The Recovery Has Barely Started And Dublin Is Already At Breaking Point
Everything feels like it is slowly grinding to a halt
What I remember most about the Celtic Tiger boom years was the traffic.
The Stillorgan dual carriageway, which I had to use at the time, was like a parking lot full of 4X4s and white vans full of builders on their way to add another extension to somebody's house.
We've all heard stories of the excess that took place in those days, high-fliers pissed on champagne mojitos and jetting off to Bulgarian property expos trying to figure out what to do with all their new found "spare" cash that the banks had given them.
The Government at this time were running a huge budget surplus but this being Ireland, very little of it was used to improve the infrastructure in the city, with the exception of the Luas. Even that was so poorly thought out that today Dublin city centre looks like a war zone as they frantically try and connect the two lines over a decade later.
With a deep recession leaving hundreds of thousands out of work, off the roads and with little money to spend, the city sort of survived and ticked over for the last eight years.
Although with the recovery seeming to take hold fully now, the problems have suddenly bubbled up to the surface. The city has multiple crises...
- Housing. With no supply and nothing built in years, it's a fully blown crisis. The rental market is a nightmare. First time buyers are priced out of the market and we have a homeless crisis that just keeps on growing.
- Commercial Office Space. Even harder to find than somewhere to live. The large tech and finance companies have driven rents to a point where local companies can't find anywhere to work.
- Transport. The M50 now has eight hours of 'rush hour' per day as it struggles to cope with the load. We still have no rail link to the airport. The metro still feels like a pipe dream and even though the Luas has been a success, it should have been rolled out further (west) and connected by now.
- Public services. The guards are about to go on strike for the first time ever. The hospitals are a shambles and everybody from teachers through to train drivers are unhappy. So much money has been ripped out of public services that they're all pretty much on their knees.
One of those on their own would be bad enough but we've major problems in all those areas. All hitting at the same time and all acute in their nature. Like a punch drunk old boxer, it feels like Dublin is lurching from one crisis to the next as our corner man frantically holds up the white flag.
The IDA are over in London pitching the UK banks to relocate to Dublin post-Brexit, which sounds great, but we've so much to fix here as it is.
If, as expected, the economy here continues to grow, it'll bring more cars onto the roads, people will need bigger premises and staff will want nice places to live. At the moment, all of those areas are at breaking point or have already passed it.
Dublin has the seaside, the mountains, the craic and hundreds of other reasons to live here. It has the potential to be one of the great cities in the world, but it's slipping back at the moment. It's time to invest, to build some infrastructure and have some radical thinking.
If it doesn't get fixed, people will start leaving to find a better place to live. Simple as that.