30 May 2008

I used to be a James Dean fan in my youth. So, not having watched Rebel Without A Cause for many’s the year, I popped the DVD into the player the other week for a sweet trip down memory lane.

Mistake. Thirty seconds after the overacting ham's mug appears on the screen, I’m thinking ‘this kid’s father should kick him out of the house…’ Dean's a blouse.

And as for David Bowie. What a freaky old b he really is. Lately I can't watch him withouth thinking of Cliff Richard for some reason.

Anyway, if you too have had the ‘childhood heroes fading’ experience, you’ll enjoy these two 'diet Australians' – The Flight Of The Conchords. My American chums tell me they’re all the rage over there: Letterman, etc. And if you enjoy this clip (a spoof of the Pet Shop Boys’ ‘West End Girls’ except better), check out the video of them doing ‘Bowie In Space’ live. Sooooperb.

'... your favourite jersey is covered in lint...' ! Soooperb.

Have a nice weekend.

Waterford and Clare!

May the best team make the lads in blue look like a pick up cricket team! 

30 May 2008


Have you heard about this? I’m told its the Godshonesttruth. Apparently some TV company in the States had an ad out in one of the trade magazines looking for young doctors to volunteer to carryout their very first surgery on TV in a new reality show called ‘Virgin Surgeon’.


There was real tragedy at the recent Kentucky Derby where the only filly in the field, Eight Belles, broke both ankles after crossing the line in second place and had to be euthenised. Hilary Clinton had declared support for Eight Belles before the race began. The winner was a horse called Big Brown.  


County Cork is trying to block access to my site. Or at the very least, they're trying to prevent my email updates from getting through to various officials and councillors. However, this isn't stopping the people whom the County is trying to protect from my evil missives from reading it anyway and sending me emails about what's going on. Mainly dissatisfaction amongst some about how pre-planning consultations are being handled. Oh, and conservation.

29 May 2008



This is what I think would happen. Some orange bag of botox in RTE would stare at the off screen monitor in that way that’s supposed to convince us that they’re really looking at the big blue screen where the live-link appears to us at home, but not to them (i.e. the bag of botox) and say ‘We’re now joined by our Senior News Correspondent, Charlie Bird, whose live at City Hall. Charlie, what exactly is the situation on the ground?’ (Isn’t it funny that no matter what the story - Dustin’s failure in Belgrade, 9/11, wild cat strikes, etc – the botox always asks the same question: ‘what’s the situation on the ground?)  And Big Bird would say things like ‘unprecedented’ and ‘historic’ and ‘state of crisis’, as he always does no matter what the story.

Anyway, the topic here is that, unbeknownst to the rest of the country, the members of Clare County Council are, for all intents and purposes, on strike. Last week, the majority of the Banner’s elected officials decided to no longer exercise their (limited) powers because of the spectacular mess the county’s planning system is in (that development in Inagh which I posted about a couple of weeks ago (and which, I’ve since found out had an (alleged) falsely back dated document on the file would be enough to cause a planning crisis pretty much anywhere, but it’s only really the tip of what’s going on).

Councillors PJ Kelly, et al, requested a meeting with the County Manager (County Manager is a term I’m feeling increasingly uncomfortable using: ‘Dublin Imposed Puppet’ feels clunky. Dip, maybe? Lets give it a go and see how it feels.) The Dip showed up for the meeting with a team of other unelected types whom the Councillors weren’t expecting, including the Kilrush Under-Dip we’ll be posting about next week. The Councillors weren’t interested in talking to anyone except the Top Dip and walked out of the Dip’s office. Since then they’ve been on a work to rule.

In recent weeks, Clare and South Tipperary are outnumbering other counties in planning related emails, leads, etc., by (when combined) 8 to 1. I'd like to think that the Dispatch had some small part in having some Dip from Carrick-on-Shannon get an invite to Dublin to answer for himself. What I'm learning is that when you shine a light on the activity of some Dip or Dodgy Councillor, right thinking council officials - far from defending their pathalogical associates - are prepared to do the right thing.

More to come.

29 May 2008

Following on from Killian Forde’s contribution about the little stationmaster's building in Fingal, and prompted by Colm Cantillon’s comment regarding a Protected Structure on Dominick Street in Galway (which is in a shocking state and lying idle three years after an Bord Planala refused permission to do it up because a Department of the Environment official, who hadn’t even visited the site to make an evaluation, referred it to them) I want you all to send me photos, info or whatever of Protected Structures rotting where they stand because planning permission which would have guaranteed their use was refused.

