Category Archives: annoyances

A directly elected mayor for Dublin

Fingal County Council recently voted against the holding of a plebiscite for the possibility of a directly elected mayor for Dublin and campaigners who have been fighting for such a referendum (ie, let’s vote to see if we want one, and then vote for one) were roundly furious with them. The reason for that is that Phil Hogan, a politician who is on the list of politicians I’m glad I never have to make a decision about, told them that they could have a referendum only if all of the councils agreed. Fingal was the only council to reject a motion to have said referendum.

The city of Dublin has a lord mayor, and the council and various incumbants could probably do a lot more with the role than they do already.

I have problems with this campaign. If you read the twitter feed for the campaign, it very much operates on the city being the focus of any mayoralty. The city needs a voice for this, the city needs a voice for that. The twitter feed for the campaign is here.

The problem is that Dublin isn’t just the city. It is the county as well, and when you see a city focussed campaign being run, and you’re expected to take on board this mayor that the campaign wants for Dublin, then if you’re in Fingal, which the largest population of the three non-city municipal localities (Census, 2011, via CSO), you’re probably right to be very concerned that this person will get elected, but not really care that much about the non-city areas.

This is the tweet that caught my attention this morning:

 Emotive debate on homelessness is missing a voice for the city, on behalf of the city- a touchstone for Dublin.

If you look at some of the comments by some of the people that this account retweets (the account is letdublinvote by the way), it’s not something I can get around:

Catherine Heaney, for example.

Fingal needs to be part of the City region

When you look at it in that context, it’s perfectly understandable that Fingal authorities would want nothing to do with this.

I live in the Dublin city area at the moment. I have also lived in the Fingal County area as well. I honestly don’t believe that a mayor directly elected would be able to serve the interests of both areas to the best benefit for both areas, not when so much of the support for a direct mayor focuses on the benefits to the city.

Dublin is much more than a city. Campaigns like this seem to forget this when they focus so much on the city.

The European Elections

Okay.

I am utterly sick of people thinking I am completely stupid. They may not think that they think I am completely stupid but.

Paul Murphy is fighting his European campaign on water charges. You can see this all over his poster campaign.

Water charges – at most – are a Dail issue. In the grand scheme of things, Irish Water aside, they should almost even be a municipal issue. What they are not is an issue for the European Parliament. Almost every other country in Europe has arrangements for water payments and to be frank, I want my local MEP standing up matters at a European level and not water charges which is a local to Ireland issue right now.

Today, Mary Fitzpatrick of Fianna Fail’s campaign dropped a leaflet in my door.

As an MEP, Mary will continue to campaign against unfair taxes such as the anti-Dublin property tax which takes no account of the ability to pay.

Against budgets that target the old and the young alike

Against a universal health scheme that will cost every family more

For an adequate water supply for the capital before water charges are imposed.

Lyn Boylan, Sinn Fein. More or less the same. A pile of policies that are essentially local issues and the business of the Dail and not the European Parliament. She’s also against the Poolbeg Incinerator, and in favour of protecting Liffey Valley. They are interesting objectives, laudable but local council issues and not European Parliament problems.

Brid Smith is against, variously, water charges, privatisation and in favour of writing off the Irish national debt. These are again, to a great extent, matters for the Dail.

Not only that, she points out that the EU is large undemocratic and removed from the public. Campaigning for a seat on what is effectively a Dail campaign really isn’t helping there.

This is my big absolute bugbear. The absence of Brian Hayes and Eamon Ryan does not mean I’m going to vote for them either – I have different issues with elements of their campaign.

When I see documentation for European parliament candidates coming in, I do not want them to suggest to me that they are angling to distance the country from Europe. As a woman, it is thanks to the European Economic Community that I have the right to equal pay for equal work. If they want to work against the interests of integration, then it is hypocritical to be seeking election to a European level forum.

Likewise, when I see documentation for European parliament candidates coming in, I want to know that they understand the question of subsidiarity and why the European Parliament is not the place to be fighting Irish Water and the introduction of direct charges.

I’ve looked at all the candidates in my constituency for the European Parliament. I do not want to vote for any of them.

Not one candidate has provided me with any evidence that they should represent my interests at a European level.

