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The Friday View 17/11
Reports, reports, reports. Plus, library stats, swift boxes, the city's budget is passed, a charity music quiz for Cork music heads and which Cllr said we should "unplug and decorate" the robo-trees?
Drowning in reports
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There’s a Dublin-based journalist who, in his effort to stand out from the crowd on Twitter/X, tells the world “he reads the reports.” A bit showy-offy, but there’s a lot to be said for reading reports from top to tail and then again. I would say 2.5% of all journalists have the luxury of doing so, and this is just another of the consequences of a journalism model that is largely driven by clicks accumulated and that still hasn’t resolved the distinction between journalism vs. content. Reports reveal a lot, even in the things they don’t tell us.
And so to a few reports, which I will admit I haven’t entirely finished reading. This week, the City Council released its draft budget report (120 pages), and earlier in the week in the cache of documents from the monthly meeting of the City Council, contained the Chief Executive’s Management Report for September.
In between those two reports, RTÉ published a roadmap of where the broadcaster is heading, and Cork is firmly on that map. However, it’s light on details for now. More on that further down.
The City Council’s budget for 2024 was passed 25-3, and in the press release that followed quickly after, it led with these two paragraphs in its press release quickly after.
Cork City Council agreed an expenditure budget of €292 million for 2024 at the annual budget meeting this evening, an increase of approximately €24 million in spending compared to 2023.
The main contributors to the increase in expenditure are an increase in budget to homeless services of €200,000 (emphasis mine), an increase in the Capital Advance Leasing Facility/Mortgage to Rent of €10.8 million, an increase in Croí Cónaithe funding of €4.7 million, and an increase in payroll of €8.2 million.
While welcome, the increase in funding of €200,000 for homeless services is roughly .06% of the overall budget and and less than 1% of the increase in expenditure. Main contributor?
Other budget news: the City Council gets just over a third of its income from commercial rates. i.e. the rates that businesses pay to the Council. Last year the rates went up by 3.8%. There will be no increase for 2024.
Likewise, there will be no increase in parking rates at City Council-owned car parks in 2024. (It costs between €2.30 to €2.70 to park at a Council car park and €2.50 on the street).
The cache of documents from the Monday night City Council meeting contained this: “With the increase in the number of cycle lanes across the City Centre and the pedestrianisation of several streets, over 440 car parking spaces have been lost to the city over the last 3 years.”
Removal might have been a better choice of word here; however, from a bean counter’s perspective, it is a loss of revenue. That said, there is plenty of opportunity to recoup that revenue, especially via vehicles illegally parked where they shouldn’t be, such as in cycle lanes and unloading bays.
Swift boxes: We have previously reported on the installation of Swift boxes in the city and county, such as at The Lough, in Scoil Abán Naofa, Ballyvourney, and in the grounds of St Finbarr’s Hospital. This week, Cllr Oliver Moran (Greens) asked for an update on the location of more nesting sites for owls and swifts at Monday’s council meeting.
In response, the Council outlined how they had engaged with a “suitably qualified ornithologist to identify artificial Swift nesting sites in a variety of locations throughout the Cork city area and to monitor them over a 12-month period.”
That person is Noel Lenihan, whom T+D have interviewed on several occasions, so we asked Noel for his thoughts on the Council’s efforts.
The progress made in helping Swifts and other species in 2023 is most welcome, not insignificant and a great start. The next logical step is to pass a bye-law ensuring that built in Swift nest boxes will automatically be incorporated into all new Cork City public buildings going forwards. Other species can also be catered for in this way.
Built in nest boxes offer advantages in terms of value for money, maintenance and longevity. They are a well tried and tested solution and there is no drawback. In the context of a new build project there would be impact on neither budget nor schedule. This step, in line with the Recommendations from the Citizens Assembly on Biodiversity Loss report, would be fantastic progress in addressing the 2019 Cork City Council declared Biodiversity Crises.
RTÉ Cork: It was a week of big hefty reports which look to the future and the past, and midweek, RTÉ published “A new direction for RTÉ”, the teaser to their forthcoming Statement of Strategy 2024-2028. There’s a lot in there, as the national broadcaster looks to cut staff, by 400, “reduce its footprint” in Donnybrook, and reduce the number of staff paid over €100,000.
