'Celtic Tiger' Has a Thorn in Its Paw

Ahern's heir inherits an Ireland whose boom is behind it
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 3, 2008 7:38 AM CDT
President Bush, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of calif. walk down the steps of the Capitol in Washington, Monday, March 17, 2008.    (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
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(Newser) – In his 11 years as Ireland's prime minister, Bertie Ahern presided over explosive economic growth that earned the once-moribund nation the nickname "Celtic Tiger." But his presumptive successor, finance minister Brian Cowen, is inheriting a dismal situation: after a decade of boom, Ireland's economy is set to grow at the slowest rate in 20 years, writes Bloomberg.

Ireland's economy doubled in size during Ahern's tenure, and growth averaged 7% a year under Ahern—three times the Eurozone average. But that figure will collapse to just 2.8% in 2008 in the face of high interest rates and a slumping housing market. With the "Celtic Tiger" period drawing to a close, says one Dublin economist, "maybe Ahern is leaving at the right time."