2010: BACK TO BASICS - A PLAN FOR SURVIVAL

A few images of the 2010 workshop - on the theme of "Back to Basics - A Plan for Survival."

Click on the thumbnail to see the organisers Archbishop Hynes and Dermot Mooney. Karen Smyth, Head of Policy, NILGA, in the centre with Dundalk town councillor, Conor Keelan. On the right stand Eric Hynes and Christina O'Boyle.

A Composed Workshop

Well there was no vision of a new technology or anything which might rescue civilisation from the economic mire. The emphasis was on soft issues like community values, helping the less fortunate, fairness. Paradoxically it was suggested that the recession might do good, getting people talking and getting people back to reality. Basics means different things to different age groups. No-one wants to go back to sorting potatoes by hand at frozen potato pits in the middle of December. People are still generous as the national response to the earthquake disaster in Haiti shows.

The workshop heard a comprehensive description of the proposed reforms of local government in Northern Ireland. We were reminded that local government in all areas may have a crucial role to play in a time of recession. However we heard that there was no appetite in Northern Ireland to return housing or education into the control of local government. Clearly the “agency” approach to administration is presently being favoured on both sides of the border relegating, to some extent, local authorities to a state of powerlessness.

An interesting case study presented by Don Johnston was The Encumbered Estates Court set up in Ireland after the famine. It dealt with land issues in a way analogous to the way in which NAMA is expected to deal with developer debt and it took 25 years for the court to discharge its function completely.

Deficiencies in planning were highlighted where we have in the Republic an estimated 300 000 unoccupied houses. New planning regulations 2009 – 2015 will see a reduction in the size of homes in terms of the house/plot area ratio.

Harry Lee told the workshop that local radio questions everything the councils do and the airwaves are open to anything anyone wants to discuss.

The recovery plan outlined by Conor Keelan was orthodox. The recovery must be export led. Continue to invest in infrastructure and retraining the workforce. Stay in the Euro. Possible growth in areas like food production.

Yinka outlined the possibility of a self-regulating community where people were related in a more intimate way – like the way we are connected to our uncles or aunts and where we are our neighbour’s friend. “No-one knows how long the recession will last,” Yinka reasoned. “Live in peace, wear a big smile, look good and, one day, things will improve,” she counselled.

Those present for the workshop which ran from 14.00 until 18.00 on Saturday 23 January 2010 were; Yinka Dixon, Don Johnston, Professor Dennis Pringle, Eric Hynes, Conor Keelan, Eamonn O’Boyle, Christina O'Boyle, Harry Lee, Michael Corrigan, Sean Crudden, Mary Corrigan, Micheál Murphy, Kevin McGeough, Karen Smyth, Kevin Hynes, Willie Jones, Dermot Mooney, Alan McGuire, Archbishop Michael Desmond Hynes (facilitator). Apologies were presented on behalf of Martin Bellew, Anne Muldowney, Pat Ferrigan. Sean Crudden read at the start of the workshop a note from Fr. Gerard McGreevy, Professor Emeritus of Experimental Physics, St. Patrick's College, Maynooth.

Sean Crudden told the workshop that Cooley Environmental and Health Group, unless there was any serious objection, would have as officers for the coming year: chairperson, Dermot Mooney; vice-chairperson, Anne Muldowney; secretary, Archbishop Michael Desmond Hynes; treasurer, Seán Crudden.

The workshop and AGM took place starting at 14.00 on Saturday 23 January 2010 in The Strand Hotel, Omeath, Co Louth. It was the 10th annual winter workshop organised by Cooley Environmental and Health Group.