September 2013

The Wrong Referendum?

Interested in how we can make our parliament fit for purpose?  This public discussion on Dáil reform is open to anyone who thinks our Dáil can do more for democracy.

The debate in the run up to the Seanad referendum has not provided sufficient space for debate on wider reform of our parliamentary structures.  Regardless of the outcome of the Seanad referendum the Dáil is the key democratic organ of the state and needs reform.

The democracy group of Claiming our Future wants to promote debate on how Dáil reform can serve an Ireland based on our five core values of equality, environmental sustainability, accountability, participation and inclusion. These values were agreed by over 1,000 people at our event in October 2010. Claiming our Future aims to build support for these values and promote reforms which would make them real.

Venue: Wood Quay Venue, Dublin City Council. Access to the Wood Quay venue is at the junction of Fishamble and Essex Streets OR from Winetavern Street.


Chair: Anna Visser, Claiming our Future

Speakers: Can do better: Dáil reform for the next 100 years
Muiris MacCarthaigh, Queens University Belfast
Shane Martin, University of Leicester

Discussion: What should be the purpose of the Dáil?, Does the Dáil have sufficient power?, How would you change the Dáil to realise the five values?

Dr Muiris MacCarthaigh is Lecturer in Irish Politics at Queen’s University, Belfast.  He has long-standing academic research and teaching interests in the origins, work and reform of the Irish parliament and is author of Accountability in Irish Parliamentary Politics (2005) and co-editor of The Houses of the Oireachtas: Parliament in Ireland (2010).  He has also conducted a number of commissioned research projects for the Houses of the Oireachtas. He is a member of a number of international academic networks concerned with the study of parliaments.

Dr Shane Martin is Reader in Comparative Politics at the University of Leicester. Prior to joining Leicester, he taught at Dublin City University, the University of California, San Diego and the Pennsylvania State University and held a Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at Trinity College Dublin. He is an international recognised expert on parliaments and parliamentary behaviour, with a specific focus on the relationship between electoral systems and parliamentary organisation and behaviour. Recent research by him has appeared in Legislative Studies Quarterly, Party Politics, The Journal of Legislative Studies, Political Studies, West European Politics, Irish Political Studies, PS: Political Science and Politics, and Politics and Religion. He is co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of Legislative Studies and a member of the Editorial Board of Irish Political Studies (2011-) and Legislative Studies Quarterly (2012-15). He was Director of the European Summer School on Parliaments in 2010 and 2013.

Anna Visser convenes the Democracy Group of Claiming our Future, if you are interested in finding out more about the work of the Democracy Group contact


Spacing IrelandA new book about Ireland after the crash of the Celtic Tiger economy has just been published in the ‘Irish Society’ series of Manchester University Press.  The collection, which is edited by Caroline Crowley and Denis Linehan, features a range of essays and includes contributors to the Ireland After NAMA blog.

Spacing Ireland: Spacing Ireland: Place, Society and Culture in a Post-Boom Era

Edited by Caroline Crowley and Denis Linehan

In light of the innumerable interventions that characterise the transformation of Ireland over the last two decades, Spacing Ireland: Place, society and culture in a post-boom era explores questions of ‘space’ and ‘place’ to understand the nature of major social, cultural and economic change in contemporary Ireland.

The authors explore the intersections between everyday life and global exchanges through the contexts of the ‘stuff’ of contemporary everyday encounters: food, housing, leisure, migration, music, shopping, travel and work. These are the multiple layers of space we now inhabit. Ireland is a turbulent place. It is fruitful to consider the contemporary geographies of the island through the various forms where change is expressed. The wide range of topics addressed in the collection and the plurality of spaces they represent make the book appealing not only to students and academics, but to anyone who follows social, cultural and economic developments in Ireland.


Introduction: Geographies of the post-boom era (Denis Linehan and Caroline Crowley)
Part I: Spacing belonging

1. Ghost estates: Spaces and spectres of Ireland after NAMA (Cian O’Callaghan)
2. ‘Of course I’m not Irish’: Young people in migrant worker families in Ireland (Naomi Tyrrell)
3. Migrants in the fields: Making work pay (Sally Daly)
4. Raising the emerald curtain: Communities and collaboration along the Irish border (Caroline Creamer and Brendan O’ Keefe)

Part II: Mobility, space and consumption

5. Reading the Irish motorway: Landscape, mobility and politics after the ‘Crash’ (Denis Linehan)
6. Lone parents, leisure mobilities and the everyday (Bernadette Quinn)
7. Rethinking the liveable city in a post boom-time Ireland (Philip Lawton)
8. Flocking north: Renegotiating the Irish border (Sara McDowell)
9. Growth amidst decline: Ireland’s grassroots food growing movement (Aisling Murtagh)

Part III: Culture and place

10. Ancestors in the field: Irish farming knowledges (Caroline Crowley)
11. Health and wellness or conspicuous consumption? The spa in Celtic Tiger Ireland (Ronan Foley)
12. ‘Traditional Irish music here tonight’: Exploring the session space (Daithi Kearney)
13. ‘Through American eyes’: A hundred years of Ireland in the National Geographic Magazine (Patrick Duffy)

I was a bit baffled by the news that housing charity Threshold had, in its pre-budget submission, added its voice to those campaigning for government stimulus for new housing construction.  As quoted in the Irish Times, Bob Jordan Threshold chief executive suggested that “Up to 30,000 new houses need to be constructed annually to meet the ongoing demand for new homes. However, since the recession, housing construction has virtually ceased, with only 8,500 new units built last year.”  The organisation argued that, if left unchecked, the “housing shortage” could become a “full-blown crisis”.

