Citizen Journalism Ireland: Selection of emails to Government and related. January to March 2013 by Michelle Clarke

Citizen journalism has a view! Trade Unions and the loss of Integrity, Ethics and Transparency

To undisclosed address list

Friday 18th January 2013


Dublin 1913 to Dublin 2013

What have we learned? What changes can be made?

Dublin 1913: It was before World War I, Ireland had negotiated a form of Home Rule/self government but there was inequality with extremes in wealth and poverty, nationalism and British Rule created the environment for dissent and rebellion. James Larkin “Big Jim” represented the low skilled workers and William Martin Murphy, a Catholic businessman represented the newly forming middle class. William Martin Murphy owned the Irish Independent newspaper, and the Dublin United Tramway Company and was making inroads against the power of the former elites.

The power of the Unions and Croke Park I and 2 is an urgent matter for discussion by the plain people of Ireland. There is a discrepancy in the integrity, transparency and ethics we expect from our trade unions.

Health is a good place to start.

Can someone please explain how the Ireland can pay their consultants 12 times higher than their equivalents in Hungary and double that of their counterparts in Germany or the UK?

How many more people in other trade unions share the characteristics and self interest that are now evidenced in the IMO (Irish Medical Organisation) deal with their former ‘trade union official’ (as he described himself in 1997). Mr. George McNeice was the public face of the union through his tenure at the IMO. This man worked for the Department of Health as a civil servant for a brief time before joining the IMO based in Fitzwilliam Place, Dublin 2. Each year we know he was lauded by the doctors and consultants attending the IMO’s annual conference usually held in the Europe hotel in Killarney.

This supposedly unassuming low profile man, trade union official, was one smooth operator when it came down to negotiating his financial package as Chief Executive of the IMO. The facts as revealed in the Irish Mail on Sunday state that the former IMO President, Dr Cormac Macnamara RIP headed up the committee which approved George McNeices’s over generous contract in 1993. George McNeice, CE, IMO, aged 51, recently claimed that he was entitled to a ‘package’ of £24 million. This package is said to have provided him with an annual bonus of up to 30% of his salary. This bonus was compounded each year. The cruel irony here is the claim of not knowing the details by the Remuneration Committee. Could this be so? In 2013 could it be possible that someone in the IMO could sanction such a spectacular financial package and yet nobody knew about it. No must be the answer because there are too many vested interests in the medical profession and their bureaucracy and hence the pyramid scheme scenario that sees Ireland’s medical profession grossly overpaid for inadequate service.

Mr McNeice, his package, has been negotiated down to £9.7 million. But even this deal is shameful. This is a different financial scandal to those of the developers and bankers but it is linked to abuse of power, a form of narcissism and self interest and is equal to the financial scandals that must be dealt with. The HSE is a monolith of bureaucracy, an entity created by a few, which was no doubt better run under the auspices of the Department of Health.

Surely, others are aware and in turn are in receipt of substantial packages. Do we know? Do we care? Apparently doctors have resigned from the IMO and are seeking an inquiry into the governance of the IMO. This is a warning surely to the Unions to examine their practices.

Moving away from medical unions. What about the people who work for years for say Clerys. What do the unions really do to protect these people? They tend to change their contracts at will from permanent to part-time and then say no jobs exist and bye bye.

Additional comments as memorandum:

Comment 1

Our trade unions especially SIPTU have created themselves into a cosy corporate organisation. O’Connor has a salary of £140 plus expenses, package and no doubt a good pension annually. Beggs is similar and Frank Connolly has become almost invisible in SIPTU.

Back to McNeices pay-out (£20 million+ negotiated down to £9.7 million). Of course this is another scandal – the sad thing is – the total silence from all quarters on this. Reilly, Minister for Ill-health was a committee member in the 1990’s and one of the elite who sanctioned this payout. Where is the transparency – the ethics – the morals?

Comment 2

Glad you agree but where is the reaction of the people to this scandalous data released Christmas week by the IMO which represents 5,000 unionised doctors. All claim to know nothing but this cannot be so. As always the doctors seem to be reacting once the horse! has bolted and on this occasion the horse age 51 named McNeice had to have his pay package negotiated down from £24 million to £9.7. This man, I believe is neither a doctor, a banker or for that matter a shamed developer, just a man who subtly negotiated his own financial deal, in a silenced way, as he moved from a civil service position to Chief Executive of the IMO – the Union for the medical profession.

Media proves exceptionally quiet about this travesty. Vincent Browne discussed the unions on Monday night in his TV3 programme, and nobody deemed it necessary to mention this scandal in the making. Thankfully today’s Independent is taking a position and is worth reading. There sure are questions that Minister Reilly needs to answer like was he on the remuneration committee which approved the pay and pension deal for the IMO Chief Executives George McNeice (this Ponzi plague that needs to be investigated to know just how much our Union officials are paid and the bias it thereby creates). Dr Reilly after all was President of the IMO in 2004-2005 hopefully making him and others privy to all financial information. The Independent heading reveals that the doctors have been ‘aroused to anger’ and aim to ‘oust the union head and probe finances’. An extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) has been called. They seek to remove the interim Chief Executive Niall Saul. The plan is an investigation dating back 12 years into the financial and management of the IMO. Let us take the initiative now to question exactly what it is the unions are doing in this country.

Who received what packages in the IMO is the question? Quite a few appear to have their hands in the pie. According to the Independent:-

George McNeice: who negotiated his deal down from £20 million+ to £10 million pension with £1.5 m lump sum. (Imagine the return each year on this amount of capital and pension!)
Paul McKeown IMO President: a meagre £105,000 for a part-time role. (Imagine this after tax amount, and what the balance creates as income or wealth generative)
Niall Saul, IMO Interim Chief Executive: who receives a £60,000 retainer + top up
Joe Barry, Chairman of the IMO now dissolved remuneration committee who receives £105,000 for a part time role.

What is going on?

Cronyism and the semi-state has received a lot of attention on a Citizen Journalism site but there is little outcome as we witness the gravy train of what could possibly be described as insider dealing and overall corrupt and fraudulent pratices. Is one position core to a union like the IMO and others not sufficient. Why do some people like Mr Saul, Mr McNeice gain income from other sources related to their position on the IMO? Are there no volunteers left in this country which faces nearly 500,000 people unemployed?

They say 4 in 5 in the public service are in unions while only 1 in 5 in the private sector are in the union. This alone speaks dividends as we see the underclass formation before are very eyes.

We need to be alert. Years ago people read the newspapers, they visited their local, they had the chat and were informed. The time is here to be informed again.

by Michelle Clarke


Subject: Olivia O’Leary on RTE drivetime,  Urban abandonments & dereliction. (Why are NAMA not using twitter to market their properties. Twitter is effective and global)
Date: Friday 25th January 2013 00:27:17 +0000
From: Michelle Clarke
To: Alan Shatter <>,,,, Cahill Gavin <>, John Corrigan <>, Daly Myles <>

Friday 25th January 2013

At last some real common sense is spoken on the airwaves. We can only agree with Olivia’s words to those who make decisions in Leinster house and urge them to drop the spin doctors and take a walk outside to meet the people, to listen to their stories, to see the shops that have been closed. Olivia O’Leary graphically described the walk out down Molesworth Street (past that ‘Namatised’ Buswells hotel), into Dawson Street and to what once was the Bond Street of Dublin, Grafton Street, now in tatters with closures of businesses and the air of fear of more to close and no hope. This is the year of the Gathering and yet Dublin, our Capital city, is not meeting market expectations of the people who will visit this Island. Why? Short-sightedness and the crazy upward only rent reviews that finally forced Korky’s to withdraw from their 900 sq ft business in Grafton Street.
O’Donovan comments in today’s Independent about ‘Upward Only’ leases. This clarifies the up-to-date status and enables people to understand and seek redress. Before the election, it was both sides of the coalition who spoke out against these leases and promised a ban on same. The election promises were to scrap such ‘upward only’ clauses in leases but the all-out ban was scrapped on the advise of the Attorney General who said such a move would be unconstitutional. So what can people do about this now!

The question we now ask is what about a sense of morality amongt landlords. There is the human factor and the ability to concede and compromise for the public good. Apparently, already the State does cut rents for some of its tenants. The businesses that have sought cheaper rents from NAMA have negotiated cuts. This exemplary behaviour should inspire all landlords where possible to re negotiate more favourable rents. What is disappointing is that Minister Coveney’s department are still using ‘upward only’ leases – and it is reported that in those election days the same Mr Coveney was an ‘outspoken critic of upward only rents’. According to the O’Donovan article: “All leases issued in respect of properties in the six Fishery Harbour Centres…contain what are referred to as ‘upward only’ rent review clauses” (a statement by the Agriculture and Fisheries government department).

Too many businesses are being driven out of the marketplace these days. It takes only a short period of time for dereliction, wastage, loss of soul, to enter communities and Ireland is an Island of communities where each needs to maintain a status quo that inspires people to create markets, to persevere and generate employment that drives the economic growth. Too often short-sightedness leads a struggling company to falter where an additional period in business would be to its benefit. Rents are crippling. Communities need to interact and discuss how penal some landlords are in their drive for earnings and as in the case of Korky’s, the landlord is the like of Canada Life who probably have held their assets for decades and achieved both asset growth and income growth. They should be willing to show a sense of moral justice in the absence of an amendment to leases which is deemed unconstitutional by our Attorney General.

Michelle Clarke (Chestnut)

PS:  Why are NAMA not using twitter to market their properties. Twitter is effective and global

Subject: Quote: David McWilliams: “a German Europe, rather than the feel of a European Germany’
Date: Wednesday 30th January, 2013 22:51:53 +0000
From: Michelle Clarke
To: Vincent Browne <>,,,, gatheringireland <>, <>,, EXR, Public Affairs <>,, Nigel Dodds <>, Fionn Murtagh <>
Wednesday 30th January 2013

Who benefits from Austerity? We on the Island of Ireland should know the answer to this but if we do, we are being hampered greatly by a Troika that is using us as a guinea pig to expedite a solution to the Euro crisis. It is nice and neat to call us “exemplary” but then to penalise us and not waiver debt/bailout costs is surely unacceptable. An 80 year old billionaire has written an essay featured in the New York Review of Books about the tragedy of the European Union and how to resolve it. Expertise and experience of men like George Soros is worth exploring.

