“How much more money do any one of you actually really need? Why would you ever consider taking something away from people that means so much to them? This isn’t a game. Football isn’t just a game. It’s one of those amazing things in life that can make you feel shit one moment and then like it’s Christmas morning the next. It has the ability to make heroes and villains out of ordinary men. People love this game. My father used to love this game. You all used to love this game, I’m sure of it…Just because we own these teams doesn’t mean they belong to us. And I don’t want to be part of something that could possibly destroy this beautiful game. Because I would hate for all those little kids and grown-ups out there to ever lose access to that beautiful passionate part of themselves.”
Rebecca Welton [played by Hannah Waddingham] from S3 E10 of Ted Lasso
She may be talking to the owners of the richest football clubs about the formation of a “Super League” but in reality this speech would be suitable for just about any board of any corporation that produces any product needed or enjoyed by the masses.
Since the formation of the Irish State its government has been led by either Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael or as we have now, a combination of the two. Or to put it another way, the country has only even known a right-leaning government.
Meanwhile the left has always been fragmented, marginalized and kept at arm’s length in a variety of different ways, and calling the ruling “Civil War” duopoly out has always been difficult to do without finding yourself branded as “radical”.
Well fair play to Independent TD Catherine Connolly of the Galway West constituency for not only telling both Taoiseach and Tánaiste what she thinks of their policies, but also for doing it with amazing dignity. This is what the Dáil is meant to be for, representing the people, and I’m pretty sure there are a whole lot of Irish people who would like to say those words to this pair.
Next step is convincing enough voters to elect a government that can lead us away from the FFFG mindset (and btw many include the Irish Labour Party in that, one which Connolly herself used to be a member but left in 2006).
I have long been interested to know what actually happened in Ballymun – not enough to do extensive research mind you, and one notable sidebar from this thread is that if the were to meet me, his first impression might be to see me as some kind of “Rugby Dad/Newstalk Niall” hybrid, but still I was grateful to him for tweeting this extensive info so I thought I’d share it here. Check out the link at the end to watch the video if the embed isn’t working.
Everything below this line of the post was written or produced by the author in question. JLP
Since Ballymun comes up a lot in discussions of the housing crisis, here’s a thread debunking some of the most persistent myths/misconceptions/lies about the community.
(I made a film about this some years ago, but people were largely indifferent, so this is a capsule summary).
Rugby dads, professional gentrifiers and Newstalk Nialls generally reference Ballymun as a “knee-jerk response” to a housing crisis (mostly false), a utopian project (totally false) and a failed housing model (also false).
The truth is, Ballymun was the Irish state doing what it does “best” – the bare minimum of public provision it can get away with. There was no failure of utopian planning because there was no utopian planning. Promises of cinemas, bowling alleys and amenities were always false.
That said, the blocks themselves were built to a French system and were generally sound, bright and spacious.
Ours had a large living room with private balcony, a large bedroom, two smaller bedrooms, a bathroom with bath and constant hot water, and a decent-sized kitchen.
But it swiftly became apparent that Dublin Corporation (now Dublin City Council) – whose senior officials always resented the fact that the National Building Agency had been entrusted with the lucrative project – had no intention of providing even basic services or maintenance.
In the early years, the community itself plugged this gap. Communal areas were scrupulously maintained by residents. To the best of its ability, an impoverished community stood in for the absent state. It built structures of mutual support and recreation that endured for decades.
Eventually, however, successive economic crises overwhelmed residents. From the 80s onwards, several waves of heroin addiction swept over the area, on the heels of a prescriptions drugs epidemic.
A beleaguered community lost the ability to do the Corpo’s job for it.
While the plethora of community organisations rallied and survived, the area deteriorated physically and economically.
Ballymunners made numerous earnest attempts to engage the state over the heads of the Corpo, which had by now largely abandoned the area to its fate.
