Kevin Doyle Blog

Writing and activism

Posts Tagged ‘NAMA

“We Are Interred Here With Certain Rights… ”

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‘We should march on City Hall,’ announced my mother. ‘That’s what I’ve been saying. Let’s make a stand.’ She raised her voice even higher. ‘Could City Hall hold out against us? Against all of us, I mean, the interred? Together, united, marching down Patrick Street? I don’t think so. All it takes…’

We Should Be Beyond This, my short story about our plight, has just been published in the current issue of Southwords (No 25, December), the online journal of the Munster Literature Centre.  

Please go here to read the story.

To view and read Southwords 25 go here.

We Should Be Beyond This was a commended runner-up in the 2013 Seán Ó Faoláin Prize judged by Joyce Russel.  My thanks to the MLC for all their ongoing support for short story writers and the short story form.

Cul Fadda Ghost Estate, Co Kerry

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Photos of ghost estate have become all too common.   But Cul Fadda in Sneem, Co Kerry, is still noteworthy.  First of all consider the number of houses which are now lying idle and empty.  This, at a time, when homelessness is rife.  With the coming winter what will become of these houses in Sneem?  Nothing.  They will lie empty while people suffer in the cold, around the towns and cities of Ireland.  Talk about an insane world.  Capitalism!

Cul Fadda itself became the focus of an art project organised by Jochen Gersz.   He coordinated a group of 57 local school children who worked on transforming the empty and uncompleted ghost estate into a statement about the aftermath of the Celtic Tiger.  Some of this is certainly interesting….

But it hardly gets to the heart of the matter.  Why not go a lot further and give these houses to a trust that could make positive use of them?

But I’m guessing that won’t happen and that some of the same vested interests that caused this huge mess here in Ireland still have a stranglehold on everything in the zone of property and wealth.  So, there will be no giving these empty houses to any worthy trusts or such like.

The former show house for the development is decorated  inside and is all the more ironic for this.  When you look in the window, you can see that it is fully painted and furnished.  There must be so many people who would walk in the door of that show house tomorrow morning and take up residence.  But that  is not to be, of course.

The show room opening hours!

Written by Kevin Doyle

September 11, 2012 at 6:31 pm

Ireland’s Mary Celeste: Cill Eoin “Ghost Estate”, Kenmare

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I came across this small ghost estate on a recent trip to Kenmare.  The estate, Cill Eoin, is near the ruin of an old church on the Kenmare-Kilgarvan Road.  As ‘ghost estates’ go this is an extraordinary place.

The most striking aspect of Cill Eoin is the feeling I got that it had been abandoned suddenly.  The scaffolding inside some of the partially finished houses is still in place.  There is equipment lying around as if it had been used earlier that same day that I visited.  Some of the houses are in such good condition that you expect to see someone come in and check on progress.  Cill Eoin is the Mary Celeste of building sites.

Other signs tell a different story, of course.   Weeds have taken over the paths between the various houses.  The nails that lay in piles here and there are badly rusted.  And there is such an amount of bird song, as if the birds know the real story about this place: no one had been around here for a long, long time.

Just standing there and looking around, I understood better than I ever had before how the future has been stolen from us all and our children.

Written by Kevin Doyle

May 22, 2012 at 8:43 pm

Blarney Business Park: For This We Suffer?

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If you think about the straightforward human need for decent, basic necessities – housing, education, healthcare and a means to earn your way in the world – then a visit to the Blarney Business Park is the sort of thing that is likely to make you weep.

 = WASTESomewhere, a while ago now, some bunch of businessmen egged on by other local businessmen and assorted land developers, got the demented idea that the village of Blarney (located a few miles outside of Cork) needed its very own business park.  And so it came to pass …

You might imagine then that the construction of Blarney Business Park was part of some grand plan to meet some vital human need – after all isn’t it often said that that is exactly what the ‘free market’ excels at. You know, matching demand to supply and supply to demand and so on and so forth?  Oh ha, ha, ha!   You’re surely joking.

Not only is Blarney Business Park today just about devoid of life,  it is also in competition with a rash of other business park ventures located near its pew on the edge of the Cork-Mallow road.   Yes, there’s NorthPoint at Blackpool keenly looking for tenants – only a few kms away.  And also close by is Gateway Business Park who are offering loads and loads of ‘office space’, ‘warehouse space’ and other various ‘turnkey solutions’ to anyone who will venture in their gate.

Yes, one has to wonder?  What were those fine businessmen that conjured the Blarney Business Park into existence actually thinking?  What imaginary hole in the marketplace were they desperate to plug when they turned the sod for this gigantic waste of an effort?