David McWilliams today writes an article in the Independent which every concerned Irish citizen on the Island of Ireland ought to read to re-activate the thinking process that is needed to survive this economic crisis. Title: ‘As we forge deeper ties in Europe we are forgetting our closest ally’.

McWilliams hits the heart today. The Irish and Britain. 1950’s Ireland destitute from the concept of ‘self sufficiency’, De Valera and FF provided the education that exported our doctors and nurses to the UK along with those who built Britain, the construction workers. McWilliams talks about the newest wave of emigrants that London welcomes that takes me back to the late 1980’s Ireland and no work here and the opportunity of work in the UK. When you add to this Ryanair and cheap fares; this forged an economic growth that is often ignored.

The ties that bind us according to Williams: ‘whether our top civil servants and politicians like it or not, is Britain, and neither Germany nor France, will remain the natural home for Irish products investment and people. Why? McWilliams states the most interesting facts for consideration:

9.8 million people in 2011 flew between the Republic and Britain ie 186,000 per week (note Ryanairs profits this year). Apparently only 400,000 travelled from Germany.

Euro and Sterling – 30 years down the road with part of Ireland in Sterling and the rest aligned to Euro, the fact is we still cannot equal the trade we have with Britain which is Ireland’s second largest export partner. We send £14.265bn of goods / £15,052bn worth of services per year to the UK. According to McWilliams article, Ireland imports more from Britain than from the whole of Europe combined. What does this say? For me it explains that sense of void when one enters EU House on Dawson Street and get that feeling that despite all the data/publications provided by the EU gravy train bureaucracy, nobody is really interested that much in Europe because they know Britain albeit via colonialism and 700 years of history.

Bord Bia states that the UK is Ireland’s key export partner for food. Irish beef accounts for 60% of the British market. The UK has a food deficit which Ireland can supply (what has changed!). Ireland uses and contributes greatly to the UK ports. Then there is the fact that 40% Northern Ireland exports go south of the border.

1973 and our entry to the EEC opened up opportunities for our small Island but we must take account of why the EEC considered our entry with a degree of favour. It is and still remains the fact that Island status surrounded by sea gives a certain geo-political status. Exploration oil and gas are too the fore again as resources.

Too add to this, we now know that there is a huge potential in the area of energy between our two countries. Renewable energy is on the way with an East-West Interconnector.

The challenge is ours. Cameron is paving the way to give the British people the option at Referendum of an EU Exit. We need to ask what this would really mean for Ireland? Does this mean that if Britain holds a referendum, that we will follow suit? We speak English, in the US – they speak English. The upwardly mobile Chinese seek education in the US and the UK, the law is Common Law.

Ireland should not be cowed down for its small size and for the fear of being a precedent to other PIIGs, Troika, have some honour when making decisions about our future and our young generation.  We need a debt write down.  We need to follow the National Debt clock

by Michelle Clarke

Subject: Ireland needs to stand up and be counted and Kenny needs to act like a leader of a Nation
Date: Monday 4th February 2013 12:40:34 +0000
From: Michelle Clarke
To: Gerry Adams <>, <>,,, Mary Collins <>, Kevin Myers <>, <>,, Ivana Bacik <>, <>,,, Dearbhail McDonald <>, Constantin Gurdgiev <>, Brian Lucey <>,,, Richard Boyd Barrett <>,, Cross Border Studies <>

Monday 4th February 2013

Groundhog told me to keep diary instead - I keep copy book (at least four drawers full by now.  This is what acquired brain injury is about.

However, I wholly say "No", Ireland should not give in to the Troika re the 
promissory notes.  Again I reiterate my experience pre accident and 
working for a company going bankrupt.  Preferential creditors are the 
Revenue, the banks and the remainder were lucky if they got 20p in the 
£1.  Surely the same applies for a country like Ireland.

My copy book - I wrote this down and maybe somebody would check it out 
and use it as a means of making the ECB pay heed.

Stephen Kearon

EU bank assets    £33.5 trillion
US bank assets    £ 8.6 trillion
Japan             £ 7.1 trillion

Ireland is a small open economy with strong inroads to both the US and 
UK.  If the EU has assets of the above amount, shame them into writing 
down our debts.  The economic war is of their making.

I would recommend George Soros Essay about the EU, referred to previously.

Sinn Fein came out this morning and made the welcome statement:  It is 
time Enda Kenny, Michael Noonan and Eamonn Gilmore got off their knees and stood up to the headless financial brokers in Frankfurt, they and the Troika (who need to engage with the Peace versus War mindset eg France and Mali) need to learn from the Peace Process what negotiation really means. Peace is 
achieved by arduous work and has value beyond economic.

Michelle Clarke

Subject: Concerned to know if the Grants via SUSI have been paid to students
Date: Tuesday 5th February 2013 20:56:11 +0000
From: Michelle Clarke
To: Anne M. O’Gorman <>, Brian Lucey <>,,,,,,, Diarmaid Ferriter <>,,, John Corrigan <>, Provost <>,

Tuesday 5th February 2013

Prompted by Mr David Norris speaking in the senate about certain school children whose parents could not pay the fees for bus rides to school who were earmarked and left standing on the road. Shame on us.

This is bias. This is damaging. This is bullying.

Negotiate the debt down is what I say to Government. Ireland is an Island – stop the nonsense that the powers that be don’t want to make a precedent. Iceland is now considering saying no to the EU. We can learn from this. Our waters are about potential reserves which could be real wealth to Ireland like happened in Norway.

Students need to be heard. You are the now but also the future. Do you want debt in your name before you earn a day’s pay?

by Michelle Clarke (Observer)

Subject: Community Upper Baggot Street Village: Has anyone ever thought about Public Private Partnership to restore to glory Baggot Street Hospital (Royal City of Dublin hospital)
Date: Tuesday, 5th February 2013 21:04:34 +0000
From: Michelle Clarke
To:; undisclosed address list

The International School is closing.  This used to be Miss Meredith’s school going back decades. Then a young woman with drive, vision and a love of children opened the International school and it seemed to attract young students in neat uniforms from different countries including Ireland. It gave heart to the Upper Baggot Street village, a heart and soul that once existed or so the lore goes but sadly it is now bereft and struggling.
One day we met the owner of the International School and she said they were closing down, no reasons stated but that they had re-located to Blackrock. Failing to question further, we assumed the preference for location was Blackrock but then if one thought a little deeper, it would be apparent that it was the landlord/owner getting greedy and looking for excessive rent….the same story that wrecks our towns, our villages and the communities in our cities. This upward only rent is destroying potential prosperity in markets that are already in existence ie International School gave heart to Baggot Street, provided business and gave people choice in the environs of D4, the embassy belt.We stopped to admire this lovely puppy in the grounds of the former international school today. The person told us the story and how the parents and school had tried to negotiate with the landlord …. Greed, no vision won and the International School, the teachers, the students, the parents left and settled with the location of Blackrock. This building is now sold. Let us hope, someone else will run it as a school and Baggot Street can move forward again as a community.Dereliction is a reality. 57,000 holiday homes lie vacant and so many more houses. Ineffectual communication stops solutions. We have the technology, let us communicate and create potential.The Germans, quite contrary to what one would expect, have similar problems to our country with people leaving towns and villages. Unlike us they are adapting in a sensible way. They have re-introduced barter. The word TIME is the currency instead of MONEY. To make our communities work, is there anyone willing to say take the time of a person on dole/disability/short of money and make it something positive through exchange. NALA has a great scheme teaching people how to read, so this model has the potential to create a subset.

Baggot Street Hospital needs a public private partnership to drive it forward as the proper Centre of Excellence Primary Health Care centre – some time from IBM, TESCO, BOOTS, GOOGLE, STARBUCKS would create the business plan, the expertise, the dedication to community. These companies excel in the Global Stock Market, so it is time for them to add a value chain and help out locally.

by Michelle Clarke (Chestnut)

Subject: You don’t have to be rich to care for people and to own our country. Is it not time for NAMA to use TWITTER as a marketing tool!
Date: Wednesday 6th February 2013 18:55:19 +0000
From: Michelle Clarke
To: Alan Shatter <>,,,,

Wednesday February 6th 2013

Upward only rents now have the answer. Prime buildings in strategic locations are being sold at knock-down prices, ousting Irish ownership in many cases to that of the newly created Creditor country named Germany, the Germany that merged with their World War II cessation of East Germany to create the entity, Germany, yes so flush with funds. Meanwhile, we one of the debtor countries are the victim of what could be termed an “economic war” of the 21 century. It would suggest that some of our landlords failed to be moral (and rested on Attorney General decision) and left rents so high that people were forced out of the premises.

Now these are the properties that are for sale at huge discount and the purchasers are those private equity groups, the Germans and no doubt there will be Americans, Russians, Chinese and people from India too. We are not complaining about the diversity but we are asking landlords to reconsider their rents and be fair and help businesses to survive this crisis and create employment, fair employment, for the people of Ireland. John Lewis is an interesting company with a policy of Corporate Social Responsibility and a motto ‘Never knowingly undersold’ are supposed to be considering purchasing a shop in Dublin and these, like Boots and M&S we would welcome. Maybe they would consider a public private partnership with Baggot Street Community Hospital, if only it was for sale.

We don’t have to be rich, in fact we know the morals of those who were the Celtic Tiger rich and we can now with the benefit of hindsight create the new model of Ireland Inc with the views of the plain people of Ireland contributing to Ireland’s rebirth, and in particular now that we approach 2016 the anniversary of the Rising that led to Independence of the 26 counties and then in 1998 to the Good Friday Agreement. We are on a bridge and we are possibly mid-way, we can retreat, or we can create and move forward again, as we have done so many times over the centuries.

Grafton Street had become so shoddy recently. Shops are closed down and others are struggling to stay open. Grafton Street is Dublin’s equivalent to Bond Street – not anymore. It is worth listening to Olivia O’Leary’s podcast of the drivetime programme a week ago. Grafton Street has become our Cinderella. The Times today informs us that 2 of the architecturally splendid Grafton Street shops have sold for 65% below the 2007 price. It is a German fund manager called GLL Real Estate who has bought these jewels for a fraction of what they are worth. The fund is to pay £40 million for River Island and the adjoining Wallis outlet (just beside Weirs). David Daly bought this for £115 million in 2007.

