A Foreigner in Ireland - A view on Politics and Life.

Dublin’s Libraries: MANY years behind!?

Every week I write about many great events that the public libraries in Dublin run. And they really do great work! Only about 1.5 years ago I got my library card and since then I am positively surprised about the range of eBooks and Audiobooks the libraries provide. So they are definitely trying to keep up with developments.

BUT there is one area where the Libraries show that they couldn’t be further behind if they tried to:

If about 15 years ago someone had asked you for your phone number you naturally would have given a landline number. (A what?? I Know! :-) ) And you would have said that your number is 2801234, for example. But now, 15 years later, you probably would say that your number is 01-2801234. Right? What happened in the meantime is that mobile phones always require the area code to ring a landline number. Companies also would ALWAYS include the area code in their phone number EVEN if they only have customers in Dublin because they expect that many would ring from their mobile phone.

There is only on organisation that steadfastly had refused to add area codes to their phone numbers even on today’s websites: The public libraries in Dublin! See here for example!

But something happened even in the Libraries!! With the very recent information overhaul on the website NEARLY all phone numbers were changed and got even the international dialing code added.But it happened less than 3 months ago!

So even the libraries have no caught up. Better late than never! ;-)


Back where we were before…and NOTHING learned! – House prices in Dublin

Just 9 years ago in 2008 the country nearly collapsed when the banks and the property market got in serious trouble. People couldn’t pay their mortgages anymore because they had paid too much for the properties they lived in and for investment properties and many are STILL hurting from the losses. But memory is a short term thing!!

Back then, the mess was created by builders overcharging to make a big profit and by buyers overpaying because they expected massive profits. Last weekend it seemed as if 2008 had never happened. I heard about it on Newstalk but after a good search found an article about it in the Irish Times: Twelve out of fifteen apartments in the Hanover Lofts development at Grand Canal Quay were sold over one single weekend! The price? The 4x one-bedroom apartments start at EUR 415,000 and the 11x two-bedroom apartments start at EUR 575,000.

The madness is back with a vengeance!

What does that mean for us? If you own a property you can celebrate because the price is definitely going up. And if you don’t won any property there are two options: Either start panicking because you need to buy NOW and not wait any longer. OR: RELAX!! The prices are already FAR beyond what is affordable for many. So no rush for your buying! Maybe there will be another crash, THEN it is your turn! ;-)

Catholic Banana Republic – Part 956: The Dail Prayer

It seems that there is no end of stories that show how entrenched Catholicism is in Irish politics (and parts of the society). Two weeks ago the scandal about the religious order that might own the new National Maternity Hospital and will probably enforce the catholic ethos for procedures that are carried out in the hospital, was in the media headlines. This week the Dail debate and vote about a daily prayer raised eye brows and baffled people.

As before, I want to point out that I am raised catholic, would still define a version of catholic inspired spirituality as my religion and go to mass without any feeling of guilt despite my total and complete objection to ANY influence of any church on the state.

Any kind of faith or belief should be a completely private matter and has absolutely no place in a political or state context. A state has to be neutral and should be at a home for followers of all or religions or none.

However, things are different in Ireland and the clocks are running a few hundred years behind, it seems. This week the Dail decided that they would stick to the daily (catholic) prayer and that they would force members of the Dail to stand up. In addition they added a 30 second silence to the prayer.

Apart from the fact that no religion-specific (catholic or otherwise) prayer has a place in a parliament in 2017, the chosen prayer is utterly clumsy and outright nonsensical. This is how it goes:

“Direct, we beseech Thee, O Lord, our actions by Thy holy inspirations and carry them on by Thy gracious assistance; that every word and work of ours may always begin from Thee, and by Thee be happily ended; through Christ Our Lord. Amen.”

Come on, who would talk in that language nowadays, can they not at least use modern language?

But even if it was a modern prayer, it has no place in a parliament. Give the members of the parliament another minute so that they can whisper their prayer to themselves in quiet or in a prayer room or similar. Once they have prayed for help (and boy do they need it!), then they can come in to the parliament.


