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Paschal Donohoe says Ireland needs to “build back better”

Fine Gael Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has said that Ireland needs to “build back better” in regards to the climate crisis, echoing the words of the World Economic Forum, US President Joe Biden, and others.

Speaking on Wednesday the 19th to the Dublin Climate Dialogues, Donohoe said:

“The pandemic has progressed our understanding of the delicate relationship between the natural environment and the resilience of our societies. This has re-focused minds on the need to embed sustainability in policy design, and has underscored the imperative that our strategies for stimulating the economic recovery must be underpinned by the goal of ‘building back better’.”

“Climate action requires a response across every sector of our economy and society and involves all Ministers of our Government,” he added, calling for Ireland to reach zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The phrase “build back better” – which is synonymous with the furthering of radical green policies – was first coined by the United Nations in 2017. However, it was the campaign slogan of US President Joe Biden, and was popularised in 2020 by the World Economic Forum (WEF), a.k.a. the group behind the infamous “Great Reset”.

“Building back better”, according to the WEF, involves “reimagining capitalism” to “de-carbonise” – in other words, de-industrialise – “entire economies.” They also argue that “we must leverage the COVID-19 pandemic” to make sure that it becomes the catalyst for a “profound” transformation of the global economy.

It is noteworthy that while proponents of the idea don’t ever fully explain what “better” means in the context of their plan – or who life will be getting better for – it appears to involve massive wealth transfers from the poorest people in the world to the richest. But that’s for another article altogether.

The goal of this agenda aside, it should be noted that the use of this phrase perfectly proves that Irish politicians are reading off the same hymn sheet as every other world leader on issues like climate change and economics. Donohoe is not the first Irish Minister to use the expression recently after all; Fianna Fáil Health Minister Stephen Donnelly also used the catchphrase in late 2020.

Around the same time the Green Party also used the phrase in a promotional video, and Sinn Féin Enterprise Spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD said that “the government have to build back better, and build a more robust, progressive economy.”

Similarly, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform, Mairéad Farrell TD, said “”If we are going to build back better, then the time to do it is now, there is no time to delay”

The phrase has also been used by a huge number of Irish charities, figureheads, and NGOs, including Oxfam, Trócaire, and former President Mary Robninson, along with many others – see the thread below. RTÉ have even referenced it.

Outside of Ireland, the expression is being used by the United Nations…

…the European Union…

…the World Health Organisation…

…the UK government…

…the US government…


…as well as the We Mean Business Coalition, Australian and African media, Friends of the Earth Europe, (who also identify it as a “feminist” issue), and much, much more. The examples really are endless.

It does make you wonder whether our leaders are so deprived of the ability to muster a single thought of their own that they cannot come up with even the most cursory original phrase, and must instead endlessly bleat whatever the latest “in vogue” slogan is amongst the world’s opinion formers. What does “build back better” even mean, in an Irish context, beyond sending a signal that our leaders are good boys and girls who are totally on board with what the cool kids are saying at Davos?

Some will call you a conspiracy theorist for even mentioning this, but that’s absurd. Scrutinising the most powerful people in the world and wondering why they appear to be coordinating on messaging, no matter how distant and seemingly unrelated they are from one another, is perfectly legitimate. And someone needs to start asking some serious questions about where our leaders’ ideas are coming from and who’s pushing them, because they clearly lack the capability to think them up themselves.

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