Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Sun Jul 19, 2009 9:18 am

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Paddy Kelly, one of Ireland's leading property developers, joins Eamon to talk about his childhood and schooling, his family background in building and property since to the 40s and 50s up to the present and how he feels about the current property market and economic situation, and to choose some music.


http://www.rte.ie/arts/2008/1129/conversationswitheamondunphy.html

Remember Paddy Kelly and Liam Carroll are the kinds of pipe dreamers that NAMA will have the very messy job of dealing with. (They are meant to be Ireland's equivalent of Henry Ford and Alfred Sloan) This is where it gets into all sorts of legal difficulties and complications. The property developers and the banks are in some kind of a romantic relationship it appears to me. Emotions are involved. That is what is messy about it.

One comment on the Prime Time program of 30th April 2009 did strike me as odd. If indeed we do take the €80-90 billion of toxic assets from the six Irish banking institutions . . . as Sunday Business Post journalist said, we leave only 30% of the Irish banks on the stock market to trade. It makes me beg the question, what are we doing in Ireland other than property? If such a large proportion of what an Irish bank does is entirely property related, then why are they so rubbish at it?

Why have they even bothered to devise a rescue plan for Liam Carroll than can only turn out as bad as everything else has done to date! We need to salvage to best of what we can from the organisations that Paddy Kelly, Liam Carroll and others development over a quarter of a century . . . and lump that all into one basket. Then we need a entirely new approach towards sustainable and meaningful development that embraces new ideas and new visions. The rescue plan that the banks pieced together with Liam Carroll could not possibly contain anything like that. If we don't wrench the control of Zoe developments away from Carroll today, we only deserve what we will get.

I mean, for instance the banks in Japan or South Africa must be have a lot more industrial and technological items outstanding on their books. The banks in those countries would have to develop the necessary awareness and level of judgement to incentive-ise industry and innovation. The Irish banks seem vacant of those kinds of skills. They seem to focus singularly on property to the exclusion of all else. This makes the situation in my mind even more serious than I had first thought. What we are facing in Ireland is not simple bad assets, but a sheer deficit of skills and awareness in the entire banking sector!

Sometimes I think I would be better off taking the first Ryan Air flight out of here, and never coming back.


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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby PVC King » Sun Jul 19, 2009 10:37 am

garethace wrote:One comment on the Prime Time program of 30th April 2009 did strike me as odd. If indeed we do take the €80-90 billion of toxic assets from the six Irish banking institutions . . . as Sunday Business Post journalist said, we leave only 30% of the Irish banks on the stock market to trade. It makes me beg the question, what are we doing in Ireland other than property? If such a large proportion of what an Irish bank does is entirely property related, then why are they so rubbish at it?


The big 3 were very good at property banking and built significant market share in the UK and syndicated European commercial transactions many of which the only connection to Ireland was the bank.

Property finance was quite simple there were two types of transaction small transactions; where the underwriting department of Bank A after the necessary checks lends money to the borrower at say 6.50% they transfer the debt to the securities department to be packaged up into corporate bonds and sold at a lower yield of say 5.25% the bank gets to collect 1.25% in return for collecting the payments.

In the case of larger transactions the corporate or investment divisions arranged finance in smaller chunks after lending a large sum of say €200m to say 5 other banks again locking in a margin. The problem on these were that many of the banks stopped syndicating the majority of these loans and at the wrong point in the cycle held onto too high a proportion. I'd not be worried about the prime commercial lending that was done as a lot of the assets will recover within 2-5 years, it is the domestic development land that will need greater scrutiny.

The problem on the smaller transactions was that after concerns were raised that a lot of securities were not the quality they were originally assumed to be the entire system froze up. The Irish banks can't be blamed for this it was simply a systemic risk that not many people saw. The problem that this freezing created was that banks had already provided loan offers on many ongoing transactions which they were not in a position to back out of as in many cases they had cross lent to the developer building the scheme which would have caused those loans to default. Selling securitised debt that up to that point had involvced simple assumptions on a single variable i.e. price or margin; now hedge funds are pretty much the only buyers and at rates involving much less than the face value of the lending.

Did people see this coming?

Not many, people probably thought a lot of poor quality instruments were over-priced but few saw the stampede out of quality assets as well as deliquent debt. Unfortunately every bubble is built on a set of assumptions that involve people in senior position convincing themselves that this time it is somehow different. It never is the same emotions drive markets fear and greed; with fear exposing the greedy.

Will securisation return?

Probably not anytime soon but when the quality of the debt on the banks balance sheets is fully assessed the quality of what would have been securitised will determine the rates at which the banks can raise finance from the markets.



garethace wrote:Sometimes I think I would be better off taking the first Ryan Air flight out of here, and never coming back.


It might do you some good to do a couple of years in the US or Hong Kong or China, you can always go back with frsh ideas and experience. No doubt the banks will be in better shape and projects moving again.
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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Sun Jul 19, 2009 11:33 am

In the case of larger transactions the corporate or investment divisions arranged finance in smaller chunks after lending a large sum of say €200m to say 5 other banks again locking in a margin. The problem on these were that many of the banks stopped syndicating the majority of these loans and at the wrong point in the cycle held onto too high a proportion. I'd not be worried about the prime commercial lending that was done as a lot of the assets will recover within 2-5 years, it is the domestic development land that will need greater scrutiny.


Sounds to me like you are describing a phenomenon like that, that happened at Long Term Capital management in the late 1990s. Where LTCM gave back money to investors, in order to increase their own personal proceeds from their successful formula for doing bond arbitrage. Of course, within months of giving back the capital to their investors they badly needed it to cover their positions. Very bad timing. In that case, the traders working at LTCM were possibly the best in the world. What was that phrase that Roger Lowenstein used? When Genius Failed.

The problem on the smaller transactions was that after concerns were raised that a lot of securities were not the quality they were originally assumed to be the entire system froze up. The Irish banks can't be blamed for this it was simply a systemic risk that not many people saw.


Thanks very much for taking the trouble to outline some simple explanations of the process to me. That is very valuable kind of insight to have. It reminds me of what Edward De Bono said about the crisis of climate change. Edward said that this is an important challenge, but the main challenge facing human kind at this point in time is a crisis in how we do our thinking. I had so many useful discussions at Zoe developments about the ideas of Edward De Bono. Zoe understood construction management so well, they were more advanced than an architectural consultant, when it came to thinking out a problem. That was the valuable part of Zoe developments, that could have served Ireland well as it moved into the 21st century.


Old Friends on the Assembly Line


It was so tragic to see the idea squashed. I personally know every single tradesperson and installer on the whole Zoe building assembly line. I can put faces and names to each one of them. I know what they like to do at weekends and possibly what their kids names are. When I was at my drawing board (screen) I had those guys in my mind, and the work they would have to carry out to realize the designs I drew on my screen. I feel certain though, that the best architects out there in Ireland, needed to be included in the process. I was interested in working for Zoe developments in order to get to the bottom of that work flow logic. How our designers link up with what happens on the building site.

