Citizen Journalism: Urban Abandonments and Dereliction 2009-2012 (15,000 words) by Michelle Clarke


Chronological Order: can we learn from experiences of the past.  These are a selection of articles written on an Open Publishing site; sent by email to people in the media and politicians at the time.

Twitter:  @ReusingDublin worth following; 

Recommend two articles:- 2012 and 2014

It’ll take us 43 years to fill all empty houses – Irish Independent

Published 10/06/2012 | 05:00 … As the Deutsche Bank map shows, the empty properties are highly concentrated around the Atlantic coast …. Promoted articles …


Rory Hearne’s article in the Irish Examiner today analysing the housing vacancy rates across Ireland

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 – 00:00

A sustainable and fair housing policy is needed to address society’s needs, writes Dr Rory Hearne

The residential vacancy rates from the 2011 census highlight the necessity of a radical change in housing and regional economic development policy.

They make it clear our housing system is fundamentally dysfunctional. We now have the scandalous and untenable situation whereby 90,000 households are defined as ‘in housing need’, and up to 5,000 homeless, and yet over twice that amount (230,056) of housing and apartments units lie vacant.

Full article:


April 15th, 2009 19:11
CPO (I wonder does this stand for Compulsory Purchase Order)
by Michelle Clarke – Social Justice and Ethics: Dignity 

Given that the topic is dereliction of Dublin and its environs, I suspect it is the Compulsory Purchase Order and a reminder to people about WHAT DRIVES DEVELOPERS, POLITICIANS, PEOPLE WITH THE GREED MOTIVATING FACTOR to remain engaged in a country on its knees in one of the worst financial crisis in its history.

I found this site, the photos, the commentary, the reality, and most of all the question mark as to why would people allow such property to fall into such a state of dereliction.

First of all, the writer addresses The Thomas Read House Pub, in the heart of Dublin 8. The walls of this pub before it was re-designed and re-developed to meet the Celtic Tiger swash-buckling set, was a pub of the inner city, its tales, its hardships, its people, its soul. The writer suggests that this ought to be a cautionary tale of the Celtic Tiger.  Revision is powerful tool, time changes and markets have no memories or do they?

Then there is “Cabra Farm” – prime development location, yet who pays the cost? If this property is to be sold now – let us think of the Economist Mr. Lucey and his comments on Toxic Debt and NAMA (Euros estimated  90 bn) – the property might only be worth a 50% discount and that is if any developer is willing to take a chance and purchase and redevelop.

What about Mobhi Road in Glasnevin? What does the community think the potential sale value on this property.  It must be only one house surely in this settled area.

Then 202 Clonliffe Road – how about this? Who is ‘sitting on their hands too long’ here. This would highlight Clonliffe College. Here I ask the question about taxation and space utilisation in prime areas of Dublin City. It is not the first time we have had to look at taxing space. Look to large buildings and you will often see a blocked in window. This was about a taxation on the number of windows in a house, the more windows you had, the more tax you paid. There was tax avoidance then, when people blocked up windows rather than pay tax quite evidently so what has changed?

Ireland is famous for some of the most splendid Georgian Squares in Europe. We must consider the periods when these were built. Ireland was the leading light of the British Empire, an example – that merited it as the Second City of the British Empire.

Why then are so many floors, houses, vacant and under utilised in our City. It is not just in Dublin 2, it is Dublin 4. I have written about roads such as Elgin Road where some houses sold for 4 m. euros during the Celtic Tiger and others are near derelict with bedsits and very poor accommodation. Pembroke Road hosts several houses too as does Baggot Street (upper floors in particular), Waterloo Road, Leeson Street, Ranelagh Road, Rathmines and so many more.  There is plenty of fodder here to entice some form of utility tax. Otherwise making property more ‘Green’ there could be an incentive to encourage people back into the city, to live in smaller spaces and bring into play again the Square Gardens.

As long as places like Summerhill Parade exist…..derelict…..people will lose the will within their community because their basic self worth is being diminished. Again, I would suggest Moyross and the number of derelict houses just boarded up has had a negative impact on their community. Who benefits? Those who hold the property, so that they can hold the location so that they can attract the developers who will bid up the price until all are happy no matter what the time span is. Surely, these people ought to pay a tax on these properties. Exceptions can always be made.

Then we have York Street. This is adjacent to the Royal College of Surgeons. This area was contrast in the real sense of being rich and really poor. Who owns these houses that once housed in rooms families of 13 or 14 people. Where is this social history? I wonder has the College of Surgeons gathered the social history of the young doctors who visited these houses to deliver babies, and deal with TB and other health related matters? The National Archives have an excellent website worth exploring.  We presently show middle class Ireland in Merrion Square House but maybe York Street could become a reminder of what tenement Dublin was like. I think this would attract tourism. Add to this the experience gained by doctors from the plight of tenement living and the survival factor that the real Irish pubs provided for the people.

The House at Sutton Cross….this is a well positioned large house in a ‘good’ area. Who knows something here that is not being shared with ordinary punter? What are the plans? Someone has an idea.

I really enjoyed the two foregoing enlightening websites. (Links with photos showing the real impact of abandonment and dereliction no longer available unfortunately)

The quays along the Liffey in the 1970’s merited a comment or so it was said then ‘that visiting Germans passed the comment ‘that they hadn’t realised Dublin City was so badly bombed during the WAR’.

We need to keep money circulating in our economy hence I tend to take a taxi from town ….. 6 euros and a view point ….. it is worth it for me as a person with mobility difficulties and TBI. Today, we chatted about the small businesses and how they may re-activate the economy. I had just come from Kildare Street and noticed ISME (Irish Small Medium Enterprises) offices. The state of the building they occupy raised the question who owns it?  and what a dereliction of duty to maintain such a run down, shoddy, poorly maintained property in such a prime location and so close to Government Buildings – why have these houses been allowed to deteriorate?

Keep up taking photographs* and let’s keeping putting forward questions. The taxi driver told me that small businesses had come together to form a network site; he thought the name is  It was talked about on the radio yesterday and that one business has made connection with a business in Japan.



A psychologist once shared this saying with me


*It would be appreciated if someone with an interest in vacant properties could take photos and upload to this site. The photo is powerful.

I have not included replies except for an odd one:  See below

April 16th, 2009 01:56
Walk The Walk

by P.C.Worlde – Panoramic Viewer

What a splendid piece Michelle Clarke and well done in your painstaking research

I had reason recently to walk back into the past and some 3 weeks ago I strolled under the arch way and into Pembroke Lane, Dublin 2.

The same area long long ago was a thriving family orientated lovely old fashioned lane, totally free from any traffic as it being a one way entry to some lovely old mews houses and various little business’s long since gone.  I knew a certain young lady in the 90s who resided in Pembroke Lane and her mother had reared a large family over a 50 year period; the lovely olde dublin stories i listened to were priceless, not to forget the School near Stable Lane where many a young dubliner went to school all those years ago.  There is a huge difference now to me and I see nothing but apartments where beautiful little houses once stood, and away the history went with the folk to God Knows Where.  The same area is so quiet on a summers evening it would amaze any one who happened to be passing through .

A beautiful lady once lived at the Morehampton Road end of Heytsebury Lane at the rear of Wellington Road, her lovely home demolished circa ’97 and now in its place stands an apartment block, quite nice as a matter of fact, nice quaint apartments and so well blending within .

Lest we forget the beautiful areas such as Merrion Square, Upper Mount Street, and others such as Fitzwilliam Square where once Lovely families began their early venture through life and all its mysteries Good Old Dublin Town …..

April 30th, 2009 12:41

The Good and the Wasteland in Dublin

by Michelle Clarke – Social Justice and Ethics: Dignity 


Yes, Baggot Street Bridge was constructed over a century ago, and the walk over the lock, is such a pleasant walk. There is such a history around the area and quite a few books written. Adjacent to Baggot Street Bridge, was the bookshop Parsons (no gone) all details to be found on Google. All kinds of people, writers, artists were to be found gathering in this book shop.

Did you know that Thomas Davis (1814-1845) lived at 67, Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2 (I am sure as you have walked by, you saw the nameplate on the left hand side of the door just above the doorway.

Thomas Osborne Davis died at the age of 31 but in his short life. he achieved a considerable amount. Thomas Davis lived with his mother and invalid sister.

His obituary in the Dublin University Magazine noted:

‘his own family in whose bosom he lived and died in all peace and affection, entertained political opinions quite opposite to his’

The strong word tolerance applied to different opinions between Davis and his beliefs and those of his family – there was diversity in views.

Davis was the son of a Welsh father, a surgeon in the Royal Artillery and an Irish Mother. The young Davis attended Mr. Mangan’s mixed seminary’ in Lower Mount Street.

Davis was a poor mixer but read voraciously. He was called to the Bar 1836 and called to the Irish Bar in 1837.

It is this Thomas Davis while walking in the Phoenix Park with two other men (John Blake Dillon and Charles Gavan Duffy, barrister and journalist respectively, who agreed to establish and collaborate on the publication of a newspaper – THE NATION –

Davis laid it down for the Nation. He said ‘it must embrace Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter – Milesian and Cromwellian – the Irishman of a hundred generations and the stranger who is within our gates’ and this sentiment was published October 1882.

History is all around is Dublin 2, Dublin 4, Dublin 6, Dublin 8 and beyond.  Ireland is about history both oral and written and this ought to provide hope to move forward from the latest financial crisis.

