Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The Irish bailout - it's not our fault!

There is something comforting about being back on familiar territory as the laughing stock of Europe. The world, even. Nearly like pulling on a pair of tatty old slippers.

After years of listening to the nonsense about the Irish economic miracle – obviously unsustainable – we are back in the ha’penny place, blaming everyone else for our ills as usual.

The current public sentiment in Ireland, possibly fostered by sections of the media and the blogosphere, would appear to be that it is all the fault of the Germans and the French. The Germans especially, as their banks “recklessly loaned” (David McWilliams on Today FM, 29th Nov) money to Irish banks.

This kind of logic is much the same as that emanating from the whinging Irish investors who were like flies around ordure at every apartment launch not that long ago, snapping units up off the plans – aided by Irish Government tax incentives. It is not Johnny and Mary’s fault: it is the banks' for loaning them all that money.

Now Johnny and Mary, along with Irish institutions, companies, builders and developers, cannot pay back those loans because they borrowed too much for their properties, which were overvalued by their own speculation, and are now in negative equity. They borrowed money they could never realistically pay back, for properties that were worth less than they are. So now they and the banks are bust... or would be but for the bailout and the money the ECB has already pumped into them.

Granted, the Irish banks – who were better appraised of the domestic economy than those in Berlin or Paris – were only too happy to loan recklessly.  But were John and Mary complaining as they got the go-ahead for their latest interest-only loan? No, they thought they were on the pig’s back. Now that they have fallen off, everyone else is at fault.

The games of denial and blame, of course, all add to the comedic element, and no doubt provide added mirth to those watching events from abroad.

But that’s what we’re good at.

Speaking of which, here’s an amusing-enough joke from last Sunday’s Tribune:
An angry man walks into a bar, orders a drink and says to the barman “All Fianna Failers are arseholes”.
A man sitting at the other end of the bar pipes up “Hey, I resent that!”.
“Why, are you a Fianna Failer?” replies the first man.
“No”, comes the answer, “I’m an arsehole”.

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Saturday, 27 November 2010

Dublin's traffic - unaffected by the bust?

As a kid, I had an awful familiarity with the back of the living room couch. Let me explain.

The formative family front door was ever the focus of interested parties seeking money for something or other:  ESB men (it was considered imprudent to have them read the meter), insurance men (it was always men), HP men (ditto, obviously), and all the rest. Every time someone knocked on the door, it was time to make a beeline for the back of the couch.

As a result, I have an awful fear of credit. There was a mortgage, and that was it. Everything else was cash. And when you think about it, a car loan – for example – is just cash in arrears. Paying for it up front just means you have to wait three years longer for your wheels. It is cheaper too.

All that meant I didn’t know what a car salesman was on about a few years back when he spoke of “balloons”. A balloon, it seems, is when someone takes a loan out for an item with the payback loaded towards the end. Think of it as the opposite of the so-called National Recovery Plan (if it goes as planned – which it probably won’t). A lot of the swankier cars going to auction were repossession jobs due to balloon payments not being made.

I'm sure the same credit arrangements must have prevailed during my nine-year stint in London, back in the 80s and 90s, as Thatcher’s deregulation boom turned to bust. Not only were there fewer Porsches, Ferraris (they have such things in England), Astons and all the rest – there was far less traffic in general. My drive to work from Stratford to Limehouse in east London became a lot less stressful and arduous - not to mention quicker, for those of us lucky enough to keep our jobs.

But what the hell is going on here in Ireland? There’s a recession underway, unemployment is up, the IMF reps are here with their 6.7% loan, and the whole country is going down the tubes. But I swear to natural forces, there is more traffic now than there was during the boom. OK, it’s coming up to Christmas and all that, but even so.

When the madness of Ireland’s credit-fuelled boom was in full swing, there were those who thought we could teach the rest of the World how to create a buoyant, thriving economy. The Irish boom – based on buying and selling houses – would go on indefinitely. The Irish boom would not be subject to the busts that had occurred elsewhere. It was different.

It looks like the bust is different too, judging by the amount of activity still going on out there.

But I have an awful feeling we have seen nothing yet.

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Thursday, 25 November 2010

'National Recovery Plan' to hit poorly paid the hardest

Today I can report that notwithstanding the difficulties of the last eight months, we are now on the road to economic recovery… our plan is working. We have turned the corner”.
Brian Lenihan. December 9th, 2009.

Since his appointment as minister for finance in May, 2008, Brian Lenihan has been the source of countless upbeat, Comical Ali-style, statements on the economy.

