Nobody is using Eircode, and why should they? It’s deliberately designed to be obscure, opaque and incapable of rational understanding. It consists of digits and letters that give no clue as to the location they represent. Going by the Eircode, your house and my house might as well be on Mars and Neptune even though we live next door to each other and that’s not by chance. By its very nature, it’s random, though the reasons for that are still a bit ambiguous. Proponents of Eircode explain that you can’t have a sequential list of numbers or digits because then it would be impossible to go back and insert a new code if somebody happened to build a house between yours and mine. (Not that we’d ever allow a thing like that to happen).
This argument is known in the trade as bollocks. Of course a code could have been devised to allow such a thing to occur, over and over if necessary. They just didn’t want it that way.
But why? you must be wondering. Why couldn’t we just go out and assign grid references to every single location on the face of the earth, or at least on our little patch of it? Wouldn’t that identify uniquely exactly where your house is, no matter how remote, and no matter how many people with the same surname live near you?
Well, yes, but that would be logical and this, after all, is Ireland. It wouldn’t do to simply do the logical thing when instead you could set up a working group to study the problem. Of course, the working group would have to be broadly based, so it would be necessary to have meetings all over the country, meetings people would have to drive to and claim expenses for. There would have to be overnights, obviously, and fact-finding trips to see how they do it in other countries. Many fact-finding trips to foreign countries. Very important.
Then there would have to be focus groups, overseen by a high-powered task force consisting of senior civil servants who naturally would have to attend all the meetings around the country and abroad.
But the most important thing of all would be to make sure that none of the focus groups or the task force contained even a single person with the technical skills to analyse the problem or to challenge the claims of contractors looking for the work.
The next stage in the Irish system is to draw up a request for proposals, which must be kept as vague as possible. It’s very important at this stage to ensure that at least half the entire budget has already been used up and that the Minister has no politically-viable way of backing out. From now on, your Minister becomes a mouthpiece who will defend everything you do, to avoid looking like a fool. Once you achieve this, you are untouchable, and if you happen to be a mid-ranking civil servant you can look forward to a promotion no matter how badly the project fails.
After the request for proposals comes the selection of the consultant. Again, at this stage it’s very important to make sure that nobody on the selection team has the slightest understanding of what the technical issues are. All competent people in your department must be kept well away from this critical process. On no account permit scientists, engineers or information technology specialists anywhere near this phase. They will destroy all your hard work with well-researched facts and logical objections.
The consultant will now prepare a schedule of deadlines which you must follow. Each of these deadlines involves your team signing off on a crucially-important step in the development process. When a deadline approaches and your team is under pressure, the consultant will offer to supply technical support at a rate of, let’s say, €3,000 per day per adviser. This will help your team to meet the deadline and sign off on the stage they still don’t understand.
Once this process is complete, your Minister is now embedded in it up to his neck, with no way out. Don’t worry if you have now exceeded your budget by 50% or more. This is a good thing. Your path to Secretary General is looking smoother by the day.
Meanwhile, these inconvenient chaps in Goggle or Geegaw or Smeegle or whatever it calls itself have just come up with a map thingy. And it’s free, which doesn’t fit in with your plan at all.
And so, you send your Minister out to talk on the radio, on a show where RTE obligingly provide a presenter who has not the slightest idea what Goggle or Grumble or Gaggle actually does, and your Minister gets a clear run to talk utter bollocks for fifteen minutes because the eminent journalist fails to ask him the single most important question, which is this:
Eircode cost €50 million to develop. In what material way is it superior to Google Maps, which is available at no cost?
Analysis: when is a postcode not a postcode?