Events in Washington, as one of the world’s most established and esteemed democracies transitions from one president to another, are a sobering reminder of the fragility of liberal democratic institutions throughout this Covid-19 afflicted world.
They serve as another reminder of the importance of the rule of law as key to the fraught geopolitical environment that 2021 brings.
The rule of law is widely understood to be key to business success, and the success of economies, Ireland very much being an example over the past numerous decades. This is confirmed by studies, such as by the World Bank, Heritage Foundation and countless others across the globe. Ireland’s relative success in punching above its weight, a phrase referenced by the Chief Justice in his speech to the NY Bar Association (page 16) in these past decades is further evidence of this. Ireland currently sits on the UN Security Council, its Finance Minister will attend the G7 summit in London in March as the EU’s representative Finance Minister, an Irish MEP is the EU’s Financial Services Commissioner, and the list extends, with Irish public servants appointed to key positions in global and EU institutions.
But it all could disappear, perhaps even in the context of the potentially turbulent conditions (economic, social and political) that the recovery from the Covid crisis will entail.
An example of this is in the tax area where temporary arrangements will have to be unravelled over the coming year, all against a pressing global agenda on international corporate taxation, a topic close to the heart of Ireland’s vital economic interests. In this context, too, there is encouragement to be derived from the contents of the interview in this issue of Finance Dublin with the Minister of State for Financial Services Sean Fleming (pages 8-12). His broad commitment to the continuation and development of the Ireland for Finance strategy is impressive, and so also is his acute understanding of the Ireland for Law agenda, detailed in our transcript of Chief Justice Frank Clarke’s remarks at a New York Bar Association webinar late last year (p16).
‘Watchful’ is a word that the Minister uses, wisely in our estimation, about the preservation of the common law tradition in Europe, and Ireland’s role in that. The Minister’s recognition that this is something that Ireland and the UK should have a common interest in preserving in Europe is also very insightful. In that cooperative but competitive approach lies the optimal path to success for Ireland’s partners in EU 27 and its ‘common law family’ partners across the globe.
2021 marks the 100 year anniversary of the founding of the Irish democracy, based on a democratic poll (the 2018 general election) conducted by the old sovereign (Britain). It also will mark the 35th anniversary of the IFSC, which was the first dawning if the concept of an Irish International Financial Services Centre, built on a solid platform of robust legal institutions, that can be given modern currency of the kind set out in the separate visions presented in these columns in this issue by Minister Fleming and the Chief Justice.