There should be more pay cuts followed by a national pay freeze for five years for Ireland to regain its competitiveness, according to a leading Irish businessman.
Sean O'Driscoll, who is chief executive of Newry-founded Glen Dimplex - the world's largest electrical heating business - told a conference of business leaders and academics that Ireland still hadn't regained the competitive edge that drove the economy during the boom.
"Initially the national wage agreements were necessary, but the last two were far too excessive. Ireland was giving pay rises of 5% per annum, and other countries were increasing pay by 2.5%.
As a result, he said, Ireland's competitiveness was being compromised.
"A five-year pay freeze will replenish the country, and allow us to regain our competitiveness.
"We have heard a lot about the 'smart economy', but without a manufacturing industry there will be no smart economy. The Government needs to work to build an indigenous, export-driven, manufacturing industry," he said.
His words were echoed by a number of speakers at the forum.
The general manager of Intel Ireland, Jim O'Hara, called for the country's education system and civil service to be revamped.
"The system as it is now lacks 21st century knowledge.
"About 40% of maths teachers, through no fault of their own, don't have a primary maths degree.
"We have a public service that's a good size for England - it needs to change," he said.