Dublin Airport’s Terminal 2 will open tomorrow, Friday, November 19th. Its unveiling will act as the last major infrastructural project established during the boom years. Undoubtedly, the Dublin Airport Authority, as well as the political advocates of the project never envisaged that the terminal would eventually open amidst decreasing passenger numbers at Dublin Airport brought about by a deep economic recession. However, this is where the irony of Terminal 2 only begins.
The TV advertising campaign beginning the week prior to the terminal’s opening features actor David Murray making his way through the new terminal, musing on Ireland’s contribution to the world. This “small island in a big ocean” is responsible for the Beaufort scale, literary greats such as Yeats and Swift, and in the world of sport we have sent “champion horses” to all corners of the globe. The inference in this being that when people come to Ireland full of expectations about this influential little country, Terminal 2 will be their first indication that yes, indeed, it is great. A second inference is that when we send the best of what we have out to the world in the future, this ultra-modern facility will make that endeavour a more pleasant one. It is the latter inference that hints at the second irony of Terminal 2.
Announcing the latest round of budgetary cuts and savings to be included in Budget 2011, the Irish government indicated that their expectation that 40,000 people will emigrate in that year was factored into their calculation. In effect, for the government’s budgetary strategy for 2011 to be successful, they now need at least 40,000 to leave the country. Previous posts to this blog by Rob Kitchin and Cian O’Callaghan point out that it is the young, highly educated cohort that are most likely to leave first. So, heralded as a necessity brought about by a passenger boom which reflected the growing personal wealth of the Irish, and Ireland’s increasing popularity as a tourist destination, the reality of terminal 2’s early years at least, will be the manner in which it becomes the physical site where we export those highly educated, high skilled people who were produced by, and helped fuel the economic boom that brought that very site into existence. How ironic.
Today, the day prior to the terminal’s official opening, representatives of the IMF, the ECB and the European Commission are in Dublin to discuss a financial ‘bail-out’ in the guise of a ‘substantial loan’ to the State. Of course, it was the pursuance of imprudent policies within the banking sector and within the Department of Finance – partially manifested through the construction of many costly ‘monuments to prosperity’ such as the Dublin Port Tunnel, the IFSC, the Convention Centre Dublin, and of course Terminal 2 – that has ultimately resulted in that visit. Wouldn’t it be ironic if these ‘bail-out chiefs’ were the first to pass through the airport terminal that owes much of its origins to the fiscal flippancy and short-sighted government expenditure programmes that made their visit necessary in the first place?