March 19, 2008

Drag-queen bingo proves Ireland has hit jackpot

Posted in Celtic Tiger · 51 comments ·
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On Sunday nights, ‘The George’ on Dublin’s George’s Street hosts a drag queen evening. Shirley Temple Bar, of telebingo fame, MCs the spectacle. The bingo is followed by a drag-fest, where wannabe drag queens get put through their paces. This might not be everyone’s idea of a night on the tiles, but research from the US indicates that shows like these are crucial to the economic fortunes of the nation.

In the US, those cities with flourishing gay scenes are also the ones with the highest income per head, the most highly paid employees, the most creative industries and the best environmental record. They are also the type of place which polls reveal are heavily weighted behind Obama. The reason is very simple. The types of cities that tolerate a gay scene are also likely to tolerate other sorts of outsiders, non-conformists and free-thinkers. In his book on “creative cities”, Richard Florida suggests that these are the type of urban, literate workers who give a city a dynamic edge. In a globalised world, where cities are driven by services and the entertainment industry, the lifestyle a city can provide becomes part of the economic, as well as cultural, armoury. In short, drag queens are now firmly part of Ireland’s comparative advantage.

For cities to attract creative people, they need to have a cultural and environmental, as well as economic, vision. This means all the agencies that run the city subscribe to an idea of what the city should look like, not next year, but in fifty years’ time. Great cities need to be looked after — they need care and love if they are to prosper.

A successful city is like a well-tended garden. The gardener spends time and energy thinking about what to plant, what will flourish, what will allow others enough light to blossom and how the entire ecosystem works. It doesn’t happen overnight, but via a process of trial and error that takes years to perfect. The gardener will be cautious about introducing new strains that may overshadow existing flowers. He is always weighing up, assessing and imagining what fits where.

If there is no overall plan for the city, it, like an untended garden, will grow wildly, before giving way to weeds that will ultimately strangle it.

The economic energy of Dublin is amazing because for years in Ireland, political and economic debate has focussed on relocating industry and financial opportunities from Dublin to the regions. The rationale being that people and money accumulate in the city at the expense of rural Ireland and so, it is incumbent on the elected representatives from “the country” to make sure some of the goodies are divvied up more equally. Dublin has been portrayed, unfairly, as a long shadow which blights and darkens the countryside. In fact, the opposite is the case. Dublin, and big cities in all countries, are the dynamos of the national economy. Without the heat generated from cities, there would be no such thing as a national economy.

Why do cities, rather than the countryside, generate wealth? Why do cities generate inventions and why is economic history not the history of countries, but the history of cities?

Given the “pathological regionalism” which dictates Irish economic debate, these questions are worth considering. If you look around the world, you see that cities generate innovations. Most inventions, even those which ultimately increased the yields in agriculture, were made in cities. Since the Middle Ages, cities fostered an economic dynamic usually based on trying to make stuff in the city which previously had to be imported. Back then, for a city to grow economically strong, it had to achieve two things.

first, the city had to produce nails, hammers and tools of all sorts, so that it could wean itself off imports and, thus, dependency. Second, it had to excel at something so that it could export and generate currency to sustain itself.

By being an economic dynamo, traditional industrial cities created a demand for food that, in turn, sustained the countryside around it. So this history of modern Europe and the US from the Hanseatic League and the first Puritan settlers, right up to the end of the Cold War, is the history of cities. Countries such as Switzerland and the regions of Northern Italy and Southern Germany achieved this diverse patchwork of trading cities and towns each with their own specialities and skills. Even today, these places are at the forefront of highly profitable business, usually still in the hands of family firms. Similarly, Japan, in the second half of the 20th century, operated the same type of economic model, based largely, again, on family firms.

Ireland never developed like this and, instead, we have sought to attract foreign capital by making it cheap, by giving it a tax break. This has worked spectacularly well and, at the moment, Ireland is a significant cog in the global economy’s supply chain.

But herein lies our vulnerability. We are part of a global supply chain and, as such, are a supply region. As long as we can supply part of the manufacturing process at a competitive cost, we are fine, but what happens when, not if, that changes?

Here is where the drag queens come in. In the coming years, it is not our ability to import capital that will dictate the success of Ireland, but our ability to retain and attract creative people. Brain power will be at a premium and the city that can produce the lifestyle to attract the best brains will win. And, if Dublin wins, Ireland wins too.

That lifestyle involves blending architecture, infrastructure and culture together. The battle is not between Dublin and Cork or Limerick but between Dublin and Amsterdam, Antwerp, San Francisco, Boston, Berlin and Paris.

The Dublin experience has to be something memorable. We have to create a city that talented people will want to move to and that talented locals will want to remain in. Part of this package will be an increased tolerance on the one hand, while preserving that which makes Dublin unique on the other.

Without care and affection this won’t happen. Is it time for a directly elected mayor with full executive powers? Certainly.

The buck has to stop somewhere, and a powerful Mayor of Dublin might just be the solution.


  1. Dan Hayes

    Yes, it can only have been a pre April Fools day essay!

  2. Ed

    David, Dublin doesn’t cut the mustard when it comes to a suitable location for top designers – look at LG Electronics – the Korean Electronics giant. They set up their European Design Centre here in the early nineties – it closed down some years ago and moved to Milan, but is now moving to London. It’ll take more than Shirley Temple Bar to create the necessary environment for high end design.
    http://www.dexigner.com/product/news-g12209.html

  3. Jonathan

    I agree with a lot of what you say David and I just thought I’d add my own perspective on it.
    First, I am from Dublin but don’t live there anymore. Mainly because I don’t want too (there only so much culture can do when you are stuck on the M50 for an hour or so) and because its so bloody expensive. The garden has truely been let grow out of control and not just recently.

    Seond, I have noticed an “attitude” to Dublin among non Dubs, from both city and country alike. Apart from the “all Dubs have their head up their arse” attitude there’s the “how come Dublin gets everything and we get so little” attitude. This kind of attitude is quite pervasive and some go on as if the residents of Dublin were somehow stealing from them. Fact of the matter is Dublin is financially subsidizing most of the rest of the country. Get over it. You may crib and moan about your crappy infrastructure but given its population Dublin is worse served that almost anywhere else in the country. Also, everybody in Dublin is NOT earning twice what everybody else is in the rest of the country.
    Another thing that annoys me is the “sure you’re all west brits” attitude. Somewhere after independence some gombeen decided that you were only really Irish is you lived as far west of Dublin as possible, had red hair and freckles, were a farmer, and lived in a whitewashed tatched cottage with a turf fire. Dublin was just dying to become part of England of course because we were so un-Irish. As a result of this widespread attitude and accompanying government policy, Dublin and cities in general were utterly neglected for many years. As a result few governments have given cities a second thought until recently.
    Finally I have lived in a few other cities abroad and Dublin does not even do the fundamentals right. Transport and infrastructure is way below par. Housing is poor and expensive. Culture and living is not great either. I can’t remember the last time a new park was opened or a new public amenity of any significance was built. (the boardwalk is not significant in my view).
    An elected Lord Mayor is needed with real powers. In fact every town and city in Ireland should have one. Sack half of the councilors too. Much more efficient and effective.

