Millions, billions, even trillions: the kind of numbers that come up around the discussion of public finances are so large they basically make no sense to the average human mind.
ake this week’s comment from Leo Varadkar (The Pat Kenny Program, Newstalk, Monday-Friday, 9am) on MetroLink’s costs in Dublin likely to rise to €23 billion. That’s 23 BILLION – an amount so large, it’s almost incomprehensible. Tanaiste could also have said “795 squillion gajillion” for all the context our brains can come up with.
And we hear these staggering numbers all the time: 21 billion euros in the healthcare system; 2.5 billion euros for war refugees; 24 billion euros for anti-pandemic measures. None of it grounded and stuck, mentally, in any appreciable way; it just doesn’t make much sense to our consciousness.
One thing, at least, we can get into the spirit is why – why can MetroLink cost so much? After all, this is the railway that connects Swords, Dublin city and the airport. Some of that may be underground, but it’s not the Mars rocket we’re building here.
In typical Irish formal style, the project has been going on for decades. The current expected price is only 10 billion euros. However, as Varadkar warned, “an extreme case” could see that number rise by more than 200pc. For some puzzling reason, most of the public buildings here suffer from this. It’s unlucky.
“That cost was estimated before we were authorized to plan or execute the tender. So it can go up,” Varadkar added.
To prove that the art of satire isn’t dead, he also added a few hilarious quotes: “Sometimes the cost of everything comes down,” and “This extreme case – no one thought it was possible. it will happen”. Comedy gold!
Meanwhile, a whopping €1.3 million in total – yes, that’s one in a trillion – has yet to be spent on facilitating al fresco dining in parts of Dublin. Council received this money from Fáilte Ireland last fall to convert Capel Street, Suffolk Street and Merrion Row.
Newstalk breakfast (Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.) spoke to Gina Murphy, owner of Merrion Row restaurant, who applied for the benefit – and was awarded – “nine or 10 months ago.” She said: “It had a great gunfight with the council for a while, then things slowed down and nothing really happened since.”
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This is tough, for an industry that has been particularly severely affected by lockdowns/restrictions, etc.
The same goes for air travel, where chaos continues to reign at Dublin Airport.
This weekof (Radio 1, Sunday, 1 p.m.) Justin McCarthy heard from travel journalist Fionn Davenport about what caused this almighty disruption: he listed labor issues around the continent – for example as prominent airport staff in France – and the Covid outbreak that led to flight cancellations.
The underlying cause, he continued, is that during the pandemic, airports have laid off a lot of staff and are now struggling to replace them. For obvious reasons, training and security checks can take a long time.
He also said: “Airlines and airports have underestimated how much travel will return. There is a general consensus that it will be around 70pc of 2019 levels, but we are seeing 100pc and beyond. “
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/radio/radio-review-all-these-millions-and-billions-are-too-much-for-us-to-compute-41823432.html Radio Review: All these millions and billions is too much for us to calculate