Introduction: the Irish way in world affairs
Ireland as a world power? Not quitel But Ireland as an international success story, yes. From a Slnall (estimated population 3.6 million) and backward country, traditionally one of the 'poor cousins' on the fringes of Europe and historically wedded econonlically and, pre-independence, by force to the needs and colonial ambitions of Great Britain, Ireland has emerged in recent decades as a country reborn - prosperous, self-confident, and a player of consequence on the international scene. Marked by a newly evolving social culture and a demand for more of the fruits of prosperity, it is a nation that through careful planning, discipline, and a skilful use of the resources at its disposal has taken an aggressive approach to international trade and finance, self-consciously positioning itself to benefit from the regional interdependence and globalised marketplace now in place. The strategies being followed arc not without risk, but the successes to date far outdistance the trouble spots that remain in its society and the potential problems of future years are (as of now) seemingly far off.