  4. eugene

    “Fact of the matter is Dublin is financially subsidizing most of the rest of the country. Get over it. You may crib and moan about your crappy infrastructure but given its population Dublin is worse served that almost anywhere else in the country”

    This is nonsense. In general people in Cities earn more than outside cities, and so pay more tax. Tax for re-distributary purposes is obviously, therefore, going to flow out, not in. Secondly tax for common nationwide services like health, will be – of a matter of course – distributed from large centres of population to smaller.

    To judge the subsidy that the Irish taxpayer gives to the average Dubliner you have to judge it on a per-capita basis. Or course when Public Money is paid to an administrative centre ( which is a drain on resources) , or to subsidise a Financial Services centre, or to subsidse “national” parks and “national” theatres in one city only, then even a population as indolent and anti-entrepenurial as Dublin will on average earn more than the people outside the pale ( although, or course much of this differential is due to the movement of better educated and more energetic people from the provinces).

    But lets assume that a man earns 50K in Dublin. And 50K in Ballina. Who is subsidising whom? It’s clear, isn’t it? The man from Ballina does not have a Dart, a Bus Service, a series of nationally funded parks, a Theatre, a number of Museums, a Luas, a metro, and so on. All of these should be locally funded.

    So controlled is the centralization that I note that McWilliams does not countenance that the “cool” centre of Ireland be anywhere else but Dublin. But Milan, Barcelona, San Francisco/ New York etc. are not the adminstrative centres of their countries, so why cant we spend Public Money on Galway, not Dublin? It’s cooler anyway.

    And here is another thing. So centralised is Ireland that the typical Dubliner whinefest is about how De Gubmint is treating them badly, as in the post above me. This betrays the opposite reality than the poster intends: the argument is that the nasty culchies send TD’s to Dublin to run the place badly, the counter argument is that culchies send TD’s to Dublin to run Ireland, not Dublin. Dubliners acutally think the government of the country is elected to run Dublin, not Ireland, and this is a reasonable assumption given how much tax monies in spent subsidizing them. Also of course the Government does in fact get involved in Dublin local affairs; recently Dubliners were mad because De Gubmint was planning a congestion charge. This is not a job for central government, but an over-centralized State cannot distinguish between Dublin and Ireland.

    So let Dublin have an elected Mayor with tax raising powers, and bond issuing powers ( like the American Cities). Let Dublin pay for all the local infrastructure which is not part of a national network ( metro/dart/luas – the M50 should be Nationally funded as it is part of the network) and transfer the ownership of parks to the local authorities – including the spurious “national” parks like Phoenix Park to the city treasury. The offshoot of this is that the man in Dublin pays more tax than the man in Ballina, which is the case between New York and Montana. And let’s stop the whining from Dubliners about how anti-City the most centralized State in the Western world is. ( maybe – with the exception of city States – the world)

  5. John Q. Public

    So what are you suggesting David, we need more gay pubs? We need places for straight guys to go too like a Stringfellows but that was forbidden. I think you are clinching at straws to be honest.

  6. VincentH

    During the 80s and for much of the 90s, Galway had what you are describing, an edge. A hum which could be heard as far away as Australia. But the city politico’s strangled the thing with a level of wishful thinking and a hankering for the old days which was criminal.
    The filling of the hotel on Eyre Sq was vastly more important than filling the rest of the town with trade. Where the remembrance of the likes of Bing and the largess scattered or the glory days when the Kylemore was filled with a family was the goal. In other words, a systematic operation for what was scum clearance, little realising that the very people that were so disliked were those very people who ten years on would return.
    As with Galway, so Dublin. Where the idea of the plastic arts and vomit is connected. Or where the component parts are so far away from each other that they might well be in other cities, as with the theaters.
    While the idea in the minds of some hankers for a mythical glory day with Yates shouting from the wings. And those put in place to spend the states money disagree to the point of bitterness on which painting, or the placement of a theater. There is little chance of getting to that critical mass on which you write. Valid as it is.

  7. David,
    There is a lot of truth to what you are saying here. Where you find a thriving gay scene you also normally find a whole host of creative industry.
    However, I just don’t agree that Dublin is that kind of city. I lived there for a few years and I visit the city nearly every year and it just does not have the buzz of a Berlin or a Barcelona (or even a Duesseldorf).
    Dublin is great if you like drinking and particularly if you are single. It also does have a lively cultural scene but no more than any other city of its size. It also has many disadvantages. There has always been an uncontrolled street element there which only seems to be getting worse. It is ludicrously expensive and since the dawn of the Celtic Tiger there is a definite arrogance that is never far away when you are talking to people.
    The poster above who mentioned that Galway would be a better ‘cultural’ city is on to something. Dublin should not be the be all and end all. Let Galway be Ireland’s Bilbao. Build something there. Dublin does not have one internationally recognisable building built post-independence even after all that tiger money. Maybe another city should be flying the cultural flag.
    Aidan

  8. Rob

    I would think the West of Ire hasn’t got a fair deal. In fact given the Celtic Tiger has now been shot the West will remain largely underfunded. Take the railway that has been closed since the 50′s running down from Sligo to Limerick. That would have soaked up a lot of public funds to get it up and running. Yet the taxpayer funded the construction costs of the the Luas which were huge. I think there is a severe imbalance here and also short-sighted. Anyone with half a dram of sense can see that the Eastern seaboard is now locked down in congestion. To have developed a good infrastucture in the West to counterbalance the over-development in the East would have been vital, particularly so when the funds were there. In my view the Taoiseach is partly to blame, it is no accident that the new children’s hospital is located in north inner city dublin, a place that most of the country and a good few dubliners will have probably accessing, not to mention parking, accommodation etc. Why wasn’t a world-class hospital built in Athlone? Something the whole country could have accessed with more ease than Dublin? However we do get the Government we deserve. Most politicians/civil servants only take decisions in their own interest or simply do nothing at all. We will suffer for tolerating mediocrity.

  9. thaigah

    Have a look at http://www.metropolismag.com/cda/story.php?artid=1151 for an interesting
    knocking on the head of a few of Florida’s ideas.

    An alternative approach to stimulating creativity has been to relocate cutting-edge centres
    from cities to more rural locations (Silicon Valley/Glen, Cambridge, etc.). Why not set up something
    similar in a nice town like Drogheda or Sligo?

    And there’s nothing like a bit of adversity for stimulating the creative. Not that that’s on the cards.

    Last but not least, creativity should be taught in all schools. E. Paul Torrance has written much on this,
    especially in relation to testing; then there’s the examples of the Waldorf schools to learn from; Edward
    de Bono’s ideas have been taken up by Ministries of Education (e.g Dominican Republic). Opening up
    more gay bars is shutting the gate after the gelding has bolted.

  10. Garry

    Thankfully rural Ireland is a much bigger (and better) place than The West.

  11. Steve

    Schools now scan for kids showing some brightness and creativity and are offered to test for a summer program
    for brainiacs.

    Guess what – the parents get the bill for the extra program and it runs into the thousands ! Lots of bright
    kids won’t be attending that program.

    I noticed while driving by a school the other night a group of sporty kids training. A huge tract of land has been dedicated
    to them sliding in the rain after a muddy ball plus massive floodlights at huge expense illuminated the whole field.
    Charge to parents for sporty kids: NADA !