Here’s poor Dominick Street.

And this is a church in Limerick. Disused for more than a dozen years, a perfectly reasonable planning application lodged in 2005 went nowhere because (this is where I take out my Thomas Merton to avoid using a cuss word by trying to see the beauty in all God’s creatures) some planning type got into a tizzy about the PUTTY WHICH WOULD BE USED FOR GLAZING (I swear to you, this was where the job stumbled). The condition of the building is getting worse. The roof will eventually fall in. 


Send me what you have. A bit of background would be helpful. I won't post your submissions if you're not comfortable, but I would like to see them.

29 May 2008

D'you know, I'm getting more interested in Angela Merkel by the day... 

Anyway… I was talking to German architects earlier this week and happened to mention that their leader, Angela Merkel, had been in town a couple of weeks back. With characteristic Germanness, they weren’t aware of the fact. What was she doing in Ireland, they wanted to know? I explained she was promoting a ‘yes’ vote on the Lisbon Treaty which, if we – the Irish - didn’t endorse it would mean that Europe would be facing into some kind of dark chasm.

‘What is this Lisbon Treaty?’ they asked, ‘who ever even never heard of it?’

28 May 2008

Headed for the end of the week, so here's something to put us all in the mood. Poor Lou Dobbs. Trying to move with the 'personality driven' news presentation style now de rigeur in the States (what will RTE do if it catches on over here?) Lou walks right into it...  

28 May 2008

According to Charlie McCreevy I’m neither sane, decent nor Irish because I've tried to read the Lisbon Treaty in full before casting my vote in next month’s referendum.

Good Lord.

What kind of impression must the Europeans have of the Irish people with someone like McCreevy on the wing in Brussels (Peter Sellars in ‘Being There’, I should think.)

When people come out with the kind of thing McCreevy came out with last week, it’s really hard to argue without getting personal. My urge is to explain my compelling theory of how Charlie would make the perfect Boxer-in-Animal-Farm’s Evil Twin, if Boxer had an evil twin (if you’re not familiar with the reference, I’m not being nice). Seriously, it was like a flashback to a 1970s era, ITV Saturday night variety show ‘What did the Irishman say…’ type routine. What kind of vision does this man have for our society? A nation of proud, educated, civilised, sophisticated thinkers? Or a trailor park of ninnies?

McCreevy's nonsense represents a vertiginous new low in the Lisbon discourse (which is quite an achievement given such strong challenges from the likes of Ahern, Roche, Cowen, Cullen and O’Dea since the Treaty debate began). He has somehow found yet another way to make me feel ashamed of those who claim the leadership of the Irish people.

28 May 2008
The Irish Rural Dwellers Association were before the Oireachtas Environment Committee yesterday pressing home their argument that An Bord Planala has an anti rural bias. They pointed out – correctly - that the make up of an Bord doesn’t follow the rules which govern its own establishment in that there is an overrepresentation from Irish Congress of Trade Union nominees but nobody to represent the Irish rural tradition. (The IRDA took out a full page ad about this in one of the national newspapers a while back. It generated absolutely no discussion whatsoever – maybe when the incorrect set up of the Bord has an effect on some dodgy Ballsbridge application, Dublin will take notice.)
27 May 2008

We’ve a little bit of a follow up on the ‘‘when is a document supposed to go a planning file and when is it confidential?’ thing we talked about the other day.

In County Clare, an application for a small non-controversial development in the west of the county was so not controversial that owners of neighbouring properties sent letters to the Council expressing their support for it – hoping, I presume, that the little project would go ahead and fill up a nasty hole in the street. However, the letters in question never made it to onto the planning file. When questioned about this, some Council person thought the letters were ‘confidential’.

Confidential? Well, I never underestimate a Council official’s ability to see the grey of confidentiality where the rest of us see daylight. But, on balance, I think the Council person was probably more likely to have been playing at silly buggers. My guess is that the Council person was thinking, were the Council to kick to touch on the application and seek more time/information, etc., it would be harder to get away with if there were letters supporting the project on the file. That’s my take. Maybe I’m being a bit harsh…

Tons going on in Clare by the way - far and away the most dysfunctional planning county in the land. I'll bring you up to speed in the coming days when I get a bit of time.

