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It’s time for the State to declare war on dereliction

IT Sunday: Fintan O’Toole on how ‘mainstream media’ has become a rhetorical device, not a description of reality and Fiona Reddan on what the best mortgage option is as interest rates soari

Welcome to this week’s IT Sunday, a selection of the best Irish Times journalism for our subscribers.

Last week, David McWilliams walked around Vienna, a city that doesn’t have a housing crisis. One thing that struck him was the care with which the old buildings are maintained. “I didn’t see any dereliction,” he writes in his column this weekend. “Contrast that with Dublin. It’s time the State declared war on dereliction. Dereliction is antisocial behaviour, a blight on our cities and towns. Dereliction is nothing short of urban vandalism and the owners of derelict buildings are engaged in delinquent behaviour. It should not be tolerated. Significant parts of Irish cities are falling down around us because these buildings are owned by inappropriate owners.”

Earlier this week, Fintan O’Toole wrote that “this column is not what the mainstream media want you to hear. . . We need a new name for what you and I are involved in now – writing or reading articles on The Irish Times website or in the printed newspaper. For ‘mainstream media’, abbreviated in the jargon of anti-elitism to MSM, does not cut it any more. . . In a world where rich and powerful men like Rupert Murdoch and Russel Brand claim to be champions of truth against “elites”, “mainstream media” is a rhetorical device, not a description of reality.” You can read the rest of O’Toole’s column, here.

Earlier this week, we ran a number of polls which showed a vast majority of Irish voters want change in how the country is run and that Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald is the most popular choice as the next taoiseach. With the small parties being squeezed on both sides by Sinn Féin and Independents, a Sinn Féin-led government of the left, which excludes Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, seems even less likely after these polls than it did before, wrote Pat Leahy. “With the Fine Gael leadership ruling it out and the wider party unlikely to permit a U-turn – especially, as seems currently likely, the election sees a further loss of seats for the party – that leaves Fianna Fáil. What is not yet clear on this question is whether Fianna Fáil will have an alternative route to government. If the poll numbers were repeated on election day, that would seem unlikely. Certainly, a repeat of the current coalition seems unlikely. At the 2020 election, the combined support of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens was 50 per cent; now it’s 41 per cent.” You can read more of Leahy’s analysis here, and see all our poll results, here.


As the Rugby World Cup continues apace in France, Matt Williams writes that as he watched the Wallabies implode in a shambolic performance against Wales last weekend, he was struck by the absence of so many basic skills from the Australian players that produced a torrent of unforced errors. So many that it made cohesion and success impossible. The team’s tournament performances are the end result of years of failure by Australia’s high performance coaching system, he says, warning that the Wallabies’ catastrophic self-destruction is a cautionary tale for Irish rugby.

In this week’s restaurant review, Corinna Hardgrave visits Foxrock, Co Dublin, for solid cooking and tasty food in the newest incarnation of a much-loved restaurant. “The menu is similar to the menu that ran at Bistro One, the pre-Pala restaurant that opened in October 1992. Unfussy, with prawn cocktail, sautéed scallops, sole on the bone, roast duck and steaks, it seeks to please rather than necessitate a quick dive into Google Translate.”

Finding your new home is only half the battle; securing the funds can be just as tricky. In recent years, competition has shrunk in the Irish market, while at the same time, euro zone interest rates have risen sharply, making borrowing more expensive for those looking to buy a new home. Nonetheless, there are still ways to seek out the most competitive deal. Fixed, cashback or variable – what is the best mortgage option when interest rates are soaring? Fiona Reddan examines the options.

In this week’s On the Money newsletter, Joanne Hunt looks at how to protect your pension pot if you plan to work after reaching retirement age. Sign up here to receive the newsletter straight to your inbox every Friday.

In her advice column this week, Trish Murphy advises a reader and their husband who are “extremely concerned about a female relative. Her extreme hoarding and self-neglect has reached new heights (rodent infestation, not using a fridge, not managing finances, self-neglect/not washing) and is such a worry to us. We have tried over the years (it’s been going on a long time) to help her – hiring skips, helping with laundry, replacing appliances – but nothing seems to work and only seems to exacerbate the situation.” You can read Murphy’s response, here.

And finally, in her advice column, Roe McDermott helps a reader who spent a year with a man sho said he wasn’t ready for commitment – now he’s in a relationship with someone else. “They’re already posting pictures together and I feel like an idiot.” Read McDermott’s advice here.

As always, there is much more on, including rundowns of all the latest movies in our film reviews, tips for the best restaurants in our food section and all the latest in sport. There are plenty more articles exclusively available for Irish Times subscribers here.

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