Saturday, December 11, 2010

Brilliant Pearse - Now Marty don't fail us now

Peasrse Doherty made a brilliant speech in response to the budget and many more people in the South are now seeing Sinn Féin as a genuine alternative to the main parties.




Sinn Féin is seen to be fighting for the poor, disadvantaged and marginalised people of this country. Sinn Féin is seen to be offering a modern ecomic alternative to the market based policies that created the current world economic crisis. Sinn Féin is seen to be taking on the priviliged groups in this country and refusing to allow an economic elite to get away with making the working class pay for the mess we are in.

However, in the North Sinn Féin is in a postion of power and is being told by London to make budget cuts of 4 Billion pounds. If Sinn Féin agrees to implementing cuts of this nature, then what the hell are we doing down the South. We cannot oppose cuts in the South and implement them in the North. If we do we will loose all crediblility with the Irish people, and what is worse is that we will be seen as liars.

Sinn Féin must fight for working people North and South and it must refuse to implement the cuts in the Six counties.

Below is Pearse's speech and he outlines for me the direction Sinn Féin must go throughut the island.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Irish Citizen's News : FG & Labour "knowledge economy"

Irish Citizen's News is a punchy news blog providing short news stories and insights into current affairs. Worth bookmarking.

FG and Labour refuse to reverse cuts to students grants


Last night, the "government in waiting", Fine Gael and Labour could not make a promise to strickened students to reverse the cuts to their grants.

The Union of Students in Ireland is furious over the change which it claims will force many to drop out of college.

Anger is mounting over drastic cuts in grants for 25,000 students who will lose €1,700 each on average from next September.

The students will be forced onto lower grants because they live less than 45km from college.

Until now they got the higher 'non-adjacent' grant which kicked in at 24km from college.
 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Fighting RTE censorship - making an official complaint

I came across a few things on Facebook about complaining over RTE bias and today I saw some more material and folks talking about the same so here is an overview of the process. If you dont like RTE bias or other media sources' treatment of Sinn Fein then politely and firmly challenge them. Use the mechanisms in place and within which they must react to put pressure on them. Who knows a multiple of favourable jdgements and things could change very quickly. Everyone can play their part.

Hope this helps some of you get complaints about RTE impartialty and force them to treat SF fairly.

For Broadcasters the relevant body is the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland

Complaining to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland:

(1) http://www.bai.ie/broadcasting_complaints.html

Information on their site about the  complaints process

The Complaint Form to use


I would suspect the categories objectivity; impartiality in news , and fairness and objectivity, impartiality in current affairs would be the main ones relevant here.

Once you identify a broadcast that you believes infringes one of the above then you have under 30 days from the date of broadcast to submit your complaint.


(2) http://www.bai.ie/broadcasting_complaints_complaintprocess.html

When you complete the form it can be mailed, faxed or emailed.

Your must inform the BAI of the name of the programme/advertisement, station, date & time of the broadcast and what legislative requirement/code you feel the broadcaster has not adhered to


The Station name is like : RTE One.

The legislative requirement would be: Broadcasting Act 2009, section 48 (1)(a)(fairness, objectivity and impartiality in current affairs)


Programme name, date and time would be unique of course but make sure you use the correct name, date and time.
Seeing as how its impartiality thats the issue then that seems the best to use. Scroll down to the bottom to see some of the relevant legislation. Full link here - Irish broadcasting act
 
The specific point on which most complaints related to bias or impartiality against SF would be relate to F, O and I. In the making of any complaint it may be useful to repeat the language used by the BAI - they will have a language they use when assessing complaints and phrasing it using their language should be of benefit.


From the BAI.ie it states : Fairness, Objectivity and Impartiality: There is a requirement that all news broadcast by a broadcaster is reported and presented in an objective and impartial manner and without any expression of the broadcaster’s own views. In the treatment of current affairs, including matters which are either of public controversy, or the subject of current public debate, broadcasters must ensure that they are fair to all interests concerned and that the broadcast material is presented in an objective and impartial manner and without any expression of the broadcaster’s own views


That paragraph is effectively the rules within which your complaint will be considered. In order to have a successful complaint then you would need to point out how the broadcaster failed in one of those criteria.

The BAI in turn will evaluate the complaint see and the programme to determine that "every reasonable effort to present a range of significant viewpoints to the matters under discussion and be fair to all interests concerned" has been made. Again a statement within your complaint that it was your belief that broadcaster x on programme Y did not make reasonable efffort to present different view points/ establish impartiality/etc would help to place your complaint within a suitable framework.

The BAI committee may choose to either fully accept, partialy accept or reject your complaint once it gets to the end process so it may be worthwhile specifiying a number of elements to your complaint as done in this example. These case records would prove useful templates for preparing a complaint

It would also seem to be a good idea that the segments of the programme which your complaint is centered around is referenced in your complaint i.e at 14:36 into the show the presenter said ...
This approach would help focus the committee's evaluation to certain areas which they should treat. The whole show though should still remain an element of a complaint as otherwise it may be they will reject the stated instances and a good case might be lost.
 
what hapens when you make a complaint: It will get sent to RTE who will have to reply .

Their response can either be accepted or rejected by the person making the complaint i.e you. In order for your complaint to go to the BAI's excutive complaint forum then you would have to write to the BAI and confirm you are unhappy at the broadcasters response. Once thats done they will analyse your case seriously, discuss it and determine whether they will formally make a judgement against the broadcaster in question. In order to make an impact on the broadcasting policy of RTE a successful formal judgement , or a series of such judgements would be needed meaning that rejecting the broadcasters response in order to achieve a formal review of your complaint would appear the best way to ensure RTE abandoned its biased policy.

as per the BAI.ie :
Initial consideration: if you are not happy with the response to your complaint, you can inform the BAI and your complaint will be given initial consideration by the BAI's Executive Complaint Forum. In this regard, all written material on file, together with the relevant recording of the broadcast will be considered in a collagaite manner by the Forum. If the Forum determines that the issues as raise by you are not borne out by the broadcasting content, the complaint will be considered resolved. If the Forum decides that there are complaint issues borne out by the broadcasting content which require further consideration, the complaint will be referred to the Compliance Committee for assessment.

Compliance Committee: In assessing a complaint, the Authority considers all written material on file together with the relevant broadcast material. The issues are discussed in a collegiate manner at a meeting of the Compliance Committee. If the Committee agrees with the complaint, it will be upheld. If the Committee disagrees, the complaint will be rejected.

A copy of the decision will be sent to the complainant and the broadcaster before its publication

The legislation also provides that broadcasters must broadcast decisions of the Compliance Committee where a complaint has been fully or partially upheld. Broadcasts of this nature must be made within 21 days of the Compliance Committee issuing its decision




48 a

) a complaint that in broadcasting news given by it and specified in the complaint, a broadcaster did not comply with one or more of the requirements of section 39(1)(a) and (b) (

b ) a complaint that in broadcasting a programme specified in the complaint, a broadcaster either did not comply with one or more of these requirements or was in breach of  the prohibition contained in section 39(1)(d)

(
C  ) a complaint that on an occasion specified in the complaint, there was an encroachment by a broadcaster contrary to section 39(1)(e)
d  ) a complaint that on an occasion specified in the complaint,

a broadcaster failed to comply with a provision of a broadcasting code providing for the matters referred to
in section 42(2)(a) to (d) and section 42(2)(f), (g) and (h)

(2) A complaint under subsection (1) shall be in writing and be
made to the Compliance Committee not more than 30 days after—
a  ) in case the complaint relates to one broadcast, the date of the broadcast,(

b ) in the case of 2 or more unrelated broadcasts, the date of the earlier or earliest, as the case may be, of those broadcasts, or
(
c

) in case the complaint relates to 2 or more related broadcasts of which at least 2 are made on different dates, the later or latest of those dates.

