Currency conundrum: 'You are trapped by Germany now as you cannot devalue,' says John Taylor

LEAVING the euro will provide the swiftest solution to Ireland's economic woes, according to former Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) politician and multi-millionaire media mogul John Taylor.

"It was a great mistake for Ireland to join the euro as it was more of a political decision than an economic decision," said Taylor, also known as Lord Kilclooney. "The Republic turned its back on the US and the UK and opted to go into the eurozone hoping to build up trade with Portugal and Spain to replace their main US and UK markets. But of course it is hard to know how they expected to export to Spain, Portugal and Greece."

Taylor owns the Alpha newspaper group that has numerous titles in the North as well as the Athlone Voice, Roscommon Champion, Tullamore Tribune, Longford News and Midland Tribune in the Republic.

He claimed that Irish manufacturing industries have suffered heavily with job loses that could have been averted if we were not in the eurozone.

"As the US dollar and sterling declined in value, the euro remained high and made it more and more difficult for the Republic to export to its main markets," Taylor told the Sunday Tribune. "Had they retained the punt, they could have devalued the currency to be more in line with the dollar and sterling. You are trapped by Germany now as you cannot devalue and the Republic's exports are reduced fantastically. The one way this can be reversed is for the Republic to leave the eurozone."

Taylor rejected the idea that Ireland would be in the same dire state as Iceland if it were not in the eurozone.

"A few weeks ago 80% of the people in Iceland wanted to join the euro but that is now down to 40% as the people of Iceland have even decided on reflection that they do not want to be part of the euro."

While Taylor's blueprint for economic recovery is unlikely to get much of a hearing, other unconventional plans were the subject of discussion last week.

Soon after Taoiseach Brian Cowen revealed plans for the emergency budget, the Green party said it planned to propose a one-cent tax on each of the 25 million text messages sent by mobile phone users every day.

Estimates of how much tax this would generate have varied, with some putting it at around €81m a year. RTE's economics editor George Lee proposed the texting tax on radio last week and claimed it could raise €100m a year. Voters in Sacramento, California gave their approval to a texting tax last year.

Elsewhere, the director of the Irish Business and Employers' Confederation, Turlough O'Sullivan, will be making a pre-budget submission in the coming weeks.

It has been reported that Ibec is expected to call for the abolition of the Seanad and a reduction in the number of junior ministers.

There are 60 senators in Seanad Eireann and 20 junior ministers in government. There has been much criticism of the cost to the exchequer of junior ministers as they multiplied during Bertie Ahern's tenure as taoiseach.

The 60 senators earn salaries of over €70,000, and almost a third of them claimed over €50,000 in expenses in 2008. So at a conservative estimate the abolition of the Seanad could save a up to €50m in one year alone.