Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics
 

How the Irish really think.

Posted by Jason O on Aug 6, 2010 in Irish Politics |

Some years ago, I attended a meeting of the owners of an apartment block that I lived in. The services in the block were funded by a charge raised by a property management company, and included refuse charges, insurance, landscaping, electric gate maintenance and a sinking fund to fund ongoing painting and repairs. The meeting was a fascinatingly raw insight into how the Irish see their society.

First up was a complaint by one owner about how the management charge was too high, and he demanded that it be reduced. The representative of the management company proceeded to go through the charge, explaining what was provided, until the sinking fund was reached, and a row broke out as to why we should be funding it, with nearly half the attendees wanting to abolish it to cut management fees. The Rep advised very strongly that to do so would damage the resale value of all the apartments, as it meant that ongoing maintenance would stop. The proposal was narrowly defeated, to cries of “ridiculous” and murmurings that the meeting was somehow “fixed”, even though this was the first ever meeting.

Next up was a suggestion by an engineer who lived in the block that a satellite dish could be erected on the roof of one of the blocks. He suggested that it could be hidden from view, and that residents who wished to benefit from it could pay for their own cabling. He recognised that the cabling would have to be done professionally, to ensure safety and the appearence of the building. Uproar. One owner, who pointed out that he “was a solicitor” pointed out that this was in contravention of the lease, and that “nobody wants the development to look like Ballymun”. The proposal was voted down.

Then one woman got up and told how her apartment had been broken into. Much sympathy, until she suggested that it was as a result of a “design flaw” in her apartment (apparently, her apartment had windows) ¬†and she should be “compensated”. A few heads nodded. The Rep then pointed out that her own insurance (which she refused to claim on) should deal with the matter, as it wasn’t covered by block insurance, and that any compensation would have to be funded by the other owners. Silence. A few owners agreed with her being compensated but were against them actually paying for it. Someone then asked the solicitor for a legal opinion. He said that he couldn’t possibly give a “professional opinion” without studying the matter. “Didn’t stop you five minutes ago.” The embittered engineer quipped. The issue petered out, with the woman mumbling about it “not being fair” that she was out of pocket.

The meeting ended, with one group feeling bitter that an imaginary “click” was running everything, a man with a reasonable idea feeling dejected, a woman feeling hard done by because other people wouldn’t give her their money, and a general sense of¬†dissatisfaction despite the fact that all the people in the room had 100% control over the property company. There was almost a sense of satisfaction at being dissatisfied.

4 Comments

Seamus
Aug 6, 2010 at 8:53 am

Been there, and seen that. It’s a mix of the we shouldn’t do anything as it will offend someone, and I want my problems to be solved by other people mentalities.

Makes me think we should change the well known prayer to
“Grant me the courage to change those things I can
Grant me the patience to accept those things I can’t change
Grant me the wisdom to know how deal with the people who can’t tell the difference between the two”

:)


 
James
Aug 6, 2010 at 12:10 pm

I tried to attend a similar meeting last year, only to find out that it was being held in an industrial estate in the far end of Meath (the apartment is in Dublin city centre). Bizarrely enough, these meetings traditionally are only attended by one apartment owner (who lives in Meath) and the management company – which easily solves the problem that you were facing!

Were you ad-siccing, or did you mean clique?

@seamus
Curiously, that is also the subject of todays comic on smbc: http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=1961#comic


 
Jason O
Aug 6, 2010 at 12:16 pm

“Click” is the colloquial version of “clique” down our way!
The other trick I’ve heard used is for the day and date of the meeting in the letter to be wrong, that is Tuesday the 5th is actually the 6th.


 
Seamus
Aug 9, 2010 at 7:06 am

@Jason I have seen that one too. We used to struggle all the time with managing the management company (who were as transparent as a Stalinist collective, turned over staff faster than McDonald’s flip burgers, and used one or two “friends” on the board to block any change/decisions by the owners). My father who is retired got involved. He had the time, enthusiaism and a devious enough mind to take them on (it was entertainment for him). It took a year but he broke their strangle hold, got them kicked out and got a new and enthusiastic crowd running the board. The place has been done up, and they are running big surpluses on the accounts for the first time in years, all without having to increase fees.


 

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