Ireland has caught up with the two biggest spending welfare states, France and Sweden,with government spending at around 56% of Gross National Income.See tables at end of http://budget.gov.ie/Budgets/2013/Do...%20Outlook.pdf
Key figures: Current spending estimate 2012 €60.4 billion + capital spending 6.8 bn = 67.2 bn. Plus interest costs 6.3 for a total of €73.5 billion. Gross national income (GNI) was 80.5% of GDP in 2011 and given the Finance estimate for 2012 for GDP of 163 bn,that suggests GNI of €131 bn. Total government spending of 73.5 bn divided by 131 bn is 56%,so well over half of national income is spent by government.
With a well run government,such spending should give Ireland free health care,plentiful social housing,free third level education,primary schools free of prefabs,very generous day care,generous care for the elderly,high quality nursing homes and high quality public transport in the major cities.But lack of long range planning in favour of parish pump politics over decades has prevented proper development of these services. Let's hope the upcoming constitutional convention can find a remedy even if the public is not yet disillusioned with extreme proportional representation.