Coming down to earth...
January 2006; A DUBLIN businessman has written to the Minister for Transport Martin Cullen, the Health and Safety Authority and the Railway Inspectorate about what he claims was the "filthy, unsafe, unsanitary and uncomfortable" condition of a mainline train last weekend.
But a spokesperson for Iarnrod Eireann said that while they accepted trains could be crowded, especially at the weekend, the issue was one of comfort rather than safety.
They could not comment on the particular complaint and they had not yet received an correspondence, but they promised that the situation would improve in 2007/2008 when 120 new carriages would add comfort and allow greater frequency on inter-city routes - such as the one complained of. Mr Owen Patten told the Sunday Independent that when he boarded the 2.25pm train from Westport to Dublin on Sunday last it was half full, but by the time it reached Ballyhaunis it was full.
"At Ballyhaunis, Claremorris and Roscommon, more and more passengers boarded, with the result that every gangway, every available space was filled with people and their luggage - even the spaces between the carriages," he said.
"Exit doors were blocked and the two toilets in the vicinity of where I was siting - carriage number 5223 - were locked and out of order. If there was any kind of emergency either on the track or in the train, I doubt if the rescue services would have been able to get to work very quickly.
"I talked to the ticket collector and he told me he had only got on at Castlereagh and couldn't do anything about it. At this stage I had given up my seat to an elderly nun who looked very frail," he added.
Mr Patten said that conditions were so bad that he and about 20 other passengers decided to get off the train at Athlone. "Some soldiers in uniform had to help a few elderly ladies off the train. We waited for the best part of an hour for the Galway train which was half full before we could continue to Dublin.
"I did asked to speak to the station master, but was told she was not available."
Mr Patten says he had a similar experience almost exactly a year ago so when he got home he rang some friends in Castlebar and Westport to ask them if there had been some special occasion that might have caused overcrowding.
"I was told there was nothing special, that this was a regular occurrence." http://www.soldiersofdestiny.org/theghosttrain.htm
During the 1977 election campaign ,Fianna Fail abolished domestic rates .It was said of the party,in their anxiety to get re-elected;
"If the electorate wanted the moon ,Fianna Fail would have offered to buy Cape Canaveral."!
Fianna Fail are to spend an estimated 2 billion Euros on a new 5.2 kilometre underground interconnector between Heuston Station and their crownies office developments in Dublins dockland.,while OVERCROWDING on commuter trains has led to a spate of passengers fainting from lack of oxygen, and a GP working near one Dublin train corridor has slammed our "creaking" train system.
Dr James Reilly says he is seeing an increasing number of patients who attend his clinic in Lusk, Co Dublin, after passing out on board packed commuter lines. Dr Reilly, the former head of the Irish Medical Organisation, said the phenomenon was a direct result of the "creaking" publictransport system, which is so inadequate that most trains are packed after just a few stops.
. "A number of people have attended my surgery after they lost consciousness on a packed train."
He said many of them were on the same train - the Dublin to Dundalk line - which has become notorious amongst commuters.
Those who take the line every day say it is constantly overcrowded, with large volumes of people pushing onto already full trains and often hurling abuse at others in their determination toget on.
"The fact that fainting onboard has become a medical phenomenon just goes to show how critical the issue of overcrowding is."
A comprehensive, high-capacity train system for the city is the only solution to the transport problem, according to Deputy Mitchell.
"Dublin is far behind when it comes to a decent public transport system. It is time for an underground system like the New York subway or the Paris metro.
"With such a hugely growing commuter population, demand outstrips supply year on year. A fully linked-up rail service is the only way to solve the problem."
. Iarnrod Eireann hopes their new Interconnector service will go some way to easing the congestion. (?)
The Interconnector is an 5.2km underground Dart line which will go from the Docklands to Heuston Station.
THE Minister for Children Brian Lenehan has been accused of cynically wasting public money in telling people what they don't need to know.
His department has spent €260,000 sending two letters, both signed by Mr Lenihan, to all eligible parents informing them of the new early childcare scheme.
But the recipients don't need to do anything, as they will receive the money in any case.
. "There is absolutely nothing in these letters that parents don't already know about the supplement. This childcare payment is paid automatically to all recipients of child benefit with children under six,commented a Fine Gael spokesperson.
The first mailshot from Mr Lenihan's department cost €130,000, including printing costs of €28,000 and postage of a further €101,000 all across the State. A second letter, distributed from the end of June 2006, cost the same.
