The Dublin InQuirer- A City Desk for Dublin

I only recently became aware of The Dublin InQuirer and have become facinated by it. It started as a website and then, to fend off financial instablity, began offering a monthly print newspaper on a subscription and (limited) retail basis.

The reason I find it so interesting (and why I signed up as a subscriber) is that it is offering something which is a familiar journalistic niche elsewhere and which Dublin has traditionally lacked.

The Dublin InQuirer is a City Newspaper. It covers the Dublin city beat. The reason that this is such a strange idea to us is that, although US city newspapers will always include a city desk, Dublin newspapers have tended to aspire to be national, not city, papers. So, no city desk.

As a result, the InQuirer’s approach, although completely traditional in journalistic terms (go to City Council meetings, report on what’s said, read reports issued by the Corpo etc and report on what they’ll mean for citizens who live in the city) feels like something completely fresh and new.

So, if you live or work in Dublin, you could do far worse than to subscribe to their paper edition at a €5 a month to support reporting on the decisions that will probably effect your day-to-day life more than anything done in the Seanad.

They say they just need 800 subscribers to survive. One edition in, they have a little over 300. This seems like a gap worth filling.

Sinking but not (all) drowning

What really makes a civil servant quit?

Between 1996 and 1999 the rate of resignations from the civil service rose by 34%.

The civil service had been under resourced and demotivated, while subject to an embargo on hiring staff. Staff careers and earnings had stagnated. The result was that as the economy started to pick up again following the dark days of the 1980s critical civil service staff began to walk out the door.

In order to try and understand what had cause this 34% rise in departures the civil service commission hired an external consultant to conduct a staff retention survey.

I thought that the findings might prove a useful insight into one possible future path for the Civil Service given the way history seems to have repeated itself in recent years.

The costs of dealing with staff unhappiness when it has become a crisis are far higher than recognising them early and taking corrective steps.

Perhaps we might, for once, have a chance to learn from the past in time to prevent a crisis in service delivery in the future.

Irish Civil Service Staff Retention Survey

The PODcast: An interview giving the story so far

The benighted story of the Department of Education’s perennially unraveling Primary Online Database of 5+year olds has been bouncing along for over a year now. If you were to scroll through a year’s worth of this blog’s posts you’d have a pretty good picture of what happened when, but you might also expire with tedium.

It’d be a race to see which would happen first.

To spare you from competing against your own boredom threshold for your life, you can now listen to me explain the whole thing, end to end in 25 mins or less.

Rossa McMahon’s Adventures in Information podcast on FOI, data protection and uncovering stuff starts by asking me questions on POD and what was wrong with it.

Rossa is a knowledgable interviewer, and he helped me tell the tale by asking questions I forget need to be answered.

The link to the interview’s page, choc full of bonus links about everything we mention along the way is:

And the links to the Podcast feed (because you’re going to want to know what he comes up with next) are


Department throws in the towel on a compulsory POD

As longstanding, longsuffering readers will be aware, for the past year and a bit, I have been arguing that the Primary Online Database (POD) was illegal. Though that argument has not come to a conclusion (and I expect it to be successful) the Department of Education has been forced into a series of climbdowns along the way.

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Information Commissioner orders release of POD documents


The Information Commissioner’s office has now published their binding decision in my appeal against the Department of Educations and Skill’s refusal to release certain documents relating to POD to me on foot of an FOI request. With the exception of one document (of which more shortly) all of the Department of Education’s refusals have been overturned.

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A collage on election 2016


Hey, wake up, there's a really annoying election campaign. One that everyone wishes would just leave them alone. The vote is on Friday, which is a blessed relief after the longest short election campaign in history.

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