27 May 2008
I was very interested in that piece in the Indo on Sunday where that man sought info from RTE under FOI about how much the coverage of Super Tuesday had cost (the taxpayer). Apparently he was first told the bill was something like €25K. This figure was later revised upwards to €60K +. Judging by the number of people the public service broadcaster sent over, this sounds extremely low to me.
26 May 2008

Killian Forde, Sinn Fein Councillor, Fingal, thanks for the photos of the listed building on the Dart line which Iarnrod Eireann are refusing to take care of and are hoping the Council will de-list to get them out of a spot of bother. Behind all the graffiti, there’s a lovely little building waiting to be made use of. I think that fine brick course work is called Monk Bond. The limestone carvings around window are very nice too. With just a touch of imagination and a small amount of cash, there are so many ways in which this building could make a positive contribution to the community.


So the Local Authority says there’s nothing they can do to move things along? Under the Heritage Sections of the Planning Act and various parts of the Derelict Sites Act, they have tons of options.

See what happens when the building is eventually taken over by someone who wants to make use of it and they lodge a planning application – suddenly the Local Authority will have loads to say and the poor applicant will be made to feel like a conservation heretic for suggesting that the building be insulated…

Check out Killian's site lads. I love the 'Eurobore' stuff. I'd pick up on it myself but, you know me, I'm too polite.  

26 May 2008
The Australian social commentator of the mid 20th century, AA Phillips, came up the term Culture Cringe to describe that phenomenon where, in a former colony, aspects of indigenous culture are spurned by the social elite who consider them inferior to those of the banished colonial power. Phillips argued that Culture Cringe had made its unpleasant presence felt in several aspects of Australian life – like, for instance, television where imported programming was considered superior to the home produced variety.
23 May 2008


La maison de mes rêves

Garry donne son avis sur les deux constructions, parle de la maison de ses rêves et commente les erreurs que Richard a commises.

Sometimes days suck...

But sometimes they don’t!

Like, for example days when you find out that a TV series you presented is being broadcast in France and being well received!

Yep, kittens, this is the news I received today to make it not suck: Ultimate House is going out in France on the popular Naxco Channel 99 during the coveted lunchtime slot! (middle of the night repeats).


Obviously, the deal happened so quickly that Keith didn’t get a chance to let me know personally, but I’m sure if I’m due some French lucre he’d eventually get round to giving me a call.

Anyway, I found out about my Gallic celebrity status when the French version of the TV Guide – Le Canular – emailed me for an interview. How could I say non?

They agreed to send on their questions in writing… Here’s a sampling.

Hello Garry. Thank you to speak with Le Canular, the principal weekly magazine of celebrity of the TV of France! First it is okay to ask some provocative questions to inform your viewers of France? Good. Let the games commence!

Do you visit France sometimes?

Have you the pleasure to look sometimes at French television?

At what level of appreciation is the reality-TV of France in America? With approval, or to the contrary? Have you the pleasure to watching the reality-TV sensation of the recent époque en France – ‘Je t’aime: moi non plus’?. Give your opinion of this addition to the global development of the genre – for example the possibility for impact on values of productions in Hollywood?

'La Maison De Mes Reves'(Garry interjecting – that’s the French title for ‘Ultimate House’) reveals residences which are situate in Japan and those of which are situate in the United States. Discuss, for example, perhaps the residences of Japan are a true representation of the avante garde? Perhaps the houses of the United States a representation a materiel expectations? What is your assessment?

Thank you Garry.

(If you want, you can choose to answer out questions in French or in English. If you choose in English, please to know that a translation will be given and it will be okay.)  

23 May 2008

...an entire retail park was sitting empty at one end of town because the officials thought Heaton’s goods weren’t ‘bulky’ enough to satisfy some picky little planning condition, while...

...at the other end of town, a rival site (which floods) had been designated for retail park use and had attracted a planning application which included a curious bridge leading to some empty fields on the south side of the Suir, while...

...(I don’t know how to explain this bit) next door to the 'flooding' application (but on a site which also spends some time underwater), a planning application had been received for another retail park. And bridge... while...

