The wannabe Conor McGregor stares out the window from the Luas at the cut-stone walls of Grangegorman. He wears a baby-blue Adidas and Nike combo, Moncler Polo shirt (top button closed), week-old stubble, fresh skin-fade, double-swallow tattoo on the calf, and no socks. Clutching his personally engraved snooker cue, with Biggie blaring out from his chrome Beats, he is a man going places.
Beside him, a young couple – he hirsute lumberjack, she painted Rockabilly – clutch a Sherry Fitzgerald brochure. These are graduate refugees priced out of Portobello, contemplating a new life north of the river.
The price of third-level education has risen by 131 per cent since 2005, while the price of computer games has fallen by 63 per cent. The cost of clothes has fallen dramatically in the past decade and a half, while the cost of healthcare has risen exorbitantly. The price of furniture is much lower now than it was at the height of the boom, yet the price of childcare has gone up by 34 per cent.
These are the latest trends in prices and costs in Ireland. What is the reason for these huge disparities and what does this mean for the economy, the electorate, and the political cycle?
The schools are closed for the holidays and morning rush hour traffic in the suburbs has dwindled. Traffic reports herald this blessed relief. Driving kids to school, and clogging up roads, is a relatively new thing. Our household is at it too on occasion. Indeed, sometimes it’s the only way of getting them into school at all. However, the school-travel trends are marked. According to the census, in 1981, 21 per cent of primary and 8 per cent of secondary students were driven to school. By 2016, 62 per cent of primary-school kids and 41 per cent of secondary students were driven to school.
Last week, Dublin was ranked the top city in Ireland and the UK to live in, focusing attention on what makes a make a great city. All over the world, cities are driving economic growth. Ireland is no exception. Dublin is more dominant now than ever before.
If house prices are rising by 12 per cent per year yet wages are only rising by about a quarter of that rate, who is winning? Who gains and who loses from this disparity between house prices and wages?
Our family is not good at filling out forms. It’s just not our thing. Life would be easier if we had an enthusiastic stenographer in the tribe – someone who loves a form and a deadline – but such a creature doesn’t exist in our immediate bloodline.