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Boomer is not a word.

Friday, July 24, 2006.

(Source: The Broadsheet)

They don’t want to hear you, peon

Proposal to filter emails to TDs - Irish Examiner
Juno McEnroe, Monday, Feb 13, 2012

Proposals to filter emails sent to TDs and prevent "waste" from clogging up mailboxes are being considered following a recent avalanche of complaints.

Well, an anti-spam system seems perfectly reasonable in this day and age, perhaps even ICT at Leinster House could stretch to such a thing...

Several TDs told the Irish Examiner they have received hundreds of complaints by email, sometimes in one day, with proposed online copyright laws, septic tanks, the Vatican and Anglo Irish Bank among issues which have clogged up systems.

Ah, but no, that's not the problem. It's input from their beloved parishioners that they don't want to hear. Far be it from an elected official in a democratic state to take on board comment and complaint!

I am sure some sort of over-engineered government-IT abortion can be constructed to isolate TDs from any form of feedback, for less than €100 million.

"Some TDs felt that if we did that it would interfere with people’s right to protest, to democracy. If we blocked some, there’s a fear we could be accused of censorship."

Ah yeah.

Understanding Ireland

A History of Ireland in 100 Excuses - Irish Times
Frank McNally, Thursday, Feb 9, 2012

This is all you need to know about Ireland.

Your money going to help Shell and crack skulls

€14.5m spent on garda resources at Corrib site - RTÉ
Thursday, Feb 9, 2012

From 2006 to the end of last year, over €9m had been paid out in garda overtime and allowances alone.
Another €5m was paid out in travel, subsistence and other expenses.

The few resources of the pathetic Irish state squandered on protecting the interests of a multinational working to exploit the few natural resources of the island, instituting an undeclared state of war against locals in the West.

Who could ever trust our police?

Life outside Dublin

Anomie in Éire

Mishmash of values and rules at the root of suicide - Irish Times
Desmond Fennell - Thursday, November 17, 2011

I first came across Desmond Fennell some years ago, when I received a copy of his book, State Of The Nation, after the death of an old Gaeilgeoir.

The book struck a chord with me, talking about the failure of the Irish national project, and the lack of any coherent vision of the kind of nation/country/society we want to build. And it's still true today, perhaps more so than ever, as what little culture we had falls away.

Fennell's article here covers some of the same ground, the lack of meaning to post-modern Irish lives, but goes further into the impact that has, especially the terrifying suicide rate among young men.

Suicide remains the number one reason for death in young men, and I think Fennell's insights take us closer to understanding why.

The article is also available on his website.

Another very sad story of suicide in this weekend's papers, this time about a young woman from DCU, friend of some friends, who killed herself in August.

She radiated talent, energy, beauty. She took her own life at the age of 25 - The Irish Times
Peter Murtagh - Saturday, November 26, 2011

Caption competition: Enda and Ali

From the propaganda horn of the glorious Free State!

Taoiseach meets Muhammed Ali - Merrion Street
Irish Government - Friday 6, May 2011

What did Enda say to Ali that scared him so?

Answers in the comments section.

A new occupation

Parnell Street, under fire

From a somewhat dubious source...

Armed British police to patrol Dublin streets for Queen's visit with fears of dissident attack - Daily Mail
Larissa Nolan and John Lee - Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Government is allowing up to 120 armed British police officers to patrol the streets of Irish cities to protect Queen Elizabeth II on her State visit to Ireland this week.
Amid growing security fears, a huge force of the Metropolitan Police's royalty protection force carrying Glock pistols and Heckler & Koch submachine guns will join gardaí in ensuring her safety.

Clearly, the powers that be are not content with abrogating civil liberties for most of the city centre (with illegal searches, restrictions on right to protest, travel, speech etc). More must be done.

In a particularly strong spasm of its death-throes, the Irish state now welcomes even more armed police onto the streets of Dublin, this time from a foreign power.

Re-enacting the days of occupation by a foreign power with our own anti-democratic security forces was just not good enough; we had to bring some of the old boys back.

After all the worry about whether the Irish people would welcome the Queen (and I think they would), a fervent effort is being made to ensure that ordinary people's lives are inconvenienced to such an extent that will resent the fact that Elizabeth II ever came here, as they are kettled in their own streets, have guns pointed at them on the pavements and are searched in their offices.

In fact, basically no-one will get the chance to meet or see the Queen, nor she them. The roads around her visit will lie empty, "for security reasons". She may as well have not come at all. But sure isn't it a great excuse to oppress the man in the street! Aye, 'tis.

"I was always willing to be reasonable until I had to be unreasonable.
Sometimes reasonable men must do unreasonable things."
- Martin "Killdozer" Heemeyer

The last excesses of the Celtic Tiger

Not my photo

The problem

Ireland finds itself in

an economic and political cul de sac

every twenty years

precisely because there is no conception

of what Ireland is supposed to be,

no vision for how we want to live.