I would love to see the young students to live out their history in the days of being at the colleges here and explore it to gain creativity and innovation to invoke the Knowledge Economy that we are well capable of putting in place. The Challenge is here before our eyes..  To quote once again Jonathan Swift  ‘Giving vision to the visionless’

May 11th, 2009 18:18

Photos of derelict sites in Dublin, Wicklow…..well worth appreciating

by Michelle Clarke – Social Justice and Ethics: Dignity


Groundhog day thought she had replied to you and while scrolling discovered no. You are absolutely correct – ‘Infamous’ was a most in appropriate description given to AE.

This is a citizen journalism site I would recommend to anyone interested in contributing to the social history that has become part of a past and left aside, alas with scarce dignity.

As the summer approaches, I am thinking of sun and the criteria that make Dublin quite a unique European City. I am looking at the photos produced but no longer available on this site.

Sandymount is a quaint village, and quite evidently was once a seaside attraction. The photographer with time to spare, cycled out on an exploratory trip and has written a little synopsis on Sandymount Baths; on Sandymount Strand; and other hidden gems. They tease out memories as to what existed in past times and what purposes they served.
Past times are now a long time ago for Sandymount which had a pier, a Bandstand where concerts were performed.

Alas in the 1920’s, the pier deteriorated and was demolished and the remnants of times past lie in a kind of unappreciated setting and squalid. Why!!!

To the Green Party I ask the question. Is it to do with Pollution and the smell ……. The sea is our treasure surely.

There is another photo of Dun Laoghaire Baths, a disgraceful scene that once provided facilities for people to enjoy and if necessary maintain a human dignity … a place to wash something which we now fail to provide for our homeless people.

Smurfit’s Print grounds make another interesting photo. This was one of first large public companies in Ireland involved printing; many people were employed here and this photo is poignant in the way it captures a pinky blue sunset with an old rusty skip to the fore, stating there once was a life blood energy and people engaged in production but now it is no more. Nor does it eek out a sense of hope for future employment.

The photo of Bolands Mills makes one think of our history. It takes one to the economic aspect of employment, flour mills, employees, the to our political history; the shoot-outs and then most importantly the social history. The social history is linked to the economic history and how people move and live close to their place of work and especially where cities have the advantage of being serviced by canals, rivers, sea, airports.

NAMA, it is said may be housed in the Treasury Holdings Building.  Let us ensure that the toxic assets as nicely outlined through the very many photos on this site, are not marked down excessively due to dereliction and negative market conditions globally.

Michelle Clarke

‘I began a Revolution with 82 men. If I had to do it again.  I’d do it with 10 or 15 and absolute FAITH.
Fidel Castro (born 1926) Cuban Revolutionary who ousted President Batista in 1950.

(Now that is a challenge to NAMA appointees)

July 1st, 2009 17:26

Awareness, influence from the street up to ensure the survival of the Island of Ireland

by Michelle Clarke (Phoenix) – Rule of Law

Ireland is rapidly being consumed by a recession the majority of our people have no idea about. It has been thrust upon them, all within the space of a year, and now unprepared they find themselves with qualifications and no jobs to match.

A greedy bunch of developers funded by greedy bankers have fueled this recession to a pinnacle that a compliant greedy Government stands alone, afraid, overpaid, making decisions that do not necessarily relate to the ordinary man, woman or child, who are there on the street. Has anyone noticed the increased number of people begging on our streets? Has anybody noticed the shopping centre off Dawson Street already stripped of a number of their exclusive shops? Has anybody noticed that the franchised coffee shops are already feeling the pinch? Then has anybody noticed the number of taxis queued up in all the main streets off the main streets in Dublin City centre? Try talking to a taxi driver who will tell you they have earned only euros 15 for 10 hours work.

The people press and social networking has a most important role to play. They can contribute to Government in a subtle but effective way. Ordinary people with ordinary observations can make the difference. They live, walk, see, hear and engage in the reality our Politicians have lost through the ‘heady days of the Celtic Tiger’.

Back to this open publishing (citizen journalism) site. View the derelict buildings. Ask what do these derelict buildings do for valuations of properties in their locality? They further cause a reduction in value. What can be done with these buildings? I would suggest if you take an example of Dublin 4 and look to those Georgian squares and streets and all the to let signs and all the quite evidently vacant floors makes it obvious that people should return to inner city living. These houses stand resplendent for their period in time and their architecture. We failed in the 1960’s and lost many to slums and then dereliction. Now – are we planning to do the same? We ought to be saying to NAMA / NTMA listen to us also, we too have something to say. We have a way of working out a value per square meter that properties are worth, we can promote space utilisation by policy decisions, we can suggest appropriate taxes. Just include us and keep us informed.

I would suggest that a form of rates ought to be re-introduced (not a 200 euro tax on mobile homes, and second homes irrespective of income). There is a new Green rule that anyone selling a property or letting out a property must have a BER certificate. This is fine but it will lead to more houses for dereliction. Surely, there is a better way to promote space utilisation. We hear no discussion or policy  plans about how to make our Georgian Houses properties compliant with the environment and self sufficient. One example is roof space and a suitable solar panel system. People out there must have more suggestions. We have had the slums, we should say via green initiatives, that we will not be returning to the slums. Look at Elgin Road. Half the houses cost millions and half are what I would call semi occupied slums that are funded by rent allowance. Is this what humanity is about?

Next time you are on the bus, take a look out for patterns in housing. Look at the houses in Leeson Street that still house many tenants and are not maintained sufficiently for people  to live in. Then look out for those houses that our probably stuck in limbo due to inheritance conflicts. Look at the beautiful squares say Fitzwilliam, Merrion and think of Mr. O’Gara who caught the locals out and bought the ground rent of the square. He along with others have opened up this park to use of all people……this is positive. This is reviving the history of Rathmines, Donnybrook, Baggot Street, Fitzwilliam Square.

Let us be diligent. Let nobody reduce an area to desolation because buildings are allowed become derelict. Moyross is the obvious answer. Let us take example from the people in Ballymun who revived their community with spirit.

Realistically, we face the proposition that the International Monetary Fund may have to intervene in the running of our Irish Financial affairs. We have one saving grace that may prevent us becoming totally isolated and that is our alignment with the EU. It was this alignment to the EU and euro currency that attracted a lot of US companies to Ireland during the Celtic Tiger. Let us not lose site of this.

It is time to reform and promote community. People need to look out for each other and to support their local shops, their elderly, their young people. In London in the 1950’s and 1960’s, areas around Shepherd’s Bush once homes of the rich famous fell into the hands of people like Rachman › From the Observer › She Said… gangsters who very were cruel landlords. We don’t want this to happen again and we have power as people to divert this. You see we have a political culture in Ireland, we can sell our history through tourism.  1998 The Good Friday Agreement was signed and we have Peace on the Island of Ireland and it is our duty to promote it.

July 9th, 2009 21:40 
Urban dereliction: Excellent combination of photos

by Michelle Clarke – Social Justice and Disabilities

To the people who produced the photos for this site – have you noticed the decline in our Urban space? The ‘For Sale’ signs, the ‘To let’, the shopping centres like Rathmines with many vacant shops. It will only get worse. It will be like England in the early 90’s with vacant premises dotted all over the place and then a myriad of charity shops will opt to take the locations, at no doubt reduced rents, if any.

What can we do? We know the potential, we have seen it in Ireland. Ireland, the new State, post the 1916 Revolution saw many of its mansions, tower houses, castles, burned to the ground and if not, become un-inhabited. For those who remained in the houses, often they lived spartan lives, occupying only the room space necessary.

This we need to avoid. We the people can intervene, we can volunteer information, views, and experience. An Bord Snip has made its recommendations and we the people have a right to agree or disagree. The internet is here. We can use it. In fact, we can make our statement that the proposed cut to Broadband funds put forward by the report, be discarded and promote high speed broadband throughout Ireland. This allows our aspiration of moving forward as the Knowledge Economy.

NAMA/NTMA, I believe have taken space in the Treasury Holdings building in Dublin 2. Let us ask NAMA/NTMA to be participants in the sustainable development and refurbishment of property in the Dublin 4, Dublin 6, areas. We have ribbon development throughout Ireland and we should note the cost of same is highly expensive. Urban living, well promoted provides the cheaper altnernative. The time is now ideal with the necessity of the BER certification to upgrade our stock of houses to maximum standards in line with a ‘Greener’ environment.

Most people of a certain age group will be aware of the Gallagher family and their involvement in housing and development. I worked for Seamus Gallagher, son of Mr. James Gallagher, in the 1980’s – yes at a time of great unemployment, companies going into liquidation, yes it was the beginning of times getting tough. Governments changed. Landbanks that ought to have received planning permissions were left in futility. Mr. James, as he was known to staff, was a TD. In fact, he had established BASTA locks in Tubercurry, Co. Sligo. This was another time but fear not developers then, as now, were involved in Politics. The name that will remain on the lips through the decades is former Taoiseach, Mr. Charles J. Haughey.