Quote: Jack Fagan
Irish Times

‘The latest off market sale means the German fund is now one of the largest property owners on the city’s premier shopping street’.
It bought the AIB branch for near £28 million (sale and lease-back deal) with a return of 6%. It is estimated that the River Island/Wallis deal will yield 6.85%. What a pity all our entrepreneurs are being priced out of our own country.
Anonymous: Enforcement and fines of £5,000 will dictate hardship for 9,000 people (and more than likely many more) living in potential tenements in areas like Rathmines, Ranelagh, Mountjoy Square, when this new law comes into effect this week. We need provision of proper accommodation and we need a plan to maintain our Georgian and Victorian housing but in a way and without the red tape that provides homes for people and especially for our vulnerable people.The time is now for people to share and care. We must say no to Germany’s economic invasion and most definitely no to this promissory note of £3.1 billion. Germany has lots of bank assets and the EU has it is said as much as £33.9 trillion while America has £8 trillion. The time is now for the EU to be generous with its funds and to treat Ireland in an equitable Michelle Clarke

Subject: Irish Times censored ‘State can’t afford’ disabilities costs. Poignant and thought provoking
Date: Thursday 7th February 2013 18:47:47 +0000
From: Michelle Clarke
To: Alan Shatter <>,,,, John Doyle <>,, Liam-IPRT <>,,, Mary Cleary <>,,,, SMHInfo <smhinfo@MENTALHEALTHSCREENING.ORG>,

Thursday 7th February 2013
The level of disabilities where people merit disregard and cuts
 by Michelle Clarke (Comyn)
Excellent Cartoon: Silent epidemics excluded Thu Feb 07, 2013 13:51

Minister Reilly is portrayed in this cartoon in such a way that prompts to mind the potential of him going forward falling into a number of the categories highlighted for people who have the visible disabilities. Obesity is supposed to be the curse and plight of the Western world with its links to diabetes, to heart disease and other other costly health conditions. Luckily for Minister Reilly being a doctor that his private health care should cover him, add to this his investments, his Dail salary, expenses and pensions (include the lucrative IMO negotiated pensions for doctors in public practice) and then his property investments.

What the cartoon forgets is those of us with the bottom of the tier disabilities – the silenced conditions where people can appear normal to look at but the wiring to the brain is off kilter. I am talking about people with brain injury, victims of stroke, people with mental illhess and worst of all those with alzheimers and frontal lobe brain damage. Vision of Change is a decade being promoted, only to be basically binned….The promises from Minister Kathleen Lynch are hollow and the reality is those people with no voice will be labelled, stigmatised and worse again called Moochers as happens in the USA.

They say nothing about suicide and provision. Again this is hollow. We have scattered organisations set up with the HSE having used the opportunity to divest responsibility into some 630 support groups all vying for potential clientele. I sound harsh. Try searching a certain Citizen Journalism site on Mental Health, Suicide, Health, Public Private health provision, Alcoholism. Don’t be fooled about the requests of the silenced that have gone unheard for a decade.

Minister Reilly – Shame on you, whose parents were doctors and you too, are in medicine. Portrane was your local asylum, how grossly unfair you are to people who are vulnerable to mental Health.

Horizon research in the 1990’s was funded by Europe, Trinity College Dublin, Centre for Women Studies, St Patrick’s Hospital and FAS. The project was a success but FAS said it was too expensive to roll out in early 2000. Shame on them. Look at the homeless, talk to them and you will find a lot have been released into the community with no provision for their needs. The latest scandal will be these people in bedsits facing eviction.

Again consider our prisons and people who in another decade might have been in mental hospitals. It is an ageing population and if we note what is happening with the Germans – yes the old people are siphoned out of the country to care homes in mainly lower tier countries where care is cheap, We surely need to be thinking and acting sensibly now.…/trinity-horizon-research-programme-1997-3&#8230;

by Michelle Clarke

Tuesday February  12th, 2013

Architect named David:  Contribution to Citizen Journalism site

The complexity of this challenge requires experienced minds. Not only those who suffered the collapse but those who could see that suffering develop. The evaluation of all the options for correction with the combined fiscal and human values taken into full consideration needs to be accomplished. One possibility that might address both would be the taking control of derelict buildings and renovating them to reasonable standards such that they can be used by the growing dispossessed, economically. It is possible.

Michelle Clarke (Comyn)
To:  Alan Shatter <>,,,, and undisclosed address list

Integrity to Integration (Response to Architect: Contribution to Monopoly NAMA (that is not yet on twitter)

Architect: no doubt feeling the pain of the recession when there are virtually no houses being built, renovated, plans required and otherwise. This may be a presumption on my part but inherent in your writing is that derived from your personal experience of being part, in the profession of architecture, of that transition from boom to bust. Sub-Urban – what a neat way of creating the visual in one’s mind. Urban abandonments and dereliction in earlier postings and the initial posting uploaded photos of what is happening to our country, and you have given us a history of how it came about with that non factor of production called Profit driving people to take risks with no interest.

Fingleton and Irish Nationwide was reported on the TV last night. The Ernst and Young report which was commissioned is damning with loose management structures, lacking in computer skills and and virtually no paperwork. It also highlighted the warning signs stated by the KPMG report published almost 10 years ago. We know the outcome: Fingleton got the bonus of £1m and the gold watch. He promised to return same but now states that a Government Official in high office made promises. This man is one of the few elites that were created and who tried to destroy our country. The question now is neatly summed up in the George Santayana quotation ‘those who forget history are condemned to repeat it’ and we have the knowledge, we have the experience, we know what tenement Dublin and other cities created, we know about Moyross in Limerick, the gang wars, and what we need to do is prevent this social deprivation descending further to the degree it is in many European cities where they are now congregating groups of people in what are known as “Scum” estates. Those who fail to observe the rules of society are evicted and sent to these locations. Do we want this to happen? Can we prevent it? Do we want vigilantes?

NAMA is “It” now. The Troika are putting the boot into our Central Bank Governor and the message is loud and clear. Your banks are shirking their responsibilities. They gained from financial flows and the intention was to create employment ultimately but they have failed dismally. They have taken the money, invested no doubt at favourable rates in the ECB and meantime back in Ireland the crisis looms. The buy-to-lets, the sites without planning permission, the vacant Georgian and period houses in bedsits now subject to fine of £5,000, the ghost estates, the over subscribed apartment market (with the whole of issue of management fees a problem yet to destroy morale further), the myriad of country estates restored and now “Namatised” as hotel/golf courses, the mansions of the developers so lurid with excess, are like a volcano ready to erupt causing massive social injustice in our society and the irony is that the same people who created the boom are the cause of the massive hardship and could be back on track building again deleting billions of debt by personal bankruptcy in the UK.

What can we do? Well Mr Architect if you were part of the construction of the boom, what can you contribute to Nama? You seem to have identified the problem at the time. You no doubt have experience and abilities that NAMA should be able to use and maybe you would be willing to work for them at a considerably lower rate than the people who worked for the now be liquidated Ex Anglo Irish Bank / Irish Nationwide building society which morphed to IRBC. The early days of NAMA and IBRC according to the figures in the papers paid excessive amounts to people who were evidently the “boys in the know”. We need to stop this rot. We need to look at cost benefit analysis of ‘PEOPLE’. We want to know whether ‘Chinese Walls’ really apply within these newly constructed entities, now consolidated to Monopoly status ie IBRC liquidated. NAMA in many ways resembles the Land Commission, yes another time when landowners with their encumbered estates in return for small amounts handed over the land for re-distribution to the Irish post the Treaty 1921.

Now NAMA is the revolving door only this time it is not the Anglo-Irish who are bankrupted, it is that new breed who are to be stripped bare and it is the Troika that are calling the tune and the melody is: Banks look to your books, look at the numbers in arrears, start procedures to repossess with near immediate effect otherwise the targets which will be set by the Central Bank will be applied. NAMA is moving to first gear, it has gained its experience on the commercial side, so beware to those unable to pay mortgages, buy-to-lets, holiday homes, or houses you bought instead of pension funds.

Mr Architect: 450,000 people are unemployed and yet there are people paid massive salaries and there is no real transparency. They say developers were retained by NAMA to enhance prospects of selling commercial undertakings. Now, Nama assumes a new role but this time it is the non transparent monopoly and we need people who understand and who have vision to create the alternatives we need. The IFSC was vision and we need a vision now. The foregoing postings show the direction downwards. We need people to address the problems.

NAMA must become more transparent. They are going to force people into eviction. We the ordinary people want to know that provision is made for families/home owners, that there are alternatives for example as suggested by David McWilliams a form of debt swap. Like minds need to come together and need to work with NAMA. They need to have a social entrepreneurship drive that merges the new insolvency legislation option with the best alternative for people taking account of their capacity to earn a fair wage. It is time now, especially in this housing dynamic, that ‘water will find its own level’ with equality and integrity at the core.

Michelle Clarke (Comyn)

Subject: Mr Architect: ‘Not All’. What about those who eloped to become near immediate bankrupts?
Date: Wednesday 13th February 2013 18:59:13 +0000
From: Michelle Clarke
To: Alan Shatter <>,,,, Cllr Maria Parodi <> et al

Wednesday 13th February 2013

‘Not All’.
What about those who eloped to become near immediate bankrupts?


Today, Mr Architect, I am going to heed what you have said and I am going to target Mr Central Bank Governor, Patrick Honohan. Why because I have read his “Speech” in the weekly edition of the Sunday Business Post. The title alone states Change is ahead. There are no examples to follow. “The Unprecedented financial distress’ speech by Mr Honohan will send shivers up the spines of those who are blighted by the property deluge created by the Celtic Tiger and added to by the global financial crisis. What we need to grasp is that there are in existence extraordinary rates of arrears where people are failing to service their mortgages/debts and in particular where homes are owner occupied.

Mr Honohan states that while most borrowers continue to service their loans that the general proposition is summed up in a quote from a recent authority on the need for debtor-friendly insolvency arrangements: “debtors should fulfill their obligations if at all possible, and freedom from legitimately incurred obligations, is a privilege, potentially subject to abuse, that therefore should be a carefully guarded last resort”. What this is saying is that debt forgiveness has a strong moral component. If there is to be long-term debt modification that involves permanent debt relief related to the arrears, it will only apply for cases of over indebtedness involving or bordering on insolvency. The train is now on the tracks – Insolvency legislation is due to be in place by April and the Troika via our Central Bank is stoking the fires for action by our banks with time-tables, targets and it is action driven.

