Thursday, May 6, 2010

on passing by- aga

I warned some time ago that the Labour party were starting to go back towards their old socialist utopian ideals and were in danger of getting into a position where people would start to regard them as being as loopy as the Green Party. As if to confirm my suspicions a Labour councillor on Dublin City Council proposed a 30 kilometre speed limit in the centre of Dublin. With the backing of Labour colleagues, and Fine Gael councillors, the motion was passed. And the result? Havoc. The only people to see any benefit from the measure appear to be the coffers of the Government from all the speeding fines handed out by Gardai.
The Labour councillor in question, Andrew Montague, has come up with some strange reasons for the change. He admits he is a committed cyclist and says the measure should make the roads safer for his fellow cyclists and yet the statistics show that most of the cyclists killed in the city centre are actually killed by heavy goods vehicles taking corners. As most of this traffic is now effectively banned from the city centre cyclists are automatically safer. He says the slower limits should leave more space between traffic thus allowing pedestrians to cross the roads in a safer manner. Does the Councillor not know that the areas in question are festooned with pedestrian crossings and that these are the correct places to cross the road, or is he advocating jay walking?.
He also tells us that the Council are going to arrange the traffic lights so that people who observe the limit will always arrive at a green light, creating what he called a green wave. I don’t care how much you play around with the timing of the lights but there is no way that you can ensure constant green lights unless you leave all the lights on green, all of the time. Imagine the congestion then.
Happily the public backlash has brought Mr Montague’s boss into the picture and Party headquarters has instructed him to get rid of the limit at the earliest. Not wishing to be associated with the public fury, his fellow councillors, both Labour and Fine Gael, have swiftly backtracked on their support. All fine and good but what kind of intelligence levels are at work in the City Council when they appear unable to form any views on the likely consequences of motions presented to the chamber and instead blunder into fiasco after fiasco. I am not singling out Dublin City Council for any particular reason. As we all know only too well our own beloved Kildare County Council is not above reproach for crazy ideas, nor other county councils. It just makes you wonder how much of the real world these people are actually aware of.

While I am on the political rant it would seem churlish not to mention ex T.D. George Lee. What a difference a few months make. Mr Lee was fairly quick getting onto all the talk programmes the day he resigned to give his opinions and the reasons for his resignation and yet I can’t help feeling that some of them rang fairly hollow. In an interview soon after he was elected Mr Lee told us that he had been given no particular guarantees as to what position or responsibilities he was to be given when he joined the Dail. To my astonishment he then told us that up he had not even spoken to Enda Kenny since accepting the nomination. It struck me as a bit peculiar at the time that here was a national figure who was giving up a well paid job to enter politics and he had not even discussed what his responsibilities would be, nor even met his new boss. His whole campaign was run on the lines that the economy was heading for the fan and that he wouldn’t be able to face his grandchildren if he sat back and did nothing and yet he appeared to think it was all right to embark on a campaign without being told if he would be allowed to do anything about the situation if he won.
On resignation day he told us that no one in Fine Gael had asked his opinion or sought him out to see what he thought. Did he really expect to be handed everything on a plate or should he not have known that to make any difference to the political status quo he was going to have to fight his corner and make his ideas heard.
Mr Lee told us for years about how slow the pace of change was in the Dail and yet he could only stick it for nine months before throwing a hissy fit. Contrast this with Brian Lenihan, who spent years in the wilderness before being admitted to the inner fold.
It’s hard not to compare Mr Lee with Mr Bird. Poor Charlie decided he was going to become a reporting star in America, just as he thought he was at home. Only half way into his contract he has now decided that its not for him. At least he made some contribution to the nation by doing his two part comedy special telling us why he wants to come back. George on the other hand has given the job nine months, and given all the Dail holidays since then, has probably only worked for four months. Mr Bird and Mr Lee were quite large fish in a small RTE pond who thought they could be quite large fish in a bigger pond. Isn’t it surprising that it never occurred to them that the new pond might already have its own big fish.

While I am on the subject of RTE I may as well get something else off my chest. Most evenings on the way home I listen to Drivetime on RTE 1 radio. For many years this programme was presented by Rachel English and I always found her to be a clever and incisive interviewer who never seemed overawed by whomever she was interviewing and who was loath to give up until she got a proper answer to her questions. A few years ago RTE decided to hand the programme over to Mary Wilson and the difference is unreal. Wilson never seems to have read up on her subjects and while her diction is more than adequate she seems biologically incapable of uttering one whole sentence without repeating a word, or more than one. She constantly appears to strive to get her mouth to go at the same speed as her brain. One recent evening the following sentence nearly had me putting something through the radio “ do you think that that that the Minister will have to to to to to to to respond, in in in in some way”. Over a hundred grand a year to come out with this drivel. Charlie Bird will be in good company when he gets back

Last month’s piece on the sad demise of Common Sense has probably elicited more comments than anything I have written for years. It seemed to strike a chord with people over a certain age, probably because when we were growing up that was the way things operated, and it never did us any harm. Lack of space last month meant I couldn’t thank the Ballincollig Newsletter, or Brian McNaughton for bringing it to my attention.
All for now. Mike Edmonds Jan 2010.

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