Wednesday 26 October 2016

Dublin's 'across board dominance' hits every citizen's daily life

Published 11/07/2016 | 02:30

Éamon Ó Cuív. Photo: Frank McGrath
Éamon Ó Cuív. Photo: Frank McGrath

Dublin has little over a quarter of the population - but it accounts for over half the appointees to State boards.

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Do not dismiss this with a shrug of "it was ever thus" - the reality is that fewer and fewer people live in Dublin as such. But the plethora of state boards have a direct impact on many citizens' daily lives, the length and breadth of the country.

Everybody now accepts the need to address the gender balance of such boards - but nobody has woken up to the need to take similar steps in relation to some kind of regional balance.

This information on the make-up of State boards comes in response to a huge series of Dáil questions tabled by former Fianna Fáil regional affairs minister Éamon Ó Cuív. Ironically, he is among the few at Leinster House born, reared and educated all inside the confines of Dublin 4.

His story of moving over 40 years ago to the Connemara Gaeltacht, and his strong advocacy of the development needs of the West, is well known. But now, he is taking up the cudgels on behalf of rest of Ireland, especially the 'dormitory counties' around the capital.

But let's go back to the big-picture statistics.

Dublin has 28pc of the country's population. But once you look at who is appointed to which State board, you see that 52pc of seats go to the capital.

If you take the 'rest of Leinster' (minus Dublin), you find it has 27pc of the population - pretty much the same as the capital. But it only gets 18pc of the seats. Let's not forget that this region includes the rapidly growing 'dormitory counties' of Louth, Meath, Kildare and Wicklow, among others.

"Given my experience of politics and government, I am confident that the bulk of the board seats allocated to Dublin would fall to the southern suburbs. It raises serious issues about equality and balanced development," Mr Ó Cuív told the Irish Independent.

Munster, with 18pc of the population, again has 27pc of the seats on State boards. And the counties of Connacht-Ulster, with 18pc of the population, have 10pc of the seats on State boards.

Mr Ó Cuív argues that state boards take decisions that impact on all citizens' daily lives. He says that the new emerging regime of open appointments by competition risks throwing up "unintended consequences".

"The development and other day-to-day demands of the rapidly urbanising developments 'in the rest of Leinster' risk being overlooked," he argues.

Mr Ó Cuív says the needs of an entire population countrywide cannot be left to an elite living close to all the key facilities which make life more comfortable. "The great and the good cannot know everything," he argues.

Irish Independent

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