He even provoked guffaws in the British House of Commons some months back when the above statement was quoted. Yesterday he claimed the Government’s “National Recovery Plan” was necessary to pull the country out of “the steep downturn”.

The main targets of the plan will be the lowly paid. The minimum wage will drop by 11.5%, while the dole will drop by 5% - further disincentivising work for badly paid people.

According to a freesheet from the Socialist Party that dropped through the letterbox, Combat Poverty maintains that 94,000 working households already live in consistent poverty in Ireland, with 350,000 “at risk” of poverty. There will be even more doing so after this establishment attack on the softest, most undeserving, of targets.

Nobody who reads the blog will be too surprised to learn that politicians’, top civil servants’, and judges’ pay will remain untouched. Similarly, Microsoft, Google, Intel and all the rest will not be asked to contribute any extra taxes to the Irish exchequer.

“It is time for us to pull together as a people”, the Two Brians said in justification of their measures.

When they are turfed out of office in the next election a career in stand-up awaits.

MAIN POINTS OF PLAN (from RTE website):

The minimum wage is to be reduced by €1 an hour to €7.65 an hour, while a review of registered employment agreements will also take place.

VAT from 21% to 22% in 2013, with a further increase to 23% in 2014.

People to enter tax net at €15,300 a year by 2014.

Phased reduction in the tax relief on pensions for those on the higher rate of tax. Reduced by 2014 to relief at the standard rate of 20%.

The corporation tax rate will remain unchanged at 12.5%.

Lower rate on labour intensive services will be left unchanged as any increase could harm employment.

Phased abolition of legacy capital tax reliefs (in line with Programme for Government) over the four years. There will be a further abolition of ten reliefs in Budget 2011, including trade union subscriptions.

Income tax relief for rent paid on private rented accommodation is to be phased out on the same timeline as mortgage interest reliefs - by 2017.

Six more tax reliefs are to be curtailed, including the artists' exemption.

Spending on social welfare is to be reduced by 14% over the four-year period, with cuts of around 5% next year, though the details are being left until Budget day.

Public service job numbers will fall by 24,750 from 2008 levels, cutting the public sector pay bill by €1.2 billion by 2014. New entrants to the public service also face a 10% pay cut.

There will also be deductions from current public service pensioners, ranging from 6% to 12%, though those below €12,000 a year will be exempt.

Plans to introduce water metering by 2014, while a site valuation tax to fund local services will also be introduced.

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Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Protect the minimum wage. Let multinationals pay their way in Ireland's crisis

8.65 is not an awful lot of money.  It is, however, the hourly rate of pay for those working on Ireland’s minimum wage.

Anyone who gets up out of bed to go to work should be rewarded for it, and cutting the minimum wage is not the way to reward hard-working people, some of whom are active in the more exploitative sectors of our economy.

Of course, the Small Firms Association and some other interest groups have been calling for a reduction in the minimum wage for years; whinging that the proprietors of coffee shops, restaurants and the like can’t afford the wagebills and are consequently going out of business.

First rule of capitalism: establish a viable business.  If paying an hourly rate of  €8.65 is too much to ask of an employer, you have to wonder if they should be in business anyway? 

If Ireland’s much discussed bailout does not come with conditions that challenge well-off, highly-regulated professions and break up their cartels, it will be a missed opportunity. Likewise, it will be a missed opportunity if the corporate tax rate is not increased, in defiance of  dire warnings from some of the US conglomerates based here.

Even if corporation tax was increased by 2.5%, bringing it up to 15%, it would still be low by EU standards – the same as Latvia’s and higher only than Bulgaria and Cyprus.

Given that the Government and the IDA are forever banging on about inward investment coming to Ireland due to "our young, educated workforce" (never mind the fact we are mother tongue English speakers) maybe they should have the courage of their convictions and stand up to the bullying of Google and Intel?  Let them pay their way. 

They can better afford it than those on the minimum wage.

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Saturday, 20 November 2010

The 12.5% Irish corporate tax rate - part of a culture of fiscal fiddling.

Government-inspired tax scams were a major cause of Ireland's ignominious boom and bust. When I came back here in 1997, having lived abroad for some years, the Irish property market was already booming – in no short measure due to the proliferation of developments being sold under “tax incentive” schemes. These schemes were initially dreamt up to aid urban regeneration in depressed times, when places like Gardiner Street in Dublin (just as an example) were crumbling.

