Hello, world. I’m MacDara Conroy, and this is my blog.

It’s My Weblog And I’ll Rant If I Want To

I found a protest notice clogging the letterbox on Wednesday afternoon. When I first read it, it made me laugh. Then it made me angry. The following is a recreation of said notice, with most punctuation errors intact:

Now let’s have a closer, point-for-point examination:

  • The presentation, first of all, leaves a lot to be desired. It looks like it was laid out by a two-year-old. It speaks volumes about the message they want to convey, as far as I’m concerned.
  • They get their digs in quickly though, using such hyperbolic words as ‘illegal’ and ‘industrial’ to describe what is actually a perfectly legal recycling depot. And just in case you don’t get the message, they hit the caps key to ream off a list of people supposedly at risk from the depot’s activities (which could result in the contamination of our air supply with the Aspergillus spore). It’s funny, I never knew that St. Anne’s Estate was a treatment centre for cancer and AIDS patients, et al. Maybe because it isn’t. One might presume, from the information presented here, that we’ll all be breathing pure, uncontaminated oxygen if the depot is shut down. Is this the case? Hardly. Even though past studies have shown that the Clontarf-Raheny area has some of the cleanest air in the city, the poor immuno-deficient invalids listed here would still be at risk from general pollutants in the air (exhaust fumes from passing cars, tobacco smoke from passing smokers, the high pollen count during the summer months, the cold virus, influenza) and besides, the Aspergillus spore has shown up in many places other than composting sites (according to this story its presence has been reported in many Irish hospitals in the past). Yet for some reason the great minds responsible for this protest have decided to ignore these threats. But that’s rhetoric for you.
  • I like the next paragraph; you can just imagine the tottering aul’ biddies whinging about their stuffy noses and arthritic joints. Oh no, couldn’t be the pollen in the air, they say, nor a summer cold — it simply has to be the FALLOUT from that ILLEGAL INDUSTRIAL DEPOT! It’s funny how we’ve switched in a matter of seconds from a green-matter recycling centre to a nuclear time-bomb just waiting to explode. Why don’t these clowns pay a visit to the good people of Hiroshima; I’m sure they can tell them all about fallout.
  • The following paragraph is all in caps. It’s also the one with the worst layout mistakes, so they must have been really angry when they wrote this one. Red mist and all. Fighting through the tears of frustration. Please Lord, why will no one hear our cry?!? It almost pains me to take it apart mercilessly, but I’ll do it anyway:
    1. First of all, the value our health and our property is not being ruined by Dublin City Council, at least not in this respect. I would, personally, be much more concerned about the gangs of delinquents roaming around the estate, making most of it a no-go area at night, not to mention the car thefts and joyriding that plagued the area last year.
    2. Second of all, the council has admitted that there are potential health risks involved with the decay of certain vegatable matter — referring to the Aspergillus spore — however, tests have, to my knowledge, yet to be conducted to determine the levels of this or any other contaminant in the air surrounding the green waste depot. In the meantime, most people are probably living in total ignorance of the threat to their health of electromagnetic fields, radon gas, et cerera, within their own homes, not to mention the fact that Aspergillus has shown to be present in a variety of situations independent of green waste recycling centres. (Okay, I’m kinda taking the piss now, but sure I’m just playing them at their own game.)
    3. Thirdly and lastly, they describe the depot as a ‘filthy, barbaric dump’. Well for starters, it’s not a dump: the depot produces fertiliser and mulch for use throughout all of the city parks maintained by the council. Also, it’s far from filthy — and anyway, how would they know? It’s surrounded by fencing and a hedgerow at least 8 feet tall. And barbaric? Do they even know the definition of the term? The concise version of the Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘barbaric’ as ‘savagely cruel’; an apt descriptor for a concentration camp, yes, but for a recycling centre? Inappropriate, to say the least.
  • We get to the last paragraph, where they quote the council as telling local TD Richard Bruton that they are aware of the potential for harm due to Aspergillus arising from composting, and that an unnamed environmental agency in the UK has set a limit of 250 metres around composting sites. This is the only part of this notice that seems even slightly lucid. However, the fact that the council has apparently done little if not nothing in light of these details does not constitute ‘abuse’, since they are under no legal obligation. So the UK has a 250 metre perimeter limit around composting sites? Well the UK also has Sellafield, which poses a much bigger potential threat to everyone’s health, don’t you think?

It’s almost amusing that this whole thing got started because the family of _one_ child recuperating from hospital treatment with a deficient immune system discovered this obscure, potential threat to the child’s health (as if there weren’t a multitude of other airborne maladies to contend with — surely common sense would tell you that if you’ve got a weakened immune system, then _anything_ in the air could be harmful?). A couple of days through the rumour mill later, and the scaremongering spread like wildfire.
Now I’m no fan of Dublin City Council — much like the civil service, it seems to be run by managers with inadequate management training, which leads to all sorts of obvious problems — but the green waste depot is one of the few good ideas they’ve implemented successfully. To see them getting lambasted for something that they’re for once doing right — and all without any hard evidence to back it up — is unbelievable.
However I shouldn’t be surprised, this coming presumably from the same people who refuse to pay the so-called ‘Bin Tax’, which they _claim_ is a form of double taxation but in reality is merely payment for a service, one that we have had the luxury of enjoying free of charge for as long as I can remember (unlike the majority of other states within the European Union, I might add). The fact of the matter is that government subsidies to the city council have fallen, so the time has come for them to recoup their expenses. They simply can’t afford to dispose of our household refuse for free anymore.
The problem with this, however, is that the Irish (hanging my head in shame) are a nation of lazy freeloading whingers. For example, we harp on about high taxation, even though we have some of the lowest rates within the EU, and then complain about the lack of efficient public services, as if the money to pay for them grew on trees. And even when we are provided with a useful amenity — just like the green waste depot — we don’t want it in our backyard. We take and take and take, we never give back, and then complain that we’re not getting enough. We want everyone else to solve our problems for us. We pass the buck constantly, then complain when nothing gets done. Oh sure, we’ve got a government full of scoundrels and run by crooks, but let me ask you this: who voted for them? Hmm?
(You can see this selfish, lazy attitude everywhere you go — especially in Dublin, where the street litter problem is out of control. Sometimes you can’t even see the pavement for all the empty crisp bags, sweet wrappers, cigarette butts and wads of gum. Walk through the main shopping streets on most days, particularly when it’s warm and the sun is out — O’Connell Street, Henry Street, Grafton Street — and be sickened by the putrid stench of vomit from the night before. The city council tries its best, but it’s a futile effort when the majority of people just have no concept of civic pride.)
So what do I think about all of this? Well It’s about bloody time that we all woke up and copped on, stopped whinging and took responsibility for ourselves. But let’s be realistic; that’s not gonna happen anytime soon.