| 19.8°C Dublin

Let's get people back to work -- especially those in council jobs

Bank holiday weekend, and a lot of people are trying to use their cars effectively and to enjoy travelling around. Many will be frustrated and I sympathise with them. Now read this:

I have lived for more than 40 years in the same house in the Borough of Dun Laoghaire, now part of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council. To the East is Dalkey Village. To the north, on the edge of Dublin Bay, is Glasthule and Sandycove.

To the south-west is Sallynoggin, to the south-east Killiney, near the quarries from which Dun Laoghaire harbour was constructed. Use of granite from Killiney Hill was necessitated after the granite along the coast had been used up. It is one of the largest harbours in the world and Dun Laoghaire was originally one of the glories of British urban and seaside development.

Development brought about many changes, the most significant was to turn a local road into an arterial road serving local communities and bringing the much greater M50 traffic to our doors.

Managing this change gave rise to a different way of thinking about the problems presented. I call the heart of this thinking 'The Second Principle of Artereality'. I have outlined the First Principle. I will shortly come to the Third Principle.

The word 'artereality' is an invented word. It means 'reality about arteries'. The first principle concerns blood and the importance we attach to the free and unhindered flow of blood to all parts of the body.

Our lives depend on the heart as the source of oxygen and of the pumping power that feeds blood into the system, the veins returning the spent blood to the heart to be re-oxygenated, ceaselessly. Naturally, we look after the heart, the arteries and the veins.

The First Principle was adapted into the Second Principle during the first two decades of the last century and applied to roads and other forms of communication. These were designated 'arterial', their importance reflected in laws keeping them clear for traffic. These arterials, in their way, became the lifeblood of commerce and enterprise.

Albert Road ceased being a local thoroughfare and became an arterial road carrying ever-increasing streams of traffic. These came from the new housing estates to the south and the south-east and then, in due course, with the building of the M50 and greater traffic using the N11 from places as distant as Arklow and beyond.

The traffic grew in volume, passing through into Dun Laoghaire and often on into Dublin by the coast road.

To the surprise of everyone living on the road, who thought it would make good sense to create a clearway, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council did the opposite; it introduced a complicated system of parking on the road, first on one side, then on the other and intermingled with double yellow lines. (Staff are currently investigating their own actions with automatic traffic measuring boxes.)

For good drivers, it was possible for two cars moving in opposite directions to pass even when a third line of cars was parked. However, not all drivers are good and quite often chaos ensued because a nervous driver would stop, half in and half out, bringing two lines of facing traffic to a slow crawl or a halt.

The cholestrol of stupidity and ineptitude was blocking the artery of free and unhindered movement.

No kind of 'stent' was possible and the principle that demanded reality about arterials -- something that is unarguable in respect of blood -- fell to pieces.

The parked cars came from the hinterland allowing people to get on the train at Glenageary station and travel freely on to their city destination leaving chaos behind them. The local authority was not serving the interests of the local community and it was not using sufficiently the non-arterial roads that ran between the arterials.

It is difficult to work out whose interest the council has at heart. Local politicians I have talked with do not know what to do. They are not used to doing anything anyway.

For this change of use, local authority workers painted the surface of the road with the necessary parking guidelines. These workers do not seem to have been available for the upkeep of painted lines elsewhere, which are fast-fading away. This is strange, since they generally have their jobs for life. Nor are they of any help in respect of the Third Principle of Artereality, to which I now turn.

This principle concerns water. Albert Road has a stream running down it. I checked recently the 16 drains between the top of the road and the bridge over the railway. Arguably, just four of them were clear, with water lying in them at a depth of about 12 inches.

The other 12 were totally blocked, with gravel, mud, filth and debris up to the top of the drain grid and even overflowing it. They had clearly not been cleared in months, if not years, and I have certainly never seen, anywhere in the borough, men working on clearing drains.

Where have the drain clearance men gone? What do they do all day instead of clearing drains? Do they paint fresh white and yellow lines on the roads? They did this in order to turn Albert Road into a disaster area, but then they failed signally to do it elsewhere.

When the new Government came to power on a promise to get people working again, did they include as well people in work who don't work? They should have done.

This local story can be replicated endlessly around the country. Local authorities are not working properly and evidence seems to show that many of their workers have vanished but are still on the payroll.

If the employed are not working, what work do we give to the unemployed?

Should they be employed searching for the missing workers?

Irish Independent