(3) The Compliance Committee may, at their discretion, refer the complaint in the first instance to the broadcaster, for consideration in accordance with a code of practice prepared under
section 47(3)
 Section 39:

a

) all news broadcast by the broadcaster is reported and

presented in an objective and impartial manner and without

any expression of the broadcaster’s own views,

(
b

) the broadcast treatment of current affairs, including

matters which are either of public controversy or the subject

of current public debate, is fair to all interests concerned

and that the broadcast matter is presented in an

objective and impartial manner and without any

expression of his or her own views, except that should it

prove impracticable in relation to a single broadcast to

apply this paragraph, two or more related broadcasts may

be considered as a whole, if the broadcasts are transmitted

within a reasonable period of each other,

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

NOW MORE THAN EVER WE MUST FIGHT TO DEFEND OUR NEUTRALITY AND INDEPENDENCE.

AGM OF THE PEACE AND NEUTRAILTY ALLIANCE (PANA)

Roger Cole, Chair of PANA said:


"PANA is really only an idea, as with an annual income of less than €10,000, what else could it be. The idea is that Ireland should be a United Independent Democratic Republic with its own Independent Foreign Policy with neutrality at its heart."

It is an idea that originated in 1790 with Wolfe Tone. Throughout the 19th and early 20th century the Irish political elite gave their allegiance to the British Union and its imperial wars until the 1916 Rising broke their power over the Irish people. It took some time before the Irish imperialists regrouped and the Fianna Fail/Fine Gael/Labour elite gave their allegiance the European Union and its Battle Groups. However, as between 50,000-100,000 Irish people cheered on Saturday 27 as once more the 1916 Proclamation was read outside the GPO, as a clear majority of the people in the Donegal by-election voted for supporters of the Proclamation, we can realistically ask, has the time for that idea come again? As Admiral Mullen, Chair of the US military Joint Chiefs of Staff and the real boss of the US/EU/NATO military axis states war with Iran is being considered, will the Irish political elite be able to sustain their power over the Irish people as they are drag! ged not only into mass poverty but yet another war? PANA has resisted these Irish imperialists since our foundation. We are part of a tradition that has resisted imperialism for 220 years. We shall never surrender."


The PANA AGM will be held in the Ireland Institute, 27 Pearse Street, Dublin 2 on Saturday December 4 from 11.30am-1.00pm with reports from the Chair, Secretary, Treasurer and International Secretary followed by elections. There will then be a public meeting with Alan Mackinnon, Chair of Scottish CND,
Jill Gough, National Secretary of CND Cymru and David Hutchinson Edgar, Chair of Irish CND




Roger Cole
Chair
Peace & Neutrality Alliance
www.pana.ie

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Government has negotiated a terrible deal

In an initial response this evening to the details of the EU/IMF bailout, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said:

“The government has negotiated a terrible deal.

"The 5.8% interest rate is unaffordable. The decision to force the state to take €17.5 billion out of the Pensions Reserve Fund to pour into black hole that is our banking system is a disaster.

“Sinn Féin had proposed €7 billion be taken from the Pension Reserve Fund for a jobs stimulus programme. The Government refused to do this. But now they are prepared to rob the pension fund to give a digout to the bankers.

“The decision to protect bondholders is disgraceful.
“The banks are getting another €15 billion while simultaneously €15 billion is being taken out the economy- out of people’s pockets.
“The costs of this deal to ordinary people will be deep and will result in hugely damaging cuts to public services, social welfare and wages.”

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Republic has not fallen.

If ever there was a proof required that the govt. in Dublin was not capable of defending, encouraging and bringing to full fruition the Irish Republic then the last week was full testament to how they have failed once again. There have been many witty uses of the proclamation text over the last week or so. The Irish Left Review and the Irish examiner both have examples which skilfully set the destructive arrogance of the Fianna Fail govt. in stark contrast against the selflessness and vision of the founders of this Republic. Further commentators have noted that the Republic is dead, disestablished in 2010, last Thursday to be exact. Typically we hear that the patriot dead of the rising and tan war would be spinning in their graves.

The sentiment is understandable. The southern state has suffered a very serious loss of control over its own fate. Its laudable that people are going back to the well - to the proclamation which is not just a historical document but alongside the programme of the first dail effectively the constituting document of the Republic that was founded in 1916.

The anger of people who believe that for all purposes the Republic has fallen due to the actions of the Fianna Fail govt is understandable. Yet its mistaken so far as it believes that the Irish Republic is Fianna Fail's or the Dublin Govt's to destroy.

One version of the oath of the Irish Republican Brotherhood had its members "swear allegiance to the Irish Republic, now virtually established". A republic established in principle in the 1860s and in reality in 1916 is not and never will be Fianna Fail's to destroy.

Which raises the question then of how the men of 1916 would view this. From their own words and their proclamation we know what there vision for Ireland was.

Did they envisage a 'Republic' whose governing class would welcome emigration twice in the space of three decades?

Did they envisage a 'Republic' where you are scared when your relative goes to hospital because it will probably kill them rather than save them?

Did they envisage a 'Republic' where the wealth of a generation was squandered to the defend the interests of a well heeled ascendancy, a native aristocracy of gombeens and arrogant crooks whose interest lays in their own land developer class over the mere Irish.

Did they envisage a 'Republic' which ignored the apartheid statelet's discriminaton to the north?

Connolly who was shot unconscious in a chair hardly would be happy to see an 80 year old woman in Sligo hosptial suffering from Lung cancer being slapped into a chair for the night.

The men of 1916 didnt die to establish Irish sovereignty alone. Each of them had a vision whether it be cultural (which the state is failing), educational (which the state is failing), social equality ( which the state is failing) etc etc.

If the men of 1916 where spinning in their graves last Thursday then they have been doing it for decades.

Last Thursday was a new low, another step away from the Republic, not marking the end of the Republic, but maybe marking the realisation for may people that the so called republic was not a republic and has not been for decades. What was called the 'republic' was an oligarchy geared to the benefit of the few and failing at practically every task it turned its hand to whether that be the development of robust and functioning institutions, a stable economy, a revival of our national language or maintaing fiscal control.

So has the Republic fallen. No it has not. Its still there. The task is the same task it has been for a while now - to dismantle the oligarchical states and replace them with a functioning republic.

The 6 county orange state has been broken down and is being destroyed more and more and now the Fianna Fail state has destroyed itself.

But the Republic still exists and maybe today with the prospect of the end of the gombeen state built by Fianna Fail and tolerated by Fine Gael the men of 1916 are spinning a bit slower in their graves

Saturday, November 20, 2010

TIME FOR CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE IS NOW

TEEU delegates have voted in favour of a campaign of civil disobedience if the Government does not call a General Election.

The emergency motion was passed by an overwhelming majority at the biennial conference of the Technical Engineering and Electrical Union in Galway this morning.
It condemned the Government for what it describes as 'negligence in the management of the economy'.

The union's General Secretary, Eamon Devoy, told delegates that he believes Ireland is on the brink of significant civil unrest.
He attacked the Government's plan to take €6 billion out of the economy in the next Budget.

'When the draconian measures being proposed are heaped on top of the €14.5 Billion cuts already implemented in the last three brutal budgets, life in Ireland will be unbearable', he said.

ICTU General Secretary David Begg accused banks of 'lying through their teeth to NAMA about the value of their loan books.

He told delegates that the Government guarantee to the banking bond holders was 'a terrible mistake' and the trade union movement would not 'acquiesce in the ruination of our society'.

