Category Archives: Politics

What is Fine Gael smoking?

Here’s another Fine Gael TD spouting nonsense. Seán Kyne is a TD for Galway West and Mayo South, and he wants the taxpayer to build him a train set.

He favours what is called the Western Rail Corridor, a mad scheme to reopen yet more uneconomic railway track to places that have neither passengers nor cargo to justify the expense. The nutters have already had a service provided from Limerick to Galway, running pretty well alongside the new motorway. Kyne says

With over 380,000 annual passenger journeys the service has far exceeded initial estimates on which the original business case was based.

A business case is, as far as I can see, a way of whiting a sepulchre: coming up with some excuse for spending public money of a boondoggle that would be exposed as such were a proper cost-benefit analysis conducted instead. What Kyne doesn’t tell us is whether the service makes or loses money (and if you can find that information in any of the publications on the websites of CIE or Iarnród Éireann, I’d be glad if you’d let me know) or why the state should provide both buses and railways on the same route.

But Limerick to Galway isn’t mad enough: he wants the ghastly thing extended to Tuam and Sligo, because that would provide “greater transport connectivity in the West”, whatever that means. Is there anything that rail could do that roads could not? Kyne doesn’t say; nor does he identify any traffic that requires rail. He says

I also believe that the way to enhance infrastructure in the West of Ireland is not by developing one [road] at the expense of another [rail].

What Kyne wants instead is that both be developed, and run, at the expense of the taxpayer, when only one of them is needed. Ireland needs to start closing down more railway lines, not opening them up.

 

Co Offaly: too dangerous to visit?

One Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, a Fine Gael TD in Co Offaly, has been issuing press releases (I presume) to get her name in the local blatts. It seems that there is a major crime wave in Co Offaly and that armed Gardaí are required to counter it, as well as Garda stations every couple of hundred yards. Perhaps tourists should be advised to avoid the county.

Anyway, the blatt’s account ends with this:

I intend also to support An Garda Síochána with their proposal to have Shannonbridge Garda Station re-opened due to its strategic location on the Shannon River.

Shannonbridge is strategically located if you want to be able to repel a French invasion force that landed on the west coast. It is also strategically located if you want to protest against Ireland’s unwillingness to slow global warming. Otherwise it is hard to see any strategic value, unless the Gardaí are reviving their nonsensical idea about smuggling by boats along the Shannon.

 

That it should come to this …

A blue sleeping bag discarded near Binns Bridge in Drumcondra is the only clue that people once slept there.

On Thursday 2 November, fast and high waters covered the area under the bridge, and the pathway on either side of the canal that used to run under it.

In July this year, Waterways Ireland raised the water level to prevent homeless people from sleeping under the bridge, a spokesperson confirmed.

From a story by Laoise Neylon in the Dublin Inquirer on 8 November 2017. Well done to Ms Neylon for going and finding out stuff rather than just recycling press releases.

Here’s a map of the areas of the Grand Canal where eviction notices were served [PDF].

There must be some better way of responding to homelessness than by flooding people out.

 

Shipping news

But Britain is now but a modest-size ship on the global ocean. Having voted to leave the European Union, it is unmoored, heading to nowhere, while on deck, fire has broken out and the captain — poor Theresa May — is lashed to the mast, without the authority to decide whether to turn to port or to starboard, let alone do what one imagines she knows would be best, which is to turn around and head back to shore.

Steven Erlanger in the New York Times 4 November 2017

Killaloe in the age of steam

That’s November’s talk at the Killaloe-Ballina historical society; details here and an account of Sandra Lefroy’s talk about the Phoenix here.

Tyres

There are other areas where tyres are used, namely, boat yards. I know this because I have a house on the Shannon. Are boat yard proprietors to be required to register as the proprietors of 30 or 40 tyres, which are often used to turn over boats safely? They are also used on informal jetties as protections for boats and so on. Is this area to be covered by the regulations?

Michael McDowell at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment discussion of the Waste Management (Tyres and Waste Tyres) Regulations on Tuesday 17 October 2017.

Closing the Irish ports

[The Rev Charles Boyton FTCD] has a great deal of wit. Indeed in this respect he is the Irishman all over — he evinces no symptom of degeneracy from our models of the last century. His remarkable speech on the Marquis of Anglesey‘s interview in Cork with Doctor Baldwin will never be forgotten.

