2 Sep 2008

The Government is considering creating the position of STATE ARCHITECT (sweet Knights of Columbus!) as well as employing more architects in local authority planning offices. Presumably, to – I don’t know – make things better, maybe? (I used to work as an architect within the local authority system (did I just say the words ‘local authority ‘system’’?  I might have meant: I’m an architect, and I used to attend City Hall with people from other walks of life with whom I'd exchange emails in the name of coordinating matters of public interest (which remained a secret to me in all the time I was there)), so I’ll be very interested to see, exactly, how such an initiative is supposed to succeed without rewriting the planning legislation from scratch). Mr. Gormley, please. Don’t waste all our money on this idea unless you’re getting top quality advice from people with real experience in how these things work. Otherwise you’ll just make my life so much harder when I take over from you as Minister for the Environment.  

Anyway… All these initiatives are contained in the Government’s proposed new policy on architecture, which is being circulated (somewhere) for comment. We know all of this because a draft of the document somehow fell into the hands of the Irish Times who's environment correspondent, Frank McDonald, wrote about it on Monday.

So, how did Frank get to see what’s inside of such a closely guarded document? I mean, did he:

  1. lodge a Freedom of Information request?
  2. get a high-powered invite to the Minister’s office for a little heads-up on a balloon the Government is about to float?
  3. sit on the actual steering committee which wrote the policy document on the Minister’s behalf (and which isn’t being made generally available to the press)?

The answer is in fact 'C'. Frank was one of the people who wrote up the draft document. He then leaked it to himself over the weekend, obviously, before writing a piece about it as if it were a news story and not a personal agenda he was peddling.  

Here’s the, eh… what do you call this kind of thing? A report?

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2008/0901/1220218691077.html

Sunday, 07 September 2008 17:19:07 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Gary, I'm afraid you got it wrong. Yes, it's true I was asked by John Gormley to serve on an advisory committee re: formulating a new State policy on architecture. However, because of other commitments (notably co-writing a book on Ireland's big property developers with Kathy Sheridan; it's called >The Builders< and is due to be published by Penguin Ireland on October 2nd, incidentally), I wasn't able to attend a single meeting. So I had no had, act or part in writing the draft policy document -- and that's for the record! ... Frank

PS try not to be so cynical;)
Frank McDonald
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