Mr Begg said Congress was calling for a mass mobilisation on 27 November to 'allow ordinary working people to voice their opposition to a policy that could destroy 90,000 more jobs in the short term and any prospect of long term prosperity.'

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Peace and Neutrality Alliance Annual Conference




Peace & Neutrality Alliance Annual Conference


The Annual Conference of the Peace & Neutrality Alliance will be held on Saturday December 4 in the Ireland Institute, 27 Pearse Street, Dublin 2. It will start at 11.30am with reports from the Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, International Secretary and resolutions followed by the elections to the NEC. It is open to the public, but only paid up members can vote.
The second session will be a public meeting commencing at 2.30pm. Speakers are John Macinnon, National Secretary of Scottish CND, Jill Gough, National Secretary of CND Cymru and David Hutchinson Edgar, Chair of Irish CND.

I hope everybody interested in learning more about these three peace movements attend.

Since 1996 PANA has worked to build a broad alliance throughout Ireland to oppose the neo-liberal militarist ideology that offers the people of this country nothing but war and mass poverty. While we have won some major victories, in particular the winning of the first referendums on the Nice and Lisbon treaties the Irish corporate media and all the mainstream political parties have continued to support their wars and their neo-liberal economics.
However the desire of the leadership of Fianna Fail/Fine Gael/Labour Party to continue to support the use of Shannon airport by US troops, the acceleration of the process of the militarisation of the EU and massive cuts in a four year period will absolutely inevitably mean a total transformation of Irish politics. This will however will not necessarily be a "good thing". When Obama got elected with the help of the peace movement in the US he ignored them and did the exact opposite by escalating the war and maintaining then neo-liberal economic ideology. By opposing change, Obama has opened the way for the US Republicans that offer the same but even more of it. In Ireland those that appear to offer change like TASC and Claiming our Future deliberately make no mention of Irish participation in the Imperial Wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and Pakistan or the militarisation of the EU. But there can be no option for social justice in Ireland or elsewhere wh! ile supporting Imperial wars. It is the job of PANA not just to attack the blood soaked warmongers in Fianna Fail but ensure at every stage that opposition to Irish involvement in these horrific wars be an integral part of the emerging political alternative. Neither can this process be achieved in isolation which is why we have invited speakers from Scotland and Wales, taking part in the NO to WAR NO to NATO conference and have continued to build stronger links with other peace groups in the US and other countries. Let there be no mistake. As war and poverty grows, so will the resistance. They will be defeated.

Roger Cole
Chair
Peace & Neutrality Alliance
www.pana.ie

Thursday, November 11, 2010

THE RISE AND RETURN


Below is a piece received from "The Guarantor" on our failure to break through in national opinion polls.


The Rise And Return

Well that is that then ,we are through, them opinion polls say so and the old order of things believe it and crows. Should we believe their words? Hell no.


I for one chooses to ignore them. Opinion polls ha. Do not take them seriously, they insult our intelligence. Pay no attention to them cause it was cooked up by individuals who failed Leaving Cert Maths.


Let us face facts here, we have bitter enemies so called nationalists, unionists and every journalistic hack in the comics wants a piece. I know, you as well as I have long memories. I remember the venom spread about us, the utter trash they came out with about the Republican movement.


So what is our response? Wring our hands in despair? Whinge? Write poison pen letters to the tabloids? Give up? Nah not us. Such is below our dignity, our character. The answer to them all is this we aren’t through with yet. Speaking of their venom reminds me of a poem by A.E.Housman in A Shropshire Lad.


About King Mithridates how he made himself immune to the venom’s in nature.


‘And easy, smiling, seasoned sound,
Sate the king when healths went round.
They put arsenic in his meat
And stared aghast to watch him eat;
They poured strychnine in his cup
And shook to see him drink it up;
They shook, they stared as white’s their shirt;
Them it was their poison hurt.’


They who zealously pursue our destruction have written our obituary prematurely.

Why do they hate us?

Why do they attack us so?

Self interest and fear. It is so because we are power, a wind of change, we have a point, we are on to something here….. We have an idea: A republic. They fear us cause we will succeed.


In our history as republicans in struggle we have remained ,and will remain, steadfast to the idea of a free independent Ireland. All other ideas of ours will change, alter and adapt cause they must. Our core identity, our core belief, will be unaltered standing the test of time - a republic. Heh, if Plato can 2500 years ago says it’s the most perfect form of government available. I tend to agree.


Polybius said ‘Some men give up their designs when they have almost reached the goal; while others, on the contrary, obtain a victory by exerting, at the last moment, more vigorous efforts than before.’


Pessimism and defeatism are the bane of this nation. Micko organised a massive bluff and fooled the Empire and liberated for us 26 counties. It was some game they played in the face of such division at home.


Read Michael Flanagan’s Presidential Address ‘The Strength of Sinn Féin’ to see why I draw such a conclusion. And if the Irish race could stand against such adversity divided, what could we achieve together united?


After Collins and the lads hard fought battle during the Tan War, what happened in the intervening 80 odd years? We know well there were those who quit at that and went no further, resting on their laurels.


As Polybius said.
This is the mark Sinn Féin make we are relentless, unceasing that is the true difference between us Republicans and the middlemen of the Gombeens nation. The people of the Republic will always need Sinn Féin.


So take heart, Things for us are not so bad for us as portrayed.


The gombeens have gifted this island with a 3 fold curse, partition, emigration and debt. Such I call Clan Breaga. And us we have the youth of this country and our hard work, our graft. What are we to do? Wait? No, we are not Labour, who crucially for themselves must decide who they will stand with. To do James Connolly proud, us and Clan Séan Bean Vocht or the middlemen of Clan Breaga.


Today’s our day, if Ireland is to rise anew reborn it is republicans must lead as always. It must be now not some far flung distant date sometime in the future.


The first test of our strength and the republic’s soon November 25th.


Donegal South West. A by election. The FF/Green cabal hell bent to subvert the democratic principles of government to cling on to power for just a wee while longer.

I ask of the voters of this constituency elderly and middle aged accustomed to vote in tribal fashion for FF or FG. Why? Cause of loyalty to what your daddies and granddaddies done? I do not question the brave sacrifice of those individuals but I question rather was this sorry FF/FG axis of power what they fought for. Look at the unemployed, yourselves, your sons and daughters.


Finally to the youth of this constituency , the students, and the emigrants return home to the hills of Donegal. Drop everything cancel everything, nought else matters.


Travel up, return home. Make your plans revolve round this moment. More of the same or something else.

This is your future in an instant.


There is only one man to thank Senator Pearse Doherty, thank only one party,
Sinn Féin, for this opportunity to stand up for Donegal, and indeed for the national interest. Your vote you can bring a government to its knees, to its end. You can alter the fate of this island. Its destiny. Sink it to new lows or raise it up from the mire. Build the republic as it was envisioned. Let the world say of Ireland A people that said enough and no further. Let Ireland say ‘Here stands a Republic our Republic!’


Old Ireland has throughout its history has the gombeen as its enemy.
So do what you can do what you are able.
Write thesis to educate so that you may be free,
Demonstrate to show your opposition so others may be inspired;
Canvass to gain support so that you will be an example
Join Sinn Féin and Vote Sinn Féin
Suas agus troid an naisiun gombeen!


And may our endeavor prove: The Rise And Return


Thursday, November 4, 2010

You makes your bet and takes your chances - facing the bondholders and special interests down

Sinn Féin versus the Bank Bail Out. Rathangan SF blog discusses the Irish banking crisis, the Sinn Fein reponse and the failures of the FF strategy. To see how far Fianna Fail's approach is from reality
you could look at the Financial Times editorial of 01st November which looked on in amazement at the insane strategy followed by Dublin. Even the right wing think FF have lost the plot. Its time to stand upto the bank debt bondholders. If we dont then the economy will likely be crippled.