Thoughts on civil society in Ireland

This post is an experiment in "stream of consciousness" writing without correction or editing after the fact. Here be mixed metaphors!

Snow brought us to with inches of collapse, another failure on top of all the others; no transport, alternate shortages of salt and water.
No-one cared quite enough to really do anything, but the whinging reached fever-pitch.
But we didn't collapse, we struggled on to suffer another day.

There is something particularly Irish about complaining that "No-one has cleared their paths", while your own skinkles in the morning sun.

What is so difficult about learning from the past?
Is it the imagination required to create a new path for the next time? Or is it admitting you were wrong in the first place?

Here we lack imagination in a general sense, but in particular we, and our politicians merely articulate this effectively, lack any vision of what our society, our economy, our State should do, or how it should function. Not just how it should, but how we want it to.

At no point is there a feeling of wanting or not wanting something. What the State does its business, it doesn't concern the citizens. Who are not really citizens, they just happen to live here. This is the thinking, individualist and ultimately selfish.

Which brings us back to the snow. There is much talk in the press of how it brings people together. People help each other in the street, clear a driveway for a neighbour. But this is on an individual level, still. It is one-to-one. And it is to be welcomed, but it will not save us from ourselves.

The blessed white stuff goes no way towards bringing about a social change whereby an individual takes a step to assist or benefit society as a whole.

There is an additional abstraction there, you cannot see the face of the person you may help directly, you may never see them, or it may not help anyone.
You are throwing pennies into a wishing-pond of good-will and good works, and you can't see the results. There is an element of faith involved.

Say we assume that the citizenry of our model island were all tossing pennies at some point in the past:
Everyone benefits from the good works, and good-will, although they may not all be effective, or to everyone. Overall, they are positive.

Why then, would our citizens stop contributing? (Continued)

The Smart Economy

The Parable of the Irish Bail-Out

This little story has been doing the rounds recently, its author anonymous. It reminds me a little of the wry allegorical tales of Flann O'Brien, but I'm sure purists will disagree. I think it has parable-like qualities, hence the title. Part of me hopes it was written by an exasperated junior civil servant...

The Irish Bail-Out

It is a slow day in a damp little Irish town. The rain is beating down and the streets are deserted. Times are tough, everybody is in debt and everybody lives on credit.

On this particular day a rich German tourist is driving through the town, stops at the local hotel and lays a €100 note on the desk, telling the hotel owner he wants to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to pick one to spend the night.

The owner gives him some keys and, as soon as the visitor has walked upstairs, the hotelier grabs the €100 note and runs next door to pay his debt to the butcher. The butcher takes the €100 note and runs down the street to repay his debt to the pig farmer. The pig farmer takes the €100 note and heads off to pay his bill at the supplier of feed and fuel. The guy at the Farmers' Co-op takes the €100 note and runs to pay his drinks bill at the pub. The publican slips the money along to the local prostitute drinking at the bar, who has also been facing hard times and has had to offer him "services" on credit. The hooker then rushes to the hotel and pays off her room bill to the hotel owner with the €100 note.

The hotel proprietor then places the €100 note back on the counter so the rich traveller will not suspect anything. At that moment the traveller comes down the stairs, picks up the €100 note, states that the rooms are not satisfactory, pockets the money and leaves town.

No one produced anything. No one earned anything. However, the whole town is now out of debt and looking to the future with a lot more optimism.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the bailout package works.

Recent events

Jaded Isle is too numb to comment substantially on the happenings of the last few weeks.

Project Maths: Coalition Calculation

Chugging to buy a calculator

The exit of Dr Jim McDaid may throw a spanner in the works for the Budget 2010 vote. The Government now relies on two Independent TDs to get the budget through. Once again, the fate of the nation is in the hands of an unpredicatable Kerryman and a man kicked out of Fine Gael for being too corrupt!

McDaid's exit endangers budget vote - Irish Times
Steven Collins et al - Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mr Lowry said yesterday there was now a serious danger that the budget would not be passed. He told The Irish Times he would decide how he would vote on or near budget day.

“Obviously Jackie Healy Rae’s and my support is now more crucial than it has been in the past, but in my mind all of the time is that the country is on the brink of losing its economic independence,” he said.

So what's going to happen? Let's do some Project Maths! Even our Minister for Education and Skills could figure this one out!

Leaving Certificate - Mathematics, Matamaitic

Higher Level, Ardleibhéal

Answer all questions. Show your working-out. Programmable calculators forbidden.

