Same-sex marriage would do more for NI economy than any conference

I am reminded of this scene from Father Ted: “Another mass? That’s our best idea?”

It seems the discussion is similar around the NI Executive table. “Another investment conference? That’s our best idea?”

The truth is NI can have as many investment conferences as it likes, it will scarcely create a single job until Northern Ireland develops a truly open economy. And for an open economy, you need an open society.

Think of all the seriously successful and prosperous cities and regions (excluding those which have got there by dint purely of a lucky oil strike or some such), and you will think of truly open, multi-cultural, diverse and socially liberal cities – Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London, New York, Vancouver, Sydney and so on. These are cities which embrace change and innovation in business and thus lead the world in it – and inevitably they are cities which embrace social change and social innovation. In some ways, Dublin or Edinburgh could be placed on the above list. Could Belfast?

Belfast, and Northern Ireland as a whole, is a closed economy. Segregated into silos, the primacy of “who you know not what you know” when looking for jobs, tenders or contracts is taken for granted. If you’re looking for international investment where merit and innovation are essential, that is hopeless!

It is a closed economy primarily because it is a closed society. We saw another example this week, with an Assembly vote comfortably opposing same-sex marriage. Tell me, which of the above prosperous cities does not allow or plan to allow same-sex marriage? Not one.

Prosperous cities and regions – the type international investors will choose – are open and embracing of social change and thus trusted with economic innovation and ultimately wealth creation. Closed societies – ones which rely on “who you know” and even just outright corruption – remain backward and poor. This is a universal truth – but for a lucky oil strike or some such, there are no exceptions at all to it.

So frankly Arlene Foster can have all the international investment conferences she likes – until she votes for same-sex marriage and other socially progressive and open policies, she is merely fiddling in the wind.

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19 thoughts on “Same-sex marriage would do more for NI economy than any conference

  1. What a very thought provoking article Ian. Thank you for taking the time to write it. Gráinne

  2. harryaswell says:

    Well, you do seem to be rather depressing this morning! I agree with you that “same sex marriage” should have been accepted democratically. However, we do live in a democracy, and so, surely, we should accept the decision for the time being? – The problem does seem to lie with the various churches and peoples’ religious beliefs. There can be no doubt that there will be legal challenges both from Brussels and the Human Rights organisations, particularly because the rules of the EU say we have to have same sex marriage whether we like it or not. In fact, the very same thing will happen over the Abortion argument. I do fail to see what all this has to do with the economy, apart from costing huge sums of taxpayers money unnecessarily that could be used better elsewhere! We are, perhaps, a little too premature?

  3. Clodagh says:

    It’s shameful that this country even need to debate on giving people with a different sexuality the same rights as we all enjoy. Equal marriage should be a basic human right. Northern Ireland needs to get its head out of the sand and embrace change. Let’s stop letting the bigots rule us.

  4. Ray Saunders says:

    Hell in this life, Heaven in the next?

  5. The Listener says:

    Ian, I can see no connection between same sex marriage and the economy! I think you are trying to be clever and stirring the pot perhaps? Hoping for a few individuals to comment who you can claim to be bigots?!

    • As the article makes clear, socially conservative societies never – that’s *never* – flourish economically. It is because they are opposed to reason and to innovation, making it impossible for them to be reliable homes for scientific, innovative endeavour – the type which creates wealth.

      Opposing same-sex marriage is just knee-jerk social conservatism. There is no rational reason to stop two consenting adults who love each other from marrying. Those opposed, you will find in 95%+ of cases, were also irrationally opposed to civil partnerships and to a raft of other socially progressive measures.

      As I have said countless times, change is difficult. However, if you have no one prepared to drive it forward, you will remain backward – socially and economically.

      • harryaswell says:

        The economy relies upon a great deal more than same sex marriage! – However, regarding our shared future, it would be given a far better chance if we allowed our shale gas to be tapped. A little bit of fracking would make all the difference. Oh, and by the way, surely WE here in NI are not the only ones’s resisting same sex marriage? The rest of the UK is having similar problems, as indeed are all the churches.