I note, that Abbey, one of the publicly quoted companies associated with the Gallaghers, has been forced to write down the value of its land bank by Euros 58 m. Abbey is in fact the largest house builder on the Irish Stock Exchange. This is where experience may count. Ahead of NAMA/NTMA, Abbey have taken account of the market forces that have forced them to reduce house values by 50% in some areas, and they have moved ahead to value the land at the appropriate discount value. This leaves them free to engage in a root and branch exercise of their current workload and to look to the future. Being a publicly quoted company, it means they have also engaged in an upfront way with their Shareholders. We must always remember that in public companies, the shareholders can play an important part in the ethos of the company. They speak now of corporate, ethical and social responsibility and of course a form of corporate governance attaches to this. Vision is so important especially in this time of severe Recession. (The IFSC was born out of the 1980’s recession).

Mr. Soden, speaking about NAMA some time ago stressed the importance at arriving at a value per square meter of property per each city. It looks as if Abbey have paved the way and it is worth noting that they have a broad spectrum over time, here in Ireland and in England, to build up a plan of action for Recessionary periods.

Again I return to our Georgian Squares. I note an article by Ray Managh in the Irish Independent. It is about an artist who is in a battle about a ‘Georgian’ 4 floor over basement home in Middle Abbey Street. It has a Georgian doorway and albeit not as ornate as those found in Fitzwillian Square, Merrion Square, Henrietta Street, it is rather splendid. The premises has become an artists studio. A man has lived in the house for 20 years and is in battle with Dublin City Council regarding the ownership of the building. Dublin City Council claim to be the owners. Whoever owns it, it is representative of the unacceptable degree of dereliction so many of these houses are permitted to descend to. We need to stop this carnage. To hve dereliction scattered throughout our urban spaces only gives false history. (I refer to the Germans while travelling along the Quays of the Liffey in the 1970’s who said they had not realised that Dublin was so badly bombed during the 2nd World War.

No matter what corruption has occurred, there was also Vision. Let us not lose sight of far we have come. Let us take care of our people and let us be inclusive. Regarding the house in Middle Abbey Street – July 23rd is the date of the Court hearing. Dublin City Council will seek a court injunction restraining the named person from trespassing in the building where, he is supposed to have tenancy in the basement. Watch and Wait. Ireland has the potential to witness many evictions or ejectments. We have access to knowledge, we must use it wisely.


Quotation randomly chosen from The Little Book of Rebels

Spike Milligan (born 1918) British humorist, animal rights activist
‘I am a hero with coward’s legs’

August 24th, 2009 15:54

Economic and Social history origins and NAMA

by Michelle Clarke (Comyn) – Social Justice

Yes there is recession, even depression, but at grassroots level and by forming communities we can halt the decay that is already so visible.

I was talking to someone who had been over around the Meath Street, Francis Street, Thomas Street, Dublin City area a.m. and all they could say, was that an area which has a rich culture and community (even if impoverished history) is visibly showing the signs of the Recession. Shops are closing, money is scarce and this makes it a hunting ground for petty thieves, burglaries etc. This does not have to be the outcome. We have learned too much from previous times of hardship in our City of Dublin.

Libraries and bookshops are great havens to look up and study the history of our country and our people. Most libraries provide computers at no charge and if the librarian is keen, well they will show you how to link up.

A random choice of book in a Dublin bookshop gave me great insight to a part of our history that has been wiped away. The book was written by Mary Daly on the Population Decline and Independent Ireland 1920-1973. Previously in another book shop I had heard a man explain about the Congested Districts Board and how so many Irish people who worked towards the creation of the new independent Ireland had their works submerged by the new elites, which in 1920 of course, was Cumann Na Gaedheal. De Valera’s party only gained power in 1932.

What I find fascinating about history is the formation of patterns and more so the patterns that tend to repeat themselves, mainly because of the impact of economics and financial markets, the commodities market, even the price of gold or oil.

We are all alert to NAMA and the NTMA that is in the process of being established. The offices have been chosen at Treasury Holdings near the old Bolands Mills site. The website is worth a look because it shows the structure of what NAMA/NTMA will be and how it will best implement buying back toxic debts from the many developers standing shame faced at present. They are not alone because the banks play a very strategic role in lending funds way above the asset values of the securities.

Back to history. I found out this interesting bit of history in the book mentioned above. It was about the Land Commission – the Irish Land Commission. There was a problem at the time of the formation of the state (not like now) with serious depopulation of our rural areas. The decline in population forced the Government to intervene. However, what we fail to recognise is that there was a body at work known as the Congested District Board whose function was to transfer land from the Landlord class to the occupying tenants. The British established the Congested Districts Board in 1903 whose function was to purchase large tracts of land in the western counties. The concept is not too far removed from that initiated by Bacon and Associates and proposed establishment of NAMA. The problem that the Congested District Board encountered was that the quantity of land was always insufficient. At the onset of the 1st World War, the British ended the function of the Congested District Board.

Ireland, paved a path towards independence with the view of a group of nationalists that England’s misfortune, is Ireland’s opportunity,  There was the 1916 Rising by a relatively small group of men and execution of the 1916 Leaders.  At the time of the 1st Dail in 1919 there was an urgent need to curb social unrest and land hunger was top priority. Land Courts were devised to determine priorities for land re-distribution and similar I suppose to NAMA a Land National Bank financed the creation of 35 co-ops i.e. Land Societies (this did not in fact work out with a fall-out within a few years).

When the Government of the Free State came to power in 1923 it completely abolished the Congested District’s board and by consequence a lot of work done by others appointed since 1903. The aim was to reform the Land Commission. The need was to access land by small payments so that it could be re-distributed to the declining population in our rural locations. Farms were divided and sub-divided. By 1934, the government was again under pressure and had to give a further undertaking to create as many as 4,000 holdings. Again, the Land Commission was unable to meet this target.

Between 1931 and 1949 (Ireland had opted for Neutral), the number of agriculture holdings had fallen by 17,000 while the Land Commission had taken over 2,700 farms and subdivided them into as many as 12,000 holdings at avg 21 acres per holding.

This forms the foundation of our State and Independence. It concerned the movement of capital assets i.e. land from one minority group of people to a majority. It is a similar approach to that taken by President Mugabe in Zimbabwe. We witness the discontent that exists in that country. It is true to say that we in Ireland had a more favourable transition i.e. until now.

I suppose what I am trying to say is that we moved from individuals in one minority moving to the Irish Sweepstakes, Celtic Tiger, minority in less than 100 years. What have we learned and how can we survive without embracing social unrest.

NAMA/NTMA are faced with a challenge. The banks have built up a stock of toxic assets that are supposed backed by adequate securities by the developers who took out the loans in the first instance. Meantime, there has been a world financial crisis and the ripples have spread risk far and wide. What we don’t know is will this turbulence cease soon or will we face a decade or more of depression. What we can do is remain alert to world market movements and Hope.  Meantime, it is up to us to become more focused on anti-corruption, fraud, and seeking out those who have blatantly abuse the power of trust over people and send them to prison.

Look to Exxon in the US.  Corruption is a most serious crime against the State. The time for change is upon us. UBS Switzerland in a landmark decision in the UK have to reveal the details of as many as 5,000 account holders who are deemed to be evading tax.



YEAR 2010

Subject: Published Citizen Journalism site. Title Urban Abandonments and Dereliction
Date: Wed, 24th  February 2010 19:08:37 -0000
From: Michelle Clarke <>
To: markets <>, markets <>, Fagan John <>, Contact <>, conp <>, Cahill Gavin <>, Amy.Mahon@Taoiseach.Gov.IE
CC: Mary Cleary <>, Karen Murphy <>, Karen Greville <>, Irish Senior Citizens Parliament <>, Clare Finglas <>, Budworth, David <>, Bannon, Mary <>, Ariana Ball <>

Tuesday February 24th, 2010 17:26

Waste lands and George Orwell.
How can we effect change and stop the abandonment and dereliction?

 by Michelle Clarke (macnamara) – Developers, Builders, Toxic Debtors 


Today’s Irish Times: Elgin Road, a three storey over basement property adjacent to the American Embassy is featured in all its abandonment and linked in ownership to the brother of a former Taoiseach of Ireland. The link is harrowing because of the recent Mossad (or supposed to be) assassination and the link to forged passports.

When does all the bad news stop, when can we start to progress yet again? Last night thankfully there was a programme about the history of the Docklands and the fact that in 1796 it was the largest canal programme by the British in the World. It was cycle tour by a man named Turtle Bunbury who has written book on both its history and more importantly on its recent advancement. This gives hope and do we need hope?

It made me think of this site and wonder if there could be a new vision and some inspiration !!!!

We sure need it. We each can make contributions. The Frontline had an interesting panel last night. A man by the name of Collins involved in the internet market spoke of the importance of the young acting on ideation via the web. I agree with hi, about the potential for Ireland (refer Pat Kenny website http://www.the The scope is here to develop markets. Our environment has the potential and social networking sites have massive scope in a small island community like Ireland.

Looking at the houses on Elgin Road….it made me think of this site and someone’s comment that how can we have houses of such value e.g. in the good times 8 m euros beside dereliction houses that have remained in situ without investment for periods of decades. Today, we witness the houses and again we must ask the same question. Why can such houses remain abandoned during the boom times and yet others are the homes of the ‘elite’

Surely this would suggest a wealth tax on property or if not a wealth tax, a utility tax. How much space is not properly utilised because people choose to be wasteful in order to gain wealth via appreciation in property over decades. Why is there so much vacant space around Dublin 2, 4, and 6….

