• Sweden edition
 
STOCKHOLM DIPLOMATIC FILES
Irish ambassador: We're learning from the Swedes

Irish ambassador: We're learning from the Swedes

Published: 03 Dec 2012 12:46 GMT+01:00
Updated: 03 Dec 2012 12:46 GMT+01:00

Carroll is still getting his feet under the table since becoming Ireland’s ambassador to Sweden last February.

A veteran of the Department of Foreign Affairs since 1975, it’s no surprise that Carroll has a penchant for travelling as he is a native of Dun Laoghaire in Dublin Bay which once played host to the Vikings.

Contributor Patrick Reilly caught up with a recent visit by the ambassador to Lund in southern Sweden to find out more about Carroll's impressions of Sweden so far and how his current posting compares to his previous post in the West Bank.

The Local: You were Ireland’s Representative to the Palestinian National Authority before coming to Sweden. How did you end up here?

James Joseph Carroll: In my last job I was in Palestine for three and a half years and Sweden had the European Union Presidency in the second half of 2009 which was a very important period. Nobody did more on [Middle East] issues so I was working very closely with my Swedish colleagues and it struck me that on my next assignment I would ask to come here.

TL: From Ramallah to Stockholm is a radical departure. Are there any similarities between here and your previous post?

JJC: I think there is a lot of respect for rights. One thing I learned from the Palestinians is that they have an innate acceptance that there are God given rights and they feel that history has denied them these. They feel that in the fullness of time, and when justice is done, their rights will be vindicated. I think that strikes a chord in Sweden.

When Sweden had the EU chairmanship in 2009, the best document that the European community had on the issues was written, so that is a tribute to their solidarity with rights.

TL: Have you seen much of Sweden since taking up the role last February?

JJC: I’m trying to, as I promised my office that I would make three or four significant visits in my first year. I’ve been sort of attracted by universities so I went to Uppsala, Gothenburg and Lund.

I also went to Dalarna to get the heart of [Swedish consumer goods retailer] Clas Ohlsson and that kind of stuff.

TL: In Gothenburg you gave a lecture about the parallels between Ireland’s recent economic crisis and Sweden’s crisis in the 1990s.

JJC: We are learning from the Swedes. The Swedish economy overheated in the early 1990s where you had a property bubble that hurt a lot of people when it collapsed.

We allowed something quite similar to happen in Ireland but later. Greed gets out of hand and we let these bank owners really ride the horses to hell.

As Ireland is a part of the eurozone and subject to the rules of the European Central Bank, we don’t have quite the latitude that the Riksbank had to tackle the issues. The Irish Central Bank hired two leading economists from the Riksbank, Stefan Gerlach and Lars Frisell, who’ve come through that and learned the lessons. They are both extremely helpful to us.

Ireland now has export growth. We have a surplus in the national earnings so we have a positive national income. The real challenge is employment and debt.

TL: How strong are the relations between Ireland and Sweden?

JJC: Both nations are akin and have a close rapport. If you look at the European family - the ones who signed the treaty - Ireland is the most open economy and Sweden is the second. We’re both highly dependent on free trade, trade rules, and having the opportunity to do business unfettered from obstructionism.

Ireland and Sweden share the same values as we’ve come from Christendom and also from Greco-Roman law. We are both earning our keep by the sweat of our brow so we do things very similarly.

TL: Ireland changed the rules on the size of retail buildings to allow Ikea to build a giant superstore in Dublin in 2007. How are commercial links between the two countries?

JJC: We have Ericsson, which has a very important plant in Ireland that employs hundreds of people writing creative software. There is also Oriflame cosmetics, which has a presence.

Aer Lingus has restored its route to Stockholm after pulling out around 2001. They are also flying to again to Copenhagen, which is handy for southern Sweden. When the Stockholm route returned last March we had a Riverdance party at the gate!

You can also go from Skavsta with Ryanair, which is packed every day.

There are around 2,000 Irish citizens in Sweden and I suppose now with the downturn in Ireland there are some professionals coming over here.

TL: What impression do Swedes have of Ireland based on your time in the job so far?

JJC: It seems to be a warm and positive assessment. They sense that, in Ireland, the living is reasonably good, people value cultural and personal development, sport, and they get to enjoy life a bit.

But I think in Ireland we are a little bit less formal.

TL: Have you been surprised in the rise of Gaelic football in Sweden?

