The problem of building for the future in a distressed present…

If you haven’t seen this week’s Frontline programme on RTE find some time before next Monday evening and do it… It’s a fascinating lesson in how not to deal with an angry mob as a politician. John Gormley took the brunt of the anger (high fives at Fianna Fail party headquarters), and took the rather naive position of not answering the question of what his government was going to do to meet their distress and instead point out that his party was addressing the longer term causes of that distress (starvation of funds to local councils to build adequate flood defences, and the idiocy of some said councils in building on flood plains). Then this evening I read this in Stephen Kinsella’s Ireland 2010 (you can get copy from the Slugger bookshop here):

Jim is writing a chapter on local authorities in Ireland, and the battles he fought as a younger man in 2015 and 2016 to reform those small, powerless entities into larger, more automous organisations with real political clout, but with a smaller footprint in the Irish political system.

Jim is trying to figure out just why he lost those battles, and why only a public outcry forced their partial reform. Planning distruptions caused by compulsory purchase orders and local authority inefficiencies meant htat levees designed to stop flooding in Dublin’s docklands and Limerick city took five years longer than necessary.

The flooding cost the government billions, and began a steady increase in the national debt – which the current administration is starting to pay down, thanks to the tax windfall they have received through a boom in demand for Irish products and workers from a resurgent US economy.