Motivation is vital to our people and this is a about creating an environment that inspires the ordinary people to be creative. – surely this was what created the ideation of a Celtic Tiger and the regeneration of areas e.g. Temple Bar and all the inspiration one can find therein.

Be it in Moyross or elitist Dublin 4 properties in this state of decay and dereliction cannot create an environment for inspiration and vision so the answer must be for people to react and start seeking change.

NAMA is real and it will behave like a real mercenary docking the value of properties by 85%, 95% and more. Likewise the Docklands will be held out to slaughter and the DDDA. What we need is a market and some equity? We do not need to crucify those developers who took a chance.

February 26th, 2010 17:32

Is it another kind of Land Commission post Treaty 1921 Ireland?

by Michelle Clarke (John Henry)

In those times, they referred to the ‘Encumbered Estates’ and something in the region of over 70% of large estate homes had to be relinquished to demolition.

If we look to economics and supply and demand, the equation appears to be that we have too many properties worth virtually nothing at this moment in time and the question is what do we do?

The 1911 census in the National Archives will leave us in no confusion as to what our poverty was like then. Our Georgian houses were nothing but tenements with 12 to 16 people living in what would have been a formal drawing room or dining room or even library in earlier times when the nobility lived in Ireland. The answer here to the question is that the big houses were no longer wanted by the rich who had left the country (as is the case with tax exiles today e.g. Bono).

Take a look at Dublin these days. Look at the number of estate agents advertising houses for rent or for sale, or flats within. Every second to third house around Merrion Square and Fitzwilliam Square has a sign outside offering the properties for sale or to let/rent.  What will be the outcome? Will these buildings become tenements of the future or will they be knocked down?

Going by the news today most of the Developers seem to be making statements that they are ‘broke yes flat broke’

What does this mean for the Island of Ireland?

We seriously need to stop the blame game.

We ought to stand ashamed of No. 6 Elgin Road › The Soup with its boarded up gate. For people who know this road i.e US embassy – about half the houses are refurbished while the other half are of the era of pre-63 potential tenement houses in flats.

We need to think our way out of situations where houses can be left vacant by owner landlords.

Prime Time last night showed our young men who have completed part of their apprenticeship in trades related to building out of work. Where is an Taisce, AncoÁiseanna_Saothair, FAS in the harnessing of these talents in our Georgian Houses vacant in the affluent parts of our city

It was interesting to see a young man leave his home in an estate somewhere in the country and as he walked down his route, there was a house boarded up. He has a trade. Boarded up houses like this are bad for the social well-being of our people. Let us have a meeting of minds to generate potential and alternatives for these young men. They have the skills to refurbish the house which could be used as a place for young people to gather and say learn computer training skills, etc.

Elgin Road is shown to the public for us to think about property and utilisation of same. I was talking with a woman who lives in one of these houses and she made an interesting point. She said the like of an Taisce aren’t going to look for houses to be maintained once the fire places and doors remain within, it is enough for owners to hold properties uninhabited with capital appreciation their goal. However she did make the point about dry rot. If this gets into one house, then it seeps and it ultimately damages all the houses in the terrace. Now this is something to review.

We need to start reading books like Bertie Ahern suggested i.e. Bowling Alone by Lord Putnam or another more recent book called Spirit Level – their ideation is a fostering of communities once more…/The_Spirit_Level:_Why_More_Equal_Societi… 

Looking at the houses on Elgin Road….it made me think of this site and someone’s comment that how can we have houses of such value e.g. in the good times 8 m euros beside dereliction houses that have remained in situ without investment for periods of decades. Today, we witness the houses and again we must ask the same question. Why can such houses remain abandoned during the boom times and yet others are the homes of the ‘elite’

Time and as Jonathan Swift is reported to have said ‘May you live every day of your life.’ and time moves on:  It’s 2012

August 28th, 2012 13:53

Urban Abandonments & too many more

Urban Destruction

by Michelle Clarke

First written about in 2009 and thanks to the efforts of a poster who included photos of Dublin in despair at that time – the dereliction, the abandonment. These photos exist no longer and what a pity. However we can build on the theme!

Now all we hear about is a property tax and the rates charged to businesses. We are destroying what has been achieved albeit at too high a financial and economic cost. However, if there was a system of joined up thinking, a recruitment of ideation/creation from the citizen base of this country (not only those pay income tax/household charge) and a sense of morality restored, maybe we the people of Ireland could halt what is now very possible and that is the degeneration of our cities, our country. Houses boarded up are beginning to appear in Rathmines, Ranelagh, Raglan Road, Elgin Road, Pembroke Road, Lower Fitzwilliam St too name but so few. Do we want this? We need to ask how long does it take for a house that is on the NAMA schedule to devalue to such a degree that one of their executives can buy it at a knock down price and then move to the UK.

Georgian Dublin is heading for decay if property tax becomes penal. Remember slum dwelling (1960’s/70’s) during economic hardship times is still in the mindset of people aged 45+. In the UK, all it took was a man called Rachman (refer link above) to move North of High Street Kensington to create the ‘flat market’ that soon became unrealistic as a source of income/investment for the ordinary punter. The reality is that this happening down around Gardiner Street now? Many families are occupying rooms unfit for living in. Do we really care?

Phones these days take photos. It would be great if somebody could take photos of vacant buildings, boarded up houses, offices, development sites, North South East and West so that when the so called property tax is introduced in January 2013 the people can express their anger and evidence that the Government is wasteful with its time and resources.

The fact is the system of rental supplement is a joke. It should be paid direct to the Landlord, making housing services organise proper accommodation for tenants. 100,000 people are in need of housing yet NAMA has blocks of apartments sitting empty which could be used, sold and then sold on to tenants via the RAS scheme (ie if it is still in operation).

Peter Mathews on Vincent Browne last night seems to have a more common sense view than most of his party members about site value, development land values. I would like to hear more of what he thinks and recommends.

FG plan to re-invent their head office in Mount Street. At the same time Merrion Square is destined to become the new cultural centre in Dublin. What I would like to know is: Will they comply with the rules of the Georgian Society or will they be more dynamic and follow the example set by Ove Arup and the extensive re-development of three properties they own on Wellington Road, Dublin 4.

Signed off
Cinderella who represents all buildings/sites/localities/houses presently being stripped of their dignity by bureaucratic monsters who really don’t care.

August 29th, 2012 14:07

Watch this space because soon it could be an unoccupied building!

by  Michelle Clarke (Chestnut) – Urban abandonment and dereliction

Recession bites deep. The Commission of Taxation are supposed to have a set of guidelines according to piece in the Irish Times today. They go like this: Those below a level of income yet to be determined will not pay; those who bought property between 2000 & 2008 and paid inordinate stamp duty will not pay; every 5 years property owners will need to get tax clearance.

The aim is to establish an up-to-date register that will value all properties and land in the State.

Cartography is one way, but may be too laborious; then census information and maybe then the data base of Google could come to the Government’s rescue. Who knows what these data banks of information really reveal and how secure the privacy factor really is? Those cars with cameras may have been curtailed but realistically data is somewhere surely!

Dingle Paddy: a flat dweller in Ranelagh. You know only too well the poor standard of accommodation in those 2 and 3 storey over basement houses divided into pre 1963 flatlets of one units are all about. The question is that these landlords have had decades of earning weekly/monthly rents with no obligations to keep the flats serviced as the so called PRTB instructs. The reality is stark. Lateral thinking by government to harness old landlords who have long made their profits from these houses are made bring them up to an acceptable standard with bathroom per each apartment and therefore with less tenants.

Georgian Dublin is a disgrace. If FG plan to refurbish their office in Mount Street, please let them think seriously about making the owners of many of these under utilised houses prepare them for habitation or offices before dereliction is the only way forward.

Last point: Morality dictates if the State continues with Upward Only rent reviews because of the pressure of market forces, then individuals ie landlords should exercise a degree of humanity and reduce rents say on an annual basis until this crisis is over.

Are there any people out there who promote the introduction of a Robin Hood Tax here in Ireland?

September 13th, 2012 14:28

Negative Equity dictates family size, space allocation yet again:

Apartment Living – TV programme

by Michelle Clarke

They say 100,000 people are on the list for social housing. Yet they say negative equity has consumed our housing stock yet a fairer distribution of people to suitable housing accommodation for their needs could be orchastrated by Government policy. We are now 5 long years into this recession. To see families living in apartments without space for a dining table and raising 4 small children in an apartment fit to hold 1 person maximum two people is an absolute disgrace.

Allsop auctioneers are back in town October 3rd to sell off properties at fire sale prices. I sincerely hope there are housing agencies/NGO’s/Co. Councils, Dublin City Council housing groups, prepared to buy stock at favourable prices to re-home people adequately. They have RAS in place, so let there be no excuses.

Supply and demand still dictates our market prices. If we manage to reduce the supply side, eventually we will create a market to move again. It is interesting to hear (H. Schumann on Vincent Browne, TV3) that inflation in house prices is actually occurring in Germany already. If money is released into the market, the fear is that inflation will re-appear but it would seem to be that inflation is already hovering in the German market, so they will be watchful in this regard.

Today the High Court has made its stand against impropriety, cronyism and conflict of interest. Nama has initiated an action against a former employee and his wife over the purchase of a NAMA controlled property. Enda Farrell was a former portfolio manager who is accused of using insider knowledge to buy a property without notifying NAMA. This man is now living in the UK and working in a similar portfolio based position.