A few short months ago this blog was both shocked and saddened to read an American headline entitled, "The bank that brought down a nation". Prehaps that wasnt the exact wording, but it was a clear meaning. The Americans, and the rest of the world, were watching in amazement as the Irish government chose covering subordinated bond holders tied to their nations failed banks, over the welfare of its own citizens. The rest of the world were watching our government ignore convention in promising to make Irelands citizens pay for the banking crisis, which they clearly were not responsible for and could only pay for at the expense of their whole way of life.

The recapitalisation of our banks is expected to cost in the range of €45 billion to €50 billion. Over €30 billion is already wrote off to loss in Anglo and Irish Nationwide. Sinn Féin believes that there will be a minimal if not zero return on the funds committed to recapitalising the remaining institutions. The cost of NAMA is not included in these figures. In the worst case scenario, NAMA will cost the Irish taxpayer €40 billion, while the very best scenario still sees the Irish taxpayer €1 billion down.

Sinn Féin believes rather than standing up for the bank bondholders, our government needs to stand up for the Irish people and the future of our economy. If additional billions can always be found for the banks, money can be found for our recovery. The Fianna Fail/Green coalition has it backwards; banks follow the economy; they do not lead it: fix the economy and you fix the banks as well as fix the future.

Certain opposition parties who seem unable to come up with their own progressive economic proposals are spending their time attacking Sinn Féin over our original stance on the bank bail out two years ago. It is true that Sinn Féin supported the original motion, as the guarantee appeared to be a measure to stabilise the entire banking sector which was about to collapse and the party agreed to support it only with the provision of proper terms and conditions. Sinn Féin, along with the rest of the nation were misled on the facts, and when we learned that the terms and conditions provided were inadequate, we voted against it and have done so ever since.

Let no one blur the truth, Sinn Féin is one hundred percent against the bank bail out, and find the fact that the government has refused to reveal the identities of the bond holders to the Irish people, who are bankrolling their get out of jail free card, disgusting. Roman Abramovic recently outed himself as a bond holder and had the cheek to threaten to sue the Irish state if it defaulted on any part of his bond. The fact is, Abramovic invested in a high risk bond with the bank. As the caveat under every financial institution reads - Caution: the value of your investment can go down as well as up.

Sinn Féin believes that the Anglo bondholders must take the hit of their bad investment and the good deposits in the bank must be moved to the now nationalised AIB, which must become a state bank. The banking guarantee as it stands should be abolished immediately, leaving just a depositors guarantee in place.

Sinn Féin refuses to take part in the consensus pretending that the bank bail out and its effects are somehow separate from the rest of the economy, and have no impact on government finances. The bank bail out has heightened the effects of our recession, made recovery much more difficult and left us as a state on our knees before the EU and the IMF. Our international reputation is ruined and despite what Brian Cowen thinks, allowing Irelands citizens and infrastructure to decay in order to save bondsmen will not appeal us to multinational investment. You cannot separate the bank bail out and our government finances, the international markets certainly wont. In reality, the bank bail out places our true deficit in excess of 32%, a truly horrifying figure.

Remember this when the Minister for Finance slashes your social welfare, old age pension, disability payments or single mothers benefits on December the seventh. Remember this when your local hospital loses its A&E, when your local rail line is closed or when your kids cant afford to continue college due to rising fees. This budget has nothing to do deficit reduction. Every cent that is cut from frontline services, welfare benefits and general public spending next year will be redirected at least ten times into our governments bank bail out. You can stop them, but time is running out. It beyond time for the Irish people to pull the rug from under these people, once and for all.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Countries with Death Wishes. David McWilliams questions austerity machismo

David McWilliams wrote a very good piece which effectively demonstrates why the neo-liberal reaganite model is such a failure. Such a model assumes that the interests of business and state are always aligned and the state benefits incidentally as long as business is booming. The more business booms the more the state will boom. Unfortunately it does not work like that does it. The interests of the state (and more accurately the nation) are frequently similar to those of business but most definitely superior to them. Thats where Linehan and company have gotten so lost. They still think that as long as you are slavishly acting in the interests of businesses, property holders or debt holders then somehow that raises the state's boat as well (with a few bob won on the horses as well of course) . Naive men and women blinded by ideology (and personal greed) who are incapable of performing the jobs they hold and as a result need men like Suds and Seanie to tell them how to proceed.
 
David McWilliams:
 
I am writing this article from a ''ghost hotel'' in Leinster. Rumour has it that the business was recently sold for €1, but the hotel itself is probably in Nama.

It will never be worth what it was built for. Today, as well as owning a small part of this hotel, I am the only guest in it. The reason I know this is that, when I asked about the lack of hot water, the very charming hotel manager said that I'd have to run the water for a bit as there was no other hot water being used in the whole hotel.

There were no other guests. The hotel has more than 90 rooms. This is reality in Ireland, and this reality needs to be defined and accepted. The reality is that bank lending is falling, prices in most sectors are falling, lending to residential housing is falling and the economy is in the grips of a credit crunch. People have too much debt and don't want to borrow, and the banks have too much bad debt and don't want to lend.

Against this background, the people who run the country make announcements about ''front loading'' budget cuts as if budget cuts are some sort of clean arithmetic, which has no impact on the economics. This is not arithmetic, it is economics and, in economics, everything is related.

On paper, arithmetic can look clean and incisive, but in reality it affects jobs and people's decisions to spend. It means nights in a ghost hotel and wages for hotel managers, it means Christmas parties and Christmas presents, it means investments in machinery and the difference between some hope and no hope.

Those who best understand the difference between simple arithmetic and complex economics are the financial markets.

Investors want to invest in an economy which has the prospect of growth. If they see that a country is being turned into a large debt-servicing machine, they will pass. If they see that the people who run the state on behalf of the citizens are little more than despised debt collectors for owners of capital, the financial markets will take flight.
 
Read the full article: Death Wish Economics

Monday, November 1, 2010

Just Like That.

How do you get rid of €1.8 billion just like that? Well you dont get goofball comedian Tommy Cooper. Instead you get a goofball finance minister and hey presto the National Pensions Reserve Fund is down by €1.8 billion. The Sinn Fein budget proposals calls for a multi-year investment strategy to reflate the economy using money from the National Pension Reserve Fund. Can anyone seriously tell me that throwing away €1.8 billion in a flash is a better option than using the money to invest in the economy. Yet against all common sense I am sure the Govt. will say it.
As noted on the NamaWineLake blog and taken up again on IrishEconomy.ie Lenihan has engaged in another bail out of AIB shareholders and subordinated debt holders for reasons that are hard to fathom.
Brian Lenihan made a statement of October 30 that "AIB's upcoming €5.4 billion will be fully underwritten by the National Pension Reserve Fund Commission (NPRFC) at a fixed price of €0.50 per share."  The catch as noted by Karl Whelan is "Unfortunately, the shares closed on Friday at €0.337."
So the way things are being set up the Fund is going to drop an impressive €1.8 billion when those shares are bought. So what would be the alternative. IS there an alternative. Well one possible option layed out is " Cancel the underwriting, nationalise the bank and appoint an assessor to value the shares. If, for instance, the shares were valued at their closing price on Friday, this would cost us €364 million. Which sounds better? Losing €1.8 billion or losing €364 million. Is it worth €1.4 billion to retain a tiny private ownership share?"
Which again would be the SF position. Get these banks nationalised. Grasp the nettle and stop trying to keep them in private hands via huge, unwarranted state subventions for no benefit to the state.
How can Brian Lenihan agree to just provide a 1.8 Billion subvention simply to avoid nationalisation. They are totally in hock to the bond holders and the developers as noted by Martin Ferris and Pearse Doherty. And the property developers and bond holders are no fools. There advise is good advice. Good for bond holders and good for developers. Indeed the only fools here would appear to be the Min. of Finance and his team who despite all their pro-market fawning have only succeeded in driving interest rates over 7%.
They have brought us to the Greeks level of debt. The way things are going we'll end up fire saling every single asset which will be bought for next to nothing by investors. That may well be the end game here.  

