A few weeks ago, as I walked in City Centre, I noticed two women standing at a crosswalk, within inches of the button used to request a walk signal.  Here in Ireland, the buttons are attached to lights that turn on once the button is pushed to acknowledge your request (unlike in much of America where there is no way to know whether pushing the button worked, which results in most Americans sharply jabbing the button three times, waiting a few seconds, then pushing it a few more times).  The lights were not lit, so they had not pushed the button, but I decided against pushing it myself so I could watch what would happen.  I don’t know how long they were there before I arrived, but the two women stood there as the traffic lights went through a full cycle of letting cars go from each direction and were started on a new cycle when the women finally just ran for it at a break in traffic.

I’ve noticed this phenomena many times, seeing six or eight people standing at a crosswalk, while the signal button has not been pushed.  There might be another half dozen people across the street and just as clearly their button has also not been pushed.  Everyone seems to be waiting for things to just work out.  As I’ve known for months, the Irish can’t even come up with a plan to cross the street.

This lack of planning ability has manifested itself in some spectacular examples of bad planning.  We’ve been here just over a year, and probably read the local paper around 100 times, so we don’t even have that much history to work with, yet I can cite example after example of horrible planning.  Take the police cars purchased and sitting idle because there was no place to store them (the article left it to the reader to figure out just where the idle cars were being stored in the meantime).  Or consider the new county library, built at a cost of tens of millions of euros, but within the city library district, which meant that due to the laws here it could not actually be opened as a lending library.  This fact was apparently only realized after the building was completed.

There are A & E facilities (emergency rooms) built at huge expense only to lay idle for months due to lack of any agreement on staffing.  When they are finally opened, they may only run half time, due to lack of funding or continued staffing disagreements.  And we’ve already mentioned in a previous post the CAT scans and MRI machines that are purchased but sit unused for months and even years.

Schools are routinely promised new facilities by the Government, but they are never actually built (I’m not sure if this is an example of poor planning, poor follow-through, or politicians lying but I thought I’d include it here.)  One school is infested by rats and other vermin, while at another school the students are being taught in a converted toilet (seriously, I’m not making this up).  If I recall the article correctly, the school with the converted toilet was promised new facilities ten years ago.

There are many, many more examples of this kind of thing, too many to list here.  I’m pretty sure this inability to plan is related to the inability to tell time mentioned in my earlier post.  How do you plan for the future if the whole concept of time is alien to you?

Perhaps I’m being unfair.  A couple of months ago I volunteered for the Cork Film Festival, and it was actually pretty well run, all things considered (and good craic, to boot).  Still, one of the staff who previously worked for the Galway Film Festival told me they once scheduled two films two hours apart because no one bothered to look and see that the first film actually ran over three-and-a-half hours.