Wednesday, February 1st, 2012


[Caveat 1: I don’t own any pyjamas. Caveat 2: I have a job. Caveat 3: The following is a bit of a rant, sorry.]

I find the pyjamas hype pretty sickening. I have a job. I consider myself lucky, actually. I could quite easily be out-of-work; could quite easily have never found my way to the job I have, which I enjoy a lot. I teach here at Maynooth. I get up every weekday morning and either head off to work, or work at home. I don’t have any pyjamas, so Ireland’s cold climate forces me to shower and get dressed. Good for me. I can feel very proud of myself. Now, if I work at home, I don’t need to dwell upon how I look: I’m at home; it’s casual day every day at home. And if I go out, well, I do happen to put a jacket on and normally some jeans but it’d be an odd day when I put on a shirt, thank you very much (collars aren’t for me). So anyway, off I go. Down to the shops. Spend some of my earnings. Pump the economy with some cash. Do my bit; wear my Green jersey, if you will. Oh the joys.

Anyway, I don’t think I’ve ever seen any under/unemployed people out and about wearing their pyjamas. But you know what, even if I did, who am I to say anything? I’m working and I get paid. I’m not finding it soul-destroying to look, but never find work in a harsh economy. It’s not me who’s had my CVs or letters or phone calls ignored. I don’t have kids at home I struggle to feed, clothe, entertain, or convince that there’s a reason to do well in school. I don’t watch my partner or pals or neighbours head off to work while I enjoy what the executives at RTE or TV3 deem worthy daytime television. It ain’t me who’s seeing cuts to what Irish society in its wisdom (or, to be fair, what the government we’ve chosen, or to be fairer still the Troika which the last government in their wisdom brought upon us) thinks is a viable social welfare payment.

The upshot, then, is this: I don’t think I have the right to go around criticizing anyone for wearing pyjamas, least of all people who are at the cutting edge of the sharp cutbacks and the rigid austerity we’re seeing in Ireland. If someone wants to wear pyjamas, good for them. And if that means they wear them in a dole office, then so be it. Social welfare or unemployment benefit is and should be a right in this country. Those who suggest it should be reserved for people who dress in a particular way (or what next? smile properly, stand up straight, bow their cap the right way, m’lord?) should be opposed. This sort of attack on working (or so-called ‘middle’) class people who are only claiming what’s due to them is unjustified, divisive (and, let’s face it, in many instances, extremely sexist). It’s an unhelpful distraction from the actually existing circumstances people are facing in this country (and beyond) each day.

But not only do I think people should be allowed to wear whatever they want when engaging with the public service, I don’t buy into the idea that every person on the dole needs to be constantly, incessantly, obsessively out looking for work; ready to work, out there job hunting; non-stop forcing down the unemployment figures. Unemployment isn’t high because people are wearing pyjamas and failing to go out there and fill 450,000 vacant positions. The under/unemployed people in this country did not cause the crisis. And as things stand, it isn’t up to them to solve it. So expecting people to endlessly look and be ready for work, particularly in the current context, is simply unrealistic. Worse still, this sort of ideology around welfare and its ills borders on sadism because, with a few exceptions perhaps, people who spend every living minute of their life on the dole looking for work simply run the risk of doing themselves serious psychological damage (rejection, rejection, rejection?; failure, failure, failure?). Why are we making this an expectation? Why indeed? Isn’t the thing about the pyjama hype that certain people or sectors of society are shocked to discover that the industrial reserve army aren’t doing their bit to restore profits and accumulation? It’s almost as if the unemployed are supposed to actually stand all day long outside offices and factories holding signs saying ‘we want work, we’ll do your job for lower pay’ – – would this help employers drive down wages and would that bring back the boom somehow? So the idea that some people might actually be wearing pyjamas, might not be applying sufficient pressure on those with work, well, it’s as if they’re not wearing the Green jersey in addition to wearing pyjamas. The cheek of ‘em.

Anyway, rant nearly over. Let me end by saying to those in work who think they’re on to something with their anti-pyjamas tirades: Good for you for having a job; good for you for not wearing your pyjamas around the place. But don’t go round telling us what you think everyone else should wear. Rather than attacking someone out of work, why not re-direct your energies elsewhere? It’s not as if we don’t have more important things going on.

Alistair Fraser

The IDA have released data showing job creation, losses, number of IDA supported companies and numbers of permenant jobs in them for the period 2007-2011 (source of data here).  We have taken the data over the five years and put them in a set of inteactive graphs at both the county and regional scale to aid comparison.  The data show a geographical variation in the distribution of IDA activity during a very difficult economic period.  Job gains have been concentrated into Dublin, Cork and Galway, clearly the locations of choice for inward moving FDI, building on existing agglomerations.  Job losses are also large in Dublin and Cork but are offset by job creation, whereas there has been a significant proportional decline in many areas, notable Limerick and Waterford (though the number of IDA supported companies remains the same).  To access the interactive graphs click on the image right.

Eoghan McCarthy and Rob Kitchin

The release of Residential Property Index figures for the month of December 2011 by the CSO allows the comparison of how house prices have performed between January 2005 and December 2011.  Such a comparison provides an overview of when and how the market has changed and what sectors have been affected the most by the downturn in property prices.  Rather than having to wade through 20 pages of tables, we have converted the data into a set of interactive graphs that detail overall change, annualised change and RPP index score (baseline 2005).  A brief analysis of figures reveals that overall house prices nationally are down 47.1%. Apartments in Dublin have declined more than any other market sector with a fall of 57.7%. Overall house prices in Dublin have fared worse than outside Dublin with a fall of 53.7% in comparison to 42.4% outside Dublin.  The period of greatest annual decline was recorded in August 2009 when prices were 20.8% lower than 12 months previously. The decline between Dec 2011 and 2010 was 16.7%.  To access the interactive graphs on AIRO click on the image.  Full CSO report is available here.

Eoghan McCarthy and Rob Kitchin

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