Question 1

x = 81 number of Coalition TDs in the Dáil until this week
y = 1 number of Donegal doctors quitting the scene
z = 2 number of Independent Pikey TDs supporting the Government
q = probability calculated from the sum of the whim of Lowry on the day and the number of unnecessary motorways promised to Kerry
a = 79 combined total of Opposition TDs

If the magic formula is:
x - y + (z * q) > a

Then what chance in hell does the Government have of getting the Budget through?

17 months without an elected representative

As of yesterday, there are 4 vacant seats in Dáil Éireann. Of course it's very clear why the Government would not want to hold bye-elections to fill the vacancies. Fianna Fáil candidates would not be taking up the positions.

One of the seats is still nice and warm, from a very recent departure...

Donegal North East constituency

  • Formerly occupied by: Dr Jim McDaid
  • Reason(s) for departure: Calling for a general election, tired of jokes about drink-driving...
  • Vacant since: 2nd November 2010
  • Number of days vacant: 1 day

The other 3 seats in the chamber have gotten quite cold. In particular, one of them has the dust of 5 seasons upon it...

Waterford constituency

  • Formerly occupied by: Martin Cullen
  • Reason(s) for departure: Back-pain, e-voting, tired of destroying the planning process...
  • Vacant since: 8th March 2010
  • Number of months vacant: 8 months
  • Number of days vacant: 240 days

Dublin South constituency

  • Formerly occupied by: George Lee
  • Reason(s) for departure: Side-lined within Fine Gael, felt he had no traction
  • Vacant since: 8th February 2010
  • Number of months vacant: 9 months
  • Number of days vacant: 268 days

Donegal South West constituency

  • Formerly occupied by: Pat "The Cope" Gallagher
  • Reason(s) for departure: A long-term trip to Europe, MEP for the wild North-West
  • Vacant since: 8th June 2009
  • Number of months vacant: 17 months
  • Number of days vacant: 513 days

Is this representative democracy?

The vultures are circling

"assurance, tax, advisory, transaction advisory services; fraud investigation, dispute services"

Ernst & Young to add 300 staff - Irish Times
Steven Carroll - Saturday, February 20, 2010

Accountancy and consulting firm Ernst & Young has announced it will create 300 jobs across Ireland over the next 18 months.
The company said the move came “in anticipation of the island of Ireland economy beginning to recover”.

As the meltdown of our economy continues, and personal and business insolvency and bankruptcy continue to rise, there are more opportunities than ever for "financial services" and "consultancy" companies to make a clean sweep. The government still continues to look to PricewaterhouseCoopers and the other consultants for advice on how to run the country, despite everything.

The hole-in-the-wall gangsters

Plan to fight crime with ATM fee does not add up - Irish Times
Saturday, September 4, 2010

Some day, Fintan O'Toole will write a bad article. This still isn't it. Dermot Ahern, of blasphemy infamy, has pulled another one out of the bag and O'Toole is there to lambast him. As with the resurrection of the mediaeval offense of slandering the divine during the State's financial crisis, Ahern has happily ignored all that is going on around him and come up with something really rather innovative.

After all, we pay from our taxes to put the money into the bank – to the tune of at least €25 billion. Why shouldn’t we pay to take it out as well? There would be a certain symmetry to the fleecing, a full circle of effrontery. On one side of the equation, we pony up for the costs of pinstripe banksterism. On the other, we shell out because of the actions of a ruder, more traditional breed of bank robbers.

Oops, I did it again...

Ahern has come to the conclusion that Ireland is too reliant on cash, and that this is the cause for all the recent bank-raids, tiger kidnappings and so on. Clearly shoddy bank security, ignorance of established security procedures, failure to follow Garda recommendations, the continuing existence of paramilitary organisations and burgeoning organised gang crime are far less important than the humble BankLink.

Since the common ATM is the source of all our problems, it makes perfect sense to tax the bejaysus out of it. I am definitely in favour of reducing the amount of cash we use, but why not use positive means to encourage consumers away from the paper notes?

10 euro a time, bud

In many other European countries, cash for everyday transactions is almost a thing of the past. In my beloved Finland, debit cards are used for even the smallest purchases in shops. They're quick and cheap enough to use for even buying chewing-gum!

In Ireland, most shops have a minimum spend before a card can be used. In the increasingly straitened times, the minimum spends are increasing. Some city-centre pubs now only allow the use of a card if you're buying at least 2 drinks. Businesses are unwilling to take on the charge from the banks for less than that.

Why not abolish the charge per transaction, and move towards a totally cash-less society? Surely that would benefit both consumers annd businesses eager for their custom.

But it wouldn't help the banks, which still, unbelievably, seems to be be the only concern of this government. As O'Toole says:

The truth is that the idea of penalising customers for their effrontery in using ATM machines has very little to do with fighting crime and everything to do with bullying us into doing what the banks want us to do. The banks – and many businesses – don’t like cheques, don’t like dealing in cash and would be much happier if we all behaved ourselves, got with the programme and used plastic. They’d be positively ecstatic if we use credit instead of debit cards, leaving ourselves open to fees and surcharges.