Mr Honohan goes on to say that to date the banks have dealt with the loans crisis using two devices: a) capitalisation of arrears b) a temporary interest only payment schedule. This buys cash flow for some people only but for others if they veer off schedule and enlist the spiral of debt returns, then something else needs to be done.

Mr Architect: I think you could interact now because it seems apparent that debt-wise related to property, Ireland Inc is now in un-chartered territory. Embracing change and moving people who once worked in the private sector into the like of NAMA is part of the new remedy which is only presently being drafted. To quote Mr. Honohan “What is the best way of operationalising better decision rules for banks enabling and impelling them to triage the loans that are unsustainable from those that can come back on track?” Your vast experience as an architect and your ideas re Sub-Urban imply the loss of the social element of the property transactions that must now form part of what is known as social entrepreneurship and the revival of a sense of hope going forward.

Connecticut, America. This week there is a court case. NAMA sues Sean Dunne but this clever property magician has played a hand of cards that puts his property Irish speculative brain into that of his columnist wife and re-plays the game but in America. He now lives in an elitist enclosure with rent in excess of US£20,000 per month, having ventured into speculative property transactions which it appears have created profits. The US courts have to decide either in favour of NAMA or Dunne’s wife, Gayle. These are the larger stakes that NAMA must play out and invariably in foreign courts and at phenomenal costs. This means we need to ask the question as to what happens now post the liquidation of IBRC. What will happen for instance re the Quinn group? NAMA now becomes the monolith, the monopoly driver to resolution but people have a responsibility to be informed, to keep informed and ensure that there is transparency, no insider dealing, court resolution, if there is, and keep making demands that developers who breached our laws pay the full cost or at least are disciplined via bankruptcy under the new Personal Insolvency Act. We need a clear picture.

Stormy seas ahead and we will all know people who are indebted. Earlier postings suggested that those who had bought properties since 2006 and paid excessively high stamp duty should petition the Government for repayment of stamp duty appear to have had no support. The banks should have supported their mortgage holders in this request. A repayment of say £60,000 stamp duty off capital would delete some people at least from the crisis status of the Personal Insolvency Act. After all some banks have begun to think creatively and they will re-structure the loan, taking responsibility for waving credit card debts, credit union loans, car loans etc.

by Michelle Clarke

Subject: His Master’s Voice no more. Jobs lost yet again.  NAMA should be on twitter surely!
Date: Thursday 21st February 2013 17:19:08 +0000
From: Michelle Clarke
To: Alan Shatter <>,, Conor R. Savage <>, Clare Finglas <>,, Dymphna Moore <>,, <>,, Cahill Gavin <>,, Jimmy Deenihan <>
Thursday 21st February 2013

The Duke of Leinster is reputed to have said about his move from Northside Dublin to Southside Dublin – Where “I” go fashion will follow and yes it did. It was the like of the splendid designs of Mountjoy Square, Belvedere Place, Summerhill, North Frederick Street that were vacated by the wealthy and became the slums of Dublin as families lived in single rooms. The pre-63 bedsits are remnants of those days of sheer poverty and non provision by the State, that are now to be phased out ie if the Government persist and fine landlords (£5,000) for not providing adequate sanitary amenities for each bedsit in these old Georgian/Victorian homes. Already, landlords have these Pre-63 properties for sale, those who don’t wish to engage with the legislation. However, we are told that the housing list is now approaching 100,000, and it seems incredibly unlikely that provision is made for people living in these properties for many years, probably in receipt of rent allowance, often with disabilities. We need to look around us, be it Rathmines-D6, Elgin Road-Dublin 4, North Circular Road. There are many people living in fear and vulnerable. We all need to be aware of this.

His Master’s Voice: The record and the marketing. The old gramaphone and the Jack Russell listening with intent. HMV failed to keep ahead of the markets and it is now financially challenged and Grafton Street has lost one of its anchor retail outlets. Not alone is the HMV shop gone but there are now seven vacant retail outlets closed between it and the St. Stephen’s Green shopping centre. We hear Government talking about “the Gathering 2013″ and one can only ask them to listen to the RTE drivetime programme and Olivia O’Leary’s rendition of what has happened to our once charming city and her request for some of the minister’s to walk out of Government buildings up Molesworth Street, into Dawson Street, Sth Anne Street and to Grafton Street. I would add to this for them to look at O’Connell Street, one of the widest streets of the capitals in Europe. It is great to invite people to our country but we do need to impress them when they visit and more so if we ask our diaspora to return, we need to be able to show them improvement, culture, warmth when they return. O’Connell Street needs to invoke the necessity for us to look upwards and witness the architecture that once existed while to look at ground level, there are just tacky often fast food outlet doorways destroying the potential of our city.

Enthusiasm and adventure is needed. We need some visionaries to inspire us. Temple Bar and the IFSC challenged the 1980’s recession but now we need to develop some alternatives. Who can lead us in this direction? Why not look to our war-torn world and promote Ireland as a country which has step by step over the decades created a Republic with recognition of the Good Friday Agreement to the Peace Process? There is an impressive transition that resounds Peace, not war.

The news about NAMA is not all bad. There is some progress or so it seems from today’s Irish Independent. Those developers in NAMA who thought they could avoid paying their debts by switching assets into the names of their wives’ and children have been scuttled. ‘NAMA is now confident that it will secure legal rights or security over £750m of additional property assets controlled by its debtors that were not not secured when loans were transferred to the agency (NAMA) from the banks’. To secure legal charges over assets makes it easier to seize and sell off property if debts owed to NAMA are not repaid. As much as two thirds of the increase is expected as NAMA identifies previously debt-free/”unencumbered” owned by some 80 developers with debts to the agency. Once these assets are identified, it is up to NAMA to establish a legal claim or charge thereby giving them rights over the properties. The remaining one third is concerned with reversing “asset transfers” most notably in the period post 2008 and before the transfer of the bank loans to NAMA in 2010.

NAMA is a creation that must be about transparency. We need to know what it is doing at all times. There needs to be a cost benefit analysis because this belies an important function to cut the deficit Ireland Inc. owes, in as progressive a way possible. This is just a question: Is their (NAMA’s) performance good enough? Last year, 50 NAMA linked developers out of 188 (those with the biggest debts) made transfers (37 of which were made at the request of NAMA).

Does anyone know the position re Sean Dunne and his wife in Connecticut? What about Michael Lynn who escaped by having a child in Brazil so no extradition? Those who escaped Irish bankruptcy who fled to the UK for better terms? The Irish Nationwide Chief Executive who chooses not even to return the £1 m bonus he promised and for that matter the watch. Simply: Ireland needs to work both sides of the balance sheet. We need to tackle expenditure but more importantly we need to collect as much money that is due also. To the Law Society: what is your level of transparency about errant solicitors? To the auditors – what have you to say?

by Michelle Clarke

Subject: ‘Mortgage Delinquents’
Date: Monday 25th February 2013 19:00:35 +0000
From: Michelle Clarke
To: Vincent Browne <>,,, Alan Shatter <>, et al

Monday 25th February 2013


Matthew Elderfield, Central Bank Governor, makes reference in a recent article to ‘Mortgage Delinquents’. Is this too harsh or is there a sense of realism here and if so, why? If people in debt from the heady days of the Celtic Tiger have fallen into unemployment, they are most likely to form the category of 90 days in arrears and possibly face eviction from their homes. There are targets to be set which will no doubt revolve around potential to get employment and the ability to reactivate the loan (where it has been converted to interest being capitalised) and go forward with a new deal restructured by the bank.

The problem for the people seriously in arrears is that the period of 5 years has advanced them further and further into debt . It is suggested for every one mortgage in arrears, there are as many as 4 other loans attached. How will the Personal Insolvency Act cater for these people? Will they offer to pay say the credit car loan/the car loan or credit union loan based on the fact that the mortgage repayment could work without the other outstanding loans. This means the more powerful banks could negotiate a write down with say a car loan debt which we know is subject to very high interest and is most likely paid off within say 4 months of a 2 year loan? We need forensic accountants but then perhaps this is what the Personal Insolvency Act is about.

Drogheda, Balbriggan and so many more towns are bereft. The motorways we sought are now in place and people gladly pay the tolls but the outer suburbs and rural locations are now the potential rural abandonments of the future. Every second shop appears to be closed and if this is the case on the east coast of Ireland what must it be like in the midlands or for that matter the west of Ireland. Allsop are having a fire sale on the 1st March 2013, and it will be interesting to see if the bottom level of the house price decline is yet reached. Recently, there was a 3 bed semi-detached house in Granard advertised in the newspapers for £30,000 with a rent roll of £4,700. This throws up in the face of people living in Dublin where the same house is £250,000 or more, the injustice of the property tax based on value. Could there be a motive here for people to sell their Dublin property even in negative equity from say £400,000 and move to the rural areas and live with less debt and the banks rewarding them with some form of debt forgiveness deal?

Debt forgiveness is prickly to say the least. Take that Celtic Tiger span of 5 years where people are now caught in the negative equity trap. For those who are, there are many more who are not. There are people who bought their homes in other decades who have paid interest rates in excess of 10%, there are others who bought out their homes without any debt and for them there is an injustice in the potential of the banks to write-down the debt, it removes what the power of the marketplace is all about. There are people who have faced negative equity by being active involvement in solving the debt issue. They have recognised they cannot manage their debts, they have emigrated for work, no doubt let out their property, with the intention to return when the employment improves, or if ever. What they are doing is acknowledging that unemployment, and negative equity created the motivation to move and pay off their debts based on the contract they made when they decided to enter the housing market.  They emigrated to find work and abide by their commitments to paying down their mortgages and loans outstanding.

Elderfield may be right about ‘Mortage Delinquents’. This man worked for a UK bank in Bermuda or one of the tax haven Islands. The bank are in the market to make money and protect the deposits of those who save, to pay them interest that rewards them for saving, and lending out money that will be repaid. The capitalist would no doubt say: You enter into the property market at your peril. You should be aware that like all investments there is an upside and a downside. Sometimes you buy in and the property value rises speedily and at other times it declines to negative equity. However the term of a loan is 20 years to 25 years and the hint is therein. Property values are fluid. In 1983, a three-bed semi-detached in Castleknock was £34,000; within 2 years it had increased to £38,000 but then for nearly a decade it hovered around £34,000 (yes, there was negative equity in Ireland before). Now the same house would be valued at £250,000. Banks employ forensic accountants, they employ actuaries. We are 5 years into down values on properties, be watchful of the deals that banks will engage in.