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Housing advice from developers and debt advice from debt holders

Over the last week the SF Oireachtas team put the focus right on the grossly negligent decision of the govt. to continue to take advice (and act in the interest of) property developers while at the same time relying on bond holders to give advice on dealing with the economy. The south of Ireland is now a profit center designed to maximise returns for a few business interests rather than a state seeking to guarantee the highest standard of well-being for its inhabitants.

Bond Holders:

The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Workers Rights, Martin Ferris TD has claimed that the Government’s austerity programme is not only designed to pay for failed bondholders and speculators but is being advised by them. He referred to the fact that the Chairperson of Goldman Sachs Peter Sutherland whose Asset Management section holds Anglo Bonds has been advising the Government on the cuts.


Deputy Ferris said: “Apart from the economic and financial issues that we have discussed here for the past few days there is the whole moral and ethical aspect of the situation.

“All of the proposed misery is being planned to benefit failed speculators among whom are the Anglo bondholders. There are websites which have published the names of these companies and there are discussion groups on the internet about it. And yet no national newspaper here has regarded it as of sufficient importance.

“While most of the bondholders are European based there are Irish connections and no doubt some of our fine patriotic and charitable tax exiles have their noses in the trough.

“More importantly perhaps is the connection between all of this and the fact that representatives of these people are advising the Government on how best to make the rest of us pay for their mess.

“Take Peter Sutherland for example. He has held various high positions in this state and on behalf of this state abroad. His views are still given a lot of credence and he was recently widely quoted in claiming that this state had an obligation to protect the Anglo Irish bondholders.

“And of course he has been advising, in a totally disinterested way of course, the Government on how they should deal with the crisis. Among his proposals has been to sell state companies. And no doubt he probably knows chaps who might be interested in buying them at a fair price.

“How many of those who referred favourably to Sir Peter’s excellent advice also referred to his own possible self interest and the interest of his friends in all of this? He is, after all, Chairperson of Goldman Sachs whose Asset Management section is a key Anglo bondholder and which incidentally made profits of more than €13 billion last year.

“If our priority is to look after people like this, then the description given on one web site of Ireland as, ‘an international welfare state for super-rich bankers’ is all too accurate.”

DEVELOPERS:

Pearse Doherty shows that the only opposition, the only alternative voice in the Oireachtas, is Sinn Fein. Labour and Fine Gael think you can build a consensus with corrupted and bought out politicians.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

NO RETREAT AND NO FUDGE ON FIGHTING TORY CUTS


Below is a statement from Conor Murphy on the need to fight the planned Tory cuts. As stated previously I believe Sinn Féin must refuse to implement these cuts full stop.


We are a left wing party and must refuse to be pawns of a right wing goverment which is directly attacking working people. We must show working people from across Ireland and from various cultural traditions, that Sinn Féin will fight for them. It was not the working class that caused this mess.


Executive must take lead in challenging cuts

Sinn Féin MLA and Executive Minister Conor Murphy has stated that the Executive should now prepare a united approach to fighting the punitive cuts being brought forward by the British government. This follows today’s Executive meeting which dealt mainly with the Comprehensive Spending Review and the affect it will have on the local economy.

Speaking earlier Mr Murphy said:

“Today’s meeting was realistic and dealt with the issues at hand.

“We put it to our Executive colleagues that there needs to be consensus when fighting these cuts. We were elected to do this and represent the citizens of the North, to deliver for them and not to acquiesce to what the British government has proposed. This would be failing our electorate gravely.

“The Tory government, though Owen Patterson, has said that they received an endorsement for their platform of cuts from the electorate and that people knew what they were voting for.

“Let us be clear. That mandate was rejected whole-heartedly at the last election in the North of Ireland with not one conservative candidate being elected. We said no then to cuts then and we are saying no now.

“We have laid out measures to grow the economy based around what was promised from the Gordon Brown. Owen Patterson stated he would honour this agreement yet £4bn has been removed from this package.

“This is a disaster for the local economy, especially the construction industry. There is no fairness in devastating one of the main sectors of the northern economy, as there is no fairness in attacking the most vulnerable in society through attacks on pensions, benefits and low-income families.

“Coming from this we need to see the political parties sitting down, bringing proposals to the table to work out a clear strategy on the best way forward.

“Sinn Féin have already released our document and there has been positive acceptance of it containing viable and workable economic proposals. Let debate these and lets have the other parties bring forward similar proposals. The initiative lies with us all here.

“The Assembly has already been recalled to debate the economic crisis and as an Executive we must follow suit. Today is the start of that process. We need to accelerate our efforts and work towards safeguarding and providing jobs in the immediate future and putting in place economic stimulants for future growth.”

Friday, October 22, 2010

The story of the NHS rowers - Tony Benn

“There was a boat race between a Japanese crew and a crew from the National Health Service (UK). Both sides practised long and hard and the Japanese team won by a mile. So the NHS ...faced with this problem setup a working party which reported that the Japanese had eight people rowing and one steering and the NHS had eight people steering and one rowing.


So they brought in management consultants and the management consultants confirmed the diagnosis, suggested the NHS team be completely restructured to make it more efficient, more cohesive, streamlining and all-round better performance. A strategy document was drawn up and the recommendations encouraged restructuring for the entire organisation.

As part of the restructuring, a number of appointments were made including three Assistant Steering Managers, three Deputy Steering Managers, a Director of Steering Services and the rower was given an incentive to row harder. They had another race, this time the NHS team lost by two miles, so management laid off the rower for poor performance, sold the boat and gave the Director of steering services a large payout for making the ‘hard decisions’ and concluded they had too many management consultants and not enough managers!"

A story from Tony Benn.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Too busy to hold an election.

The Government is telling us its too busy with the "job in hand" to hold elections. But they are not too busy to open new FF offices in Crossmaglen (80 years late better than never I guess) or attend Ogra FF talk-ins, attend their own drink ins and waste time opening shops and conferences and any other myriad number of locations and non-events over the last 16 months. What a weak and watery excuse.

Mary Lou McDonald noted in her blog that there is something seriously wrong when a government will go to any lengths to prevent elections


The government is dead set against a general election. It would be a ‘distraction’, they say, from ‘the job in hand’. They don’t want to be ‘distracted’ from their bailouts for the bankers- cutbacks for the people agenda.

They don’t want to hold elections to fill the empty seats in Donegal South West, Waterford and Dublin South either. The ‘distraction’ of losing those bye-elections could bring the government down.

Avoiding elections is an expensive business. It cost €9000 to transport junior minister Dara Calleary from Brussels to the Dáil to vote against holding the bye-elections. He travelled by government jet and the taxpayer picked up the tab.

Today the government goes into the High Court to defend their refusal to hold the bye-elections. Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty took the case. He believes that no government has the right to withhold people’s democratic right to vote and to have full representation in the Dáil. He’s right.

There is something seriously wrong when a government will go to any lengths to prevent elections.

The government, Labour and Fine Gael have an agreed position to introduce crushing cutbacks over the next four years. Brian Cowen and company now want to formalise that consensus so they’ve invited like-minded parties to talks.

The Taoiseach’s decision to exclude Sinn Féin from discussions because we oppose those cuts shows that the Government is not willing to listen to any alternative opinion.

