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Category Archives: rip off

I was delighted to follow the developments today in Limerick, culminating in the resignation of the CEO from Limerick City of Culture 2014. One down, a few more to go, before there may be a possibility to build a board and a structure that can actually see a successful year of City of Culture through. A proper board only needs one bean counter. I doesn’t need any Gombeen-men (or women). It needs people who are experienced culture workers, with roots in Limerick and with a global outlook.

A good working board should be able to multiply the State contribution of €6 million, raising funds from other sources, if the successful delivery so requires. A real board should be transparent, making a year-long experience of high impact possible.

It was a public meeting, following the resignations of the artistic director of Limerick City of Culture 2014, Karl Wallace and two of his co-workers.

Many of us at the meeting requested that the board of Limerick City of Culture 2014 take their responsibility and step down, or at least, that the CEO steps down. Over the past few days, all the bad headlines in media have been caused by the Board – not the culture workers or people of Limerick.

The honest questions from culture workers and members of the public were met with political platitudes, such as Pat Cox’s statement that Karl Wallace’s resignation “was only a bump in the road”. Cox also claimed that the board, altruistically, “works for free”. I think we need to see the full accounts and ledgers of Limerick National City of Culture 2014 Ltd if we were to believe that statement. From where are the €120,000 coming, to pay the CEO?

Limerick National City Of Culture 2014 Ltd (Company Registration Number: 533149) was set up on Tuesday the 24th of September 2013 in Limerick. The company’s current directors Conn Murray and Tom Gilligan have been the directors of 16 other Irish companies between them, 2 of which are now closed.

If  Irish politicians wanted to stay credible and trusted, they would force all the material, documents and recordings around the Anglo Irish Bank and all other connections to be published, on-line, on the web. Full open source disclosure, of more than 24 million documents.
First of all, it would open up the corrupt mess to citizens’ data mining, connecting the often murky threads and build cases against all those responsible. There will be nowhere to hide. As the Irish state cannot afford to have civil servants or consultants to work through this enormous material, enabling everybody to participate in this analysis could be a way forward. There is no need to have the truth filtered by expensive commissions, inquiries, solicitors, barristers, PR consultants, etc. Just give us full access to the big mess and I’m sure we will get it properly analyzed in a fully transparent way. Making all information available will also be a great source for research by future historians and economists.

dead christmas tree

Arab Spring – a novel elastic form of democracy, originally developed in North Africa. It’ll never work in Ireland due to scattered showers and sunny spells.

Bailout – letting perpetrators get away while asking for more. Cf. dig-out, whip-around.

Billion – something you have never had but that you now have to pay to someone you don’t owe.

Bonus – an absurd amount of money paid to laid-off politicians, bankers, quango board members and higher civil servants in return for amnesia.

Crisis – what politicians and bankers experience when realising that their goal (making themselves richer) is not congruent with the goals of the general public.

Deficit – the current measure of trust in authority.

Haircut – a bald move, if succesful.

Household charge – the amount of electricity it takes to charge a mobile phone.

NAMA – an Irish nonsense word (cf. Bla bla bla), used for explaining all unmentionable things, avoiding truth (a.k.a. lying) and as a motivation for all kinds of unreasonable an irrational political decisions.

Occupation – reclaiming what is already ours.

Trolley – a major attraction in Irish hospitals. To be placed on a trolley makes you realise you’ve been taken for a ride, for years.

…to be continued…


Irish Rail have problems and is actively ripping off their customers.

I traveled from Limerick to Maynooth the other day. My colleague had pre-booked and bought his ticket online and had no problem getting his ticket based on his reservation code. His ticket covered Limerick Colbert – Dublin Heuston [Luas tram] Connolly Station – Maynooth.
I really don’t trust Irish rail’s pre-booking system as it has failed me in the past, a couple of years ago. Anyhow, the way things used to be was that the Good Olde Manual Ticket Office would always open 10 minutes before departure, even at the ungodly hour of 05:30 in the morning. Not anymore…. This left me trying to book and buy my ticket from one of the ticket vending machines in Colbert station. The big surprise was that the machine refused to show Maynooth as a destination, probably because the journey would require a change in Dublin, from Heuston to Connolly station, via a tram journey on the Luas

I asked two sleepy staff at the station, who were present only to check that passengers actually had tickets, but these two rail-workers could not, manually, sell me a ticket, hence my only option was to buy a ticket for just going to Dublin, and buy the next ticket when I got there.

In Dublin, at Heuston station, the ticket machines could not provide a ticket to Maynooth either. 
Eventually at Connolly station, the machines listed Maynooth, but were offline and could not handle payment with a debit or credit card, but finally I managed to get a ticket from the manual ticket sales.
Later, during my return journey, I verified that the reverse was also true, i.e. that you can’t buy a ticket for Limerick in the Maynooth or Dublin Connolly stations.

I asked the staff in Maynooth, and was told that Irish Rail have at least three different, separate, not interconnected, ticketing systems. The manual ticket offices have the oldest ticket machines that cannot print an integrated ticket. The web-based ticketing system can sell you any possible kind of ticket, as an integrated ticket that can include train and tram, changes, etc. Such a transaction results in a booking number that you then enter on the ticket vending machine in the station, and your ticket is printed. But… on the booking screen of the vending machines in each station, only stations connected directly to the station your originating from are listed. 
Finally, analyzing the cost, my colleague who bought his ticket online paid €67, including Luas. 
If you buy all three tickets offline as you go, like I was forced to do, the cost is  €47 + €2.90 + €6 = €55.90
So why would Irish Rail charge their customers almost 20% more if a customer buys their ticket on-line? Not even Ryanair would be so daft.
I think this is yet another simple and clear example that Irish semi-state companies are not joining the dots, live in cloud-cuckoo-ballygobackwards land and just focus on ripping us off.