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Be careful, the Gardaí have been practising

From Wikipedia

The last time the Garda Public Order Unit was deployed in Dublin

Anyone considering attending tonight's protest at the Dáil should be aware that the Public Order Unit (riot squad) will also be present. They are fresh from a "refresher course" in dealing with protest marches.

They have been working hard over in Corrib, protecting the investment of Royal Dutch Shell, at great expense to the Irish tax-payer, and the skulls of protesters. It seems fairly clear that a similar zero-tolerance approach will be taken here as in the less-visible West.

Gardaí train in secret for riots - Irish Independent
Jerome Reilly - Sunday, May 16, 2010

Less than 24 hours after the mini-riot outside the Dail, plumes of smoke from petrol bombs could be seen above north Dublin as the Garda's Public Order Unit underwent specialist training.


The training included running a gauntlet of petrol bombs while in full riot gear, as well as baton charges and defensive manoeuvres.

The Sunday Independent has learned that the Public Order Unit, popularly known as the riot squad, will be on standby as thousands of protesters are expected to converge on the Dáil in a protest organised by the Right to Work campaign this Tuesday.


"The Public Order Unit has mostly been used in recent times at the Shell to Sea Corrib Gas protests in Co. Mayo. Refresher courses are held on a fairly regular basis," he said.

No doubt they have learnt a few new tricks during their time in the West.

The thin blue line

Video footage of the violence at Dáil Éireann

Full-length coverage from TV3 of Monday's protest march to Kildare Street and the fractious scenes thereafter:

The end of the video shows the injuries sustained by protesters. This incident raises important questions about the right to protest and the level of resistance from the police of the State.
Was this an attack on an institution of democracy?
Or was it a legitimate act of protest?
Should they have been prevented from entering the grounds of the parliament?

When in Dublin, do as the Greeks do

There were scuffles this evening outside Dáil Éireann as a protest march passed. They were protesting against the Government's plans to inject millions of euro in the banks of the state. They were calling for the money to go to job creation and so on instead.

Note the Éirígí flags. They have another protest planned for May 15th, the anniversary of the executation of James Connolly. It will be an "anti-NAMA" protest and take place at Anglo Irish Bank in Dublin. It will be interesting to see if there will be trouble again.
Anglo Irish Bank has been a focal point for previous demonstrations.

Media coverage:

Choice quotes:

The group is believed to have been protesting against the Government plans to inject billions of euros into the country's banks. [Note weasel-words]

A small number of gardaí blocked the entrance and drew their batons when the crowd surged forward.

The gates and main doors of Leinster House were closed as a precaution as Garda reinforcements arrived. Kildare Street and Molesworth Street were closed off for a period.

Misspelt but not misplaced

Éire 2016 AD – Background, MP3, lyrics

Update: The entirety of The Emergency Session has been uploaded to YouTube, by Arthur Riordan!

Remote Control Maude Gonne, courtesy of Liam Cooke

Remote Control Maude Gonne, courtesy of Liam Cooke

After the great response to Hobart's posting of the Éire 2016 AD video, I decided to do some more research into the background to this irreverent send-up of The Long Fellow and our society.

The rapper is well-known playwright, Arthur Riordan, co-founder of the world renowned Rough Magic theatre company. Riordan also wrote Rough Magic's musical comedy, Improbable Frequency, set during the Emergency in Ireland and full of intrigue and wordplay, and probably my favourite piece of theatre. More on that some other time.

I also stumbled across an article from the Guardian where John O'Mahony, writing in the heady Celtic Tiger fumes of 2000, reminisces about seeing the MC Dev show, "The Emergency Session", back in 1992.

He remarks on the prescience of Riordan's lyrics, and indeed his own article also foreshadows the downturn. He riffs on the meaningless nature of Celtic Tiger life, and threads lyrics from MC Dev throughout. A thoroughly recommended article.