Why? Imagine: Lender with sub-prime book of debt re mortgages who sells it to private equity company at discount e.g like Clery’s to Gordon Brothers or for that matter the Burlington hotel sale to Blackstone private equity companies. If this can happen, they, the private equity group  that buys has done the maths. If they give a write-down, then they are assessing the future value of houses over a longer period of time.

Mr. Elderfield is warning the mortgage delinquents who have possibly sat back waiting for write-downs, you should have done more to honour your commitments and if he could take a job in Ireland surely then you could travel abroad and work….contracts are legal and binding so maybe concessions will only apply in genuine cases. But if the private equity companies are hovering over mortgage books and buying up houses at discounted rates then the equation of assessing house values over time, might be the more beneficial assessment to value properties. It is worth noting that most people paid deposits of 20-25% on the properties which are now in negative equity. If a private equity firm seeks to take possession of the home, they secure the deposit!

by Michelle Clarke (Chestnut)

Subject: Fatigue destroys potential
Date: Sunday 3rd March 2013 20:02:09 +0000
From: Michelle Clarke
To:,,, Byrne, Daryl <>, greenerhomes <>, greenerhomes <>,,, Kevin Myers <>, Vincent Browne <>

Sunday 3rd March 2013

Response to David on Citizen Journalism site:

David the architect versus the plasterer. Is it not time to let bygones be just that? 5 years on and the blame game has become so entrenched that fatigue and apathy are destroying the Island of Ireland. This is an “economic war” and while Ireland could remain neutral during the World Wars we succeeded in being a core component of the economic war waged by the rot and sub-prime disease and due to banking speculation, contracts for difference, the heady power of the Maple 10, the developers, we were forced to hand over our “economic sovereignty” to the Troika. However, we differ from the other peripheral countries because we are deemed to have been “restrained and even exemplary”.

What can we learn from history:– There is an old Co Clare saying that ‘After a gatherer comes a scatterer’ to be followed by another ‘castle’s falling but dung hill’s rising’. Extremes but therein is a little wisdom. Where are we now? Who are the gatherers? Perhaps the real gatherers are now going to step in. Could it possibly be that there could be a social distribution of power as the people who buy up the negative equity property will dilute from the elites that smothered our little country and then abandoned it to become bankruptcy exiles abroad.

Is there hope? Mr Architect and Mr Plasterer, you both experienced the property industry, you worked, maybe you gambled, maybe you have debts but don’t let the apathy and fatigue put you on the back foot. Change is in the making. The Troika are kicking the Government and the Central Bank into first gear, immediate action is the battle cry and the banks are being told get paid what is your due or else evict those people who over extended on mortgages irrespective on what excuses they put forward. The time is here for those people who have been put on the racks by lenders to draft their balance sheets, look at their debts and work out a game plan. Meantime, NAMA as the sole co-ordinator of the property boom to bust narrative, need to be forced into a more transparent organisation with a creativity to help people to become employed (and not under-employed) if needs be so that they can meet their mortgage commitments. We did it before thanks to the vision of Charles Haughey, Dermot Desmond, and others, we can surely come up with another vision now.

There are people out there taking these opportunities now. The timing is now. How many people out there are part of the what if’s. I am. Allsop sold properties yesterday – location the Shelbourne of course and there are plenty of people with vision willing to take chances and buy at knockdown prices. My choice (in my dreams, but then I am a Dublin person and would not leave) was the bargain of the day. A refurbished former convent in Eyrecout, Co. Galway owned by Roger Whittaker and it was bought for a mere £285,000 by a person on the internet from the UK. This person could even be part of our diaspora but what a dream home with its own recording studio and a two bedroom apartment attached and 4 reception rooms. Sterling buys euros so the price is a lot cheaper!

Others gained too: A father a three sons bought 10 unit housing estate in Co Leitrim for £250,000.

An angler in Co. Galway bought a B&B (Potorra Lodge) in Moycullen for £267,000. Mr Canney was the manager but now he is the owner and who best to assess the potential of the area and how to tap the European angling market. He said he was prepared to pay double the price.

Herbert Street so close to the Fine Gael offices on Upper Mount Street and adjacent to Merrion Square which rumour has it will be the Temple Bar of the southside regeneration programme, was sold for £640,000. The young man does not want to be named. Hopefully, this man will take the opportunity to create this model of a Georgian home and create a proto-type that will encourage people to return to our cities. I think this is the house that has already been divided into five floors so it could be re-created into apartments or even a nursing home encouraging our older people to live in locations where services are available. The Government should intervene with some step-down from large homes to suitable apartment living accommodation for those nearing retirement.

The auctioneers claim that it was the most properties ever sold in one day in Ireland. 115 were sold netting £13.7 m

Mr Architect and Mr Plasterer – the solution is closer than you expect. See it and create. We need craftmanship restored and what best but in restoration of properties in need of same.

by Michelle Clarke

Subject: Blood sports: surely we have moved on from slaughter – “The Gathering”- The Hunt, the horses, the beagles, the men and women, convene to get their adrenalin rush and why?
Date: Monday 4th March 2013
From: Michelle Clarke
To: Alan Shatter <>, Joy Bradley <>, Corporate Admin <>, Jimmy Deenihan <>,, <>, <>,, paws <>,, UK INFO – Customer Care Inbox <>

Monday 4th March 2013

There is an interesting piece of archival material on a certain Citizen Journalism site. Search for ‘Rocky the dog and sit down protest’ back in 2007, when people looked at the extensive achievements of our canine friends and some decided that their duty as sniffer dogs in our prisons, merited a ‘hit’ being placed on Rocky while other contributors cited the many advantages that dogs give to our society. In the US for example, men on death row are taught to train dogs for people with disabilities and if you check it out on google, one can only call it vision and inspiration and make you say No to the death penalty also. Back to the topic: “The Gathering”. Advertising. Blood sports cannot be high on our agenda. We have moved forwards. “The Gathering” need to do a little more to show off Ireland as a canine loving nation and cut out this culture of pubs, cafes/coffee shops/restaurants saying No to dogs based on personal prejudices and pseudo regulations. Living in Dublin 4-6 areas shows that the hostilities of petty regulations and owners of pubs/cafes/hotels as nothing but shortsighted. In another era, owners of pubs had their dogs there and their regulars often came to the pub with their own pooches. Celtic Tiger snobbery went in reverse in Ireland and dogs were excluded from the culture while Europe, America and Canada embraced the importance of people and their animals. Google, European headquarters Dublin, encourage their staff to take their dogs to work (yes in Ireland) and in Japan it is encouraged also.

What a delight to read the Sunday Times yesterday: Wake up you people who want to tackle the recession. Our tourism industry is worth £6 billion to our economy and prejudices need to be swept away. As for the hunt, let them get their horses, their beagles, the attire and assemble but there it ought to stop. There is something purely native about a crowd of people on horses with beagles chasing a poor fox to the death. Let them be a ‘museum piece’ without the KILL. We need to shift attitudes from these primitive sports and this includes dog fights which are held in secret still.

The Times and Gabrielle Monaghan – what a coup, and about time! ‘Mine’s a pint and Rover’ll have one too’. The pub is the Temple Bar pub and please note Hughes is an urban beagle. How many businesses have been so short-sighted to tap a market that exists during one of the deepest recessions. At last ‘neighbourhood pubs are revoking bans on customers bringing their dogs in an attempt to woo more business from the nation’s growing army of pet lovers’. Statistics from Pet Expo suggest that one in four people in Ireland owns a dog which makes it double the EU average. If this is so, there is a market waiting to be tapped. Why are people so blind? Try taking your dog to town and note the conversations, the people especially from America and Canada who show you pictures of their muts, the smiles.

Let us go canine-friendly: Well according to the article there are the following: O’Briens and Hogans in Dublin and O’Connells in Galway….well done to you. Let your initiative bring back some literary talent to our pubs through communication versus the noise of music. Well done to the Terry Cullen at the Beach House bar in Greystones, Co. Wicklow – next time I will be visiting your pub with my canine friend. You at least had the common sense to see you were turning away valuable trade/custom during a recession. I like the idea of water in bowls and the paw prints on designated tables. Dog owners should not be treated like second class citizens. The arrogance of certain publicans/traders is to make you sit outside in the rain and cold while inside their premises could be empty.

Did you know there are dog friendly hotels in Ireland? Clonakilty is one spot and the local Thomas Read pub is open to canines too. Discover Ireland gives the details of pet-friendly hotels. Ireland has a ‘Blue Book’ which lists 15 hotels open to pets. What is more interesting is the website advertises 120 pet friendly hotels including the Four Seasons and the Shelbourne.

Has anyone read the book published by the homeless man in England and his cat. The cat locked on to him literally and followed him to the cafe daily. In the end he wrote the story and now it is top of the charts. For the “Gathering” get human beings, canines, newspapers, interaction back into our pubs. We need the yarns, the fun, the gossip in these dismal times.

This year is the 17th anniversary of the Peace Process. Think of the names of English pubs like the Horse and Hounds and apply logic….there is a market up North to be tapped and let’s welcome the people and their dogs to a friendly society down South.

by Michelle Clarke

Subject: Prediction: Boom to Bust.
Date: Tuesday 5th March 2013 21:22:54 +0000
From: Michelle Clarke
To: Alan Shatter <>,,,, Vincent Browne <> et al

Tuesday 5th March 2013

Prediction: Boom to Bust
Reply to contributor to Citizen Journalism site.

Rational ecologist. You are correct, those dealers, bankers/hedge fund people in New York knew there was trouble down the road for countries like Ireland on the periphery of Europe.

The architect, the plasterer, the developer are wounded and are the casualties of the collapse but they forget too easy that they were excessively paid, rewarded, privileged during the boom time, and now life has dealt them the hand that is distasteful to them to summon them to challenge the downturn and create, produce, pay back their debts with integrity and rebuild this humbled country again. Too long have these people been facilitated to wallow in the misfortune of the negative equity, inability to pay back mortgages. It has stifled productivity and the Troika are the ones driving home this message.

