Posts Tagged ‘cork’

Few people visiting Galway will fail to notice the impressive Webworks Galway building (pictured above) just of Eyre Square. The building is part of a huge development plan announced by the Irish government & Enterprise Ireland in May 2000. The plan originally encompassed the building of similar incubators in 10 towns & cities across Ireland and was targeted at digital media, electronic business, health sciences, software and telecommunications businesses & start-ups.
There would be 3 large Webworks incubators and 7 smaller ones.

The three centres in Galway, Cork and Limerick will be 40,000 square feet in size each and cost between £10m and £15m to develop.

The seven smaller operation in regional towns are expected to be 10,000 square feet.

I recently contacted the Webworks Galway to enquire about using it as a venue for CrisisCamp Ireland. I knew from prior contact that quite a few of the offices were vacant so I was hoping to use some of the larger ones and the open/public spaces to accommodate this event. My idea was that an event such as Crisiscamp might be a good fit for Webworks and might lead to more interest in the vacant offices. Their website gives the distinct impression that this is an Enterprise Ireland owned/run facility both because it is plastered in Enterprise Ireland logos and by the text used:

Enterprise Ireland Webworks Galway is a joint initiative between McNamara Construction, Enterprise Ireland and Galway City Council. Enterprise Ireland Webworks projects are designed to provide premium enterprise space for internationally traded service companies in a technologically superior building located in the heart of the city.

I was hence very surprised to get a call from an Enterprise Ireland representative telling me that they had nothing to do with the running of the building and that I should contact a local real estate agent who was managing the building. I was also told that this agency would more than likely have no interest in accommodating 1 day events. To be honest I was amazed by the dismissive attitude. Here is a prominent & expensive building, paid for with public funding, sitting mostly empty and there seemed to be no effort to monetize the asset. It was then that I recalled reading something about Webworks Cork being in a similar situation. Time to do some digging….

It soon turned out that most of the webworks buildings were built in a partnership between Enterprise Ireland and McNamara Construction (Galway Webworks) and Howard Holdings (Cork Webworks). Presume the plan was for the other 8 to be built under similar partnerships. Enterprise Ireland invested  €4.36 million in Webworks Galway & €3.82 million in Webworks Cork.  The occupancy levels are shockingly low:

Throughout its existence, the building has remained largely empty. According to its website, just 17 out if its 36 units are occupied. However, Enterprise Ireland has said the building occupancy is about 35% — suggesting a lower figure of around 13 units.

The Galway Webworks, opened in 2009, fares much worse with just seven out of its 42 units occupied.

Some follow-up research showed that Webworks Galway currently only has 2 paying tenants at the moment. One of these tenants stated that Enterprise Ireland had a 40% stakeholding in the building but pulled out 6 months or so ago when the other 60% (owned by McNamara Construction) became part of NAMA. The management of the building was contracted out to a third-party who shortly afterwards went into receivership and now all enquiries are handled by  DTZ Sherry Fitzgerald. A property firm like that would obviously have no interest in promoting or stimulating local entrepreneurship.  The listing on their website doesn’t exactly go overboard in trying to sell the property. Another stumbling block to these buildings being used to their full potential lies in the requirements for potential tenants as well as the high rents.

It is understood that the lack of smaller technology- based operations in the Webworks buildings is, in large part, due to high rents and other service charges, putting its offices out of the price range of most SMEs.

Apparently the Cork Webworks building was up for sale some time but appears to have been taken of the market. There is an interesting discussion on it on I couldn’t find any information on the other proposed webworks buildings.

It is truly amazing that facilities like these are lying unused. They could be put to good use providing low-cost or free accommodation for start-up companies allowing them to bring the overheads of starting up down and hence stimulating new business. You would expect the Irish government to at least attempt to maximise the use of their assets. A start-up incubator along the lines of what is discussed here would cost very little and have substantial realistic potential.

I know more than a few people who would be willing to invest time in getting such an initiative of the ground and keeping it going. I’m one of them.

Anyone who is interested in trying to do something about this facility being wasted please put a comment on this post with your ideas and I will get back to you.