Whatever good purpose they may have served at the onset, however, they quickly became a means for the well-off, self-employed, and company directors to hide their income from the taxman. Obviously, when I returned to Ireland I was looking for a place to live, and had first-hand experience of seeing these investors in action.

Initially, I ended up renting an apartment on North Brunswick Street – one of many units owned by the MD of a large Dublin solicitors' firm. This nouveau landlord was able to write off rental income for tax purposes, thanks to the Secton 23 Tax Shelters, and was able to build up a large portfolio of properties on this basis. This was replicated throughout the whole country. The new Irish landlord class could even write off tax on non-Section 23 properties, if they had a section 23 or two in their collection.

As I say, this was already well underway when I came back to Ireland in 1997. So then we became part of the Eurozone, with its low interest rates, in 1999.   As Ireland had come from a situation where interest rates were relatively historically high (like Britain – I remember rates of 15% in 1989), the prudent thing for any government to do would have been to introduce fiscal measures in its property market to counteract this.

Not so the Irish Government and Finance minister Charlie McCreevy. He extended the Section 23 schemes and cut capital gains tax from 40% to 20%. I remember, at the time, being dumbfounded by this stupidity, but McCreevy was lauded by much of the public and media as some kind of Irish financial guru.

The boom then got “boomier”, in the mangled words of Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern. For the best part of a decade, the broadsheet supplements reported very average houses “making” astronomical sums at auction. They were talking about asset price inflation, which feeds into the whole economy, as though it was a good thing.

You know what happened thereafter. It culminated in the EU and the IMF arriving in Dublin to bail out Ireland, and save us from the crass stupidity of much of our populace and all of our rulers.

If there is one thing that should be learned from all of this, it is that the Irish political class is incapable of implementing a fair, sustainable tax system. Not only do its tax policies consistently favour the wealthy and hammer the PAYE sector unremittingly – in 2007 PAYE workers paid €10 billion of a total €13.5 income tax take – they distort, and eventually destroy the economy.

Another tax scam is, of course, the Irish corporate tax rate. I pay tax at 41%, yet Microsoft pays it at 12.5%. Companies from all over the world set up letterbox operations here to channel cash through and minimise their domestic tax obligations. German and British companies do it, starving their exchequers of income.

The British taxpayer, alone, whose treasury is being denied income by UK companies using this ruse will have to fork out £7 billion for the Irish bailout,  while the Irish Government sees its 12.5% rate as "non negotiable". That cannot be right.

Irish corporation tax must be increased as part of any deal.

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Thursday, 18 November 2010

Irish IMF / EU bailout imminent - let's hope cash comes with conditions.

It is only a matter of time before the two Brians – I won’t call them brains - of  the Irish Government finally admit that Ireland will be bailed out by the EU and/or the IMF. The European Central Bank cannot continue to unconditionally deposit money into the black hole of Irish banking debt, that is for sure.  It is owed an estimated €90 billion by Irish banks as things stand.  (Colm Keena, IT, 17/11)

There is much talk from our leaders – and some sections of the great Irish public – about how such a development might compromise our precious sovereignty.  You know? How the IMF/EU might come in with a fresh broom and start sweeping away at some dusty old cobwebs our political class has no disire to disturb?

According to economist Dan O’Brien (Irish Times, 17th November, “Bailout conditions likely to follow Greek recipe”) this could include CIE, lawyers, pharmacists and accountants.  They could also throw in consultants, GPs, dentists and any number of privileged groups.  I've always thought that sovereignty was over-rated anyway.  But please, let them leave the minimum wage alone.

It could also mean the Government’s 12.5% corporate tax rate, which allows US conglomerates to "minimise”  their tax obligations in the EU, could end.   Or, to put it another way, they could no longer use Ireland as one rocky tax dodge on the periphery of Europe.  This, in turn, would mean that Ireland could no longer undercut other EU states in"attracting" foreign investment - it would have to do so fairly.

There is a letter in the same edition of the Irish Times mentioned above, in which a Dr Anthony Palmer refers to our corporate tax rate as “enviable”.  Presumably he means our  more advanced EU colleagues are envious of it?  Why so?   If they wished to,  Britain, France, Germany, Austria and the rest could also prostitute themselves to the multinationals.  They could introduce a 10% corporate tax rate if they so desired.  They choose not to, as they don't want to sell themselves on the cheap.  And that is more to do with principle than envy.

