Tech firms must start to invest in Dublin infrastructure for all

Technology companies and the high-end employment they bring are generally seen as a desirable and welcome addition to any city or region. But are they?

 Internationally – certainly, here in the Republic – courting such companies is part of national, regional and local policy. Every place wants to be a local re-interpretation of Silicon Valley (though former Stanford University president John Hennessy once told me he advised visiting delegations eager for a quick digital economy development recipe that first, you need, oh, about 100 years).

 Not everybody is thrilled by a tech company influx. In the heart of Silicon Valley, Palo Alto residents complain about their downtown buildings being taken over by tech firms and start-ups.

 Further north, tempers have boiled over in San Francisco into protests against already-expensive rents pushed ever higher. And as public transport struggles with underfunding and ridership, Valley tech companies lay on plush private transport buses for employees resident in the city but working further down the peninsula.

 For years now, up and down the ever-expanding region known as Silicon Valley and in other US tech-saturated regions such as Austin, Boston, New York and Seattle, a leading concern has been the growing economic segregation – linked to racial segregation – that sees the “gentrification” of predominantly African-American and Latino neighbourhoods into predominantly white areas.

 In San Francisco, the mostly black Fillmore and mostly Hispanic Mission districts that I once knew have flipped to become white hipster-dense zones with high rents and the demise of local businesses.

 Dublin, too, has changed, though here, with less ethnic diversity to begin with, the shift has been class-defined. Consider the docklands, formerly a mostly working class inner city zone, where new housing developments now command high rents and artisan coffee has staged a beverage coup.

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