A state of in-tolerance…

Posted: August 20, 2011 in opinion
Tags: , , , , , ,

I travelled to Dublin yesterday for a number of clients meetings. It was while zooming down the N6 between Galway and Dublin, that I heard something that made me slow down and turn up the volume on the radio. Apparently the former Lord Mayor of Cork had called on the Irish government to ban Burqas AND hoodies. This is another example of the ever-increasing calls for intolerance that are steeped in ignorance, hypocrisy and quite blatant stupidity.

Let’s have a look at the various components of this proposal; It conveniently puts hoodies and burqas in the same group. Not only that, from the content of his statements, it is clear that hoodies as seen as the uniform of juvenile criminals by Mr. O’Callaghan. This obvious incorrect. On inspection my wardrobe contains numerous hoodies. However I am neither juvenile nor criminal. The second incorrect assumption is that by banning the wearing of hoodies we will see a drop in crime levels. This would mean that someone set on committing a crime would be prohibited from doing so because of the fact that he/she is not able to hide their identity by using a hoodie. This is as stupid as it is wrong, the juvenile criminal will either not care *or* use some other means of obscuring their identity.

However, what is much more worrying is that by lumping these two garments together in this manner it puts a veiled impression of illegality on burqa wearing. Nothing is more untrue. Burqa wearers are fundamental Islamic women and by definition not very liable to commit criminal offences. I suspect that this “lumping together” is done purposely rather than accidentally and will be a foundation for further calls for intolerance in the future.

However let’s leave the “hoodie issue” for what it is and concentrate on the Burqa for now. First of all tend to agree with a number of commentators I’ve heard recently on the point that most people (including Mr. O’Callaghan) are ignorant on the differences between a burqa, niqab, hijab or a Chador for example.  Both the burqa and the hijab for instance stem from the Quran calling on women to dress modestly. However as this is a very unspecific description it is open to cultural interpretation and in some parts of the Islamic world this has led to women wearing the burqa or niqab while in other parts of the Islamic world women only wearing a hijab covering hair & neck.

While living in Belgium I became used to young women wearing a hijab combined with the latest in fashion (but still covering most of their legs) and make-up. In some strange way this added to their attractiveness in my personal opinion (from an aesthetical point of view).

What annoys me most however is the public outcry from the so-called liberals supporting a ban of a burqa or any other related object of clothing. The Journal and other liberal on-line hang-outs are full of supporting messages. Their support is based on the ignorant presumption that women wearing a burqa are only doing so because their religion, their husband or Allah himself forces them to do so. They also assume that these women are in dire need of rescuing by armies of liberal crusaders. This however is far from the truth. The large majority of Islamic women, especially those living in the western world, wear their religious garments by choice. And if the liberals want to stay true to their ideals they should allow these women to do so. But that’s where the issue is. Bleeding heart liberals want to liberate the world but only so it can accept their world-view which they see as the only “way of enlightenment”.

This kind of hypocrisy makes me sick. See, I am a supporter of the school of thought that multi-culturalism has failed in the western world and that by being too tolerant we have created a society rife with religious, social and ethical problems. I also see the conflict between the western (Christian society) and the Muslim world as one of the bigger threats in the future (together with economic, financial and societal collapse) and think that we need to act swiftly to stop a tidal wave of trouble coming our way. However there is one thing that worries me even more and that is the increasing amount of hypocrisy in government, religion and society. I mean what happened to calling a spade a spade?!

In this case we have liberals demanding integration, equality, freedom of speech and religion but ONLY if these fit into their worldview. They see a woman wearing a burqa and immediately react from within their own limited worldview in which they would *never* wear a burqa. But the point is that they are not of the same religion as those women wearing a burqa, hijab, chador or related garment. It is a fact that the majority of these women are not forced onto this religion and hence do not object to wearing these garments. So to proclaim freedom of religion and expression while at the same time calling for a ban on the wearing of these garment is hypocrisy of the highest order.

Liberty is NOT a pick ‘n mix product.

If you object to Islam and it’s effect on western society then grow a pair and ban the religion. Don’t support the building of Mosques all over the western world but then dictate what the people frequenting these mosques are allowed to wear.

The country’s second busiest hospital emergency department will be forced to close at night from July 11, the medical board of the hospital has warned.