  12. aidan

    “In the US, those cities with flourishing gay scenes are also the ones with the highest income per head, the most highly paid employees, the most creative industries and the best environmental record. They are also the type of place which polls reveal are heavily weighted behind Obama. The reason is very simple. The types of cities that tolerate a gay scene are also likely to tolerate other sorts of outsiders, non-conformists and free-thinkers.”

    being gay in today’s society you are hardly an outsider, but very much an insider, supporting obama you are not an ousider but very much an insider, John McCain up to recently was the archetype outsider, non-conformist, and free thinker, indeed he was so much of an outsider and non conformist that his campaign was as good as dead up to last summer, but he never sacrificed his free thinking to conform. If you were gay or black up to the 1960s then yes you were an outsider, but not today,the hippy movement of the sixties you were an outside the establishment, but that is not true today, today the hippy generation is the establishment. Therefore the new thinking that is needed is not going to come from here but from new outsiders and new free thinking

  13. AndrewGMooney

    Aha! That explains it: ‘Bertie cuts make-up bill to €22,000′

    http://www.independent.ie/national-news/bertie-cuts-makeup-bill-to-836422000-1321962.html

    So the bulk of the money goes on wigs and gowns so ‘Bertie’ can mysteriously morph into ‘Shirley Temple Bar’? Ireland really has become the epicentre of tolerance when the Taoiseach can lead a ‘secret life’ in full view of the populace and everyone, including DMcW, is discreet enough to only ‘hint’ at it now and again. However, it appears that Bertie is finding it increasingly difficult to separate ‘fantasy’ from ‘reality’!

    “However, Mr Broughan said that Mr Ahern appeared to be wearing the make-up “morning, noon and night” in the Dail where there were no high-wattage lights.”

    As for Bertie’s ‘re-imagining of economics’, well: The jury’s still out, although his poor ex-secretary at Mahon seems completely bewildered by his innovations in accountancy. ‘Queer economics’? No, we’re not talking ‘The Pink Euro’, but it does seem to be a closet of deviancy is increasingly being opened up to public scrutiny.

    I think the whole idea of ‘queer culture’ and ‘queer economics’ is fascinating but only tangentially connected to overt expressions of any particular alternative sexual lifestyles. Drag queens are an engaging distraction, but what they, like The Boilerhouse and The Inn on The Liffey signify is something much more serious and important: Freedom. Political and cultural environments where sexual minorities feel safe and free are also those where other ‘deviants’ feel free. It doesn’t matter what field those deviants are in: Retail, business, design, R&D, etc. Once a ‘critical mass’ of brain cells is achieved a city ‘ignites’.

    Is Dublin there yet? Well, in a sense, of course, it always has been. Even in the darkest days of Ayatollah-like Catholic thought-control – ‘mad genius’ emerged from these streets. Think of Joyce’s deconstruction and ‘re-imagining’ of language as an example.Could such a person have emerged from anywhere other than Dublin? There’s no reason why the next wave of cutting-edge human thought can’t emerge from Dublin in the C21st. And absolutely no reason why it can’t be in several different complimentary fields all in one go. Business. Art. Culture. Science. Innovation.
    It all comes down to self-belief and, it has to be said: Willpower.

    It’s obvious now that those houses around Dartmouth Square aren’t worth nearly as much as their owners have been orgasming about for the last five years. The Irish Economy will have it’s mettle tested over the next few years as it struggles through a world slowdown and has to re-balance it’s cost base for business, tourists and, of course, for any Irish person wanting to live here. So long as it doesn’t retreat to the hand-wringing and blaming mentalities of previous decades. If you browse ‘FinFacts’ you can find lots of articles taking the piss out of ‘The Irish Mind’, my favourite is this one:

    http://www.finfacts.com/irelandbusinessnews/publish/article_1012308.shtml

    But cutting through hyperbolic bullshit shouldn’t end up with the baby being thrown out with the bathwater. Dublin is different. It does have an energy which is tangible to a visitor like myself. But there’s also a smug complacency evident in conversation with random residents, who don’t seem to realise that their current prosperity may not be a permanent miracle, but a temporary mirage, if they just look back to past glories instead of creating new ones.

    If there isn’t the freedom to attract ‘trendsetters’ in every possible area of human expression, then a city is on a slow strangulation.
    You see it in East London. Areas like Hoxton & Shoreditch where the ‘weirdo’ bohemians have moved to escape the slow death of Soho rent rises and over-gentrification elsewhere. Suddlenly the artists are joined by the graphic designers and other creative knowledge workers and: Bingo!

    Silicon Valley isn’t a ‘city’ in any traditional sense, but it is a ‘neural network’ of similar minds creating new economic realities. Ditto the porn hives of The San Fernando Valley. Not that I’m suggesting ‘that kind of thing’ for Dublin! ‘Shauna’s Naughty Adult Fun Shop’ on Capel Street should be more than enough for you lot. LOL!

    When Bertie hasn’t been in drag-queen mode: He’s been Merry Ms Green Fingers- ensuring that the Garden City of Dublin is irrigated by flows of nutrients from it’s hinterlands. Families raise their children in picture postcard new exurbian towns with wonderful schools and shopping amenities – yet can easily glide into their sparkling new Metropolis to work, shop, and network with cultural and artistic innovators who flock from all over the world to embrace the delights of life in the re-born city-state of Dublin.

    There’s a synergy and mutually re-inforcing success at work as exhausted knowledge workers either speed on high-speed trains at weekends to the vibrant cities, towns and unspoilt wilderness areas in The South and The West. Or zoom on the new Maglev trains from the Central Rail Stations to the fantastic new Airport where they can fly anywhere: Because Dublin is on the ‘must-do’ or ‘wish-list’ of every person of economic means on the planet, even if they know they can’t all live there permanently. Just like Schipol, the new Airport has it’s Art Gallery, in case of delays…..

    and high-speed boats whizz back and forth between West and East Dublin (previously known as Liverpool) as the twin cities spiral into ever greater wealth and cultural ambition. Truly both: European Cities of Culture…..

    Bertie aside, why is this scenario currently ridiculous? Exactly because of the appaling lack of vision, planning and ambition which has meant the structural funds from the E.U have not been utilised….optimally….shall we say. Flicking the papers I see all the new motorways finally taking shape but you have to wonder……why so long?

    Florence and Venice would never have happened if a load of nay-sayers had just sat around saying: “It’s too ambitious! It’s too risky”. They were inspired to take a quantuum leap. Nice as ‘old Dublin’ is, who’s to say the best isn’t yet to come?

    I have two children. A boy and a girl. Both already superbly talented and nurtured with tender loving care. They will, I imagine, get their Baccalaureates and ‘have the world at their feet’ if their recent school reports are indicative. So, it’s not me you have to win over, it’s them. The next generation of creative minds you need to augment your city and country. “Go West”?
    I’ll be bringing them here over the next few years, just as I’ll be introducing them to London, Oxford and Edinburgh. I wonder what the lifetime economic worth of my chidren might be in terms of income generation and tax receipts? And which cities will be the beneficiaries?

    Mayor of Dublin? With a Strategic 25 Year Vision and the power to implement it? Essential. Surely?