These heroic efforts kept the community above water, until, in the late 90s, government finally yielded to pressure and announced a Regeneration project (an earlier attempt in the early 90s having been abandoned at about 10% completion).
This was to be enacted by a new limited company wholly owned by Dublin Corporation – Ballymun Regeneration Limited (BRL).
Inspired by Blairite thinking/models from the UK (and shipping over some of the same personnel), BRL swiftly decided on total demolition of the high rises
It should be explained here that outright gentrification (displacement and replacement of the community by more affluent residents) was off the table for a variety of reasons; chiefly, the fact that the community itself had forced the state’s hand and had to be won over.
While BRL carried out an elaborate pantomime of consultation (within already-defined parameters), its mission became clear:
Since the area couldn’t be gentrified, an attempt would be made to gentrify its people instead.
This would entail the forcible destruction, not just of the physical infrastructure of the community (tower blocks, green spaces, centralised shopping areas, community centres etc), but of all communal experiences of life in Ballymun.
BRL was quite explicit about this. The purpose of the Regeneration was to liquidate the existing community of Ballymun, with its communal forms of solidarity, and to allow residents to be reborn as responsible, market-oriented individual consumers.
The hodge-podge of architectural styles (sidenote: between 1997 and 2014, BRL spent €98.7m on professional fees alone) were all designed to achieve this.
Gone were the sweeping open spaces and the central meeting places that had fostered a community.
In their place – isolated developments that encouraged, and enforced, suspicion and exclusion of all but one’s immediate neighbours.
Ballymun’s vast network of community organisations – from football clubs to legal aid to tenants’ associations – was systematically dismantled.
These relics of non-market community identity (as BRL saw them) were brought under the banner of a BRL-run Neighbourhood Council, which was run into the ground and dissolved within a couple of years.
A tangent before the conclusion – it is shameful that anyone still parrots BRL’s mantra of “mixed income housing”.
The thinking here (explicitly stated in Ballymun) is that well-adjusted middle-class residents act as role models for their feckless working-class neighbours – vile
The Regeneration was, by every metric except BRL’s own, an abject failure. Estimates of its cost vary from €1bn-€2bn.
Ballymun was destroyed – socially, economically and culturally. The private sector investment on which BRL had based its Blairite fantasies never materialised.
The moral of the story:
When you see planners, politicians and pundits warn of “creating new Ballymuns”, always remember that they, and people who think like them, were given 20 years and a blank cheque to “fix” Ballymun according to their own ideology.
They utterly failed.
What really stuck in their craw about Ballymun was not the widespread, visible poverty (after all, these people have created a city strewn with the tents of the homeless), but the forms of solidarity and resistance to market ideology which Ballymunners carved out for themselves.
So yeah, if a politician, planner or developer arrives in your town with a “regeneration masterplan”, run them out of there before it’s too late.
“We continue to expand our macroprudential framework to ensure we have the right tools to manage potential risks to financial stability and the addition of the Systemic Risk Buffer will be an important tool for us in building a resilient banking system with sufficient capital buffers to absorb these structural shocks.”
[translation : “We want you to forget this mess is partly our fault by pointing to Brexit and using intentionally complicated economic jargon”]
Apologies once more for the gap in posts – financial realities mean we have had to prioritise our monetised site in recent weeks as it has been a busy time for content over there.
However, even if we managed to post every day since we kicked off FPP in August 2016 we wouldn’t have been able to express our core beliefs more than this one and a half hour long video of the recent town hall hosted by Bernie Sanders. Please check it out if you haven’t already. It’s a shame it was only covered online.
I know Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are the two largest parties in Dáil Éireann, but it will always be the position of this site that the ideological differences between them on virtually every issue are minimal, yet to listen to mainstream media you’d think their views are all you need to hear.
Podcast by Inside Politics in Irish Times on January 24, 2018
The Irish Times podcast annoys me more and more every time I listen, but since one of the purposes of this site is to point out the inadequacies of Irish mainstream media, I must continue.