[Of course, the truth is BBP was all about making a fast buck.  Let’s not doubt that for one moment.   The developers wanted to cash in on a perceived ever-enlarging economic expansion.  They were motivated only by greed for more profits.  But importantly – and this is key – these profit-zombies also had access to the cash, credit and wherewithal to make their plan realizable.  Human needs were never a factor in their skewed calculations. ]

It was developed and built by Bowen Construction, as far as I can tell.  Bowen was a one time major Irish building company that is now in receivership.  A recent Irish Times profile declared that Bowen were “established in 1968  [… and] grew to become one of the largest building and civil engineering contractors in the State with offices in Cork, Dublin, Belfast, Limerick and Waterford”.   Now Bowen are under the control of NAMA.  Which means what, dear reader?

Well, what NAMA means is that the plain people of Ireland are picking up the tab.  And how? Via wage cuts, pension cuts, cuts in resources to education, cuts in hospital services, ward closures.  And so on.

Look closely at the above photo and you will see something interesting.  Laughable too.  The canvas backdrop decorating this empty showroom, depicts what? No doubt it was installed to entice and stimulate those would be entrepreneurs whom it was imagined were out there and ready to flock to Blarney Business Park.

Your eyes are not deceiving you: it’s a vista straight from idyllic rural Ireland.   A narrow boreen somewhere out there in west Cork or Kerry, or Clare or somewhere like that.   Oh how wonderful it looks.  And what a thoughtful, original and appropriate inclusion too.  They really did think of everything didn’t they – those business men who conceived of Blarney Business Park.  Truly, no stone was left unturned.

‘Pat The Picket’ Allen – A True Rebel

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Pat Allen, May Day, Cork 2008

Pat Allen – one of the most formidable protestors in Cork – died earlier this week after a long battle with cancer. I knew Pat well and will miss not seeing him again on any protests in the city. Pat was always indignant about injustice and angry that more people were not out on the streets trying to put an end to what was wrong in society. He believed in taking action and letting people know what was wrong, and what should be done.  Not only a great character but an indignant one too!

One of my abiding memories of Pat was meeting him one day just off Patrick Street in Cork. He had a few posters with him and some paste.  But he complained bitterly to me that all the ESB poles along Patrick Street were already taken up with other posters and there was no room for his.  I pointed out to him that it was a good complaint to to be making and that it was a sign there was a good level of activity going on around the city.  But Pat could be single minded: he wanted to get his posters up and highlight his issue.  Pat had many issues on his mind and he spent a lot of time making it known that as a society we could a lot, lot better.  And he was right about that.

I took this photo of Pat  on the 2008 May Day celebration in Cork. Here Pat is in costume and he looked fabulous that day. He made his point too about the health cutbacks – what a scandal!  An interesting aside on Pat was the fact that his political prowess brought him into contact with the meaner elements of society – the Special Branch in particular.  Back in the 80s and 90s Pat suffered a considerable amount of harassment from the SB.  I think I had his character in mind (or someone like him) when I wrote ‘But Your Mother’.

An amazing person and a tremendous, defiant spirit.  A true rebel.  You will be missed Pat.


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Written by Kevin Doyle

November 12, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Repost Ireland: The poor die and the rich shall have fun!

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Signature of Charles Dickens

Image via Wikipedia

This contribution, published on Thursday on Indymedia Ireland, cannot be surpassed for its acute observation of what is now happening in Ireland.  The author of the report, Sean Mallory, explains,

RTE‘s Joe Duffy for once and unknowingly had his finger on the pulse when he accidentally illustrated the differing effects of the recession in a 7 minute clip.

Sean goes on to explain the content of the clip:

It opens with a woman talking about the tragic death of Slovakian man Stefan Adami who committed suicide from despair at his economic situation. When he was cut off his benefit, he and his wife were stuck in what sounds like a Dickensian situation.

The key point however comes near the end of the clip.  In an advertisement for another show on the radio station, RTE’s John Murray eggs on

“…Chris De Burgh‘s daughter Rosanna Davison (socialite) talks about her famed trip to Marrakech with Johnny Ronan (failed developer & co-owner of Treasury Holdings). Davison does not seem to be aware/care that she went in a private jet owned by Ronan when he owed the Irish tax payer €896 million through Nama. Perversely she relishes in the gossip, egged on by an RTE presenter. “

The original report on Indymedia is here.  The full sound clip from the Joe Duffy show is here.  Take a listen.

Anti-Shell Oil Activist in Jail … Solidarity

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This video by Dave Donnellan is an excellent update on the ongoing resistance to the Shell Oil robbery currently underway off the coast of Co. Mayo.  Pat O’Donnell is now in Castlerea Prison serving a long sentence for challenging  the heavy hand of the police. What did he do?  Well, as you will see from the video clip, very little.  Take a look and find out more about Shell’s grand larceny Irish style!

