October 2012

In the UK, the government are looking to radically reform building standards and introduce much greater self-regulation of the construction industry.  Here’s how The Guardian open their story about such measures:

Regulations covering building standards, including fire safety and wheelchair access, could be torn up in a government plan to cut costs for the construction industry and boost the economy.  Ministers have ordered a wide-ranging review covering all aspects of building regulations, also including standards on energy efficiency. The review, which controversially includes the option of giving the building industry more scope for self-regulation, is the latest in a series of government initiatives intended to stimulate activity in the economy and drive job creation through investment in homebuilding.  Its aim is to prune regulations “significantly”.

Apparently costs to property developers and the construction sector are worth more than people’s health and safety and also the effects on the environment of poor planning and build.  Of course, health and safety and the environment are unlikely to be in the cost-benefit model for vested interests.  And nor, no doubt, are the costs for addressing sub-standard build in the future.

Perhaps the group that is charged with reviewing standards and the regulation process should visit Ireland and have a look at what happens when you de-regulate and let the construction industry self-regulate and dictate government policy towards planning, development and construction.  Perhaps they might wander our 2,876 unfinished estates, many of which are build in unsuitable locations and are in various states of disrepair, or visit Priory Hall where residents have been forced to live in rented accommodation for over 12 months due to fire safety risks, or Gleann Riada where an apartment block was demolished and residents are living in houses prone to gas explosions, or the over 12,000 homes affected by pyrite most of which are going to need expensive restoration work.  Or the houses that have been built on floodplains.  The list could go on an on.

Planning policy and building standards and regulations were introduced for a reason.  They improve and assure the quality, safety and design of buildings and the sustainability of environments.  They do not depress construction if there is market demand for property.  Britain only has to look at its banks – the other half of the equation in property development – to know what deregulation generally means: profit before good practice.  And it only has to look at Ireland to see what happens when you deregulate and introduce laissez faire planning and self-regulation of construction (and combine that with deregulating finance).

Given that Ireland often seems to look to the UK for new policy initiatives this kind of change isn’t good news for those hoping for improved regulation, standards and enforcement with respect to development, planning and construction in Ireland.  The only people these kind of changes help are property developers and construction companies in making more profit.  It is highly unlikely that any savings from cutting corners on health and safety will be passed onto to buyers.  All the risk will be though.

Rob Kitchin


The Irish Branch of the Regional Studies Association, the School of Economics UCC and the South West Regional Authority invite speakers for the following one day conference:



Friday 22 February 2013

 Deadline for submissions: 30 November 2012

Introduction: The economic crisis that has swept across the global economy since 2008 has had significant implications for regional economies. It is clear that the global economic crisis has had an uneven impact across regions. This raises questions as to the resilience of different regions to economic crises, and the place of policy makers in strengthening regional economic resilience. The RSA, the School of Economics UCC and the SWRA wish to invite papers for a one-day conference on the theme of “Regional Economic Resilience”.  Presentations are invited on any topic related to the overall theme. Suggestions for possible contributions include: the impact of the economic crisis across economic activities, sectors and regions; conceptualising regional economic resilience; place-based territorial characteristics correlated with resilient and non-resilient regions; conceptualising regional economic response; options for regional policymakers to complement macro-economic measures to stimulate economic recovery.

Keynote speaker : Dr Adrian Healy, Cardiff School of Planning and Geography. Dr. Healy currently co-ordinates an ESPON-funded leading study into economic resilience of regions in the face of economic crisis. Apart from EU-wide insights his presentation will focus on the findings of his case study of the  South West Region.

Expressions of Interest : We would be delighted to hear from people working in this area who would welcome the opportunity of getting involved in the conference as a presenter. Expressions of interest should be directed towards:



New NIRSA Working Paper by Mary Gilmartin: The changing landscape of Irish migration, 2000-2012

Abstract: At the start of the twenty-first century there have been significant changes in patterns of migration to and from Ireland.  This paper provides a comprehensive account of available statistics on these migration patterns, and assesses the quality of this information, highlighting issues with the measurement of migrant flow in particular. The paper also provides information on migrant stock in Ireland, drawing on detailed information from the 2002, 2006 and 2011 Censuses.

Access PDF here


The Irish Branch of the Regional Studies Association invites speakers for the following one-day conference


Renehan Hall, NUI Maynooth

Monday 21 January 2013

Deadline for submissions: 15 November 2012

Introduction – The recently announced Action Programme for Local Government includes substantial changes to the organisation of regional government and governance in Ireland. The current eight regional authorities and two regional assemblies will disappear and be replaced by three regional assemblies.  This raises important challenges.