...as several hundred people demonstrated outside the doors of the Town Hall, councillors voted to pay for the construction of one of these two new bridges by introducing extra development contributions from planning applicants (i.e. the ordinary town folk building small extensions and who have no interest whatsoever in seeing the bridge built)… while

...Johnny Ronan planned to build yet another bridge in roughly the same area, while...

I get exhausted thinging about it.

Anyway. Finally, the most senior official in town is being invited to Dáil Eireann to explain the logic of an approach to planning which has left the town in such a state.

If this is the bar by which planning messes are to be considered for higher review, expect a stream of Town Managers, Directors of Services and others to be heading to Dublin fairly soon.

23 May 2008
In much the same casual way that the half billion overrun and six year delay on the Ballymun Regeneration Project was casually dropped into the middle pages of the newspapers, delays/overruns on the Moyross/Southill projects in Limerick were similarly underplayed in recent press reports.
22 May 2008

Finally, the Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland (the august body of which I’m proud to say I am a member (apart from the ‘royal’ bit)) is growing liathróidí (I don’t mean you, John, you always had them. And you, Joe. And you, Seán).

In a recent email, it invited members to assist in a survey of how the planning application isn’t working. Judging from the questions (how bad would you rate your experience with County X? Bad? Awful? All the Alprazolam in the HSE wouldn’t get you over it?) I have an idea what kind of results the Institute is expecting to find. And judging from the conversations I’ve been having with colleagues, architects are about to serve up the expected results with relish. I’m looking forward to it immensely.

If you haven’t done your bit already, lads, get onto it before the closing date. It’s a real opportunity to let the authorities know what we think of them.      

22 May 2008

I have some good stuff coming up in the coming days about planning nonsense in County Clare. Another in County Clare and something else in County Clare. Something also in Carrick-on-Shannon, another in Fingal, one in Clare and, if I can ever get to the bottom (of the barrel) of the situation in Carlow where the planning system appears to have separated itself from civilised society, I’ll be posting that as well. I’m sure I can rely on Seamie Morris to stir things up in Puckane – he’s always good for a couple of posts.

But I really want some new stuff! Roscommon, Leitrim, Cavan, Westmeath, South Dublin – are you all seriously trying to tell me that you’re all happy campers with your planners? And what about you lot in England who visit the Dispatch regularly but never get in touch? How come I never hear a peep out of you? C'mon, now before I get serious...

22 May 2008

Not a wet day on the job and already I’m getting a Gordon Brown vibe from Biff. Yesterday’s 'f'. And what was it he said to Eamon Gilmore in the Dail last week re health care? ‘I’m not going to come into this chamber and bore the Irish people with facts!’ (paraphrasing, or course). On the launch of the Fianna Fail campaign in support of the Lisbon Treaty Biff sounded like if we didn’t vote yes it was seventy lines each…      

If teaching the Tuiseal Ginideach in the way Des Bishop last week said was the reason young people don’t want to learn Irish is the quality we’re looking for in a Taoiseach, then Brian Cowen’s our man. And it's back to the caves to eat mud...    

21 May 2008

Maybe you’ve all heard this one already, but it’s new to me. Apparently the man in the picture, a homeless gent living on the streets in Lower Manhattan, was rummaging in a bin looking for something suitable to make a bed out of when, low and behold, he came across a set of architects’ drawings for the proposed new tower at ground zero. The drawings were marked ‘confidential’ (or something) and were said to include sensitive material about how the new building is to be constructed – exactly the kind of information a terrorist might find useful. 

The man handed the drawings into the cops. Hopefully, the City rewarded him well.

21 May 2008
‘Insulation measures should cost less than the savings you expect to gain from them,’ begins the argument in ‘A Guide To The Repair of Historic Windows’ published last year by the Department of the Environment to justify why windows in Protected Structures and Conservation Areas should be repaired rather than replaced with energy efficient – even if they look ‘period’ - alternatives. The Guide is off to a shaky start here – with fuel prices soaring, you can never underestimate the savings insulation will realise.
21 May 2008
I’m trying to understand what happens at a meeting attended by the Taoiseach and his advisors on setting up a taskforce to address the criticisms of the OECD report regarding the failures of our public service. The challenge facing the Irish public service is that, although it’s a very small country with fewer if any public policy experts to consult with on the matter, it still needs to provide a public service which in every respect is a match of those of our larger neighbours – it’s not an excuse to say that our planning system is a mess just because our population is too small. The obvious way to deal with a problem of this type is to go abroad to get advice.
21 May 2008

This the way I feel about them...

