28 August 2009

Building in Cork City collapsed

While Ireland's government is crumbling at the edges and the coalition is close to collapse (see my entry of August 25th), the country itself is already collapsing and falling to pieces bit by bit.

No, I am not referring to the banks this time. They are holed below the waterline and sinking slowly, but steadily. And no adult alive today who has a working brain and seen and experienced the absolute crazy, irresponsible and ruthless attitude and behaviour of our banks will ever trust them again. (Any old box or mattress is a much better and safer place for your money than the ugly temples of silly greed and certain doom...)

But as I said, I am not writing about the banks today. When I say that the country is falling to pieces, I mean it literally.

The latest episode in this new series of contemporary Irish 'entertainment' did happen in Cork, Ireland's second-largest city, where a complete multi-story city building has suddenly and unexpectedly collapsed yesterday (photo left).

The incident happened in Castle Street, right in the city, and it is a miracle that no one was killed or seriously injured when the house collapsed into the street without warning.

The only 'casualty' was a small silver-coloured car that was parked right in front of the house, which collapsed on top of it and made it a complete insurance write-off. (see photo right)

The building, which was in a row of houses and connected to two other buildings to the left and right, was undergoing renovation for some time.

Buildings and offices on Castle Street have been evacuated and traffic diversions are in place in the area.

Gardaí in Cork are puzzled by the incident, and a full investigation is expected to take place.

This is the second time within one week that a substantial construction in Ireland has collapsed suddenly and without any apparent reason.
Last Friday evening a 20-metre-long section of the railway viaduct across the Broadmeadow estuary near Malahide station in the North of Dublin also collapsed without warning. (see my entries of August 22nd, 23rd & 26th)

In contrast to many other countries, Ireland does not have a national Department for Buildings and Construction. This leads to the ridiculous situation that there are hundreds of different rules and regulations for different kinds of buildings and structures, often very different from one local authority to the next.
At the same time Ireland's planning law and planning process is among the most complicated and bureaucratic in the world.

If we want to see some progress eventually, this has to stop. We have to streamline planning and building regulations on a national level, with the same rules applying equally to everyone. And when it comes to buildings and other structures, the element of safety and solidity has to come above all other concerns.

Even though I am not much involved with the construction industry or property business, I have seen over the years too many houses and other buildings that I - as a layman - would regard as unsafe or at least critical. They are still in place, and unchanged, and perhaps other collapse cases waiting to happen.

There is no inspection of buildings in Ireland, but such takes place in most continental countries, where buildings do not suddenly collapse. Where and when people take care, things work well, are functioning and satisfactory for all.
But in ridiculous banana republics like Ireland no one seems to care any more, especially not for the common good. Most people are just looking after 'No. 1' (themselves), and an incompetent government, hand-in-glove with a sluggish and self-absorbed bureaucracy, has no interest in the common good either. As long as our ministers, TDs and civil servants receive their exorbitant salaries, 'allowances' and - eventually - pensions, they don't care for anything else.

One of the recommendations of 'An Bord Snip (Nua)' is the complete abolition of the Department of the Gaeltacht, Rural & Community Affairs, whose few responsibilities could easily be taken over by other existing government departments.
This is one of the few recommendations of Colm McCarthy's four-men commission I applaude and fully agree with.
It also means that we could fill a soon empty space in the cabinet with something new and more useful than the Gaeltacht. Why not create a new Department of Construction and Housing and give it responsibility for every house, building and structure in the country?
Many other countries have such a department, and it is more than time for Ireland to follow suit, unless we want to hear of ever more collapsing buildings on a regular basis.

The Emerald Islander

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