I ripped the song to MP3 from the YouTube video. The quality isn't great, but acceptable.
You can download it here: Eire 2016 AD.mp3


Hop aboard my hover-car, let's go where the cyber-cailíns are
Or let's find a place we can interface with mutants,
How about Castlebar?

Éire 2016 AD

There is little that can be said about how brilliant a song this is. From the fact that it's quite a good hip-hop song on the whole and that it was made in 1992, down to the prescience shown in relation to Shell's annexation of the Corrib gas fields ("we sold Connemara to ICI") and the marvellous mental image of a "remote control Maud Gonne". It's quite a strain to stop myself from hitting the "play" button over and over again.

Missives from Ferns: Patrick

Patrick was hitching home from Wexford hospital where he had received treatment  for a facial injury when he was picked up by Fr Fortune in his car. Fr Fortune  spoke to him about relationships and sexual preferences.  Towards the end of the  journey he asked Patrick about the scarring on his face.  Patrick said Fr Fortune  masturbated himself throughout the journey and then smeared his face with semen  telling Patrick that it would heal his face. Patrick said that he felt physically and  psychologically intimidated.  Patrick told the Inquiry that Fr Fortune later sought  him out at his work place. Patrick was raped and abused by Fr Fortune  approximately three times a week for two to three years.    Once, Patrick saw his cousin Brendan (4.5.21) being called away by Fortune.   Patrick tried to warn his own mother of the danger to Brendan.  She dismissed the  suggestion outright and physically attacked Patrick.   Patrick said that Fr Fortune  heard that he had tried to speak to his, Patrick’s, mother and that night he was  subjected to a particularly brutal rape. After that, Patrick said he did not dare to  speak to anyone about his abuse especially not the Bishop.  Patrick told the Inquiry that “half of the village was pro-Fortune and the other half  anti-Fortune”. Despite this division, he feels that Fr Fortune had total control of  the village. He believes that everyone was aware of allegations against Fr Fortune.  Patrick has said that words could never describe the devastating impact this has  had on his life for decades.

The Ferns ReportSection 4.5.13, p. 93, more info

“Frankly I don’t believe that this is a resigning matter.”

Cardinal Seán Brady, centre

Cardinal Brady will not resign over abuse 'cover-up' - BBC News
Saturday, February 20, 2010

Cardinal Seán Brady, primate of all-Ireland, admitted he was present at meetings where two abused teenagers were made to sign vows of silence.

The meetings followed complaints of abuse against Fr Brendan Smyth, jailed in the 1990s for serial child abuse. "Frankly I don't believe that this is a resigning matter," the cardinal said.

Cardinal Brady said he had been following church [his bishop's] orders and that there were no guidelines for him to follow.

Let us refer to another time members of a large hierarchical organisation claimed to be "just following orders".

Principle IV: The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.
Principles of International Law Recognized in the Charter of the Nürnberg Tribunal and in the Judgment of the Tribunal, 1950

The text of the oath administered by Cardinal Brady to the two teenage victims of rape in 1975:

I [name] herby swear that I have told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and that I will talk to no one about this interview except authorised priests.

This book contains 32 pages.

An Irish passport

"Iarann Aire Gnóthaí Eachtracha na hÉireann ar gach n-aon lena mbaineann ligean dá shealbhóir seo, saoránach d'Éirinn, gabháil ar aghaidh gan bhac gan chosc agus gach cúnamh agus caomhnú is gá a thabhairt don sealbhóir."

So begins every Irish passport, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ireland calling on all concerned to allow the bearer free passage and safety. This plea seems to be quite effective, since even Mossad agents get away with murder when carrying the harp.

For the want of salt, the Republic was lost

Please Conserve Water (from RTÉ)

The sign which mocked me in the rain

A week ago, in the midst of what RTÉ christened "The Big Freeze", I had a realisation about my demands of government, national and local.

I no longer expected niceties like a public health system or public transport. My sole demand of the State was now that the roads would be clear of snow and ice so that I could cycle to and from work. Even this, they could not manage.