The people of Ireland need to take on board what is happening in their communities. For example, if you live in a community, why not be aware of vacant properties, know who owns them or for that matter if they are owned by NAMA? Get to know the price and raise your personal level of expectation to see the properties marketed and even be a little ambitious and see if you can find interested parties.

Agree with other writers on this citizen journalism site. It is a pity photos of derelict houses/offices/businesses no longer on this site. With 450,000 people unemployed, someone surely can put up links showing what dereliction can do to morale. Dolphin’s Barn and boarded up windows as shown on TV programme the other night, does not have to be so, we can make the change, if we put our minds to it and address the problems.

Further point: Apartment living is expensive when it comes to management charges. Some people pay £3000+ pa. If property tax comes in, people will not be able to pay both and then we will face worse problems because people will not be able to sell apartments as management companies become insolvent. Just look at the McFeely scenario. These are young families who probably bought apartments in the hope of buying housings in which to rear their families. How do we help them now?

16th September , 2012 14:46

Get to grips with the burdens of all people exposed to debt now

by Michelle Marcella Clarke

Property in Dublin 4:

Who will take the hit?

Imagine houses in the area of Wellington Road and Waterloo Road as recent as 2006 were bought for £6 million and £3.5 million respectively. The question we ask is, like the Thornton Hall site, who received the money and did they anticipate what lay ahead in financial markets and invest abroad or even in the Isle of Man? The next question is who bought? Did they have the jobs, the capital, the deposit, the property portfolio or did they get swept in the tide of those bankers, lawyers, business people who saw only an upward moving trend? What we do know now is that some of these people were badly hit and the banks are hounding them to try and retrieve some paltry amount of money and leave them life bound and their families with negative equity strapped to their backs. This is the reason both with the ECB and our own banks we ought to be pushing ahead for write-downs on debt to make it possible for people to achieve a new balance sheet position. Do not destroy lives, make it possible for people with families to start again using their professions, their experience, their entrepreneurship abilities. James Joyce rightly said that mistakes are but portals of discovery.

Take this house on Waterloo Road. One with a storey less sold for £3.5 m in 2006. Now there is one for sale fully refurbished with a skylight to such a degree that it would make a handsome property for someone in an embassy. The basement has a library, a large playroom, a hall that is an office and its own wine cellar. Then you move up through the floors, each more luxurious and tastefully designed than the last.

To make an assumption so that we can really assess where the banks/lawyers faltered and lent money indiscriminately that the house was bought by say a legal person for £3.5, add expenses for solicitors/inspections and stamp duty tax. Then assume it was a pre-63 and in say 10 flats so the new owners decided to revert it to a family residence. These people saw potential in a Georgian House on Waterloo Road, they applied for planning permission. They got the loans and the employed the design team and builders. Let us assume a cost of £1.5 m (estimate), now we are at £5 m.

This house is up for sale now. £5 million and the question is who is looking for their money? Is it right that if say the original owner got the £3.5 million and transferred same to Switzerland or the Isle of Man tax free and this purchaser was bamboozled by the financiers to take the risk, (alongside their own passion for a house of this renown) and they are now faced with a value of say £1.5 (if sale or fire sale yields this) while the capital foregone and the amount of the loans relate to a hot air sum £3.5 m.

It can’t work. We must write down debt. We need to take living examples in to our remit and think it through.

Just had a chat with a man who has been in the property game for years. His common sense is that Peter Mathews the only man in Fine Gael who knows about markets and he should be representing us as part of the Finance Team. I totally agree. He has the grasp and intuition as well as the experience of markets and we need him, and people like Constantin Gurdgiev, Brian Lucey and others to represent us the people of Ireland. Too many in government are from cosy backgrounds with pensions, homes for decades at low cost, and many other investments too.

Earlier recessions tell the tale. Look to the Gallagher Group and Stephen’s Green. Write down is the only way forward.

15th October, 2012 15:01

Any volunteer to take photos of Ghosted estates, properties, offices, shops November 2015:  Twitter: photos of vacant properties throughout cities, towns and country are being uploaded.  Voids refer to the local authority homes that are boarded up.

by Chestnut (Michelle Clarke)

Irish Architecture Foundation: Going by twitter this appears to have been a great success. Lots of photos will have been taken and it would be great if someone could upload say 20-30 to promote an interest in our urban environment especially in Dublin.

The song goes…’the world is a circle without a beginning and nobody knows where the circle ends….’ but we can say Stop.

Apartment living has become the latest nightmare of that so called Celtic Tiger. Apartments have become a noose around the necks of owners.

Priory Hall: the headline in the Sunday Business Post goes ‘Priory Hall residents owe £15,000 more each to banks’.
These people are not alone in a negative equity trap but are re-located away from the homes they are indebted for while lawyers, banks, courts, insurance companies, developers squabble. Who pays? Yes, ordinary people, they pay literally and emotionally. Problems have arisen in another block South-side of the city so can we expect more hardship for people and unprecedented costs?

One year ago people were evacuated from their homes yet even though the lenders/mortgage providers gave a moratorium on the loans, these borrowers in effect owe £15,000 more than they did one year ago. We need to say Stop. Time is money when it comes to a loan with interest on capital and a compounding effect and then add in the good old negative equity and the added non value relating to Priory Hall of the reputational cost of the fiasco.

A £220,000 mortgage for an apartment in Priory Hall will have accumulated at least £8,705 in interest and £5,675 in principal – this is for the year that the problems arose and alternative accommodation provided so this has to be costed also.

Dispute is what Priory Hall is all about these days. People are secondary to a bureaucratic system that leaves them in abeyance yet meeting the debt for properties they are not able to live in, properties which they purchased. This is becoming another blot on the landscape of our city which did a lot to challenge the deprivation of earlier decades. How long will the lenders facilitate these purchasers. Certus already taken over Bank of Scotland mortgages. Permanent TSB are supposed to be currently reviewing the deal with Priory Hall customers. It would indicate that the moratoriums granted may not apply in the future.

Ghost estate living can easily be witnessed first hand. Take a trip towards Leeson Street, Baggot Street and you will see many properties with to let signs or just vacant. A searing example today is the once famous pub Hartigans on Leeson Street, the shop front is fine but look up the four stories and you realise that dereliction of the upper stories is already visible. Then look around you.

We do not want to add to our Georgian and Victorian stock of houses a post Celtic Tiger contingent of ghost apartment blocks and partially finished housing estates. There is no need for homelessness in Ireland now surely.

 November 20th, 2012

Subject: O’Connell Street throngs of people but little business,author by Michelle Clarke (Forster) Tue Nov 20, 2012 14:49

Urban Abandonments and Dereliction Theme

Date: Tuesday, 20 Nov 2012 20:24:57 +0000
From: Michelle Clarke
To: Alan Shatter <>, <>, Corporate Coleraine <>, Clare Finglas <>,,, Dermot Lacey <>,, Gerry Adams <>, Jimmy Deenihan <>, <>,,, Nigel Dodds <>, Bill Martin <>, Vincent Browne <>
O’Connell Street throngs of people but little business

 by  Michelle Clarke (Forster)

We await the budget and the talk is target the middle class who can pay, avoid the tax exiles who pay the best accountants and have the best advise as how to tax avoid or evade, and lets really hammer those who are in the property market. They are easy to identify so charge them low first and then when you have them on the radar, and then just hammer them. What about all that falls beneath the cracks. The ensuing derelictions, the boarded windows and doors, the empty space storey’s high in prominent locations.

What an imposing street – O’Connell Street, Dublin, once known as Sackville Street. Clery’s, the GPO dominate but if you take the time to look upwards you see that many of the buildings were designed to a high standard but have been down trodden by the takeaway gaudy type of ground floor facades. McBirney’s (Aston Quay) is still over the door which is now SuperValu – the history resounds and it is good to read in the daily’s that Mr Varadkar is tuning up and in for 2016 and the anniversary of the 1916 Rising. Foreign travel is yielding benefits and some of our Ministers are being creative with ideas. In a visit to Boston, Mr. Varadkar was greatly impressed by the ‘Freedom Trail’ where Paul Revere began his journey to warn that the redcoats were coming. The minister has asked Failte Ireland and the National Tourism Development Authority to put on their thinking hats and create something similar in Ireland called the ‘Independence Trail’. A not named citizen journalism site has covered the whole area of the properties facing demolition in Moore Street which played a significant role at the time of the rising for those on the run. They plan an ‘App’ which I think means you can use your phone to follow the ‘Trail’. I hope the property in Moore Street, its history, and the links to certain war heroes becomes a part of the ‘Independence Trail’.

What potential lies in this especially when the Gathering starts 2013 – the time of brinkmanship from prosperity and William Murphy, his businesses, his newspapers, the trams to pure hardship through strikes unemployment and Jim Larkin and James Connolly. World War II started in 1914 and brought such change in the world.

‘The Independence Trail’ similar to the ‘Freedom Trail’ in Boston has massive potential to inform people about dissent, 700 years occupation, revolution, civil war, independence for 26 counties, the north, the Good Friday agreement, the Peace Process, the intervention of former President Bill Clinton, former Prime Ministers John Major and Tony Blair, George Mitchell, Ian Paisley, Martin McGuinness, Gerry Adams, Bertie Ahern. It is taking what is bad and seeking good. It is saying you can ‘Give Peace a Chance’ and it can work.