One example I mentioned was Paul Leech, the pioneer of sustainable architecture in this country. Myself and Paul exchanged emails and discussed how great it might be to integrate some of his ideas into the Zoe developments roll out construction process. It is a pity now, that with the banks working on the drawing board, using Liam Carroll as their intermediary, I will not get the chance any longer. The same I have no doubt will happen with NAMA. I don't think Ireland will produce it's own Toyota or Intel kind of company this century. Because we don't know how to integrate the people working down at the bottom. It was Liam Carroll and his directors who gave me this new wonderful vision for Ireland. It was an all inclusive, democratic and astonishingly beautiful vision. Even though I am pissed off with LC for squandering millions. That was merely stubborness, and over large personal ego and incompetence. I still cannot take his basic thesis away from him.

Did people see this coming?

Not many, people probably thought a lot of poor quality instruments were over-priced but few saw the stampede out of quality assets as well as deliquent debt. Unfortunately every bubble is built on a set of assumptions that involve people in senior position convincing themselves that this time it is somehow different. It never is the same emotions drive markets fear and greed; with fear exposing the greedy.


Very good description of the market there. I used to enjoy reading George Soros's description in the Open Society and his more recent books. My understanding is that George would not be content until he could discover where his own assumptions were wrong. In fact, I used to like reading George Soros and Edward De Bono at the same time. Because both individuals were discussing some of the same characteristics of how the human brain behaves in situations.

This is the sophistication that the few architects working for Liam Carroll at the moment are missing badly. It is like every kid nowadays who puts together a computer model of a project for a planning permission believes that the computer is going to do all of the thinking on their behalf. Advances in technology have now made it possible that Liam can model his schemes up front in 3-dimensions using software that cuts slices like a Cat-Scan technology through the model in order to produce drawings.

We used to fight against such over simplistic metaphors, as 3-D computer models of buildings, in the design department at Zoe developments as much as possible, in order to maintain the human brain at the centre of the process. Edward De Bono was one of the main arguments backing up our position. It wasn't that we were 'back ward' and could not understand the benefits of advanced design software.

Will securisation return?

Probably not anytime soon but when the quality of the debt on the banks balance sheets is fully assessed the quality of what would have been securitised will determine the rates at which the banks can raise finance from the markets.


I am probably biased in my opinion here, but I believe that it is the project management skills and process by which one develops the land assets, that characterises for me what is valuable or not. That is why I mentioned the progression of different owners of the land bank at Cherrywood. In the 1980s, British Land had a basic enough scheme (fine in terms of 1980s attitudes with regard to sustainable development and creation of social spaces etc) to cover Cherrywood 450 acres in a carpet of 2 storey housing. That land owner at Cherrywood had planning permission for such a scheme and could have easily completed the roll out of that project in a mere couple of years.


The LUAS Cherrywood Aquaduct


We wouldn't even be in a situation now, where Dun Laoghaire Rathdown county council are able to talk about a sustainable master plan for Cherrywood site. We wouldn't even be in a situation where Cherrywood site can be designated as a Strategic development zone. We tend to forget that. While the land at Cherrywood was sitting idle in the possession of one builder or another, our local authorities became more sophisticated in their appreciation and in their planning visions for Dublin and Ireland as a whole.

This is what gets up the nose of builders in Ireland to be honest. The more they try and work with planning departments, local authorities and whoever else, the more the playing field underneath their feet keeps on moving. A carpet of two storey houses in Cherrywood would have been an easy thing for Liam Carroll to execute I can tell you. He did it down in Limerick city, he could easily have done it in Cherrywood and walked away with a handsome profit. Instead he pumped what investment he could into the LUAS cherrywood aquaduct and thereby set up the playing field for a really sustainable master plan to be rolled out in Cherrywood. Liam Carroll listens to his architects and respects their input to a certain degree.

But everyone including the planners seem to miss that point. Someone had to put their hand into their pocket in order to build the aquaduct at Cherrywood. All that the planners and the Railway procurement agency could envision was the usual kind of LUAS line running across at grade level like everywhere else. This is my whole point about having people who really know construction management invovled in the process. This is the lesson that was always drummed into me while working for Zoe developments. That is why we really do need a proper appreciation of construction, somehow sitting at the table at NAMA. Liam Carroll is a builder and does have that appreciation. But bankers, accountants, economists, architects or even planners do not have that appreciation of what is possible and feasible through construction ingenuity.


Ten years ago, the 1998 joint planning conference


I could reference several examples in Dublin city centre itself, where Liam Carroll's involvement in the project resulted in a much better scheme being finally built. (Or Liam Carroll in partnership with architects at certain stages) It is not only about land assets. That is what British Land thought about Cherrywood in the 1980s when they drew up their masterplan of carpet housing and a mickey mouse little 'shopping centre' in the middle. But people in the planning department who aren't aware of construction sequence and vision are often impeeding the process. That is why builders lose all interest in dealing with local authority planners who cannot see the bigger vision. That I believe is the frustration that drove Liam Carroll and others to bet so heavily on the stock market.

Jame Pike, Van der Kamp, the RIAI, the Irish planning Institute and Peter Bacon were a part of this new sustainable planning vision in the 1990s. I can only presume that this journey they started decades ago to deliver a complete solution for Ireland is the reason they are still hanging around today. They want to see the plan brought to fruitition. You can obtain a copy of the report from the joint RIAI and Irish planning insitute 1998 conference from no. 8 Merrion square RIAI headquarters. It is a very interesting document to research ten years later on.

The 1998 conference was indeed a kind of dry run for what the Urban Forum is trying to do today. A collection made up of Engineer's Ireland, RIAI, Landscape Architects, Chartered Surveyors of Ireland and the Irish planning institute, along with a couple of other university departments and faculties, to try and come up with some advancement on the National Spatial Strategy. It is weird in a way how that activity undertaken by the Urban Forum, the first intelligent collaboration between the land professions, has happened in parallel with something such as NAMA. James Pike and other architectural consultants managed to sell a lot of their ideas to Liam Carroll and others in the nineties, Charlotte Quay being one of the early promises of success. This became part of the engine that drove Liam Carroll's business from then on.


The 1998 vision, problems with implementation


However, my experience has been that the over-arching sustainable planning ideas incubated by Mr. Pike, Sean O'Laoire and the architectural consultants, were not grafted on properly to Liam Carroll's original formula of lean design and lean manufacture. This is one of the pitfalls I can see with NAMA. That too little on the construction management side of sustainable development will follow through into the final formula. And that too much high profile, front cover of a magazine sort of Euro-modernism style will be pushed through by James Pike and his crew. Remember they are architectural consultants with ambitions of becoming major players in the world design scene. I believe that their talents can be exported, their visions accomodated in the grand scheme of things. But their lack of sophistication in construction management also leaves Irish consultant architects exposed on a crucial front.

