Michael Collins most progressive economic view of revolutionaries -Jim Power

Economist says his task when speaking atBéal na Bláth will be to link current challenges to his vision

Michael Collins had the most progressive economic view of all the revolutionary generation , not seen again until Sean Lemass, Jim Power has said.

According to the economist, who will give the oration at this year's Béal na Bláth commemoration in West Cork.

Michael Collins in his role as minister for finance [1919-1922]in the provisional government proved himself to be an original thinker when it came to Ireland’s economic development, Mr Power said.

“Looking at some of the stuff that Michael Collins wrote in relation to the economy when he was minister for finance, he had, in my view, probably the most forward looking economic view that this country saw until the advent of Sean Lemass [ taoiseach 1959-1966],” said Mr Power.


“He was writing back in 1922 about the need to develop our natural resources, the need to create to promote agriculture and the need to develop export markets and create a sort of a clearing house in Dublin to facilitate Irish trade,” he added.

"He had a vision for the development of the Irish economy that sadly died with him and then we had De Valera pursuing a totally protectionist policy that basically left Ireland in the Dark Ages economically and socially and all that changed with the advent of Sean Lemass."

The Commemoration at Béal na Bláth is held every August to mark the anniversary of the killing of Collins in an Republican ambush during the Irish Civil War in 1922. Mr Power will become the first economist to speak at the event when he gives the oration on August 25th.

“I am honoured and am looking forward to it but with some trepidation- it’s such a historic event obviously but also being the first economist - my task will be to try and relate current economic development and challenges to what Collins would have envisaged,” he said.

A former chief economist with Bank of Ireland who has also worked for AIB Bank and Friends First, Mr Power revealed it will be an emotional occasion giving the oration as his late father, Thomas use to make the journey annually to Béal na Bláth for the commemoration.

"My father died when I was 17 but growing up in Cloneapower in rural Co Waterford, as a kid I was very aware of him and my maternal uncles Bobby and Mossie Power making the annual pilgrimage to Béal na Bláth every August," he said.

“I’ve never been to the commemoration but going there this year to give the oration, I must say I was quite emotional when I was asked given my late father’s faithful attendance every year so it promises to be a quite poignant occasion on a personal level,” he said.

Newly appointed Chair of the Béal na Bláth Commemoration Committee, Cllr Garret Kelleher said the committee were delighted to have such an eminent economist as Mr Power give the oration, particularly given the many challenges facing the country with Brexit looming.

“Jim is amongst Ireland’s pre-eminent economists and we look forward hearing to his views on the role Michael Collins, as Minister for Finance, played in the foundation of the state and also to hearing his thoughts on the economic challenges which Ireland currently faces.”

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times