Wednesday 26 October 2016

Council’s grand vision should not be dimmed

Published 11/06/2015 | 02:30

What is crucial to the future success of Dublin is a recognition that the city should be designed for people, and not cars
What is crucial to the future success of Dublin is a recognition that the city should be designed for people, and not cars

It may seem foolhardy for Dublin City Council to propose a radical restructuring of traffic flows across the capital, particularly as the economic recovery is just taking hold. Motorists will be most affected, leading to fears that retail sales will drop. Owners of car parks also have a lot to lose, and have expressed initial concerns. But this scheme is not as radical as it first appears.

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Grafton Street and Henry Street were pedestrianised more than 30 years ago. Streets in Cork, Galway and Limerick followed suit. That was at a time when traffic volumes were far lower than today, and when climate change had yet to enter the public discourse.

What is crucial to the future success of Dublin is a recognition that the city should be designed for people, and not cars.

It must be more liveable, and easier to get around. The best features, including the River Liffey, Georgian architecture and majesty of College Green, should be utilised to the maximum. Noise should be reduced where possible, and air quality improved. This plan goes a long way towards achieving those aims, and only affects a small number of streets.

While adjustments may be needed, they should not be at the expense of this grand vision.

Sound and fury are no substitute for truth

In Moscow at the height of the Cold War, it was often said that everything was a secret, yet there was no secrecy. The truth was in the hands of the few.

Some would see a similarity with post-Celtic Tiger Ireland. They were extreme times, and extreme measures were merited. After the crash, strange new financial structures came into being: Nama, IBRC, etc.

While the State had a major say in their running, the public would not always be privy to the complex mechanisms that drove them.

Thus, deals were hammered out while the blinds were pulled, and terms were agreed. The bigger you were, the better the terms you got.

That is how bankers have plied their trade since time immemorial.

We had gone from boom to bust and the world of finance became a salvage operation. Dreams turned to dust and others managed to make fortunes from their ashes.

As transparency, openness and accountability are the three most jaded words in Irish politics, there should be little wonder that their currency has a very low exchange rate, given that they are bandied about with such abandon. We entice big business into the country but we know little of the negotiations that got them here.

There are myriad devices companies can use to hide loans and deals. Business loans can become private as the shutters come down.

Evidently, there is a glaring need for clarity, and it is ever more apparent that it is up to our legislature to legislate to guarantee that all the veils are lifted and that laws are clear and unambiguous.

As things stand, it is next to impossible for a backbench TD to get their voice heard. The whip system also stymies and impedes meaningful reform.

They say if you would seek to change the fruits, you would first have to dig down and change the roots. And if you expect to alter the visible, you must begin by changing the invisible. Talk is all too cheap. We have cultivated a culture of hand-wringing. It needs to be exchanged for one where facts take precedence over the sound and the fury, and the full truth gets a hearing.

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