Politicians talking among themselves is no substitute for an election.
The scale of our economic problems, the length of the dole queues and the staggering numbers emigrating – these are the reasons why the government is running scared of elections. They are the very same reasons why an election is so necessary.

We need an agreed way forward. A way forward democratically agreed by the electorate. After all it is the people who are in charge here.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Campaign against Water charges

The campaign against water charges has a new and valuable portal that to help organise a campaign against the unfair water charges - http://www.nowatercharges.ie/ .

The site highlights how water charges will "hit the lowest income group four times harder than the highest.  It will give rise to annual bills in the region of 170 euro per person or 685 per family of four."

This is also a campaign for a more thoughful approach to how the state should handle the issue of water distribution in the southern state.

One option the Govt. is looking at is an outlay of €500 million to install meters in 1.1 million households with proponents pushing a demand for full cost recovery i.e the householders will pay for everything with the possibility of a bill of up to €500 before the tap started to flow.

The Govt. focus is wrong. The focus must be on making the water distribution system more effective rather than trying to control the pattern of consumption. Currently 58% of treated water is lost through broken pipes. Actively tackling leaks would, according to the Local Government Review Group, make a significant contribution to managing the cost of the system.

The Fianna Fail govt. decided to build housing state after housing state and encouraged its friends to enter into large scale investment property deals domestically and internationally when it should have been investing in the national infrastructure.

Now they want us to pay for their mistakes...again.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Remembering the Past: Fenian Col. Michael Corcoran

On October 11, 1860, US army units in New York City were instructed to turn out in parade in honour of the visiting Prince of Wales, the 19-year-old heir to the English throne. One unit refused to do so: The fighting Irish 69th Regiment.

The refusal by leading fenian Col. Michael Corcoran to march led to an significant increase in the recruitment of soldiers into the Fenian movement.

Corcoran himself was an interesing figure. When his father died his pension ceased and Michael joined the Revenue police and worked in Donegal. By 184e he had however joined the Ribbonmen and spent the next two years involved in agitation. Then suddenly he quit the police and went to America. He joined the New York Militia the 69th and became involved in the Irish cause. When the New York branch of the fenians was founded he was the first man sworn in by John o'Mahony

Corcoran later led the Irish legion, an all Irish brigade, in the Federal army. One of the units in that brigade the 155th NY had very significant Fenian Brotherhood. In June, 1866 they took part in the Fenian invasion of Ontario with the aim of using Canada as leverage in negotiations to secure Irish independence. The invasion was not a success and the unit was later forced to withdraw back to New York.  John Corcoran was not involved. He had already passed from a stroke a few years earlier.

One of the most striking tales of his life started on the 6th October 1860..Corcoran had just turned down tickets to a dinner in the Prince's honor as he was not "not desirous of joining in the festivity."
The "festivity" was going to be an undemocratic assembly of the high and mighty. Corcoran would not follow suit. A democratic vote was put to the men who agreed that marching was not an option.

Corcoran stated that the men would not march in honour of "a sovereign under whose reign Ireland was made a desert and her sons forced to exile." making clear that Irish men in New York would not be turning out for "the bald-faced son of our oppressor."

Polite America, ignorant or uncaring of the exploitative and opressive conditions then pertaining in Colonial Ireland, was furious. Corcoran was arrested, stripped of his command and prepared for court-martial. The wider Irish community however appreciated his, and his men's efforts. A green flag remembering the event was presented to the regiment. Before the court-martial was carried out the American civil war had begun and the Federal state had more pressing concerns.

Corcoran died from a stroke in 1863.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Martin, Ulster fry and the Tories

Well, who would have thought it? Martin McGuinness sitting with a bunch of Unionists eating an Ulster Fry at a fringe meeting of the British Conservative Party conference. OMG!

Okay, I’ll try and look beyond the obvious confusion at seeing a major republican figure sitting in the company he was at the venue he was, but what was he doing there?

Martin is Deputy First Minister of the six counties and he is in a coalition government with Unionists, okay we accept this fact. The British government is planning on imposing massive public expenditure cuts that if introduced will destroyed the lives of thousands of working class people. So the coalition partners in the Northern government head to the Conservative conference to argue the case for not introducing the cuts in the North. Okay I can accept that.

As Martin said at the assembly prior to his trip, “Let me be very clear, Sinn Féin will oppose the unfair and unjust proposed cuts by the British Government; our position remains that we must grow our economy, protect those most vulnerable in our society and ensure that we work to meet the requirements of those in most objective need.”

Also an excellent piece in An Phoblacht argues the case against the cuts and the need to move power over the Northern economy away from London and back to Ireland. http://aprnonline.com/?p=78042 This article concludes with this paragraph.

United resistance“As a party we are looking to build an alliance with the trade union movement and the community and voluntary sector to resist the cuts and to defend frontline services,” Mitchel said. “The public sector did not create the economic crisis – it was the private sector.
“We should not accept the inevitability of cuts. We should focus our minds on challenging them. All parties should agree a common approach in all of this.
“We need to enter into a negotiation with the British Government to resist cuts and secure proper control of the economic levers which will allow us to map a way out of the current recession and to protect the most vulnerable and those experiencing disadvantage at the same time.”
“We need to plan to grow the economy and all options must be on the table. This includes the development and harmonisation of the all-island economy. The existence of two currencies, two different tax and social welfare regimes, two health services, and so on, all restrict our ability to effectively tackle the effects of the recession.
“We need to end needless duplication and develop efficient systems that benefit everyone on this island.”


THE BIG BUT…

All of the above I have no problem with and indeed support. We entered into the GFA in order to build a better Ireland, with Ireland’s future being determined by Irish people. So, all of the above in my mind fits into this category.


BUT, what if the attempt to build a successful opposition to Tory/Lib cuts fails to stop the cuts? What then?

I believe we cannot allow our party to be a tool to implement massive cuts in services across the North. We cannot accept that we are powerless to resist the inevitability of these cuts and therefore our job is to make them as palatable and painless as possible.

If we were to allow this to happen we would be heading for disaster North and South of the border.

At present in the South we are attacking the major party consensus on the need for cuts. We are organizing a mass march in Dublin on 4th December against these cuts and we are right to do this. However, whether we like it or not we are judged by most people as a largely Northern party, and if people want to vote for us they will look to our record in the North as proof or what we really are all about. If Martin’s Ulster fry up fails to stop the cuts then the party must fight them in every way possible and refuse to implement them.

If this does not happen then people across the 32 counties will make their own judgments on Martin’s trip to the Tory Conference, and they will make up there own mind as to who and what we are all about.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

You've won the Sweepstakes - The outsourcing of responsibility in south Ireland.

When the saorstát was set up the new administration choose the least path of resistance when it came to the provision of a number of important services. Two fundamental services necessary for the development of a state where effectively devolved from state control - Education and Health. While there may have been a reason at the start to do so to allow this to continue for decades was a serious failure of State responsibility and helped create or perpetuate a state not able to identify its responsibilities and act on them.

Significant elements of Health care was provided by a mix of hospitals predominantly ran by the catholic church, with some few provided by the protestant churches and some intermittent, and resisted, state oversight. However while both voluntary hospitals resisted the state they accepted its funding as and when needed. The saorstat was naturally in a financially weakened state considering the turbulent times it had passed through. Due to a low population base and a weakened economy it had difficulty raising the necessary funds to support hospitals. The answer was the Irish hospital sweepstakes - a state monopoly on lottery i.e a gambling racket -  not that I dont have anything against a flutter but you'd think churches would. The sweepstakes was an okay idea in the sense that it managed to extend the funding of hospitals beyond the limited population of the saorstát with significant funds coming from abroad. It was a bad idea in that it was used to fund institutions which were not under the absolute control of the state but were the equivalent of privatised institutions. Mary Harney would have liked the idea - State money to support non-state monopolies of critical services.