    John Q Public: I was given a flyer for a lap-dancing club in the street. You need to get out more. It’s all here. If you’ve got the money, of course!

    As for “Dublin does not have one internationally recognisable building built post-independence even after all that tiger money.” :

    What about that Millenium yoke/thing on O’Connell Street! The World’s Biggest Mobile Phone Mast? How do you change the bulb at the top?
    Sorry, but I couldn’t resist it.

  14. John Q. Public

    AndrewGmooney, I do get out and from what I see we should copy New York. What I mean is for the cops to get tough with yobos. I saw on the news that the Garda Commissioner wants a law so that all premises selling booze will require a cctv installed outside(to do their job for them).
    How about more Guards on the beat when it’s dark. We might attract a better sort into the city if they feel safer.

  15. AndrewGMooney

    Hello there John Q.Public
    I was only jestin with you! More Garda on the streets? Well, they have those dinky NYPD-style uniforms which look cool, but just like the U.K: I’ve seen the ‘forces of law and order’ being openly disrespected on Dublin streets in the few days I’ve been here.

    I also read about them requesting to be allowed to carry covert guns, mace/pepper-spray and so on. It’s a good job I’m not staying in Finglas on this trip like I did in the 60s, or was it Ballyfermot? Anyways: I hear there’s a curfew in place. No buses after 7pm? WHY….?
    Because the bus-drivers have declared it a ‘no-go’ area.
    My Dad was a bus-driver in Brum. I had to ride them late nights with him in’74 to stop Brit thugs beating him up for ‘being responsible’ for the pub bombings.
    Erm….shouldn’t the Garda be riding the buses just like I did in the 70s. As ‘protection’? Just like in Brum, yobs who can afford 5 euro for a pint of bottled fizzy piss, sorry ’boutique lager’ can afford 500 euro fines and confiscation of their 42in plasmas till they get back into line.
    Still investigating the ‘missing finger incident’ of the Brit on Connolly Street on 17th. Garda don’t seem to want to help me with the ‘re-construction’. Keep calling me ‘Mad Paddy From Brum’ WTF is that all about?
    The Luas is a marvel.
    But lots of very worrying things keep catching my eye.
    Must go, on a coin meter with this internet access thing.
    PS: sorry for calling Bertie a Tranny – that was very rude of a Eastern Paddy in West Brit land to do. Forgive me?

  16. RB

    Interesting discussion…
    Having lived in and around Dublin or most of my 31 years so far, I would say that post-celtic tiger Dublin has improved in many respects. It is more cosmopolitan , thats for sure, but I have always found Dublin to be lacking that special something which all the truly great cities of the world seem to ooze naturally. There is a certain x-factor which cities like Barcelona, Berlin, New York, Paris etc have that Dublin does not. I’m not quite sure what it is missing, but I am always aware that though I like Dublin and appreciate much it has to offer in regards to culture, history, nightlife etc, it still lacks the allure and mystique of a truly great international city. Yes, we have swanky cafe’s and designer stores , but thats just on the surface, the feeling of a city comes from its core , but what is its core? From pondering this lately I have come to believe that possibly the magic of a truly great city comes from the manifestation of the spirit of its natives. The people make the city.

    Dubliners are quite different than NewYorkers, Barcelonians and Berliners. We may have a sunday night drag show in the George but does that really mean we are as liberated and open minded as we think we are? There are still parts of Dublin , not far from the city center, where an ignorant mindset, closed to other races, ideas, sexuality and beliefs is as commonplace as a Latte drinking socilaite on Grafton street. Dublin still has a long way to go internationally in terms of tolerance and liberty, but i think that possibly in a generation or so Dublin just might create that x factor. Other great free thinking cities have had a few generations of liberation and tolerance , Dublin hasn’t quite had its moment yet. But I believe the next generations will bring Dublin up to par.
    And i wonder…. will we call them the generation (wh) Y ?

  17. John Q. Public

    Look at all Amsterdam has to offer: prostitution, soft drugs, sex shops, brown cafes etc. Everything you hear about the place is ‘liberal this’ and ‘liberal that’ and ‘tolerance’. But you will find that the Dutch on the whole are no more or less open-minded or tolerant than anybody else.
    RB, the next generation will learn from the present generation, how to get blotto and violent. The few hundred thousand foreigners we have here don’t add to the ‘x factor’ you talk about either. I fear for the future of European cities as they become more and more Islamised.
    You say ‘The people make the city’, true but what have we got?

  18. RB

    You say ‘The people make the city’, true but what have we got?

    Well, firstly.. we have a fairly well educated generation coming up who will have learned to be tolerant of other cultures and lifestyles and having grown up being exposed to the influx of various nationalities etc , hopefully, they will be a lot more open to change and diversity.

    And of course we have the Irish character itself which they will inherit to some degree. An Irish character with unique cultural history and identity.

    John , I think you misunderstood the point i was making , also i think you make a big generalization when you say ”
    the Dutch on the whole are no more or less open-minded or tolerant than anybody else”
    I think the Dutch on the whole are far more tolerant than most, and i was making my points about city dwellers as opposed to nationalities in general.
    Amsterdam has its fair share of social problems as do all cities but in terms of forward thinking and free thinking I would say Dublin could be almost there. It will take the next generation or so of Dubliners to create this. And i believe it is possible for Dublin to become this way. To be a Liberal city by international standards does not automatically mean we have to turn our streets into brothels and hash cafes.

    I have worked with Irish youth (teens etc) and they are much more open minded and aware of other cultures and sexuality than my generation thought we were because they have grown up being exposed to much more. What is “normal” for them would have been “unusual” for us.

    I also disagree with your comment about the “foreigners” , we are all “foreigners” when we leave our homelands, but we should still be welcomed. I think the varied ethnic mix which Dublin(and Ireland) has become has brought a much needed vibrancy and color to Irish life.

    You are somewhat correct when you say some european cities have become more and more “islamized”. Paris and London would be two examples which come to mind. I don’t see this as a major issue for Dublin though, it may be for London an other UK cities with large muslim populations, but then again, the UK is and has been involved in an illegal war in islamic territory so radical factions could become a problem for the UK.

  19. John Q. Public

    RB Yea, fair point. We are tolerant but we should be careful not go down the route that Germany took and the UK. I heard that if you are a muslim man living in Germany, you can now practice polygamony legally. So where will it all end in a country where it is illegal to fly a swastika yet you can treat women like cattle by suppressing them (only if you are a muslim of course!-christians need not apply!). The appeasement process is a disgrace. And RB, radical factions ARE a problem in the UK. Remember 7/7?
    You work with young people,well, I think you would agree that they need help now more than ever if we are to break this unending cycle of drink fuelled violence etc. They obviously don’t have enough support though I’m sure you do your fair share.

  20. RB

    Hey John

    Yes I do remember 7/7 , and yes it was linked to radical islamist fundamentalists , and without getting into a political debate here, it possibly wouldn’t have happened if England had not been occupying Islamic territory. (ie Iraq and Afghanistan)

    I don’t think Ireland has much to fear from “islamization”( as you put it). Muslims are largely a peaceful community. People are very quick to tar everyone with the same brush. Which is ironic , particularly since we , as Irish people, went through a similar situation with Britain not too long ago. We were occupied too. And we used similar methods of retaliation. We should understand the injustice of oppression, war , causes and brutal ideologies very well, but it seems we forget our own struggles as quick as we misunderstand the context of others. Don’t get me wrong though, I am not condoning terrorism , but when seen in context it is not difficult to understand why it manifests and why it continues to exist.