The 1980’s saw people with vision who have made a significant impact to the city of Dublin and we have been reaping the benefits – the parks, the monuments, Kilmainham prison and so much more. I think however 2013 is the time for more ‘vision for the present incumbents who appear visionless’. Mr. Varadkar – your idea about the ‘Independence Trail’ is a vision and may it be inspirational. However, I would suggest that you encourage Minister Michael Woods to seriously address Georgian Dublin and O’Connell Street, College Green, Grafton Street – there must be a way to stop the upward only rent reviews and reduce rents and stop closing down businesses.

Parnell Square makes a significant contribution to this history. Again Georgian Houses need adaptation to provide utility either as apartments or offices but definitely as locations for people to use. Tax people who own these houses for decades and who are responsible for leaving them empty yes but encourage people to take the risk to invest and encourage them to ‘Green Climate Change’ comply.

Washington the state of 3 men from the Vietnam War is a photo I keep by my bed. War destroys people and we need to know our history to prevent ever returning to war in our little Island so an Independence Trail sounds to me a really good idea.

Michelle Clarke (Forster family crest “Audaces Fortunam Tabula” – Fortune favours the Brave)

27th November 2012

Subject: What chaos associated with owning properties? by Michelle Clarke (Chestnut)  Urban Abandonments & derelict locations
Date: Tue, 27 Nov 2012 17:15:36 +0000
From: Michelle Clarke
To: Alan Shatter <>,, Brian Lucey <>,,,,
What chaos associated with owning properties?
Urban Abandonments & derelict locations
by Michelle Clarke

Dereliction surrounds us. There are vacant retail premises in central locations; in out of town shopping centres, in town centres. Upward only rent is the determinant of the contract and the Government drags its heels about changing the legislation. The lack of moral conscience of the landlord who has financially gained from his property over a period of decades goes unchecked as he relies on legislation to change, knowing that it will not, basically penalising the tenants and ultimately pushing them out of business. They say as many as 6 small businesses are closing down each day in Ireland. These landlords are ultimately concerned with asset appreciation. Hence we see so many Georgian houses non utilised, under utilised in Dublin 2, 4, 6 and then there is the North side, Mountjoy Square, Philsboro etc.

Dublin City Council can’t even manage to get people to be diligent in paying their rents and they end up serving notices on people to quit (who possibly in many cases should be in sheltered housing) i.e. eviction. Where do these people go? Do we know and what’s more do we really care? Our city has become a haunting ground for men in particular to beg. They walk up to you and say we have no money, we have had no food for days, have you anything to give? These are the people who fall through the cracks possibly due to mental problems, addiction to drugs and alcohol. Is this the correct way for our social services to treat people who basically have needs. The options are beg to be in hostels.

George Lee’s programme last night brought up a valid point. People don’t communicate enough about the basic government of our country. There are reasons why? Years ago before our homes improved, people used to frequent the pubs – a handy way of keeping warm for a couple of hours and having the chat with people from all walks of life, playing darts, reading the newspapers. Now you just need to look at the property sections of the newspapers and all you see are pubs for sale at a fraction of the price. This is another step down to eliminate community at local level. There are distinct disadvantages here. The culture of the pub has changed to that of loud noice, young only or alcoholic, followed by excessive obliteration no memory tomorrow is okay. What a pity and what a loss?

February 2013 and the Joe Duffy show. Another belt by Government to the landlord but the crazy part is this is about enforcement and as we know from the property charge, the PRTB, the second home tax, the tax return and USC, how will the Government put this willy nilly legislation into effect? It is a bloated bureaucracy in the making and those who are used to going under the radar and who often have paid no taxes and own many of these properties with their bedsits, will escape yet again. If we add property tax it is in effect penalising the middle income group who are younger, rearing children, who have more than likely bought during the Celtic Tiger and are in negative equity. A young woman spoke last night on the George Lee programme RTE 1 and stated she would not pay the £100 property charge because it is unjust. She had paid £35,000 in stamp duty for her family home in Dunshaughlin, Co. Meath and will continue to pay back on this amount until her mortgage is complete in 25 years time. Her understanding was and is that this was her contribution for services. Personally, it has been said many times before on this site that people in negative equity and who bought their houses at the peak of the market ought to have money returned by the Government – if not the full amount, then that proportion that relates to the negative equity and it should be used to repay the capital amount and lessen their mortgage in the now and over the 25 years.

We have a right to know how efficient our Government is in prescribing law. We can at least expect it not to be bureaucratic, wasteful and invariably non efficient because it is provided by the public service sector who are part of a vested interest ie government bureaucracy. There is a need for transparency.

Buildings like the hospital in Upper Baggot Street, Dublin 4 and many more are slipping away towards ultimate dis-use. Is there another way? Surely, there is a need in the area to preserve this architecturally of merit building and can we make it work to provide a public service for a community. Why do we not promote public private partnerships? We have enough multi-national companies in this area benefiting from tax breaks who could work with others to provide a service. To name but a few: Tesco, Google, Sky, IBM, Boots and so many more.

Hotels at least in Dublin 4 are on the route to survival. The Burlington is reportedly purchased for a fraction of what Bernard McNamara company paid. Blackstone is the purchaser and is connected to Waldorf Astoria, Hilton chain of hotels. Reports are they paid £85 m but McNamara is reported to have paid £255m – what a steal it is for them? However for the community it is good news because the new owners will invest further in this hotel and create a market and a business environment.

Transparency would be good way to start in formulating the budget taking account of the most likely way to enforce the commands. Surely the Troika can advise ….. but then EU accounts are not audited for years now which in turn suggests a Gravy Train……

December 11th, 2012

Subject: When will the Government stop kicking the can down the road?  by Michelle Clarke (Forster) – Urban abandonments yet so many homeless on the streets
Date: Tue, 11 Dec 2012 23:01:00 +0000
From: Michelle Clarke
To: Alan Shatter <>, Brian Lucey <>,, Clare Finglas <>, Eoghan Murphy <>,, John Corrigan <>,,, Vincent Browne <>
When do the Government stop kicking the can down the road…

 by Michelle Clarke (Forster) – Urban abandonments yet so many homeless on the streets 

Shame on us. A man is found in a doorway in Bray, hypothermia determines that a man in his thirties is no longer for the this society.

Last week, we had an altercation in Nassau Street, again a young man but deaf, who lives in a hostel results in one innocent man dead with appalling injuries, and the deaf man being charged with manslaughter. Add to this the trauma of the bus driver and all the people who witnessed the accident on a busy street at rush hour. This recession is biting hard and the social cost is leaving people highly vulnerable while the entitled/established classes embrace the denial necessary to detach themselves from the harsh reality that condemns Ireland to years of excessive budgets ie £12 bn pa compound. At least in the US, people are honest, they know they need Revenue to avoid their Fiscal Cliff and they are honing on higher taxes for the wealthy.

“T” (as detailed on the Citizen Journalism site) your photos tell us a story of neglect by government, by City and County Councils, by Banks who are failing to manage their property portfolios (particularly those due to the inability of people to repay their debts), to housing associations, to private landlords and all property owners who are proving totally ineffective in putting the supply demand theory of economics into practice. Meanwhile, there are people on the housing list, properties left vacant, over 1700 ghost estates, properties left vacant in the hope property appreciation in the medium to long term. Action is what is needed.

Instead we have the Government/Revenue throwing in their lot of further hardship. Those people who hold a mortgage and who are 6 months in arrears have further debt thrown at them. This time the tax relief that is collected at source which amounts to £4,000 where a couple have signed the mortgage is to be added to their debt. This is Christmas tidings for 65,700 residential mortgage owners. If they manage to find 3 months consecutive payments from Santa over the Christmas period, their relief will be restored. The truth is if they haven’t managed to sort out their mortgage by now, it is improbable that they will collect the necessary 3 months to alleviate them going forward. Maybe this is the policy makers say to the courts foreclose now and push people towards the housing list, we believe they are going there anyway. What a way to start 2013 for 65,700 people? I sure hope there is a plan.

Time and time again, it has been suggested that a special exception should be made for these people particularly those in negative equity because they were facilitated to buy properties by the banks up to the peak in 2007/8. What happens? The government reacts with this £4,000 excess charge + the property tax (yes that property tax that people must pay once they own a home irrespective of how they repay for their mortgages or what financial position they are in or for that matter if they have disabilities and are unable to work). Personally I believe that the Government gained significant Stamp Duty amounts from these people and it is only ethical and moral that it be repaid (even if only on the negative equity proportion) to reduce the capital amount of their loan. It may be just enough to move them out of arrears.

Meanwhile we are building an empty/potential empty property mountain – that same idea that used to happen with the EU and butter mountains! We need to wake up and start getting people grounded. We need now for someone to do the maths equation. Social housing which should have been built during the Celtic Tiger needs to be aggregated and then apartment blocks like those in the pictures need to be de-Namatised pronto in 2013 and people who live in the like of Fatima Mansions/O’Devaney Gardens and in other premises which are below standards need to be re-housed and the maths equation made to work.

Who will pay the property tax because I cannot see tax exiles doing so even if it is they who build 44,000 sq ft mansions with a swimming pool, gym and cinema. This man is said to have spent £100m on this house. The key is what will this house be valued at the due day of May 2013. Then of course there was the sale in Ailesbury Road for £10m with the new owner named as Mrs McManus. I wonder will she have to pay the £23,300 property tax. It is correct to assume that she may be a tax exile soon.