JC: I know the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) very well, which is the largest Irish cultural association in the world. It has a huge reach even though the game is only played in Ireland. One of my colleagues plays as a goalkeeper with the Stockholm Gaels. It’s terrific as it has all the attributes of exercise and comradeship but is also a marvellous network throughout Sweden.

TL: What do you think Ireland could learn from Sweden?

JJC: One thing I admire about the Swedes is their self-reliance and resilience. They have a very strong ability to get things done when it comes to discipline and time.

I met the man who was the chief executive of Ericsson when the dotcom bubble burst. He told me that he had to cut Ericsson in half overnight in order to survive. It’s now an €18 billion ($23.5 billion) corporation while previous competitors Motorola and Nortel are gone. That resilience and self-belief is something I admire.

TL: The Irish government closed a number of embassies including one in the Vatican recently to cut costs. Is there any threat to the office in Stockholm?

JJC: I don’t think so. When money is tight, it's tough to take difficult decisions and some weren’t ideal.

There isn't a Swedish embassy in Dublin - it closed in 2010 - but we do have a very active Swedish ambassador to Ireland, Elisabet Borsiin Bonnier, who is in Ireland a great deal of the time.

Sweden has also put a full-time minister-counsellor to run Swedish affairs in Dublin as of the start of November, and there is every possibility that the Swedish embassy in Ireland will reopen.

TL: How do you see the relationship between Ireland and Sweden going forward?

JJC: Ireland has to chair the European Union Presidency for six months from January 1st and it will be my role to lead that. I believe in leading from common ground and not from issues that are of excessive interest to Ireland, but something that interests everybody such as employment.

We share many political positions and anytime I have the honour of meeting [Swedish Foreign Minister] Carl Bildt we have a high degree of assimilation on policy as we face the same issues. Sweden wants the European family to work, as does Ireland.

There is also the small matter of a World Cup qualifier when Ireland comes to Sweden on March 22nd, so may the best team win!

Patrick Reilly

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

19:05 December 3, 2012 by StephenR
"A veteran of the Department of Foreign Affairs since 1975, it's no surprise that Carroll has a penchant for travelling as he is a native of Dun Laoghaire in Dublin Bay which once played host to the Vikings."

It's also where the Blueshirts set sail from to support Franco during the Spanish Civil War. Does that mean he has a penchant for fascism?
10:18 December 4, 2012 by Rey Stockholm
ireland can not afford the cost of this man swanning around Sweden burning money Ireland does not have

What does he think he actually achieves
14:55 December 5, 2012 by shahislam
Test:

It's not what dumb heads in control of economic-machine think. Only human global-guys to lose something from the balancing measures of Obama-Biden are the filthy-wealthy ones with unscrupulously obtained millions / billionns of dollars' worth of labor of $$$$$$$$$$$$$ from elsewhere in the world via oil, arms, insurance, royal-religion businesses etc.

Redistribution of wealth is much easier job than the wise but unnecessarily worried and conditioned golbal folks can guess.
Today's headlines
Sweden slammed for racism report omissions

Sweden slammed for racism report omissions

The Swedish government has been criticized by a slew of organisations for omitting a series of notorious cases of discrimination and a general lack of self-criticism in its report to the UN Human Rights Council. READ  

Sport
Sweden's star striker Zlatan 'recovering well'
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is Sweden's top scorer in history. PHOTO: TT/Maja Suslin

Sweden's star striker Zlatan 'recovering well'

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is recovering well from the nagging heel problem that has stopped him playing for Sweden during its Euro 2016 qualifying campaign. READ  

International
Swedish sisters create viral Syria stir
A shot from the video on YouTube.

Swedish sisters create viral Syria stir

Two sisters from Södertälje near Stockholm are celebrating getting more than 1.3 million hits on YouTube, with a video calling for peace in war-torn Syria. READ  

Pirate Bay
Pirate Bay founder gets three years in prison
A 2013 image of Svartholm Warg. Photo: TT

Pirate Bay founder gets three years in prison

Swedish "hactivist" Gottfrid Svartholm Warg has been sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for hacking crimes. READ  

Royal family
Princess Madeleine to make Nobel comeback
Princess Madeleine at a previous Nobel banquet. Photo: TT

Princess Madeleine to make Nobel comeback

Sweden's Princess Madeleine is scheduled to appear at the Nobel Festival in Stockholm in December, after taking time out from her royal duties to focus on looking after her daughter. READ  

Politics
'We knew that Israel would be critical'
Foreign Minister Margot Wallström (left), with Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven. Photo: TT