We ran out of grit, and there was no salt to be had, even in the supermarkets. The government announced a national emergency, after waiting a few days to see if the problem would go away on its own.

Eventually, I had to abandon my bike, and waste 2 hours, twice day, on commuting on public transport.

As the cold-snap passed, we were faced with a new "emergency". The reservoirs are now almost  completely empty. Burst pipes have exacerbated an already-bad situation in our national plumbing.

I work in what most people would consider one of the world's most high-technology companies. In the evening when I went home, for several nights last week, there was no water in the house, in this supposed first-world country.

As I waited for the bus, in the pissing rain, I was taunted by a sign like the one you see above. As the rain pooled around my shoes, it begged me to conserve water.

A warning to all would-be protesters, rioters and anarchists

€300,000 spent on Irish Army riot kit

Riot police at Shannon protests

Riot police at Shannon protests, since I couldn't find any photos of the Army in riot gear

Much as I dislike linking to that renowned rag, the 'Indo', this is worth sharing, albeit late.

The Army is gearing up to deal with possible public disorder on our streets.

The Defence Forces are to get new anti-riot equipment at a cost of €300,000. The new kit has been bought to protect soldiers who have to deal with rioters in Ireland or on peace keeping missions abroad.

But the equipment will only be used here when gardai [sic] are unable to cope with demonstrations and call on the Army for support. It will also be used in routine training for soldiers.

Asked if the equipment was being procured to cope with large-scale public demonstrations over government cutbacks and policies a Defence Forces spokesman said: "No. It's being bought to replace existing stocks."

He explained that the Army has a crowd control anti-riot role if needed but "since the Troubles we have had a stock of anti-riot equipment in barracks, its been that way since the Seventies".

"But, no, we have not been told to be ready for November 24," he said, referring to the the proposed national strike on that day.

The order, placed with Daniel Technologies of Dublin, includes protective knee and armpads, helmets and visors, while soldiers also have access to body armour, batons and shields. Enough material has been ordered to equip 500 soldiers.

The equipment will be kept in barracks near locations where public order disturbances could break out. These are likely to include the Dail [sic], the border and Shannon Airport. The last order for such equipment was in 2000.

Tender documents show the order was for the "supply of public order blunt trauma personnel protective equipment for use in public order, crowd and riot control operations at home and abroad".

Training in such equipment was put to the test in March 2004 when riots broke out in Kosovo and Irish soldiers were praised by KFOR for their role in containing the violence.

Soldiers were backed up by Irish Mowag armoured vehicles, while sniper/spotter teams with AI 96 sniper rifles in overwatch positions protected them against gunmen among the rioters.

The height of Irish journalism

Robert Pattinson chips his tooth

Robert Pattinson reportedly chipped his tooth while flossing, according to 'Eclipse' co-star Bryce Dallas Howard.
The actress told New York magazine at the premiere of her latest film that he accidentally chipped his tooth, reports E! Online.
"He told me this story that made me crack up. He was like, 'Oh, I have to go to the dentist.' And I was like, 'Oh no, what happened? Just a checkup?' And he was like, 'No, I chipped a tooth.' And I was like, 'How?' And he was like, 'Flossing.'"
Howard made the remarks when asked if Pattinson was hygienic, and added: "I don't even floss. So he's hygienic. Trust me."

RTÉ evening news bulletins on television have contained 5 minutes plus of horse-racing coverage for the last 3 or 4 nights. Endless detail about Fairyhouse and the 3.15, for no discernible reason. Anyone who actually cares about horse-racing (those who gamble) will already have discovered whether they won, or more likely, lost their bet.

Meanwhile, RTÉ barely reported this:
U-turn on Civil Service cuts outrageous

In Christmas week a major policy reversal was introduced and the genuine shock of Lenihan’s news mustn’t be used to allow it to pass. On December 23rd, when perhaps some hoped no one would notice, a press release was issued from the Department of Finance revealing that just one of the cutbacks made in the Budget would be reversed. There were many hard cases from which to choose: the disabled, the carers, community projects and the low-paid. Which one created such tears and lamentations that the Cabinet was moved to right the wrong?

