Sunday, 30 March 2008
Ironically, though, the lights on top of Dublin's major landmark, The Spire, which are usually out of action, shone brightly during the event!
Hundreds of people who bought homes in three new housing developments in north Dublin resorted to legal action after cracks and other problems allegedly began to appear in their properties.
The developers have blamed the problems on defective building materials supplied by a north Dublin quarry and are repairing the defects.
That has not stopped residents from signing up with two of the city's biggest law firms, in what promises to be a protracted legal battle that will put building standards centre stage.
Arthur Cox is representing around 230 clients in Drynam Hall in Kinsealy and The Coast in Baldoyle, Co Dublin. Both developments were built three years ago by Menolly Homes, one Dublin's biggest home builders.
Solicitors Lavelle Coleman has been instructed by more than 200 clients, most in Beaupark, in Clongriffin, built by Menolly and Kiloe Developments. It will also act for a small number of residents of houses in Castlecurragh, an estate in west Dublin, which were built with the same allegedly defective material.
The scale of litigation has spiralled since problems were first encountered by residents more than a year ago.
Menolly Homes blamed the flaws on excessive levels of pyrite in the building materials used in the foundations and floors. The mineral reacts with oxygen and water to cause walls and ceilings to crack."
Wednesday, 26 March 2008
According to National Geographic reports the legendary Giant's Causeway, in Northern Ireland (a UNESCO World Heritage Site and top tourist destination,) is threated by rising sea levels.
Giant's Causeway Video:
(Legend has it that the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn McCool) built the causeway to walk to Scotland, but fell asleep before he finished it!)
Saturday, 22 March 2008
The U2 Tower, is a proposed landmark skyscraper, due to be constructed in Dublin (so called because of the involvement of U2 the rock band):
The U2 Tower will be built in the South Docklands at the corner of Sir John Rogerson's Quay and Britain Quay by a unique meeting point of the River Liffey, the River Dodder, and the Grand Canal.
The design was announced on October 12 2007 is by Foster and Partners (some of their other projects include Greystones New Quarter in Ireland, Millennium Bridge in London, Millau Viaduct Bridge in France to mention but a few.)
The proposed Tower will consist of luxury apartments, with a public viewing platform at 100m, just below an egg-shaped pod that will be U2's recording studio. Above this is an "energy centre" containing wind turbines and a large solar panel. The building will straddle the end of Sir John Rogerson's quay, allowing traffic to pass through its base.
The height has been reported at 120 metres or 180 metres, either of which would make it the tallest building in Ireland.
Construction is expected to begin in 2008 and end in 2011, at a cost of €200m.
Hopefully this is the new direction development will take in Dublin - but with the current economical slow down it is probably too little - too late.
Friday, 21 March 2008
"Dodgy Developers, Corrupt politicians, Back Handers and a loss of faith in government, sounds like a normal episode of Law and Order to me! Why not cancel the Mahon Tribunal and let Law and Order sort it in an hour! (allowing for commercials of course!)"
According to ireland.com today the Labour leader..."Eamon Gilmore said in a statement today that the tribunal hearings "raise yet more issues of profound seriousness for the Taoiseach".
"We now know that far from being on his financial uppers in the early 1990s, Mr Ahern's myriad of accounts in various financial institutions were awash with money. It now also seems beyond dispute that, despite repeated denials by Mr Ahern, a number of lodgements to his accounts were in sterling.
"It is now time for Brian Cowen and other senior figures to put loyalty to the country ahead of loyalty to their damaged party leader; it is time to bring this sorry saga to a conclusion, so that the Government and the Dáil can now concentrate on dealing with the huge social and economic problems facing us."
Fine Gael's Fergus O'Dowd said the conflicting the questions raised by the evidence yesterday and today must now be "addressed truthfully" by Mr Ahern.
"At a time when crime is rife on our streets, prices and unemployment are rising and tax revenue and house prices are falling, Mr Ahern's crumbling credibility and inability to deal properly with the issues raised at the tribunal is distracting the Government and damaging its capacity to act," Mr O'Dowd said in a statement."
