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James Horan and Mayo, ready to give it all again

Voice Of EU



A few days after Mayo’s seismic win over Dublin, a media gathering was hastily convened in MacHale Park. The Castlebar stadium has rarely looked so desolate. The grass has been burned off as part of an extensive re-laying of the pitch. The coffee kiosks were bolted. Birdlife habituated the covered stand.

It was among the empty bleachers that James Horan stood contemplating what stands, so far, as his finest managerial hour. And you could tell that the Ballintubber man had already travelled many miles away from that victory since. The great Larry Bird line best reflects Horan’s approach to bettering Mayo: ‘I never wonder. And I never look back.’

The next step for Horan began not long after Dublin’s long reign had ended.

“You get about 15 or 30 seconds after the game where you enjoy it and your head kind of races forward after that to be honest,” he conceded. “Ah look it was brilliant. We’ve challenged Dublin for a long time so to beat them is important for us and for the development of the group.”

In work or general life it is very rare you get something that is so pure and so honest

Stoicism has been Horan’s guiding light since he became the leftfield choice to manage Mayo in 2011. As the questions flew about the stand, he thought for a second before responding to the idea that you need to be obsessive to take charge of such a big football entity.

“I don’t know if it is an obsession. You definitely need to be a bit mad so borderline obsession is probably fair. But I love what I am doing. It is not too often you have a bunch of guys pulling the same way trying to improve and grow without any major complications.

“In work or general life it is very rare you get something that is so pure and so honest. So delighted to be part of that and try and help in some way to make it happen. There is madness and stubbornness, which are important from a manager’s point of view.”

Right decision

When Horan was speaking, Mayo’s All-Ireland final opponents had yet to be decided. The controversy over the Covid-enforced delay felt far away from Mayo. It wasn’t something that Horan had given much thought to, other than to say that he believed the GAA had reached the right decision in delaying the game.

“I think probably overall it would be the right thing to do. I just can’t imagine a team getting a bye into an All-Ireland final. I am not sure any team wants that. But it is delicate. What if a team gets one or two cases? Do we kick everything to touch? There is that danger at club level. But I think in the interests of fairness it was the right call.”

Mayo were hit with a Covid outbreak before they played Leitrim in the Connacht championship so Horan could empathise with the logistical nightmare it imposes.

James Horan and Mayo finally engineered a way past Dublin in the All-Ireland semi-finals. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho
James Horan and Mayo finally engineered a way past Dublin in the All-Ireland semi-finals. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

“It’s very tough. The training beforehand . . . the weekend of the Leitrim game we were tested the Friday, the Saturday. We were tested Sunday morning and we had split the team into three different groups so they couldn’t inter-mingle before the game until the results came back. And all that kind of stuff. That is crazy compared to normal preparation. Then there is obviously how healthy and strong the players are feeling. So it is far from ideal for sure.”

The concern has lessened now that the entire Mayo squad have gone through the vaccination process. The voracious energy behind Tyrone’s extra-time win over Kerry last Saturday has produced a tantalising All-Ireland final that promises to be less a match than a head-on collision. Horan smiled when asked if, in this whole project, winning an All-Ireland title is the be all and end all.

“It would certainly be nice. We’ll stick to what we are doing. Absolutely, looking forward to winning games. But for two years we have been growing and developing every week and that is our focus and what we will keep on doing. Obviously we have plans to win as much as we can but growth and development is a huge focus in the day to day.”


Horan’s even disposition has acted as a calming device through a mad football decade for the county. The big wins have been kept in context – as have the epic, hyper-dramatic defeats the county has endured. Covid obviously kept the squad at a remove last winter. But throughout this summer they have gone about the business of showing up again in a low key manner.

“We have a lot of well wishers in Mayo but the sessions we have are great reference points for us all,” he says about absorbing the latest welling of expectation.

Mayo’s Padraig O’Hora and Ryan O’Donoghue after the semi-final win over Dublin. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Mayo’s Padraig O’Hora and Ryan O’Donoghue after the semi-final win over Dublin. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

“It is just the group together and we can manage our stuff from there. There is great goodwill out there and we appreciate it and are very aware of it but it’s important that we just keep on doing our thing.”

Perhaps it helps, too, that they have been on the road, moving from pitch to pitch around the county for their weekly training sessions, relying on the kindness of strangers and all that. Setting up an inter-county session is a huge operation – unpacking all the equipment, the gear, the food, the water.