Why, the pay cuts for senior civil servants, of course. The 15 per cent pay cut for those earning over €200,000 was cut. The 12 per cent pay cut for those earning between €165,000 and €200,000 was also cut. To what figure was the cut, ahem, cut? To between 3 and 5 per cent. A miserable 3 per cent from a couple of hundred grand? Why?

Good to see they have their priorities straight.

Thank Heavens, We Are Living In Rathgar!

Jimmy O'Dea
Jimmy O'Dea

I came across the lyrics to this amusing old song while my mother was doing research into the history of the Presbyterian church in Rathgar. Further investigation reveals it to be a song by Jimmy O'Dea.

I'm not quite sure when it dates from, but the references to dictators and isms lead me to suspect the 1930s, O'Dea's heyday. I have no idea how the tune goes, but if anyone has a recording, I'd love to hear it.

Leafy Rathgar

A lot of this is still true of Rathgar, which maintains a slight village-like existence in the midst of the not-quite metropolis. It's probably my favourite part of Dublin, leafy suburb that it is, and where I would dearly love to live.

Thank heavens, we are living in Rathgar
In these days of agitators,
Isms, schisms and dictators,
When one never knows whom one is talking to;
When we’ve princes picking winners
And we’ve plumbers at golf dinners,
It’s so difficult to really say who’s who.
Even at our rugby dances
One’s beset by vulgar glances,
And our finer sensibilities are shocked.
‘pon my soul I’m not romancing,
We are more danced against than dancing,
And the flappers come and tell you they’re half cocked.
So, thank heavens, we are living in Rathgar.
O the solid, quiet refinement of Rathgar,
Where we have our evening dinners,
Where we never hear of Shinners,
And even those who can’t afford it have a car.
There are some quite decent suburbs, I am sure.
O Rathmines is not so bad or Terenure.
O we’ve heard of spots like Inchicore,
But really don’t know where they are;
For, thank heavens, we are living in Rathgar.
Someone must live in Kilmainham,
So it’s hardly fair to blame ‘em,
And in Dartry they are almost civilised.
But in Fairview, goodness gracious,
Fellows tennis in their braces;
In Drumcondra all their shirts are trubenised.
Although it’s worth relating,
It’s really devastating,
At Baldoyle I saw my butcher in the ring.
So what with cinemas unsightly,
And the Gaiety gone twice nightly,
It’s no wonder that we’re proudly forced to sing …
That, thank heavens, we are living in Rathgar.
O the solid, quiet refinement of Rathgar.
In Killester they eat cockles
And those fearful things - pigs knuckles;
But you’ve never heard of tripe in Grosvenor Square.
O those accents on the Northside quite appall,
But they never get beyond Rathmines Town Hall.
They’ve so many kids in Kimmage
That they say life’s just a scrimmage …
(Oh I’m tired - I’m going to the Buttery to have one …)
So, thank heavens, we are living in Rathgar.

College Green bus corridor lifted, ostensibly temporarily

College Green in 1961

College Green in 1961

College Green traffic restrictions lifted, 18/09/2009

As you probably know, the Council bowed to the demands of big retailers and that most reactionary section of Irish society, the owners of city-centre car-parks. Cars will once again flow through what was briefly a tiny bus corridor.

Rather than expanding the bus corridor, to cover more streets, they have cancelled it for the afternoon, because of the fear of lost business for city-centre retailers. So we're back to encouraging everyone from the whole city to do all their shopping in an area of one square mile. How sustainable.

Small chance, I guess, of banning the taxis from the bus corridor. Given more space, with the private cars gone, they now drive even faster and more dangerously. Paradoxically, the cancelling of the bus corridor may actually make the road safer.

The council says the bus corridor will be brought back on 15th January, but I won't be  holding my breath.