A closer look at their submission reveals that the proposal for the Minister for Finance to consider a stimulus for housing construction is part of a wider and much more targeted set of proposals, which in large part aim to address the current threats faced by tenants in the increasingly precarious private rental sector.  Included in these are proposals to provide a financial package for the purchase and construction of social housing and amendments to Residential Tenancies Act.  Threshold are keen to point out that the problems of undersupply are restricted to particular, primarily urban, areas.  In this context, it is odd if a little unsurprising that the point picked up by the media is the call for new construction.

Another story is today’s papers35Gogh_Old Man in Sorrow offers a more apt corollary to the issues that Threshold raise.  A report from Oxfam claims that austerity policies across Europe are benefiting the top tier of society while impoverishing many households on the lower end of the economic spectrum.  Likening current austerity policies to structural adjustment programmes imposed on poor countries by the IMF since the 1970s, the report (in which Ireland features prominently) warns that:

“The only people benefiting from austerity are the richest 10% who have seen their share of income rise whilst poorest have seen their share fall. The UK, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain – countries that are most aggressively pursuing austerity measures – will soon rank amongst the most unequal in the world if their leaders don’t change course.”

It is this growth in levels of inequality and the knock on effects this has, rather than simply a lack of construction, which produce the suite of challenges for tenants that are now being flagged by Threshold.

Cian O’Callaghan

The Irish Branch of the Regional Studies Association and The Centre for Enterprise Development and Regional Economy, WIT invite speakers for the following conference:


One-Day RSA Conference – The Role of Universities in Regional Development

Waterford Institute of Technology

Wednesday 30 October 2013

Deadline for submissions: 27 September

Introduction: Universities and other higher education institutions are believed to play a core role in processes of Regional development.  This role has become a core interest to policy makers, practitioners and academics in a range of disciplines, including Economics, Economic Geography, Regional Science and Business Studies. The one-day conference will explore a range of themes including, amongst others: universities and entrepreneurship, universities and spin-off processes, the development and upgrading of regional labour resources, universities and regional systems of innovation, knowledge transfer, and the entrepreneurial university.

Confirmed Key-note speaker: Professor Paul Benneworth, Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS), University of Twente, The Netherlands. Paul’s major research interest is in the relationship between universities and societal change, from the broad level of how universities as institutions respond to major social shifts such as the emergence of the post-industrial society, to relationships between universities and businesses in the creation of new high-technology businesses and spin-off companies.

Expressions of Interest : We would be delighted to hear from practitioners, policy makers and academics working in this area who are interested to present at the conference. No written papers required. Expressions of interest should be directed towards:  Deadline: 27 September.


Granby Park, a pop up park created on a vacant site on Domenick Street in Dublin’s north inner city, has been in operation since 22 August and will run until 22 September.  The initiative incorporates a temporary space wherein “there will be free arts events, outdoor cinema & theatre performances, live music, educational activities and a pop-up café open to the public”.  Thus far, the reception has been warm and the park has proved popular amongst a diverse array of the city’s inhabitants.

Whilst temporary uses of vacant spaces can be a very positive way of breathing life into otherwise underutilised sites, the pop up phenomenon also raises a series of pertinent questions. These include concerns about the long term impacts that such initiatives might have on derelict sites and to what extent the structural features of urban property development are transformed through these incursions.

Rather than trying to offer my own perspective here, I want instead to point readers to two other pieces, both broadly supportive of the Granby Park initiative but offering diverging perspectives on the longer term impacts.

Gerry Kearns from the Geography Department in NUI Maynooth sees progressive potential in making creative use of vacant spaces in the interim of the downturn.

Mick Byrne and Patrick Bresnihan of the Provisional University raises some cautions about who will reap the long term benefits (longer piece here).

Cian O’Callaghan




21st SEPTEMBER 2013

A conference which will address some of the core concerns of indigenous communities in Dublin’s Docklands as they face a new round of urban regeneration – one of the first major urban-regeneration programmes to be pursued by the Irish state in the wake of the property crash.

 Attendance is invited from the Community itself (residents and community organisations from Dublin’s Docklands and inner city), Statutory bodies (Department of Environment and Dublin City Council officers engaged in planning and housing); Public Representatives from the Docklands constituencies and All who have an interest in or previous involvement with urban regeneration initiatives across Dublin’s inner city.

Date:           9am-1pm, Saturday 21st September 2013

Venue:        Robert Emmet Theatre, Arts Building,

  Trinity College Dublin

The programme of speakers will comprise community representatives who have participated directly in the regeneration of Dublin’s Docklands and academics who have engaged extensively with urban regeneration and public-housing related issues both in Ireland and abroad.

Numbers are strictly limited and pre-registration is essential. To reserve a place please contact Dr. Paula Brudell by e-mail:brudellp(at) or by post to: Dr. P. Brudell, Centre for Urban & Regional Studies, Department of Geography, TCD, Dublin 2.



















KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Professor Peter Tyler

(Dept. of Land Economy, University of Cambridge)

The impact of urban regeneration: the UK experience



Dr. Andrew MacLaran (CURS, Trinity College Dublin)

Participation and pitfalls




Mr. Tony McDonnell (North Port Dwellers’ Association)

Future planning and development issues for Dockland’s communities









Professor P.J. Drudy (CURS, Trinity College Dublin)

The perspective of the Community Liaison Committee of the Dublin Docklands Authority 1997-2002



Mr. Seanie Lambe (Inner City Organisations Network)

Safeguarding the social regeneration agenda in Dublin’s Docklands       


Mr. Charlie Murphy (Community Activist, Docklands)

Community participation in the Docklands after the DDDA