The Sweepstake itself was open to all the flaws of a racket managed by Govts. (of both parties) with a penchant for handing responsibility to someone, anyone.  The American edition of Reader's Digest once described the Sweeps as "the greatest bleeding heart racket in the world". Many of the funds raised in America of Britain never made it back to Ireland but went into the pockets of distributors. But there was a more pernicious element to the Sweepstakes than that.

The story of the Sweepstakes has many parallels with modern Ireland. The Sweepstakes was set up with loopholes that allowed its organisers leave large sums undeclared as expenses. The impact of the sweepstakes started to spread to other sectors beyond the health. Soon directors of the Sweepstakes were to be found in every sector of the economy with some directors sitting on up to 30 company boards. Similar to the golden circle mapped by TASC a small group of men were taking control over every aspect of the economy. Apparently RTE had enough material in the mid 1970s to expose the deep concerns many felt about the Sweepstakes. It will surprise no one that RTE choose not to broadcast it. (How RTE can be made a neutral non-govt. controlled station is an important challenge for the future.)

The state failing to provide important services, instead relying on non-state institutions funded by state raised revenue, corruption and the misuse of state funds to gain control of wide sectors of the economy, a media gagged and incapable of reporting the truth. A decades long story unchallenged by FF or by FG.

Education is also another area where the state just mosied on glad that someone else was doing the lifting.  Currently about 90% of primary schools are patroned by the Roman Catholic church. These schools are privately owned, publicly funded institutions. Across the school sector the state is an outside party - there to pay the bills. The patron is not a figure head. They have ultimate responsibility for the school ethos, the appointment of the board of management, financial and legal matters and the supervision of staff appointments in accordance with Department regulations. Patrons generally discharge their responsibilities in close consultation with boards of management and other interested parties involved in the schools. In other words they have significant powers.

While the catholic church figures heavily in the outsourcing of Education as well this is not about the catholic church. Indeed there are many other denominations and of  course non-denominational schools. Similarly while in the Health sector there are some very objectionable acts by catholic denominated churches. (Notably in 2005 the board of the Mater Hospital in Dublin stopped a trial for a new cancer drug. Women who wished to take part in the trial could not get pregnant which obviously meant they had to use contraception or not have sex. This was in conflict with the ethos. Money from gambling was not in conflict with the ethos of hospitals though - but as horrible a story as that is I am not trying to focus on the catholic church here)


The main focus must be on the state's tendency to step back from taking responsibility for critical functions. While they may have reason to do so for a few years at the foundation of the southern state it was not acceptable to leave the situation continue for decades across two of the most important areas in which a state must provide services. To do so was to accept the principle that any service, no matter how critical need not fall under the Govt's direct and complete control. The Govt. became a partner rather than a leader. Rather than forcing the pace of change, modernisation etc. it just sat back and let society drift. Little surprise then that the current Govt. has provided little leadership in the financial crisis. Instead it has taken the Banks at their word, it has followed the interests of the developers and the golden circle rather than steering its own course. Commentators like David McWilliams and Brian Lucey have both wondered aloud about whose interest the Govt. is serving. At this point about 3/4 of the south's residents agree its not the Irish nation. But I dont believe that the Govt. could ever have done anything other than follow the Banks and the advice of the special interest groups even if they were not as delinquent as they have proven. The tradition of governance in south Ireland is not one of leadership but of relinquishing sovereignty to any group willing to take over some of its tasks.

Fianna Fail stand indicted as do Fine Gael on this point.

The final point on this abdication of responsibility I will leave to Professor Kathleen Lynch who recently gave the annual Tasc lecture. In a speech entitled From a Neo-Liberal to an Egalitarian State: Imagining a Different Future' she notes:
As a society, we do not have a strong commitment to public solidarity despite our rhetoric. This is reflected in failure over the course of the last 10 years for social welfare provisions to keep pace with the cost of living. We have one of the lowest rates of social expenditures on education, housing, transport and welfare within the EU. (See Tables 1 and 2 below using the SILC data). Our lack of commitment to the public sphere is evident in many concrete ways, from the lack of public spaces for play for children (especially safe indoor places) to the lack of public sports facilities, to the lack of investment parks and public amenities in so many towns and villages.

It is even evident in our churches. Most of our leisure and sports facilities are actually privately owned by clubs that are legally constituted as private bodies; GAA pitches, tennis courts, gyms, rugby pitches, golf courses etc. are all private. Indoor play areas for children are almost universally commercial. And the lack of commitment to the good of the public sphere is evident when public and private interests collide; it is evident in the way space is organised and the quality of the built environment between public and private hospitals, in the relative luxury and comfort of private rooms versus public wards; it is visible in the pitches, tennis courts and other facilities in well-off schools compared with the bare yards of small fields that are there for those in less-well-off or poorer areas.

Ar muin na muice


Labhair Darren Mac an Phríora le Comh. Críona Ní Dhálaigh faoi bpolaisaí ainmnithe nua a mbeidh ag teacht i bhfeidhm i gCathair Bhaile Átha Cliath.

Link

Friday, October 8, 2010

Will they, Fu*k!

Blogging comment of the week would surely be from Betty who posted the following on Irishelection.com in relation to all this talk of a grand coalition :Question–if there is a change of govt will FF support the new administration??? As Mr James Gogarty [might have] said “will they, F***

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Irish Politicians or American mobsters?

A man who set the world record for current account deficits. An embezzler from a charitable fund. A beneficiary of passport retailing. A tax dodger with a lucky streak on the horses and a man known the world over as a "drunken moron". What do they all have in common?

Are the above decent Irish people, a list of Fianna Failers or 5 of America's nastiest mobsters.

They are off course random mobsters from American history. Do you think any country would so damned to have 5 useless leaders like that in a row? Certainly not in Ireland. We set high standards for political office you know.

Sure we've only ever had decent, honest men rule us here.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Is Ciaran Cuffe lost in a ghost estate?

An excited Ciarán Cuffe, as opposed to an excitable Paul Gogarty, wrote on his blog about what he wanted to achive now that he had finished up his staycation on the Beara. There is a whole list of ambitious things to do, or just talk about. One of which was a review of the nationwide survey of ghost estates carried out by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, where Ciarán is whiling his time away as junior minister,  with the intention of coming up with a plan to put the empty houses in Ireland and the excess Irish hotel capacity to use.
One of the things he promised was by the end of September we should have "some good analysis completed, and be in a position to sit down with stakeholders and offer some positive advice on these issues."  
As the excellent Nama Wine Lake notes its now October 01st and neary a peep out of Minister Cuffe? Did he forget to do the work? Was he over excited after his holidays or is it just another sorry episode in the demise of the Greens - a party that made big promises about being in Government but when it got there didnt really know what to do. 
Is he waiting for permission from Fianna Fail or maybe Ciarán's still driving around a ghost estate wasted on the noxious fumes of planet Bertie. Save yourself some trouble Ciarán and get in contact with Sinn Fein to learn about solutions to the housing issue.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

IS THIS THE REAL FIANNA FÁIL COMMANDMENTS - OR JUST A JOKE

This piece was sent into us by a Mr X. Is it a real internal document of just a piece of humour. You decide!


FF - The Republican Party – The commandments =============================================
Excerpts from the parties Green “cheque” book, the idealogical manual for all its volunteers and party activists. It seems that FF's radical interpretation of Republicanism is still as strong as ever.

"any gombeen or billionaire is just entitled as any other gombeen or billionaire to unfettered access to state funding and contracts, (here after known as Group B)".

“who here objects if we take power in this state, with a ballot box in this hand and an arm load of brown envelopes in the other”.

