists’. But, as one commentator stated: “We don’t have time for these objections. We have had a thorough public engagement process with those in the industry and others in favour of the process. We can’t allow a few nay-sayers stop progress. We must allow the market to plan our future and this is the most advanced way of making that possible”.

Whatever the detractors say, there is no doubting the ambition and bold vision of the approach. This is exactly the sort of blue-sky thinking that Dublin and the rest of the country needs. After all, hot-air and the sale of land are the twin pillars of sustainable planning.

A. P. Rilfirst

New Paper: ‘Urban Governance and the ‘European City’: Ideals and Realities in Dublin Ireland’ by Philip Lawton and Michael Punch published in the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. Available here (If you cannot access please email philip.lawton (at)


Throughout recent decades, a significant amount of attention has been given to the notion of the ‘European city’ within policy formation and academic enquiry. From one perspective, the ideal of the ‘European city’ is presented as a densely developed urban area with a focus on quality public transport and a more balanced social structure. More recently, however, the particular elements of the ‘European city’ associated with pedestrianized public space, urban design and image-making strategies have become central features of entrepreneurial urban policies throughout Europe. This article undertakes an examination of the notion of the ‘European city’ in urban change in Dublin since the 1990s. Specifically, the article illustrates the degree to which a wholly positive spin on the urban design and image-making elements of the ‘European city’ in Dublin has served as a thin veil for the desired transformation of Dublin according to neoliberal principles.


The RSA Irish Branch, in association with the Geographical Society of Ireland, sponsors:

Regional Economic Development

three sessions at the Conference of Irish Geographers

UCD, Dublin

Friday 9 May

Keynote speaker

Prof. David Bailey,

Aston Business School, Aston University.

(further details on keynote, other speakers and conference see below and here)


Online Registration here:

For further information:


Professor David Bailey works at the Aston Business School. He has written extensively on economic restructuring and industrial and regional policy, especially in relation to manufacturing and the auto industry. He has been a regular columnist and blogger for The Birmingham Post and Coventry Telegraph newspapers, as well as Reuters. He recently led an ESRC funded project on the economic and social impact of the MG Rover closure, which had widespread coverage in the media, and has acted as Specialist Advisor to the House of Commons Select Committee on the West Midlands. His recent work on local and regional responses to economic shocks and recession has been funded by Birmingham City Council, the Audit Commission and Advantage West Midlands, as well as auto companies. He recently undertook an EU-funded INTERREG project on the role of FDI in cluster internationalisation and upgrading, and is contributing to the European Union FP7 project WWW for Europe (Welfare, Wealth,Work), with his input on industrial policy. He was Chair of the Regional Studies Association over 2006-12 and is now an Honorary Vice-Chair, and an Editor of the Association’s flagship journal Regional Studies.

Abstract: This paper examines the implications of a place-based economic strategy in the context of the UK Coalition government’s framework for achieving local growth and the creation of Local Economic Partnerships in England. It draws on the international literature to outline the basic foundations of place-based policy approaches. It explores two key features, particularly as they relate to governance institutions and to the role of knowledge. After examining key concepts in the place-based policy literature, such as ‘communities of interest’ and ‘capital city’ and ‘local elites’, it shows how they might be interpreted in an English policy context. The paper then discusses a place-based approach towards an understanding of the role of knowledge, linked to debates around ‘smart specialisation’. In doing so, it shows why there is an important ‘missing space’ in local growth between the ‘national’ and the ‘local’ and how that space might be filled through appropriate governance institutions and policy responses. Overall, the paper outlines what a place-based approach might mean in particular for Central Government, in changing its approach towards sub-national places and for local places, in seeking to realise their own potential. Furthermore, it outlines what the ‘missing space’ is and how it might be filled, and therefore what a place-based sub-national economic strategy might address.

Other Confirmed Papers Include

Other Confirmed Papers Include

Dieter F. Kogler (UCD), JürgenEssletzbichler (University College London) and David Rigby (UCLA) – The Evolution of Invention within European Regions, 1980-2005

Justin Doran (School of Economics, UCC) – Employment Resilience during the 2008 Economic Crisis: Insights from Micro Level Data for a Selection of European Countries

Brendan Williams (UCD) – The Changing Role of Property Market Factors in Regional Economic Development following Boom/Collapse

Martin Sokol (TCD) – Can Silicon Valley be Replicated in Post-socialist Eastern Europe?