Here are the issues I want to see them addressing up front:

  • Data protection
  • Energy resourcing
  • Transnational environmental issues
  • Foreign policy issues particularly, for example, in the face of issues of disagreement
  • Pan European food supply
  • Pan European trade for individuals. I cannot order stuff from the Apple iTunes stores in any other European country and I have similar issues with Amazon’s Kindle publications. Given Free Movement of Goods, how on earth can this be allowed to happen?
  • Greater contact and integration internally to the European Union.
  • Limiting the damage that national governments can inflict on things like, oh workers’ rights and support for the poorer in society (We may not live in the UK but you can be sure that some of our politicians would like to try some of the Tory Party’s policies on social welfare). Focus heavily on the Acquis Communautaire.

These are issues that are the business of a European representative where water and property taxes in Dublin are not.

Not one of the candidates in Dublin has given me any indication that they have any interest in pan-European matters and Ireland’s position within pan-European matters.

This mortgage plan for first time buyers

I want it gone.

I’m a first time buyer and what I want are houses and apartments which do not have a high capital cost. Giving me a cheap special sort of mortgage with reduced need for a deposit is not going to do this.

I’m aware that people are claiming we don’t have a bubble because you know what, cash, not borrowing, fundamentals blah blah. We don’t even have to argue that point. What we have now is an economy which the government thinks it can run on low incomes and what are relatively high rental and purchase prices for property.

How do we fix that? Well we find out how many properties are unoccupied and if they are in areas like Dublin, for example, we start making it attractive to get them occupied and fast. The government is very fast with the sticks when it comes to water charges, not so much when it comes to getting property occupied. Quintuple the property tax on unoccupied property in Dublin and you’ll find property turning up on both markets quick enough. Oh sure, a glut of supply will see housing costs come down, but fine, that’s what’s actually needed to uhem, improve competitivity.

I know Michael Noonan doesn’t like this whole idea of low accommodation prices but actually, tough.

Property, in Ireland, again, sigh,

This from the Journal, just in.

Quotes Alan McQuaid of Merrion Stockbrokers:

Although there is evidence of pick-up in mortgage lending, it is hard to see how house prices can keep on rising indefinitely without the banks returning to more “normal” lending practices and making credit more freely available than at the moment.

From this, one could assume that if we return to normal lending practices, house prices can keep on rising. The use of the word “normal” here suggests that this state of affairs is desirable.

I’m not sure I want to live in a country where this state of affairs is desirable. Our rental market is beyond puerile with ongoing spats over trying to decide who is better catered for, landlords or tenants. Neither does well out of the deal and cohorts in both sections behave badly. It is depressing to note that in the 15 years I have been living in Dublin I have been moved out of a house 4 times owing to “sale by owner”, and we will not talk about the question of notice.

We have – theoretically a policy against inflation, and for the vast majority of people in this country, accommodation forms the biggest part of their monthly outgoings. But rising rents are considered good things (for landlords) and rising purchase prices are considered good things because sure, we’re all wealthy.

I’ve long recognised that having travelled for a lot of my formative working years, that settling down would be fraught with the difficulty of dealing with the frustrations of how things are done badly here. Sometimes they just seem to bowl me over.

Property is one of them. I don’t own property and I’m not sure I want to for various reasons unrelated to the financing side of things, one of which is probably linked to a desire not to settle properly anyway. But it seems to me at the moment that unless you bought property at least 15 years ago, you’re fundamentally suckered if you’re buying or renting.

I can’t understand the benefit in that.

Easing into the morning

I remember a time, in the past, when I used to listen to Lyric FM in the morning. This seems to be increasingly hard if not impossible.

I remember a time, in the past, when Marty Whelan was one of the biggest stars in Irish radio. And then he went to Century.

Century was a good station; I regret that economically it just didn’t make it. However, Marty Whelan was well suited for the morning on popular radio. Less so on Lyric FM in my view.

It seems like you have a choice of two distinct styles of radio in the morning in Ireland; news, or chatter with some music thrown in. There is no easing into the morning any more. And when you switch on Lyric, the so called classical music station, it’s a bit regrettable to be encountering, amongst other things, Paul Brady and Bon Jovi. I don’t hear 4FM playing much in the way of Rachmaninov. And 2FM probably doesn’t play much Tchaikovsky either.

So.

What I’d like is a radio show – on Lyric – that doesn’t play music which is pretty ubiquitous on almost every other radio show in the country. I mean, Bon Jovi get an outting on every local station and most of the other nationals as well. I’d like that music to be classical and easing me into the day. And most of all, I want it presented by someone who doesn’t feel the need to be entertaining and banterful and bashing my ears with drivel in the morning.