“We have a big van,” Horan explains with a touch of mischief when asked how they manage to do it on a touring basis. “ So we can fill a lot of stuff in that. Liam Ludden is in charge of that and is in two or three hours before us and has it everything set up. It is a fairly slick operation at this stage. So it doesn’t matter where we train.”

That’s been the mantra always. Get on with it. Get better. By mid-afternoon, the interviews were over and the only sign of life in MacHale Park – beating heart of Mayo football and all that – was a big digger up at the Bacon Factory End. The Mayo football team had gone underground again.

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How the cost of renting an apartment in Copenhagen compares to other cities in Denmark

Voice Of EU



With the arguable exception of second city Aarhus, Copenhagen is significantly more expensive to rent housing than anywhere else in Denmark.

But the extra cost in the capital depends on where else in Denmark you compare with, as well as the type of housing you rent.

Private or general housing?

First, it is important to note the difference between the two main types of rental housing in Denmark: private rentals and almene boliger (literally, ‘general housing’), a form of subsidised housing.

For almene boliger, local municipalities put up 10 percent of building costs and in return have the right to decide who is allocated one in four available apartments, enabling them to provide housing to municipal residents who need it. The housing therefore plays a role in the social housing provision.

This type of housing is normally managed by a boligforening or housing association. Rent goes towards costs of running the housing and to pay off the housing association’s loans, which means property owners aren’t profiting from rents and prices are controlled.

Aside from housing assigned by the municipality, almene boliger are open for anyone. However, to get one, you must get to the top of a waiting list, which you join by signing up with associations which operate housing in the city where you live (or want to live).

In Copenhagen or Aarhus, it can take years to get to the top of these lists, while in smaller cities you might get an offer in weeks or even days.

As such, many newcomers to Denmark must turn to the private rental market if they are living in one of the main cities.

READ ALSO: Deposits, complaints and registration: Five key things to know about renting in Denmark

Private housing: Copenhagen clearly pricier 

A study conducted by housing research centre Bolius in November 2020 found the cost of a 56 square-metre apartment in Copenhagen’s Nørrebro district to be 8,536 kroner per month.

The study, which was based on data from 2019 and 2020 from rental platforms and, shows the average monthly cost of non-limited private apartments on Nørrebro, compared with 16 other locations in Denmark.

The cost takes into account the cost of a deposit (normally three months’ rent) and adds it to the average cost of renting the housing for five years (thereby assuming none of the deposit is returned to the tenant).

In comparison to the price in Nørrebro, the study found rent in Hillerød north of Copenhagen to be slightly less (8,218 kroner) for a slightly larger apartment (65 square metres).

Moving further out from Copenhagen, costs begin to drop even more.

In Kalundborg on the west coast of Zealand, you can rent a 71-square-metre flat for 5,167 kroner per month. Næstved, a commuter town between Copenhagen and the Great Belt Bridge, comes in at 6,039 kroner for an apartment at 72 square metres.

The cheaper rents are consistent further to the west, exemplified in Jutland cities Aalborg (5,544 kroner for 62 square metres), Vejle (6.696 kroner for 84 square metres) and Esbjerg (4,399 kroner for 54 square metres).

Although Aarhus is not included in the study, third-largest city Odense is. Here, there is still a significant saving on Copenhagen, with 8,488 kroner, a similar rent to that in Nørrebro, getting you an apartment over 50 percent bigger at 82 square metres.

General (almene) housing: closer, but still higher in Greater Copenhagen

Rent prices for almene or subsidised housing were most recently analysed in a 2020 report by Landsbyggefonden (National Building Foundation), a support institution for the social housing sector.

According to that report, the rent for family housing (meaning housing not reserved for students or seniors) is “on average, approximately 100-200 kroner per square metre higher [per year, ed.] east of the Great Belt Bridge than west of it”.

Of the five administrative regions, average rent for family subsidised housing is highest in Greater Copenhagen at 906 kroner per square metre for a year’s rent.

The lowest rents can be found in South Denmark, where the yearly cost is 722 kroner per square metre.

Zealand is the region that comes closest to Copenhagen on the costs for this type of regular housing. Here, tenants can expect to pay 859 kroner per square metre in a year. The equivalent costs in Central Jutland and North Jutland and 778 kroner and 747 kroner respectively.

The study also places Greater Copenhagen as the most expensive region when rents are presented as the median monthly rent for family housing.