    One thing the Irish government should have been more careful of though is the use of shannon by US forces. I thought we were a “neutral” country but i suppose the Irish Government bowed down to the mighty economic force that is the USA. I understand the context of it but when ideologies are extreme, the shades of grey don’t seem to exist. I just hope our economic security does not compromise our national security and that the Shannon scenario doesn’t come back to haunt us.

    I have no problem with people practicing polygamy either if the law permits it, thats their choice.

    I have worked with young people yes, and the problems of drink and violence have been in the Irish culture for centuries. It is nothing new. They have much more pressures and influences than previous generations but on the other hand they have much more of an opportunity to embrace diversity, change and a promising future. And yes, you’re correct , they have little community support, particularly in the more disadvantaged areas of the cities. I have worked in parts of Dublin where the Celtic Tiger seems like an urban myth which happened only in the media. I do wish that the media in Ireland would draw more attention to the gap between rich and poor in Ireland though, it has become wider than ever in recent years and in this age of prosperity it really should not be so.

    I have to laugh sometimes though when i read the comments on this blog. Rarely have i seen “poverty” or “homelessness” been discussed. There is a large section of Irish society which has been left behind but the mainstream media rarely touches on this. I think it is arrogant of any society to call itself “civilized” or a “success” when a large number of its citizens live on the street or remain in relative poverty.
    As always though, it will probably take this coming recession to expose the underbelly of the Celtic Tiger. When the middle classes begin to feel the pinch of their dwindling purse strings the media might start to take an interest in the reality and not the fantasy of “modern” Ireland.

  21. bryan

    “I do wish that the media in Ireland would draw more attention to the gap between rich and poor in Ireland though”

    Most of the liberal media talk of nothing else.
    In any case relative to the actual rich we are all poor. Learn some statistics.

    ” I think it is arrogant of any society to call itself “civilized” or a “success” when a large number of its citizens live on the street or remain in relative poverty.”

    Now how would we end “relative poverty”? Since most young people ( broadly defined as under 35-40) have little or no net worth compared to the over-fifties would you support a wealth tax on the old? In the future some of the “middleclasses” will be in negative net worth as their property collapses, do we reduce social welfare payments to the homeless or perennial welfare classes who will have zero net worth ( well, as declared) and thus will be richer than the “middleclasses”? If so, I agree.

  22. Malcolm McClure

    Investors don’t buy a pint for the froth.

  23. John Q. Public

    RB, good on you for bringing that up, poverty is never discussed here. I wish David would make a program on it and explore life in Darndale, Jobstown and Ballymun. Instead all we get in the media is how to look after crooked Nigerians and so on. Let’s look after our own first, focus in on some possible solutions, after all who cares about Shirley Temple Bar and crap like that?

  24. bryan

    “RB, good on you for bringing that up, poverty is never discussed here.”

    Seriously, you guys are not living in the same country, or the same planet as me. From the moment the celtic tiger came into the being the D4 liberal could talk about nothing else but “relative poverty” ( which really meant the median worker was pulling ahead, and we cant have that, now can we?)

  25. John Q. Public

    Pull ahead all you want. Why would it bother us?

  26. Hi John Public and RB, fair points about poverty. But as both of you know this is a tricky area. Also as a man who has never experienced real poverty either absolute or relative for anything other than a short while, I am not sure that I can write about grinding poverty with any real credibility or experience.

    I have been criticised for writing about the middle classes – but a scribber can only write about what he knows. Otherwise, you join the legions of hypocrites who pretent to empathise, while living in a totally lifestyle.

    However, the story of the boom from my perspective is the story of a broadly based move towards the economic centre. The central message of “The Pope’s Children” for example, is that Ireland is now a middle class nation with middle class aspirations. This I believe has come about largely through the mass availability of credit for the first time ever. It also explains the inability of traditional left wing parties to make any electoral headway here, because they simply do not understand the aspirations of their “supposed” electorate.

    Taking the EU figures, Ireland is not unequal in terms of income we are almost smack in the middle of the EU average and less unequal than UK, Italy, Spain, Portugal and all the Eastern European member states. Much comment in the media simply refuses to acknowledge this – because I suggest that many commentators are ideologically dissappointed. They hoped to live in a country that resembled Denmark and ended up living in a place that seemed more like Denver and they can’t forgive the people for making that choice!

    The problem is in the concentration of wealth not income. Here the land mania has skewed national wealth horribly and according to the Bank of Ireland, the top 5% in Ireland control close to 40% of the wealth of the country. This was the basic critique in “The Generation Game” which argued that the comming recession (remember this was written at a time when most people laughed at those of us who foresaw the present mess) would expose this wealth and generational divide and prompt Ireland to formulate a plan B…part of which will involve recognising our Diaspora as one of our greatest economic resources. (BTW the same people who laughed at the idea that we would experience a severe economic downturn are also laughing at the idea of the Diaspora as a resource.)

    The point of all these articles/books/TV programmes/lectures etc is to (make a living) and to highlight what is going on here and how we collectively can think our way out of our problems to create a better economy which in turn allows us to create a better society.

    Best and thanks for all the comments, they are invaluable. David

  27. RB

    Thanks for the response David..
    I do understand that if you haven’t experienced poverty then it wouldn’t make sense for you to identify with it therefore writing about it wouldn’t make much sense for you personally ..

    But..

    What about Rent allowance discrimination?
    I understand that you possibly haven’t experienced it, but at any one time it affects over 60, 000 people who have to rely on it and hundreds of thousands more who may have to ..

    http://radiscriminaton.wordpress.com/

    I think you could do a good article about this David…

    :)

  28. bryan

    More sanctimonious slef righteous self-important D4 gibberish rb. There are very real reasons why landlords can, and should, “discriminate” against certain categories of tenants ( which is their right given the property is theirs) .If you create a law in which private landlords cannot chose who they rent to, then they may as well not have ownership. Why have interviews for tenants, if the law forces you to always give the property to certain types of renter?

    I am in the rental sector, by the way, and I realise that you’re philosophy is typical of the self content bourgeois: if tenants get affirmative action because they are “long-term unemployed” then this reduces the number of rental properties available for the employed which materially affects me ( and why is anyone long term unemployed during a long boom?). As usual with bourgeois “radicalism” the lumpens benefit at the expense of the actual working classes. Which was what I was talking about with regards the D4 cant about relative poverty.

    As for real relative poverty, as David points out, the 50+ year olds have made off like bandits in terms of Wealth. What do you suggest there: I suggest a property tax, a tax on inheritance, a tax on unearner income, and the removal of tax-free gift exemptions between elite groups. Given that this would affect your class and agegroup you certainly disagree and would demand more tax on earned income. That is the tax that disproportionally affects the real poor, and workers, the real creators of wealth in this country, the young lower middle and working classes who are either in the rental sector, or have bought over-priced houses recently.

    Them’s the real poor. D4′s concern for lumpens is symptomatic of it’s hatred of the working and lower middle classes.

