Friday, March 30, 2012

Paving the way to recovery? No, instead we’re re-paving Grafton Street!

‘All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes’
So said Winston Churchill, and one can merely hope that we all learn from our mistakes. Yesterday’s revelations regarding the upgrade of Grafton Street would suggest otherwise.
Set the scene, Ireland 2012, a far cry from the Celtic Tiger era it once was, and now a debt ridden state, attempting to cope with a severe economic crisis, a single currency whose future remains uncertain, a banking sector on the brink of breakdown and few employment opportunities resulting in forced emigration. This is unfortunately a scene we are now all too familiar with.
Herein lies some hope; hope that our current government can right the wrongs of the government line up that went before them and repair our demolished economy. But oh, how hope can fade fast....
Yes, we have acknowledged that all men make mistakes (mistakes which we are now forced to pay dearly for courtesy of our previous government!), but surely, the current governments can learn from their mistakes. Not so. Revelations of a planned €4 million upgrade of the paving of Dublin’s Grafton Street due to start early next year would suggest otherwise. Seriously €4m on a pedestrianised street which is functioning fine and sees thousands walk it on a daily basis without complaint? Surely, we have better areas in which we can at this current time deploy such funds.
Pardon me for my ignorance, but how exactly are we to benefit from this upgrade?
Further information released yesterday depicted the new paving, alluding to the intent to use the same grey granite to that of Henry Street coupled with a dark grey way finding path along one side with sections in pink to highlight intersections and points of interest. How very glamorous!! (Please detect the sarcasm!)
Coincidently on the same day on which this information was released news surfaced that Our Lady’s Children’s  Hospital in Crumlin launched an €8m fundraising campaign to renovate the cancer and cardiac units, citing the urgent need to upgrade its old and cramped wards to enable children to be cared for in quality facilities. Dr. Orla Franklin, a consultant paediatric at the hospital said of the situation “Children are fighting aggressive cancers. These tough life struggles are happening in cramped and out of date facilities. This has to change”.
Surely such news pales in comparison to that of the supposed need for the repaving of Grafton Street?
Serious thought must be given to where it is our priorities lie as a nation. It angers me that the country would place prominence at a time like this, given the current economic crisis, on the upgrade of a shopping street – when the welfare of sick children is at stake. It infuriates me that Dublin City Council are injecting €4m into the design of ‘pink sections’ on Grafton Street, when in fact, few will notice such changes and upgrades as it is merely a street in which people walk on.
I urge the government and Dublin City Council to reconsider where it deploys it’s funds – as in a year’s time, I don’t want to walk down Grafton Street, gilt ridden, in the knowledge that I am walking on what could have been the upgrade to a vital service to our country, the health service, and to what could ultimately have saved the lives of children.
The Children’s Medical Research Foundation have pledged €4m to the children’s cancer ward and another €4m for a new cardiac facility and have made a direct appeal to Irish people to help them raise the €8m funding.
To Dublin City Council.... don’t let us spend next year and subsequent years trampling on €4m when instead it could be utilised for the greater good of the country. The paving on Grafton Street has stood the test of time since 1980, it has more time to give, but as the fundraising slogan for Our Lady’s Hospital Crumlin suggests the ‘Sick Children Are Out of Time’.
The future of the country lies with the children of today, not some glamorously paved shopping street. Please we’ve made enough mistakes in this country already.... it’s time we started learning from them. 
The Forgotten Irish Graduate, 7th March 2012