The Irish branch of the RSA wishes to invite papers for a one-day conference on the theme of “new regional governance in Ireland: perspectives and challenges”.  Presentations can deal with any topic related to the overall theme. Suggestions for possible contributions include: Implications for bottom-up regional development; relevance of the new regional boundaries; fresh regional analysis using the new boundaries; organising the transition.

Keynote Speaker  (sponsored by the National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis (NIRSA) –  Professor Andy Pike, Centre for Urban and Regional Studies (CURDS), Newcastle University.  In addition to presenting his perspective on the Irish Action Plan, Professor Pike will discuss his experience with the regional restructuring process in the UK.

Expressions of Interest – We would be delighted to hear from people working in this area who would welcome the opportunity of getting involved in the conference as a presenter. Expressions of interest should be directed towards:


Earlier this month two important judgements of the European Courts of Justice were referred back to the Courts by the European Commission which went unreported in the media. Both cases are likely to have a significant bearing on the future implementation of EU environmental law in Ireland and result in very significant costs to the taxpayer.

Ireland has the unenviable distinction of having one of the worst compliance records with EU environmental law in Europe. However, while Ireland has lost pretty much every ECJ case it has ever faced, never before has Ireland received fines or been to a stage in the ECJ process where fines are inevitable. This has emboldened successive governments to continue a liberal approach to enforcement and constantly seek endless derogations to delay implementation in order to pander to various sectoral interests. However, now the Commission has lost patience and the chickens have come home to roost. In the case of C-188/08 (License and Inspection of Septic Tanks) the Commission has sought a lump sum fine of €2.7 million and €26,173 for every day of non-compliance. In the case of C-66/06 (Implementation of the EIA Directive for ‘on-farm’ developments) the Commission has sought a fine (by formula) of approximately €3.8 million and a further €3 million in legal costs. The Commission argued in both cases that the judgements were now two-and-a-half years old and Ireland does not appear to be close to achieving full compliance. Interestingly a week after these cases, the EPA launched a public consultation on a National Inspection Plan for Domestic Wastewater Treatment Systems with a tight deadline of just 3 weeks for comments.

Minister Hogan has been desperately trying to close off the fifteen or so current ECJ cases against Ireland before he takes the reins as the de facto minister of environment for Europe during Ireland’s forthcoming presidency commencing in January 2013 (See here for a useful overview prepared by Friends of the Irish Environment). However, while we will have to of-course await the final ECJ judgement, fines now seem certain and based on the experience of recent cases against other EU countries, fines are generally imposed by the ECJ six months after the hearing. So in these cases we can potentially expect fines around April 2013 – right in the middle of the Irish presidency. This is likely to be of significant embarrassment to the Government but, more importantly, a cause of further distress to the hard pressed tax payers who face the prospect of a further bill of at least €10 million.

The predicament faced by the government is stark. Both of these cases relate to contentious rural issues with very significant opposition to the introduction of septic tank registration and charges, in particular. In order to placate the public and encourage registration the Government has reduced registration fees, is stressing that a ‘risk based’ approach to site inspections will be applied and retrofitting costs will be minimal. However, this has failed to assuage the public and with fines from the ECJ applied on the basis of each day of non-compliance the final bill could potentially be much higher. It is also unlikely to satisfy the European Commission. Given the sheer scale of new unsewered ‘one-off’ dwellings permitted during the ‘Celtic Tiger’ (170,000 since 2001) in locations where soil characteristics are likely to be unsuitable for an on-site waste water system together with the complete abandonment of any proper risk assessments; it is very unlikely that the retrofitting of septic tanks to comply with EU water quality legislation will be inexpensive.

A study in 2005 by Trinity College Dublin in 2005 of 74 randomly located septic tanks in Leinster found that just 5% had soil conditions suitable for the installation of a septic tank. This would appear to be corroborated by the River Basin Management Plans published in 2010.  For example, the North West River Basin Management Plan states “In the North Western IRBD there are approximately 60,000 unsewered properties located in areas where the hydrogeological characteristics mean that inadequate percolation is available.” Again, in the Shannon IRBD ‘there are approximately 83,950 unsewered properties located in areas where the hydrogeological characteristics mean that inadequate percolation is available.’  A detailed study of five selected on-site systems by the National Centre for Freshwater Studies in 2008 found that in each case the on-site systems were either poorly maintained, non operational or poorly installed; and the majority of sites are unsuitable for conventional septic tanks. Is it possible that one of the key reasons why successive governments have dragged their feet on this issue is because the actual cost of complying with this judgement and EU water quality legislation could run to hundreds of millions of euro, if not more?