'We knew that Israel would be critical'

Sweden's Foreign Minister has told The Local she respects Israel's decision to recall its ambassador after Sweden officially recognized the State of Palestine, and laughed off comments about IKEA furniture made by her Israeli counterpart. READ  

Analysis
'Store up your sunlight hours before winter'
Doctors say we should make the most of the autumn sunshine. Photo: Shutterstock

'Store up your sunlight hours before winter'

Spending time outdoors this autumn will help you survive a cold, dark Swedish winter. Baba Pendse, Head of Psychiatry at Lund University shares his top tips for battling the seasonal blues with The Local. READ  

Sports
Plot for shared Scandi Winter Olympic bid
Skiers hit the slopes in Åre, western Sweden. Photo: TT

Plot for shared Scandi Winter Olympic bid

Norwegian sports officials have said they want to co-host the winter Olympics with Sweden in 2026. But there has so far been no official response from Sweden. READ  

National
Anti-Israel graffiti 'not a race crime': Court
Photo: TT

Anti-Israel graffiti 'not a race crime': Court

A teenage boy who painted anti-Israel slogans and symbols on the Concert Hall in Gothenburg has been convicted for the damages he caused, but he walked free from racial agitation charges. READ  

Entertainment
A closer look at Sweden's rising stars
Swedish actresses Sandra Huldt and Julia Ragnarsson. Julia (right) has been nominated for a Rising Star award. Photo: TT

A closer look at Sweden's rising stars

Like to be ahead of the game when it comes to the next big thing on the silver screen? We find out more about the Swedish nominees for the Rising Star award to be presented at Stockholm's International Film Festival next week. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Lifestyle
Stockholm's shocking take on Halloween
Sport
Top ten quotes from Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Business & Money
Get your own office in Gothenburg or Stockholm - free for a day
Gallery
People-watching: October 30th
National
Sweden remains fourth best for gender equality
Blog updates

31 October

Editor’s Blog, October 31st (The Local Sweden) »

"Hello readers, Welcome to our latest 60-second round-up of the week’s news. First, Sweden made headlines around the..." READ »

 

29 October

Scariest day (Blogweiser) »

"This is what’s frightening me on Halloween. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4OFZVCu8J0&list=UUJu5J7jG4uoYSjWbpFsJBuQ Follow my posts on FB. ..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Timeline: Julian Assange sex allegations
Sport
World Cup ski race on 'fake' Stockholm slope
Society
An Arctic tradition: hunting and handicraft
Society
Stockholm taxis offer free therapy sessions
National
The Local meets Health Minister Gabriel Wikström
Gallery
Property of the week: Österåker
Society
Homeless turtles get Stockholm police ride
National
Construction worker has 'Sweden's best beard'
National
Italian musician jazzes up Sweden's Lapland
Gallery
Zlatan's career in pictures
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching: October 25th and 26th
Lifestyle
'Swedes are funnier than they think'
National
Swedish town 'like Venice' after heavy rains
Lifestyle
What's On in Sweden: October 24th - 31st
Gallery
People-watching: October 22nd
Gallery
In Pictures: Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist
Lifestyle
Eight things to love about renting a Swedish apartment
National
Vasa ship cannon blasted in Sweden
National
Sub hunt: Day-by-day
National
Sub hunt: Stockholm islanders share their fears with The Local
Sponsored Article
The best options for oversea transfers
National
Dentist gives free care to Roma beggars
Gallery
Property of the week: Malmö
Gallery
PHOTOS: 'Foreign activity' in Swedish waters
TT
Society
QUIZ: How good is your Swedish?
Society
The nudity... and nine other things expat men notice in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 15th
Gallery
Your views: Should outdoor smoking be banned in Sweden?
Business & Money
Sweden has 'large hole' in finances
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Finding a job in Stockholm
Society
Monster salmon caught in northern Sweden
Gallery
Property of the week: Lorensberg
National
Scandinavia's child bride
National
Ebola crisis: How is Sweden preparing?
Business & Money
How Sweden is becoming a cashless society
Gallery
Stockholm Burlesque Festival 2014
National
How a little red horse became a symbol for Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 12th
Business & Money
The hottest start-ups from southern Sweden
National
Stockholm is 'best' region for well-being
Sponsored Article
How to catch the first lobster of the year
Team SCA
Sponsored Article
All-female SCA team takes off on Volvo Ocean Race
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

935
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN