Tag Archives: Irish Times letters page

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A table in Monday’s Irish Times; Minister for Housing Simon Coveney

You may recall how, last Sunday morning, Dublin Institute of Technology lecturer Lorcan Sirr tweeted that only 2,076 new houses were built in 2016 compared to the official figure of 14,932.

He also tweeted a table detailing the number of new house completions, excluding one-off houses, built in each county last year based on figures confirmed by the Building Control Management System. These state just 848 such properties were built as opposed to the Department of Housing’s figure of 8,729.

An article with the same figure, and more, obtained under Freedom of Information, appeared in The Irish Times on Monday. This article also had a table with the same information as Mr Sirr’s table.

The claims followed similar concerns about the department’s housing figures previously raised by architect Maoilíosa Reynolds in an article in The Sunday Business Post two Sundays ago.

Further to this…

Minister for Housing Simon Coveney has written the following letter to The Irish Times

The article on homes built in 2016 demonstrates the dangers of obtaining and interpreting data without proper context or testing its validity.

The table accompanying the article is inaccurate; the published figure of 848 units presented as the total output of estate houses and apartments built in 2016 is in fact the number of Certificates of Compliance on Completion submitted to the Building Control Management System (BCMS) for all works, not just residential construction, in the first quarter of 2017.

I have said repeatedly that the Building Control Management System was designed for compliance for building control purposes. It was not designed for gathering statistics and the published article is a perfect example of how statistics can be misrepresented and inaccurately presented.

There are several reasons why the BCMS data does not currently record and reflect housing completions, although the Department Housing, Planning, Community & Local Government is actively exploring its potential in this regard. Some of these reasons include the fact that Certificates of Compliance on Completion are required for certain works that submitted a commencement notice on or after March 1st, 2014. Developments commenced before that date, including many developments started but not finished during the downturn may still be under construction.

Certificates of Compliance on Completion are not required for one-off houses that have chosen to opt out of the statutory certification process since September 1st, 2015.

A single Certificates of Compliance on Completion may cover multiple buildings or works, this is in order to reduce the administrative burden and cost for industry, so simply counting certificates can underestimate total units constructed.

The requirement for these Certificates of Compliance on Completion is relatively new, at a time when construction activity has been relatively low, with the result that the process and issuing of Certificates of Compliance on Completion is only becoming established.

The recording and reporting of statistics on housing completions is a complex area. We have several different statistics from various reputable sources that measures different issues as well as many different views in relation to which statistics we should use.

We have, however, used ESB connections as an overall proxy for housing completions and have done so since the 1970s, so it is, and will continue to be, an important long-term comparator, and an important indicator of trends in the number of new homes being made available. It is important to note that the ESB figures are by no means the only dataset we use.

We have, for example, detailed information on residential construction activity from local authorities – at the end of 2016, the four Dublin local authorities reported 144 active construction sites, encompassing the construction of some 5,200 new dwellings.

Suggestions that I am trying to mask the completion figures are nonsense. Everything my department does is open and transparent and the one thing that is apparent from all key statistical sources (eg planning permissions, commencements, completions) is that housing supply activity is increasing, underpinning that Rebuilding Ireland, and its core objective of increasing housing supply, is beginning to have a positive impact.

It has been a slow and complex process to realise the upswing in housing supply and the Government will continue to focus on actions and initiatives to increase supply across all tenures during 2017 and beyond.

Simon Coveney, TD
Minister for Housing,
Planning, Community & Local Government,
Custom House,
Dublin 1.


How many new homes were built last year? (Irish Times letters page)

Previously: ‘When Gardaí manipulate figures, there are inquiries’

‘If You Want To Solve A Problem…’

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The transmission of Angelus bongs on the television without text subtitles for the hard of hearing is in violation of accessibility commitments to the entire RTÉ audience. At the very least, a priest holding a series of placards with the word “Bong!” on them should be shown.

I have no idea how the hard of hearing might be accommodated in an equivalent way by the radio broadcast of the Angelus, however, other than by not broadcasting the Angelus to any of us in the first place. Indeed, this seems like an optimal course of action across all media.

Ultan Ó Broin,

In fairness.

Broadcasting the Angelus (Irish Times letters page)

Previously: For Whom The Bells Toll

Pic: RTE


Rhododendron take about 13 years to reach reproductive maturity. It beggars belief that our National Parks Service cannot manage to remove new saplings once per decade and at least prevent the expansion of this pernicious plant. Having said that, it is time to get more ambitious and eradicate this plant once and for all.

Prof Eugene O’Brien
School of Civil Engineering,
University College Dublin,
Dublin 4.


Operation Rhododendron (Irish Times letters page)


Late Late Show presenter Ryan Tubridy interviews contestants in RTE’s Dancing with The Stars on RTE One’s Late Late Show last Friday

On the The Late Late Show last Friday, the first item consisted of an interview with participants (including RTÉ employees) in an upcoming RTÉ show, followed by an interview with another RTÉ employee.

These were followed by an interview with the presenter of another upcoming RTÉ show, and this in turn was followed by an interview with an actress in yet another RTÉ programme.

Not to be outdone, the following evening the Ray D’Arcy Show featured an interview with participants in further RTÉ programme, followed by a piece featuring another RTÉ personality.

Is public-service broadcasting now defined as RTÉ people interviewing each other ad nauseam?

David FitzGerald,
Dublin 14.


RTE chat shows (The Irish Times letters page)

Previously: Selling Ireland By The Pound


A mock-up of a two-way cycle route along Dublin’s north quays proposed by Dublin City Council last year

About this time last year I was taken to hospital following a cycling accident. It was assumed that I had been hit by a motor vehicle.

After emergency surgery, my ankle was put back together as well as could be expected given the injury I sustained.

Unfortunately, I require further surgery in the hope of keeping arthritis at bay, followed by the inevitable complete replacement of the ankle joint in the years to come.

All of which means I experience daily discomfort and impaired movement. The cause of this accident was another cyclist.

My commute to work is a relatively simple 40-minute cycle, consisting of a short meander through suburban roads, then the rest on a dedicated cycle path. My bike is old and sturdy and I am adorned in day-glo and of course wear a helmet.

After the collision, my helmet was split open, my bike battered, and laptop bent! And I realised I was unable to walk. As I stood, leaning on my bike, a lycra-clad cyclist proceeded to shout at me and made to move off. Despite my protestations that I could not walk, he left the scene.

In my moment of need, a member of the fire brigade, caught in the morning traffic, came to my aid.

Due to the severity of my injury, I reported the incident to the Garda. Despite following up with local traffic cameras and the on-board cameras on Dublin Bus, no evidence was forthcoming to identify the cyclist. This is key, as one cannot then pursue any form of compensation.

If I had the misfortune of being hit by a motor vehicle, then at least there is a fund (managed by the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland) that could be availed of.

I, however, am left with no recompense for any and all future implications of the accident.

Are cyclists inherently unsafe, uninsurable, unethical and uncared for?

David Jennings,
Co Dublin.

Cyclists and insurance (Irish Times letters page)

Pic: Cycle Dublin


Sign on a cycle lane in Phoenix Park last year

Further to Michael Cullen’s letter, in which he recounts seeing seven people breaking the law within 10 minutes, it should be a record, but is probably not.

Cycling on the footpath is not subject to a fixed-charge notice (on-the-spot fine), but it is against the law and is subject to a fine of up to €1,000, and possible imprisonment for three offences within 12 months.

This law should be enforced because cyclists do not have third-party insurance. If knocked down and injured by a cyclist, a pedestrian would be unlikely to obtain compensation.

Michael Regan,
Dublin 4.

Cyclists and footpaths (Irish Times letters page)

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After listening with mounting horror to the details of the “advice” from a so-called crisis pregnancy advice clinic, I was horrified to read that Minister for Children Katherine Zappone was merely “considering” regulation of these clinics and that Minister for Health Simon Harris and the HSE are powerless to regulate or prosecute, and must instead compete with these unsupervised agencies.

I hope it would be agreed by everyone that people in such vulnerable situations deserve accurate and unbiased information, and that the provision of blatantly false and harmful advice is unacceptable and reprehensible in the extreme. The time for acceptance of this inaction is long since passed, and these departments must act now to stop others from suffering.

Dr Mark O’Loughlin,
Clinical Lecturer,
Registrar in Histopathology,
Galway University Hospital.