In Spain (and no doubt it is a Troika imperative) they are enforcing that people from overseas living in Spain must return details of the assets they hold in excess of approx £45,000. In Greece, the defense minister is going to jail for 8 years because he failed to disclose three accounts amounting to less than £100,000 while his wife awaits a decision whether she will be charged. NAMA Ireland is being challenged to be transparent to ensure a new direction which embraces the integrity we now deserve in Ireland. Rightly we should ask about the insider dealing (Sunday Independent officials investigated re sale of Lucan property) and seek an affirmation that this is no longer possible within the monolith that now holds the indebted properties in this country.

Rational ecologist. It was not just in America that the warnings signs were raised. A certain Citizen Journalism site: contributors were writing their own citizen journalism and wisdom guided them to write about a Tiger economy which could not possibly continue. Now it is over and it is over 5 years now and it is time to say to people we need vision, we need negotiation with the banks, people in debt with potential to work and repay need to be able to get debt equity swaps while others need to be able to either up-size or down size to pay off what they owe the bank. The write-downs are the very bottom of the barrel and we need to take this as a reality. The banks will have to deal with their indebted customers on a case by case basis but remember they will be briefed and they will have acted like private investigators to ensure that their clients who are in debt are being truthful. These are not rogue practices, they are a reality. Bank of Ireland partially state owned has turned in further losses of £2.1 billion so there obligation is to achieve the outcomes that keep Bank of Ireland in existence. This will mean further interest rate increases and ensuring that debt forgiveness is at the bottom of the agenda for recovery.

Water finds its own level but when is the question? Ireland has been sinking consistently and a lot of people never in fact saw any upside of the boom. The time is here to see if changes can be effected. There is a social crisis in existence. It is the property market that is best indicator of chaos as present. Change must occur and expertise (at sensible cost, training, talent, skills) can be tapped. Habitat is an example. They find a house and they get the community to restore it (and this is a global initiative) and make it available to a family in need. The earlier postings talk about the crisis as of 1st February with the bedsits, so here is the opportunity to piggy back on the Habitat idea, apply for CPO’s of vacant Georgian houses, or those that landlords refuse to upgrade and then start tackling our social housing lists that approach 100,000. The time is here to think Urban and promote true ‘diversity in Unity’.

There is a crisis waiting to happen with a lot of these apartment blocks. Fire regulations, compliance and lack of enforcement ensures that the problems are not yet to the fore. Management committees gain too much power. Annual meetings may find some 10 out of 40 at the meeting yet the ten people who attend the meeting end up making decisions to engage in costly upkeep of buildings resulting in high maintenance charges. Certain developments have charges in excess of £3,000, add to this the property tax charges, the water and a period out of work and there is another kind of hardship. It is reported that one management company threatened owners who did not pay the fee to have their water and electricity cut off. The person who had not paid the fees had trouble with his windows and deducted the cost from the fee. We need people to buy the surplus quotient of apartments, so this problem needs to be addressed first so that this market can be kick-started.

Time to focus on those private equity groups that are hovering. Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (one of the biggest private equity firms in the US) is scouring Spain for investment opportunities. They say property assets are being sold for “cents on the dollar” due to the economic crisis there. Well we need to say to these people we too have our fire sales and there is real value out there. Just look to the Allsop sale March 1st 2013.

Ireland is that small open economy. The saying goes: if the Dutch had conquered Ireland they would have fed the world…we know our assets, we have the people, we just need vision that creates momentum to lift ourselves out of the depression. Listening to Con Lucey, economist on TV3 V Browne show last night – maybe we should seriously re-think the current deals achieved and seek a write-down of the debt we owe as a country going forward now for nearly 35 years.

Michelle Clarke (Comyn)


Subject: Zimbabwe & what dictatorship can do
Date: Wednesday 13th March 2013 19:01:15 +0000
From: Michelle Clarke
To:  Alan Shatter <>, Brian Lucey <>,, Clare Finglas <>, Dymphna Moore <>, et al

Wednesday 13th March 2013

Yes, I agree with the posters…the answer with hindsight was not the seizing with violence the white farmers land.

Back to Ireland, we seriously need to take account of what austerity can do to people, to property, to our landscape, our reserves, our seas.

Grafton Street is a shambles, only a few of the relics of old decency are managing to remain in business, paying no doubt ludicrous upward only rents, while so many more have gone to the Wall. Bewleys is in the courts and its profits are sliced by an upward only rent scenario that dictates they pay £1.5 million rent a year. What is worse about this is that the law at Attorney General level endorses it. A gentleman has just past me by, a tall man, a Fine Gael Politician, the navy below the knee expensive Crombie coat, the suit – the silk, the scarf and the those expensive highly polished shoes – he looked so out of place on the Grafton Street of the now, he was far better suited to Bond Street, the City or for that matter Wall Street. What has happened and why? It is the year of the Gathering and we are asking our diaspora to return and if they do we have wiped out so much of their nostalgia that is part of their homecoming.

The property tax is the latest challenge. This afternoon, Mr Noonan speaks to a press gathering about what next to expect. I wonder if we as citizens of Ireland are humbled sufficiently to our creditor dictators the Troika. At last there are rumblings from our Taoiseach while visiting Prime Minister Cameron that Ireland may have been treated by the Troika as the ‘runt’ of the litter. We know what happens to the ‘runt’. The runt is the vulnerable one and who is the least likely to survive. Unless somebody decides to assist him/her, he/she dies. Well, we need to start participating in our Civic matters in Ireland and now.

Listening to Prime Time last night, I am chilled to the marrow. A woman whose husband lost his job was unable to pay the arrears due on their home. The arrears amounted to £38,000. The woman did not mention the name of the lender (I ask why and can only assume that legal reasons pertain). The mortgage was for £169,000. The couple did all they could to retain their home, they complied with the restructuring put forward but for some reason the lenders decided that they would exercise their POWER in 2010. They evicted the family. They sold the house for less than £25,000. Please tell me this is not the last century in Ireland and the sale of the encumbered estates and that we in Ireland have banks that have common decency. This family are now paying rent for another property – they could even be now in receipt of rent allowance to live in social housing. The debt of £150,000 still is to be paid by them. Imagine! Less than £25,000. We must avoid similar cases happening now especially as the Mandarins are rolling out the property tax, and the banks are being told they must meet targets and basically evict people who are non compliant.

We need to stop and think and we need to watchful for people who are vulnerable and stressed and often unable to think straight in harrowing times of unemployment and being financially overstretched. Less than £25,000 begs the question who bought the house at such a steal and why did the lender sell it at such a substantial discount? The interesting point is that the neighbours banded together and tried to buy the house with the objective to rent it back to the family but this did not work – and we should ask why not? This is an option for people going forward and should be noted. Then it was said that the Council tried to buy the property but could not. They did not have the funds. Where is the common sense in policy? Let this be a lesson to those Mandarins in their Citadels (terminology used by Shane Ross) and let us avoid the pain and hardship and ensure policy is foresighted enough to ensure only in the most extreme of circumstances that people are evicted from their homes.

£150,000 is the amount that is outstanding to the family who are now minus their home and the lender sold their home for £25,000. This is basic maths that says this is real moral hazard but the lenders are the ones without morals here. All options must be investigated and equity is core and so is pure common sense.

Subject: Trade down to live in apartment in Dublin 4
Date: Thursday March 14th 2013 18:08:23 +0000
From: Michelle Clarke
To:,,, Vincent Browne <>,,, Alan Shatter <>, Clare Finglas <>,,

Thursday March 14th 2013

Unrelenting pressure is being placed on people who are older, people with disabilities and particularly those who have had to face a fall in financial circumstances be it due to unemployment, their business going into liquidation or retirement.

Apartments are in a glut situation countrywide yet according to the Revenue valuation sheet received today, certain apartments in Dublin 4 are categorised in the £400,000+ category. This is penal and inequitable. These forms do not take account of the size of the premises. Some of these apartment blocks are around for decades but the management fees are often in excess of £3,500 per annum. There is no regulation that make management companies more accountable either.

People may say and possibly rightly so, why did you choose D4 in the first place and I would reply why not? No-one can read the future and D4 covers Donnybrook to Ringsend to Ballsbridge to Sandymount and there are many people occupying these properties who have been targeted for the “FOUR” part of Dublin and are now living under immense stress and pressure as they are told to value their own homes and if they go wrong, it is the new Mandarins in the Citadel of power who will decide your fate.

When will apartment owners be treated fairly? Priory Hall – a scandal which is a constant and a forewarning to other apartment complexes. Dublin City Council are responsible for a small proportion of these apartments and they provide for the security of their allocation on the site. The newspapers report that now the cost of security to date is higher than the alterations needed to bring the apartments up to standard (£39,000 per apartment to date). Some Architects suggest this entails taking away existing space to make changes that make the apartments comply with the necessary fire regulations. What we know is that the owners ie families are out of their homes for over 500 days now. Will these people be billed for their management fees and what are the management fees now? But worse again, it does not look as if they are covered by the exemptions eg pyrite/Ghost so will they too have to pay property tax and if so, how are they supposed to assess the value of their properties.

£400,000 category in Dublin 4 for half year and going forward each year until 2016, when you add £3,500 pa for management fees indicates to me that apartment blocks are going to spell real trouble for owners which if demand and supply market factors are taken into account would mean there should be a significant discount on the value of apartments.

People in other countries are encouraged to down-size especially in their elder years. Many have done so and now they are targeted in a way that is hostile to them via the Revenue Commissioners.

What do they do? Pay in fear and go without food while the world assumes Dublin FOUR is affluent. 

By Michelle Clarke

Subject: Ethos unchanged in 6 years
Date: Tuesday 19th March 2013 18:54:06 +0000
From: Michelle Clarke
To: Ageing Research <>, Alan Shatter <>, Brian Lucey <>,,,,,, Vincent Browne <>
Tuesday 19th March 2013

Your overheard conversation sums it all up (My reply to contributor on Citizen Journalism site). What has changed in Government? Assume the mantle but don’t change the ethos which in our case was cronyism bordering on outright corruption. Governance now dictates – earmark any human being who is already identifiable in the system, via the property tax, the latest data collection exercise done by placing the onus via self-assessment and through fear as the driver, Ireland will have citizens in polarities, those who are in the tax net and those who are completely under the radar. It is the property market that is now the instigator of creating the two tiers!