We'll just have to wait and see how Ahern wiggles out of this one!
Thursday, 20 March 2008
"Once the envy of Europe, Ireland's economy is set to grow this year at it slowest rate in two decades. The collapse of a housing bubble coupled with the strong euro is raising unemployment and slowing growth, reducing the Celtic Tiger's roar to a whimper. And the news keeps getting worse. More than $5.5 billion was wiped off the value of Irish stocks on Mar. 17, in what commentators have dubbed the "St. Patrick's Day massacre."
"The Irish economy is heading into recession," says Alan Ahearne, an economist at the National University of Ireland, Galway, and a former senior economist at the U.S. Federal Reserve...
It's not just about the global credit crunch, weak banks, or bearish stock markets. Rather, Ireland is at the tail end of a housing- and consumer-fueled boom—similar to that of the U.S.—and finds itself at the mercy of global trends such as inflation, wage-scale gaps, and increased competition from emerging economies...
Ireland enjoyed the biggest property boom ever recorded, Ahearne says, with average house prices up more than 300% in the past decade, to more than $490,000 at the beginning of last year. Since then, though, both home prices and residential construction have fallen off sharply. The building slump has led many construction firms, which are among the country's biggest employers, to slash jobs. Ireland's housing sector as a percentage of gross domestic product is three times bigger than that of the U.S., so the downturn, Ahearne says, is having a much bigger impact on the broader economy.
At the same time, the cost of living and doing business is soaring. The headline inflation rate is hovering near 5%, while basic consumer inflation is 3.5% vs. 3.3% for the euro zone as a whole. And the euro's rise against the dollar and the pound sterling has made Ireland much less competitive in its two main export markets."
All this combined with rising unemployment as the construction industry stalls and major multinational companies cut back of staff in Ireland and...
"there are real fears that if the European Commission succeeds at harmonizing corporate tax rates across Europe, Ireland's competitiveness would be further eroded."
Ireland's luck is definately running out - fast!!!
Tuesday, 18 March 2008
With Irish property prices crashing many people are now staying put.
For those that wanted to move for space, getting an "extension" is now the big buzz.
And the new thing is "going down under"!!! A Basement is the easy option to create a whole extra floor.
Already common in many other parts of the world the basement option is totally new to Ireland - that's all about to change with the arrival of "The London Basement Company."
Obviously a basement can be used for anything with multiple room options - some of the more creative have installed gyms, home cinemas and swimming pools etc.
Sunday, 16 March 2008
Paddy's Day Dublin: This years theme is "Energy" so it should be good!
The Paddy's Day Parade kicks off at 12 noon 17th March 2008:
See it here live - Dublin Webcam
Saturday, 15 March 2008
I see in the Irish Independent today an item concerning a favourite, Dublin landmark, of mine...
"THEY have featured in numerous postcards and a very famous Guinness ad, but perhaps their most important cameo appearance came when they featured in U2s 'Pride (In The Name Of Love)' video.
However, Dublin City Council does not believe the Poolbeg chimneys are iconic enough to place on their Record of Protected Structures.
Following a request from Cllr Dermot Lacey (Lab) to have the landmark ESB chimneys placed on the protected record, city councillors heard that city planners had conducted a survey, history and full assessment of the chimneys.
They concluded from this that while the Poolbeg chimneys were considered to be of a certain level of architectural, social and historical significance, they were not of sufficient value within the meaning of the Planning and Development Act, 2000.
The twin red and white chimney stacks measure 680 feet in height and were constructed in two phases between 1969 and 1977.
They form one component of a complex of late 20th century industrial structures relating to the production of electricity.
According to Patricia Hyde, Dublin City Council senior planner, the chimneys are functional industrial structures, but have become prominent landmarks in Dublin Bay and as part of the Dublin skyline. "The chimneys are located in a highly industrial area of Dublin Bay. (They) have become a focus of sentiment to the local community," she said."
