Citizen Journalism Ireland: Published articles on different topics 2013 year. Revised 2020. 10 headings 7,000 words Tranche (A)

No. 1

3rd January, 2013

Toxicity & Eye of the little Green Monster.

  by Chestnut (Michelle Clarke) – Citizen JournalismReply to Joe Mac

This makes the Citizen Jouranlism position and lack of profile so clear. There quite evidently has been considerable dissent and your comments about P G’s view of a certain citizen journalism site and yet her continued interference suggests to me that we need the collective to develop policy, to put to bed that little Green Monster called jealousy and get the citizen journalism site back in shape.

Bullying is the topic of social media these days. It concerns children in schools and ministers in Government. The citizen journalism site referred to cannot plead innocence on this. People given control over what get’s published inherently have a power over others and what is essential is an awareness from within the collective to stamp out unfair practice. Many talented writers left the site because their postings were judged not on merit but with hostility and bullying commentary in the Hidden List.

Jesse Jackson once said ‘Never look down on anyone, unless you are helping them up’. It is 2013, a new day dawns and this citizen journalism site dating back to 2003 ‘the beast’ has the makings of a Rolls Royce engine in citizen journalism if only the organisers, the writers, the contributors can work together.

Ireland is deep in recession. Media is on the floor be it RTE or TV3 fighting the competition from the US to the UK from Bloomberg to Time magazine.

What can we do to preserve this open channel. This month the Oireachtas are to put in place a special committee to oversee social media. This will no doubt jeopardise freedom of expression and the right to free speech which are core to democracy and the Rule of Law and we need the diversity that the citizen journalism site (not named) provides to add to the flow of information in our society.

The contributors, the writers after all, are giving time and not asking for money but then this creates its own jealousy from ‘paid’ journalists who feel that their ability to earn money is being undermined.

Jonathan Swift could not write in his own name as Dean of St Patrick and Provost in Trinity College in the 1600’s. However he knew enough to know that his ability to write and the poverty and injustice that surrounded him gave him the moral and ethical impetus to write using pseudonyms.

Again it is 2013 and there is a job to be done.

Is there a way forward? Blogs are fine but interaction and diversity is limited. The personal discipline often falters and you find peoples annual blogs incomplete stopping in say April of the 2012 year. The citizen journalism site referred to in this article – if you go to search Tara Corruption CAB Peace and the North of Ireland Syria Iraq Shannon Corrib and the embers are always there to light up the fire again because human rights, civil rights morals are core components of what non paid citizen journalism is all about.

An old Chestnut


No. 2

15th January, 2013

Trade Unions and the loss of Integrity Ethics Transparency

category Tuesday January 15, 2013 15:55author by  Michelle Clarke (Comyn – Social Justice)


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 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 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 narcissim 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 worked 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.

Michelle Clarke (Comyn)


Trade Unions and greed

 by O’Malley – ObserverWed Jan 16, 2013 13:17


I agree to a point with the above posting. 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?

O’Malley (the alley cat)


Trade Unions & self-seeking pay packages and pensions

 by Michelle Clarke (Comyn) – ObserverFri Jan 18, 2013 15:31


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 as suggested by O’Malley and question exactly what is the unions are at 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 trade unions. 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.

Michelle Clarke (Comyn)


No. 3

January 24th, 2013

Olivia O’Leary Drive time

 by Chestnut (Michelle Clarke) – Urban abandonments & dereliction

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 reviews that finally forced Korky’s to withdraw from their 900 sq ft business in Grafton Street.

Donal 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 amongst 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 refererred 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

No. 4
5th February, 2013
Concerned to know if the Grants have been paid to students

by Michelle Clarke (Observer) – Former mature student with disabilities at Trinity College Dublin

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!



No. 5

5th February, 2013

International School, Pembroke Crescent, Dublin 4
 by Michelle Clarke Chestnut) – Urban abandonments & dereliction


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.

Michelle Clarke (Chestnut)

No. 6
February 6th, 2013
You don’t have to be rich to care for people and to own our country

 by Michelle Clarke (Comyn) – Urban Abandonments and dereliction

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 21st 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 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 has 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 way.

Michelle Clarke (Comyn)

No. 7
7th February, 2013
The level of disabilities where people merit disregard and cuts
 by Comyn – Excellent Cartoon: Silent epidemics excluded

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 pre frontal lobe brain damage. Vision of Change (Mental Health Plan) 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 Indymedia 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.


No. 8

February 12th, 2013


Integrity to Integration (Response to Architect: Contribution to Monopoly NAMA (that is not yet on twitter)
  by Michelle Clarke (Comyn) – Urban abandonments

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 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 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, 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 know 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 shrirking 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 now entrenched and coming down the track.

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 to 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 procedure 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)


No. 9

February 13th, 2013

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

by Michelle Clarke (Comyn) – Urban abandonments and dereliction


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 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 vere off schedule and 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 unchartered 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.

Michelle Clarke


No. 10

February 21st, 2013

His Master’s Voice no more. Jobs lost yet again
 by Comyn – Urban abandonments and dereliction

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 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 todays 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?


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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