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John Simkin

Global Happiness

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The Economics Intelligence Unit has studied data on incomes, health, unemployment, climate, political stability, job security, gender equality, freedom and community life of 111 different countries. They have then ranked the countries in order of what it calls “quality of life”.

The top ten are:

1. Ireland

2. Switzerland

3. Norway

4. Luxembourg

5. Sweden

6. Australia

7. Iceland

8. Italy

9. Denmark

10. Spain

USA was 13th, the UK 29th.

Bottom ten are;

102. Turkmenistan

103. Kyrgyzstan.

104. Russia

105. Uzbekistan

106. Tajikistan

107. Tanzania

108. Nigeria

109. Botswana

110. Haiti

111. Zimbabwe

It does not surprise me that Ireland came first. Outside of Dublin, the Irish people seem the happiest I have come across.

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Thought you might be interested in some of the letters in the Guardian on the survey quoted above:

All the issues highlighted in the article about Ireland's nomination as the world's best place to live suggest it may actually not be the best country to live in.

Ireland is going through a boom that resembles the one in the UK in the 80s. Inevitably its people, society, environment and culture are all paying the price. For example, the Irish government recently condemned the wild salmon, a national symbol and known in folklore (for example the story of Fionn MacCumhail, who created the Giant's Causeway), to be plundered by nets that it won't buy out, much to the dismay of environmentalists, nature lovers, anglers and the tourist industry.

It is fitting that instead of protecting nature and natural heritage, the government, for its own political ends, should defer to those interests, with only short-term gain in mind. The rest of the country awaits the same fate, as can be seen from urban sprawl, suicide rates, unaffordable property prices, rising pollution and the rest of the nation's ills.

The country has sold out, losing much of what once made it unique only to become West Britain or the 51st state. Unfortunately, to the Economist and its questionable computer model, this makes it paradise.

John Reynolds

Upper Rathdrum, Co Wicklow, Ireland

Being one of the Irish diaspora that returned in 1996, I take issue with the negative views of John Waters. Ireland has its problems - social inequality, a tax regime that favours the rich and racism - but church influence has diminished and we are proud to be a largely secular state.

In previous decades people had to leave their loved ones to find work abroad, but now they start families, have careers and look forward to an Irish future. And this new Ireland has a creative soul where theatre, opera festivals and art exhibitions flourish.

Waters disparages the "craic", but in cafes and pubs from Cork to Donegal, there is effervescence to enjoy, in a country that is no longer inward-looking but embraces the outside world.

JJ Casey

Dublin, Ireland

The survey highlighting Ireland's premier quality of life seems far-fetched, but it has its heart in the right place. Living in Britain for most of my life and returning to Ireland in the 90s, I can see that a sea change in attitudes to both Ireland and the Irish has taken place, both in Britain and Europe.

The survey is perhaps "enlightened propaganda", but it is a welcome change from the 80s, when the young were abandoning Ireland in droves, and both the economy and culture of Ireland were dying out.

At this time anything associated with Ireland in the British media usually met with a howl of derision, with Ireland being seen as a priest-ridden banana republic. The times have certainly changed indeed.

Stephen Goldrick

Castlebar, Co Mayo, Ireland

Interesting that, of the 10 countries with the best quality of life according to the Economist, no fewer than six, including the top one, are members of the EU. I wonder what the Eurosceptic brigade has to say about that?

Alan Pavelin

Chislehurst, Kent

The people who voted Ireland the top country obviously did not travel very much. Travelling about the place is a nightmare. Allow two hours for a five-mile journey across Dublin or expect to stand on the few trains that run.

Alan Williams

Gloucester

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