The foregoing postings show us the methods that will be used. Georgian houses in Waterford and Limerick will be brought into the loop if people decide to accept the tax breaks and conditions. The Georgian/Victorian Pre-63 properties are now legislated for and people living as tenants in these houses like those 90 days in arrears are heading for the social housing list. Add to this the buy to lets, some 23,000 and another data collection source for the revenue who are unlikely to get much tolerance from the lenders, as Michael Noonan clearly states – this is a commercial transaction and if you are not gaining a return, then forfeiture of your property is near immediate, and the deposit you paid is the price you pay for your foolish investment, and you may even have debt going forward as it is highly improbable that you will receive debt forgiveness for a mortgage. This Government does not have to use the tactics of Bertie Aherne’s FF led government and those TAX AMNESTIES. This Government by interlinking with the Revenue Commissioners are far more intrusive and this is about power. The issue is that equity applies and yet despite that there is now an even greater escapism for a small coterie of tax exiles and what once used to be referred to as ‘dead man’, and others who escape the claws of the Revenue and the powers that they have been given recently through legislation.

Cyprus – late on a Saturday night of a long weekend. A dawn raid of a devious nature was effected by the Troika on an island country with less than a million in population. Cyprus comprises Turkey (1970’s) invaded to the North, the English former colonialists in the centre and Greek Cyprus to the South. The EU welcomed them in 2003 and now they are to have their knuckles rapped and why? The dawn raid sees funds in this little haven because Russia chooses to invest there. Could this cause a serious geographic-political crisis? Funds and banking became the designation for Russians who wanted their option to wild west banking. Yes, another option for the kind of wild west banking that Ireland was exposed to but what they have in common is that it was driven but hidden forces who dictate policies. It is about who is the Creditor (George Soros essay September 2012) nation of the EU and who dictates what the aberrant debtors do, while they flush out the cash, wealth to the powerful elites. This is the “economic war” of 21 century Europe which we are witnessing and when you listen to the German politician state that this is their election year and it is not possible for the German’s to take up the tab of those who were so reckless, and that the time has come to levy a tax on people who save money in banks. Cyprus states that the rest of us and in particular ‘Exemplary’ Ireland need to beware. The banks are closed until Thursday, and Putin PM Russia, is much on the back-foot while the Troika negotiate the deal. The deal is punitive. If you have under £100,000, you pay 6.5% docked from your account by Thursday morning and if you are have more than £100,000 9.9% is deducted with immediate effect.

Could this happen to Ireland? The answer is why not? Ireland succumbed to sub-prime lending that emanated from the US, but also from a lack of regulation by our bankers (basically on the instruction of the ECB). The developers built and people bought who in retrospect should not have received loans. Has this happened in Cyprus? No, it appears that the financial sector in this country became rich because Russians liked to bank their funds in their financial sector and now the Troika hawks see a great advantage to collect nearly £6 billion and they have swooped as they did in Ireland at the time of the bailout. Three islands: Ireland, Iceland (seeking to join the EU) and now Cyprus). We have been plucked. Jonathan Swift said ‘Give vision to the visionless’. We need to heed this now. There are polarities developing in Europe that their obvious.

What has this to do with urban abandonments and dereliction. Everything. An economy thrives when there is economic growth and an indicator of a return to growth is when you looking at where housing formation stands. Listening to Bloomberg about the US, they are now talking about bottoming out of the market and that retailers that supply the building industry are beginning to show trade and this indicates a shift. Ireland is vulnerable to the Troika’s bidding.

Data collection is the core function of this property tax. From granny flat, to gate house, each will have a value and it is up to each owner to make the correct valuation. To query the valuation, you must first pay. When property is defined and people are defined as owners through self declaration or being just ‘found out’, we will still be paying back our debts, and the interest which is compound interest will be rising. Then like the home-owner in negative equity begging the banks for a restructuring deal and debt forgiveness, we will be awaiting those Hawks on a long weekend targeting those people who have saved money for their old age, for their children to go to college, people with disabilities or people who have received financial settlements, or by choice which is their right. We will not have the experience of deflationary Japan waiting for 20 years to change policy. Our deposits, like our pension funds will be raided and the fact is we are so on our knees now we just accept!

Michelle Clarke (Comyn)

Subject: Fwd: Cyprus to Zimbabwe: Ireland Inc says No too, “The Pink paper” summed it up yesterday:
Date: Wednesday 20th March 2013 18:42:13 +0000
From: Michelle Clarke
To: <>, Alan Shatter <>,,,

Wednesday 20th March 2013

The Pink paper summed it up yesterday:

‘This is Europe, not Zimbabwe
from Ms Monima O’Connor

Sir, this unprecedented grab on savers
is both alarming and ominous.
Such action would be expected
from Zimbabwe, not the European Union’
The UK recession late 1980’s, early 1990’s left many involved in the construction sector without jobs and seeking work in what were once the colonies. Zimbabwe at this time had the attention of the World Bank, the IMF and development was underway. John Sisk and Son the Irish contractors were firmly entrenched in Zimbabwe most probably because many Irish missionaries travelled to such African countries and had successfully networked into hospitals and education. Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) is where one witnessed first hand money diminishing to near nothing overnight as inflation raged. In one month in local currency, the Irish punt salary equivalent was reduced by 50% and this continued and the country floundered – so that the once bread basket of Southern Africa was virtually economically, morally, socially destroyed. Greed, cronyism, tribalism, corruption and now with the benefit of hindsight probably a market in blood diamonds destroyed the governance of a potential leading light in the African continent.Doom and gloom, and 6 years of it in Ireland and now our Creditor masters threaten their ‘exemplary’ students. They take the Island of Cyprus to show us what creditor power is about. Cyprus was invaded by the Turks in the 1970’s with many people losing their homes, their properties to the Turks and many were killed and wounded. This included both Greeks and English. The immediate deduction of a deposit tax is irking a wound barely healed. Ireland should feel threatened. Gradually, we are re-building a level of confidence and people (because they are mainly afraid to spend) are building up savings in their bank accounts (approx £155 billion presently on deposit). Is it any wonder the alarm that last Saturday’s move in Cyprus has on our people, our investors, our treasury accounts. This is a swoop factor that threatens the very emblem of trust that underwrites savings with banks in our Nation state.The Cypriots, less than 1 million in population have risen up and said No. Do we back them? We are an island nation with Britain a one time occupier like them. Maybe it is time to scrutinise the EU bureaucracy that appears to be shy of audit reviews.Take the example: Aylesbury Road. House price £12 million. Same house now £3 million and owned by NAMA. £9 million – can it be repaid, where is it, it is not in a deposit account, does it even have a tangible value.?The same applies to a country. Surely, there must be a write-down negotiated. Is this not common sense? Some may argue that you can follow the money to a tax haven but how practical is the reality especially 6 years into this European economic war.  We should all keep the National debt clock for Ireland in our focus. must be negotiated now.Michelle Clarke (Comyn)

Subject: Rain Rain Rain & urban desolation strikes to the core of our humanity: ‘Live and Love’ and Digges Lane photos are uplifting.
Date: Saturday 23rd March 2013 18:09:07 +0000
From: Michelle Clarke
To: Undisclosed address list
Saturday 23rd March 2013
‘Live and Love’ and Digges Lane photos are uplifting.

These days however it is hard to be uplifted or to have vision as the Government penetrate all levels of consciousness about this Local Property Tax and the implications of having the Revenue as its organiser and implementation officer. Fear abounds. Cartography was a traditional but imperfect method of collecting data about property but today with the benefit of Google and the appointment of a Revenue person, whose performance during the Celtic Tiger was quite exceptional in searching out those who avoided/evaded tax, and who is now further bated to catch those tax dodgers with the endorsement of this coalition Government which is challenged to be exemplary. The troika are the masters and we must pave the way for all who are errant debtor countries.

There are harsh realities ahead of 1.8 million house owners (who knows the real figure?). Last year it was said that some 45,000 households would be exempt from property tax because they were deemed to be ghost estates but desperation for funding by Government now says, one year later, that estates have been brought up to acceptance standards and it is now only 5,000 households who will not be subject to the property tax. Prime Time aired the views and showed examples of estates and isolation and dereliction associated with them.

Eviction conjures up the landlords, the Famine, and Ireland being oppressed but the truth is decade after decade and week after week people unknown to us are evicted. People are evicted by landlords from their flats in Georgian houses, people are evicted for bad behavior from local authority housing, people have been evicted in the past for failing to pay their mortgages but the difference this time is that the banks did not do the correct due diligence and lent money to people without taking account of what markets are really about, about what recessions do, the potential of unemployment and now we have genuine distressed people with mortgages that they can never repay. Legislation was in place to keep banks from evicting people resulting in less evictions in Ireland than say Spain or the UK but this now is at an end. In the months ahead the reality is banks must meet targets and what we will witness is people losing their homes. What we need to know is what provisions will be made for these people? They will be added to the social housing list ie 100,000+ and the reality is there is no provision to provide the houses, albeit many exist but are unoccupied. Some may be able to trade down but this is a minimal quotient.

What we need now to know who can be classified as ‘strategic defaulters’?

The time is night and we will be sorting the wood from the chaff. It is worth taking a look at the diversity of views and giving due consideration to why the ‘Guidelines’ have been stated in relation to people who wish to seek personal insolvency in Ireland as distinct from the UK.

Colm McCarthy Economist

‘Just as the State has shown indulgence towards the banks, they have in turn been showing great forbearance to defaulting customers. More worryingly, it appears that some people who have gone into arrears have been choosing to do so, in the sense that they do not lack the financial capacity to make repayments on schedule. Some arrears can be termed ‘distressed arrears’ (or ‘delinquent mortgages’)…’

What it comes down to is a honesty which is a word that needs revival. The Revenue is about fear and capacity to enforce. Tread carefully before deciding not to pay the property tax

by Michelle Clarke.

Subject: Social Injustice via Economic mayhem  ‘Give Vision to the Visionless’ Jonathan Swift
Date: Tuesday 26th 2013 18:03:38 +0000
From: Michelle Clarke
To: Vincent Browne <>, Shane Whelan <>, <>,,,,,,,, Mairead Holohan <>, et al
Tuesday 26th March 2013 (A reply to contributor on Citizen Journalism site)

I feel the pain but I do not know what to say or even do. Hopelessness pervades for some in times of economic crises and the dictates of this recession in Ireland are particularly definitive and harsh at present. The news is scare mongering but when people are entrenched in fear nothing other than these scare tactics are capable of penetrating that overcoat of denial that they must wear to survive. What we must do is be aware and realise that it is at the end of the day about people and the need for the equality that renders a society more favourable than those of say Iran, North Korea, Syria to name but a few. If we can focus on their plight, it enables us to adjust our own “Scales of Justice” towards more equity and maybe this is what the real battle for survival is all about.

