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Will Dublin Metro project go off the rails, given our track record?

February 23rd, 2024 11:00 AM

By Southern Star Team

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IT’S white elephant season in Dublin with breaking news last week on two of the biggest, whitest, variations of the species.

First up was Stephen Donnelly’s report to the Cabinet that the cost of the National Children’s Hospital (NCH) has now risen to more than €2bn. Leo Varadkar has said that no more government money will be going into it. But you get the sense that there is no feeding this particular beast – the hospital site now being the equivalent of the government trying to give milk to a hungry teenager.

Everyone wants this hospital to be the best in class of its kind, but the shambles of a process around its procurement and construction are enough to make you want to give up.

I’m not normally a ‘we should hand the keys to Michael O’Leary and let him run it’ kind of person, but there’s got to be a better way of doing things with public money. If you got O’Leary involved, you’d probably have to pay for using the toilets and for checking in your baggage but you get the feeling we wouldn’t be blowing the budget like this.

It’s the ageold problem of getting people to behave responsibly with other people’s money. If O’Leary had his way, there’d be no Dublin Metro, of course, which he thinks is a complete waste of money. For those of us who can’t afford a taxi plate to skip the traffic, a Metro is something that a proper European capital needs and is worth all the headaches, in my opinion.

Unfortunately, you get the sense there will be many major headaches ahead.

This week, as the An Bord Pleanála planning hearing for the scheme began, Transport Infrastructure Ireland said congestion could cost the Irish economy €2bn per year. So the business case is there for its construction.

However, the public hearing on the Metro also gave a sense of the complexity of the build ahead, with large swathes of central Dublin due for major renovations and many properties due for compulsory purchase orders.

Construction is due to begin in 2025 and last for nine years but this feels also comically optimistic given our track record in recent times. Cycle lanes are being built in my area of Dublin over the last year and you’d swear they were rebuilding Notre Dame Cathedral, such is the speed of progress.

Will Dublin ever be finished?

Still making the news

THE news in RTÉ wasn’t much better this week. There is a constant drip drip drip of bad news from the national broadcaster. If it continues they will need to launch an RTÉ News 2 channel just to cover all the RTÉ-related stories.

This all seems to be exacerbated by the fact that RTÉ journalists are bending themselves over backwards to be seen to cover the stories fairly, helped surely by the fact that many of them must be livid about the way other staff have recently exited the organisation.

How somebody who presided over the Toy Show The Musical fiasco can leave with a golden handshake after his resignation, is beyond belief. Again, can you imagine this happening in the private sector?

And another high-profile executive left RTÉ under the mysterious shadow of a confidentiality agreement, something which beggars belief in the context of the scrutiny the organisation is currently under. The damage to the brand is a tragedy for those of us who are committed to the importance of a vital and robust public sector broadcaster.

Potty over Harry prices

LAST week, I had the pleasure of bringing the offspring to London town during the midterm for an extremely highly anticipated trip to the Warner Brother’s Harry Potter studio lot. It was a magical experience for the kids, and an equally magical one for the parents, as our money began to disappear the minute we went through the doors.

I’m not going to begrudge JK Rowling and all her mates in Warners. I have her to thank largely for the amount of book reading that happens in this house. My son more or less ate the Harry Potter series, a testament to Rowling’s brilliant storytelling, and we’ve since seen the movies many, many, many times.

The film studio tour features the actual sets from the films, so it was a pretty immersive experience and you get a real sense of the levels of detail and craft that go into these big-budget productions, not to mention the merchandising industry that tends to balloon around them. They were selling ‘collectible’ wands in the gift shop for £35 a pop, which is in my opinion an eye-watering amount for a stick without actual magical powers, but I guess the memories are priceless, right?

The joy on the kids’ faces and the great quality of the exhibits, not to mention the help from the super-enthusiastic staff, were enough to melt even this old miser’s heart. So, it’s a tour well worth your time if there are some budding wizards in the family, but one to save ahead for perhaps .…

Daddy ready to burst

ANYONE who hasn’t seen the unbridled madness and joy of a small clip released by the digital creator @tadhg_fleming is missing out. Fleming and his Kerry family are well known for their online sketches but this one was a real doozy.

The clip features the influencer and his sister trying to insert their long-suffering father into a giant green balloon which they attempt to inflate using a leaf blower. The results are tear-inducingly hilarious.

Up the Kingdom!

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