Archives for posts with tag: Lisbon

Cork Harbour is often described locally as “the second largest harbour in the world”. For a long time, I’ve been somewhat sceptical of this claim, so I decided to compare its size to other harbours using the MAPfrappe website. With this website, you can quickly compare locations with other sites around the world. I used it a while ago to compare well known islands to Ireland.

First of all, here is Cork Harbour. It’s a natural harbour, dominating a region of 22 km  x 16 km east of Cork City. A very rough estimate of its water-surface area is about 70 sq km, although I am open to correction on this. The land area in the centre is Great island, home to the town of Cobh and connected to the mainland by two bridges, one road, one rail. Less than two kilometres separate the headlands as it meets the sea, making it by any reckoning, a fine, strategically important natural harbour. Its considerable depth in many places allows large ocean going vessels – tankers, container ships and liners – to enter and depart with ease.

CH - Cork Harbour

It’s a beautiful, impressive and fascinating area, full of history and natural beauty. But is it one of the biggest in the world?

According to Wikipedia, its rivals are Sydney Harbour, Halifax Harbour in Nova Scotia and Poole Harbour in Dorset. Let’s see how they compare.

Poole Harbour, Dorset UK

Poole Harbour, UK

Aw look. How cute. Cork Harbour (silhouetted like a horned monster petitioning mariners just outside) wins this one. Poole, incidentally, also thinks of itself as one of the largest natural harbours in the world. I hate to break it to you, guys.

Halifax Harbour, Nova Scotia

Halifax Harbour

Cork harbour wins this one too, even if you were to be generous and start at McNabs island.

Port Jackson / Sydney Harbour, Australia.

Port Jackson

Y’know, I was surprised at this one, because most Corkonians will gladly concede that Port Jackson is larger. It doesn’t look like it here. The main open water areas are at least comparable.

After, these three, the assessment is.. maybe. But then, are there not other spaces that could  rival Cork in size? New York, San Francisco or Rio perhaps?

New York City

New York City

It’s close. Very close. I’d nearly give New York Harbour the edge. Interestingly, the mouth – Verrazano Narrows – is so similar in size to Roches Point / Crosshaven we should really have our own suspension bridge, just for the crack.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

CH - Rio de Janeiro

Rio’s Guanabara Bay looks to me like a proper harbour and it’s clearly bigger than our own – in fact you could possibly fit the whole of Cork Harbour into it.

It gets worse.

San Francisco

San Francisco

Oh this is not good. Cork Harbour looks tiny. And they have a suspension bridge at the mouth of their harbour too.

Oh, and we forgot:

Tokyo

Tokyo

or:

Auckland Manukau, NZ

Auckland Manukau

or, staying in New Zealand:

Kaipara Harbour, NZ

Kaipara Harbour, NZ

Whoa. Still though, we’re big for Europe, right? Right?

I give you:

Lisbon.

Lisbon

and:

Brest

Brest

and finally,

Oslo

Oslo

Folks, we need to take a long, good look at ourselves. Even if we are only the second largest harbour “by navigable area” (a claim I suspect given the sizes of Rio, San Fran and Tokyo, or we want to be pernickety about what harbour really means, we have to content ourselves that the claim “2nd Largest Harbour in the World” is dodgy. Seriously dodgy.

Still beats Dublin, though.

The Irish government over the past 10 years has been a disaster. I hate their arrogance. I hate the fact that we are all going to have to pay through the nose because of their blithe mismanagement of the economy. I wish some of them could see jail time, convicted of the felony of driving a country while hopelessly drunk on power. I hope they are obliterated in the next election. There. I’m glad I got that off my chest.

Nevertheless, I will vote Yes in the Lisbon Referendum. One of the many reasons why I will be voting Yes is precisely because our government were so incompetent.

If we have learned anything in the past two years, it is that government arrogance can lead to extraordinarily bad decisions. During the ‘good times’ it was incapable of listening to good advice, of taking the foot off the pedal, of acting in the best interest of its citizens.  It paid lip service to the longer term needs of its people while it cosied up to the property developers and bankers. Cautionary warnings from the EU were treated with disdain. The perceived “deadweight” of the EU resulted in a lack of urgency defending the first Lisbon referendum against its critics. These chickens came home to roost when this referendum was comprehensively defeated in 2008. Perhaps we need to take take the views of our European partners a bit more seriously in future.

There is an assumption that an Ireland, free from EU interference, could make better decisions, but where is the evidence for this? Before the EU came into being, Ireland was a bloody awful place – conservative, illiberal and pandering to the needs of the well-heeled few. When we did eventually join, these same self-interested forces within our own country fought tooth and nail to prevent even the most basic social and environmental reforms to take place. Without European influence, there would be no such thing as a minimum wage. Our environmental record would be disastrous. Homosexuality and condoms might still be on the banned list. If there is one big achievement of Europe, it is that it dragged this country kicking and screaming into the modern world. I am proud of my country but I don’t think I would be quite so proud of the place if the basic reforms that came with EU membership had not happened during my lifetime.

Another reason I am voting Yes is because I don’t see how giving our government a bloody nose will benefit any of us in the long term. It’s one thing to hurt the government if you see a benefit in doing so, but it is quite another thing if the outcome is a vote for economic meltdown. The outcome of Lisbon is long-term and will transcend many governments in the coming decades. If you have a problem with the government, the place to make that dissatisfaction clear is in the polling booth at the next General Election, not in the referendum, where a negative result will have lasting impacts on our economy.

So for those still thinking of voting No just to give the government a kicking, here’s a handy chart..

Lisbon Flowchart

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