There’s been very little response to the Government’s decision to raise planning application fees in the New Year. My own little rant in the Trib a couple of weeks back triggered a firestorm of indifference. I’ll give you all a second chance.


I’ve been unimpressed with the argument some of you have made which suggests fewer people will waste Local Authority time with not so serious planning applications if fees go up. Sorry - discouragement is not a legitimate way to promote planning. I think that at the very least the way in which planning applications are handled by planning authorities (validations, requests for information, dealing with building conservation, etc.) has to be put onto a more professional basis before fee increases can be considered. 

20 May 2008

I’ve said it before and I’m sure the awful local authorities will present me with plenty of opportunity to say it again but if you’re an ordinary citizen and you happen to own a Protected Structure some bozo in planning will give you grief because you didn’t hire expert advice before you attempted to repair your leaky gutter. However, if you’re the owner of a Protected Structure and you happen to be some Semi State organisation different rules apply.

I’m indebted to Cllr. Killian Forde of Fingal County Council for bringing to my attention the latest example of how civil-service-minded the planners can be on this issue when it suits them:

Iarnród Éireann owns a small, 19th century stationmaster’s house near Donaghmede in Dublin. The building has been vandalised in recent years and locals claim it’s a bit of an eyesore. However, as it is a Protected Structure, Iarnród Éireann has a responsibility to maintain it, adhering to the agreed principles of building conservation in so doing. The locomotive organisation isn’t mad keen on making the effort – to their way of thinking, if Fingal County Council would simply de-list the building, they could demolish it and the problem would go away. Mmm…

Despite Killian repeatedly bringing the matter to its attention, Fingal Council hasn’t used the considerable powers it has at its disposal to force Iarnród Éireann to comply with the legislation regarding the care of Protected Structures. They say they’re ‘doing all they can’ (it’s amazing how, as a concept, ‘all they can’ can mean so many things is in so many different Local Authority situations).

Click on the link for the full story: http://www.dublinpeople.com:80/content/view/475/57/  

(Killian, if you get a chance, you might send on a photo of the building in question. I'm sure we'd all love to see it.)

If you’re not a State/Semi State body, the only time when the local authority is unlikely to give you grief about your Protected Structure is when it’s really really big, in a really bad way and when you (the owner) don’t have the money to fix it. When this happens, the Local Authority is obliged under the legislation to get themselves involved. Problem is, if they do, it’s likely to cost them lots and lots of money.

Which is the scenario facing Waterford County Council with the amazing 19th century cotton mill in Portlaw - one of the few genuinely interesting buildings in the whole country. For many years now, the Council has managed, despite commitments to the contrary, not to do the right and proper thing and acquire the site with a view to having it returned to proper use. 


This is what the Portlaw mill looked like in 2001. Its in worse condition now.

20 May 2008

Two weeks in a row now I’ve stayed awake despite the programme giving me every opportunity not to.

If you missed it, these were the topics under discussion:

Q: What can we do about the cyber-bullying of teenagers?
A: Directly before Q+A, RTE ran a Prime Time Investigates about phone-text/email bullying and youtube posted street fights involving young kids being beaten up in school yards as feral classmates look on in excitement. It was absolutely harrowing. Absolutely harrowing. I felt terrible for all the kids who were featured in the programme but for some reason the story of that poor lad in Donegal made a particularly strong impression. Anyway… the panel, except for Marc Coleman, seemed to agree that cyberspace was to blame for the phenomenon and bemoaned the fact that it was ‘all so anonymous’. But is the internet really responsible for putting sick ideas in these young thugs’ minds? And far from being anonymous, isn’t it so very easy to identify practically everyone involved in these youtube clips? And don’t we have the technology to track down the mobile phones generating these nasty texts? And don’t these poorly raised psychopaths have parents? None of this was discussed.

Q: Has Biffo any credibility in calling for pay restraint when the cabinet is considering a a pay rise?
Marc Coleman mentioned that there were too many six figure earners in the public services, but apart from that the discussion spun off into something irrelevant…

Q: Will Dustin win Eurovision?
‘I knew I was going to be asked this one…,’ said Louis Walshe.