In the latest instalment they spend just over half an hour covering two major issues in Irish politics without so much as even hinting at the position of a party that could be considered ‘left of centre’.
Like I said under ‘The Issue’, I know they are the two largest parties and this is probably why the national newspaper chooses to focus on their positions. However, I would suggest it’s a ‘chicken and egg’ argument as to whether the media attention is driven by the popular vote or vice versa.
This is why the Irish ‘Left’ needs to get its act together and push for a united front to force the Civil War parties to come together.
The Irish political conversation is dominated by a narrative that insists the electorate’s only two options for government leadership are the so-called ‘Civil War’ parties.
Podcast by Irish Times – Inside Politics : ‘The Year In Politics’ on Tuesday, December 26, 2017
‘…people feel they can relate to these people more because they feel they have lived the same experiences they have…’
Over in the US, Donald Trump and his Republican-led government are constantly moaning and groaning under the weight of repeated challenging reporting from publications like the New York Times. Too bad its Irish namesake doesn’t give our own recently-appointed political leader similar treatment, if this ‘end of year’ summary is anything to go by.
Essentially the all-male panel has given Leo Varadkar & co a free Party Political Podcast. Wherever these are recorded, I pity the poor cleaning staff because they’ll have their work cut out removing all of Fine Gael’s 2017 political woes that have been swept under the carpet.
Apparently we are meant to have forgotten that this is the party that had to admit defeat on the water charges. Well, when I say ‘admit’ defeat, I actually mean grudgingly concede it.
Apparently we are meant to have forgotten the fact that Varadkar rose to power under an electoral process within his party that was chronically tilted away from the grass roots members, meaning all he had to do was shmooze his way through his fellow TDs to get the nod. This weighting method is very similar to that which saw Hillary Clinton controversially secure the 2016 Democratic nomination at the expense of Bernie Sanders.
Apparently we are meant to forget the homeless crisis still prevalent in the Republic, simply because the Taoiseach says so.
And apparently we are meant to forget the disgraceful whisteblower controversy which nearly sparked a Christmas election and ultimately cost the Tánaiste her job.
Nobody expects the mainstream media to completely ignore a government’s positives, but what this IT podcast has done is to summarize the Irish year in politics thusly…’Sure isn’t it great that our top cabinet members are all so young?‘ [paraphrase]
And as one of the leading bits of ‘evidence’ of the effects of having such youthful leadership, the ‘lads’ cite the Eighth Amendment debate.
Despite the fact that Fine Gael’s own Citizens Assembly recommends repeal and legislation, and despite the fact that the Oireachtas Committee recommends repeal and legislation, the government position at the time of this podcast was that a decision is yet to be made on how to proceed. No guarantee has been forthcoming that a straight yes or no choice on repeal will be offered to the Irish public.
Yet somehow the panel twists this state of affairs into one that represents a sweeping generational change. Well, for this conservative jurisdiction that may be true to an extent, but given that Fine Gael are the country’s most conservative mainstream party [just about ahead of Fianna Fáil], do we think these ‘young pretenders’ have reached their current positions by cultural revolution or because the elder statesmen ahead of them on the ladder gave them a helping hand along the way?
And the final insult for me from this podcast came when they made the most ludicrous segue from the potential impact of FG’s boy wonder on the Irish electorate to the ‘youthquake’ experienced in Britain’s general election campaign that brought Jeremy Corbyn extremely close to Number 10. I had to switch it off after that so you’ll have to listen yourself to find out what they said after that.
Here’s to a 2018 where Ireland’s political establishment, both in Leinster House and the media, are called to account whenever they ignore at best, or put down at worst, progressive issues. JLP
But Judge John Aylmer ruled this morning on day 126 of the trial that the investigation carried out by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement fell short of the impartial, unbiased investigation that an accused is entitled to.