Pregnancy counselling and regulation (Irish Times letters page)

Previously: Behind The Blue Door

Related: Women’s Centre may have broken the law, says Harris (The Times Ireland edition, Ellen Coyne)

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From top: Loughton House, Dr James Reilly

For those of us who wondered how did Dr James Reilly sleep at night when he was minister for health at a time when our health service was so woefully and devastatingly inept, the question was answered in your newspaper.

He slept exceptionally well on a deep feather mattress in a “royal, carved-oak, sleigh bed made for King George IV’s visit to Ireland” in a 13-bedroom, 1,393sq m (15,000sq ft) Georgian mansion. And how did he relieve the stresses of his day? Chopping logs on his 82-acre estate.

Eimear Morhan,
Dublin 9.

James Reilly’s big estate (Irish Times letters page)

Pics: MyHome.ie/Rollingnews


Necip Egüz, Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey in Dublin

Regarding your article [editorial] titled “The birth of dictatorship”, I wish to clarify the following: A putsch was attempted by a small fraction of the armed forces and was stopped by the Turkish people from all segments of society with the support of the overwhelming majority of the armed forces and police that remained loyal to the people, the state and the democratically-elected government.

Plotters bombed various institutions including parliament and the premises of the presidency, fired at the people, devastated infrastructure and attempted to destroy the legal democratic regime.

Some 250 innocent citizens and security officials were murdered while around 2,000 were wounded as they hurled their bodies forward to resist the coup.

Initial investigations reveal that the putsch was attempted by militants loyal to the Fethullah Gülen Terror Organisation (FETO), who disguised themselves in state institutions.

The coup attempt showed that these militants, who infiltrated state institutions through questionable methods for decades, are an ominous threat to democracy. Following the attempt, political parties with divergent views, came together in the spirit of democracy and national unity to oppose this putsch.

Also, upon invitation of our president, the governing AK Party and the two main opposition parties came together and reached a consensus to make certain amendments to our constitution in solidarity and mutual understanding.

Turkey, in line with the rule of law and human rights, will take any legal measures necessary to eliminate the remnants of the FETO. Gulenists have been infiltrating state institutions since the 1970s, drawing ranks from disadvantaged segments of society and offering free education and boarding to potential members.

Recruits were indoctrinated at early ages. Members were planted in critical state structures, examination questions for entry to military schools, faculties, academies and institutions were obtained enabling further infiltration.

Militants already in state structures ensured younger members were looked after and fast-tracked in promotions while obtaining critical duties to further weed out regular citizens through intimidation, slander and even murder.

Gulen brought charges against regular army personnel, civil servants, academics, intellectuals and journalists in the so called “Ergenekon and Sledgehammer” cases between 2007-2014 when hundreds of qualified professionals were purged with fabricated evidence by order of judges loyal to the movement.

To prevent the recurrence of such a coup attempt, it was deemed necessary to declare a state of emergency for three months, as is the case in France following the heinous IS attacks in that country.

The state of emergency will be implemented in full compliance with relevant international obligations and strictly within the constitution and judicial system. Turkey succeeded in stopping an existential threat not only to itself but to the stability of the wider region.

It is under these extraordinary circumstances that a consensus to defend and advance our rights rising from a hard-earned tradition of free and fair democratic processes has been galvanised across the political spectrum in Turkey, negating the validity and reliability of any claims of unjust post-coup purges and authoritarianism.

Necip Egüz,
Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey in Dublin.

Ambassador writes on events in Turkey (Irish Times)

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Olympic gold medallists Bob Tisdall and Ronnie Delany in 1988

Lovely to see Olympic coverage in the paper. Eileen Battersby lists “10 names forever etched in Olympic lore”, including the great Ronnie Delany who she says won “Ireland’s first, and to date, only gold medal on the track”.

However, 24 years earlier, on August 1st, 1932 in Los Angeles, in arguably the finest hour of Irish sport, Ireland won two track and field gold medals within 60 minutes.

Bob Tisdall on the track won the 400m hurdles followed by Dr Pat O’Callaghan winning his second gold in the hammer.

Simon O’Callaghan,

Irish Olympic track gold (Irish Times letters page)

Pic: Irish Newspaper Archive (Irish Press)