I hope the 12.5% rate goes, as it is immoral in my view.  We should not allow ourselves be used as a Trojan Horse tax-dodging scam in Europe.   Maybe then we can move towards full EU tax harmonisation, which would mean our domestic tax-dodgers (you know them - the ones that give loudly to charity) could not shelter their incomes from Revenue in other EU states, as they do now.  It would mean a common VAT rate.  It would mean the end of VRT.

Bring it on.

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Tuesday, 16 November 2010

GoSafe rolls out Irish speed cameras (see map below)

From today, a private consortium called GoSafe starts operating a new network of speed cameras across the State. The network will consist of between 45 to 50 mobile cameras (I’ve seen different numbers quoted) switching between 600 locations. The map below purports to reveal the possible locations:

GoSafe speed camera location map

Nearly a year ago, Gombeen Nation carried a post which pointed out that GoSafe needs to generate more than €16 million per year just to cover the consortium's running costs.  GoSafe is not in this for the public good, however, it is in it for a profit.

According to Stephen Carroll, writing in last Saturday’s Irish Times, the “secretary general of the Department of Justice, Se├ín Aylward, previously estimated the proposed network may generate half a million speeding penalties a year. At €80 per speeding fine, the privatised speed cameras alone could generate roughly €40 million a year.”

If those figures and projections are correct, that is a €24 million surplus per annum in fines. €24 million!

That means GoSafe (which is led by the Spectra company) and the Government want you to speed, in order to make their money.  It also means that you run a vastly increased risk of fines for minor speedometer transgressions, and an increased risk of insurance hikes due the resultant penalty points.

“Kill your speeed and save liiives”  is the lazy mantra we keep hearing.  And not much thought goes into a mantra, which works by constant, mindless, repetition.    Not only that, it is very convenient for the authorities, who can abdicate any real responsibility for road safety and driver education by simply farming out lucrative work to a fleet of Spectra vans.

Let’s be clear on this: bad driving costs lives... and Ireland is awash with bad drivers. Much of Germany’s motorway network does not have a mandatory speed limit, yet the autobahns are Germany’s safest roads, according the ADAC (the German AA).

So, plainly, if the Germans are not dying like splattered windscreen flies on their motorways, speed is not the only issue at play – bad driving is. What’s more, speedo watching does not make a good driver.

For the record, even the RSA – the quango charged with road safety in Ireland – claims that speed is “the main cause” in just 15% of fatal two-vehicle accidents. Driving on the wrong side of the road caused 52% of road deaths. Please don’t tell me that people were more interested in keeping to the speed limit when overtaking than doing so quickly and smartly?

The same organisation claimed that speed was the main “contributory factor” in 54% of single-vehicle accidents.  Well what were the other factors then, or are they bothered?   Overloaded cars? Drunk drivers? Drugged drivers?  Dangerous roads? Pedestrians on unlit rural roads with no footpaths?  Bald tyres? Old cars without stability control systems (which the Government continues to tax)? Inexperienced, over-confident young male drivers? And the great unsaid - suicides?

Is GoSafe and Spectra going to address that lot then?

No doubt, in years from now, the road safety industry can point to falling fatalities where speed cameras are located. The fact however, is that road fatalities have been steadily and consistently falling, as vehicles become safer and roads become better.

Road deaths have been decreasing for years in Ireland, where speed cameras have been few and far between in comparison to Britain.   They will continue to decrease. But in future GoSafe and Spectra will be able to hijack the figures to justify their own existence and profits.

We are being had.


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Saturday, 13 November 2010

Michael Flatley and Riverdance - symbols of the Celtic Tiger?

Mario Rosenstock does Michael Flatley
(big thanks to Tallowman for posting on You Tube)

I remember, as a kid, being dragged across town to Cora Cadwell’s near Camden Street to do Irish dancing. For those of you who are of a younger vintage, or did not have traumatic childhoods, Cadwell was the Billie Barry of the Irish dancing world, a teacher of some repute.

I was only 5 years old and was probably on some kind of kiddie bribe, but when I got there I could see Irish dancing was not for me.  Not impressed at all - just as a young Frank McCourt likened the style’s frantic, stiff-backed, jigging to someone hopping around with a poker up their arse. My Irish dancing career was very short, and consisted of doing three “steps”. That day, Michael Flatley lost a serious rival.

And what about Flatley and Riverdance? According to a column-filler in today’s Arts section of the Irish Times the dubious art-form “represented national self-confidence and joie de vivre”.  That explains a lot about what happened since.   Then Flatley was behind something entitled (non-ironically, I think) “Celtic Tiger” which apparently "boasted the biggest TV screen in the world" with $3 million worth of costumes and a lightning show to rival Pink Floyd.