From an environmental perspective the implementation of multi-million euro fines are welcome and will hopefully force the government into addressing Ireland’s woeful environmental record, poor enforcement of environmental law and to stand up to vested sectoral interests. From the tax payer’s perspective it is just a further reminder of the horrendous legacy costs associated with Ireland’s failed experiment in deregulated neoliberalism in land-use planning policy.

Gavin Daly

Today’s announcement of local government reform included substantial changes to the organisation of regional government and governance in Ireland. The current eight regional authorities and two regional assemblies will disappear and be replaced by three regional assemblies. No doubt, the current system is non-functional but we would argue that the new situation is a retrograde step for bottom-up regional development.

To support this argument, let us first take a look at the evolution of the current system. Regional governance has never been high on the agenda of the Irish state. But during the 1980s and 1990s, the European Union placed growing emphasis on developing a regional input into the spending of structural funds within member states. It was only under this pressure by the EU that the Irish government establishing the eight regional authorities in 1994. It was a token gesture to secure structural funds. The boundaries were established in an ad-hoc manner and the authorities were given a very limited remit. Their remit was to monitor the spending of EU structural funds at regional level within Ireland. But they were given no resources, they had no authority and received no technical assistance to conduct their task. These were relatively small authorities, in some cases staffed by less than a hand-full of people.

The establishment of the two Regional Assemblies was driven by maximising Objective 1 funding. Until 1999 the EU had treated Ireland as a single unit for determining eligibility for Objective 1 funding. But the Celtic Tiger and the strong growth of the Irish Economy started to create problems. As a whole, Ireland started to converge to the EU average which would mean that Ireland as a whole would no longer qualify for Objective 1 status. This would mean a serious loss of funds. In reaction, the country was split into two NUTS II regions (BMW and the Southern & Eastern regions). The BMW region was still within Objective 1 criteria. The process of establishing the boundaries of the regions had little to do with determining functional or nodal regions. It was a ploy to maximise structural funds.

Administratively the two new regions are currently lead by Regional Assemblies. They are comprised of elected representatives nominated by the local authorities from the membership of the Regional Authorities within each region. The Operational Committee is composed of the CEOs of the public authorities and the Directors of the Regional Authorities in the region. The Assemblies contribute little to a process of bottom-up regional development. One of the main tasks of the Assembly is to monitor the implementation of the Regional Operational Programmes.

The remit of the Regional Authorities was expanded with the launch of the National Spatial Strategy in 2002. The NSS included a role for the Regional Authorities, notably developing Regional Planning Guidelines. However, the Regional authorities were in no position to monitor the spending of the structural funds. They did not have the resources and did not receive the co-operation of the centralised institutions to fulfil this role. Nor did they have any power of enforcement over the local authorities. The stipulation that local authorities had to “pay regard” to the RPGs proved rather meaningless in this regard.

So, in its current form, our system of regional government and governance is ill-equipped to make a meaningful contribution to self-sustaining, bottom-up, regional development and a change should be welcomed (and has been called for by several contributors to recent Regional Studies Association Irish Branch conferences – see http://www.regional-studies-assoc.ac.uk/international-networks/pdfs/poster-nss.pdf And http://seanoriordain.ie/local-government-reform-in-ireland-myth-or-reality/). But is the content of the current announcement a step forward? Let us take a look at the boundaries of the three proposed Regional Assemblies and the associated system of governance.

In relation to the boundaries, the current set of Regional Authorities and Assemblies will be replaced by three Regional Assemblies. The Eastern and Midlands Region will cover Leinster excluding Counties Carlow, Kilkenny and Wexford. The extensive Southern Region will include Munster (including Carlow Kilkenny and Wexford) and the remainder of the country will make up the third region (see Figure 1). Unfortunately, the document makes no reference to the logic behind this new division. Would it be too cynical to suggest that the main driver is to cut numbers rather than stimulating effective regional development? It looks very much like an ad hoc, back-of-the-envelop, exercise mainly inspired by a desire to cut government expenditure. Regional boundaries can be determined on the basis multiple grounds and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. But they should be established on an evidence-based logic.

On the positive side, the creation of a Eastern and Midlands region which includes Metropolitan Dublin and its commuting belt makes a lot of sense. The inclusion of County Louth in this region makes sense as well and will support spatial planning in the wider  Dublin-Belfast Corridor. However, we would argue that the other two regions are too large to make a meaningful contribution to bottom-up regional development processes. Here, the existing regional authority boundaries make more sense, with the exception of the Border region (working on the basis of the safe assumption that we will have to work with Counties as constituent elements of regions). We would argue for a regional division based on gateways and their hinterlands. Thus, in relation to the boundaries of the new Regional units, the new system is a step backwards for regional development.