Q: Has the Lisbon Treaty turned into a battle of soundbites?
Perhaps because the question was incorrectly framed, panellists quickly fell into the trap of trying to sound informed and authoritative about nothing. The problem with the question is that, although there has been no real debate on the Treaty, you couldn’t really classify its infantile defence by Dick Roche and others as soundbitey. The only thing approaching a soundbite that I can remember was when Bertie said something like ‘you’d want to be mad’ to vote no. The most remarkable comment on the matter – perhaps of the whole evening – was Thomas Byrne’s assertion that reading the entire Treaty was no longer necessary now that the Referrendum Commission’s most basic of synopses was in circulation. If the Treaty can be so easily reduced to a couple of hundred words, why isn’t only a couple of hundred words?

As usual John pointed his pen, the political correspondent on the panel took the moral high ground, young audience members were eager and obvious, old audience members missed the point and the representatives of the main political parties cancelled each other out. 

20 May 2008

Someone sent me this item ages ago and I didn't put it up because - you won't believe it - I didn't get it. Now I do.

Apparently, some bloke was selling his dining suite on the auction site. How do we know it's a bloke? Find the photograhper.

19 May 2008
‘Insulation measures should cost less than the savings you expect to gain from them,’ begins the argument in ‘A Guide To The Repair of Historic Windows’ published last year by the Department of the Environment to justify why windows in Protected Structures and Conservation Areas should be repaired rather than replaced with energy efficient – even if they look ‘period’ - alternatives. The Guide is off to a shaky start here – with fuel prices soaring, you can never underestimate the savings insulation will realise.
19 May 2008

Builders. Sorry as we all feel for you now that you’re not printing money building shabby little houses, take heart because things could be worse.


You could be doing some renovation work for Jennifer Lopez.


A story currently going around the internet involves a contractor employed to do a makeover on Lopez’s place in New York. Apparently the poor chap’s mother was/is terminally ill. Because contractor and his mom’s time together was likely to be brief, they decided to make the contractor’s fiftieth birthday into a special family occasion.


Meanwhile, some problem or other had developed at the Lopez building site and someone made a call to the contractor - during his poignant family get-together. In full knowledge of the life-moment importance of the situation, the Lopez people demanded the contractor attend a site meeting forthwith. Disappointingly, rather than suggesting a problem-concealing-use for the entertainer’s renowned derriere, the contractor did as he was told.

19 May 2008

Oh, come on now, it's not all that bad. Besides, this is Europe week: Champions League Final and three doses of Eurovision. If that doesn't make you feel better, this will:


16 May 2008
Somebody called Clare Cohen put these together for some British publication – nothing to do with planning, just a little end of the week chuckle. The following unbelievably awful answers were, apparently, really given on popular TV and radio quiz shows:
16 May 2008


I’m still a little nervous about this whole idea of posting ‘comments’… maybe I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, I hear you say... but what am I supposed to do if I start to attract Forum Freaks?


A couple of weeks ago I heard that something I’d written about that fake planning investigation in Waterford was being (air quotations) discussed on Politics.ie, so I checked it out. Man, was it an education. These two guys ‘Apparatchik’ (does anyone know who this guy is? Oh dear. I’ll say a prayer) and ‘DeepThroat’ (oh dear as well) are scratching each others eyes out in a frenzy of paranoia about a situation which wasn’t really happening. Seriously spooky vibe, I’m telling you. If one day Sky News reports bodies have been found buried in these guys’ back gardens, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised. 


But anyway... Waterford. A month ago the (air quotations) media were going mad about a breaking story of planning corruption in The Deise. Getting the whole thing muddled up (because they were probably mislead), The Independent and The Times reported that all of the County’s Councillors were being interviewed about some proposed rezonings outside Dungarvan which the Minister was about to review for possible irregularities. 


Well, last Monday Waterford County Council approved the controversial rezonings (with some modifications). It was relatively unremarkable, except that one Dungarvan based Fine Gael Councillor was absent for the vote. In a follow up, a local radio station reported that the Minister had no intention of pursuing the matter any further.


All we need to know now is, who made this whole thing up and what were they hoping to achieve?