Here, the median values are split into five categories based on apartment size, with Copenhagen coming out as the most expensive region for each category.

For example, the median monthly rents for apartments between 50-60 square metres are as follows: 5,039 kroner (Greater Copenhagen); 4,913 kroner (Zealand); 4,541 kroner (Central Jutland); 4,388 kroner (North Jutland); 4,236 kroner (South Denmark). The national average is 4,667 kroner.

Sources: Domea, Bolius, Landsbyggefonden

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Officials pushed for State to buy direct provision centres from private firms

Voice Of EU



The Government should buy a number of privately-owned direct provision centres as a “priority” as it would be more “cost effective” for the State to run the facilities for asylum seekers, international protection officials have said.

The savings arising from owning the accommodation centres rather than paying private contractors to do so “could be considerable”, departmental briefing documents provided to Minister for Children and Integration Roderic O’Gorman last year state.

The vast majority of direct provision centres are currently owned and run by private companies, with accommodation providers having received some €1.6 billion since 1999, including €183 million last year.

The latest figures show some 7,150 people are in the system of seven State-owned sites and 39 private centres. A further 24 commercially-owned premises are being used to provide emergency accommodation for asylum seekers.

The briefing document, released to The Irish Times under the Freedom of Information Act, says that housing people seeking asylum in State-owned centres would provide the “best protection from the vulnerability of present market reliance”.

“They are also much more cost efficient to run, and the State owns the asset,” it notes.

The document suggested that State centres should aim to accommodate 5,000 people, and “allowing the private sector to supply the rest is regarded as an achievable and reasonable target”.

The purchase of existing centres from private providers “to immediately boost the State’s footprint in this area should be considered as a priority,” the internal document said.

“Some service providers may be open to this and the market appears to be favourable at present,” it said.

The internal briefing suggested the department could then seek private companies or NGOs to run the centres, which would be a “competitive cost option”.

‘Badly needed’

Ongoing maintenance for centres owned by the State was also “badly needed,” as current pressures on the Office of Public Works (OPW) meant it was not possible “for immediate repairs to be done if required”.

“In exploring the model of more State centres, we need to agree and acquire a capital budget,” the briefing stated.

“State land does not require planning permission for new centres as the Minister has a power under the Acts, whereby the OPW can grant the planning permission and this is usually a three-month process. It is not subject to appeal.”

The document says that State centres “can also have a bigger footprint as it will be a permanent fixture in the locality”. In recent years a number of plans for private providers to open direct provision centres in regional towns have been met with protests from locals and anti-immigration activists.

Mr O’Gorman’s department has sought to reform the direct provision system and is seeking to replace the network of centres with a new system of accommodation and supports by the end of 2024.

New centres

A department spokesman confirmed the State has not bought any new centres since the briefing note was written. The spokesman said under the planned overhaul of direct provision, asylum-seekers who arrived into the country would initially be housed in a number of reception and integration centres.

Asylum-seekers will spend a maximum of four months in the reception centres before moving into housing secured through Approved Housing Bodies.

“These centres will be State-owned and purpose built to provide suitable accommodation for approximately 2,000 people at any one time, to cater for the flow-through of the 3,500 applicants over a 12-month period,” he said.

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IN PICTURES: French daredevil takes hair-raising Seine tightrope walk

Voice Of EU



Attached by a strap to a safety lanyard, 27-year-old Nathan Paulin slowly progressed barefoot on a line stretched across the river between the Eiffel Tower and the Chaillot Theatre.

He stopped for a few breaks, sitting or lying on the rope.

Paulin holds an umbrella as he performs, for the second time, on a 70-metre-high slackline spanning 670 metres between the Eiffel Tower and the Theatre National de Chaillot. (Photo by Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP)

“It wasn’t easy walking 600 metres, concentrating, with everything around, the pressure … but it was still beautiful,” he said after the performance on Saturday.

He said obtaining the necessary authorisations had been a difficulty for him, plus “the stress linked to the audience, the fact that there are a lot of people”.

Photo: (Photo by THOMAS COEX / AFP)

Paulin, holder of several world records, performed the feat to celebrate France’s annual Heritage Day – when people are invited to visit historic buildings and monuments that are usually closed to the public.

He said his motivation was “mainly to do something beautiful and to share it and also to bring a new perspective on heritage, it is to make heritage come alive”.

He had already crossed the River Seine on a tightrope, on Heritage Day in 2017.

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