In relation to the governance structure, the announcement includes positive signals in respect of a more meaningful governance role for the regions. The new Regional Assemblies are accorded key responsibility in developing regional economic strategies which will have to be adhered to by the local and national agencies. This will be underpinned by incorporation of the regional strategies into a new national regional policy. This is great news. Local authorities and national agencies can no longer simply ignore regional strategies. However, the fulfilment of the promise will crucially depend on the adoption of the compliance obligation and the provision of adequate resources to the new Regional Assemblies.

Today’s announcement also raises questions as to the status of the current regional planning guidelines, regional economic strategies, regional economic action plans and-so-forth. The idea is that the current regional guidelines will run their natural deadlines. However, the current regional planning guidelines were developed for the period 2010-2022. In the next 10 years, who will be responsible for enforcing these guidelines in the situation where the RPG area straddles two (new) Regional Assembly boundaries (as in the case of the Border RPG)?

In any case, a new system of regional government and governance will crucially depend on selective regional data relating to the new boundaries. Table 1 includes a first contribution, based on the recent CSO census 2011 data.

Chris.VanEgeraat@nuim.ie – Chairman of the Regional Studies Association Irish Branch

and Ronan Foley

Eastern &   Midlands Southern North & West
Total Number   of Males in 2011 1086224 767388 419087
Total Number   of Females in 2011 1123239 774051 418263
Total Number   of People in 2011 2209463 1541439 837350
Total Number   of Households in 2011 900589 691845 402411
Number of Vacant Properties in 2011 84503 115040 89908
Percentage of   Vacant Properties in 2011 11 16 22
Age 0 to 4   Total 175357 117288 63684
Age 5 to 9   Total 153415 107797 59558
Age 10 to 14   Total 140701 104294 57496
Age 15 to 19   Total 133390 96512 53117
Age 20 -24   Total 153184 93835 50212
Age 25 -29   Total 193447 109565 58110
Age 30 -34   Total 206084 123323 64538
Age 35 -39   Total 183015 118620 62626
Age 40 -44   Total 160114 111275 59423
Age 45 -49   Total 144084 105412 55689
Age 50 -54   Total 126648 95641 52097
Age 55 -59   Total 110482 86147 47893
Age 60 -64   Total 97122 78287 43377
Age 65 -69   Total 76022 63079 34537
Age 70 -74   Total 57623 47681 25886
Age 75 -79   Total 44190 36994 20852
Age 80 -84   Total 30154 25114 14845
Age 85+ Total 24431 20575 13410
Total 2209463 1541439 837350
Single Total 1227425 815088 442112
Maried Total 797293 588832 322479
Separated   Total 58311 38813 19070
Divorced Total 42991 29668 15111
Widowed Total 83443 69038 38578
Total 2209463 1541439 837350
Irish by   Nationality 1850958 1347628 728557
UK by   Nationality 40370 42819 29070
Polish by   Nationality 59730 43625 19230
Lithuanian by   Nationality 21383 8209 7091
Other EU 27 by   Nationality 71370 30063 13804
Rest of World   by Nationality 104170 34113 19310
Not Stated by   Nationality 29148 16793 7840
Total by   Nationality 2177129 1523250 824902
White Irish 1784191 1322746 715058
White Irish   Traveller 12413 9052 8030
Other White 212624 130467 69884
Black or Black   Irish 44793 13108 7177
Asian or Asian   Irish 58826 17113 8751
Other 24222 10756 5746
Not Stated 40060 20008 10256
Total 2177129 1523250 824902
Catholic 1787640 1346760 726935
Other Religion 221924 98479 63789
No Religion 156922 76130 36759
Not Stated 42977 20070 9867
Total 2209463 1541439 837350
Yes (Speak   Irish) 781307 647091 346039
No (Speak   Irish) 1271558 796390 439364
Not Stated   (Speak Irish) 48578 26823 13481
Total 2101443 1470304 798884
Pre-family (No   of families) 73449 38699 19729
Empty Nest (No   of families) 51968 43649 23322
Retired (No of   families) 42518 33877 17733
Pre-School (No   of families) 72035 45729 23556
Early School   (No of families) 64995 44663 23345
Pre-Adolescent   (No of families) 62583 44891 23789
Adolescent (No   of families) 62316 47508 25394
Adult (No of   families) 138209 101125 54128
Total (No of   families) 568073 400141 210996
One Person Households (No of households) 179268 135589 77143
Husband and   Wife Households (No of households) 109318 85068 45760
Cohabiting Couple Households (No of households) 40816 21832 10463
Husband, Wife   and Children Households (No of households) 242418 181029 99512
Cohabiting   Couple and Children Households (No of households) 27484 18885 8542
Father and   Children Households (No of households) 11164 8830 4503
Mother and   Children Households (No of households) 77496 51340 26428
Couple and   Others Households (No of households) 11952 6476 3269
Couple,   Children and Others Households (No of households) 15242 10114 5103
Father,   Children and Others Households (No of households) 1584 943 459
Mother,   Children and Others Households (No of households) 8291 4776 2123