The above is the first line of an article in yesterdays edition of the Sunday Business Post. It’s shocking for more reasons than one.

Let me draw you a time-line (and this is done from my personal perspective although it applies to over 300,000 people in total).  Until the 6th of April 2009 anyone living in both North & South Tipperary could avail of around the clock A&E services provided in Nenagh Hospital. However that service was withdrawn by the HSE between the hours of 8pm – 8am. Outside of 8am – 8pm people in need of URGENT medical care had to travel to Limerick Regional Hospital. The HSE had promised that the facilities at Limerick Regional would be extended to cope with the extra demand but to date, 2 years on, this has not happened. At the same time similar A&E services in Ennis, Co. Clare were also withdrawn. in simple numbers this mean that the A&E department in Limerick Regional from that day onward had to provide services to 260,194 extra people (according to 2006 CSO figures). Without any significant extra resources or facilities.

Now, just over 2 year later the decision has been made by the HSE to close the A&E facility in Limerick Regional Hospital between the hours of 8pm – 8am. Why one might ask?

Dr Sandy Fraser, chairman of the medical board, said patients would have to be diverted from Limerick to Cork and Galway between 8pm and 8am due to the chronic shortage of non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHD) who are due to take up new contracts in July.

Fraser said it would be impossible to run the emergency department as the HSE had recruited just 40 per cent of NCHD posts required to man the department.

So in the 2 years since the workload on Limericks Regional A&E facility was increased by 50% their manpower has decreased by 40%. Do the maths yourself…

We have repeatedly warned the HSE of the serious problems we face. Large volumes of medical and surgical work are going to have to be curtailed and this will all have a direct impact on patient care and patient safety.

HSE central recruitment imposed this against all expert advice, and the impact of reconfiguration has decimated the numbers of doctors willing and able to work here,” he said. Fraser said it would not be possible to have medical and surgical teams pick up the flak as they were severely understaffed.

As outlined above people living in North Tipperary, South Tipperary, Clare & Limerick will have to travel to either Cork or Galway hospital for A&E care. So what does that mean in real terms? Let’s take the example of myself; say I suffered a heart attack in the comfort of my own home. Up to early April 2009 I could be treated in Nenagh A&E which was a mere 20 minutes away. Since then I had to be transported to Limerick Regional which would take around an hour. When the new closure comes into force I would have to be transported to either Galway University Hospital (1.5 hrs away) or Cork General (2.45 minutes). A rough estimation would lead to conclude that my chances of survival would reduce significantly. The “Golden Hour” standard is widely recognised in emergency medicine; this rule outlines that patient in need of urgent medical care have a substantial higher rate of survival if treated within 60 minutes of “receiving” the injury. Once outside these first 60 minutes the survival rate drops significantly as time goes along. So if I was transported to Galway University hospital it would extend my travel time alone to outside the golden hour. Combine that with the additional waiting time in Galway Hospital where the workload has suddenly increased by roughly 75% and my survival chances are passing slim and coming close to none. I am not even mentioning travelling to Cork General as it would take over 2 hours to get there.

The HSE and the Irish government are fully aware of these statistics. And they don’t care. We live in a country run by bean-counters (also known as accountants) only concerned with the bottom line. This would be fine if that logic was applied in a commercial environment but we’re talking about a healthcare environment here were an acceptable standard of care should have priority over the bottom line. Hospital accountants would have to be subordinate to the medical professionals. The current policies have led to environment where it is cheaper to let people die before they reach a care facility. And that, my friends, is a very worrying development…..


Update 22/06: Now that the news of this closure is leaking out the various politicians are scrambling to release statements denying that it will happen. A spokesperson for Min. Noonan stated that he: “was aware of the speculation relating to the A&E department at the Regional Hospital and the upset it has caused. Before his trip to Luxembourg he got assurances from James Reilly that there will be no evening closures and there is no threat to services in A&E at the hospital”. That doesn’t explain how the A&E services in Limerick Regional Hospital will be able to cope with their workload seeing that they only have 21 of the required 29 junior doctor posts filled amongst others (that’s a 33% understaffing). considering the already excessively long hours that junior doctors work this is creating an timebomb…