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The Cost of Corruption

Frank at Internet Commentator was moved to respond to my earlier post about the manner in which West Dublin like other communities around the country were failed by the eighties. Frank takes issue with the causal relation between the corruption and the estates that were thrown up around the country. Perhaps I mis-represented my point slightly but I certainly do not hold that at the core, developers greed and action is sufficient to explain the outcome.


The role of the developer is explicit-to build and sell as many units as they possibly can. In that regards, land which is set aside for schooling, parks, amenities and community centres hurts the overall margin. It damages to profitability of the project and as a result is something the developer may not want. The only way to compensate for the lost land is to up the price of the remaining units, you are paying for services and the developer retains his profit.


Yet throughout the eighties there wasn't a great deal of money sloshing about the place. Not everybody could afford the added cost of better communities which had been future proofed against social decay. Since then the areas of deprivation have been precisely these areas of the country. There has not been the economic success there on the scale seen in other parts of Dublin and Ireland. The celtic tiger has passed by. There are many reasons for this but one must surely be the lack of coherent planning which would equip the large numbers of people moving into the estates to succeed in the future. No means of economic enhancement only insured that the lack of power to influence the market only continued.


While it may have been in the interest of individuals and communities to have provisions in place before the areas got flooded with cul-de-sacs and endless houses, they didnt have the purchasing power to effectively change the market. So they instead had to go with what was affordable in the short term. Here is where our other side of the coin comes in. Representatives of the public are elected to act in the public interest. At a local level the politicians are responsible for planning and development. What took place under the regimes of the eighties was a clear attempt to peddle influence and decisions for cash. The public representative had the power to place the onus on the developer to build amenities which future proof communties and prevent social disintegration.


A planners job is planning, their job is to expect hte huge population expansion that comes with cementing over most of West Dublin and to put in place plans and regulations which make this process as smooth as possible, not for the market but for the individuals who in ten or twenty years time will be living in the area with children and grandchildren. It goes without saying that in a high-density area the major issues will be crime and services. What was done (and as I mentioned earlier this is observation from the car window so do correct me if I am wrong) was that many thousands of houses were built which rested on a small central village to support community needs-the village was not reinforced or strengthed to cope with the demands of the exponential explosion in numbers.


The developer bought himself the rights to do as he wished with large tracts of the country. They did so becuase there was no other way to get things done. The cost of corruption is that it failed the communities of Ireland which elected officials to look after them. It goes on costing the state, the economy and most importantly the groups who live there.


When I argued that whatever was achieved in the areas around the country that were thrown up and then ring-fenced was done in spite of the political/developer class I did so with both parties culpable. Indeed if anything politics is more culpable. The developer has one agenda which we are all aware of. The politician is a person elected to counter the worst indulgences of developers desire for profit and think about the community needs.


Gavin's response to the market-emphasis of Franks post says it well "Did Korean people demand super fast broadband and then benefit from it, or did the government see the benefits in advance and force it on a market that did not see the potential positive future effects on the economy?" Similarly is it really the case that because those who moved into these areas didnt-or couldnt- demand amenities and services to be provided the fault lies elsewhere? I dont think so, we were failed by a political and developer class who walked all over the rights of the public. The politicians sold their public up the swanny. The developers built the boat.

6.29.2006 » Author: Cian » Comments:

Failed by The Eighties

I was luck enough to drive through Clondalkin, Ballyfermot and Lucan yesterday. Lucky because it served to remind me that no matter how hard FF and the media soldiers try to deny it, Haughey and his clan on the Dublin councils sold families up the swanny. Im not going to patronise commuunities with their own social fabric and stories by pretending to know the whole area from a window of a car but even a cursory glance shows that whatever the people of these areas have achieved it was done without any help from CJ Haughey.


When the developers got their hands on West Dublin up went the endless acres of houses, nominal services were put into the areas. Small central villages were supposed to support huge numbers of people. The developers cared not one wit, nor the councillors who operated so cosily with them. Many may tire of hearing Joe Higgins (and Ciaran Cuffe alluded to it in an inteview for us here) over recent days lament how it was CJ and his FF proxies on the councils that sold his constituents up the swanny but forget it we shouldnt. Some of these communities have been handily removed from the eye of your average commuter. The Chapelizod bypass, Naas Road, N4 and M50 all take traffic away from these areas, gently suppressing them out of sight and out of mind.