Two or more   Family Units Households (No of households) 10998 5376 2395
Non-family   Households and Relations Households (No of households) 19489 12664 7458
Two or more   Non-related Persons Households (No of households) 36168 17299 9141
Total   Households (No of households) 791688 560221 302299
HOUSING TYPE 642109 515981 280255
House/Bungalow   (Households) 128321 33091 16175
Flat/Apartment   (Households) 4373 933 389
Bed-Sit   (Households) 1832 1816 1152
Caravan/Mobile   home (Households) 15053 8400 4328
Not Stated   (Households) 791688 560221 302299
Total   (Households)
HOUSING AGE 61457 62712 25770
Pre 1919   (Households) 54641 39012 21164
1919-1945   (Households) 69799 38956 18936
1946-1960   (Households) 62670 36139 15701
1961-1970   (Households) 108879 69692 35626
1971-1980   (Households) 79217 57950 35246
1981-1990   (Households) 112089 81080 45555
1991-2000   (Households) 121370 88941 55799
2001-2005   (Households) 76036 58787 36574
2006 or Later   (Households) 43698 25136 10776
Not Stated   (Households) 789856 558405 301147
Total   (Households)
HOUSING TENURE 296290 188457 98401
Owner Occupier   with Mortgage (Households) 232018 212487 122271
Owner Occupier   No Mortgage (Households) 166375 90590 48412
Rented from   Private Landlord (Households) 65402 44063 19568
Rented from   Local Authority (Households) 7540 5090 2312
Rented from   Voluntary Body (Households) 9644 9751 6041
Rented Free of   Rent (Households) 12587 7967 4142
Not Stated   (Households) 789856 558405 301147
Total   (Households)
No Central   Heating 10140 12394 4418
Oil (Central   Heating) 216694 298539 196097
Natural Gas   (Central Heating) 413298 124360 12557
Electricity   (Central Heating) 83734 38432 18253
Coal (Central   Heating) 15002 43814 20329
Peat (Central   Heating) 26630 14805 37203
Liquid   Petroleum Gas (Central Heating) 2951 4900 2601
Wood (Central   Heating) 5795 11199 4401
Other 3230 3233 2061
Not Stated 12382 6729 3227
Total 789856 558405 301147
Looking For   First Job (Total) 17338 10602 6226
Unemployed   having Lost or Given Up Previous Job (Total) 185280 130503 74894
Student   (Total) 200516 134888 73434
Looking After   Home/Family (Total) 157335 120096 62487
Retired   (Total) 202754 163547 91093
Unable To Work   due to Sickness or Disability (Total) 68706 57691 30596
Other (Total) 6201 4460 2655
Total (Total) 1739990 1212060 656612
Professional   Workers (Total) 177600 106734 52286
Managerial and   Technical (Total) 641204 398252 212215
Non-Manual   (Total) 388175 267758 145371
Skilled Manual   (Total) 320151 247971 139247
Semi-Skilled   (Total) 211762 177926 97761
Unskilled   (Total) 76592 60879 32543
All Others   Gainfully occupied and Unknown (Total) 393979 281919 157927
Total (Total) 2209463 1541439 837350
A Employers   and managers (Households) 131053 70717 35254
B Higher   professional (Households) 57644 30019 15148
C Lower   professional (Households) 93613 56546 32209
D Non-manual   (Households) 152984 91322 46727
E Manual   skilled (Households) 70614 57609 29139
F Semi-skilled   (Households) 61186 51872 26220
G Unskilled   (Households) 27820 22193 12143
H Own account   workers (Households) 39086 30148 17603
I Farmers   (Households) 15682 40872 29177
J Agricultural   workers 3405 4417 2239
Z All others   gainfully occupied and unknown (Households) 138601 104506 56440
Total   (Households) 791688 560221 302299
On foot 239359 123222 52357
Bicycle 45764 10031 5382
Bus, minibus   or coach 166004 69778 52780
Train, DART or   LUAS 66150 3515 1311
Motorcycle or   scooter 6601 2061 650
Car driver 515322 401907 210167
Car passenger 208808 196109 103421
Van 44301 44886 29804
Other 36971 44407 23475
Not stated 42682 29134 17774
Total 1371962 925050 497121
Under 15 mins 382906 346801 192017
1/4 hour –   under 1/2 hour 402218 273344 137211
1/2 hour –   under 3/4 hour 260271 133429 69482
3/4 hour –   under 1 hour 96157 36207 20530
1 hour – under   1 1/2 hours 92081 30376 18088
1 1/2 hours   and over 28144 13932 8962
Not stated 78341 52618 31289
Total 1340118 886707 477579
Age 0-14 years 25466 18637 8955
Age 15-24   years 21921 15271 7321
Age 25-44   years 60881 39699 19846
Age 45-64   years 80879 61365 31025
Age 65+ years 89955 72536 41578
Carer Total 279102 207508 108725
1-14 Hours   (Total) 36716 28704 15471
15-28 Hours   (Total) 12575 10475 6205
29-42 Hours   (Total) 5846 5136 3157
43+ Hours   (Total) 16765 14532 8685
Not Stated   (Total) 10638 7934 4273
Total (Total) 82540 66781 37791
Very Good   (Total) 1352558 925217 489906
Good (Total) 603438 436802 242716
Fair (Total) 165247 126464 76420
Bad (Total) 27174 19044 11025
Very Bad   (Total) 6109 3996 2313
Not Stated   (Total) 54937 29916 14970
Total (Total) 2209463 1541439 837350
No motor car 158108 86596 45018
One motor car 322294 221602 124870
Two motor cars 252309 197825 105902
Three motor   cars 43700 38615 18949
Three motor   cars 13445 13767 6408
Yes 602995 391732 204571
No 168223 155427 90947
Not Stated 18638 11246 5629
Total 789856 558405 301147