Mr Stanton, the FG spokesman on social and family affairs, said the minister should instead have sent out information on schemes that are under-subscribed and in need of advertising, or at least done this with the mailshot.
He cited a lack of public awareness about entitlement to such benefits as the back-to-school clothing and footwear allowance and the Family Income Supplement (FIS). "They could have been included in the letters".
Flood of protest as Minister Roche launches new water privatization scheme
Workers in the County Council's water and sewerage department have been angered by the council's decision to proceed with handing over some water plants to the private sector without consultation.
They made their feelings perfectly clear with a protest involving 45 people outside the Mount Wolsey Hotel, Tullow, in Carlow, on Monday where Environment Minister Dick Roche was due to sign the South Leinster DBO Project.
The project involves the construction of 18 new water treatment plants for group water schemes in each of the six counties as well as 15 new local authority owned plants, 13 of which will be located in Wicklow.
However, SIPTU insist that the project was designed for group water schemes, but the council are exclusively handing over public water schemes. SIPTU representative, Michael Wall, was present at Monday's noisy protest and insists Wicklow County Council are making a big mistake.
'It's a black day for the people of Wicklow when the elected local authority decides, without consultation or proper analyses, to hand over the Wicklow water supply to the private sector for profit. This decision is in direct breach of national agreements, which clearly lay down procedures for examining the feasibility of such projects.'
Mr. Wall added, 'this project has not been properly evaluated and the associated costs are highly suspect. The consequences of handing over the water supply to private operators for twenty years will be an economic and social disaster for the employees, the taxpayer and the consumers,'
He also condemned the council's decision to withdraw from the Labour Relations Commission process and refusal to go to the Labour Court.
The overall value of the South Leinster DBO project is around €27 million. Construction cost is estimated at €8.5 million while the net present value of the 20 year operation and maintenance contract is put at €18.5 million.
The contract was awarded to EPS Ltd of Mallow, Co Cork, an Irish firm with long experience in the field of mechanical and electrical engineering and in the water services area in particular.
However, Mr. Wall remains adamant that the project could prove disastrous.
'You are talking about handing over Wicklow water for 20 years to the private sector with no analyses of the consequences. The council have an obligation to consult with stake holders, trade unions and the public. Now it appear the jobs belonging to these men are in limbo.'
The water barons
A look at the world's top water companies
When you turn on the tap or flush the toilet in an increasingly larger number of countries around the world, you're increasing the profit line for some of the world's largest multinational corporations.
The world's private water industry is dominated by just three corporations: Vivendi and Suez, both of France, and Thames Water of England, owned by the German conglomerate RWE.
"There will be world wars fought over water in the future."
While the companies claim they can deliver water more efficiently, that is often not the case, and the cost is the loss of public control.
"These are 25, 30-year contracts, which the corporation have enormous control over something that is so essential to life itself," says Clarke.
"You can switch from Coke to Pepsi but you can't switch from water to... what?"
David Boys, who works for a federation of public trade unions, says the same reason water is profitable is why it shouldn't be a private business.
"You're clients are captive because they can't decide, 'Well, I'm not going to buy water anymore, I'm not going to turn my tap on,'" he says. "You can't do that. You can switch from Coke to Pepsi but you can't switch from water to... what?"
The public relations videos by the world's top water corporations boast explosive growth, with statements such as:
The ICIJ investigation shows cases where service and access has improved under private management. But around the world, privatizations have also led to rising costs, cutoffs for poor people and companies pulling out of contracts when they can't make enough profit.
Those issues have provoked heated debates and protests in many countries, debates and protests that may soon be coming to Ireland.
Though most privatizations so for have been in Asia, Africa and Latin America, top executives of the big three companies told CBC Radio that they plan to expand next in two areas – China and North America.
Bechtel vs. BoliviaThe Bolivian Water Revolt
In January 2000, just months after it took over control of the water system of Bolivia’s third largest city, Cochabamba, a Bechtel Corporation subsidiary hit water users with enormous price increases. These increases forced some of the poorest families in South America to literally choose between food or water. A popular uprising against the company, repressed violently by government troops, left one 17 year old boy dead and more than a hundred people wounded. In April 2000 Bechtel was finally forced to leave. In November 2001 Bechtel decided to add to the suffering it had already caused by filing a legal demand for $25 million against the Bolivian people – compensation for its lost opportunity to make future profits.