  6. Honkon Fuey says:

    What nonsense. Money cares about money. Which planet are you living on?

    If you think gay marriage is about gay marriage, you’re naive; it’s a land grab and a power play. This flaccid, intellect-free post is just so much butthurt. Don’t be socially conservative because… wealth? Right, and four legs are better than two. You should work on your own “ideas” (and indeed motives) before attacking those of others. Masses were around longer than the Alliance Party and will still be here when it’s gone.

    • Try reading the post before demonstrating my point by going off on irrational rants.

      • Honkon Fuey says:

        I read your post well – you are claiming something to be universally true which is clearly not. Money and power does not care about an open society – by your reasoning, no one would be investing in China; by your reasoning, Victorian Britain was opposed to scientific endeavour and created no wealth.

        The further point addressed the same-sex marriage debate, in what sense was it off-topic in a blog post about same-sex marriage? It’s a bit harsh reading back, but hardly irrational. Typically, it seems you equate conservative with crazy, but a more plural approach is possible.

  7. Clare says:

    More good stuff Ian.
    What significance is there in the fact the Stormont result divided more or less on sectarian lines?
    Macho Unionism says no again to anything progressive? They would have the place like the UK’s prehistoric museum.

    • It’s the usual Unionist fear of change. They are defending a position of artificial privilege which they believe is necessary for their own survival on the island. It’s been ever so since 1689.

      • The Listener says:

        That is just Alliance – Liberal cant. The fact is that the majority of the population of Northern Ireland work hard in order to survive. By and large those who cannot work, wish they could. No one thinks, “Oh my goodness I must defend my position of artificial privilege by opposing same sex marriage” Those who think about their faith, and by that I mean the followers of most mainstream faiths, have a sincere understanding of what “marriage” means to them. Those who hold the idea of “marriage” as being something special and definitive in a very precious way oppose another definition of the word “marriage” not because thay have a horror of same sex union, although some may, but because it fundamentally changes the definition with which they are comfortable. It is to some extent the same feeling of sadness which they may have as they view the greater prevalence of marriage break ups in this modern age, with the impact it has on families. Both attacks on “marriage” are due to airy fairy ill thought out liberal views.

  8. […]  ly successful and prosperous cities and regions (excluding those which have got there by dint purely of a lucky oil strike or some such), and you will think of truly open, multi-cultural, diverse and socially liberal cities – Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London, New York, Vancouver, Sydney and so on. These are cities which embrace change and innovation in business and thus lead the world in it – and inevitably they are cities which embrace social change and social innovation. In some ways, Dublin or Edinburgh could be placed on the above list. – https://ianjamesparsley.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/same-sex-marriage-would-do-more-for-ni-economy-than-… […]

  9. […] Think of all the seriously successful and prosperous cities and regions (excluding those which have got there by dint purely of a lucky oil strike or some such), and you will think of truly open, multi-cultural, diverse and socially liberal cities – Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London, New York, Vancouver, Sydney and so on. These are cities which embrace change and innovation in business and thus lead the world in it – and inevitably they are cities which embrace social change and social innovation. In some ways, Dublin or Edinburgh could be placed on the above list. – https://ianjamesparsley.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/same-sex-marriage-would-do-more-for-ni-economy-than-… […]

  10. Richard Cronin says:

    “socially conservative societies never – that’s *never* – flourish economically” ahh James. What happened to you!! How about Singapore, China, Russia, The US, S.Korea..

    • Eh?

      China hasn’t flourished at all, with life expectancy way behind the West and prosperity levels at around an eighth of ours.

      Singapore is somewhat more liberal than you’d think if you ever visit it.

      The US is a case in point – socially liberal California, New England and New York thrive while the socially Conservative South is left behind. Couldn’t have thought of a better example…

  11. Richard Cronin says:

    Harrumph!
    I will have to remind myself to check the credibility of anything written by someone who thinks that “china hasn’t flourished at all”
    and please tell me that you don’t think that cities in the deep south of the good ol usa are stagnant economically -apart from any effects that could be located within what the rest of the world is undergoing. ????

    oh and did i mention the middle east? I don’t think I did so I will . The Middle east.

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