August 30th, 1935


FROM THE ARCHIVES:Austerity 1930s style – or “economy” as it was known – was blamed for a rash of problems in this editorial prompted by a strange spate of unexplained fires in Dublin.

Within the past fortnight the people of Dublin have been the prey of a vague uneasiness. It first crept upon them when two fires occurred within the space of twenty-four hours, causing damage to the extent of many thousands of pounds; it became more insistent when a third calamitous fire was responsible for the loss of two lives.

There have been other fires since then, on a comparatively small scale, and the people’s uneasiness has not been allayed. Two questions have been constantly on their lips.

One is: How does it happen that Dublin, having been virtually immune from fires for many years, is afflicted by so many within so short a time? Still more disturbing is the second question: Has the Fire Brigade been handicapped to any degree in the fighting of these fires? . . .

Our correspondent is forced to conclude that the Brigade is gravely handicapped through the lack of a proper liaison with the Corporation’s Water Department, and that the lack is due to “economy.” We are inclined to credit his conclusion more readily because it accords with the Corporation’s policy in a multitude of respects.

Many instances of that body’s obsession with economy can be submitted. It is on the ground of economy that the City Hall has hampered progress on the scheme for a marine lake.

Thanks to the plea of economy, the condition of Dublin’s street and road pavements has gone from bad to worse. Economy has dictated that the neighbourhood of the Customs House shall continue to be defiled by the unsightly and unused grain stores. Economy forbids that Dublin shall follow the example of all progressive cities in the matter of traffic lights.

Economy, for that matter, prevents the application of the Town and Regional Planning Act to Dublin. For what reason, save economy, has the Corporation failed so signally to give effect to the Small Dwellings Acquisition Act – economy which not merely limits the amount of money advanced to prospective purchasers, but denies any advance for houses built elsewhere than on Corporation property – with the result that hundreds of houses remain unsold?

Another effect of economy is that many of the Corporation’s own staffs must work in grossly inadequate buildings. . . Only the desire to save money explains the fact that Fairview Park, though completed fifteen years ago, is employed still as a refuse dump.

What has happened to the scheme . . . for a “transporter bridge” across the Liffey and for the rebuilding of the Metal Bridge, in order to relieve traffic congestion in College Green?

In our view, it is more than time that the City Council shall be purged of this “penny wise, pound foolish” obsession. It must look further than the close of the current financial year.