‘Berlin is not Munich’: What Ireland can learn from Bavaria
Irish people based in the sprawling German region offer advice on the CSU visit
A view of the St Ulrich and Afra Church in the city of Augsburg, Bavaria, Germany. Photograph: Christof Stache/AFP/Getty Images
The easiest way to think of Bavaria is to imagine Cork merged with Kerry: sprawling, proud, independently minded and prickly if they feel patronised from the far-away capital.
Both the State and Bavaria have much in common: a Catholic past that is today more cultural than God-fearing; stunning natural environs; a shared love of beer, and a relatively recent economic transformation.
“Lacking raw materials such as coal and iron, both were forced to transition from agriculture to modern technology,” said David Dempsey, a Munich-based Irish businessman. “Both are now headquarters to large IT players like Microsoft and Google. ”
Even though Berlin is Dublin’s official partner, Dempsey recommends treating Bavaria as a separate country: it is almost the same size as Ireland but with nearly three times the population.
“Co-operate with Bavarian politicians,” he urged. “Berlin is not Munich.”
Michael John Gorman moved from TCD’s Science Gallery to Munich and is now working to found Biotopia, an ambitious new life sciences museum in the Bavarian capital.
If Ireland is serious about R&D and environmental and climate politics, he says, it will prioritise political and research co-operation with Bavaria’s rich academic and research landscape.
“In the days of Fridays For Future and Extinction Rebellion, Ireland could learn from Bavaria’s example and make a similar transition to more sustainable agriculture,” he said.
For Dr Susan Walsh, head of Munich’s Globe Business College, Bavaria should enjoy most-favoured status in lifting educational exchange from page to reality.
“Something could be developed specifically with regard to transition-year exchange,” she said. “Even spending a week in Munich can start a love affair with the city for young Irish people that brings many benefits over time.”
Businesswoman Ann Dempsey has called on Dublin to supplement the State’s “A Wider and Deeper Footprint” strategy paper for German-Irish relations with one on Bavaria that goes beyond random, occasional interaction.
“Create a strategic plan that identifies from 2020-2027 how the relationship between Ireland and Bavaria will work together with common visions and identifiable actions,” she said. “Have repeatable state/state agency exchanges and repeatable visits.”