Dundalk-based, Cologne-born Marcel Kreuger (him off the telly) writes:
The Corridor is a series of events organised by new Dundalk residents Anne Mager (arts curator) and myself (writer and translator), both migrants from Germany.
To explore our new home and to engage with the new Brexit border just a few miles up the road, we invited artists from Ireland and Germany to work, talk and perform with the border in mind.
Our first event series is a collaboration with the 1st German Electrophonic Orchestra, who are making noise and acoustically measuring Belfast, Dundalk, Drogheda and Dublin together with Irish artists Paddy Bloomer, Aoife Ward and Sean Hillen all day today on Culture Night, and which will continue next week with all Irish artists in Cologne.
Upcoming events in October and November include a fish dinner with fishermen from both sides of the Carlingford Lough, and a reading with authors like Garett Carr and Paul Scraton who have walked the Irish border and the former Berlin Wall, respectively.
From top: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the National Ploughing Championships yesterday; Tony Groves
We are just over the one hundred day mark into the reign of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the only substantial change is that the lack of substance is now communicated as a virtue.
Of the core challenges facing the government, we can only say with certainty, that there are certain plans with less than certain outcomes.
There are also more kites floating around than on Dollymount Strand during a Kite Surfing Contest.
One such kite, that flew from the Taoiseach’s lips, was the proposal to convert NAMA into a Housing Development Agency to help tackle the housing crisis.
That this is considered new and innovative, as part of the new and innovative government, is disappointing.
This is, in fact, old news. NAMA has always had the ability to help in tackling the burden of homelessness. NAMA was created, on day one, with the powers to do just that.
Section 2 (iv) and (viii) of the NAMA Act state that the purposes of the establishment of NAMA are:
‘to protect the interests of taxpayers and to contribute to the social and economic development of the state.’
There it is in black and white. NAMA doesn’t need any new powers, it simply needs to be directed to carry out the task for which it was created. NAMA should already be working to “contribute to the social and economic development of the state”.
The kite of getting them to do so now is not new and innovative. The question, that sadly is not being asked, of this government is, Why Haven’t You Done This Already?
Fine Gael are in power since 2011, for them to not have even suggested this before can only be negligence and/or an ideological choice.
There is nothing new in putting markets before people. There is nothing innovative in falling asleep at the wheel.
The argument that they couldn’t have seen this crisis coming doesn’t hold up either. As early as 2013, the then Minister for Housing Jan O’Sullivan said:
“Homelessness is an affront to every value that we assign to the concept of citizenship. In a real republic there is an onus on us all to ensure that all citizens have a place they can call home”.
Sadly, there’s not much room for optimism. When Leo spoke of the NAMA possibility he was quickly shut down by his ‘handlers’ and further explorations were closed to questioning.
NAMA is part, and have been part, of discussions on the housing crisis for years now. Foisting it on them now isn’t a solution. NAMA ha shown no desire to enter the “contributing to the social development” stage of their remit.
Leo, who has a history of saying “it was like that when I got here”, needs to step away from the PR for a few hours.
He has said funding isn’t an issue, great. Issue the funds Taoiseach.
Give the Local Authorities the responsibility to get on with building. Make the Department of Housing, and your good friend Minister Eoghan Murphy, responsible for removing roadblocks and expediting building.
Support the Non Governmental Organisations who are on the front line, taking the flack that six years of Fine Gael government has had a hand in creating.
Make the Local Authorities, the Department and the Minister accountable. Do what Section 2 (viii) of the NAMA act says: contribute to the social development of the state; not just the social media side of things.
Tony Groves is a full-time financial consultant and part-time commentator. With over 18 years experience in the financial industry and a keen interest in politics, history and “being ornery”, he has published one book and writes regularly at Trickstersworld
Any Resemblance to a Minister for the Environment is entirely coincidental.
The clasp of his handshake once reassured
he’d not disappoint their daughters.
And though his infrastructure’s
in desperate need of an upgrade,
he’s confident he can get his
waterworks fit for purpose,
ladies and gentlemen, here tonight,
and those at home
watching on TV, sometime
within the next twenty
five years. And if doing so
every last rain drop,
from Bellmullet to Garryduff,
at a savage discount, to the guy
who despite his wallet’s ongoing
morbid obesity, has hair
that looks like it’s been stuck
to the skull with Evo-Stik,
then Kelly’s the kind of pragmatist
who’ll make shit like that happen,
whether anyone asked
it to or not.
His tongue rough
as the carpet in a room
where Stevie Coughlan
once talked against the Jews.
For the past six months,
every erection he’s had
has been a member
of the Heavy Gang
about to throw a Provo
onto the railings
from a Garda Station
second storey window.
According to recent polls,
in certain areas of Tipperary,
he’s only slightly less popular
than Richard the Third. At least
half a percent less hated
than this time last week.
Of unequivocal victory,
he has no alternative
but to be certain.