Now, much as I would rather stick pins in my ears than listen to a Pink Floyd album, I can appreciate the group’s place in the musical hall of fame and popular culture.  But Riverdance? What a bloody embarrassment.  It says it all that Riverdance was seen as a sign of the “new Irish confidence” as the eejits were sending Oisin and Roisin off to the Gaelscoil and getting up to their necks in debt to borrow money for apartments in places they hadn’t even heard of. Give me the pins in the ears anytime.

Last week, I tuned into the Late Late Show to see ex-Leeds United and Ireland football legend, Johnny Giles, make an appearance. Imagine my shock when I heard the show’s presenter, Ryan Tubridy, introduce Flatley onto the Late Late floor for the second week running due to popular demand.  “This has got to be a parody”, I thought, as I watched the world’s best exponent of cadence braking skip across the stage.

Thankfully it was a parody, and turned out to be none other than mimic Mario Rosenstock. You had to look at it for a while to establish that for certain, though.

See clip above, it’s amusing. The Michael Flatley bit anyway... not sure about the rest of it.

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Thursday, 11 November 2010

Anglo investigation stumped by password enigma - an insight into Ireland

Few people who support the blog will have been surprised at yesterday’s revelations that detectives, looking into the governance affairs of basket-case bank Anglo Irish, had come up against “difficulties” in their investigation.

It seems that bank employees and former top-brass of Anglo had not provided police officers with the passwords of important documents that might be valuable in any possible future criminal prosecutions.

Brian Cowen said on the news that he was “powerless” to do anything about the situation –  nothing to do with the Government, you see.  This, of course, despite the fact that Anglo has been nationalised and the country is footing the bill for its losses.  Cowen also refused to comment on allegations that he had been fully appraised of the dodgy bank’s situation in a meeting with executives back in 2008, before its financial position became common knowledge. 

In another typically Irish twist, gardai (police) appear devoid of powers to compel Anglo to hand over the passwords necessary for their enquiries.  Would obstructing them in the course of their duty not do? Or withholding information for an investigation?   No, it seems not.  Instead they are getting encryption experts to crack the codes, which will delay the process even further.

Can Lenihan and Cowen really wonder why international opinion is unconvinced about the Irish authorities' (governmental, financial and civil) ability to solve the country's problems?  The continuing reluctance to confront the rottenness and secrecy that led us into the mess we are in?  What must the rest of the world think, looking at this circus?

The Irish Government's clowns just don't get it. 

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Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Morgan Kelly's latest predictions on the property market and the bank bail-outs

I got a message from an estate agent the other day quoting an Irish Independent article in which an economist suggested now might be a good time to buy. It shows you how desperate they are if they are reduced to bombarding anyone who has ever made an enquiry (I asked about a pub about 6 months ago) with talk-up-the-market emails.

Somehow, I don’t think the same estate agent will be emailing today’s article by Morgan Kelly in The Irish Times. As readers of the blog will know, Kelly predicted the crash and even put a percentage on the amount he thought prices would fall. 80% was his
most recent estimate.

The two Brians keep telling us we have turned the corner, and that the spoilsport media are talking down the economy. Nonsense, of course. Sections of the media had a vested interest in talking up the market, profiting as they were from a property advertising bonanza, but they have no reason to talk it down. They are simply telling it like it is, that’s all.

Kelly, who is professor of Economics at UCD and so is not in the employ of the banking/property sector, reckons that Ireland is effectively insolvent. He believes that the cost of the bank bail-outs will be €70 billion. To put that in perspective, it means that “every cent of income tax that you pay for the next two to three years will go to repay Anglo’s losses, every cent for the following two years will go on AIB, and every cent for the next year and a half on the others."  In other words, the Irish State is insolvent: its liabilities far exceed any realistic means of repaying them.

It seems that we have seen nothing yet. The economist expects the banks to pass under direct ECB control next year, and they will be forced to stop lending in order to “shrink their balance sheets back to a level that can be funded from customer deposits.” This will mean that the market will then “be driven by cash transactions, and prices will collapse accordingly”. He also predicts there will be massive mortgage defaults in the coming years, which will exacerbate the crisis even further.

Interesting times we live in

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Saturday, 6 November 2010

Government's free EU cheese plan grates on Irish public

Government plans to distribute EU cheese among Ireland’s poorest in the run-up to Christmas are creating an awful stink in some quarters. Indeed, I am told that callers to Joe Duffy’s Liveline were going crackers about it. 