The Cork news/news for Cork is that the broadcaster is going to expand production and operations here. That’s good news for journalists, editors, producers, actors, presenters, designers, scriptwriters, and the talent right across the creative industries, but it does come at the expense of people losing their jobs elsewhere in the company.
The 34-page report doesn’t get into the weeds, but states: “We will operate two production centres, expanding in Cork and reducing Dublin, diversifying employment and the content produced and commissioned.
“The Cork centre will bring greater balance to our output and offer diversity across our schedules, creating more long-running content strands on television, radio and digital. It will do so through a combination of both in-house production and scaling-up commissions from Cork.”
Now reading the tea leaves, if they significantly scale up in-house production in Cork, that could suggest a move from their base on Morrison’s Island. But, it’s also entirely possible they will keep going full steam ahead from their city centre base, but with more resources and more commissioning.
Writing on LinkedIn, Colm Crowley, head of RTÉ Cork, pointed out that RTÉ Cork is home to two of the biggest brands on RTÉ television, ‘The Today show’ and ’Nationwide’, both now more successful than ever, attracting large audiences in daytime and prime time. Creedon continues to be the benchmark music programme on Radio One. “
Given the relative size of the team in Cork and the resources allocated to Cork, you could argue they are punching above their weight. But, you could also say that the two TV shows, while well-liked, hardly push the boat out—one’s a tried and tested daytime TV chat show, the other a current affairs magazine-style show. Also, both shows target a same-y audience.
On current affairs and news, RTÉ does a thorough job, but elsewhere this is a huge chance to tap into the creativity and talent in Ireland, especially outside of Dublin. I also hope that producers and editors push the boat out and take a punt on the next Dermot Morgan, Laura McGann, or Lenny Abrahamson.
News in brief
Vernon Mount Bridge will officially open later this morning. The Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan T.D., and the Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Kieran McCarthy, will be on hand for the official duties. The new bridge provides pedestrian and cycle access to Tramore Valley Park, connecting Grange and Frankfield to the public park. It also offers an unparalleled view of the remaining shell of Vernon Mount. For many, the new bridge will always be the “hump to the dump
City Christmas lights: Later this evening, there will be a ceremony at Cork Opera House to launch Christmas in Cork. Like local authorities across Ireland, Cork City Council is foregoing a public switching-on ceremony, citing crowd safety concerns raised by the Executive at last Monday’s City Council meeting. However, at the “Corkmas” event (that's the last time I ever write “Corkmas”), the Council will showcase Solas, a "new immersive winter light experience.
The Firemen’s Rest: As T+D revealed last week, the “hut” is coming back to the city centre. At this week’s City Council meeting, the Executive outlined that following its restoration, it will be installed outside the Anglesea Street Fire Station next month. Hopefully, in the plaque or signage that comes with it, the “hut’s” long connection to the bus drivers of Cork will be commemorated as well.
Line of the week: “Unplug and decorate,” Cllr Ted Tynan, during a City Council debate about the City’s “robo-trees”
By the book: Every now and then, the City Council release data related to its 10 libraries. Here’s a snapshot for this past September (from the Council Executive Management Report)
70,866 visits were made to Cork City Libraries in September, an increase of 5% on August 2022 (67,275 visits).
58,964 items (books, CDs, games etc) were borrowed during September, a decrease of 3% on the same period last year, (60,653). 41,533 items were returned across the service, a decrease of 6% on September 2022 (44,213).
13,512 eBooks and audiobooks were borrowed, a 16% increase when compared to September 2022 (11,692).
4,472 people joined or renewed an existing membership in September, an increase of 11% on August (4,020). 39,658 people are currently members of Cork City Libraries, a marginal increase on August (39,562)
This is definitely one for the Cork music heads of the 80s and 90s: If you think you know what year the first “Lark by the Lee” was held and when Michael Jackson first rocked up to Páirc Uí Chaoimh, then get yourself along to the charity music quiz organised by Morty McCarthy, Gik Kelleher, and Mark Healy. The trio is bringing their music-themed table quiz to the Crane Lane on January 1, with all proceeds raised going to Pieta House.
Out + About
The latest exhibition to take place at the Crawford Art Gallery is based on the idea that two-dimensional portraits are constantly gazing at the viewer, from whatever angle the viewer looks at it. This is commonly known as the ‘Mona Lisa Effect’, and All Eyes on Us explores this idea using Victoria Russell’s portrait of Fiona Shaw and Murdo Mcleod’s portrait of Roy Keane. The exhibition runs from Sunday until March 2024.
