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NAMA will kill Irish economy for years to come

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Date Published: {J}

Was ‘treason’ too strong a word? No. When this government agreed to take on the liabilities of Anglo-Irish Bank, converting the risks of financial speculators into a personal liability for every citizen, then yes they did betray the people of Ireland. Not with malice aforethought, but with too little regard for the consequences on ordinary people, born of too high a regard for the interests of a wealthy minority.

But that minority was taking a punt to turn a profit. It may have suited the government to pretend that demand for property was infinite, but the investors still knew it was a game. You get in, grab what you can, you hope to get out before the bubble bursts.

Anglo was obviously overexposed to property, so anyone hanging in there at the end was well aware that they were taking a huge risk. And so they lost – or at least they should have. But investors in Anglo were not taking a gamble on the property market as such. In effect they were betting on the government being too weak and too dependent on the property sector to allow them to lose. So really they won. Not on the open market, but in a game of bluff against the state. For our money.

And now the nation is up to its epiglottis in debt. Those who got carried away in the ‘Tiger’ years and joined in the national madness, who borrowed money to buy a house for twice what it was worth so they could sell it for three times, they will have to pay that back now. Sorry, but proper order. Those of us who either couldn’t afford or knew better than to get into overpriced property . . . Well we’re going to have to pay it back too. Lessons this government teaches us: No sensible decisions goes unpunished.

How did it come to this? It’s really pretty simple. People invested in the Irish property market because it was a magic money machine. Then the money just vanished overnight.

Oh dear, where did it go? It seems it was never there in the first place, because buildings simply aren’t worth that much in reality. Who knew? NAMA’s estimate is that about half of the total money borrowed is now not going to given back, and frankly I think that’s wildly optimistic. We all now have to pay up to five thousand a year each, so even more people are going to be defaulting on their mortgages and other debts. Do you have five thousand a year you weren’t using?

It’s insane, and it’s going to kill the economy stone dead for decades. All because this government pledged that we – the ordinary citizens, the workers, the donators to and recipients of welfare, health services and pensions – would keep the empty promises of speculators. In no uncertain terms, we owe that money now because of the stupid prices that were paid for property in this country.

Remember a few years ago, when you saw some awful little building on sale for several million, and you laughed and said "Who’s going to pay that kind of money?" Turns out, the answer was you will.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.

 

For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

images/files/images/x3_Courthouse.jpg

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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