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Keywords:

  • state spatiality;
  • spatial Keynesianism;
  • Ireland;
  • National Spatial Strategy;
  • gateway cities

Abstract:  The transition from Fordism to post-Fordism has been accompanied by profound changes in the spatiality of west European states. The hierarchical, top-down and redistributive structures that typified the Fordist welfare state have been replaced by more complex spatial configurations as elements of economic and political power have shifted both downwards to subnational territorial levels and upwards to the supranational level. A major debate has developed around the nature of these emerging forms of state spatiality and of the processes underpinning their formation. This paper examines how these processes have operated in the particular case of the Republic of Ireland. Here, the spatiality of the state was founded on a peculiar post-colonial combination of a localised populist politics and a centralised state bureaucracy. While this arrangement was quite suited to the spatial dispersal of industrial branch plants which underpinned regional policy in the 1960s and 1970s, it has become increasingly problematic with the more recent emergence of new trends in the nature and locational preferences of inward investment. This is reflected in the profound conflicts that have attended the formulation and implementation of the National Spatial Strategy, introduced in 2002. The result is a national space economy whose increasing dysfunctionality may now be compromising the very development model upon which Ireland's recent spectacular economic growth has been built.