11 Dec 2007

County Managers as well as the folks one step down from them (Directors of Services) can ‘volunteer’ to participate in a scheme which bags them a potential end of year bonus of 20% of their annual salary which, if you’re the Dublin City Manager on €183,000 a year, isn’t bad going.

This is how it works. At the start of the year, you decide on some self-defined goals you’d like to achieve during the following twelve months. Then, at the end of the year, your City/County Manager decides if you’ve succeeded in reaching these goals (which nobody else has to know about) (and, which, if you’re already the Manager is quite convenient) (and which everyone who has participated since 2003 has succeeded in achieving). The Manager then passes on his recommendation to the Committee of Performance Awards – a body of five which includes two City/County Managers! – and away you go.

The scheme is exceptionally popular. Amongst beneficiaries.

But I’m wondering if the senior officials in Limerick City Council will lose out on their bonus this year by failing to deliver a crèche for the people of St. Mary’s Park? Or did they have it as one of their stated goals at the start of '07 that they would ensure that the crèche doesn’t actually go ahead...? 

Here’s the story.

For many years, Limerick Councillor John Gilligan, his supporters in St. Mary’s Aid and some decent, non-money-grabbing design consultants (who get involved in these projects because, God love them, they still believe it’s the right thing to do) have done everything in their power to provide a crèche for the people of St. Mary’s Park – they’re the folks abandoned in that famous-for-all-the-wrong-reasons housing estate which no man, woman or child in the country would exchange their lot with.

This time last year, John had detailed specifications, planning permission, €1.4 in grants and private donations and a building contractor to build perhaps the most needed facility in the whole city. All he was waiting for was the City Council to agree a long term lease for the site.

The Council have been dragging their heels on the land transfer for months and months claiming there are legal reasons why the procedure can’t happen fast (!?). A lot of people think the Council are trying to kill the project off because it conflicts with the brand new master plan which they’ve just launched for the whole Kings Island area and which would see virtually all of St. Mary’s Park demolished and rebuilt (!?).

Local people are worried that the new master plan will be as (un)successful as the previous Master Plans of 1994 and 1997, and that when it has long been forgotten and the city officials pushing it have moved on to Cork and Dublin, they still won’t have their crèche.

So, here’s the recap: the people of St. Mary’s Park are desperate for a facility the rest of us couldn’t live without. The man they’ve elected to represent them has done everything he physically can to make it happen. But the project is being blocked by unelected agents of the Department of the Environment who are dabbling in a spot of ‘you’ll get what we say you can have’ indolence.

And so, as D4 based journalists use up all their newspaper column space getting hysterical about the bits of global warming we have no control over (China), and as the Government gets worked up that someone (who does Justine Delaney-Wilson think she is? She’s thirty three and never written for The Times!) has the neck to suggest one of them is an habitual cocaine user, the people of the disadvantaged communities all around the country continue to live in democracy where they have absolutely no say in what happens to them.

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