Mr Boyd Barrett claimed Mr FitzPatrick walked free because of a set-up and not a blunder. “This stinks to high heaven,’’ he added.
Leas Cheann Comhairle Pat “The Cope’’ Gallagher intervened to say he was referring to a trial and should “refrain lest there might be consequences’’.
Mr Boyd Barrett said: “There is a direct link between Seánie FitzPatrick’s rotten, corrupt activities and Anglo Irish Bank and the families this week being sent to Garda stations or are sleeping in parks because there are no homes.’’
“Sean Fitzpatrick did not commit a crime.” (paraphrase)
It won’t surprise you to learn that my own views would tend to lean towards those of Deputy Barrett. And while the Irish mainstream media takes such great pains to point out that he was speaking under “privilege” as if it is some kind of cowardly act, I would put forward the proposal that the opposite is the case.
Maybe it’s true that technically Fitzpatrick did not break any laws. And I would go further in pointing out that watching him “sent down” will not make me feel any better about what the Irish banking sector did to this country.
But if the way he comported himself in both managing Anglo Irish loans and his own personal ones was “legal”, then surely it must be a priority of our parliament to bring proper laws into existence. And if we can’t bring down a sentence on him in a court of law, how about one from the court of public opinion, making sure the new laws get known as (at least commonly assuming the Dáil would never approve it) The Sean Fitzpatrick Laws.
On the subject of what actually has been done to improve legislation since the crash, here is but one recommendation of the Joint Committee of Inquiry into the Banking Crisis published in 2016…
A personal remuneration clawback provision linked to medium term performance should be part of the employment contract for senior executive management and board members.
Just to break that down…basically it seems to suggest that if a bank is losing money, the “bigwigs” at the bank should not make money in terms of bonuses.
BUT ISN’T THAT BLOODY WELL OBVIOUS??????? Did it really have to take a group of elected representatives the guts of three years to come up with stuff like that???
Like I said, blood boiling. At least we have people like Deputy Barrett who are free to speculate as to what is really going on amongst the ranks of the establishment without fear of prosecution under libel laws by our nation’s real cowards.
Needless to say we’re big believers in social media activism for progressive causes here at FPP so we’d like you to help them spread the word on this petition…
‘We have more homeless people in Ireland than any time since the famine’
Fr. Peter Mc Verry
If we don’t act now, homelessness in Ireland could get much worse. A terrifying new breed of property buyers known as ‘Vulture Funds’ are swooping in to make a quick profit on the housing market in Ireland.  This could lead to evictions and home repossessions on a scale we’ve never seen before.
But, there’s a really good chance we could stop this if we act now. As we speak, Fianna Fáil are thinking about adopting a Bill that would take power away from Vulture Funds. If they get behind this Bill – it would most likely pass in the Dáil. This would mean that people in mortgage arrears could stay in their homes. 
We need to act quickly though. As we speak, Fianna Fáil are considering whether this Bill is a good move for them politically – and they’ll have panicked Vulture Funds ringing them up already. But, if we build a massive petition that goes viral – they’ll realise this is an issue voters care really deeply about – and they’ll be forced to listen to us instead.
We’re going to need a signature from every single Uplift member if we’re going to get noticed. So, how about it Jeff, can you add your name?
Vulture Funds own almost 90,000 properties and almost €10.3 billion worth of assets in Ireland. And what’s worse is that they’ve paid less than €20,000 euro worth of tax. 
The Bill being considered by Fianna Fáil right now could seriously help curb the rise of Vulture Funds. It would set up a Government Agency that would look after people in mortgage arrears. Putting it simply – it would mean that people couldn’t be made homeless, just because they can’t pay their mortgage. 
This could be a huge moment in our history. One where ordinary Irish people like you and me stand up and say no to the power of profit over people. We could show the world that we won’t stand by while people are pulled from their homes so vultures can get rich.
But first, we need to make sure our politicians are on our side – not the side of big global corporations.
So can you join the fight and sign the petition today?