28 May 2007

Thanks to the nice people at the Sculpture Factory for inviting me to participate in the prestigious debate which forms part of their annual planning and architecture conference. Very exciting event it was too – huge attendance of prominent architects (I knew they had to be prominent because they all had shaven heads and little smig beards - and even the men architects looked weird too), planners and politicians (Minister Mícheál Martin was there just before his re-election to Dáil Éireann was confirmed, to name-drop just one).

This year’s debate had Team A argue ‘Let The People Have What They Want’ versus Team B’s proposition that ‘Designers Know Best’. Everyone, as you can imagine, wanted to be on the ‘Let The People Have What They Want’ team as the proposition was a bit of a no-brainer. As it turned out, the three speakers selected for Team A comprised a chap called Pat Ruane who’s something to do with conservation, a fellow called Steven Baxter whom they tell me is a planner of sorts, and another lad called Tom Spalding who, well, was some other kind of  planner.


That left Team B, of which I was a part, to argue the impossible ‘Designers Know Best’. Besides me, there was Cork's finest architect Louise Cotter and Manchester based architectural genius Sean Griffiths. As it happens, the combination of an awful performance from Team A (Ruane turned out, inadvertently, to be our best speaker - the other two put the room to sleep) combined with the intellectual rigour, flair and panache displayed by (my) Team B meant that we defied the odds and won handsomely: 735 votes to 3, in fact. It was a tour de force.

And for some reason I can’t explain, it put me in mind of the Irrelevant Debate of the Leaders of the Small Parties on RTE last week and Gerry Adams’ bewildering performance where he came across like well-meaning-but-boorish British Conservative party member trying not to sound condescending on his first ever trip to 'Eire'. As I was watching, I kept thinking this guy is sure-as-hell about to refer to the island of Britain as ‘the mainland’ and that if the Shinners form part of the next coalition government, pulling our troops out of Iraq will be his first priority.

Now that would have been cool.

Ikea are about to get planning permission for their new Ballymun outlet and they've started recruiting.


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