A new paper by Dr. David Counsell (Lecturer at University College Cork), Prof. Graham Haughton (University of Manchester) and Prof. Phil Allmendinger (University of Cambridge) examines the role of planning in Cork’s boom, bubble and bust.  The authors argue that one (partial) explanation for planning failure in Ireland was ‘the inability to foresee or to acknowledge the prospect of thousands of localized acts of resistance, which cumulatively undermined both the national model for planning and the national model for local–national governmental relations’ and that the failures of Irish planning are ultimately failures of politics.

It builds on and revisits previous research published in The New Spatial Planning: Territorial Management with Soft Spaces and Fuzzy Boundaries, published in 2010.


This paper develops a novel framework for analysing how planning became implicated in the Irish boom, bubble and bust years, as planners and politicians alike focused on generating positive visions for the future, whilst variously working to displace, defer and transfer the political tensions of the present. Empirically we focus on both national planning reforms and the high hopes for city regional planning in Cork Ireland after the publication of an innovative, nonstatutory strategic plan in 2001. A decade or so later, the plan has faltered, unable to broker a sustained commitment to its core principles from all partners. The reasons for this, we argue, relate to the wider problems of planning in Ireland during the Celtic Tiger years, as an economic boom got translated into a property bubble, something that few officials cared to recognize or challenge publicly at the time. There were, however, doubters—but they were sidelined or vilified. Framing our analysis in terms of recent literature on soft spaces and post-politics, we argue that soft space planning for metropolitan Cork exposes deep-seated problems in Irish planning.

The article can be downloaded here

Today saw the publication of Measuring Ireland’s Progress 2011 by the Central Statistics Office.  Based on 109 indicators, the report provides a fascinating summary of (a) how Ireland has changed over the past decade as it has transitioned from the Celtic Tiger to the crash; (b) a comparison of how Ireland is performing with respect to 32 other European countries.  The full report is here and a short, but detailed, summary is here.

In total, data is provided with respect to 109 indicators covering 10 domains and 49 sub-domains.  I’ve list all these domains, sub-domains and indicators below to illustrate the richness of this resource for making sense of how Ireland was faring economically, socially and environmentally in 2011.  The report is well illustrated with graphs and maps, and provides data in table form.  Well worth a read if you want to get a synoptic overview of the country vis-a-vis the past and our neighbours.

1. Economy

Gross Domestic Product

1.1 Ireland: GDP and GNI
1.2 EU: GDP and GNI at current market prices
1.3 EU: GDP growth rates
1.4 EU: GDP per capita in Purchasing Power Standards

Government debt

1.5 Ireland, EU and Eurozone: General government consolidated gross debt
1.6 EU: General government consolidated gross debt
1.7 EU: General government consolidated gross debt map

Public balance

1.8 EU: Public balance map
1.9 Ireland and Eurozone: Public balance
1.10 EU: Public balance
1.11 Ireland: Central and Local Government current expenditure