Some of them even drew rather stiltoned parallels with the French revolution, substituting Marie’s infamous cake suggestion with Brian’s supposed "let them eat cheese" .   Or how about "let them gorge themselves on Cheddar"?

Talk of such edaming upheaval in an Irish context is just blarney however. It is not in our culture, you see. No, the fat cats will continue to get feta while the whole crisis brieses over, just when it seems that people camembert any more.

By offering charity, however, it seems that Government ministers have underestimated the pride of the grate Irish public. How could they make such ementhal mistake? You’ve gouda wonder.

Better stop now, in queso you’ve had enough.


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Thursday, 4 November 2010

Third-level fees protest: perhaps it's time to pay up?

Yesterday saw an estimated 40,000 people take to the streets protest against Government plans to increase registration fees for university students.  Some protesters staged a sit-in at the Department of Finance offices and others attempted a sit-down protest outside the Dail (the Irish parliament).

In the latter two instances there were scuffles with heavy-handed police, which resulted in several protesters being injured, including one who had his “head stamped on” according to a Socialist Workers Party spokesperson. Two protesters were charged; one with criminal damage and another with breach of the peace.  No gardai were charged, to the best of my knowledge.

All that aside, however, this is a difficult one for me.   While it is good to see some form of anger and protest on Irish streets,  it is perhaps predictable that such a protest should come from one of the more privileged sections of Irish society.

When third-level fees were abolished back in 1996, it was trumpeted as a move that would open up third-level education to the disadvantaged.   It did no such thing.   Instead it provided a subsidy for middle-class parents to send their kids to college for free… even when they had paid privately for their second-level education.  The abolition was universal and made no distinction with regard to socio-economic background or income.

A report by Dr Kevin Denny, in May of this year, found that (summary by Karlin Lillington, Irish Times, July 30th):    “..while all taxpayers, including those on lower income, end up paying for free education for third-level students, it is the children of the better off who literally cash in, getting their ticket to a better future and a higher income for free. Meanwhile, disadvantaged students still enter third level education at the same dismally low levels."

The crux of the issue being, of course, that “students from lower-income backgrounds who qualified for university would have been eligible for a fees grant and in some cases, a maintenance grant”.

Ferdinand von Prondzynski, president of Dublin City University for ten years up until last July, also dismissed the supposed universal benefit of “free” third-level education in an Irish Times article (May 18th 2010) entitled “The education system fails those we most need to help.”

Prondzynski pointed out that   between 1998 and 2004 participation levels of those from a ‘non-manual background’ (the lowest social-economic grouping) actually fell by three percentage points.”      He put the third-level participation level in areas close to DCU, such as Finglas and Ballymun, at “somewhere between 5 and 7 per cent”, with a continued decline among those from “non-manual, skilled manual and semi-skilled backgrounds”.

To go back to Denny’s report, its conclusion was that access to third-level education for those from disadvantaged backgrounds must be addressed at secondary level (and I should imagine, well before that, at primary), one of the points being:    “A clear policy implication of this paper is that attempts to tackle inequalities in university access that do not address these performance differences at the Leaving Certificate won’t solve the problem.”

In short, the abolition of fees has done little to address educational disadvanage.  Also, “free” third-level education is nothing of the sort -  someone has to pay for it.

Given the coming cuts will, no doubt, be felt most keenly by the poorest and most vulnerable in our society, perhaps it is not unreasonable to ask the better-off to put their hands in their pockets and pay for their offsprings' education?

Full Denny report here

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Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Manor Park Homebuilders: tugging on the heartstrings of apartment-dwelling parents

“Even a child knows what a house looks like…”

So say Manor Park Homebuilders in their full-page Castleknock Gazette ad, as they attempt to drum up interest in the undersold Barnwell, Hansfield, development in Dublin 15.

What is the message here? That the poor sods who were frightened into buying shoebox apartments by the builder / banker / government / media propaganda of the boom years – the “you won’t be able to get on the property ladder if you wait any longer” kind – have been well and truly hoodwinked? 

That poor little Oisin and Roisin are doomed never to savour the stabilising childhood influence of a front and back garden?   As if poor mum and dad were not undergoing enough emotional trauma as it is...

Funny, if you go onto the Manor Park website, you will notice they still have a plan detailing the various dwellings available at Hansfield, Type “H” being three-bedroom duplexes and two-bedroom apartments.  Are we to assume that these are no longer on offer?

A bit like the on-site train station, with a service every 15 minutes, that they promised. The one they never got around to building an access road to.

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