The Saturday night show: Shocked I sat and listened to a woman from Pieta House talk about suicide. Others from the acting profession and sports spoke of their experiences and the loss of one of their friends and the trauma. The woman detailed Pieta research findings and said that by ‘this time next week 10 people will have committed suicide’ and what we need to grasp is ‘that eight of these will be men’. Warning signs and being alert ought to be the action plan of each and every day and people need to connect with Pieta House, their programme MOM (MIND OUR MEN) and seriously address the social, economic, political, demographic factors that is crippling our little Island. We all have a responsibility for other people and being watchful, being empathetic, being concerned and showing compassion is what is important now.

What can we do? Unemployment in countries like Spain Greece and Portugal is far in excess of Ireland but then we are a small open economy with exposure to the US, UK and EU with the English language as a strong common denominator.

We need to create employment. We have done it before so if we feel enough economic pain as happened in the 1930’s, the 1950’s, the 1980’s and now for the near six strangling years of bailout catastrophe, we can do it again. 4 people sat with Vincent Browne last night (TV programme) discussing the impact of Cyprus and the forfeiture of deposits as the Troika (German creditor mentality) over-stepped the mark yet again. Money is one issue but what was really grounding was a father who joined the panel towards the end. He spoke passionately about the circumstances of his 32 year old daughter with cerebral palsy who needs 24 hour care which has been provided by the man and his wife. He spoke of his total disillusionment with Labour politics and their ineptitude to the needs of the most vulnerable in our society. It is easy to take from these people their mobility grant. They have no voice. This is a great wrong perpetrated and let us not lose sight of it. There are many afflictions in life, there are the silent epidemics ie mental illness, acquired brain injury and then there are those so badly affected physically yet mentally so alert. The message surely is ‘stop and think and let’s all do what we can for each other’.

To those in negative equity, to those of you who paid so much in stamp duty on over inflated prices, to those who are in arrears, the drip feed from Government about the personal insolvency option must be painful. The scare tactics about creches costing more than mother’s earn, meaning mother must give up work, the message to forego the car if there is public transport, one car per family, I would say – tread carefully and read the small print. It is not as drastic as it seems. Its aim is what it calls itself ie ‘guidelines’. When you consider that its origins is the Department of Justice and Minister Alan Shatter, it may be of interest to you that an adversarial divorce covers similar adherence to guidelines. If you have nothing to hide, you salvage what you can from what the ‘disaster’ is and you continue to engage with life, with the experience and the option to start again.

Let us not lose hope.

There are some good things going on still.

We have been awarded UK Civic Trust’s reference two housing schemes in Dublin.

McKee Court – a sheltered scheme for elderly people near McKee Barracks
& Sean Treacey House, again a social housing scheme near Buckingham Street.

Dublin City Council Architect’s designed the McKee Court scheme and it was hailed as a “positive development in this part of Dublin, that is easy to use and allows the residents to live and function independently, in a communal setting’.

We need to create employment. FAS is no longer, it is supposedly Solus but where is the Light!

by Michelle Clarke (Comyn)

Date: Thursday 28th March 2013 12:24:42 +0000
From: Michelle Clarke <>
To: Undisclosed address list
Thursday 28th March 2013
David McWilliams article: warns us
David McWilliams writes in today’s Irish Independent about the upbeat reporting about housing values at present. He draws our attention to that divide of country versus city, the urban versus the sub-urban which is basically becoming a more unsustainable option for people. He references the Kensington/Knightsbridge scenario where funds are drawn as catastrophe’s like Cyprus arise and the wealthy seek options for their ‘cash’. However, this time, I think too many have been burned in Ireland, in too many ways, for investors to seek us out as a location to move to. The problems are our own as the Troika too well know.

The Troika are driving the Central Bank – Mr Patrick Honohan, Governor Central Bank, narrates their instructions and the news in town is that those errant bankers are now to kick ass and make people comply with their mortgages either by restructuring or taking advantage of the newly available legislation – the PIP, in other words – seek the assistance of the Personal Insolvency Practitioners. The guidelines are clear. The one of contention being the sexist attitude that if a woman’s salary does not cover the cost of childcare, then she must return to the home and do what De Valera believed in —- homework/be a mother. Leo Varadkar is in the news today and women are angry with his chauvinism but there have to be guidelines and this is only a suggestion. However, Mr Varadkar should look to former Taoiseach Gareth Fitzgerald’s view of women and work in the home – if I recall, his view that their contribution should have an economic value apportioned to it.

It is always interesting to take a look at what is happening in property in another country, and as Germany is our major creditor and director of policy under the guise of the Troika in Ireland, let’s look at an election issue that is causing major concern in Germany. The issue is people being ‘squeezed out’. Rocketing rents are causing social and economic division. Derr Spiegel (1st February 2013) reports ‘the expanding costs and dwindling supply of urban housing are slowly pushing the Germans of average means out of the cities. As September’s national election approaches, politicians are jockeying to find viable solutions to a problem they helped to create’.

To go back to David McWilliam’s article, it is about migration of people who have wealth in order to protect it so they invest their money, often in property, in countries with cities like Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf or Berlin, which is particularly attractive to the Italians at present. It might interest people that it is not only Irish people who are emigrating but if I am correct there are some 56,000 people migrating to Ireland and one German man reported that he has chosen to return to Ireland to work with one of our MNC’s because he can now afford to buy a property – one of the main reasons he left Ireland in 2007 was that house property was too expensive. The MNC’s, the English language, the young educated population, the small open economy forms part of our balance sheet and who knows we could be on the road back…

The term in Germany is “Rent Shock”. Rents are rising steadily in Ireland and will rise more as evictions are preempted by targets placed on lenders to restructure debt and re-jig their balance sheets. It is worth watching the German approach to this crisis which they have as they head for their elections in September 2013. 

By Michelle Clarke (Comyn)

Subject: Moral Hazard/Debt Forgiveness will be about financial imprisonment
Date: Saturday 30th March 2013 18:59:23 +0000
From: Michelle Clarke
To: Undisclosed address list
Saturday 30th March 2013

Mid-April they tell us that the “Guidelines” will issue as to the income brackets and expenditure cut-offs and when they will be made available. Meantime the rumour mill churns out all kinds of scare tactics including those that say No to Sky TV for the miscreants who borrowed without using their common sense (no mention about the bankers who falsely sold them the loans – not like the US, where banks are being challenged to take responsibility). The childcare allowance is causing much controversy but I suppose Leo Varadkar’s defence arguments merits consideration – the guidelines will equally apply to house husbands. What should be included with these guidelines is that these distressed borrowers or (delinquent borrowers as some people prefer to say) should be given every opportunity to gain just and equitable employment.
We all know people who are under employed (insufficiently paid); employed and unemployed now for years who will be hammered by the PIP (Personal Insolvency Practitioners) route out of insolvency. Too many of these are in the professions and trades related to the construction industry – surely, these architects, quantity surveyors, engineers, plumbers, electricians et al should be targeted by NAMA and its special purpose vehicles after the liquidation of Irish Banking Reconciliation and harnessed, at fair compensation, back into the employment market while other people who have been overpaid for the last number of years working under these distressed banks move into the unemployment market. In terms of the market and supply and demand this is about attaining equality within an industry and arriving at a fair wage structure. Guideline indications:  Families – 2 children £23,500 pa is the suggested prison cell put forward. Yes, allowed the child benefit but not childcare, costs or mortgage costs. What does this actually mean? What does this say about motivation and gainful employment? We seriously need to identify the abilities of those in financial distress, remove the element of stress, anxiety and distress and encourage them back to productivity; it is short of a savage attack on the capabilities of people to not use Social Protection to its full capacity as an engine of employment potential, working with these PIP’s (practicitioners). The media appears shy to discuss this potential from within the chaos of the housing crising. What does the foregoing have to do with Urban Abandonments and dereliction – a lot. Our properties are the countries assets and legislation relating to the Justice Dunne judgment removes previous obstacles from evicting people who cannot meet their financial commitments relating to their homes or the tax break buy-to-let commitments. The Insolvency Legislation on a case by case basis will be the last ditch provision. Meantime, within the next 6 months and going forward there will be a flood of properties into the market. This will cause massive social hardship for families and people who were conned (if we allow honesty its opinion) by the ideal to let each own their own property and for others who were equally short changed into thinking, manage your own buy-to-let or property purchase, gain the income and asset value. The truth is the Lenders backed by Government policy and the lack of regulation at Central Bank and not forgetting the ECB (prejudiced by Germany and low interest preference) peddled advice that nurtured their own vested interests because they too had failed to predict market forces. BlackRock did the Stress Tests in our banks. Their Chief Executive on a US programme spoke about the peaks and troughs of markets and focused on the property market rise and fall which now spans 6 years. The interesting point about property is that demand for houses governs the market. Ireland now falls into this category so maybe those like Allsop Space, a recently established auctioneers, who are identifying a property market in Ireland, indicate that it is time for people to monitor property in Ireland once more. We need to ask questions about how many houses the Personal Insolvency legislation will add to those seeking property? Will they provide a route to social housing if eviction is the only route, will this mean these families will be placed ahead of those 100,000 on the social housing list who have been waiting for years? Then we have the people living in those Pre-63 Georgian/Victorian houses throughout the country who now face the housing list or the rental accommodation lists because their landlords have not complied with the new legislation requirements for sanitary arrangements for each unit. Ireland brought in the Section 23 property deals because hidden therein was the motive to tackle the social housing issue. From the 1930’s through to 1980’s, Ireland engaged in extensive provision of social housing via the corporations and city councils. The tax breaks put a breaker on this. We need to give this recognition as we hold to account those 23,000+ buy-to-let properties who are now crippled in debt and face insolvency.

What sets me thinking is my local urban village I see a man who worked in the construction game sitting out begging for money. Daily he appears to get thinner and he sits in this cold weather patiently putting in the hours before he can go to his hostel. He tells me this morning he made the call and he has his space in Camden hostel for the next three nights…..too many may face this and we need to think hard before we evict people on the orders of the Troika. Urban abandonments and derelictions ultimately relates to people, our people. Let’s cut the waste but protect people who are vulnerable in this current society and therein lies the gain. 

By Michelle Clarke

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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