Time, date, place: Sunday November 18-Sunday March 24, Crawford Art Gallery, Emmett Place, Cork.
Tonight is DJ night Afrolatin Fusion takes over An Spailpín Fánach with Latin house, Brazilian House, Afro House, Tropical House, Deep House and Miami bass. DJs Gwada Mike from Guadeloupe, Billy GRC from Venezuela, Danilo Milk from Brazil and Muscle from Eswatini all feature on the bill. Tickets are available here or on the door, entry is €8 before 10pm and €10 after.
Time, date, place: 8pm, Friday November 17, An Spailpín Fánach, South Main Street, Cork.
Fuzzy Pockets return to The Roundy this Sunday with Spirit World Rising, an improvised music ensemble featuring Andy Wilson, Kieran Curtin, Brian Leach, Shane Murphy and Sam Culle. Featuring pipes, dulcimer and musical saw, guitars, bass and drums, the set is also accompanied by a liquid light show. As one of the members is leaving the country, it will the ensemble’s last set for quite a while. Tickets and information here.
Time, date, place: 8pm, Sunday November 19, The Roundy, Castle Street, Cork.
Greywood Arts is a creative hub based in Killeagh. As part of Space Fest, a science week festival, they present SUPER, an immersive exhibition and performance created by The Dahu Collective (Blanche Godivier & Lucie Lesclauze) in collaboration with video artist Cormac O’Connor, at the National Space Centre in Midleton. Also featured is Hello Out There!, showcasing work by 75 young people from St. Fergal’s National School and Greywood Arts Youth Club. The exhibition is open Saturday and Sunday from 11am - 4pm, and attendance is to be confirmed with Greywood Arts (email@example.com), with the number of adults & children that will be in your group. Visits run on the hour and half hour and include a tour of the National Space Centre.
Time, date, place: 11am-4pm, Saturday November 18-Sunday November 19, National Space Centre, Elfordstown, Midleton.
Messier 45 is a new dance-work by Justine Doswell at the Firkin Crane. It is inspired by the global myths related to the open star cluster Messier 45, also known as the Pleiades or the Seven Sisters. Doswell takes on the themes of sisterhood and the richness of feminine archetypes to explore the forces that hold sisters together. Performers bring in their own personal histories and experiences of sisterhood to connect it with mythical and modern femininities. Tickets and information here.
Time, date, place: 7:30pm, Friday November 17-Saturday November 18, Firkin Crane, John Redmond Street, Shandon.
Quarter, the new name given to Quarter Block Party, returns this weekend with two shows. Dublin’s Tandem Felix is born from a musical project by David A. Tapley, which has evolved into a five-piece featuring violin, guitars and drums. They play tonight in Coughlan’s, with support from local drone band Ana Palindrome. The Line is another musical project from Dublin, the pseudonym of Brian Dillon. Hailing from a small town, Dillon has described himself as “never quite been able to escape the lines of identity that separate his life from the lives of others.” This musical project explores that line, and he launches his new single, ‘Red Blood Cells and Righteousness’, in Maureen’s at 2pm on Sunday. Tickets and information for Tandem Felix here and The Line here.
Time, date, place: 8pm, Friday November 17, Coughlan’s, Douglas Street, Cork
2pm, Sunday November 19, Maureen’s, John Redmond Street, Shandon.
David Holmes is a Belfast-born DJ and producer who is credited with introducing acid house and rave culture to Belfast through running the Sugar Sweet nightclub. Having produced five of his own albums, Noel Gallagher and Primal Scream, as well as over 30 film soundtracks, he launches his latest album, Blind On A Galloping Horse, tonight at Connolly’s in Leap. The album features some previously released singles, as well as a recording of an unreleased song by Holmes’ late friend Andrew Weatherall. Tickets and information here.
Time, date, place: 8pm, Friday November 17, Connolly’s of Leap, Leap.
That’s it for this week’s Friday View. Any tips, news or events you’d like to share with Tripe+Drisheen, you can contact us via at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always happy to speak to people off the record in the first instance, and we will treat your information with confidence and sensitivity. Get in touch. Have a lovely weekend.