Friday, 14 March 2008
"Brian Cowen's sloppy economic management has exposed Ireland to the risk of 'stagflation', a lethal combination of a stagnant economy and rising inflation,"
according to Fine Gael's Richard Bruton.
Thursday, 13 March 2008
More daft news...The bubble has burst - The Irish housing market and economy is now on major downturn, property prices are crashing, unemployment the highest in years, recession looms, etc - but, hey, let the party continue!
Yes it's now "St Paddy's 5 Days" over here - Ireland's National Holiday, St. Patrick's Day, now runs from March 13th to 17th!
Tuesday, 11 March 2008
On ireland.com today:
" Ahern has warned of a "hard year" ahead for the Irish economy in his most downbeat assessment to date of the repercussions of the sharp economic downturn in the US...
Mr Ahern said a huge range of companies in the US were facing serious problems, a situation that would have an inevitable knock-on effect on the world economy.
In a specific reference to the effects on Ireland on what many commentators say is a looming recession in the US, the Taoiseach said: "We won't escape that. What we have to try to do is keep up the growth rates...
The comments by the Taoiseach, who was speaking to reporters in Dublin, were part of a response to a question about the live register figures for February, published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) on Friday.
The figures show that unemployment had increased to 5.2 per cent, the highest level for eight years.
In a wide-ranging reply, Mr Ahern expanded his comments to include what amounted to a sober assessment of the growing difficulties facing the US economy and markets...
Saying he had been observing the international economic situation closely, Mr Ahern pointed to major US companies, including reinsurance companies, that are facing serious difficulties...
In an equally muted assessment of the domestic residential housing market, Mr Ahern said the Government's view had always been that this would have a knock-on effect on the economy, and it was not something that would lead to a quick "bounce back"..."
So hard times ahead for the average punter - it's official!
Well at least Bertie won't suffer, with a salary of €310,000, (not to mention all the brown envelopes,) he earns even more than the President of the US (a country with 300 million people!)
Could only happen in Ireland!
Today according the independent.ie:
..."the The war of words continued yesterday between protesters, who have occupied tunnels they secretly made beside the Rath Lugh protected monument, and the National Roads Authority.
The Save Tara campaign group said yesterday that a young woman has vowed to seal herself into one of the tunnels to protect the hill, which is studded with ancient earthworks...
"There are specialist tunnel rescue crews that need to be consulted before any attempt is made to end this protest," said the group."
The protesters have also previously that stated that they have enough food in the tunnels for months.
The M3 motorway which has, so far, been delayed for years is costing a whopping €1billion!
An expensive price tag to destroy an amazing part of Ireland's culture.
Sunday, 9 March 2008
"Over the past five years there has been considerable controversy regarding construction of the M3 Motorway through the Tara Valley, especially in light of the discoveries at Roestown and more recently Lismullin.
While those finds are extremely significant, they pale in comparison to a more recent discovery at Tara.
This short film by the award winning documentary filmmaker and musician, Mairéid Sullivan, shows that the complexity and importance of The Hill of Tara goes well beyond what we've known about the site for the past few millennia."
According to ireland.com:
"A group calling itself the Rath Lugh Direct Action Camp last night said protesters are already occupying the tunnel and were capable of sealing themselves in. They said that construction traffic passing over the tunnel would leave it vulnerable to collapse.
Derek Berrill, a spokesman for the group which is affiliated to the Save Tara campaign, said the passageway was located in front of the Rath Luth promontory fort in the Gabhra Valley.
"It has been occupied since March 6th. We have moved in because we are never too sure when they plan the next move against us," said Mr Berrill.
"It goes directly down and then goes halfway under the route itself, crossing about halfway across [the width of the proposed] motorway."
This action may delay things slightly but, unfortunately, that's probably all.
Ireland is going from one extreme to another - Boom to bust!