That drive reminded me that throughout the reign of the developer and their friends, a reign not yet over, the lives of families were cast aside. The needs of a community replaced by inaction and greed on the political prioity list. We trust these people to deliver the basic needs of a community and instead they construct areas which provide barriers to social progress. These parts of Dublin and their corresponding areas around Ireland have bred scenes of desperate inequality and poverty (true often accompanied by crime, agression and anti-social behaviour alongwith it). Erected endless barriers to success for those who live there. Of course progress has been made in all of these areas. Local groups and community activists have invested time and energy to helping improve things on the ground. My sole point is that all that improvement came in spite of the actions of the politican/developer class not because of it. And who was it that was king of the hill?

6.20.2006 » Author: Cian » Comments:

Government Fails to Support Calls for Universal Broadband Provision

Not sure if this missive from the desk of Labour's press office get mentioned online or in the press but is seems that our dearest government are reluctant to make amends for the whoring off of Eircom and support a European provision for the universal provision of broadband services*.


Some quotes from the press release;

"Last year the European Commission issued a proposal on extending the USO to include broadband internet services. Under the USO basic fixed line telephone services are available at an affordable price to all citizens. There is also a postal USO where all households and businesses are entitled to a postal delivery on every working day.

...

However information released yesterday to my colleague Proinsais De Rossa MEP from the European Commissioner Viviane Reding, indicated that the Government failed to make any submission on the development of a broadband USO. Rather they subsequently supported a decision on foot of this consultation process to exclude broadband internet services and mobile telephony services from the scope of universal service."




All bloggers and many more besides have their Eircom horror stories. The company has a terrible, and deserved, reputation for service issues and general couldnt be arsedness about the rollout of anything above telephony. Of course they are more than willing to drag proposals to unbundle the last mile-one of their few remaining assets (thanks Tony & Co.)-through the courts to delay the prospect of letting semi-decent company deal with the issues. The selling of the company with no provision for state/social input into the direction of telephony services in the state was a terrible error but one which could have been avoided. It was folly and shortsighted to fob it off.


If someone was going to run a company into the ground, cease the rollout of decent services and treat the customers like shit, while all the time stripping assets and burdening the company with mind-boggling debt and running off with the profit, why couldnt it be the state? At least the pension fund would be healthy.


Instead of atoning for and admitting the mistake, Dempsey true to character perseveres in stubborn intransigence. Wonderful.



* Which of course strips open that EU dilemma, it has the ability to parachute good law over shit government but also stands to parachute bad law over our will.

UPDATE: Thanks to Damien Mulley in the comments for pointing out that Labour didnt make any submission to the Commission on this proposal either. Glasshouses?


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6.18.2006 » Author: Cian » Comments:

Haughey Wasnt God

In a shock break with the aura surrounding the funeral of CJ Haughey, the church-of-those-who-seek-to-recall-the-utter-shite-of-the-eighties-and-the-lies-CJ-fed-the-irish-people was moved to release a statement which reiterated that CJ was not God. With the impression coming from most fawning media quarters and the speeches being trotted out by government for the recent days that not alone did Haughey's shit not smell but that he didnt shit at all they felt the need to inject some reality into the piece.


A bit harsh, you say. Nonsense. Gavin has it spot on. The agenda here is a happy coincidence of media and government interest. Its mid-june and there is nothing happening for the media to turn into a sound bite. On the comedown from the A Case fallout they are looking for a quick fix. Haughey's legacy is the story which will run and run for as long as is desired and can be pounced upon with a minimum of forethought and consideration. That clear and present need coincides with ongoing goverment attempts to rehabilitate Haughey's career into the shining path of leaders.


Haughey respected public institutions? What about obstructing McCraken?
He served the people? When it suited.
Haughey was not satan, nor was he God.


He was a man who sought to pursue his own agenda and his own interest. He was ruthless when crossed and had incredible skill in legislating. He was a mixed bag motivated by personal advancement. He did good and he did bad. This whitewash swinging to nice-guy-charlie gently poking us into prosperity, leading the backward into the light and (were are never allowed to forget) giving free travel to pensioners belittles us more than Charlie could ever be accused of.


He was a man of great charisma with a liking for gettting is own way. He did what he needed to get his own way. They know it, no more of that.


Irishelection
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» Author: Cian » Comments:

The Man, The Legend

CJ has died and it seems that the startin gun has been fired in deciding on what he contributed to the state. Its as if his death is the cue needed for historians to begin analysing and surmising on the events of the eighties. Honestly, Charlies legacy has been picked over numerous times and unless (considering the whole death-libel relationship) something major crops up in the coming days there will only be the continuing tussle  between those who see him as a demi-god and those who see him as a crook.