  29. Ed

    Bryan, “I suggest a property tax, a tax on inheritance,” you have a problem if you think that us 50+ are going to subsidise your generation again – we had to survive the eighties with punitive taxes so that your generation could get an education and wouldn’t have to emigrate as we had to do in our youth. Your generation just wants it all and they want it now – go and jump – we had to have a 40% deposit to get a mortgage and that wasn’t easy when half your income went in tax. At last we’ve got some reward for the investment in your generation and it’s now time that you lot start thinking about the next one and get off your arses, forget about easy money and get down to some real work.

  30. AndrewGMooney

    mmmn…..let’s try to keep on topic, not that I usually do…I’m on my last night in Dublin, got the runs, so I’ll be brief. Well, briefer than usual….briefer than ‘coldblow’.LOL!

    My Dad thought he had left a ‘pure’ Ireland to suffer under the Babylon that was Birmingham in the 1950s-00′s. Putting aside that his idealised ‘pay/pray/obey’ vision of Ireland was odious nonsense, it was always factually incorrect.

    There’s always been a giddy range of inverts, perverts, maniacs and the like in Dublin, it’s just that now they can cavort without being hassled. And no: I’m not just talking about the ‘gays’: Freedom extends in all directions or none at all. It’s a package. Economic freedom relies on the same substructure of tolerance.

    John Q Public: Have you been to Amsterdam? When I was last there it was hilarious to see the English lads in their sporno kits being carted off for drinking in public. Yes, you can shag yer brains out, smoke yourself silly, but drink a can of beer in public? No way. The Dutch are the Dutch. They do it their way. Dublin: Do it your way.

    You may be interested to know that many gay men are now extremely wary of Amsterdam because of the Islamic Hard-Core who can’t stand seeing blokes snogging in the bar or on the street. So, a few more gay bars in Dublin might do a roaring trade in the pink Euro.

    Not all Muslims have the same interpretation of Islam, not all ‘liberals’ have the same views on ‘freedom’. It’s a cultural thing. What’s the ‘culture’ of Dublin? Open, tolerant, diverse? Narrow, guarded and closed?
    Like soccer stars, how many MD’s/CEO’s are still in the closet? I think you’d be surprised. A lot goes into deciding which city to locate to. Or relocate from…..

    Jesus/Jaysus: I only popped into this cafe to check email and cancel an early evening pint and I end in yakking away.
    Dublin is a great city, but has much more to offer. B+. I’ve had a great time. Next Oxford. London and Edinburgh. You have competition, whether you like it or not.

  31. bryan

    Ed, my man. I have not taken a loan in my life so so much for “easy money”. Also I doubt you had to “emigrate”. The poorer part of Ireland had to emigrate, but they clearly are not in Ireland now and are not beneficiaries of the vast transfer of wealth from the young to your generation. You in fact benefitted from them emigrating ( I imagine , Ed, you had a nice comfy job in the civil service?). The subsidy is from the young to the old. Not only will my generation not have a pension as we continue to subsidise yours, but the massive increase in the wealth of your property beyond what you paid in, is subsidised by the continuing work of the young who pay off over priced mortgages which pushes up your wealth.

    In any case I suggested an inheritance tax. This would clearly not be a taxz on you as you would have to be dead. It would be a tax on the unearned income of your progeny. So, to be clear, you are in favour of subsidising the younger genreation – or rather you are in favour of subsidising your own children at the expense of everyone else’s.

    A 100% tax on inheritance is fair ( with the exception of ongoing concerns like businesses), or else we have no level playing field. It might suffice to reduce the income tax on the working poor, and ever increasing percentage of the Irish population. If we dont tax unearned income, taxes on earned income are a joke.

  32. RB

    Hello Bryan

    Well..

    First I would like to say, I am not a “D4 head”, Nor am I of any “class” , I have lived in two council areas, I have lived in private housing estates, I have rented and I have been on rent allowance at one time and I have also lived abroad, In France. I am currently lucky to be staying in a friends flat in Dublin while i go about trying to get back to college as a mature student. I am hoping to get a place on a masters course this October in Trinity. I will need to apply for rent allowance to support me if i return to college full time.
    Anyhow..
    My background aside..

    Your response is a typical example of everything that is wrong with attitudes in this country. This “me fein” attitude coupled with a “feck everyone else” opinion has created a situation where people have become completely divided into “haves” and “have nots” and i find that very sad.

    Anyone can end up unemployed, anyone can end up on the streets and anyone can end up having to look for rent allowance. You might be successful today , but that could all change tomorrow. It is very sad that you view people as you do.

    I don’t know how you came to the conclusion that I wanted to bring in a law to stop landlords from renting to whom they choose to. I was merely drawing attention to the issue of “rent allowance discrimination” which is a real problem for tens of thousands of people in this country. It is in breech of equality laws and it blatant prejudice based on an individuals socio-economic situation. If you think this is ok, then that makes you a bigot.

    You might call this “bourgeois radicalism” , I call it “standing up for my rights”, and if more people in this complacent nation did the same, we wouldn’t have half as many social problems as we have today.

    And by the way, never presume you can guess someone’s “class” from an internet text conversation…

  33. Rob

    An interesting situation i’ve observed is a family who live in my block of apts who are in a ‘social’ apt. They are the rowdiest bunch and it is normal to see cars visiting them rev-ving their engines outside. They completely p*** off everyone in the dev/t and have no shame about it. I seriously question the political system that favours the so-called poor and the very rich while squeezing everyone else for taxes. The rich ‘liberals’ are another laugh. When the dept of justice attempted to locate an asylum centre in D4 the rich liberals while ‘all in favour’ of immigration rights ran off to the 4Courts to get their injunction. The truth is that vested interests run this country and while the media harp on about rights i’ve yet to see many foreign-born journalists represented in our media. It seems incredible that the taoiseach of the country can gallivant abroad while his former secretary who earned 66 punts a week is hung out to dry at the tribunal. We need a generation of thinkers, doers and workers and people not afraid to challenge the orthodoxies and prejudices here. For this reason, although they are no angels, I respect Michael O’Leary and Denis O’Brien.

  34. Mark

    Look, David – get with the program! It is well known that Hillary Clinton gets the gay vote in the US. She is a strong, independent, successful female who has been beaten down, talked down, lied to and cheated on! The press must be sick of writing her political obituary at this stage. She is the closest thing to a gay icon that the US Political establishment has!

    Obama gets the left-leaning, latte-drinking, pseudo-intellectual white liberals and of course……the black vote! That’s primarily why he is carrying the urban areas. I’m not saying your article is wrong, but any gay worth their sequins wouldn’t be caught dead putting an ‘x’ beside Obama while Hillary is on the ballot paper, trust me…

    Hillary for 2008!

    (and Chelsea in 2016!)

  35. John Q. Public

    I dread the thought of either candidate winning. Spot and Barney have better credentials and would be more suited to the job. Better looking than Chelsea too!

