Monday, May 17, 2004

Saturday afternoon in Dublin the sun was high in the sky. I decided to go to the IFSC (Irish Financial Services Centre) on the quayside. I'd never before gone down there. The IFSC is the economic powerhouse of Ireland. All the major Irish financial institutions have offices there.

From the outside the place is striking. High rise (by Dublin standard) green tinted buildings behind and around which, stand plush expensive apartments. I went for a wander round.

The IFSC resembles a small self-contained village in that you can go to work, socialise, go to a restaurant, get your laundry cleaned and go to the bank all in the one complex. Something about that intrigues and scares me. From Monday to Sunday you can be oblivious to the comings and goings in the rest of the city should you so choose.

On Saturday afternoon the IFSC resembled a ghost town. There were very few people around which really surprised me. One guy was sitting on a bench playing the same tune a tin whistle over and over again. I looked in one of the pubs, only a few people inside. I found the place to be somewhat unsettling and left after about ten minuets.

In contrast on Saturday morning I met a friend of mine, D in Meath Street in Dublin's South inner city Liberties. Meath Street was all hustle and bustle with people young and old doing their shopping.

D was with his friend JG who is a community worker in the inner city and a councillor on the city council, he's hoping to get re-elected in the local elections on June 11th. We got talking.

"It's a struggle here,” D told me. "We have to fight for every euro for a local or community project, nothing gets handed to us".

"The big political parties don't want to know about deprived areas in the inner city, for them we simply don't exist" JG added. "We're right on the front line socially here,” he continued.

The local projects in the Meath Street and Francis Street area of Dublin survive on the work of volunteers and people on under funded work schemes. When the IFSC was built the financial institutions received outlandish tax breaks by the government in order to move their offices there.

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