Enterprise minister Batt O'Keeffe: Ireland needs move away from property and get back to business

The financial events that have occurred over the past two years can be compared to a huge earthquake ripping apart old financial systems. The pressures and imbalances that had built up in Ireland – and in the international financial system – had reached the point where something had to give, and the resulting earthquake has flattened everything, or so it feels some days.

"Imbalance" is the word that economists like to use when referring to these pressurised build-ups. They will build up again, but for now we are in for a period of relative calm and slow early-stage growth. Where there was once imbalance, a new balance will emerge. The human capitalist system is like a living ecosystem, and a natural balance will be re-established. As individual economic agents, we all want to prosper, and the combination of all our individual actions creates this prosperity. The prosperity of the nation will grow from the bottom up through the actions of these individuals, and the blind chatter from Leinster House is of little consequence.

Like earthquakes in the physical world, the initial reaction to our financial crisis was panic and terror. I certainly saw this during the early stages and I still see it around me now. After this initial shock, weak and dangerous structures, and then aftershocks, become the secondary fears. This is the phase of the crisis that we are just emerging from. The weakness of many companies and the fear of job losses caused people to stop spending and to start hoarding cash. The fear from aftershocks such as Greece also prompted moments of terror, but we see that this is only an aftershock and not another quake. The worst is over and it is now time to rebuild. Pain will still lie ahead but the system is healing and growing.

The current fiscal crisis in the eurozone will pass. The central banks and governments of the world now fully recognise the risk of another liquidity crisis, and the ensuing world depression that would occur. Bailouts will be used as and when required to save the system at any cost. The correction of government fiscal deficits will be achieved through taxation and further austerity. This leaves the responsibility for growth to be delivered by the private business sector.

To regain and secure our prosperity we must now build a new society on which it can grow. Perched on a rock off the western edge of Europe, and looking towards America, we certainly live on an economic fault line. Booms or busts in either America or Europe can have huge positive or negative effects on Ireland. Set against this volatility and exposure, we are perfectly positioned to trade and prosper from both economies. These are by far the largest economies in the world and will be for many years to come. A remodeled and refocused Ireland can now recognise and use this strength. This was our focus in the real boom of the 1990s and we lost sight of this in the credit bubble of the 2000s.

Werner Sombart, a German sociologist introduced the concept of 'creative destruction' to the world. The concept outlines the creative power that can be unleashed by destruction. No doubt, he did not have scenarios such as ours in mind when he coined this term, but it fits Ireland perfectly. The destruction of the property market and associated industry, and the resulting collapse of the economy, will unleash a new wave of creative business that will drive the whole economy forwards.

I now see these start-ups around every corner and this is where the positive energy is. This is where the edge is and we need to get back onto the business edge. New businesses should be supported wherever you find them. Buy Irish, trade locally, and let's support each other. This message needs to be embraced at all levels from the smallest purchases to the largest corporate deals. Let's look after each other.

The fulcrum of the new balance that Ireland seems to be achieving is the switch away from property and back to business. It is brilliant to see. The energy of the dotcom boom in the late 1990s was a special thing, and I can see it forming again in new and different industries. The world is our market and we are at the centre of it. We can make and trade our way out of this mess.

We are a strong, creative and talented people, and we have the ability to nurture, establish and grow organisations and companies that generate profits and support the wider Irish society. It's time to pick ourselves up off the floor, get back on the horse and start moving forwards again. Sitting around the wreckage wondering what happened will not assist in the building of a new future.

The past is interesting but it is frozen in time and we can never visit it again. The future is relevant and we can influence and change it to fit our needs. I am putting my energy into the relevant half of the equation, which is the future. Nama and its circle of friends have €200m a year to spend on minding and milking the wreckage of the property boom. I am happy to leave them to scrap over this €200m and divide it among themselves. There are fortunes beyond this to be earned in the real world of business. Hopefully I will meet some of you there.