  36. RB

    “I seriously question the political system that favours the so-called poor and the very rich while squeezing everyone else for taxes”

    Do you seriously think that the system favours the poor of Ireland in any way?
    That’s absurd..
    Whatever about favouring the rich, the poor of this country have never been properly supported or even counted as equal citizens..
    The real problems of Ireland stem from greed..
    We have a political system which is corrupt ..
    The government in collusion with vested interests from property developers have created the property bubble and credit crisis..
    Do some research on Fianna Fail members, the most are rental property owners and linked with developers in one way or another..
    They don’t give a toss about the middle class or the poor…
    There are but a few politicians in this country who have any real integrity, David Norris would be one and I can’t think of anymore off the top of my head, thats how bad the situation is…
    I don’t think there has ever been a time in Irish history where such blatant neglect of community and the welfare of people has been as rampant as it is now..
    We are living in a “dictatorship disguised as a democracy” …
    Not only is this government hellbent on putting a whole generation in debts which they will never get out of , but it is also intent on destroying our ancient heritage with its desecration of the Tara/Skryne Valley in Meath.. The majority of the Irish people want the motorway rerouted but the government doesn’t want to know.. (too much money and too many vested interests at stake there)..
    Then we have the ongoing Shell oil scenario in Mayo.. The local people there have been beated with batons while protesting peacefully and some have been arrested and jailed for refusing to give up their land to a multinational monster..
    The state is there to facilitate this, as amply demonstrated in this case with several laws changed and a massive police presence introduced to benefit Shell.
    Through state and corporate power, conditioned by market forces, we have the local imposition of a hazardous development, the national imposition of the gas give away, and the international imposition of global warming.

    Romantic Ireland is trul dead and gone…
    It has become just like America, a corporate controlled banana republic with no value on heritage, human rights or the welfare and wellbeing of its citizens..

  37. Rob

    I agree with a lot of what you say RB but the sad fact of the matter is that we get the Government we deserve. Its a democracy and whether we like it or not, and I don’t, the people endorsed the current shower and renewed their mandate. Irish people may themselves be inherently greedy or something? but I believe the character of the Government reflects the character of the people. I don’t believe that an FG/Labour/Green alliance would have been hugely different but we needed a change to shake the system up a bit. Irish people are inherently conservative, the two main parties are centrist with a fairly small left party in comparison to other european countries. Despite the Government treating certain sectors of society shabbily, these people voted and will vote for FF all the time. Recently a FF supporter in Mayo told me that the Govt were great, sure hadn’t they cleaned the old bushes of the defunct train line running through Mayo? This is the mentality of many voters in Ireland. As such many voters in Ireland are not ‘political’ at all, they are merely ‘loyalists’ to one party or another.

  38. Jonathan

    Eugene,
    I’m glad that you agree with me that money flows outward from Dublin.

    As for your argument about who pays more tax for the services they receive, the man in Ballina or Dublin both earning 50k,……,well it is completely misleading since although Dublin has more amenities it also has very much more population to serve, 1mill+ vs 10+. Therefore the man in Ballina is arguably getting more bang for his tax buck, so to speak, despite no Luas and no Pheonix park, etc.

    Your argument about centralisation has merit. Its been like that since the founding of the state so the only reason its still like that is because “it was like that when they found it”. Anywho decentralisation is going ahead as we speak so that will be the end of that (eventually…very very eventually). However, you suggestion that the taxpayer as a whole is subdizing Dublin by having its administrative centre there is far off the mark. Dublin does in fact have other industries. Furthermore your remarks characterising the denizens of Dublin an “indolent and anti-entreprenurial” simply serve to prove my point that there is indeed anti Dublin bias among many non-Dublineers.

    eugene said,

    on March 19th, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    “Fact of the matter is Dublin is financially subsidizing most of the rest of the country. Get over it. You may crib and moan about your crappy infrastructure but given its population Dublin is worse served that almost anywhere else in the country”

    This is nonsense. In general people in Cities earn more than outside cities, and so pay more tax. Tax for re-distributary purposes is obviously, therefore, going to flow out, not in. Secondly tax for common nationwide services like health, will be – of a matter of course – distributed from large centres of population to smaller.

    To judge the subsidy that the Irish taxpayer gives to the average Dubliner you have to judge it on a per-capita basis. Or course when Public Money is paid to an administrative centre ( which is a drain on resources) , or to subsidise a Financial Services centre, or to subsidse “national” parks and “national” theatres in one city only, then even a population as indolent and anti-entrepenurial as Dublin will on average earn more than the people outside the pale ( although, or course much of this differential is due to the movement of better educated and more energetic people from the provinces).

    But lets assume that a man earns 50K in Dublin. And 50K in Ballina. Who is subsidising whom? It’s clear, isn’t it? The man from Ballina does not have a Dart, a Bus Service, a series of nationally funded parks, a Theatre, a number of Museums, a Luas, a metro, and so on. All of these should be locally funded.

    So controlled is the centralization that I note that McWilliams does not countenance that the “cool” centre of Ireland be anywhere else but Dublin. But Milan, Barcelona, San Francisco/ New York etc. are not the adminstrative centres of their countries, so why cant we spend Public Money on Galway, not Dublin? It’s cooler anyway.

    And here is another thing. So centralised is Ireland that the typical Dubliner whinefest is about how De Gubmint is treating them badly, as in the post above me. This betrays the opposite reality than the poster intends: the argument is that the nasty culchies send TD’s to Dublin to run the place badly, the counter argument is that culchies send TD’s to Dublin to run Ireland, not Dublin. Dubliners acutally think the government of the country is elected to run Dublin, not Ireland, and this is a reasonable assumption given how much tax monies in spent subsidizing them. Also of course the Government does in fact get involved in Dublin local affairs; recently Dubliners were mad because De Gubmint was planning a congestion charge. This is not a job for central government, but an over-centralized State cannot distinguish between Dublin and Ireland.

    So let Dublin have an elected Mayor with tax raising powers, and bond issuing powers ( like the American Cities). Let Dublin pay for all the local infrastructure which is not part of a national network ( metro/dart/luas – the M50 should be Nationally funded as it is part of the network) and transfer the ownership of parks to the local authorities – including the spurious “national” parks like Phoenix Park to the city treasury. The offshoot of this is that the man in Dublin pays more tax than the man in Ballina, which is the case between New York and Montana. And let’s stop the whining from Dubliners about how anti-City the most centralized State in the Western world is. ( maybe – with the exception of city States – the world)

  39. RB

    Well, it is nice to see that you see things as they too.
    I would have to slightly disagree though , I don’t think people get the government that they “deserve” at all. A lot of people voted for the greens this time round in the hope that they would bring some balance to the Fianna Fail corporatocracy but they sold out their voters and more or less assimilated into the Fianna Fail ideology. I understand that the Greens had to take what they could to get into power, but there are a lot of disgruntled people out there who will not be voting them again. It is also astounding that Green head honcho John Gormeley stll claims he can’t protect Tara even though he was appointed minister for the environment. He says his”hands are tied”.. With what I wonder? ..Tofu? ..