16 May 2008
Next time I’m put in charge of a public project which is running six years late and €500 million over budget remind me to do it in Ireland because, here, nobody cares. What I’m talking about is the now ten year old project to completely rebuild Ballymun which, according to 1999 figures, was supposed to cost €450m +/- but by today’s estimate will actually end up costing more than €950m. The Comptroller and Auditor General’s report into the enormity of the overspend was the subject of a Dáil Public Accounts Committee hearing last week. So I hoofed it to Leinster House to see how things would unfold.
15 May 2008
Unusually, I stayed awake for the whole of Monday’s Questions and Something. I think it’s because Part 1 ran longer than usual making Part 2 shorter and, consequently, less sleep-making. My glass of red was about to do that tipping onto my good shirt thing for only the first time when all of a sudden John was thanking tonight’s panel for coming along. If you were caught up in a series two CSI rerun on Channel 6, here’s what you missed.
14 May 2008

If you're not familiar with the American political commentary scene (and instead feel comfortable getting your information second hand from awful Irish media outlets! (get Sky this instant! and tune into National Public Radio on the internet) you'll benefit from a bit of background to this incident.

The host of NBC's widely watched Meet The Press, Tim Russert, is an very popular, articulate, educated, astute, informed, reflective, slightly-left-of-centre broadcaster, journalist and author (think of him as our... well, nevermind) who's recent tribute to his father (known throughout America as 'Big Russ') was on the New York Times best seller's list for months. The book made Tim's dad a celebrity in his own right.

As all but Hillary Clinton's campaign strategist are aware, Big Russ is very much alive...

14 May 2008
A while back, Clare County Council made the mistake of letting time run out on a planning application with the result that a medium sized residential development got approval by default. Red faced, the planning authority – who wanted some changes made to the scheme, but didn’t manage to communicate them officially - went back to the applicants and asked that they reapply for permission for a revised scheme.
7 May 2008
Does anyone know anything about a situation in Wicklow where a man is looking for planning permission to build a house but has run into trouble on the ‘local need’ requirement because the local authority don’t really believe he’s separated from his wife?
7 May 2008

Some folks are speculating that Biffo is bad news for Fine Gael’s hopes of getting back into office anytime soon. But I don’t agree.


The problem everyone had in dealing with Bertie was that he was such a slippery customer - a ducker and a diver – nothing ever stuck to him.


Biffo, on the other hand, is inclined to stand his ground. Which isn’t, necessarily, a great skill to have in politics. It’s fine if you have ideas you truly believe in, policies you know will work and a grasp of how to implement things. But with health care in ribbons, the economy looking like it’s out of steam and the planning system a mess, plus the fact that you happen to be the leader of Fianna Fail and, therefore, genetically inclined (ever since George Colley’s and Des O’Malley’s genes left the pool) to keep things muddling along the way they've always muddled along, a Bertielike ability to slip into the shadows whenever things get a little sticky is a handy trick to have.


Plus, Apparently some senior opposition people are clear in their assessment that Biffo can be rattled. Now, I'm betting Leo fancies a go. Varadkar and Biffo in Celebrity Death Match – that would be extremely cool. 



7 May 2008


When I first heard this I presumed it had to be, just simply had to be an urban myth. But, so many of you are now insisting it’s the truth, perhaps there’s something to it after all. So here goes: someone (can’t say who) who has over the years been noted for the lively way in which they’ve performed their official role in the planning process (can’t say where) allegedly approached a local bank to see if it would be possible to set up an ultra secret bank account where transactions couldn’t be traced.


I can think of one explanation for why someone in planning might want to do this, but can anyone think of a more innocent reason?

7 May 2008

I thought I'd get things started with a little treat. This is cute:

Well, kittens, what do you think of my new look? I must say I’m seriously liking it. I feel like I’ve just come from a visit to an extreme plastic surgeon and I don’t care who notices.


And all done in response to the fact that you are reading in ever greater numbers!


Which has me wondering if I should sell out to the filthy world of advertising…


...but which demographic could I possibly promise to deliver to a potential sponsor? I'm not sure, but here are some products I think Dispatch readers might know something about:

Crestor and/or Lipitor

The Braun nose hair trimmer (which I still don’t know what I’m supposed to do with – singe, pluck or cut?)


Clinics offering that particular procedure that only one half of you can have and the other half of you are threatening to disengage in certain activities unless the first half of you get it done.


(Also, paradoxically, the makers of blue pills.)


Lease back schemes in family friendly areas of Languedoc with guaranteed better than 5% per annum returns over ten years with two weeks free use in June.

Well, wish me luck.