The rest of the country is not even a Pale imitation

THE National Spatial Strategy (NSS) states that “the ability of Greater Dublin and some other areas to attract large-scale inward investment is clearly associated with their perceived advantages of being significant urban areas ...

... with international transport connections, third-level and other educational and research facilities, business services, cultural and entertainment facilities.”

A long overdue investment in infrastructure of nearly €150m is being made in Cork Airport. The Dublin Airport Authority has decided, against the wishes of the Cork Airport Board (which is still without authority), and others, to save €100,000 by not providing air bridges as envisaged in the original design.

While the excuse for this is that neither Aer Lingus nor Ryanair would use them because short-haul aircraft can be turned around faster without them, that is not the case for long-haul, wide-bodied planes.

There is now a suggestion that the airport be downgraded to daytime operations only.

In effect these issues are major obstacles to the development of long-haul routes. One wonders if the decision is related to prevention of development of Cork or just the prevalent attitude that second-rate is good enough outside Dublin.

I recall, when conducting project research professionally many years ago, the then senior Aer Rianta officials scoffed at the every existence of Cork airport, even telling me, inter alia, that it was irrelevant in the scheme of things and that the main runway could never be extended and the airport would never expand.

More of this can be seen in the absence of a school of music building in Cork; the terrible state of Kent Station; the downgrading of motorways to dual carriageway status beyond the Pale; the lack of interest in the Cork/Limerick road (despite the NSS assertion that “great emphasis must be placed upon improving journey time and journey time reliability between them”); the pittance that was granted to Cork to represent the nation as European Capital of Culture; the confused, unintegrated and ineffective Cork city bus service; the removal of civil servants from Cork as part of so-called decentralisation.

Further examples include the recent comment by the chairman of CIÉ (when asked by the Cork city manager to do something about their disused marshalling yards at Horgans Quay after seven years procrastination) that the land belonged ‘to the people,’ as if the people of Cork were not people at all, not to mention the rationing of the ‘national’ RTÉ news from outside Dublin as though people outside the Pale did not pay a licence fee.

I could go on. It seems that anything controlled from Dublin will be kept sub-standard. While I am using Cork (by far the largest population outside Dublin) to illustrate the point, this also applies to the other cities, all but one of which are in Munster. When Shannon airport made its own decision regarding Ryanair recently, the worker director on the Dublin Airport Authority resigned in protest, stating that the decision should first have been referred to the Dublin board (why should it be?).

If such issues related to Dublin (or even The Pale), the ‘national’ taxpayer would pay hundreds of millions to ensure they were not second rate. Is the north Dublin constituency dictating all ‘national’ policy now?

Is there gain in the financial spin-off from concentration in Dublin, or is it just a hangover from that original creation - The Pale?

The Pale, after all, was established to protect the English there and to ensure that the wealth generated by the Irish remained in the hands of that few. While the military value has evaporated, I question if the latter has.

Perhaps it is simply the implementation of the concept expressed elsewhere in the National Spatial Strategy - “diversion of this level of employment growth away from the Greater Dublin Area could damage the successful dynamic achieved in Dublin which is of vital national importance”.

John Whelan

1 Edenbrook Park

Rathfarnham

Dublin 14

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