It’s been there for a while. Since last year at a very least. Nothing drastic, nothing urgent, not even troublesome. But still there. Gaping:Image

I stepped over it, around it, across it everyday. Mostly I passed over it oblivious. Until one day it registered; I think it was one rare sunny day when the hiatus in rain, wind and cold let the senses wander without risk of drowning or frostbite, and focus on something else.

And this was the something else. Once I noticed it, I couldn’t unnotice it. Gradually it started to bug me that it was still there. And still there. And…….

Whatever ‘it’ is. In days of old, it might have been time for a trip to the library, or maybe a bat-shaped silhouette beamed onto the night sky. Though I doubt Batman ever concerned himself with missing valve covers. For it turns out that that is what ‘It’ is. A valve cover. Dozens of them – unobtrusive, ignored – on every street. Only noticed when gone. Never missed, just gone.

And what to do? Or to do anything? Does it even matter, really? It’s just a little thing in a little place. But little things in little places can have big effects.

And then a vague recollection of something read online came to mind. Fix my something? The interweb to the rescue again: Not an Irish innovation – copied from something similar England, where small problems could be reported to local authorities. But a good idea is a good idea – until the originators (step forward Fine Gael) lost the domain name. Oops.

And then the good folks of the non-profit relaunched the site. It’s still at

Today I eventually posted the missing valve cover on the list. Will anything happen? Will it be fixed? Will the vicious valve vacuity be vanquished? The tension is….well, entirely absent to be honest but it will be interesting to see what, if anything, happens.

Watch this space….


UPDATE 18 March 2013

Glad to be able to report that FixMyStreet has produced a positive result, and Dublin Corporation has replaced the missing cover. Sometimes the system works!

Fixed Valve Cover

Politics Past, Politics Present

‘The appointment of a multiplicity of officials at local and national levels exacerbated the problem, so it hardly surprising that before long some […]began to voice criticisms of a ravenous bureaucracy which   devoured a major proportion of available resources.’

Any guesses for the context and date of the quote above? How’s about hazarding a guess at the Croke Park Agreement and Irish public service wages being the topic under discussion and Ireland of 2012 the time? Seems reasonable and relevant?

Actually the words do relate to Ireland and a new government trying to manage an unprecedented crisis in a world gone slightly mad.

But the year was 1642. An uneasy coalition was trying to steer Ireland through political turmoil and a plethora of demands and threats from outside parties. Familiar enough ground in spite of the four hundred year gap.

Reassuring to see some things don’t change very much at all – despite the upheaval and catastrophic conditions generous rates of pay (for some at least) were deemed vital then and are deemed vital now.

The 1640s policy ended with the arrival of Oliver Cromwell. Here’s hoping the latter day strategy has a happier conclusion.

[The quote is from Micheal O Siochru’s excellent Confederate Ireland 1642-1649 – a political and constitutional analysis (Dublin, 1999), p. 54.]