With so few people now buying property in Ireland, instead waiting to see how much more prices will drop, the whole building scene in Ireland has slowed dramatically.
The Live Register figures for January, just published, by the Central Statistics Office show a continuing increase in unemployment numbers during February. Many of these new unemployed are former Construction Industry workers.
The numbers on Social Welfare, in Ireland, are now highest for the last eight years at 5.2%.
Meanwhile SIPTU has rejected a request by the Construction Industry Federation for a 12-month pay freeze and a 30% cut in entry rates for construction workers. Perhaps this would have helped things?
Thursday, 6 March 2008
Property "bargains" in the news today:
The Ivory Building Apartments, Dublin 2 prices cut...
1 Bedroom: 2007 €390,000 - now €299,500
2 Bedroom: 2007 €489,000 - now €429,500
3 Bedroom: 2007 €650,000 - now €525,000
Dunboyne Castle in Co Meath prices cut...
Apartments 1 Bedroom: 2007 €285,000 - now €210,000
Apartments 2 Bedroom: 2007 €325,000 - now €249,000
Apartments 3 Bedroom: 2007 €365,000 - now €285,000
Houses: 4 Bedroom: 2007 €600,000 - now €499,000
According the Irish Times Newspaper, lower priced homes are selling, and "THE STRATEGY of dropping prices for new homes is increasingly paying off, proving that buyers love a bargain."
...They add that the price reductions have made property, in Ireland, "accessible for first-time buyers who until now have been holding off. Sure enough the bargains have come along, and at a greater discount than most people had expected. Expect to see even more developers tapping into the discount market after Easter when the main selling season gets underway."
Wednesday, 5 March 2008
Following yesterdays reports about tax returns for the start of 2008, being €500m less than expected, plus rising unemployment etc., the Taoiseach has been accused of presiding over, "the worst deterioration in the economy in the history of the State", by Enda Kenny
However the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, insists the outlook for the Irish economy is postive, and said that the country is doing very well by international standards and that it was still on target(...for what????!)
"He knows nothing and he thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career." George Bernard Shaw
Monday, 3 March 2008
Durty Nelly's Pub is a favourite of mine when visiting Bunratty.
This super pub has also inspired thousands of "Irish" theme pubs all over the world!
Saturday, 1 March 2008
The struggle to save over 150 ancient sites surrounding the sacred hill of Tara in Ireland continues...Watch the video:
Crazy Property Prices: Due to crazy property prices in the Capital, Meath and Cavan is now home to thousands that commute to Dublin. The infrstructure has not kept up pace with this hideous urban sprawl - the only railway line is for freight only so commuters must rely on road transport. The current N3 has some of the worst traffic jams in Ireland!
Heritage Destroyed: A new road was needed but why choose the Tara Skreen valley? This is a place of huge historical and religious significance in Ireland for thousands of years.
Seamus Heaney on BBC: “I think it literally desecrates an area - I mean the word means to de-sacralise and for centuries the Tara landscape and the Tara sites have been regarded as part of the sacred ground"
Celtic Tiger Attacks: “It will be a sort of signal that the priorities on these islands have changed, I mean the Tiger is now lashing its tail and smashing its way through the harp - the strings of the harp are being lashed by the tail of the tiger,” Heaney said.
Tara Is Unique: “Tara means something equivalent to me to what Delphi means to the Greeks or maybe Stonehenge to an English person or Nara in Japan, which is one of the most famous sites in the world,” Heaney added.
Illegal: The EU Commission may take legal action against the Irish government which gave itself permission, in 2004, to destroy features or areas of archaeological importance classified as national monuments if in the national interest???! (Sad but true.)
Road To Nowhere: It's not likely that any action at this stage will stop the road as it well underway at this stage, by Irish and Spanish joint venture SIAC Ferrovial. It is expected to be completed by 2010.
Below are the average annual inflation rates:
2008 (forecast) +3.5%
(Source: CSO. Forecast from Central Bank Q1 2008 bulletin.)