We pay the banks to keep our money for us, then we bail them out when they make a mess of things, then we pay the Army and Garda Síochána to protect our money as the banks drive it around and now they want us to pay to take it out of the hole-in-the-wall

The irony is priceless; for everything else there's MasterCard.

The politician, the policeman and the priest

Wreckage after the Claudy bombing

Wreckage after the Claudy bombing

The report of the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman about the inquiry into the Claudy bombing of 1972 was published today. 9 people, including 3 children, died in the Claudy bombing, for which there was no warning.

The report details the collusion between the security forces, the government and the Catholic Church to maintain control of the situation.

The PDF of the report is now available from the RTÉ site. In a joint statement, Cardinal Seán Brady (Archbishop of Armagh) and Bishop Séamus Hegarty (Bishop of Derry, under which Claudy falls) accepted the findings of the of the investigation without admitting any cover-up.

Father James Chesney, suspect in the Claudy bombing

Father James Chesney, suspect in the Claudy bombing

The main suspect in this and other bombings seems to have been, and still is, Father James Chesney, believed to be the chief of operations in the South Derry area. Discussions took place between the leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Cardinal William Conway and the Northern Secretary William Whitelaw to decide what to do in this difficult situation:

The arrest of a priest in connection with such an emotive atrocity at a time when sectarian killings in Northern Ireland were out of control and the province stood on the brink of civil war was feared, by senior politicians, as likely to destabilise the security situation even further. A deal was therefore arranged behind closed doors to remove Fr. Chesney from the province without provoking sectarian fury.

A note to a police officer quoted in the report:

Many thanks for your note on Father Chesney. You will be relieved to hear that Secretary of State saw the Cardinal privately on 5 December and gave him a full account of his disgust at Chesney’s behaviour. The Cardinal said that he knew that the priest was a very bad man and would see what could be done. The Cardinal mentioned the possibility of transferring him to Donegal.

This document was passed to (among others) Sir Graham Shillington. He noted his preference for a transfer to Tipperary, presumably because it was so far away.

We now know what happened to other "very bad men" in the priesthood, rapists and other sex-offenders, shuffled around Ireland to keep things quiet and tidy. This is just another example of the Church's anti-democratic, anti-judicial and exceptionalist approach to civil society. The Catholic Church is incompatible with the secular state by virtue of the fact that it believes in the absolute truth of its own decrees.

In a lucid opinion piece for the BBC, Mark Simpson gives us another viewpoint. He considers the possible consequences if the RUC had brought Chesney in, arresting a clergyman in probably the worst year of the Troubles.

The sudden death of Fr Chesney in 1980 means he is not able to defend himself. The failure to arrest him meant he never got a chance to tell his side of the story. Although the police had a huge file of intelligence information linking him to terrorism, they did not seem to have much hard evidence. However, for most people in Claudy, Fr Chesney will be forever remembered as the priest who got away with murder.

This step outside the legal system left Chesney in limbo, never proven guilty or innocent, or given any chance to speak. A priest guilty of a terrorist bombing would have shaken and shocked Ireland, north and south, to such an extent that it was easier to just avoid the issue.

The current Northern Ireland Secretary told reporters that the British government was "profoundly sorry" that the priest's role in the bombings was not properly investigated and that justice had been denied to the victims and families.

Interesting questions

  1. Was the Irish State consulted on the plan to move Chesney south of the border?
  2. What was the response and who, if anyone, authorised the move?
  3. Did An Garda Síochána investigate Chesney at any stage?
  4. Would anything happen differently today?

The real Tunnel of Goats, in Government Buildings

A TD has become trapped in the Tunnel of Goats...

A TD has become lodged in the Tunnel of Goats...

A few months back, The Herald ran a story stating that a tunnel was being planned which would run between Leinster House and another government building.

Since the then-current denizens of Agriculture House were being decentralised (yes, the passive is the correct form, and yes the madness is still going on), the building could be taken over for overflow from Government Buildings.

At the time, the OPW were unclear as to why the tunnel was necessary, or how much it would cost. Apparently there was a public consultation process. No-one responded, probably because no-one knew about it.

Yesterday, The Tribune carried the news that the plan is going ahead. The tunnel will cost €1 million to build, according to the article. Apparently, inexplicably, it will save money because they won't have to rent offices any more.

At least now our precious TDs won't have to make the perilous 100 metre walk between buildings. God forbid they should encounter any member of the public on the closed road which lies between.

The amazing photo at the start of this article came from the even more amazing site about Goat Agility And Obstacle Courses.