Negative equity is like an illness and take heed, if you neglect to treat it, it can easily become the disease that causes you to be a non contributor to life going forward. We know this happened to many people in recession of the 1980’s in the UK. Act now and stop the chaos.

Michael O’Leary please check into Government Ireland. We need some more of initiative urgently.

Michelle Clarke (Forster)

December 14th, 2012

Subject: Photos that cover a thousand haunted words, by Michelle Clarke (Chestnut) Urban abandonments
Date: Fri, 14 Dec 2012 16:51:41 +0000
From: Michelle Clarke
To: KT

Photos that cover a thousand haunted words

by Michelle Clarke (Chestnut) 

Urban abandonments 

Vacant Boarded up To let

Fast our city is in the process of architectural decay. Builders and developers, the 5th Christmas into Austerity are accustomed to media coverage and are either buckling under debt living in their houses compliments of the Banks or Nama or else they are like McNamara, Ivan Yates and many others who have taken the quick route out of bankruptcy by moving over to the UK where the system facilitates them to be declared bankrupt in one year, leaving them ready to start again. Is this good or bad? Really I don’t know but bleeding people like a stone that has nothing to give is surely destructive to the soul of the people, their families and to the country. This brings to mind the negative equity period that befell the UK in the 1980’s/90’s, the advertisement for a large house then read as follows: Bought for in excess of Stg£1m but will sell for £500,000 now (the period of time 6 months when rates moved from 7% to 14%+). I often wonder what was the final outcome for so many people including many Irish from the negative equity scenario in the 1980’s/90’s in the UK. Many people just put their keys through the letter box and virtually disappeared. Feedback would be interesting if anyone was interested enough to do the research back then.

All we know from the economists these days is that markets have no memories so this recession in Ireland most likely is the replay of the Canary Wharf London boom/bust of the 1990’s, the desire for apartment living in the City and the buy-to-let source of investment return way. The irony now is that the UK has housing shortage. What can we learn now that we have plenty of time on our hands to come up with solutions. Let us not forget that during the Celtic Tiger affordable housing plans replaced social housing and public private partnerships were put on the long finger and never came into play to meet the needs of people in need of social housing. The reality is we need departments to communicate and take surplus un-occupied property and make it available at newly achieved market prices.

Christmas this year and there is sadness in the air for so many. These overpaid bankers with the quick dash of pen or a thought can wipe away the plans of a person, their family, their business, their workers to oblivion and we need to ask why? We need to ask is there a better way? Would these people be better advised to say goodbye to the idea of owning their own house? After all we are only following the English man’s ambition ‘My home is my Castle’. Is it? The French and Germans think differently. They lean on the side of renting and saving. Could there be a culture change in Ireland. This property tax will not apply to people who rent a house, it will be up to the landlord to pay. Will we shift the divide? Landlords banding together like REITS in the US versus tenants who are protected by the law to certain standards of maintenance for where they live. Is there a better way? A change of attitude perhaps.

Tax incentives to buy property seems to be going out of fashion if Bank of Ireland are kicking into play that if you haven’t met your arrears for three months well then they will deduct £4,000 that would have equated to the tax relief and are effectively evicting the people from their homes. Why Christmas? If this is the case why as stated before that it is both moral and ethical that the Government ought to repay the stamp duty charged to those people who bought at the high end of negative equity ie around 2007. The repayment to the capital amount would be sufficient to restructure the loan, the repayments, add to this extending the life of the loan to over 30 years based naturally on the potential of people to repay when the economic climate improves. Debt forgiveness is a bitter pill for people to accept but I would think nobody would object to the Government paying back stamp duty as a gesture. For other people who are beyond such a remedy, then take them out of the agony, that dream of home ownership, and create the rental market that gives them an opportunity to find their level.

Today the headline goes that as many as 20,000 are in arrears for 2 years, the size of the City of Kilkenny.

Europe through bad planning and the Euro creation created its own Economic War. Economic is about money in a world that is harbouring countries like Syria, North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan to say just a few. Their war is real war death and suffering. Ireland needs to ask the Europeans to put the foot of the accelerator for progress. They have NATO doing their ‘dirty’ work of war. January 2013 Ireland heads into the EU presidency, rumblings say there is a decorum when President of the EU that you don’t give priority to your ‘dirty washing’. All I can say is this is an opportunity and we should not let it pause.

Michelle Clarke

 16th December 2012


Subject: Is there a move on properties in Dublin 4, by Michelle Clarke – Urban Abandonments Sun Dec 16, 2012 15:24
Date: Sun, 16 Dec 2012 17:45:02 +0000
From: Michelle Clarke
To: Ariana Ball <>, Clare Finglas <>, Cross Border Studies <>,,,, vincent Browne <>
Is there a move on properties in Dublin 4

by  Michelle Clarke – Urban Abandonments and dereliction

Michael Hasenstab-Franklin Templeton is the optimist for Ireland and the “turn around” circa next year ie 2013 we presume. Let us hope this man who manages a fund of £165 billion is right when he says our bonds “will be one of the best investments of the decade”.

Taking a peek at property in Dublin 4 the For Sale signs are on the down-turn it seems and circa Aylesbury Road, Shrewsbury Road, what had to be sold including the architectural gem which used to be the French Embassy appear to have been sold so maybe we see a bottoming out and a new supply demand quotient in place. What is now the McManus (wife registered) home appears occupied this Christmas season so who knows what the year of EU host Ireland presidency will unfurl. With some luck we might escape that promissory note in March 2013.

At last there is an element of certainty to the cost financially, economically and socially of the property crisis. The Central Bank have finally come up with a list of properties available based on the length of time people are in arrears. We now know that there are 19,541 people in arrears of over 2 years. The question now is how many of these comprise the family home and that without any other financial assets available have social housing as their only alternative option. It is this group of people who have built up 2 years arrears and if they choose to give up their property voluntarily, they are expected to apply for a debt deal under the new insolvency process.

Enter into the marketplace another aspect of Namatised called ‘new Insolvency Process’. This will ultimately release more properties on the market for sellers like Allsop to firesale to the hawks waiting in the wings to get bargains on the basis of income and capital appreciation going forward. This Insolvency Process will allow for the formal write-down of debt, over a 5 year period, with the added bonus of not having to go to court to be declared bankrupt. We await this legislation because definitive non profitable forays in property can be defined and debt written down, so properties will come to market. As they say ‘water finds its own level’ and this is what the property market needs right now.

There are supposedly 180,000 residential mortgage holders – some in arrears, others who have restructuring arrangements with their lenders. Central Bank has consistently put pressure on the banks to basically evict where the assessment is that it is impossible to repay. Bank of Ireland are the first to react to Central Bank pressure. Too long now is the period of time for keeping properties in abeyance with no direction. The Banks are not in the game of managing property for the rental market and in particular for what ultimately could be social housing. Closure is needed and now.

The Troika have power but yet their reticence in certain areas, (particularly property, governmental/public service salaries and pensions) at last state that they want “legal clarity to the procedure” for repossession of foreclosures. Justice Elizabeth Dunne has called to fix the lacunae/loop hole as is also cited in the recent Troika updates. 5 years not knowing, unable to pay arrears, unemployed, having emigrated, accruing debt to capital, extending period of debt for some people, makes the dream of owning their home impossible. This definitive line needs to be set and people need to be free from debt and provided with social housing if that is what their post Celtic Tiger financial circumstances dictate. This also means the Government must review their social housing obligations particular such small provision has been provided for decades now.

Ireland hosts the EU presidency so let’s market Ireland. The Troika admit we are exemplary. If so let’s take the initiative, come up with the mathematical equation, that sorts out our property mess with some form of assurance to people in the family home that provision of accommodation, and suitable accommodation for families through transfer deals, is an option. Property tax is proving to be unfair. The majority of people live in Dublin. You can buy a house in Offaly for £50,000 (fire sale) and the same house in Dublin is £250,000 and the proposed tax is the same. How is this equitable?

Apartments blocks and estates who pay fees eg some as high as £3,500 a year, surely it is a disincentive for people to downsize to apartments if they are hammered by property tax and maintenance?

Where is the forward thinking? Family homes could become generational based on age/need.

Tuesday 18th December 2012

Subject: Camelot is what we need before the Gathering kicks into place by Michelle Clarke  (Comyn) – Urban Abandonments  Ripe for the Picking
Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2012 17:29:47 +0000
From: Michelle Clarke <>
To: Ariana Ball <>,,, Clare Finglas <>,, Deirdre Bell <>,,,
Camelot is what we need before the Gathering kicks into place

by Michelle Clarke (Comyn) – Urban Abandonments Ripe for the Picking

x you have said it.

Someone said – ‘If the Dutch had invaded Ireland, they would have fed the world’.

Who has heard of Camelot? The story will unfurl. Go to the www to twitter and keep informed.

There is a recent report by Deutsche bank and it claims that Ireland has so many empty houses, including 60,000 vacant holiday homes, representing a vacancy rate of 15%. The report then goes on to state that it will take 43 years to fill them. Demand determines how long the supply will last and add to this population growth! The Deutsche bank report states that based on 2011 figures which showed population growth of 13,000, and the average number of residents per house, the bank estimates that it could take until 2055 to overcome the glut that exists in the market. Mr Haughey, Mr Matt Gallagher, Mr Desmond, Mr O’Brien, Mr O’Leary – we need heads together urgently or else this Island which is presently blighted with the emigration of our young and recently educated will promptly re-visit the harsh winter of the 1930’s, 40’s, 50’s when we owed the Annuities to our former Colonial master.