In Ireland, this is too much to ask. So, if I am within network connectivity at the relevant time, I listen to YLE Klassinen from Finland. They play mainly music, mainly full works and the music is broken only to tell me what it is and to read the news once in a while.

It’s not that hard.

In the meantime, my view is that Marty Whelan belongs on 4FM.

Leaflet drops

Over on the Journal, there is a local election candidate complaining about No Junk Mail notices.

It’s an utterly depressing piece. She hates No Junk Mail notices because she interprets them as meaning 1 of 2 things; you want no unsolicited mail or you don’t want any of the stuff that isn’t political.

I think there is an element of wishful thinking there. Most people who don’t want junk mail don’t want any; they are sick of constantly recycling stuff that comes through their letter box. I have a dustbin inside my front door because at least then, dealing with it takes less effort than it would to be to bring it into the recycling bin in the kitchen.

The issue – as I see it – is junk mail is overdone. I fill the bin every week. NO kidding. And it is only going to get worse because the elections are coming up.

I don’t really know what to do about that. The Secret Candidate wants to know on what basis people make decisions. Well, a lot of them make decisions based on candidate affiliation and no bleating about individuals is going to change that, particularly when you’re a member of Fine Gael

Taking a step backwards though; junk mail causes work for people, work they never signed up to, and work they don’t want to have to do. I’m not short of stuff to do; random strangers causing housework for me isn’t top of my list of acceptable activities on their part.

I don’t feel sorry for political candidates in this respect; the point is they aren’t any more special than my local Chinese take away; they’re only ever really interested in talking to me if a) they want my vote or b) I’m not asking them for something. My experience of dealing with canvassers is not positive in terms of engagement. Terence O’Flanagan did not want to listen to the idea that I didn’t appreciate people nicking money out of my pension.

In my experience, most political candidates or there representatives do not want to engage with me. Their definition of political engagement is me, voter, agreeing with them, votewanter.

So back with the secret candidate’s irateness. Whether they like it or not, their newsletters or VotezPourMoi literature constitutes an advertisement for their personal brand. It’s rarely informative and often it’s tempered. Labour, when banging on about the jobs they created out of nothing to via Job Bridge and whatcapitalstuffcanwedofor cheap, never told me exactly how  much of the pension levy paid for that.

Whether the secret candidate likes it or not their election leaflet drops are still adverts, still unwanted by a lot of people.

It is not the only way forward.

Double parking lines and clearways

In the best scheme of things, at 7 on a Friday, it usually takes about 15 minutes to get from my house to Saint Stephen’s Green carpark. It’s not my favourite carpark (actually do I even have a carpark I actively like in Dublin – probably not) but it’s handy enough for the National Concert Hall, I don’t have to figure out how to get to it indirectly because of the oneway system, and it probably doesn’t cost me too much time versus trying to find my way to the carpark at the Conrad.

So the National Concert Hall gigs on a Friday start at 8. I left hope at 10 past 7. Mostly, you’d think that’s more than adequate time to get to the National Concert Hall for 8pm.

I made it in the door of the National Concert Hall at 1 minute to 8. And this happened because I spent a lot of time on the south quays between Matt Talbot Bridge and O’Connell Bridge going nowhere. And that was after two frustrated drivers had tried to kill me on the Matt Talbot bridge by changing lanes in front of me without looking to see whether there was anyone actually in the lane already.

Initially I figured the cause was probably bridge works for the new bridge. It wasn’t.

The only explanation I can see was that someone had parked in front of a bar not too far from O’Connell Bridge, partially blocking one lane. It caused chaos back as far as the Matt Talbot Bridge. I’m sure they were facilitated by having the car right outside the pub they were darting in and out of but it caused chaos for many, many other drivers.

I’ve long been of the view that many of the problems with traffic in Dublin could be alleviated if drivers stopped doing things like this. When I was coming home from the National Concert Hall, having elected to avoid Dawson Street as it has works on it at the moment, Georges Street was a symphony of cars parked in clearways and on double yellow lines. They were parked in bus lanes as well but as it was after 10 o’clock, and most of the bus lanes are not 24 hours that might be probably slightly more forgivable.

I’m not a fan of clamping cars. I think it’s wrong but in any case, clamping is not a solution for people parked in the wrong place.