Lord Anglesey had spoken, in rather a threatening fashion, of “blocking up all the Irish ports with four gun-brigs, and inflicting on the Irish a total suspension of intercourse with England. What then would you do,” continued his Excellency, “if deprived of the English market? What would you do with your corn, and butter, and pork?”

“What would we do with our corn, and butter, and pork?” repeated Mr Boyton. “Why eat them, to be sure! — What else would we do with them? But our viceroy”, continued the speaker, “seems to think that Ireland would suffer, and that England would not, if the intercourse between the countries were suspended. We export food to England; their exports to us are chiefly manufactured articles — the cutlery of Sheffield, the china ware of Worcester, the carpets of Kidderminster. Suppose now our intercourse with England suspended; which party would be worse off? Paddy, who would gladly devour the food which England refused to receive; or John Bull, whose English stomach, notwithstanding its powers, could scarcely digest a Sheffield whittle, or a Worcester tea-cup?” — Mr Boyton is the darling of the Conservative party, and no wonder.

From “Irish Eloquence” in The Dublin Penny Journal Vol IV No 170 October 3, 1835

Canals and popery

Between 1768 and 1774

… means were devised to provide secure investment facilities for Catholics in projects of national and public utility, which at the same time left the whole system of the popery laws intact.

The earliest example I have found of this opening of the back door to Catholic investment was an act of 1768 for improving navigation between Limerick and Killaloe. To encourage Catholics to invest in the enterprise all shares were to be regarded as ‘personal estate and not subject to any of the laws to prevent the growth of popery’. Thus the indirect ownership of land involved in such investment would not be at the mercy of Protestant discoverers.

A blanket concession on similar lines was given in 1772 to Catholic shareholders in all inland navigation companies and in insurance companies. The fact that these acts now made it possible for Catholics to become shareholders and sometimes directors in such companies as the Grand Canal Company, must have served to break down segregation barriers to some slight extent.

Maureen Wall “Catholics in Economic Life” in L M Cullen ed The Formation of the Irish Economy The Mercier Press, Cork 1969, rp 1976

 

Boris the Shinner

I have suspected for some time that Britain’s Brexiteers are actually Sinn Féiners.

After 1916 the Irish Shinners decided to leave a larger economic and political entity and to do so without any business plan or any realistic idea of how their proposed state would make a living.

After 2016 the British Shinners decided to leave a larger economic and political entity and to do so without any business plan or any realistic idea of how their proposed state would make a living.

One lot of Irish Shinners, led by the lunatic Éamon de Valera, wanted a hard Irexit and started shooting the soft Irexiteers who, happily, managed to keep control; it is to be hoped that matters don’t go that far in Britain.

It may be objected that the evidence for this contention, that Brexiteers are Shinners, is a little light, but I have now found confirmation: Boris Johnson is an enthusiast for insane canal construction projects.

The mark of the Shinner is upon him.

Sinn Féin asks useful PQ about waterways shock

Yes, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, SF TD for Cavan-Monaghan, has asked a useful question about waterways, one that doesn’t seem to have been designed to promote an insane restoration proposal. He asked for “the current and capital expenditure by Waterways Ireland in each of the years 2014 to 2016; the estimated level of current and capital expenditure for 2017″. The answer included this table:

WI budgets

 

Current spending comes 85% from the Free State and 15% from Norn Iron; capital spending is paid for by the administration in whose territory the montey is to be spent.

There may be a problem here in that I have a feeling that, if there is no NI Executive, spending is limited to 90% of the previous year’s figure [I am open to correction on this], which might cut the NI contribution to current spending: I presume that the RoI contribution would then be cut too, to maintain the 85:15 ratio.

The Minister for Fairytales also said that WI gets money from “third-party funding contributions towards specific projects and from its own income from licences and property.” However, its own income is pathetically small.

I am writing less about current waterways affairs because I’m concentrating on those of the nineteenth century (unlike Sinn Féin, which focuses on the eighteenth), but I did read WI’s Annual Report and Accounts for 2016 [PDF] with interest. Despite the considerable challenges it faces [including the pensions nightmare], the organisation has been expanding its range of activities and looking to new users and new uses. I hope that the Brexit hard border, which I suspect is now unavoidable, doesn’t completely bugger things up.

If it does, we might need to ask Sinn Féin whether it can think of anyone who could help smuggle motor-cruisers across the border to enable boats to move between the Shannon and the Erne. Perhaps their day will come.