Only in the Catholic Banana Republic called Ireland, 97 out of 133 members of the parliament would vote in favour of keeping a discriminating Catholic prayer.

…and by the way, stuff like this is NOT helping Christianity, instead it does exactly the opposite!

Are Estate Agents important celebrities?

The answer is a pretty simple and very clear NO! But it seems that there sense of their own importance is coming to a different conclusion. But let me go back a few steps:

I get regularly fliers, A5 cards, letters or brochures from estate agents in my letterbox. They either want to offer me some of their properties or – and that is even more often the case – want me to sell my apartment by using their services. They won’t get anywhere with me, because I am renting my apartment and therefore won’t have anything to sell, but let’s leave that little “oops” aside for now and assume we had something to sell.

What do you think would be important information that I would be interested as a potential seller? Maybe their success rate? Maybe an estimate how much money I would get? Maybe an estimate how long it would take to sell? Maybe the amount they want from me in fees? Maybe their experience? I guess it would be some or all of these!

The A5 card that I found in my letterbox last week had four pictures of houses on them. three were for sale and one was sold and for all the price was specified, so the message of the pictures was “We want to sell a property to you!” but then the two line service description suggested that they will give me a free valuation for my property and a free “unique” report about what’s selling in my neighbourhood. So clearly THAT message was “We want to sell your property!” Sounds like mixed messages to me!

But then you turn the card around and all you see is the mugshots (portrait photos) of 18 (!!) people and I have to guess that they are the company’s employees. Just mugshots and names! No information about their experience, area of responsibility, just a picture. … Is this probably the least important information I need about my estate agent? Do I really care how he or she looks? – I absolutely do NOT care! If I was a potential client, I would just want them to get me the max amount of money!

So why do they show the mug shots of 18 people on that card?

I can only conclude that Estate Agents think they are big celebrities where seeing their picture will make me nearly automatically buy their product!?

There are professions where the face/picture is a big part of the brand and is needed for their self-advertisement. A model, a singer, a sports person and even some politicians need to be recognised to do effective marketing. But an estate agent?????

This was the promotional card from just one estate agent, but this is no exception! All four or five last fliers etc that I got from the same profession in the last few weeks had pictures on them. Odd!!


National Maternity Hospital – Get the religious orders out!

It is puzzling to the highest degree how Irish politics – even in 2017 – still colludes with religious organisations. Sure there was a long history of influence and there are still plenty of politicians who still don’t understand that no church or religious organisation should be allowed to interfere with the state, but do we have to wait until they are dead before things will change?

The newest scandal is the fact that the Sisters of Charity, an order of Catholic nuns, will own the National Maternity Hospital (NMH) next to St. Vincent’s Hospital in Ballsbridge. They will not just have some shares or get a percentage of the profit, no, they will OWN the hospital. You might wonder if they will build it or buy it because if you and I own something, we usually have to pay for it? No! They won’t have to pay for it! The fact that they are owning the land on which the National Maternity Hospital will be built seems to be enough to give them ownership. That is shocking!

The Sisters of Charity were one of the religious organisations that proved in the past that back then they were NOT able to look after the welfare of mothers and children. And after the swamp was cleaned, regrettably the Sisters of Charity didn’t provide the compensation payments that they had promised to the “redress scheme”. For many, this is the reason why they are totally against that religious order to own the NMH. I agree that that definitely can’t be ignored, but for me it is even a bigger problem that the separation of church and state should just never allow such intermingling.

Keep the interests separate from each other and you won’t get into dodgy or tricky situations when certain treatments could interfere with religious principles. The Department of Health claims that they are in charge and won’t let anybody interfere, but there can’t be any guarantee for that.

The solution? Buy the land from the religious order! I think the Sisters of Charity should pay what they owe regarding the compensation that they are due, but at the same time, the state should fairly then pay for and afterwards own the land the NATIONAL Maternity Hospital stands on. There is NO other option!