October 2003 Archives

TDs and the Dail

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Clearly my letter (2nd October) suggesting thirteen ways in which TDs could improve their performance to justify benchmarking fell on deaf ears. Since then, we have learnt that:

  1. About nine TDs were on holidays or junkets when the Dail resumed on 30th September notwithstanding that the summer recess had lasted four months.

  2. One TD had a phoney foreign bank account and made a €130,000 settlement to the Revenue but still managed to provide a tax clearance certificate.

  3. Junior ministers have been claiming travel expenses of up to €160,000 since the Government was formed last year.

  4. Up to €500,000 has been paid to sitting TDs as partial teacher salaries in addition to their full TD salaries.

To cap it all and to rub salt into the raw wounds of a very disenchanted electorate, the Dail has decided to take a "mid-term break" after sitting for just four weeks. 

Surely, the time has arrived for the electorate to call a halt to this self-serving behavior and, in the interests of democracy, to demand "root and branch" change to the Dail and its TDs.

House Prices & Interest Rates

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The likelihood that the Bank of England may increase interest rates for the first time in three years should be a salutary warning to the overheated Irish housing market. Where the "Old Lady of Threadneedle Street" goes, other Central Banks are sure to follow either sooner or later.

In the current low-interest climate, many first-time buyers are very stretched to meet mortgage repayments. In a higher rate environment, their capacity to meet larger repayments is unlikely to increase and, depending on other economic factors, may even fall. If interest rates should rise by 2% over the next three years, then repayments on a 90% thirty-year mortgage at 3.5% p.a. for a €300,000 house would increase by 23%. On this basis, house prices would need to decline by about 18% for the monthly repayments to stay at their current level.

Rising interest rates could move many recent and future buyers with large mortgages into negative equity and expose their lenders to defaulting loans. It could also mean that many houses acquired as investments might be offered for sale to lock in gains or to cut losses. This would further depress prices. Can nothing be done to prevent this calamitous event from happening?

Letter published in the Irish Times on 28th October 2003.

Dublin's Traffic Mess

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Congratulations to the Director of Traffic at Dublin Corporation for bolting the stable door by telling the Kenmare Economics Conference last weekend that buses are still the solution to Dublin's traffic problems.

Why wasn't this view fully considered before the "powers that be" decided to invest €650 million (and counting) in LUAS? If we add the current debacle over the DART's weekend closures (investment of €170 million plus), the height of the Port Tunnel (€450 million) and the on/off debate about a Metro (several billion), one must wonder whether anybody has a clue as to what should be done about Dublin's traffic.

Surely the time is long, long past for the establishment of a single authority to assume total responsibility for all aspects of traffic and public transport in Greater Dublin.  This body might be set up on an ad hoc basis but progressively it should acquire real powers. In the long run, it is unlikely to be effective unless it controls (or, at least, supervises) Dublin Bus, LUAS and DART and has a significant say about traffic and related matters with the four local authorities and other interests which together and separately are making such an utter mess of Dublin's traffic .

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This page is an archive of entries from October 2003 listed from newest to oldest.

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