Gross fixed capital formation

1.12 Ireland and EU: Gross fixed capital formation
1.13 EU: Gross fixed capital formation

International transactions

1.14 EU: Current account balance
1.15 EU: Direct investment flows

International trade

1.16 EU: Exports of goods and services
1.17 EU: Imports of goods and services

Exchange rates

1.18 International: Bilateral euro exchange rates
1.19 Ireland: Harmonised competitiveness indicator

Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices

1.20 Ireland and EU: Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices
1.21 EU: Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices

Price levels

1.22 Ireland and EU: Comparative price levels of final consumption by private households
including indirect taxes
1.23 EU: Comparative price levels of final consumption by private households including
indirect taxes

2. Innovation and technology

Science and technology

2.1 Ireland: Mathematics, science and technology graduates


2.2 EU: Mathematics, science and technology PhDs awarded

Research and development expenditure

2.3 Ireland and EU: Gross domestic expenditure on R&D
2.4 EU: Gross domestic expenditure on R&D

Patent applications

2.5 Ireland and EU: European Patent Office applications
2.6 EU: European Patent Office applications

Household Internet access

2.7 Ireland: Private households with a computer connected to the Internet
2.8 EU: Private households with Internet access

3. Employment and unemployment

Employment rate

3.1 Ireland: Employment rates by sex
3.2 EU: Employment rates by sex

Labour productivity

3.3 Ireland: GDP in Purchasing Power Standards per hour worked and per person employed
3.4 EU: GDP in Purchasing Power Standards per person employed

Unemployment rate

3.5 Ireland and EU: Unemployment rates
3.6 EU: Unemployment rates by sex
3.7 Ireland and EU: Long-term unemployment rates
3.8 EU: Long-term unemployment rates by sex

Jobless households

3.9 Ireland: Population aged 18-59 living in jobless households
3.10 EU: Population aged 18-59 living in jobless households

Older workers

3.11 EU: Employment rate of persons aged 55-64 by sex

4. Social cohesion

Social protection expenditure

4.1 Ireland and EU: Social protection expenditure
4.2 EU: Social protection expenditure in Purchasing Power Parities per capita
4.3 EU: Social protection expenditure by type

Risk of poverty

4.4 EU: At risk of poverty rates
4.5 Ireland: At risk of poverty rates by age and sex
4.6 Ireland: Persons in consistent poverty by age and sex
4.7 Ireland: Persons in consistent poverty by principal economic status

Gender pay gap

4.8 EU: Gender pay gap

Voter turnout

4.9 Ireland: Numbers voting in Dáil elections
4.10 EU: Votes recorded at national parliamentary elections

Official development assistance

4.11 Ireland: Net official development assistance
4.12 EU: Net official development assistance

5. Education

Education expenditure

5.1 Ireland: Real current public expenditure on education
5.2 Ireland: Student numbers by level
5.3 EU: Public expenditure on education

Pupil-teacher ratio

5.4 EU: Ratio of students to teachers
5.5 EU: Primary and lower secondary average class size

Third-level education

5.6 Ireland: Persons aged 25-34 with third-level education
5.7 EU: Persons aged 25-34 with third-level education by sex


5.8 Ireland: Student performance on the reading, mathematical and scientific literacy

scales by sex

5.9 EU: Student performance on the reading, mathematical and scientific literacy scales

Early school leavers

5.10 Ireland: Early school leavers by labour force status and sex
5.11 Ireland: Proportion of the population aged 20-64 with at least upper secondary education
5.12 EU: Early school leavers

6. Health

Health care expenditure

6.1 Ireland: Current public expenditure on health care
6.2 EU: Total expenditure on health as percentage of GDP

Life expectancy

6.3 Ireland: Life expectancy at birth and at age 65 by sex
6.4 EU: Life expectancy at birth by sex

7. Population

Population distribution

7.1 Ireland: Population distribution by age group
7.2 Ireland: Household composition
7.3 EU: Population
7.4 EU: Population change


7.5 Ireland: Migration and natural increase
7.6 Ireland: Immigration by country of origin
7.7 Ireland and EU: Rate of natural increase of population
Age of population 7.8 Ireland: Age dependency ratio
7.9 EU: Young and old as proportion of population aged 15-64


7.10 Ireland and EU: Total fertility rate
7.11 EU: Total fertility rate

Lone parent families

7.12 Ireland: Lone parent families with children aged under 20 by sex of parent

Living alone

7.13 Ireland: Persons aged 65 and over living alone by sex


7.14 EU: Divorce rate

8. Housing

Dwelling completions

8.1 Ireland: Dwellings completed
8.2 Ireland: Nature of occupancy of private households


8.3 Ireland: Housing loans paid
8.4 Eurozone: Interest rates for household mortgages (new business)

9. Crime

Recorded crimes and detection

9.1 Ireland: Recorded crimes by type of offence rates

9.2 Ireland: Detection rates for recorded crimes

Recorded incidents

9.3 Ireland: Recorded incidents of driving/in charge of a vehicle while over legal alcohol
limit per 100,000 population
9.4 Ireland: Recorded incidents of burglary per 100,000 population
9.5 Ireland: Recorded incidents of controlled drug offences per 100,000 population