We need drivers of Economic growth, we need people with ideas, we need unemployment offices like FAS as centres of initiative to create opportunities. The time is here for all people who are unemployed to upskill to digital so that when they take up employment they bring with them initiatives and value added.

Camelot: A Mr Joost Van Gestel (frustrated with corporate life in Kraft in the 1990’s) took a look at potential opportunities that existed to provide him with an alternative to corporate. He founded Camelot in 1993 and it is now the world’s largest manager of vacant properties. The idea is to put temporary tenants at low rents in buildings that otherwise would be vacant. Ireland is already part of his portfolio and that includes Abbieville designed by the famous archictect Gandon which has failed to achieve the £7.5 m asking price. Common sense dictates and Haughey’s ghost that Camelot is about “Protection by Occupation” and waiting for markets to gather steam again.

Van Gestel started with the intention to combat the squatter culture of recession bitten markets. He went contrary to the Netherlands’ anarchist counter-culture. The aim is to prevent urban decay which is caused by vacancy. Dublin can so easily identify with this if you look at what Unesco regards as our culture while we leave it facing dereliction and decay. Van Gestel was not the first in the business but he did establish Camelot with the core value of professionalism.

Tackling bureaucracy is essential. Dearbhail McDonald rightly identifies that the delay by the Banks and the stalling of proceedings leading to families chained to houses that they will never be able to repay, is part of a huge problem in Ireland. The negative equity crisis could be short-term but based on the Deutsche report it could be decades. Add to this the 100,000 people awaiting social housing and the crisis coming down the road in the buy-to let-market and we need some consolidated think tank with an entrepreneurial mindset like Mr VanGestel to put a halt to the blundering City Council ineptitude before it gets into full belt with the bleet we have no funds!.

Camelot tackled the local authorities. It created a scale model. It tackled the legal structures in each country to establish exemptions to tenancy laws for temporary tenants. He then tackled the Governments and persuaded them that to the advantages of keeping buildings occupied. Certain countries created a tariff system to make owners of buildings liable but this creates its own problems when local authorities begin to count on these tariffs as income for the council, a little like the property tax. Van Gestel promotes occupation not squatting or non utility.

Camelot now operates in 6 countries. The financial crisis is good for the company in that tenants are less fearful about having to leave quickly. The revenues are increasing by 30% a year, hitting Stg£20m 2011 up from £15 m in 2010 – not bad! Their properties include bankrupt bread factories, former convents, abandoned theme parks. Camelot consists of department for database entry, IT department, with software developers in India. His motivation is about keeping his employees challenged.

It is not all bad in Ireland but we have a long way to go. We need vision but it must be motivated by the common good and public good.

Initiatives exist. ‘Come in from the Cold’ is in place by the Simon Community, Focus Ireland and St. Vincent de Paul. It is a tiny step (21 only homes) but let it be the start of something new. The aim in Cork for this Christmas is that every person will have access to a hostel while others will have their own home. As Focus Ireland’s Ger Spillane said “We are guaranteeing landlords a monthly rent, ongoing maintenance of their properties and an assuarance that their property will be returned in its original state at the end of the lease. We will support every tenant as long as its necessary”. Its not a bad deal for the landlords. Too many landlords became victims to bad tenancy arrangements during the Celtic Tiger and the dis-interest of estate agencies and the lack of effectiveness of state agencies like the PRTB especially in the area of rent subsidies.

The public private partnerships for the like of O’Devaney Gardens may have failed but this at least is a start of people using their mental capacity to ensure people have the right to a home.

Michelle Clarke

 Sunday December 23rd, 2012

Subject: Ghost estates or displaced by motorways, by Michelle Clarke (Chestnut) Urban abandonments and dereliction
Date: Sun, 23 Dec 2012 19:53:13 +0000
From: Michelle Clarke
To: Corporate Admin <>, Corporate Coleraine <>, Clare Finglas <>,,, Jimmy Deenihan <>, <>, Shane Clarke <>, gatheringireland <>
Ghost estates or displaced by motorways

Urban abandonments and dereliction

Visit to Co. Meath.

by Michelle Clarke

Decades waiting for a motorway and now it exists and what was once an interesting journey is now just concrete and road bypassing all the villages. They call this progress.

Decided to turn off at Dunshaughlin for a coffee and this the Sunday of Christmas Eve there was no place to sit and chat a while.

What we did notice was the sign for Killeen Castle and nostalgia brought us there. This was once the home of Lord Fingal but through the decades it has passed into the ownership of different wealthy people but each time it managed to surpass their capacity to spend on it. We approached it in style but it looked quite vacant of people and cars. We took a chance and the door opened. We asked if we could take in our my companion dog and while they said no at first, they relented (there is some good common sense left in Ireland) and we went in and had a most pleasant interlude with coffee and gateau with a beautiful hearth fire burning in a central space. The view towards Warrenstown College ensured us that some of the old landscape of the once Royal County remained intact. We don’t know if this is another of these Namatised demesnes but if you are looking for a place to visit or a game of golf visit Killeen Castle, Dunshaughlin, Co. Meath and support business where possible. This is supposed to be Ireland’s fastest growing Golf Club with full membership at £2,000 (someone tells me it was £20,000) and under 30’s £1,000. There is no joining fee.

We were surprised by the number of apartments built on what was once the Phoenix Park race course and those near Kilmainham. Such lifelessness exists – one can sense the doom and gloom that these casualties of the Tiger have created. Surely, Dublin City Council, housing associations, or property funds can buy these often vacant properties and create a low priced rental market which will suit social housing which there must be a demand for by now since the public private partnerships failed for O’Devaney Gardens.

Okay we hear the message entitlements must be cut. We know that those on rental supplements over the past 5 years have had to ask their landlords to make reductions to bring them in line with the amounts social housing is prepared to pay but shortly this market will change and rents will start to rise and it is people in social housing or in receipt of rent supplement will be the first to suffer. ‘Pricing’ (a previous comment on citizen journalism site) – you know what this is going to be about. We need to think ahead and why not now for 2013 before Bank of Ireland & other banks dictate foreclosures with near to immediate effect to those over leveraged and those in buy-to-lets that they are unable to make create a income to a balance sheet.

Happy Christmas : Austerity is too severe. There must be another way. Economic growth is generated through employment and intentional savings in public expenditure ie cutting cloth according to measure

Michelle Clarke

new wealth awaits.


 by Ex Commie.Sun Dec 23, 2012 18:49

Capitalism always recovers.
Communism is Dead

Reviewed February 2019

About michelleclarke2015

Life event that changes all: Horse riding accident in Zimbabwe in 1993, a fractured skull et al including bipolar anxiety, chronic fatigue …. co-morbidities (Nietzche 'He who has the reason why can deal with any how' details my health history from 1993 to date). 17th 2017 August operation for breast cancer (no indications just an appointment came from BreastCheck through the Post). Trinity College Dublin Business Economics and Social Studies (but no degree) 1997-2003; UCD 1997/1998 night classes) essays, projects, writings. Trinity Horizon Programme 1997/98 (Centre for Women Studies Trinity College Dublin/St. Patrick's Foundation (Professor McKeon) EU Horizon funded: research study of 15 women (I was one of this group and it became the cornerstone of my journey to now 2017) over 9 mth period diagnosed with depression and their reintegration into society, with special emphasis on work, arts, further education; Notes from time at Trinity Horizon Project 1997/98; Articles written for 2003/2004; St Patricks Foundation monthly lecture notes for a specific period in time; Selection of Poetry including poems written by people I know; Quotations 1998-2017; other writings mainly with theme of social justice under the heading Citizen Journalism Ireland. Letters written to friends about life in Zimbabwe; Family history including Michael Comyn KC, my grandfather, my grandmother's family, the O'Donnellan ffrench Blake-Forsters; Moral wrong: An acrimonious divorce but the real injustice was the Catholic Church granting an annulment – you can read it and make your own judgment, I have mine. Topics I have written about include annual Brain Awareness week, Mashonaland Irish Associataion in Zimbabwe, Suicide (a life sentence to those left behind); Nostalgia: Tara Hill, Co. Meath.
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4 Responses to Citizen Journalism: Urban Abandonments and Dereliction 2009-2012 (15,000 words) by Michelle Clarke

  1. Pingback: Urban Abandonments and Dereliction. Jonathan Swift quote ‘Give Vision to the Visionless’ | canisgallicus

  2. Pingback: Citizen Journalism: Urban Abandonments and Dereliction 2009-2012 by Michelle Clarke | canisgallicus

  3. michelleclarke2015 says:

    Reblogged this on canisgallicus and commented:

    Apollo House – 16th December 2016.
    People gather; it is a take over of yet another vacant for years property from NAMA; the reason is the homeless crisis is deteriorating to unacceptable levels. We have so much vacant space.

    “There is no limit to the good a man can do, if he doesn’t care who gets the credit.” ANONYMOUS


  4. Pingback: Citizen Journalism: Urban Abandonments and Dereliction 2009-2012 (15,000 words) by Michelle Clarke | canisgallicus

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