Written by Kevin Doyle

March 30, 2010 at 10:15 am

Ambassador Gabriel Byrne and ‘Brand Ireland’ … No thanks

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I woke up this morning to a sweetly sick interview on Morning Ireland with the actor Gabriel Byrne.  I don’t know if this is official or not but Gabriel is Ireland’s new cultural ambassador.  Maybe that’s just for the day that’s in it – St Patrick’s Day – but my impression is is that it is for much longer and is part of an initiative to ‘sell’ Ireland abroad particularly using its artistic and cultural achievements.   In the interview, such terms were bandied around like ‘selling Ireland’, and ‘Brand Ireland’ and so on and so on.  As is befitting of Ireland’s RTE news and TV service, the interviewer asked NO penetrating questions nor were any of these loaded terms either discussed, elaborated on or contended in any way.  No, the way it is is that this is all a good thing.  No dissention, no dissection of what is at stake – no anything really.  Both interviewer and interviewee were in agreement that the commodification of culture and ideas for some bottom line benefit to Ireland in the area of ‘jobs’ could only be a good thing.  Well sorry there, but I happen to work in this area and I don’t think it is a good idea at all.

Byrne explained his interest in all of this in terms of that age old fairy tale.  In his own family, his brothers and sisters have lost jobs and been thrown on the dole. What can he do?  Well, of course, he must use his position to go to the great King and ask for any crumbs from the table since Gabriel has been the jester in his day and he knows the lighter side of the King’s manner (Hollywood) and has benefitted from his largesse.  Nice Gabriel!  I was impressed at how all of what he was proposing to do as Ireland’s cultural ambassador was NOT being done for Ireland’s business class.  Oh no, Gabriel is doing all this for Irish workers and the working class so they can get some jobs and have ‘a deysant future’.  Oh come on now, Gabriel.

So much was glossed over.  Like the following.  Only a certain projection of Irish culture will be used in any situation where our culture is used to ‘sell’ who and what we are.  Of course this is true.  The projection that will be used will centre on values in Irish culture and art that don’t threaten capitalism.  Anti-capitalism, anti-authoritarianism – the spirit of defiance and autonomy in what we do – will be ignored and downgraded.  You don’t have to be a genius to figure out why.  In any commercial transaction not being offensive to the client is crucial.

This selling of a ‘cleansed image’ of Irish art and cultural production as part of Gabriel’s efforts will have an negative impact right now.   It will add impetus to the current trend that homogenises and streamlines cultural production in this country.  Is is already hard for those outside the ‘official’ and ‘accepted’ art production areas to make a living; this will worsen our situation.

Since the United States was mentioned in the interview, I have to address it.  Clearly Ireland and the US have a longstanding relationship.  It is many faceted.  But here again a certain aspect was promoted. Byrne was clear in the interview that Ireland (ie our art and cultural force) has something to say to the corporations.  We, he argued, could help the corporations.  I kid you not.  So nothing here about the structure, role and self-serving nature of ‘corporations’.   I mean it wouldn’t be stretching things to say corporations are very dangerous and self- interested entities whose principal aim is exploitation for profit.   Their role in creating poverty and inequality right throughout the world is fairly damning.   Are we going to be critical of these multinationals?  Hell no, Gabriel is going to have us out there helping them!

One last thing.  Right now, where has all this come from – this little initiative from Gabriel?  Well if you have been following events in the last few years then you will know about the ‘economic crisis’.  And of course even the dogs in the street know that that crisis is intimately linked in terms of its causes to that big disastrous idea that so many in the world have have to deal with day in, day out … Yes, you have it in one: capitalism.   So is it really a good idea that (Ireland’s) ‘art’ and ‘culture’ is to be hived off into this nebulous and offensive concept of ‘Brand Ireland’ to rescue capitalism?

Lonely Planet’s Cork and Cowen’s Head Taking Off

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Off With His Head ...

One good cut (in time saves nine ...)!

The biggest gimmick of last week must have been Lonely Planet’s inclusion of Cork in its ten best destinations for 2010. Oh come off it like, as we say around here. What sort of a langerated idea is this?  Or to put it another way, ‘Do you think like we came down in the last shower?’

Marketing by Lonely Planet, I think.  Not that the ‘tourish (sic) industry’ didn’t dine out on it for a few days and clap themselves on the back.  It was just what they needed: ‘Oh come here, really do, so we can RIP you off big big time.’

But anyway, none of this is to take away from the fact that we are special down here in Cork. Everyone knows that.  Any by way of an example, here is what I have to offer up –  take a gawk.  Isn’t that something?  I took the photo on the huge ‘Get Up, Stand Up’ march against the cuts that passed through ‘pana’ on Friday afternoon last. Now  that WAS something to see.  And pride of place for me goes to this great placard which got to the nub of the matter.  Surely like.

One good cut!  Now that’s the spirit of the Rebel County…

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