Tag Archives: Oireachtas

The usefulness of the Oireachtas …

… lies in its library, which has been collecting, digitising and publishing interesting stuff. A quick search found material about the Ballinamore and Ballyconnell drainage district, the drainage of the Shannon and of the Maigue, the dissolution of the Lough and River Erne Drainage and Navigation Board (which I’d never heard of), railways in Donegal and an extraordinarily long poem about a steam boat (page 61, after some other stuff about Cork or Cobh).

Big it up for the Oireachtas librarians.

More say he rose again

Last September, I noted that the excellent KildareStreet.com website had been crippled by a change to the software used on the Oireachtas debates website. Life is too short to be spent ploughing through the witterings of politicians (unless you’re being paid to do so, of course), so KildareStreet.com’s search facility was invaluable, as was its emailing of alerts when my chosen keywords were mentioned. That flow of information ended in September.

Happily, though, the KildareStreet.com folk did not give up, readers donated funds, the rebuilt parts of the site are being tested and, yesterday, I got my first alert in over six months. Here, then, is the news about the Clones Sheugh, as seen from Kildare Street.

 

Kildare Street

In the recent past, I have made several postings referring to debates or parliamentary questions in the Dáil or Seanad. I was able to do do because of the service provided by the excellent KildareStreet.com website. The site allowed me to identify and set key words for topics that interested me (waterways, for instance); it then sent me alerts when any of those topics was mentioned. Simple, pain-free, efficient — and an excellent way of making the Oireachtas seem slightly more important. KildareStreet also provided a search function and a facility for reading and commenting on recent debates. I found the Oireachtas’s own debates website far less user-friendly.

The Oireachtas has now decided to change its system — and to make it worse. Not only is its own site inadequate (no alerts, no search, despite there being a search button) but it has ceased to supply the XML-formatted data that enabled KildareStreet.com to work and has thereby crippled what was a really useful service.

If there are any computer-literate politicians in Dáil or Seanad, I would be grateful if they would enable the KildateStreet.com service to be restored.

Northern subsidy?

The Waterways Ireland Corporate Plan 2011–2013 [PDF] tells us how the body is funded:

Waterways Ireland receives grants from money voted by the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Houses of the Oireachtas. At present 15% of recurrent or maintenance funding is provided by the Assembly in Northern Ireland and 85% by the Irish Government reflecting the current distribution of the navigable waterways, while capital development works carried out by Waterways Ireland are funded separately by the jurisdiction where the works are carried out.

This is not new information; I quote it here only for convenience (but note how “the Houses of the Oireachtas” becomes “the Irish Government”).

Now look at these figures from Annex C of the Corporate Plan. They show, for 2011, the proposed budget for current expenditure on each waterway. I have rearranged them in descending order of amount:

  • Grand Canal €4,559,160
  • Shannon Navigation €4,240,398
  • Royal Canal €2,713,052
  • Barrow Navigation €1,296,538
  • Shannon–Erne Waterway €1,269,450
  • Erne System €380,239
  • Lower Bann €375,270.

It would be interesting to compare the value for money offered by each waterway. However, it would be necessary to allow for the non-navigational responsibilities WI has for each waterway: for example, it has to look after a lot more bridges on the Grand Canal than it does on the Erne. I do not have enough information to make valid comparisons.

My immediate interest is in the figures for the Erne and the Lower Bann. Granted, the burdens on WI are in some respects lower than for other waterways. But the two northern waterways are getting a total of €755,509 spent on them out of a waterways total of €14,834,107, which is about 5%. Yet the NI Assembly is paying 15% of WI’s current expenditure.

Perhaps I’m missing something. I would welcome enlightenment.

 

A slight delay

Keeping up with Waterways Ireland’s corporate publications is a bit of a chore: there doesn’t seem to be any system allowing interested citizens to sign up for alerts, so you have to troll on over to the relevant web page and check for new stuff (I’ll see whether Page2RSS works).

Anyway, I don’t know when the WI Corporate Plan 2011–2013 [PDF] was uploaded, so it may be that everybody has already read it, although it wasn’t approved until October 2011:

This Corporate Plan 2011 – 2013 was approved by the North/South Ministerial Council on 12th October 2011 subject to budgetary considerations by the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Naturally, I had a look for mentions of the Ulster Canal. It’s still there in Business Objective 2, which includes this:

Progress restoration of the Ulster canal from Upper Lough Erne to Clones.

But what isn’t there is any money (other than small change). Annex B shows these amounts of expenditure:

  • 2011: €390,000
  • 2012: €140,000
  • 2013: €390,000

With an expected total cost of €45,000,000, it seems that there won’t be much progress in the next few years.

Thank goodness.