I suppose we will all have to suffer throughout December in the name of the retailers, for the ironically-named Operation Freeflow. Pedestrian lights will be disabled, gardaí will waste thousands of hours directing traffic to make sure that all the blessed cars can get into the city centre and park in the all-important car-parks.

As the late, great J.G. Ballard said: "Believe me, the next revolution is going to be about parking".

An Garda Síochána san Austráil

Fake Garda van in Melbourne

Fake Garda van in Melbourne

There are at least two home-made Garda vans driving around in Australia, one in Melbourne apparently, and another in Cairns. Perhaps there are more doing the rounds!

The photos shown here are from the one in Melbourne. These are not imported originals, oh no. Someone has actually gone to the effort of creating a fake Garda van, on the other side of the world. And painted it by hand. This is true dedication to the cause.

Look at the beautifully ornate paint-work

Look at the beautifully ornate paint-work

Here we can see the van in action on Google Maps Street View, trundling along: 57 Carlisle Street, St Kilda, Australia

I hope he's smoking out that window.

I hope he's smoking out that window.

And finally, here's another fake Garda van, also seemingly from Australia:

This one is less realistic, but does have amusing blue lights.

This one is less realistic, but does have amusing blue lights.

These fake Garda vans certainly seem to be rather popular Down Under. Perhaps I should build my own... Or construct a fake Garda bike...

Photos are not my own, but gathered from the dreaded

Football fall-out

A rather good piece of satire did the rounds in the lead-up to the Ireland-France match at the end of last week. It turned up  on an Irish soccer blog, but originated from a small Irish ad agency, Chemistry. It purported to be a leak of a series of letters between Irish and French diplomatic staff trying to organise a VIP box for Nicolas Sarkozy, the French President. It certainly raised a smile.

Rue de Blageur

The counterfeit letterhead

Here's a link to the post which started the fun, on the Irish Soccer Insider blog.

Unfortunately, the Irish team didn't quite live up to the hopes of Bill, the Liaison Officer... Still, the rugby was good, and that's all that matters.

What is so difficult about a secular state?

This Saturday's Irish Times contains the following snippet under in its column In Short.

The High Court has reserved judgment on a challenge to the constitutionality of a provision of the Charities Acts which outlaws the sale of Mass cards except through an arrangement with the Catholic Church.

Thomas McNally, head of Mass card producers MCC, New Street, Co Longford, and his sister, Marie Reilly, a card retailer of Ard Na Rí, Ardnacassa, Co Longford, have taken the action against the State over the measures, which became law in early September.

The plaintiffs claim the Act is unconstitutional in that it unlawfully confers a monopoly on the sale of Mass cards to clerics of the Catholic Church or to persons approved by them.

What is significant here is that the legislation in question, the Charities Act, was not introduced at the tail end of the 1960s, in the austere 1950s, the needy 1940s or the reactionary 1930s. It was introduced last year, in 2008. This year brought blasphemy as a criminal offence.

What's next? Mandatory religious indoctrination in the national school system?  Oh...

Last chance to see…

On the eve of what will probably mark the departure of Ceann 'Clown' Comhairle, John O'Donoghue, I present to you his finest hour, in case you had somehow forgotten it.

Elaine Byrne of the Irish Times has this to say in her article:

That O’Donoghue is regarded as a good Ceann Comhairle and a nice man is irrelevant when his position as chairman of the Oireachtas Commission to reform political expenses constitutes a direct conflict of interest...

I do not see how this buffoon could be described as "a good Ceann Comhairle". As the speaker of Dáil Éireann, the Irish parliament, he should be almost beyond reproach in terms of his conduct and self-control. He is, constitutionally, the 4th most powerful figure in the State.

Now watch the video.

Route legend for the former Dublin tram system

Dublin United Transport Company route legend

Dublin United Transport Company route legend

The first of several artifacts I'll post here about Dublin's transport systems in the past. Future ones will have more discussion.