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'Sell water to Saudi Arabia and turf to England': A Londoner's advice to Garret FitzGerald

William Long, from Essex, wrote to the then Taoiseach with his plans for Irish trade.

AN ESSEX MAN sent Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald tips on how Ireland could bring in millions through foreign trade.

Archive material released by the National Archives revealed how William Long believed the country could make money by selling water to Arab states and turf to England for barbecues.

The letter, sent in March 1986, describes how the man’s mother is from Athlone and he has always had “an interest in what you are all up to over there”.

Long encouraged FitzGerald to “buy a few laid up supertankers and ship Irish water where there ain’t”.

He wrote: “Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Nations spend a fortune desalinating sea water, and there is you, sitting there with gallons of the stuff. Why don’t you have a check round the dry state embassies and see what they are paying for desalination.”


On a smaller point, Long thought the Irish government should take the opportunity to export turf to England for barbecues because they would buy it as it was cheaper than charcoal.

He added: “Secondly, on a smaller scale, turf for English barbecues. Not the briquettes, a la natural, in paper sacks. The smoke will choke half the neighbourhood I  hear you say. What has England ever done for you I say! They will buy it if it is cheaper than charcoal – take my word. I wish you luck.”

See National Archives, Reference:

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