The circular Gasometer apartment block at Barrow St is a perfect example of what not to do, if you want to arrive at ease of construction in your design. I have no problem with the overall concept to put a circular building inside the steel circular frame. But the details of how the architect forced Danninger to implement the concept caused the company enormous difficulties at construction stage. I am concerned to be honest, that with NAMA that kind of logic of assembly and project management will get thrown out of the equation once again. But this time, on a monumental scale. The architects will be let loose without proper skills and level of construction awareness to saddle us with terrible built products. Even if the concepts are right and good in the overall sense.

Peter Bacon is a bit too close to the likes of James Pike etc for my liking. I would like to sit on the board of NAMA not because that would make me feel high and mighty. But rather, to represent something of Liam Carroll's logic of construction management point of view. The things that Liam was really good at and succeeded in developing in his life time. Not that I don't think Pike's ideas are brilliant, but that I think sustainabililty needs to happen at both levels simultaneously. There is no a la carte menu for achieving sustainability. The architectural consultant for all their best intentions, will mostly choose the aspects of sustainable development that suit their purpose, of finding more clients and getting more jobs. Someone has to be around who is sophisticated enough to keep that in check.

I know some of the people at MCO projects run by Laura Magahy and partners. I believe that the same criticism is valid in that case also. I believe that MCO projects can offer solutions in achieving sustainable development to the client, be it the government or whoever else. But it is going to be difficult to balance the desires of a consultant designer with the bigger picture. At Zoe developments, acting on behalf of that client I learned skills that might be of some value. The members of the 1998 RIAI/IPI conference have this tendency to believe that they made their clients into millionaires. I buy into that argument a long ways. They did contribute many of the elements and indeed many of the ideas. But the biggest ideas of all, those of lean construction and design, design build, speculative development under cutting the market and intense focus on land acquisition were all patented in the 1980s by Liam Carroll. The architects and the planners merely went along for the ride.

Zoe developments believed up until the last they and other property developers created the economic boom that was the Celtic Tiger. They are a very brazen sort of bunch. As far as Zoe developments are concerned Fianna Fail didn't have a clue what they were doing. They only went along for the ride too. I would still have more faith in Fianna Fail to get value for money out of a billion Euro, than I would in Liam Carroll. Many of Liam's sub-contractors I have spoken to or corresponded with in recent weeks - the famous breakfast roll men as David McWilliams would call them - believe that they are responsible for a lot of spin off jobs in catering and the service industry. On the other hand, the land professionals believe that they handed the developer the documents and the formula to make his or her millions. It is quite a messy debate therefore. But one I would enjoy moderating myself. We will have to arrive at some kind of closure on this, if we intend to move forward in this country.


Ireland becoming the new Japan


If we got this collaboration between designer and contractor right, it would be a win-win opportunity for both sides. The trouble is that one side of the debate doesn't really interface with the other very well at present. They are different cultures and they don't mix well. It goes back to how people are trained in the schools of planning, design and construction. It goes back to the lessons that Edward De Bono is trying to teach the world. To be aware of the human brain and its limitations. One side of the construction debate has got pre-conceptions about the other. That is really my interest in being invovled in NAMA. To try and get both sides of the approach to sustainable development to be exercised in tandem, rather than one being exclusive from the other. As is currently the situation. That is why I had to go into the description above about architects and parasites.

I would like to stick around Ireland, if only to institute a sucessful and intelligent blending of both traditions: excellence in sustainable planning and architectural design . . . with a compliment in terms of excellence in construction management and program management. This intelligent kind of approach towards collaboration is what will become the corner stone for future economic success in Ireland. Like what happened in Japan from the 1950's through to the 1980's. Because, when we are done with Cherrywood, the next step is Harristown, Dublin Airport city and then to finish out Adamstown and Clonburris. That is why I would advocate a phased approach. Taking one problem at a time and working out an agreement that will suit all of the land professions and the financial people into the bargain. That is not Liam Carroll's thesis now unfortunately. That is my own thesis.


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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby missarchi » Mon Jul 20, 2009 3:22 am

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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Mon Jul 20, 2009 11:37 am



Thanks for the link. Now that is what I call a proper article at last, that cuts straight to the chase within the first couple of paragraphs. I didn't even need to read the rest. I have the greatest of respect for Liam Carroll and his directors. I would never go so far as to describe them as a 'loyal bunch of henchmen' as Frank McDonald did in his chapter about Zoe developments in his good book, The Builders.

But in a way they were henchmen, not henchmen of the Zoe developments group, or henchmen belonging to Liam Carroll. In reality they were owned by the banking system and its institutions much like everything else. That is why I think Ruairi Quinn's blog post here hits it straight on the nail:

http://www.ruairiquinn.ie/?p=18

I do hope that Ruairi Quinn puts his CV into NAMA. I don't really want the job at all. But I am certain we will need someone with his experience and skill. On the other hand, Ruairi would also make a good first Mayor of Dublin city. Perhaps that is where Ruairi's particular talents are best employed. Or we could invite Ken Livingston and his intelligent team over for a term. It worked for us with Jack Charlton in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Why not with the Lord Mayor position? If Bertie gets it, I am definitely on the first Ryan Air flight to Australia, to go walk about for a couple of years. (Maybe Ryan Air don't fly that far)

It was the sense of infallibility and immunity from the cold winds blowing outside their offices on the second floor at Chapel House in Parnell Street that I always found extremely strange working for Zoe Developments. As BOSI occupied the two floors above us, slicing and dicing our physical real estate into something binary that could be uploaded to the marketplace as a financial product. (Rather like what I am doing with this Archiseek entry) Yeah, you could say Liam Carroll was in the same mould as Henry Ford, Rockerfeller or Carnegie. Those guys tried to own every part of the logistical supply chain too.

Back in those days, it was railway carriages and oil pipelines. Now it is fibre optic lines, but who cares, the analogy still fits. I remember thinking to myself often, how can these guys be so smug? The answer now seems so simple. Zoe developments were contained within the pockets of the Irish banking system. It wasn't my pencil that was drawing the lines. It was a guy with a banking issue Parker Pen. I know they give those out, because I got one once from my uncle. It had the bank's logo on it. Nice pen too, I was sore when I misplaced it somewhere.