“Every Irish person, irregardless of their religion or station in life is entitled to die on our roads (which are the envy of Albania) or contract MRSA in our hospitals. (Group B excepted).”

“In order to increase the wealth of the nation, property will become communal in ownership. Everyone will have a share. For example, young couple buys house, couple of years later Bank takes house, and sells it to local Gombeen man who was bailed out by Nama. Everyone will have a piece at some stage.“

“Everyone no matter how small or insignificant, (publicans otherwise) has their part to pay.”

“If we cannot take ownership of this country at this moment and through our current actions then be confident that If our deed has not been sufficient to win ownership of Ireland, then our children will win it by a better deed, by more medical cards, more tar on the road and “sure wasn’t my old fellow a great friend of you auld fella”

“To break the connection between the Irish electorate and the ballot box, the never-failing source of all our political evils, and to assert the independence of our party, to do what it likes. 3 times in 3 generations FF have risen up and tried to bankrupt the state. Standing on that fundamental right to rule and ruin in self-interest and again asserting it in in the face of the world’s politicians and economists. We propose that Blueshirt or Sticky or Shinner be replaced with the one title “ shure dem lot are just as bad”

FF - The Republican Party

The last term for this Govt?

Sinn Fein TDs set out the strategy for the coming Leinster house session



Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ruin a gate and your nailed. Ruin an economy and you'r scot free.

Its plain wrong that a man will be indicted tomorrow, probably for criminal damages, for driving a cement truck into the gates of Leinster House for damages that will run to maybe a few thousand. Who has been prosecuted for driving a coach and four horses through financial regulation, through the banking system, through the whole economy?

No one yet and if it wan't for Sinn Fein pushing a banking fraud inquiry then maybe it might not even be an issue for investigation.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Irish Workers more committed than ever.

Thats the finding of the latest ESRI report which states that " Our workers are more committed than ever; they are more willing to accept change and to take on more responsibility...". The broad study reviewed the Irish workplace in 2009 against that of "Celtic tiger" Ireland. Irish workers are stepping up to the plate  - taking on more responsibility for less pay.
Over half of the respondents to the survey, conducted between March and June 2009, noted that there had been workplace job losses in the preceding two years and workers were feeling more nervous and under pressure. One-third of employees said that their own job security had decreased compared to only 4 per cent in the previous 2003 survey.
In both the public and private sectors the impact of the recession, and the impact of the "manual devaluation", are evident. 21 per cent of employees reported a decline in hourly pay in the previous two years. Some 37 per cent of public sector workers reported a decline in pay, compared to only 16 per cent of those in the private sector. The burden of adjustment is being borne by ordinary folks who are losing job security and seeing reduced pay conditions.
Typically in all down-sizing organisations the work frequently remains but the no. of people to do it ends up falling. The result is increased burden on the remaining staff. 54 per cent of employees reported increased pressure compared to 34 per cent in 2003. 61 per cent reported an increase in responsibility. Yet the percentage of employees who would work harder to help the organisation to succeed increased from 81 per cent to 89 per cent.
There is a tendency among the more right wing commentariat, or the loony right which cheered on deregulation and excessive credit, to constantly ask for workers to give more, to do more and to accept less.
Lurking in the background to all that commentary was the idea that ordinary Irish people had fooled around and now the bill was due. We had lost the run of ourselves, wanted too much and lost competitiveness. The report has an answer to that hoary chestnut as well:
"This deterioration in competitiveness in recent years is primarily a result of the labour market pressures exerted by the growing bubble in the property market and the building sector of the economy. However, other inefficiencies, including a lack of competition in key areas of the economy, also contributed to the problem."
Consider that in NAMA tranches 1 and 2 that loans valued at €52 billion (pre-hair-cut) were given to 100 people and its clear how tight the inner circle was behind the boom. The self same boom which force the prices up. However as the boy from Pontchartrain says "We are where we are". I personally think it will be difficult to secure appropriate financial and legal redress against these people. It may be that we are forced to instead focus on how to create the anti-corruption framework, and appropriate regulatory controls to ensure that one interest group and one political party can never again co-operate for self profit while risking the future of the state they operate in.
The commentary in the press seems to have forgotten the role of the select, well connected, few. Instead looking at the easy option of blaming the feckless ordinary worker. Well as demonstrated in the ESRI report the ordinary Irish worker is anything but feckless and is more willing to work harder than ever.
It may be countered that well all well and good to blame the developers and Fianna Fail but we need solutions now not blame. And thats a perfectly valid comment because we do need solutions. People dont want finger pointing or retribution. First of all they want to be able to pay their bills like Seamus Sherlock or avoid emigration. But there does need to be a demonstration to the markets, the god like markets*, the interests of the Irish economy are not subservient to the interests of developers or other sectional interests.
As long as Fianna Fail are in power there is every chance that the foreign lenders will doubt the ability of that party to restructure the economy back onto a trajectory of growth and subsequently may question the long term ability of sth. Ireland to repay its debts.
Those commentators in awe of the market's wisdom should now start to focus on the fact that Fianna Fail itself, and its tendency towards sectional interest, may be a factor in why sovereign funds think we are likely to default (and consider that a few days ago the ECB wanted Ireland to activate the bail out fund to see how precariously close FF have now brought us - potentially days away from a default) .
Irish workers are clearly willing to put the head down. Its time that the Irish media took note and started to focus on two other possible reasons that Ireland's bond yields are going through the roof:
(1) Fianna Fail's slash and burn approach is ripping the heart out of the economy;
(2) Fianna Fail are so entrenched with sectional interests that the market must have doubts about whether their commitment to growing the economy is not at odds with their commitment to sectional interests which they have nursed for over a decade.
ESRI: http://www.esri.ie/UserFiles/publications/jacb201045/BKMNEXT168.pdf

* which same markets are new nailing us at near to 7% interest rates. Despite RTE's spin about last weeks debt sale as successful selling debt at over 6% is as successful as buying a litre of milk for a €10. There'll be somebody to sell it to you but you still get taken for a ride.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The costs of pensions and the problem with servants

"Pretty soon, we’ll be having serious, completely un-self-conscious discussions in major magazines about the servant problem.". So wrote Paul Krugman as he discussed an article which highlighted how the richest percentile in America are feeling hard done by even though they make twice what their counterparts in 1980 did.

Krugman believes that today the American super rich have become coarsened by their super wealth, have lost even the sense they should be embarassed by thinking life is hard on them and only move in circles  "where complaining that you only have 9 or 10 times median family income is considered totally acceptable"

A small bit like Peter Sutherland then I guess

Mr Sutherland claimed that our costs - in the main but not exclusively pay - were too high and need to go down.

'If we did so, it would be apparent that we are still way above average in many areas, particularly in the public sector and this says nothing about pension costs,' he said

Yes Peter. What about the pension costs?  You as former Attorney General were still receiving a state pension of €51,538 in 2008. You have a fortune of €128 million.

Clearly you are a man of rare talents. Your career is an amazing series of pinnacles and that is impressive (although BP, RBS and Goldman Sachs makes you wonder - they all hit nasty speedbumps ). But for all your talent and your preaching on costs and pensions you were still hitting up the state even with your huge fortune for a measly €51,538 a year.

Another freeloader. As far removed from reality as Krugman's top 1% in America.

For the love of god man give up your paltry, in comparison, state pension before having the gall to talk about the cost of pensions and Dublin's expenditure.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Courage of conviction

1996 seems like an eternity away. It must seem awfully close for two families though. Volunteers Ed o'Brien and Diarmuid o'Neill both died in that year. They were both young men when they died and as a young teenager at the time I remember being struck by the level of committment and courage that both men must have had.

Ed o'Brien's birthday was 18th September. Diarmuid o'Neill died on 23rd September.