    I agree somewhat with your point that “the character of the government reflects the character of the people… Yes there are a lot of greedy celtic tiger folk who no doubt voted fianna fail in the hope that they could keep their materialistic lifestyles intact.. but there was also a substantial ammount of people who voted green in opposition to the Fianna Fail mindset and a lot of them feel very let down..
    I didn’t vote myself because to be honest, i didn’t see the point.. It was obvious that Fianna Fail were gonna get back in anyway , they had a marketing campaign instead of a political campaign and it was extremely manipulative…
    The irony is though, the same people who voted them in must be embarrassed to admit it now that it seems Bertie’s being hung out to dry in the Mahon Tribunal .. Or maybe they don’t really care? after all ,there’s always “decking” and “Dundrum shopping center” to occupy their minds and anyhow most of them didn’t vote for a political party , they voted for a “lifestyle”…
    It will be interesting though when the dreaded “R” word begins to rear its head at Fianna Fail dinner parties.. That’s “R” for “Recession”… I think my the time the next election comes round, the political landscape of Ireland wil be quite different.. And I’d put my bets on Sinn Fein gaining in popularity when the economy falls to bits…

  40. bryan

    rb you are a good example of how Ireland’s ruling class – which is not Fianna Fail – fools itself. “but there was also a substantial ammount of people who voted green in opposition to the Fianna Fail mindset and a lot of them feel very let down.. ”

    The Green party represents the richest people in Ireland. In general in Ireland (and everywhere) the rich can afford to support carbon taxes, large scale immigration and liberal policies on crime because the effect of these ideologies is borne by the poor(er). Liberalism is a proxy displlay of wealth.

  41. RB

    And you Bryan are a good example of presumptuousness ..
    As i told you before, I do not belong to any class.. And if i do it is certainly not a “ruling class”..
    The green party does not represent the richest people in Ireland , what are you talking about? ..There is a liberal element to it of course, and i’m sure that does attract some from the middle to upper classes, but i can assure you the people I now personally who voted for the greens are far from rich , as a matter of fact two of them are in receipt of soclai welfare, one a mature student and another a single mother .. So i think you are way off the mark…

  42. Rob

    Fair enough RB, but one thing i would take issue with is not voting. There’s no point being ‘political’ without voting. A few votes swung a good many seats. Remember Fianna Fáil actually lost 2 seats, if they had lost a 2/3 more then it could easily been game on. Flynn in Mayo got in by the skin of her teeth as did a couple of other FF/ind FF. I have no problem with the greens being in government. They have already made an impact, look at the recent mandatory guidelines for apartment size, in a way its revolutionary stuff. There’s no way a FF Min for Environment would have introduced that. I am prepared to overlook the crowd they are with in order that individual green ministers make a positive impact. Better to be inside the tent p*ssing out etc. Look at the impact Noel Browne made and Donough O’Malley made as individual ministers. I wouldn’t be all sure that the greens represent the richest people in Ireland. There are surely rich people in the green party as well less well-off but it is an ideological party and i think refreshing as it relatively new. FF represent survival and going with the flow. The screw is turning a little bit now given the downturn, look at the Minister’s reception at the teacher’s conference. The daftest thing I ever heard is not to invest in education
    as the Minister is now spouting. This shows a party lacking a strategic vision and is completely devoid of plan now that the funds are drying up. The failure to use the funds that were available in the last ten years will have repercussions.

  43. RB

    Yeah, I take your point..
    The reason why I didn’t vote was because none of the candidates inspired me to..
    There’s no point voting if you only half believe in the party or candidate..
    But yeah, you are right and I am glad the Greens got in, it will take time for them to develop their agendas and polices, i just hope that they keep their integrity..
    I’m so disillusioned with Ireland at the moment, which is a shame because it could be such a great place to live if it wasn’t for all this rampant greed and materialism..
    And don’t get me started on the cost of living!!!
    :)

    (rant over.. feel better.. ahhhh..)

  44. Evening all. Good debate. The big question, scanning the global financial markets tonight, is where is this whole thing (US and Irish economy/finance/banking) is going to end? God only knows.

    RB,

    Just one point on the Greens; following the 2002 election, the politics department in TCD did a study on who votes for whom and indeed they did find that the Greens were the richest voters in the land and guess who was supported by the second richest? The socialist Labour Party! While FF the party of the developers and tax cuts gets the lions share of the poorest voters! (P29 of the Pope’s Children taken from Society and Political Culture J Coakley and M Gallagher eds in “Politics in the Republic of Ireland” 3rd edition Routledge London). Strange but true. Only in Ireland. Thanks for all the comments they are invaluable. Oiche mhaith, David

  45. Dan Hayes

    David,

    I was very surprised by your statement “Only in Ireland” about how the rich support the Green Party and Labor.

    In America (especially NYC) we have anointed these people with the appelation “limousine liberals.” I suspect that it may be a world-wide phenomenon.

    Hypocrisy Reigns!

    Dan

    P.S. I agree with your judgement that the comments are “invaluable.”

  46. Rob

    David, the problem with the Labour Party in Ireland is that it doesn’t actually resonate with the poorer/working class voter. Is it any wonder when one of the recent leaders is a decent, but B/rock College educated architect, not exactly Joxer from the docks. FF mops up this vote and will do so until these voters realise that FF is not the republican party but the ‘publican and builder’ party.

  47. Langerman

    I have but one line for you:
    “Cork: the fillet of Munster”

  48. Garry

    Rob, a stereotye for you …………….
    the Labour Party in Ireland represents the ‘defined benefit’ workforce in Ireland… They are based in Liberty hall, share space with the unions, the vast majority of whose members are drawn from semi state and public sector workers. Labours membership is drawn from the same pool, they are indeed “not exactly joxers from the docks”, their constituency are those people typically over fifty who have done very well as a byproduct of the boom (houses paid off, maybe even a holiday apt, defined benefit pensions, big pay increases from benchmarking). They are already solidly at the upper end of middle class in Ireland, with the recession their position will be even better again without contribution or effort on their part.

    There is no absolutely understanding within the Labor party and its officials as to what is going on in ‘defined contribution’ Ireland. They cant afford to, they would lose the support of their core membership…. To be fair to them they do still have traces of a social consience but its reserved for unthreatening causes here and abroad…. just like a green voter who drives a > 1L car.

  49. MK

    Hi again David,

    I semi agree with eugene. Its not a case of whether we should have a city like a Dublin or not, as it has been proven over the years that cities and concentration of resources/people/etc does have advantages, and of course disadvantages.

    Governments need to mitigate against the forces that naturally occur in this ‘all roads lead to Rome’ effect to maximise efficiency, productivity, attractiveness, etc. There are no perfect cities, nor counrty idylls, but there are cities that perform better than others and are clearly better to live in. Dublin has more than its fair share of problems, and its true that Ireland is particularly concentated, although not overwhelming so eg: people do not commute en masse in high speed trains from Cork, not quite yet! Geographically distance ultimately decides the ‘catchment’ area of a city and its ‘eco-system’. Ireland has stretched that quite far, as have other cities around the globe, such as London, Rome, Paris, New Delhi, Tokyo, new York, etc.

    But Ireland has an opportunity to create an opposite pole to counterbalance Dublin, as Rotterdam does to Amsterdam, Berlin, Hamburg, Munich do to each other, Milan to Rome, etc. Ireland is smaller, but the question is do we build on say Galway/Limerick/Cork, or treat the island as a whole and instead develop Belfast as the melbourne-equivalent to the sydney-Dublin.

    Its our government which ultimately decides (whether by choice, policy success or failure) how things actually turn out.

    There are many people that are living in London for example that dont necessarily like it. Sometimes, economics is living is a necessy evil.

    MK

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