The business plan I had in mind as a lowly project manager working at Zoe was quite different from theirs. I could envision Zoe developments expanding it's wings to embrace ideas of a low carbon city, better capital investment program management skills, stimulation of the knowledge economy in Cherrywood, Harristown, North Wall Quay and where ever else. Not to mention embracing a future in Ireland where land values don't swing like a wrecking ball destroying eight storey buildings I have just built. I am not trusting of our Irish banks anymore, to embrace any of that vision. Sorry Irish banks, but we need to work together to upgrade our collective awareness.

I remember walking the site at Northwall Quay on one particular morning, with one of Liam's contract managers. Remember, this man was closer to Liam than most people are. We were munching our breakfast rolls and going through the minutes of a meeting, when he turned to me and asked, 'Where is Liam getting all of this money?' Minutes later I made some pot noddles (It was a bad morning) and took it to a different site cabin to eat. A man with grey hair wearing a hard hat entered the cabin and we sat down together and proceeded to chew the fat. I later found out that man was Sean Fitzpatrick, then head of Anglo Irish bank. I thought Sean was alright.

In a way I am glad for what BOSI did. They were the guys who sold Liam the €800 million worth of securitization which enabled Liam to go and choke himself. I am also greatful to Irish Nationwide, the minnow who became the monster. To ACC bank and their parent company Rabobank in Denmark. Last Friday was a rare and real victory for common sense in Ireland. On behalf of everyone who worked on the Zoe developments construction assembly line, I would like to say I am delighted.

I sat this morning having a cup of tea and a scone on Nassau St. One could say, I was trying to quench the fumes still steaming from my engines, having read the article in the Sunday Tribune written by Neil Callanan. It is not Neil's fault, but there was something in the conventional analysis of Liam Carroll and his company that I found desperately incomplete. Neil, I hope we can still be friends. I was sitting drinking my tea when a young architect, Rossa Tormley who I knew at Bolton Street walked up in the direction of Grafton Street. (Still dressed like a surfer I am glad to note, yeah, keeping it real man)

Then a minute later the architect and parliment member Ciaran Cuffe passed on his bicycle which had a very wobbly back wheel. I wouldn't approve of that myself. I could not help but be glad I had donated some knowledge out there to the public, which will make their lives some bit better. That is what it is all about at the end of the day. Liam Carroll made a lot of money yes. But in the end, he could not convert those very large sums into what the country needs: Value for money and more shagg'in jobs.


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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby Morlan » Mon Jul 20, 2009 2:35 pm

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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby missarchi » Tue Jul 21, 2009 12:53 am

These are effectively nuclear options, as they determine the value of developers’ properties. This will in turn quantify the amount the banks have lost on property loans, and influence the rules under which the Government’s rescue agency will operate. The upshot will be that billions more of taxpayers’ money may have to be spent on recapitalising the banks.

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/finance/2009/0721/1224250996305.html

upshot?
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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Tue Jul 21, 2009 10:57 am

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Development As Freedom


As recently as last October 2008, a director at Zoe developments told me with his characteristic smugness, he was going to have the cream of the crop on his staff soon. He was glad that his boss Liam Carroll didn't drive around in Mercs. That everything was completely and absolutely safe at Zoe developments. But was it? Indeed, was Liam Carroll ever the man we thought he was? In my own personal view Liam Carroll was only a phantom created by the Irish banks so that they could operate themselves as property developers. Liam Carroll and his directors were employees of the Irish banks.

There is only one real problem why a bank cannot become a property developer for real. It would mean that young Masterson the carpenter didn't fall off Liam Carroll's scaffolding at Charlotte Quay. But that he fell off the Irish bank's scaffolding instead. If that was the case, men would be throwing themselves willingly off of scaffoldings every week in order to claim the compensation. The banks would not last more than a week as property developers.

My director friend at Zoe development's confidence was justified at one level. It is now coming into the public knowledge that Zoe developments was never a solvent company. It had been propped up by the Irish banks for years. But in 2008 the Irish banks were in the process of collapse. A convincing 'professional dive' to use the soccer tactic analogy had to be found for Zoe developments, and fast. That is why Liam Carroll decided to sell his fortune away on the Irish stock market. The tragic rise and fall of Liam Carroll. That is the fairy tale the Irish people have been asked to swallow. Maybe Leprachauns are real too?

In late 2008 a message was sent to the second floor at Chapel house in Parnell Street that everyone had to be fired and every shred of incriminating evidence thrown in a skip and incinerated. In order to ensure an orderly retreat, most employees were put on 'temporary' redundancy. Only to receive final letters six months later when all the dust had died down. I lost my favourite desk ornaments in the clean out before xmas before I was even given a chance to grab them. Like the Irish Catholic Church, the Irish banking system is a staggering old wreck which threatens to fall to the ground at any moment.


1979 – Thatcher takes power


One of the last conversations I had at Zoe developments before the clear out in late 2008 was about Thatcher's new government of the 1980s. I am told by people who remember those days, that Britain in 1979 was on queer street. Something needed to be done. I can only assume that the Irish economy being so linked to the British in those days, was faced with a similar situation.

A conversation I overheard in the dark 1980s between my father and an Irish bank manager is now revealing to say the least. Various models were used in those days to assess the viability of third world debt. There were all kinds of statistics but one of the best and the simplest to obtain was: How much concrete is the country pouring per annum? That was the basic method used to decide if a country would default on its loan or not.

I think that Ruairi Quinn's comments about Irish banks needing to become service providers again and not players in their own right is particularly close being right. But do most people understand how much the Irish banks did become players in the Irish economy? Bearing in mind, when the loan book of Irish banks is moved to a toxic asset vault, then only 30% of what the bank consisted of will be left remaining. That means that 70% of Irish banks was involved in pouring concrete in one way or another. Zoe was a company built around concrete like Dublin was a city built around Guinness.


Chasing a Phantom


Noel Symth need not worry about catching anyone out in Tallaght. What Noel Symth doesn't realise is that he is chasing a phantom. Liam Carroll was never the Liam Carroll we all thought he was. He was a made up character, the stuff of legend created in order to allow the banks to become builders. Working at Zoe developments was like being on the 'floor that never existing' in Bernie Madoff's office building in Manhattan.

You could go to sleep there if you wanted. Many did and others formed dangerous gambling habits while playing online poker all day on their workstations. Indeed it felt to me at many times like I was working inside a mothball, a ridiculous front for something else. Sure the guys who knew their concrete did a bit of work, but that was about all. At times the man in the corner office came out and fired people abruptly. But in some cases that took all of twenty years!

In the end, at Zoe developments I felt like I was standing in Berlin in 1944 firing V2 rockets up at a thousand allied bombers that occupied the skies. There were some desperate attempts made to launch in schemes with floor plates all in the region of 20,000 square meters. If you dropped below 15,000 square meters you were too low. I conducted rough feasibility studies for both Harristown and Cherrywood. North Wall Quay was locked up in litigation and a stop gap needed to be found and fast. Nothing short of rocket propulsion would save the day.

Charles Haughey was ripping off prominent North African leaders with projects he sold to them in the 1970s and 1980s. Colonel Gadaffi was amongst the most famous. Indeed Gadaffi said in a radio interview once, that Charles Haughey was a genius. Haughey invited the 'carpet bagger' US construction companies to enter Ireland and set up base under the guise of building IDA factories. Their real purpose was to build in the Middle East. Charles Haughey handed the Irish nation on a plate to the Irish banks in the 1980s. Now that plan that Haughey drew up and executed to fundamentally alter the way things are done in Ireland has jumped up suddenly and bit us all in the ass.


Nationalisation


Now you see why Nationalisation of the Irish banks is so ridiculous. Over twenty years ago Charles Haughey appointed the Irish banks to more or less run things in the country. Haughey himself became as much an employee of those banks as everyone else, including Liam Carroll. With most of Zoe employees I was only a 'yellow pack'. Our sub-contractors working on €5,000.00 profit margins were the yellow-est of the yellow packs.

Now as we look at the prospect of Nationalisation a comical sort of Tom Foolery has to play out. The banks who run things anyway are giving it back to a bunch in Kildare Street who lost responsibility back in 1979. Fianna Fail are saying to the banks, what do you expect us to do? Remember, you told us all those years ago, we had not got the skills or the know how. We don't want it.

NAMA is a sham too. It is a delaying tactic as this 'pass the hot potato' game plays out between the banks and the Irish government. The system has entirely collapsed but nobody wants to believe it. While the banks were running the country, the Irish government only had to maintain the appearance of being competent. What better man to play that role than Bertie Ahern?

The truth is the Irish banks have lost the country's pension plan. Civil servants will not be paid next year. It is all gone. We might as well use that realization now and begin to do something. I often heard from directors at Zoe developments, the Irish government do not have a clue why the boom started. We created the boom. I always thought it was an audacious claim to make, even for Zoe developments. But when you realize who was running Zoe developments, the truth all becomes clear.


Brian Cowen and the ESB


Zoe developments had to take loans from other banks in order to keep the appearance of competition. It also proved to be a useful source of additional funding. It spread the risk around so to speak. But you will notice how the Irish banks made sure to be in full control. It wasn't only the Irish construction sector that was controlled by the banks. Why not look at power generation?

I have listened to some people knowledgeable in the finances of the ESB. They tell me that Ireland is too small a market to create effective competition. The Irish market for power is roughly the size of Manchester. As minister for Finance, Brian Cowen instructed the ESB to raise the price of electricity in Ireland so as to create a margin for foreign competitors to come in. Cowen was under pressure from the EU to create 'competition' in the marketplace in Ireland.

But then Dell computer factory in Limerick had to shut down its operations with the loss of 3,000 jobs. Not to mention all of the jobs around Dell's operations that were lost into the bargain. The real figure could be 15,000 of a workforce. Dell computers was a very large consumer of power and facing very stiff competition on the world market, while operating its lean manufacturing system on razor thin margins.

The hike in power prices was something it could not stomach. Move to Poland, they have tonnes and tonnes of coal and no intention to hold back on using it. The last thing I heard, Taoiseach Brian Cowen had gone back to the ESB. Lower the price of electricity he told them. He didn't ask them, he told them.


Redundancy Letters from Zoe


There was something about the redundancy letter that I received from the Financial director at Zoe developments that bothered me. On the one hand I knew that Liam had squandered a billion Euro on the Irish stock market. Or that was the story we were spoon fed by the newspapers. The redundancy letter spoke about a downturn in the economy and poor prospects ahead. It all seemed like a story a criminal would learn off by hart to tell to a police man in an interrogation room. What are they hiding I thought to myself?

I smelled a Bernie Madoff scale of conspiracy lurking somewhere. It is okay to smell conspiracies like that now. You cannot be accused of being off your rocker, because the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme is true. It seemed to as I read the letter from Zoe developments on that faithful day in May 2009 that some critical line had been crossed. A line where economic theory should end and personal freedoms should begin.

In order to explain what I mean I must make reference to a book written by Dean at Oxford University Amartya Sen. Amartya won a Nobel Prize and wrote his book 'Development as Freedom'. From my reading of that book I understand that Amartya had attended a lot of UN conferences on poverty in the third world. At a lot of those conferences the discussion focussed around the idea of solving the third world's economic problems first and then to tackle the political and freedom rights after.

Amartya Sen questioned that thesis in his book. Instead argued Sen, we should establish the foundation of freedom and civil rights. Only then could progress to economic prosperity and improvement be made. Hence the title of his book, Development as Freedom. It is a clever idea that Amartya Sen has proposed. It means that people who have a voice can describe to the system of that country what their basic and real needs are. A system which doesn't have that feedback mechanism established is already in trouble.

Ireland is such a country. It doesn't enjoy the feedback mechanism that Amartya Sen described. Ireland had to cope with an emergency in 1979 when nothing seemed to work. It should have only been a temporary measure. The banks were allowed to take a more 'hands on' participation in the workings of the economy. According to the most robust model available in the 1980s, that meant starting to pour concrete and starting to pour lots of it. I poured a lot of concrete at Zoe developments myself. Yes, the system does work.

But in the process of all of that, many people got lazy, lost their voice and simply did not participate anymore. We saw ten years of a Fianna Fail government led by Bertie Ahern who really didn't want to mess with the mechanics the Irish banks had created. Only the Irish banks understood the system and it was theirs one hundred percent. Fianna Fail became the effective security guards of that system and order. The people kept voting them in.


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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby Bricks » Tue Jul 21, 2009 5:23 pm

I've just come across your posts about the life and times at Zoe Developments.

I worked for Zoe for almost 6 years until 2004 when I left to work closer to home due to family commitments. I remember thinking that I would never work in a better place which was then the offices on Portobello Harbour and to a certain extent I was right.
Working for Zoe was like working for your family. I learnt alot from watching Liam Carroll conduct his business but there is no doubht that it was his sidekick D.T. who was the real success of Zoe's. I think things started to change when Dunloe Ewart were dragged kicking and screaming in to La Touche House, suddenly Liam Carroll owned a huge land bank around the country and none of them knew how to tackle its potential.
At that time we would all get our annual pay rise without having to ask and inevitablly came away happy following our review with the director. I started to sense that the company were getting a little carried away when out of the blue it was announced that each employee would get €1000 a year extra for turning up on time for work.The thought of it still astounds me.
I now feel fortunate that I left when I did but I cannot but feel for the employees who have been fired at the very end. I have lost contact with alot of the guys over the years but I still remember every one of them by name. Lets hope things work out for them.
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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Tue Jul 21, 2009 8:55 pm

Thanks Bricks.

I included a lot of extra padding and possibly unnecessary detail above. It was for the benefit of people who worked on the Zoe construction projects than anything else. One day in the canteen a discussion arose about all of the people over the years such as yourself who stayed for a number of years with the company and moved on. We estimated that some shocking number of people passed through the system at one stage or another. The interesting thing also, it was usually for a period of about six years that people stayed at Zoe. Which I find quite exceptional. Because working in the standard architectural or engineering consultancy out there, the turn over can indeed be quite high. That is why I used the analogy of a company such as Toyota or Intel, although Walmart might be a good comparison to use too. I am glad that some of my writing was of interest to you. There should be a place where ex. Zoe people can deposit some of their memories while still intact.

It is a very, very difficult product to sell to people these days. The idea that Zoe developments was more than a money grabbing flock of vultures. I have tried to tell something like that story above, without disrespecting the points of view of people who believe that developers caused a lot of our current problems. Because, to be honest both sides have a lot of good strong arguments. It was unfortunate the way that David Torpey became so over shadowed by Liam Carroll's personality in the end.

It was really David who turned around the construction part of the operation around to make it one of the best and safest construction companys in the country. However, he couldn't police that entirely himself. There were people hired, there were bottles of brandy and stuff being handed around. To forget about safe passes and what not. Along with the fact there were materials etc disappearing off sites too. That is why it is such a dodgy game construction. Architectural consultants out there need to realize that and give Zoe the credit it deserves. You must remember at the height of the Celtic Tiger a sub-contractor might want to save on the administration of applying for safe passes, in order to jump onto the next job quicker. We had a full time job throwing guys off sites until they learned the rules.

But I believe Zoe developments did catch 99% of people on site for all the necessary safety requirements. I know that because I was keeping a close eye on things myself. The Zoe directors wouldn't like to hear me say that. Since I was a designer and not a site agent. But I could tell on my own job which contractors were good at safety and which were not. I was a designer and representing the client Zoe developments. There is always a range from safety aware and competent to some who are incompetent. That is what you have to watch and manage properly. If they are completely useless on safety and don't want to learn, we simply didn't hire them again. That is what I mean about the feedback loop in a company such as Zoe developments. It wasn't as simple as throwing up a building and hoping it works. Improvements by evolution rather than by revolution. That is the kind of site North Wall Quay was. That is why we need Zoe back in the game again, in order to give Ireland the best service it deserves in terms of construction management.

I feel there was something sordid going on in the end. I read Deaglan De Breadun's piece in the Irish Times today: Mistakes were made in Irish banking, says former AIB chairman. I think it is disgraceful the way the bullshit that Dermot Gleeson can keeping on shilling the Irish public. The Irish banks strangled Zoe developments I have no doubt about it.

Gleeson still believes that the Irish people are going to 'buy his brand'. I thought he would have learned enough in what happened to his share price. The fact of the matter is that Irish banks had their fingers so far up Zoe development's ass, they hadn't time to develop real banking services in Ireland. The kind that would support and fuel a smart economy now. Gleeson was attending the same conference as the architect of the NAMA rescue plan to salvage this country. It is time that the Irish banks came clean about their involvement with Zoe developments. We need to cut out the crap for once and for all. The counterpart of that problem was that Bertie Ahern had too much time on his hands. Instead of running the country he occupied himself with all kinds of schemes that a politician shouldn't be in at all. I am surprised this government is still standing. I would advocate that we give the banks a little less work to do and the government a lot more. I would strike a better balance. To illustrate my point I included another blog link below.


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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby jimg » Tue Jul 21, 2009 9:31 pm

PVC King wrote:Property finance was quite simple there were two types of transaction small transactions; where the underwriting department of Bank A after the necessary checks lends money to the borrower at say 6.50% they transfer the debt to the securities department to be packaged up into corporate bonds and sold at a lower yield of say 5.25% the bank gets to collect 1.25% in return for collecting the payments.

In the case of larger transactions the corporate or investment divisions arranged finance in smaller chunks after lending a large sum of say €200m to say 5 other banks again locking in a margin. The problem on these were that many of the banks stopped syndicating the majority of these loans and at the wrong point in the cycle held onto too high a proportion. I'd not be worried about the prime commercial lending that was done as a lot of the assets will recover within 2-5 years, it is the domestic development land that will need greater scrutiny.

The Irish banks did relatively little securitisation. You can see it on their balance sheets. The vast majority of their liabilities were deposits - retail, corporate and inter-bank. All retail banks use the commercial paper and bond markets to manage their treasury but that's not the same as relying on securitisation in the sense of selling mortgage-backed securities.

A part of the Irish banking system had become insolvent. At the height of the boom, Anglo had 3 billion more assets than liabilities but on a massive 100 billion euro balance sheet in which 60% or 70% of their assets comprised of loans backed by property; it was easy to see that they were a busted flush when property started to nosedive. Of course liquidity is always a problem when everyone knows you're insolvent but they hoodwinked the government into believing their problems were caused by liquidity issues instead of the truth which was they had severe liquidity problems because they were insolvent. No doubt general prevailing market conditions didn't help but it just meant an inevitable end was hastened. The government then foolishly entered into an agreement which effectively underwrote all future losses in the Irish banking sector at the very time when a bit of fiscal wriggle room would have been very helpful.
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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby missarchi » Tue Jul 21, 2009 11:50 pm

Isn't Nama being directed by the biggest bank?
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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Wed Jul 22, 2009 8:48 am

It is like a Russian doll when you look at it really that the Irish banks have created.

The annoying thing to me is that we are going to set up NAMA but the virus that poisoned the whole lot is being transported neatly into NAMA too.

Zoe developments was only the smallest doll in the set.

If we can fully understand Zoe developments - both the good sides and the bad sides of that company - that is the first stage in the recovery process.

Zoe developments contains all of Ireland's problems and strengths in microcosm.

Once we have understood the smallest Russian doll, we can gradually work our way out from there.

That aught to be the plan.

I only hope that our weak government is capable of meeting that challenge with all cylinders blazing.

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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Wed Jul 22, 2009 9:43 am

-

1979


The architect Anthony Reddy once wrote an essay about Dublin city in which he refers to the Act of Union. It was the legislation passed which discontinued the parliament in Dublin and all members there after would sit in London instead. What the Act of Union meant was that Dublin went into a death spiral, slow but sure. Charles J. Haughey had devised a clever scheme in Ireland during the 1980s to hand most of the authority for running the country over to the banks. Thatcher had cut a very similar deal in Britain. Now both Ireland and Britain are fighting for their lives as two first world nations.

In many ways what Haughey brokered with the Irish banks was like another Act of Union. But instead of moving the seat of power to London, it only moved a short distance to Ballsbridge and Baggot Street. It was probably the right thing to do in 1979. But what it meant was that Dublin again went into a state of disrepair and neglect. Anthony Reddy's essay about Dublin is wrong in its analysis therefore. Reddy described an Ireland in the 1990s that was being re-born. All that was really happening was that the banks had become all powerful. The Irish government was left feeling pathetic as it stood on the sidelines. They are still in that kind of 'space' even though it is no longer necessary. The likes of Dermot Gleeson and Liam Carroll have them out smarted and out classed.

The Irish banks had a scheme in the 1980s to give executives a brand new top of the range automobile instead of a pay rise in order to avoid taxes by the government. By the time of the Celtic Tiger that scheme had been generalised to encompass much of the Irish population. We were all bank executives in terms of the perks we enjoyed. Except the banks could still deal one better. They paid the utility bills in the homes of their top executives too. Men paid over €100,000 p.a. must find it hard to cope.

During the Celtic Tiger, I looked at all of the huge and expensive automobiles passing me by on the roads. Sure I had flunked out of college. But was I really that badly off? I could only struggle to afford a bicyle. There is a yard stick for inequality if you want one. But I had a simple life and I was happy with it. Until the Celtic Tiger crashed into a brickwall and my prospects along with it. Bertie Ahern's job as Taoiseach in Ireland over a period of a decade should have been to dismantle what Haughey had built. To re-build using a new paradigm. Bertie Ahern wasn't man enough to do that. He allowed the system to continue as it was and eventually it spun out of control.

In 1979 the Irish banks had the best models available to them, which gave instructions for what to do in a crisis. The Irish banks had the best managers available in the whole country. In ways the Irish banks were the architects of the Ireland we now see. But what the country also needed was leaders. Men who can think for themselves and develop their own models, their own paradigms. Instead we got Liam Carroll and Dermot Gleeson. This is what Warren Bennis was talking about in his famous book which sold half a million copies world wide. This is what Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen was talking about in his book, Development as Freedom.

If we really had development as freedom in Ireland today the institute of architects of Ireland would have some real control over their destiny. Instead the bankers still want to be the architects and the real architects have forgotten how. If we really had development as freedom in Ireland, O'Donnell and Tuomey would know a lot better than to use acres of rainforest to build social and affordable housing on Cork Street. What the residents in that area really need is something like the Corcoran Jennison rental model to give them their lives back. Instead Dolphin house stands under siege from drugs after a brave struggle to win using people power.

If we really had development as freedom, a proper architectural debate would have taken place in relation to Metro North, urban regeneration and land taxation. That never happened. Instead the RIAI handed out rubber medals for schemes such as the social and affordable block on Cork Street. People on welfare don't need rainforest timber to improve their lives. They need something else. We need to give them back their voice. We should be ashamed of ourselves as a nation.

The same could be said of any number of public building projects designed by architects in the last ten years. The real rubber medal award must go to the office block designed by Grafton Architects built on Merrion Row. The credit for allowing it to happen must go to the OPW. What happened when Charles J. Haughey passed the equivalent of a modern day Act of Union was that gradually all of our public services in Ireland forgot their own skills. There was no incentive to participate anymore. Zoe developments got lazy in the final days. But the OPW offices in Stephen's Green is where you can still get the best snooze of all.

The Merrion Row office building had stone cladding which took one man, one day to install one meter squared. The average should be four meters squared per day per man. That still makes stone cladding a very slow part of the program. I know that not because I am an architect, but because I worked for Zoe developments. I know that architects aren't interested in program management of stone cladding installation or in Zoe developments. More is the pity.

The really serious point is the following. The contractor for the Merrion Row project had to pay a charge to Dublin Bus each week because of disruption to the primary bus lane. When you added up all the costs for the bus lane it amounts to a million euro. That is before you even pay for a single square foot of the stone. One would think in that case, the choice of the 'extra-slow' stone cladding system was ill informed. Snip, snip. That is why we need the banks to stop being the architects. That is why we need the architects to be the architects. That is why the RIAI needs to re-enter the game and re-learn all of those program management skills that were taken away from it.

In the end, Liam Carroll did develop a very sophisticated rental model for property developers. It was called securitization. It wasn't the kind of model that the residents of Dolphin house or any other residential community needed. It was the model that the Irish banks needed instead. But since the Irish banks owned Zoe developments from the get-go, that was understandable. At the end in Zoe developments Liam Carroll didn't spend time with his engineers and drafts people anymore. Why bother. His favorite hobby was standing over the shoulders of traders on the third and fourth floors of his office building on Parnell Street. Liam would stand and watch as the traders sliced and diced the physical floorspace area he had just poured into concrete, and it was uploaded on to the global marketplace as a financial product.

That is how the pension plan for the entire country was sold. This is still what is being referred to as a 'rescue plan' in the High courts. Trading our way out of difficulty. I respectfully suggest that we have traded our way into enough of difficulty and should stop. Zoe developments should not be allowed to live any longer. Never again should the likes of Dermot Gleeson or Liam Carroll be given that much control over our lives. Never again. Bertie Ahern should have known that. It was what we paid Ahern to do.


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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Wed Jul 22, 2009 5:16 pm

Meanwhile, stocks linked with troubled property developer Liam Carroll behaved counter-intuitively, with food group Greencore up almost 5 per cent at €1.11 and ferry operator Irish Continental Group (ICG) gaining 2.5 per cent to €10.25, albeit on light volumes.

AIB and Bank of Ireland, both of which have large exposures arising from Mr Carroll’s developments, came under pressure, slipping by 5.7 per cent and 4 per cent respectively to €1.63 and €1.58.


http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/finance/2009/0722/1224251064686.html

Shares behaving counter intuitively!

ROFL

C'mon Liam ya boy ya!

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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Wed Jul 22, 2009 5:51 pm

Meanwhile, the landlord of Chapel House yesterday mistakenly advertised the fourth and fifth floors of the building, where BoSI has over 200 people, mainly involved in Halifax product development and handling its intermediary homeloans business.

A few hours later, the internet advertisement was changed, with a different part of the six-storey property being marketed.


Oops!

C'mon Zoe, at least get it right can't you . . .

http://www.independent.ie/business/irish/bosi-to-reveal-today-its-plans-for-halifax-branch-closures-1833953.html

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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Wed Jul 22, 2009 5:56 pm

http://www.myhome.ie/commercial/search/brochure/4th-or-5th-floor-north-city-centre-dublin-co&-city/110153

2nd Floor, Chapel House, 21 - 26 Parnell Street, Dublin 1

That is it, good old Liam has turfed them out on the street.

Zoe developments is finally done and dusted.

The 600 potential new jobs that the Irish Times saw in Zoe's rescue plan today obviously don't include the guys with their CAD workstations.


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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby missarchi » Wed Jul 22, 2009 11:48 pm

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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Thu Jul 23, 2009 8:46 am

But observers say neither bank would be able to tap investors for equity until they can give clarity on the level of writedowns they must take on loans being transferring to the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA).


Clarity is not something we are going to get from an Irish banker.

http://www.independent.ie/business/irish/delay-in-choosing-new-aib-boss-sparks-fears-on-capital-plan-1835653.html

Formal interviews are expected to start in the coming weeks, with Colm Doherty, head of AIB's highly-profitable capital markets division, the only internal candidate.


From the same piece by Joe Brennan. Ah yes, Capital Markets was going to be the flag ship, high rise component of Liam Carroll's North Wall Quay project. Weren't those the days. Now the bank cannot even decide who to put in charge, never mind building towers without planning permission. What a come down for both Liam and Mr. Gleeson. Altogether chastened now I can tell you, altogether chastened.

I still think if we had architects and planners fully integrated in the process, instead of Liam and his office in the bank, we could organize a 'sequence' of development that could utilize North Wall Quay site and existing groundworks done, to house a few large tenants from the city centre area and thereby free up those sites for full re-development. Bearing in mind a Metro North will service those city centre sites sometime in the future, they need to be smart and agile knowledge hub centres with radical new management models to cater for new growing business. Not one big 'snooze' bunker like Irish Life and Permanent's brown brick building at Abbey Street.

http://www.archiseek.com/content/showthread.php?t=7692

The deal means AIB has completed two-thirds of its commitment to the Government of raising €1.5bn of extra capital to 'fire proof' its reserves amid spiralling bad-loan losses.


I wonder are executives paying their own ESB bills yet? Or buying their own cars? It is some come down for those fellows from masters of the universe. Being used to what they had for the last 25 years. I don't even begrudge them somehow, I would have jumped at the deals going myself. But now I do realize that when the banking sector got its claws into so much of Irish life, everything else lost the will to live and thrive. Snagnation became the issue in Ireland, and that is what we are dealing with now. It is time for the whole Irish nation to awaken from the deadening slumber.

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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Thu Jul 23, 2009 8:57 am

"Equitas was put on one side and a lot of dedicated people worked on it for 10 years, while the market got on with its business -- admittedly in a chastened and more closely managed operation. I think that is how it will be with the banking crisis."


From comments by Lord Peter Levene in indo article by Brendan Keenan.

We badly need those Llyods guys over here now.

http://www.independent.ie/business/irish/a-whole-new-ball-game-as-lloyds-makes-big-pitch-for-irish-market-1835656.html

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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby missarchi » Thu Jul 23, 2009 12:41 pm

here's a challenge for you...

calculate how many cubic metres of concrete are in metro north...
(assuming there all the same types)
and how much steel...
Is metro north parametric?

like the loolie jar game at school
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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby jdivision » Thu Jul 23, 2009 1:25 pm

---
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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Sat Jul 25, 2009 8:53 am

I was trying to get at something in that blog post. But the Irish independent does it much better than I can. The business section of the Irish Independent has a one page piece about the Michael Somers and the history of the NTMA, set up by Charles Haughey in the dark 1980s. From the piece:

Way back then, the national debt was managed inside the department of finance by civil servants. Constrained by public sector pay guidelines, the Department found itself in the impossible position of training civil servants in the minutiae of the bond market only to find them being poached by banks and stockbrokers offering them a multiple of their state salaries as soon as they were up to speed.


Sounds very like the way RIAI members would poach architects from Liam Carroll's design office at Parnell street almost at will, whenever they felt like it. I was asked several times myself, what was I doing there? Even by the current RIAI president. I told him I was learning how to do construction drawings to give to bricklayers. He response was: Oh, I see, boring stuff like that!

Sometimes you try to do something a little differently, try to innovate and achieve better. But what thanks do you get in a tiny fart of a place such as Ireland. How did that work out for your RIAI practices, offering all of those huge sums? How many staff members have you let go lately? Along with the ones you poached from Zoe.

I can tell you, when the Engineers of Ireland institute finds that the RIAI were not providing Zoe with a supply of good trained architects, it will be sorely disappointed. Zoe was thought of within the engineering culture as a shining example of what is possible - even in Ireland. Engineers have always been a much bigger lobby than architects in this country too.

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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby wearnicehats » Sat Jul 25, 2009 10:16 am

garethace wrote:I was trying to get at something in that blog post. But the Irish independent does it much better than I can. The business section of the Irish Independent has a one page piece about the Michael Somers and the history of the NTMA, set up by Charles Haughey in the dark 1980s. From the piece:



Sounds very like the way RIAI members would poach architects from Liam Carroll's design office at Parnell street almost at will, whenever they felt like it. I was asked several times myself, what was I doing there? Even by the current RIAI president. I told him I was learning how to do construction drawings to give to bricklayers. He response was: Oh, I see, boring stuff like that!

Sometimes you try to do something a little differently, try to innovate and achieve better. But what thanks do you get in a tiny fart of a place such as Ireland. How did that work out for your RIAI practices, offering all of those huge sums? How many staff members have you let go lately? Along with the ones you poached from Zoe.

I can tell you, when the Engineers of Ireland institute finds that the RIAI were not providing Zoe with a supply of good trained architects, it will be sorely disappointed. Zoe was thought of within the engineering culture as a shining example of what is possible - even in Ireland. Engineers have always been a much bigger lobby than architects in this country too.

Brian O' Hanlon



I'm totally lost. Zoe was/is, as I understand it a private company owned and operated by the shoe box king - is that not correct? In that case why should the RIAI "supply" him with anything and why would the institute of engineers give a hoot? People tend to leave companies for other companies for many reasons but mostly cash. If one of the richest men in the country wasn't paying the going rate for architects then what exactly did you expect?

And if he was paying the going rate then what's your theory as to why people left?
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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Sat Jul 25, 2009 11:08 am

wearnicehats wrote:I'm totally lost. Zoe was/is, as I understand it a private company owned and operated by the shoe box king - is that not correct? In that case why should the RIAI "supply" him with anything and why would the institute of engineers give a hoot? People tend to leave companies for other companies for many reasons but mostly cash. If one of the richest men in the country wasn't paying the going rate for architects then what exactly did you expect?

And if he was paying the going rate then what's your theory as to why people left?


Thanks for your reply. Those are all very valid questions and I am glad you took the effort to submit your opinion for the record. I would love to engage with you, the president and directors of the RIAI in further debate when we all not chasing our tails like at the moment. Hopefully, I will have calmed down sufficiently by then too. The thought of my boss lossing a billion euro of our capital and then firing the lot of us, drove a stake through my heart. (Not only that, the network of people in the construction industry I am so familiar with) I am so discusted with humanity at present and need to find some peace with the world again.

Looking forward to discussion in the future,

Brian O' Hanlon
garethace
 
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