I would suggest that bicycles have the potential to save Ireland from its mess, or at least contribute heavily to getting through this crisis.
For countries like France, Germany and Italy, car-dependency is a swings-and-roundabouts issue. On the con side, they are at the mercy of the vagaries of the oil markets, and are currently suffering as all the new oil finds are in low-volume, high-cost shale-oil pockets, and this suffering will continue until someone finds a new Saudi Arabia of easy-to-extract, high-quality, high-volume oil.
On the pro side, they have an important automobile industry, so any attempt to switch to cycling has the potential to undermine that industry.
But for Ireland, it's all con, economically. Every car we import is a massive flow of funds out of the country. Every car guzzles down ever-more-expensive foreign oil. For some, it's a totally necessary expense.
But for many, it's a luxury that they permit themselves, despite much better options being available. We all know very fat people who work five miles away from their homes, but drive there alone in their cars every day, befouling the air, damaging the roads, blocking the streets. They sit in traffic, wasting their time (which is arguably none of my business), and wasting the time of other road users (which is definitely my business).
Let's do a quick calculation of how much Ireland (the economy as a whole, not the government) would save in imported fuel and if every worker who lives fewer than 5 miles from their workplace were to cycle to work rather than drive.
The main areas of savings would be fuel consumption, need to replace cars (the milage will go down, therefore there'd be no need to replace a car every 5 years) and time lost to sitting in traffic jams (people can earn more money by taking on overtime, or businesses can require their workers to do extra hours, which makes them more profitable and thus pay more taxes to lower our deficit.) Business deliveries will become quicker thanks to a reduction in traffic jams, which will make our economy more dynamic.
I strongly sense that the most fanatical austerians will suddenly come over all Krugman-esque when this proposal to reduce our deficit without spending anything comes up for discussion.