Modest Proposals for the Next Irish Government

I’ve been meaning to do this for a long time, particularly since I got an email from William Wall about his Citizen’s Manifesto , and shortly afterwards spotted
Damien Mulley’s Questions for the Politicians that stop at your door
. Suzy Byrne made a similiar point to my number 1 on Damien’s blog, but I can’t find such a reference on hers. But good to know it’s not just me that thinks Luas sucks the blood from the rest of the transport system. An appointment was cancelled this evening, meaning unexpected spare time, so though it’s a bit late in the day, here goes…

The Modest Proposals

1. Transport: (a) Forget about extending the Luas. Bring the bus network up to Luas standard, ie electronic timetables, shelters, and high frequency. Thereby: saving millions, bypassing massive disruption – benefiting passengers on the entire network, not just a few routes. Almost immediate beneficial effect – no waiting for years on end. See my Mark of the BX
(b) Free public transport. Yes I know it has to be paid for, but no one says that when Minister Cullen opens yet another motorway. See my detailed proposal here.

2. Ireland sneaks data retention into law. This was the headline plastered all over the internet in 2005, when the Minister for Justice smuggled data retention into the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Act before an almost empty Dáil. A secret de facto retention was in operation from 2002, until the Data Commissioner Joe Meade forced the Minister’s hand and it became law without proper debate.

“Under Irish law, your telephone records are being stored for three years. This includes the location of your mobile phone at all times. The Garda can find out who you rang or where you were up to three years ago without any approval from a judge: all that is required is the signature of a senior garda.” see Digital Rights Ireland
Minister McDowell says it is necessary to combat crime and terrorism. Translation: in order to preserve your freedom we must take away your freedom.

3. Accessibility: In the first instance, make every publicly-funded building, whether of government, a place of culture or entertainment, accessible to all citizens. If the excuse is that it is a listed building, then move all publicly-funded bodies to non-listed, accessible buildings. In the second instance, ensure that all public buildings are accessible by law. No ifs or buts.

4. Homeless. When are we going to see the end the scandal of people, many of them children, sleeping on the streets? Just because they’re junkies – and many are not – doesn’t mean they don’t have the same right to roof over their heads as the rest of us. Walk the streets of inner Dublin and see for yourself.

5. Marijuana. I don’t smoke it – or anything else. But it has many therapeutic properties, especially for those with neurological disorders. Keeping it illegal only lines the pockets of criminals, and criminalises sick people who need it. Legalise it. Let it replace some of the gunk given out on prescription which creates legal drug addiction (the hidden, tortored Ireland)

6. Shell. Apart from the rights of the local people involved (which I support), what about the question of royalties for the gas Shell wishes to extract? Estimated worth: €51 billion. Royalties? Zero. Zilch. Nada. This stunning deal was done by Ray Burke, who has since been in prison. Why isn’t this an election issue?

7. Property Rights. For long term relationships, whether gay or straight. It’s not right that if a partner dies, you’re left with nothing except large bills.

8. Playgrounds. Can we have the same amount of playgrounds for children as golfcourses for grown-ups, please.

9. Communications: (a) Outlaw line rental – it’s a scam. While you’re at it, outlaw TV licences. In both instances you’re paying twice for the same service. Unless, of course, RTÉ allows free download of Irish-produced programmes under a Creative Commons license. in return for the licence.
(b) Bypass eircom’s stranglehold on broadband by bringing forward digital tv, freeing bandwidth for wireless broadband.

10.Think Holistically. eg Allow householders to sell electricity to the ESB, thus making solar panels etc more interesting and economical. Look on every roof as a power station. See huge dispersed power stations on Google Maps when you look at Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Sligo etc from the air. A crash programme to insulate every house in the country, and change every lightbulb in the country to cfls/leds.

That’s all, Folks. I feel better now. Goodnight and good luck.


  1. Thanks for drawing attention to the Citizen’s manifesto. Still a few days left, folk, to hit your friendly canvasser with something articulate!

    Some great ideas here, Philip. It all makes so much sense. I particularly like the free RTE programmes under Creative Commons licence. As regards the dope, I’m beginning to think I might try it – as the medicines board withdraws yet another drug I’ve been using!
    I happen to think that the quickest way to solve our emissions problem (I mean the country rather than anything personal) is to make all public transport free. Or charge a nominal fee for the fuel. Give everyone something like London’s OysterCard.

  2. Philip

    Thanks for that, William. Of course the Creative Commons licence for RTÉ programmes isn’t mine (see link). Not too gone on the Oyster card, though – or the idea of giving people cards at all eg medical cards, travel passes, etc. It’s all one extra, wasteful layer, in my opinion, as are ticket printing, coin collecting, etc. Just make it free at access, simply. It’s paid for in taxes after all and gets rid of debilitating subsidies. You pay your taxes, and receive services. Or you stop ministers wasting money, and the money saved pays for the system ;>)

    Just my thoughts on it.

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