Pat Collins (NUIG) – Gauging the Impacts of the Volvo Ocean Race Finale from a Tourist, Residents and Business Perspective

Enda Keenan and Des McCafferty (MIC/UL) – Foreign Direct Investment, Agency-Assisted Employment and the Economic Development of Ireland’s Atlantic Gateway Cities, 1993-2011

Proinnsias Breathnach (NUIM), Chris van Egeraat (NUIM) and Declan Curran (DCU) – Regional Economic Resilience in Ireland: The Roles of Industrial Structure and Foreign Inward Investment





Call for papers

Friday June 13th and Saturday 14th 2014, Renehan Hall, South Campus, National University of Maynooth

Keynote Speakers will include:

David Featherstone, Department of Geography, Glasgow. Author of Solidarity: Hidden Histories and Geographies of Internationalism (2012) and, Resistance, Space and Political Identities: the Making of Counter-Global Networks (2008).

Costis Hadjimichalis, Department of Geography, Harokopio University, Athens. His research and publications have included uneven geographical development, socio-spatial justice and solidarity.

Conference themes

The global financial crisis and austerity has been met with significant protest and opposition from new social movements, radical Left political parties and single issue campaigns. However, the response has been uneven and divided across and within different countries and there remain many challenges in relation to developing strategies, alternatives and politics that can progress this opposition.

This is a conference aimed at academics, community activists, trade unions, political activists, and NGOs, who are engaged in such campaigns and movements, for example in housing, austerity, unemployment, precariousness, regeneration, community campaigns, debt, natural resources, migrants’ rights, amongst others. The conference will provide a space to promote solidarity amongst diverse agendas, groups, organisations and politics to facilitate greater alliances and cooperation amongst those engaged in campaigns and politics to promote social and spatial justice, radical equality, democracy, and human rights. We welcome papers and presentations from practice or theoretical reflections fitting the themes including, but not limited to:

  • Spaces of solidarity
  • How can we progress solidarity, alliances and cooperation between us to support and enhance our individual campaigns and movements?
  • How can we progress solidarity, alliances and cooperation between us to  influence the national, European and global policy and politics?
  • The right to the city: local struggles, global solidarities seeking social and spatial justice
  • New Left Political Parties: what potential for a socialism for the 21st Century?
  • What role can new Left and radical Left political parties play in progressing a radical egalitarian, socialist politics?
  • Social Movements & civil society: Where is the Irish resistance?
  • Partnership with the state as a strategy to achieve social justice; Can such strategies be pursued without silencing or excluding more critical voices and disruptive protests?
  • Reflections and contributions from critical urban and social theory on resistance and solidarity
  • Lessons from communities and social movements engaging in campaigns and struggles in relation to community activism, housing, debt, natural resources, workers rights, migrants rights,  at a local, national and global scale
  • Facilitated open discussion: possibilities and strategies for solidarity, community resistance and Left politics

Email title and short abstract (250 words) indicating which theme it fits under and whether it is a presentation or a poster to before April 15th.

Register your interest email:

We are working to keep registration costs as low as possible at this stage

Supported by:

The Department of Geography NUIM , NIRSA, Network on Politics, Power and Society NUIM

Readers of this blog may have already heard about Claiming Our Future’s idea to organise a widespread consultation process between now and 2016 to develop a “Declaration for a New Republic”.  If not you can find out more in the invitation below and on the Claiming our Future web site.

There are unique moments, inspired by history which offer possibilities and hope for radical transformation in the present and future. 2016 could be one such opportunity. It will be 100 years since the Easter Rising and the proclamation of the Irish Republic. It is also likely to be the year of the next General Election. We face major challenges and questions about what type of future Ireland is going to have? What values should shape Irish society in the coming decades?

As an initial step we are are inviting organisations, campaigns, communities and individuals to an open meeting on March 29th (10.30am-12.30pm, Liberty Hall) to explore what this might look like and how best to develop and promote such a Declaration. It would be great if some of you are able to participate on 29th and help us to develop and shape the idea and plan the best way forward.

For more information see event page.



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