Monday 20 August 2007
Infrastructure, Irish Style
As I watched the Cork-Meath game yesterday on the box, I was struck by the number of empty seats in Croker. We have built a magnificent stadium in our Capital city, one of the biggest and one of the finest in Europe, but I couldn't help thinking there was something odd about all those empty seats! Meath are only down the road, and Cork is perhaps the finest GAA county of them all, and here we have a stadium that both teams cannot fill even for an All Ireland semi-final. At the same time, only a few miles away, the cranes are getting stuck in building another top class stadium.
Meanwhile our hopes for a first class, state of the art, children's hospital are on hold. Why is it that we can build such magnificent venues to play games - more and bigger than we need, but we cannot build venues to treat our sick children?
You might rush to point out the complexities of building a hospital versus building a stadium, but surely it's a matter of staying focused on our priorities, setting our goals, and pushing ahead with determination. The sad part is that the money is there. And if other countries can do it, why not we?
I cannot help thinking that the machinery we use to deliver key public infrastructure is broken down. The worn cogs of Government and its agencies, the brake of the planning process, and the drag of vested interest, are all conspiring to ensure that Dublin is a great place to play, but a terrible place to be sick.