I used to live in Brussels and there was a bus I used to take to and from work that had a junction which was notoriously difficult for the buses to get around and which was a clearway/tow away zone. Some talented driver of a Volvo parked one day and the bus could not clear the junction. It was a tow away zone, as I said, and the car was taken away as soon as the tow truck arrived.

Maybe we need to consider this in Dublin at this stage. I’m sick of hearing people in Dublin criticise driving in other cities when Dublin is second only to Athens in my experience of poor driving in western European countries.

UPC price updates

I had an email from UPC the other day informing me of contractual changes which would also include an increase in price of 7.92 in my package.

My package already cost 85.99, negotiated after a similar letter some time last year; not absolutely certain but I think it was in the last 12 months. At that point, it transpired that although I was under the illusion I was on a package, I wasn’t, and so I was being nicely charged for separate products.

At the time, I voiced some discontent that UPC, in writing to me to tell me they were charging me more money, had not thought to provide me with the information that if I changed to one of their bundle products I could save, oh it was about 30E at the time.

So, some calculation done, it appears my monthly charge from UPC would go from 85.99 to 93.51 but I could save 3.50 if I signed up for MyUPC. I believe I already have this but it’s irrelevant.

Currently, the top price available bundle that you can buy from UPC is 80E, one of the Horizon bundles. It is – according to the literature on UPC’s website – a faster broadband product with a greater download allowance. I can’t see the upload speed but I assume it’s at least 10Mb up if we have 150 down. ACtually I can’t even see what the products are at the moment because UPC’s site is not responding and unfortunately, when I tried to call them just now, I wound up on hold for their phones ringing 20 times. I do not have time for this unfortunately.

So again, I am asking – this time publicly – why can’t UPC, when they are writing to tell me they want more money, that I can also available of different more modern less expensive products.

I’m currently a full time student and 13E a month, over the course of a year long contract is quite a bit of money. It represents almost 2 months of a 80E a month contract for one thing.

UPC are looking for comments on their customer service at the moment.

 

 

on interests and judging them

Shane Hegarty has written a piece in today’s Irish Times which you can, if you’re so inclined, read here.

but it did hint at a key point about the modern foodie industry, which is that its chief product isn’t delicious meals, artfully presented: it is waste

He’s talking in the context of waste of time buying cookbooks, waste of time taking pleasure in your cooking, waste of time in taking instagram photographs of your food, waste of paper in printing cook books which will never be used.

I think he’s wrong.

I own about 100 cookbooks. Pretty sure it’s in that zone because they were recently counted and this does not include myriad copies of Delicious, Donna Hay, Tesco and Superquinn magazines. I also have an A4 notebook into which I glue oddball stuff cut out of magazines, newspapers, the backs of ingredients containers and such like. All of it gives me very great pleasure even if I do not cook.

I’ve always taken the view that if it’s feeding yourself is all it’s about, then you really only need one cookbook, be that either Nigella Lawson’s first one – How to Eat, or, possibly better, one of the Good Housekeeping ones. But that’s really not what it’s all about. There is something beautiful about opening a cookbook, looking at the pictures, and considering whether you will cook this or that.

It’s a pleasure to read cookbooks; not just cook from them. And sometimes you will cook from them and get things right, or sometimes you might not. It is ultimately a voyage of discovery.

In that respect, you cannot possibly consider the acquisition of books – of any type – which give you pleasure as a waste. Effort in cooking, likewise, is not a waste.

Una Mullally’s making a list, kind of

Una Mullally wrote a piece for today’s Irish Times. It was called “The 60 Most Creative People in Ireland“.

I have some issues with it. Mainly encapsulated in this neat little disclaimer included as paragraph 6. Don’t worry if you missed it.

 don’t give out to me about a lot of these being Dublin-focussed. That’s where I live, so that’s where I interact with most creative stuff. SOZ LEITRIM, etc. Also, DECLARATION OF MULTIPLE INTERESTS: I do know some of these people, but that’s life, innit

Any writer worth their salt and having the guts to stand over what they are writing would not include any sentence along the lines of “Don’t give out to me because…” blah blah.

Either you can stand over it or you can’t and clearly, something titled “in Ireland” shouldn’t need to be defended with “and a lot of them are from Dublin because that’s where I live“. As for

I do know some of these people

Amazing.

I wonder what the overlap is.