9.6 Ireland: Recorded victims of murder/manslaughter

10. Environment

Greenhouse gases

10.1 Ireland: Total net greenhouse gas emissions
10.2 EU: Net greenhouse gas emissions and Kyoto 2008-2012 target

Energy intensity of economy

10.3 Ireland: Gross inland consumption of energy divided by GDP
10.4 EU: Gross inland consumption of energy divided by GDP

River water quality

10.5 Ireland: River water quality

Urban air quality

10.6 Ireland: Particulate matter in urban areas

Acid rain precursors

10.7 Ireland: Acid rain precursor emissions

Waste management

10.8 Ireland: Total municipal waste generated, recovered and landfilled
10.9 EU: Municipal waste generated and treated


10.10 Ireland: Private cars under current licence
10.11 EU: Passenger cars per 1,000 population aged 15 and over
10.12 Ireland and EU: Share of road transport in total inland freight transport
10.13 EU: Share of road transport in total inland freight transport
10.14 Ireland and EU: Index of inland freight transport volume
10.15 EU: Index of inland freight transport volume


Rob Kitchin

The recently releaseed Residential Property Price Register provides actual sales prices of houses and apartments in Ireland since January 2010.  Yesterday we put up a set of interactive graphs of the data along with some commentary concerning its scope and quality.  Today is the turn of some maps and a look at the geography of the actual sales prices.  Below are five maps – the median price of property in each local authority for 2010, 2011 and 2012, actual change in price and percentage change in price 2010-2012.  We’ve used median rather than the mean to try and control for the skewing effects of outliers and errors in the data (as detailed in our post yesterday).

What the maps show is a clear drop in prices across the country (click on the maps for higher-res versions).  In 2010 no local authority had a median below €127,000.  By 2012, nine local authorities have median prices below €100,000 and a further nine below €127,000.  All of these local authorities are predominately rural in character with a clear divide evident between the principal cities and their commuting hinterlands and everywhere else.  In absolute terms, the biggest drop in median prices between 2010-2012 were in Wicklow, Laois and Waterford, all with inexcess of €67,000 drops in median prices. In percentage terms, Laois and Waterford both sustained large drops in median prices, in excess of -40%, and are joined by similar drops in Longford and Roscommon, with Monaghan not far behind (-39.8%).  In contrast, median prices in Dublin, Kildare and Limerick only dropped by between -20-25%.  Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, the percentage median change for Leitrim is only -23.5%, though this is partly reflective of its overall, relatively low prices.  Also see the interactive graphs.

What the maps reveal, in contrast to CSO price index which only provides an overview of residential property prices for Dublin and elsewhere, is that there is a geography to actual sales prices, with prices falling more in some parts of the country than others, affected by local conditions and markets.  There will also be a geography to the market bottoming out and to market recovery.  Whilst the Central Bank report that the market may take up to 18 years to recover, where and when will vary spatially, and we’ll now be able to track such patterns using the PSRA data.

Median residential property price, 2010 (PRSA data)

Median residential property price, 2011 (PRSA data)


Median residential property price, 2012 (PRSA data)

Absolute change in median prices 2010-2012 (PSRA data)

% change median prices 2010-2012 (PSRA data)


Eoghan McCarthy and Rob Kitchin

Today’s announcement of 90 job losses at the MSD facility in Brinny naturally raises concerns about the future of the facility. Although the numbers involved are a serious blow to the local economy I would be more positive as the future prospects.

Today’s losses are linked to a fall in demand for products from the site. To be more precise,  “the company’s levels of interferon are sufficient for demand now and in the near future”. The plant appears to have been producing higher volumes than required for some time. This has happened before and today’s job losses appear to be a recurring phenomenon at the facility.

In 2004 the facility, then owned by Schering Plough, shed 170 jobs in the wake of a major fall in sales of the company’s anti-cancer drug. One year later the plant let go 160 staff. The lay-offs were again linked to decreases in demand for products manufactured or produced at the site.

More worrying was the announcement of 160 job losses in 2010, in the wake of the merger between Schering Plough and MSD. These reductions were part of a post-merger rationalisation drive by MSD. However, one year later, in 2011, the company invested 29 million into the facility creating over 70 jobs in R&D and vaccine production. Biopharmaceuticals is a growth sector and Brinny appears to be a strategic site of the company. Job losses and gains seem to be a ‘usual’ dynamic at the site.


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