The Democracy Center has played an important role in the water revolt and in the fight against Bechtel’s claim. The Center reported the story, directly from the scene, in a series of dispatches that received honors for the top story of 2000 from Project Censored. The Center was the first to expose that Bechtel was the real force behind the Bolivian water company. The Center has engaged both Bechtel and the World Bank directly on their actions and led the campaign to file an International Citizen’s Petition with the World Bank demanding that the Bechtel vs. Bolivia case be opened.
In 1997 the World Bank informed Bolivia that it was making additional aid for water development conditioned upon the government privatizing the public water systems of two of its largest urban centers, El Alto/La Paz and the city of Cochabamba. In September 1999, in a secret process with just one bidder, Bolivia’s government turned over Cochabamba’s water to a company controlled by the California engineering giant, Bechtel.
Within a few weeks, Bechtel’s company raised water rates by an average of more than 50%, sparking a citywide rebellion that has come to be known as the Cochabamba Water Revolt. In April 2000, following a declaration of martial law by the President, the army killing of a seventeen-year-old boy (Victor Hugo Daza), and more than a hundred wounded, the citizens of Cochabamba refused to back down and Bechtel was forced to leave Bolivia.
Eighteen months later Bechtel and its co-investor, Abengoa of Spain, filed a $50 million legal demand against Bolivia before a closed-door trade court operated by the World Bank, the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). For four years afterwards Bechtel and Abengoa found their companies and corporate leaders dogged by protest, damaging press, and public demands from five continents that they drop the case.
On January 19, 2006 Bechtel and Abengoa representatives traveled to Bolivia to sign an agreement in which they abandoned the ICSID case for a token payment of 2 bolivianos (30 cents). This is the first time that a major corporation has ever dropped a major international trade case such as this one as a direct result of global public pressure, and it sets an important precedent for the politics of future trade cases like it.
Timeline and Summary of Key Events
In November 1999, Cochabamba’s citizens began to protest the privatization of their water system and up to 200 percent increases in water rates initiated by Aguas del Tunari (Bechtel, Edison, Abengoa). In April 2000, Aguas del Tunari was thrown out of Bolivia and replaced by a public company.
In November of 2002, Aguas del Tunari initiated a case for a minimum of $50 million against the Bolivian government, in the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), a mechanism of the World Bank, the same institution that forced Cochabamba to privatize its water system as a condition for a loan package in 1997.
The $50 million claim was not only for the recovery of investments, which are estimated at less than a million dollars, but also for estimated lost future profits due to the annulment of the contract with Cochabamba.
The process and content of the case against Bolivia in ICSID have been secret. Under ICSID rules, neither the people of Cochabamba nor the press have the right to access to case proceedings.
In August of 2003 more than 300 organizations from 43 countries, including Bolivia, sent an International Citizens Petition demanding that the case be transparent and open to citizen participation. ICSID rejected the petition.
The case has garnered international attention and activists in Bolivia, the U.S., and around the world have engaged in campaigns to pressure the companies to drop the case, and to bring international attention to the World Bank and its actions.
On October 21, 2005 ICSID ruled that it had jurisdiction in the case of Aguas del Tunari vs Bolivia, and would proceed with hearing the case. Defense of the ICSID case has cost the Bolivian government $1 million in legal fees over the past three years.
On January 19th 2006, Aguas del Tunari’s main shareholders Bechtel and Abengoa agreed to drop their case in ICSID for a token payment of 2 bolivianos (.30 USD). Sources directly involved in the settlement negotiations cited continued international citizen pressure as the reason the companies decided to drop the case.
Below,Fianna Fail's management plan for other waste;
RECYCLING material from the Taoiseach's department and two others is being dumped in landfills, "Inspector"(Green party leader) Trevor Sargent claimed in December 2005
Mr Sargent said he personally inspected dumpsters behind the departments of the Taoiseach, Finance and Agriculture.
"Bags clearly marked 'recyclable' and filled with recyclable waste were loaded alongside regular waste and appeared to be destined for landfill," he claimed.
"It is shocking that at a time when this country is crying out for proper recycling facilities, all the evidence points to our own Taoiseach's department burying recyclable waste in landfill."
He said all the evidence strongly suggested that these bags marked for recycling were instead being dumped.
"I am therefore calling on these Government departments to explain why recycling bags have been found in dumpsters destined for landfill." Mr Sargent said: "It makes me sad that civil servants in their departments are making every effort to recycle their paper, but the system has broken down and all their efforts have come to nothing."