Haughey's career hasnt been fully put to bed but its not as if we have only got round to looking at his impact now because he is dead. There are historians who recognise that Haughey contributed by tightening belts, others who point to the fact that three elections and budget give-aways in the early eighties got us there in the first place and then some reports which suggest that he was less than kosher. The truth is a mixture of all three and its been thought about and opined on for ages. Contrary to what RTE, TV3, Matt Cooper and others might chat about there isnt much of his historical legacy left to fight over.

The final thing thats a bit of a pain in the knackers is that phrase-"His legacy? It will be to history to decide.". Well actually it wont. History isnt actually a person, much less a unified entity. It cant decide on many things. History will be the ongoing argument between those who look at the economics and those who point to the corruption and controversy. Like most events, history will have no homogenous uniform verdict on our former Taoiseach and saying he will is simply copping out cos you wasted your 3-odd minute report on clips of Haughey citing Othello and getting booed in Dublin Castle.

Like Iraq history will not vindicate. It is in no position to vindicate it will reflect conflict among those who report and opine on history who gather facts and counter-facts. It would of course be nice if that ideal that transcendent histroy descended from the clouds to impart on us simple Irish people the wisdom of the unified truth of the legacy of Charlie Haughey but it wont happen. It cant happen. History is a beautiful conflct of fact and philosophy.

its an attempt to grapple with facts as we find them, discern the nature of causality that has led us to where we are right now and then to arbitrate either morally, rationally or coldly on the event. Its all the more powerful for its humanity.

That aside overwith, I just wanted to make clear that before the media begin to congratulate themselves on letting history decide or on deciphering the code of Haughey's legacy they neednt bother with that or the glib pretence that they are doing that and not just filling airtime with peopel who remember the former Taoiseach in different ways.

6.14.2006 » Author: Cian » Comments:

The Conservative Nanny State

Found this at the CEPR and about to get stuck into it, a free e-book by Dean Baker "The Conservative Nanny State".

I wont bore you with the blurb or recommend it till Ive finished reading it.

» Author: Cian » Comments:

Heineken Cup Pictures

I mentioned earlier that I was lucky enough to meet the holy grail as it descended to Tralee for the afternoon, finally got the photographs off the mobile and onto flickr. Here are a few of them.
Image030

Unsurprisingly people were going to great lengths to get a paw on the cup.


Image045


The Grail Itself, In the Provence where it belongs


Image046

John O Sullivan, Barry Murphy and Stephen Keogh, nice guys.

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Ligind

6.08.2006 » Author: Cian » Comments:

Heineken Cup Pictures

I mentioned earlier that I was lucky enough to meet the holy grail as it descended to Tralee for the afternoon, finally got the photographs off the mobile and onto flickr. Here are a few of them.
Image030

Unsurprisingly people were going to great lengths to get a paw on the cup.


Image045


The Grail Itself, In the Provence where it belongs


Image046

John O Sullivan, Barry Murphy and Stephen Keogh, nice guys.

Image037

Ligind

» Author: Cian » Comments:

Talking With Iran Is a Good Thing

The US Adminstration has begun to move toward the possibility of talks with Iran's government over the issue of nuclear production. This is and can only be a good thing. The US is the worlds most powerful state, militarily and economically. While the west and the world undoubtedly has an issue with Iran possessing nuclear weapons, very few of us are equipped to bring about, on an international stage, any form of peaceful resolution to this issue.

There have been numerous fears that the war drums were being beaten and a path being trodden to Tehran, where a bloodbath would ensue and possible set the course for history in the embryonic century which we are living in. That possibility has been lessened but not done away with.

The United State is an entity of love and hate but no matter what on a cool rational appraisal it is a state, the state, with power in the global system. If it is threatening force with a state, one would expect there to be some dialogue before such an ultimatum is acted upon. The move to talk carries strings of course but the prospect for the Iranians of the first official discussion with the US since the Embassy siege should serve as incentive enough to comply with the demands liad down.

Personally I dont think this is the time to revel in the notion of the US getting taken down a peg or two but a time to revel in the possibility that the march to war has taken a detour through reason. The US is the most powerful state in the world and it is clear that only with the US operating at the top table could the EU3 and Russia achieve any progress of note. This move presents an opportunity for opening up a path to peace across the broader middle east also, should both the US and Iran put in place the background which is condusive to positive dialogue and engagement.

6.01.2006 » Author: Cian » Comments: