Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Sat Jul 25, 2009 11:21 am

I would like to personally thank Dr. Garret Fitzgearld, a much smarter man than I will ever be, for his opinion and analysis piece in today's paper.

First of all, the earlier years of this decade saw a total failure on the part of the government to accept the consequences of the decision to join the euro, which involved the removal of the option of devaluation as a solution to the inflation that the government then chose to create through gross over-spending in a period of full employment.


I have said it before and I wish to repeat, I am glad for every cent of Zoe' money I spent that an RIAI member didn't get its hands on. The RIAI needs to grow up and accept the fact that Ireland in order to be perceived as a competitive economy by the global marketplace needs its short players and its long players. I worked on this aspect within the Zoe group to bet against the market.

That was Liam Carroll's original formula, to bet down the price of things. What I discovered to my dismay was that Liam had changed his tactics towards the end of his career. He threw away a life times good work in acting as a competitive influence on the property market and instead became one of its biggest liabilities. For that I can only thank some of his directors and the misleading advice he was given by certain banking institutions. Liam was a natural competitive player and perhaps too competitive at times.

He was akin to a George Soros within the construction industry in Ireland. He managed to de-value everyones' currency including that of rival developers, contractors and architects. We sorely need that approach to return in 2009/10. Damn the financial institutions who advised him to enter the Irish stock market in 2002 in pursuit of Dunloe and later in pursuit of other quoted stocks. He was no more equipped for that than the man in the moon. They singularly failed to understand where the real value in Zoe developments lay. (Probably on purpose, so that they could rob him of his candy later on, when he was unaware)

Thanks again to Dr. Garrett Fitzgearld for penning the article in today's Times. It establishes firmly some of the main points I wanted to make in my own writing.

Brian O' Hanlon
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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Mon Jul 27, 2009 9:17 pm

Again, I thought that John McManus wrote something worth reading today, in his opinion piece in the Monday edition of the Times.

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/finance/2009/0727/1224251384255.html

It would be vaguely amusing if the stakes were not so high. International sentiment may have improved towards Ireland on the basis of what has been done to date, but investors in Irish bonds also presume that we will follow through with the rest of the job.


The funny thing is I am in support of Brian Cowen taking the necessary time to review and scope out his options. I believe that politicians should exercise this skill when they need to. Whether Cowen takes the right action now or in six months isn't going to make that much difference in my mind, as long as it is the right decision. That basically, Ireland does have a problem in how it governs itself. This was neatly reflected in the piece that Dr. Garrett Fitzgearld wrote in the Irish Times on Saturday last.

If we didn't have the problems we have in government, we would not have the problems we have with builders today. To the extent that we do anyhow. Government could be getting on with what government is meant to do. Not mopping up other peoples' mess. (It's like the TV ad, I've had enough) I am glad that Alan Duke and those at Anglo have finally begun the waking up process. Even though Anglo only hold a small amount of the outstanding loan. The signal from them could be critical in the outcome.

The court heard that ACC Bank is adopting a 'guarded neutral' position on the examinership plan.

It was also told that Anglo Irish Bank, which has 3.1% of the debt, had adopted a 'neutral' position on the plan.


http://www.rte.ie/news/2009/0727/carrolll.html

The decision with regard to Liam Carroll tomorrow has implications that go beyond the scope of this case alone. I am glad to hear that Mr Justice Peter Kelly, is taking the time to consider the matter in full. The Liam Carroll's of this world have always depended and thrived off a system in Ireland, where the authorities concerned simply don't have the time to do their job properly.

My own instinct is that if we continue to allow builders to get away with mal-practice and misbehaviour it will create a very poor precedent for the future. All down to line. Professionals such as architects will find themselves in a very compromised position also, when under duress for one reason or another from a builder. So will planning authorities who feel in some way intimidated by these individuals and their supposed 'unlimited' wealth status. Lets not even talk about local representatives and get ourselves into tribunal territory.

The truth is, even with life support from two directions - both in terms of handouts given in tax incentive schemes by the Irish government, (non-existent land taxation on builders) and by unlimited credit terms from Irish banks - Zoe developments still wasn't a resilient company. Keeping it alive is simply too morbid to even contemplate. The first chill wind that shook it and the boys ran for the hills. I can say in years to come, I was at the Battle of Waterloo. I watched in disbelief as Napoleon's 'old guard' came running down the hill in retreat as fast as their legs could carry them.

If we don't create some example here, we never will. We will be ruled by builders for the rest of our lives. I certainly don't intend to be. Which would give me, and a whole raft of the Irish workforce the best reason we could ever wish for. To leave the country for good. It is never easy to leave families and good friends behind. But too lenient a judgement here would make it a lot easier.

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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby jdivision » Tue Jul 28, 2009 12:36 pm

Interesting to note today that Carroll's share buying was one of the two specific reasons given for the insovlency of the group. Two wider issues raised as well.
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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby PVC King » Tue Jul 28, 2009 4:22 pm

Agreed

Stick to core business

A real pity they put together a damn efficient supply chain and whilst some may not like some of their earlier work; I have no doubt that the Dublin inner Apartment market would have been unlikely to deliver critical mass as quickly as it did in 1994/95 without Zoe.

I really hope that a long term view can be taken on this; the Zoe model of affordable high density City Centre apartments is exactly what could be a major part of the solution in a couple of years when existing supply overhang is dispersed into the market.
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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Tue Jul 28, 2009 5:56 pm

The article in the Irish Independent today put it quite neatly I thought. If LC does have an examiner appointed, and recieves the 70/100 days, with the extension will it even be enough? Will he be able to limp his way as far as the doors of Nama? That is the extent of the thrashing the 3rd richest man in the country received from the stock markets. It sheds a whole new light on other things too, such as the Moriarty Tribunal with Denis O'Brien etc. At least LC stuck around and spent his money within our shores. Mr. O'Brien was a little bit smarter than that.

O’Brien, who personally made nearly a quarter of a billion arising from the sale of an asset granted by the State and immediately afterwards became a tax exile, has become an unlikely knight in shining armour for the Irish taxpayer. “We’ve had to take the fight to the tribunal otherwise the Government will be faced with a massive claim for damages,” he told the Sunday Times.


http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2009/0728/1224251492393.html

Taken from Elaine Byrne's piece in today's Times. It is really time we got some common sense into our national debate on Ireland Inc. Without all of the smoke and mirrors that the courts sometimes endeavor to throw at the public.

While working at Zoe, it was suggested to me by one of the Eircom people how cheaply the company and its assets could have been bought. A billion euro could have gone a long ways to laying a foundation for a smarter economy in Ireland. The rental off the lines would have kept LC solvent too, and free to go and do whatever development he wanted. These are the opportunities that Zoe developments missed. That is why Justice Kelly spoke about the 'captains who steered the ship onto the rocks'. They were a bunch of short sighted clowns when it came to anything outside of construction.

In terms of finding places to put a billion euro, the comms industry certainly would have been a better fit than volatile stocks with land attached to them. Bury the money in the ground, fibre optics silly. It is not as if the comms lines going to any of his spec offices are in 'state of the art' condition anyhow. In terms of a rescue plan develop whatever sites he has available now, an involvement in telecoms would be a god send. Microsoft spent only $5 million on a trunk line that circumnavigated the city of Seattle. The investment paid for itself within a month.

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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby missarchi » Tue Jul 28, 2009 11:09 pm

garethace wrote: Microsoft spent only $5 million on a trunk line that circumnavigated the city of Seattle. The investment paid for itself within a month.
Brian O' Hanlon


MN and the IC will make it very easy to do that... Anyway the internet is always getting slower because the media keeps increasing its always an excuse...
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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby missarchi » Tue Jul 28, 2009 11:48 pm

missarchi wrote:MN and the IC will make it very easy to do that... Anyway the internet is always getting slower because the media keeps increasing its always an excuse...
Operating systems keep getting bigger computers get faster...
so there is never a speed boost in upgrading computer/os... all in the name of insecurity
the rules of the game don't change...
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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Wed Jul 29, 2009 10:28 am

An "extraordinary" number of directorships were held by directors of the petitioning companies "no doubt for the best fiscal reasons", he added.


Taken from Dearbhail McDonald and Thomas Molloy's article in the Irish Independent today.

http://www.independent.ie/national-news/embattled-developer-admits-that-hes-broke-1844700.html

A small detour into the exciting world of cultural anthropology is necessary to understand the above quote. It has less to do with fiscal reasoning and a lot more to do with preservation of a culture. The culture of Zoe developments has to do with protection from outside corrosive factors of a kind of 'basket weaving' skill only they know how to execute.

That is why Zoe were always so suspicious of external consultants. External consultants would simply march in and smash and trample over whatever indigenous knowledge and tradition that Zoe developments had managed to foster. External consultants and in particular consultant architects don't give a fiddler's curse about the building trades. Or how they are supposed to fit together in one harmonious assembly process. This is the kind of 'basket weave' I have come to know and love, that is not on the consultant's radar.

A native dialect was developed within the walled gardens of Zoe developments and for the sake of calling it something, I will call it 'Liam o'. The reason is, so many sentences in so many conversations at Zoe started with 'Liam o would do this' or 'Liam o would do that'.

Architects don't like to speak in 'Liam o'. It offends their pretentions to become designers of world dominating and global stature. Architects long to be plugged into something greater than a domestic network of plumbers, electricians and tradesmen. In an era of Big Brother and reality TV shows, people will do a lot for fame.

Working within the architectural profession is like participating in one of the sickest reality TV shows of all. Designs become a 'cry for help', throwing themselves about and making the wildest kind of shapes. All beauty and logic of the 'basket weaver's' approach goes out of the window. That was the kind of cultural disintegration in the building industry that Zoe tried to protect themselves from. That is why so few directors held so many positions in those companies.

There were a couple of different flavours of 'Liam o' spoken within the Zoe organisation. A more colourful version was spoken by those closer to the cold face than those priveleged to work in Chapel house. But in all honesty, it was all colourful and spoken by a director, it often turned into poetry.

The particular kind of basket weaving skill the small circle of Zoe's directors tried to protect was something that can only be visualised if you think of a company such as Toyota. Toyota is a company where every worker on the production line has the ability to pull a chord and to stop the line whenever they want to. The ironic thing about this, the Toyota production line stops very infrequently.

On the other hand, at more traditional American car manufacturers only the highest managers in the plant have the authority to stop the production line. But there, the line stops often. Zoe was not like Ford or General Motors, it was more like Toyota. At any stage, anywhere, any person on the line could pull the chord. That is what the walled garden of Zoe developments was designed to protect, that right of the individual worker. To an external consultant that prospect was simply horrifying.

I remember sitting at the Zoe Christmas dinner at the end of 2007 at the noisiest table of all. It belonged to the close knit group of finishing foremen who had recently completed 1,500 new apartment units at Tallaght Cross. One of the senior members of that group told me (while not acting the mick) the consultant architect at Tallaght Cross had to learn the simple fact, that Zoe finishing foremen were in fact the 'client' and that the architects were working for them.

Of course, as the project neared its snagging stages a fight ensued between the Zoe culture and the external architect. Each side keen to enshrine their own importance. At Tallaght Cross, the Zoe men had painted their Mona Lisa. They achieved a fit out rate of 40 apartments a week. Better than Toyota ever could have done.

On one occasion, the architect took the fight to town entirely and ordered the foremen to move every light switch in the 1,500 apartments down 2.5 centimeters. They said, in order to comply with Part M disabled access regulations. Such was the level of petty bitching their relationship with the 'client' had collapsed into.

The real truth of the matter was the building boom was over and architects were scratching their behinds. Neither sides' livelihood would last much longer. No, the consultant architect never spoke fluent 'Liam o' and they still don't. They want to see the culture killed off for good. The culture was protected by a small loyal band of Zoe's directors.

It humours me these days to meet young architects who have pretentions of grandeur because they have learned to calculate the thermal properties of a construction detail. All I can say, is go and work for a company such as Zoe developments and learn about the 50 or so other dimensions that really must go into a detail for ease of assembly and cost efficiency.

I had a strange flashback to my days spent at Zoe when I listened to Tom Cosgrove demonstrate his structural design for Thomond Park stadium in Limerick. Tom put one slide on the screen of a 'moment connection' between the steel roof structure and the concrete terrace. He explained the different tolerances of the two contractors and their materials.

I wanted to ask Tom a question. Why is the culture of the architect based around the fact that one draws 'only one detail'. That detail of assembly represents only an ideal condition. Where every single component of a huge stadium structure is exactly in the right place. A condition only satisfied in some theoretical parallel universe. In real life, everything has to be assembled and built by human hands.

What we should really be doing, when we issue an instruction to the assembler, is draw three or four details. What to do if this happens, what to do if something else happens. Create diagrams to represent real conditions rather than an ideal condition. The ideal condition may not arise even once in the entire job. But consultant architects build their contract documents around such nonsense.

We didn't have contract documents at Zoe, so much as assemblers' instructions. The Airfix model airplane instruction analogy was often used to explain how the no-blame culture of Zoe developments should work. If you could not give your drawings to a kid to put together a project, then the conclusion within Zoe was you hadn't done your job well enough.

That is the conflict between the consultant culture and the Zoe culture. Zoe aspired to having a 'no blame' culture. The consultants tried to blame everyone they could. At Zoe developments, we learned to give the assembler a full set of instructions backed up with contingencies for matters that would no doubt arise in real site conditions.

That is the basket weaving culture that a small group of Zoe directors strove to protect. It was less to do with fiscal reasoning and a lot more to do with cultural anthropology that is specific to the construction industry. It has a language of it's own, only understood and spoken fluently by those within that industry. They don't even realise they are using it, it is that native to them. Tom Cosgrove is one of those people who speaks the language well. So were Zoe developments.

The 'basket weaving' language was important because it enabled thousands of people to go about their business on sites in an orderly, civilised and above all safe manner. It was an important language and it did save lives and limbs. It will continue to be spoken I have no doubt, despite all efforts from consultants to stamp it out. It will survive because it is ultimately the right way and the sustainable way to conduct business. Architects simply haven't realized that yet.

The only thing wrong with the basket weaving culture was it meant directors had not learned the skills sufficient to manage large capital investment programs. That is why I did research on another advanced construction industry culture. The one at Dublin Airport Authority that was tailored around ideas of Turner and Townsend program management consultants from Britain.

If the two cultures can be encouraged to 'blend' together in developments at Zoe's 150 acre Harristown site, we would really see something special emerge. Something that would be born and bred of these shores. While at the same time, cross-bybridized with ideas born at the Terminal 5 project in London's Heathrow airport. Without the cross-hybridization process, it will lead to the small group of directors at Zoe making decisions that are short sighted and for the worst. A suitable balance needs to be struck.


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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Thu Jul 30, 2009 11:02 am

The Dun Laoghaire council action is also against Bank of Scotland (Ireland) and AIB. The council wants a declaration it owns one third or more of these lands which were subject to a joint venture agreement in August 1997 under which it allegedly provided €57m to several companies controlled by Mr Carroll.


http://www.independent.ie/national-news/courts/property-developer-carroll-wins-reprieve-over-claim-for-836460m-1846002.html

The plot thickens even further.

I was aware that Irish banks wanted to act as proxy property developers through Liam Carroll. But now it appears as though mandarins in the lowly position of local authority public servants thought they could do the same! It is like everyone, their uncle and their grandmother's uncle wanted a piece of Liam Carroll.

I would like to thank Dr. Garret Fitzgearld again for his opinion and analysis piece in last Saturday's daily paper. We do have a fundamental problem in how we govern in Ireland. Recent conversations I have had with players caught in the 'cross fire' between Liam Carroll and local Dublin city council representatives back up my suspicions. Local councillors are abusing the local area plan, LAP, process in order to promise local residents a war chest of goodies they simply cannot deliver. By inviting consultant architects to draw up pie-in-the-sky projects for public urban space projects, which are to be funded somehow by the man who owns the land to be developed, Liam Carroll. This needs to stop!

The LAP that went into legislation for the Bohemian football club site at Phibsboro for instance, is a disgrace. A promise made to the public, the local representatives should not have been allowed to make. And an indirect attempt by Dublin City Council in order to bankrupt Liam Carroll even further. Who is paying for all this mick-acting ultimately? The collapse of Liam Carroll's empire, is one the whole nation of taxpayers is going to pay for in one way or another. A sense of satisfaction derived by a few mandarins in our local authority simply won't pay a dime towards that bill. I thought Dick Gleeson had a much better handle on what was going on at LAP level with his local councillors.

There is nothing about Phibsboro LAP that says anything like 'biomedical cluster' or campus for me. At the same time, as the people in the Industrial development authority, are brainstorming plans to make Ireland a world wide centre of excellence in all sorts of medical treatments. What is the taxpayer paying salaries of the IDA for, when the plan is being completely sabotaged down at the Local Area Plan level by a different group of civil servants? This has to stop! The local authorities should be strung out, in my opinion. Whatever legislation enabled the Local Area Plan process to happen back in the late 1990s, has blown up in all of our faces now. Peter Bacon, Jim Pike etc should know about this. Since the recommendation to confer a legal status on LAP's was contained in their 1998 RIAI, IPI joint conference report.

What a real f***ing mess.

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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby reddy » Thu Jul 30, 2009 11:40 am

garethace wrote:http://www.independent.ie/national-news/courts/property-developer-carroll-wins-reprieve-over-claim-for-836460m-1846002.html

Recent conversations I have had with players caught in the 'cross fire' between Liam Carroll and local Dublin city council representatives back up my suspicions. Local councillors are abusing the local area plan, LAP, process in order to promise local residents a war chest of goodies they simply cannot deliver. By inviting consultant architects to draw up pie-in-the-sky projects for public urban space projects, which are to be funded somehow by the man who owns the land to be developed, Liam Carroll. This needs to stop!

The LAP that went into legislation for the Bohemian football club site at Phibsboro for instance, is a disgrace. A promise made to the public, the local representatives should not have been allowed to make. And an indirect attempt by Dublin City Council in order to bankrupt Liam Carroll even further. Who is paying for all this mick-acting ultimately? The collapse of Liam Carroll's empire, is one the whole nation of taxpayers is going to pay for in one way or another. A sense of satisfaction derived by a few mandarins in our local authority simply won't pay a dime towards that bill. I thought Dick Gleeson had a much better handle on what was going on at LAP level with his local councillors.

There is nothing about Phibsboro LAP that says anything like 'biomedical cluster' or campus for me. At the same time, as the people in the Industrial development authority, are brainstorming plans to make Ireland a world wide centre of excellence in all sorts of medical treatments. What is the taxpayer paying salaries of the IDA for, when the plan is being completely sabotaged down at the Local Area Plan level by a different group of civil servants? This has to stop! The local authorities should be strung out, in my opinion. Whatever legislation enabled the Local Area Plan process to happen back in the late 1990s, has blown up in all of our faces now. Peter Bacon, Jim Pike etc should know about this. Since the recommendation to confer a legal status on LAP's was contained in their 1998 RIAI, IPI joint conference report.

What a f***ing mess.

Brian O' Hanlon


Why on Earth would Dublin City Council want to "bankrupt Liam Carroll even further. Thats a completely ridiculous assertion.

The problem at the Phibsboro shopping centre site was that Liam Carrolls wheeling and dealing with Bohemians and the intransigence between himself and the owners of the shopping centre blocked the way to any meaningful redevelopment of the site.

Carroll paid over the odds for a landlocked site which was zoned green space. What the LAP sought to achieve there was a compromise which enabled Carroll and Albion properties (owners of the shopping centre) to develop the site, while also addressing the legitimate concerns of the residents to preserve some of the aforementioned green space.

So in order to do this, the LAP proposed a framework plan which allowed a significant level of development while also providing the requisite community gain - ie a plaza and community centre which tied in with the school on the site. There seems to be an attidtude sometimes that just because a developer paid an inordinate amount for a site he should be allowed build whatever it takes to make that site pay off.

You have to remember that these are illustrative framework plans only - guidance to the detailed planning of the site by the respective developers.

The LAP also has a whole section which details how it fits neatly into national and regional legislation - the creation of a centre of medical excellence at the Mater hospital is enabled in the plan as is a plan for the redevelopment of Mountjoy prison which says..

"The re-developed site also presents an opportunity for the development of associated
ancillary medical, service industry, commercial and office employment floorspace and to
create an important economic and employment cluster in the vicinity of the planned
Metro North Station."


Don't blame the legislation for Liam Carrolls failures. The LAP process is an important part of producing coherent local planning which extracts a modicum of community gain from developers in return for their developments.
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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Thu Jul 30, 2009 11:49 am

Carroll paid over the odds for a landlocked site which was zoned green space. What the LAP sought to achieve there was a compromise which enabled Carroll and Albion properties (owners of the shopping centre) to develop the site, while also addressing the legitimate concerns of the residents to preserve some of the aforementioned green space.


But this is the very mistake that has ended up screwing Bohemians football club. The council made an assumption that Carroll had bought the land. He didn't, he only bought an option to buy, quite a standard agreement between himself and the club. I think it was done, by way of a genuinely concerned Bohemians football fan director at Zoe, to stop the club giving away it's crown jewels for buttons to man with the shopping centre. Nothing more. But in the process of the council 'dealing' with their obsession with Mr. Carroll, the council have managed to snooker the main party involved, the football club into a complete corner.

Everything in the Phibsboro LAP was based on the assumption that Carroll had waded in the whole way. Which he didn't, and far from it. He has renewed payment of the option and that money the football club has received. The loser here isn't Liam Carroll. He bought something extremely valuable for the equivalent of 'pocket change' to him. He purchased a bargaining chip, an ace up his sleeve, nothing more than that. LC was an expert in acquiring valuable bargaining chips for virtually nothing. The real loser in this is the poor old football club, who will end up on the street if it's luck doesn't change soon. I call for the entire Phibsboro LAP to be scrapped immediately, because it is based on all incorrect assumptions. Assumptions which Liam Carroll was more than willing to allow the councillors to make.

Grow up people. It is all poker. Deal with it.

It is the same in Cherrywood.

The local representatives sat down at the table with a much better card shark and they didn't even know it.

Brian O' Hanlon
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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby parka » Thu Jul 30, 2009 12:14 pm

garethace wrote:One of the senior members of that group told me (while not acting the mick) the consultant architect at Tallaght Cross had to learn the simple fact, that Zoe finishing foremen were in fact the 'client' and that the architects were working for them.


Nothing new there. Most foremen I had the pleasure of dealing with had the same attitude.
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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby reddy » Thu Jul 30, 2009 1:40 pm

garethace wrote:But this is the very mistake that has ended up screwing Bohemians football club. The council made an assumption that Carroll had bought the land. He didn't, he only bought an option to buy, quite a standard agreement between himself and the club. I think it was done, by way of a genuinely concerned Bohemians football fan director at Zoe, to stop the club giving away it's crown jewels for buttons to man with the shopping centre. Nothing more. But in the process of the council 'dealing' with their obsession with Mr. Carroll, the council have managed to snooker the main party involved, the football club into a complete corner.

Everything in the Phibsboro LAP was based on the assumption that Carroll had waded in the whole way. Which he didn't, and far from it. He has renewed payment of the option and that money the football club has received. The loser here isn't Liam Carroll. He bought something extremely valuable for the equivalent of 'pocket change' to him. He purchased a bargaining chip, an ace up his sleeve, nothing more than that. LC was an expert in acquiring valuable bargaining chips for virtually nothing. The real loser in this is the poor old football club, who will end up on the street if it's luck doesn't change soon. I call for the entire Phibsboro LAP to be scrapped immediately, because it is based on all incorrect assumptions. Assumptions which Liam Carroll was more than willing to allow the councillors to make.

Grow up people. It is all poker. Deal with it.

It is the same in Cherrywood.

The local representatives sat down at the table with a much better card shark and they didn't even know it.

Brian O' Hanlon


The Phibsborough/ Mountjoy LAP is a document which covers a vast chunk of the northsides inner suburbs. Liam Carroll had very very little bearing on it.

The plan was for the LAP to capitalise on the opportunities presented by the release of the major land banks in the area for development, controlling and leveraging those developments to enhance the area.

The football club have not been snookered into any corner on the Dalymount site. The LAP is actually the only document to enable the sale of the current stadium by proposing its rezoning under the strict provisos given in the plan.

Liam Carroll is irrelevant. Don't overestimate his or your other developer colleagues' abilities as "card sharks". It is not in fact "poker". Its an honest and decent attempt by the local authority to provide a framework for the proper and sustainable development of the area.
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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Thu Jul 30, 2009 4:43 pm

Thankyou for dealing with those items and making things much clearer for everyone here. I wanted to make certain points for the record and I am satisfied I have made them. The other assumption of course, inherent in the Dalymount section of the Phibsboro/Mountjoy LAP is the outdated notion that all developers are minted. I hope the current front page news stories about Carroll and others only serve to underline the fact they aren't. All they are is people with leverage from our banks and an intuitive sense of how to play poker. In the case of Dalymount stadium it only cost Carroll the change in his pocket to 'test the waters' before wading in the whole way. When the local authority witnessed the name Carroll come up on the radar they proceeded to murder any prospects of making meaningful financial returns from the Dalymount site. That includes whatever hopes Bohemian football club themselves have of selling the site now, to any investors remaining out there.

It is really time we did grow up in this country and stopped making designs that we cannot possibly pay for. The Phibsboro/Mountjoy LAP does make promises to the local population which will be impossible to keep. Worse still, it has been written in legislation. Albeit only the LAP shows the scheme in question. But if that is anything representative of what we will see with NAMA lands (the Dalymount site muted to become a NAMA site) I would be very worried indeed. I will make the same suggestion that I made in relation to the OPW at St. Stephen's Green. If public servants are going to become client representatives for the Irish people, then they should have some level of experience being clients in the real world also. It is simply not good enough for a bunch of A-student architects to sit above in the OPW offices and pretend they know anything about the costs involved.

Regards,

Brian O' Hanlon
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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby jdivision » Thu Jul 30, 2009 4:45 pm

What killed the prospect of financial returns was Carroll and Bohs not doing enough due diligence to find that they didn't control the access point.
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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Thu Jul 30, 2009 5:00 pm

jdivision wrote:What killed the prospect of financial returns was Carroll and Bohs not doing enough due diligence to find that they didn't control the access point.


Thanks for the input. It is well noted.

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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Thu Jul 30, 2009 8:52 pm

parka wrote:Nothing new there. Most foremen I had the pleasure of dealing with had the same attitude.


Parka,

My experience is not as extensive outside the Zoe walled garden as it is inside the same. But I would like to emphasize if I may, that Liam Carroll (and certain directors) did encourage this attitude from their building company, Danninger.


In certain ways, Zoe are not like other Developers.


Other developers could not influence culture, because they outsourced building matters to someone such as Pierse, Hegarty, Paul, Sisk or whoever. Other developers could not effect the culture of the main contractor so much as Liam could. Liam wanted to encourage his trades supervisers on the production line to take some 'ownership' of the product they were helping to assemble. If they were more involved they were also much more committed to the enterprise. There is a huge payback.

Some of the ideas are enshrined in the 'Design Build' concept. I once heard Henchion Reuter architects describe the situation they experience in Germany, whereby they can leave all of the trades to work on a job and be confident to find an excellent quality of finish upon return. Sometimes it is not enough to issue a drawing or a detail. You also have to specify the sequence in which the pieces have to fit together. That is why the Airfix model airplane instruction is such a useful analogy. Because it does give you instructions and it also gives you a sequence.

In Ireland, if you don't add another tedious layer of project management to every job, the finished quality is never good. One trade doesn't worry about the other. Architects don't appreciate the importance of writing the assembly sequence on their drawings for site operatives to follow. Usually the architect throws a whole pile of stuff on the assembly drawing, so that he or she cannot be accused after the contract is signed of not including a dimension or a specification. But the parts that are omitted such as the sequence, is what leads to loss of quality on site.

When I worked on building projects for the food industry, project management was important because food safety demanded that quality was very high. I have met some architects who have worked in medical projects and I find a similar awareness of how the contract should fit together, to achieve best results.


Danninger as it's own client


The Danninger culture had a lot to do with health and safety, and general harmony within Danninger's operation. I was a designer, yet I received no less than 60 hours of health and safety induction with Danninger over a two year period. I wonder now, how I ever managed before. I was completely unaware of the level of risk to live and limb I was designing into my buildings. Again, this is why I would encourage any young architect with sense to work for a company such as Zoe developments. You cannot get this kind of access to knowledge anywhere else. It is worth giving up the work in a high street boutique design bureau for a couple of years, to experience a different side.

To be honest, I use the term sub-contractors to describe an electrician or a plumber working for Zoe. But the real truth is, we never had any subcontractors. In order for a sub-contractor to exist, you need a main contractor. We never had a main contractor. The main contractor was the client. Therefore all of the companies traditionally known as 'sub-contractors' in the case of Danninger were actually contractors.

It wasn't that Danninger foremen thought they were the client. The actually were the client. It was the client's money the external consultant architect was spending. That was the foreman's money by definition, so he or she was interested in how it was spent. Zoe had a system they had evolved over a decade or two and it was tried and tested. If an external consultant architect had to make a change to the system, they would have to go through a whole series of rigorous tests to see how the change would affect the Danninger assembly line.


Adding an Extra Brick course


For instance, when Danninger decided to add an extra brick course, to their apartment floor height a number of years ago, that one change rippled through the entire organisation. Everyone had an opinion and open conversations took place about the impact, that adding this extra brick course would have on everyones' life. That is an additional 75mm to each floor to ceiling height. This is what I am attempting to explain. That Danninger didn't only 'lash it up boys' as Frank McDonald would assume. It was more like how Toyota would operate their assembly line.

It would be a real help if architects could be allowed to work on the assembly line with me at Chapel house, for a period and they would understand that. I was disappointed in the end with Liam, that he pulled the rug out from underneath me. He enabled a few architects to work away from Chapel house and do their own thing. (Although I can see now the kind of options that Liam had available to him at the time were few)

I always felt the few boys who never got to work at Chapel house, lacked some depth of insight into the Zoe culture and client who they were working for. I am not saying that it was always a bed of roses at Chapel house. We worked the exact same hours as the builders did, with the same short breaks in between also. That might seem a bit too much like a factory line to most architects, who have spent years to qualify.

Usually, the cultural conflict would not arise, as the designer, builder and client were all of the same company and spoke the same language. But where the conflict did arise, was where the designer was an external consultant. Then the Zoe culture would prevail over that of the external consultant for the most part. Except when it came to certain things like light switches. But even there, architects still do not understand it is other peoples' money they are spending.


What we don't have yet, but something that needs to be developed in parallel with the National Asset Management Agency, is a way in which architects can earn more money for spending less money. I don't mean to compromise on design. But to get good design and good concepts realized for less money. To get value for money effectively in some way. But the lower the cost, the harder the architect has to work. That is a service he isn't thanked for often by the clients out there.

This is the point I am making about the one brick course that Zoe developments introduced into their production line. Zoe developments somehow found a way, to pay people more in order to find more economical solutions. In the case of the extra brick course, it was added in order to allow enough space for 'cross-overs' between the different fit out trades. That meant that you could hit that 40 apartment per week fit out rate. That is like 6 apartments being finished a day. What Zoe lost in terms of added height to the structure, they gained back in terms of time saved with the fit out trades program.


Has Zoe Developments anything of value to give to NAMA?


The construction management awareness that Zoe developments fostered needs to be at the heart of the NAMA process as far as I am concerned. Designers do have a part to play in that, and can get involved, get experienced working as the 'client' as opposed to merely being an external consultant who does not give a hoot. Effectively we are all the client nowadays in Ireland with €80-90 billion in debt to claw back. That is what is so attractive to me about the Zoe developments company. It could be the model for how we build out these lands and sites, as efficiently as possible, using the idea of brain over matter.

The Zoe system worked because they were designer, client and builder all put together. With the advent of NAMA in Ireland we are very close to achieving that. We, the Irish nation are now incentivized to work harder in order to find ways to spend less of our own money, realizing the value from the NAMA land assets. To achieve that end, we should rely less on traditional contracts and boundary line drawing, between consultant and client. We should set up the assembly line. We should build a lot more for a lot less. The whole idea in my mind is to realize projects of sufficient critical mass to support themselves and become sustainable as places.

Failure in achieving the critical mass, is going to stop strategic development zones such as Adamstown in their tracks. Or potential SDZ's like Cherrywood and so on. As we pick up the right skills to work as both client, designer and builder we will gain confidence in our selves. We can look at exporting our skills and roll out new development on the land assets that NAMA will have abroad. Our building teams can travel abroad to supervise the projects and realise great value there too. It is a big and bright future. Who wants to be a part?


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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby trace » Thu Jul 30, 2009 9:48 pm

Xanax, anybody?
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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Thu Jul 30, 2009 10:03 pm

R O F L

B.
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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby missarchi » Thu Jul 30, 2009 11:45 pm

nama will only get value for money if it is transparent put in a glass box at college green for everyone to watch. Big brother style... Reality nama tv...
The public should be able to vote people off! people are assigned different assets...
like the stock market game with weekly stats in the paper including overheads and expenses ect.... As part of the game they get audited daily and the public can watch there computer screens:D

It does have the making for an amazing reality show maybe RTE will take it on?
The ratings would be huge!
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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Fri Jul 31, 2009 8:48 am

I once listened to an interview with the Irish fashion designer Sybil Connolly, who made an interesting observation about design. She said, that discipline is freedom, discipline is freedom. This was the mantra by which she approached her design work and her life. Bear in mind that Sybil was a designer who could sell six dresses to a United States first lady in one afternoon. Such was her reputation and stature on the world stage. Discipline is freedom. I am reminded of that when I look at the culture of Zoe developments. I began to realise that Zoe were not penny pinchers simply for the sake of being penny pinchers. It was more sophisticated than that. It had something to do with design. The Zoe emphasis on economy enabled them certain latitude or freedom in certain regards.

It purchased them more room to maneuvre as they produced apartments at a rate of six fit out completions per day. One designer at Zoe always emphasized to me, the main danger of being a designer in Zoe is that the production line moves so fast. Your designs can fall way behind the rate at which the building is being built. It was known within the company, as 'being on the back foot'. That is why the fashion industry analogy is so useful. As fashions change and things go out of date, the designer simply must keep pace or be left on the sidelines. I worked on a production line at Dell computers which was similar. It was struggling to keep pace as the price of components going into a product slid down the scale in terms economic value. Every time Intel released a new micro processor, the old stuff took a massive price hit. Dell was always playing 'on the back foot' but it had learned to cope with that.

As far as external consultant architects are concerned, Liam Carroll is simply another developer. As someone on the Archiseek forum eloquently put it: Same shite, different arse. To those architectural consultants I would direct a question, is NAMA going to represent for them, a different arse too? To me, and the thousand or so employees inside the Zoe developments company, Liam was a builder. When we worked on a project, we were all Liam. We were all the client. That is what is so interesting about the company. That is the depth of culture the small circle of directors tried to protect from external interference. External consultants could never see that. As far as the external consultants were concerned, Freedom was Freedom. Re-invent the wheel, re-invent the wheel and re-invent the wheel.

Freedom is not freedom unfortunately. The American and Japanese car manufacturers again provide an interesting contrast. While the Japanese could reduce their production run of cars to quite short cycles, the Americans had to leave the same model on the market long after it had become out of date. How were the Japanese able to re-tool, and re-integrate all the components of a complex item such as a car in such a short cycle? This is a very important question. Because everyone these days wants to know what is the 'cycle' in which the new National Asset Management Agency will have to operate. According to economist Peter Bacon, no one knows the answer to this. But it probably is in the region of five to ten years.

According to economist Constantin Gurdgiev, the cycle might last 18 to 23 years. This is why I suggest that lean production and lean design techniques pioneered inside Zoe development's walled garden could be of so much use. In terms of controlling the market, the consumer and shortening the length of the cycle. With a lean manufacturing production system for buildings we can aim our cross hairs much more accurately at what the consumer will need at any given time and place. Make no mistake about it, Zoe developments was the Irish equivalent of Dell computers or Toyota car manufacturer. But instead of treating it with the respect it deserves, Irish journalists and opinion makers want to drag it into the muck. On this day that Zoe developments finally goes for the chop, have people should try to have some pride. Pride might be all that we have left to give our children.

The answer is to be found in Irish fashion designer Sybil Connolly's mantra: Discipline is Freedom. Zoe developments could unlock the value of so many different sites, and in such short cycles because discipline was at the heart of their enterprise. Every time that an architect approaches a site or project it becomes the equivalent of designing an entire new production car model. The overhead of such an exercise is simply mind boggling. I fear that is the main stumbling block for execution of the NAMA scheme. I can see it in so many of the social housing projects executed by Irish architects throughout the Celtic Tiger era. Some better than others no doubt. But every project designed and built by an Irish architect had less of the basket weave, and more to do with trying experiments using the client's money.

In every single case, regarding NAMA that will mean more tax payers money squandered on experimentation by our consultants. We will have to start getting smarter than that in Ireland if we want to survive at all. If we want to dig our way out of this €80-90 billion hole. We will have to invent new approaches. There is no other way to tackle this monster undertaking. When I look back at the Celtic Tiger now, I do not look at the couple of flashy over-the-top statements made by some forgotten Irish architect. But I do find comfort in gazing upon the basket weave created by Zoe developments. NAMA would do well to pay attention to this, as it looks at how to execute its own business.

That is the tough choice that Mr. Justic Kelly faces in the Commercial court today. Whether to allow Zoe developments to breath for another 80-100 days or not. I would enjoy watching Zoe bite the bullet as much as the next man would. It has been pointed out by people more intelligent than I, Liam Carroll was highly leveraged and gambling a lot with other peoples' money. On the other hand, if we take Zoe developments out of the equation, regarding NAMA, we are left at the mercy of our architectural consultants.

That prospect I do not look forward to at all. The RIAI members do not know how to innovate any new business models for lean design and construction. If Zoe was to survive long enough to limp its way into NAMA, I would strongly suggest that no external consultant architects be allowed to work for it. They would only continue to suck it dry as they have always tried to do. An alternative strategy I would envisage, is for the architects to work for the company, and become the client. Gaining the experience that the Irish nation will need, in order to become the managers of the €80-90 in toxic assets.


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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby pedropod » Fri Jul 31, 2009 1:58 pm

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2009/0731/breaking63.htm

looks like the jig might be up for Zoe Developments
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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Fri Jul 31, 2009 2:06 pm

Thanks for the link. Probably for the best. Lets close the book.

(Almost literally in my case . . . I hope I have managed to capture some cultural artifact of what the company was about for posterity to research and study . . . while Frank McDonald's analysis down through the years has been extensive and lengthy, it did not have the advantage of an insider's point of view. McDonald's analysis is still exceptionally valuable)

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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Fri Jul 31, 2009 6:32 pm

-

What the barber had to say


I spoke with my barber the other day. You know those guys who know everything in the whole world about everything? They even know more about things than taxi drivers do. Although, taxi drivers still have the edge on certain subjects. What my barber told me on this occasion I think is very true. Ireland is a small and agile, clever and well educated nation. It doesn't take much to turn it around. We can fight back and we will. However, the barber inserted a qualification I hadn't thought about. It doesn't take much to screw up the system in Ireland. I think NAMA is proposing to unlock the system again and get us back on some kind of track.


Two different problems


Listening to the Minister for Finance being interviewed today on the radio, he made a valid point. He made a distinction between two things. On the one hand, there is a capital adequacy problem with the Irish banking system. On the other hand there is a crisis in the financial affairs of the Irish state. These are two problems we need to identify clearly and deal with separately. It is unfortunate for government that both are coming at them at once. But as Ruairi Quinn suggested, there are a lot of members in the Dail. Fianna Fail do not have a monopoly over wisdom.

Investors all over the globe suspect Irish banks aren't holding enough capital to cover their property loan positions. A possible source of where that suspicion came from is offered to us by this excellent web site, Quotes from the Irish Property Boom. Irish TV presenter Liz O'Kane seems to have played a starring role.

http://quotesfromthebubble.blogspot.com/

If your house is on the market for a long period of time - i.e, 8 to 12 weeks - psychologically there is negativity going to be thrown at it. Potential buyers - even though they haven't viewed the property - may say 'God, there's something wrong with that house because the board's been up such a long time'.


This sort of worldwide perception of Ireland as a nation, is the problem the Irish banking system is having to deal with. They are getting laughed out of the market place whenever they go out with their begging bowls. It is preventing Irish banks from obtaining cash flow at sustainable rates from the world market. In other words, the Irish nation is being left to 'starve' of cash flow, having enjoyed the lion's feast for the past decade. As Liz might say, we are having 'negativity thrown at us'.

The Irish banking service problem is a supply side problem. On ther other hand, the problems with the Irish state are more like a demand side problem. The services the state are providing to its people are too expensive for what it can manage using tax income alone. As a consequence, the Irish state is having to borrow from the world markets in order to keep its services functioning as normal. Of course, this further compounds the problem of world wide investor perceptions of Ireland. How they view our country. Elaine Byrne wrote something about it here.

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2009/0728/1224251492393.html

O’Brien, who personally made nearly a quarter of a billion arising from the sale of an asset granted by the State and immediately afterwards became a tax exile, has become an unlikely knight in shining armour for the Irish taxpayer. “We’ve had to take the fight to the tribunal otherwise the Government will be faced with a massive claim for damages,” he told the Sunday Times.



How did the experts get it so wrong?


This question of how did all of the 'experts' in property during the Celtic Tiger (especially Liz) get it so wrong? This question keeps cropping up in my mind. Indeed, how did all of the experts in property during the Celtic Tiger get it so horribly wrong? The one thing in my mind, we should bear in mind with property in Ireland is the following. That banks depended upon property for 70% of their loan business. That is what went wrong.

There weren't enough developers out there, that the Irish banks could throw their money at. In fact, as I have previously argued, after Charles Haughey gaves orders to Irish banks to start 'pouring concrete' about twenty years ago, the Irish banks effectively became property developers themselves. Banks took it upon themselves to become 'champions' of economic prosperity within our shores. That is what went wrong.

It reminds me of the rallying call of 'Green Murphy' over in London in the 1960s to Irish navies. 'Make noise lads, or go home to Camden Town'. Making noise is exactly what the Irish banks set about doing. They really out did themselves. I have discussed the problems that exist when an Irish bank becomes a property developer. Health and safety on building sites is one massive issue. To solve that difficulty, the Irish banks needed an intermediary to stand in their place.


Anybody male, around six foot tall, looking good in a suit for the newspapers would do. Anybody who would look reasonably convincing in other words. (That rules me out straight away) These patsie's became the eventual fall guys for the Irish property bust. But no developer I know did it for the money. Many of them had more than they could spend in a life time. They were property developers because they liked doing it. They were of the construction industry and they couldn't help it. Plain and simple.


Why McGregor matters


But the Irish banks identified this instinct and abused it too much. My point is as follows. Because the Irish banks were effectively playing as property developers, but were separated from the workings of the market and the industry by an intermediary player, the developer, they were not part of the feedback loop. NAMA should not and cannot afford to make that same mistake. It is nice in theory to think one can house fifty guys in the Treasury Building on Pearse Street. But it will not work unfortunately. That is the point I tried to cover in my 'Discipline as Freedom' blog entry earlier.



I penned what I hope will be one of my final blog entries in this extended series on the subject of property and bad loans. The blog entry was designed to show to people that consultants working for developers were often blind to the industry and its culture.



There is a need in Ireland for the ideas of Douglas McGregor to be taken very seriously as we depart on the NAMA project. To that end, I do suggest that banking institutions and financial providers, whether it be NAMA or Irish banks, evolve into organisations that can learn directly from the business of building.

Perhaps if the Irish banks had not been so blinded by having to work through an intermediary person, such as a developer, the Irish banks would have had much better instincts. Instincts which would have alerted them much earlier to worrying trends and diverted them away from fatal actions. Keeping the sort of pretence which they had to, is what caused most of the problems. Information needs to flow back to the fiancing institutions much faster. Those clowns in the suits who were the 'made up' Irish property developers were not interested in working to provide the feedback quickly enough.


Billion Euro mistakes in rescue plan


I suggest that we adopt a construction model like that of Zoe developments. A model that will enable us to change the production lines quickly, to re-shape and re-configure the built product to cater to the needs of the market place. However, unlike Zoe developments we need information to flow back to the financing institution in real time. Instead, what happened in Zoe development's case, is that Mr. Judge Kelly has to drag it out, bit by bit from Liam Carroll today. The way I see it, Irish banking officials working in glass buildings with hoovered carpets don't understand the property world well enough. That was certainly a part of the problem during the Celtic Tiger. We need our financing institution from now on to shout much louder when information is coming too slowly and in poor quality.

It took Mr. Judge Kelly to point out errors of a quarter of a billion Euro in Zoe's December 2008 rescue plan. DunLaoghaire Rathdown county council it was revealed this week, were charged twice for a bill of a million euro by Zoe developments. In addition to another €57 million that somehow got lost in the system. How can this sort of messing continue, and we hope to borrow any money from the international market? This is why I think Douglas McGregor's writing should be of so much guidance to Irish banking institutions and to NAMA today.


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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby KerryBog2 » Sat Aug 01, 2009 9:47 am

Garethrace
The number and length of posts written by you compared to the few responses makes this a blog in the wrong place.

IMO, this is topic has descended into fantasy or worse.

For example:
garethace wrote:- I suggest that we adopt a construction model like that of Zoe developments.


And later:
garethace wrote:-It took Mr. Judge Kelly to point out errors of a quarter of a billion Euro in Zoe's December 2008 rescue plan. DunLaoghaire Rathdown county council it was revealed this week, were charged twice for a bill of a million euro by Zoe developments. In addition to another €57 million that somehow got lost in the system.


Says it all about Zoe’s internal controls, the ineptness of their finance dept, and the bordering on criminal unprofessionalism of their external accountants who signed off on that application.

And you consistently suggest that they get involved with running NAMA?????

Move on.
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