He claimed that one of his staff came across a person at the Department of Finance loading recycling material into a dumpster alongside non-recyclable waste.
"When he challenged the man he was told: Today's Tuesday, recycling only goes out on a Wednesday."
Since then, deputy Sargent has inspected the refuse facilities of each department and claimed that in each case recycling material is simply being dumped.
"Dozens of bags of recyclable waste were in the dumpsters that were being sent to landfill."
"How could such an important matter be so trivial for this Government?" asked Deputy Sargent.
"This is the same Government that gave PR person Monica Leech €135,000 a year to tell us to reduce, reuse and recycle.
"Clearly the Government's own ministers weren't listening," Deputy Sargent claimed
More bad news.! Almost three-quarters of Irish waste recycling is still being done abroad, and landfill still accounts for 67% of waste disposal.
This was down just 1% on the previous year, and it compares poorly with the figure of 10% for landfill in countries such as Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands.
We haven't gone away you know......!
However ,Bertie old boy,is there any chance you might touch his old multi-millionaire pals like Larry Goodman,Dermot Desmond,Magnier,the Bailey Brothers,etc for a few million each to pay for the big send off.? Ben has already paid his share so a boquet of roses will be sufficient from that quarter,but what about all the rest?
A lot of decent people who have been bled by all of you for the past three decades would consider this a basic decency,particularly if a big and costly state send off is in the offing.! Better still ship the body down to Kerry where his pals can bury him under his bronze idol there.
THE €40 stamp duty on credit cards is set to stay after officials in the Department of Finance blocked a review of the controversial tax that could have lead to its removal.
The department turned down a request from the Competition Authority to scrap taxes on credit and cash cards unless it could prove the taxes had an effect on competition,! saying they were “a considerable source of revenue” and here to stay.
If you change credit card facilitator in any given year you will have to pay double the tax.! Why have the Competition Authority not done their research on the inertia of competition within the industry.?
Ireland is alone in Europe in levying hefty charges on payment cards, which hit bank customers for almost €100 million every year.
"Only prayer,and a large turnout next election time by those who have long been disenfranchised will achieve a miracle.If those who are not privy to the inner circle of favouritism within the Soldiers of Destiny vote; if those who have tasted despair in endeavouring to meet the endless stream of price increases in all essential services vote; if those who have never been recipients of Fianna Fail,s underhand largesse, vote; if those young people who will pay the price of their corruption and mismanagement for generations to come out in large numbers to vote, then it is possible; the miracle of Fianna Fail's removal from office.
All our young people who cannot afford a house must vote; those who spend every waking hour driving to work or working long hours to make ends meet, must vote; those who cannot afford to have children must vote; those who are sick of new taxes,rising gas and electricity bills; soaring telephone bills;overpriced inadequate,internet access, rising rubbish collection taxes, scandalous waste of money by incompetent civil service departments must vote. Citizens who are dying of cancer--and cannot even get an appointment to see a specialist -let alone have an operation -must rise from their sick beds and reach a polling station and vote. when this comes to pass, a miracle may be achieved."
The removal of this coven of thieves,conspirators, and opportunists, from political office. God willing."
The reality is that the 2007 election will be one of the most corrupt campaigns ever mounted by Fianna Fail
Many sections of the community have already been paid off with the proceeds of our new found "prosperity".State sector unions,farmers and fishermen have been rewarded handsomely with the proceeds of a raft of new stealth taxes,and a 42% standard tax band imposed on all -except multi-millionaires-and the poorest of the poorly paid in our communities.
2006 will see further disbursments of the state,s massive "election slush fund" otherwise known as "The national lottery",-a fund to which ironically, the poor also contribute disproportionately.
GAA clubs, etc,already among the highest recipients of government subsidies,will continue to receive the largesse of the state, to copperfasten the loyalty of publican party diehards countrywide.
Which former Fianna Fail Minister for Justice, was in office during the first ineffectual Garda enquiry into Ray Burke, (before Ray Burke became Minister for Justice !) and before Bertie Ahern started climbing trees in north county Dublin.?
(Hint; He handed the police file to Ray for a chuckle,and then became a born again Christian before ascending suddenly, to the angels.!)
(I swear I am not making this stuff up) You all know the answer ,anyway, unless you have spent 20 years on another planet-It was,of course, the one and only... Sean Doherty.!
"If there were cannibals living in Clontarf,Ivor would be selling human flesh-at a discount !"