Monday, 25 August 2008

Cardinal Brady, Lisbon, and Christian "values"

So, Cardinal Sean Brady, the Catholic primate (presumably the term is not meant in a Darwinian sense) thinks that growing unease about the EU’s “prevailing culture and social agenda”, driven by the “secular tradition”, may have been a factor in the Irish electorate’s ill-judged rejection of the Lisbon Treaty.

What kind of agenda does Brady expect the EU to have? Should it be more grounded in the brand of superstitious nonsense that he represents? The same brand of church interference in State affairs that held this country in isolated ignorance for so long? The provider of the same moral values that presided over unthinkable child abuse and swept it under its collective cassock?

Or why not give another variety of ignorant superstition a go? How about Protestant fundamentalist values? Some of its adherents still justify slavery and truly believe that the universe was created in seven days. Should they decide the EU’s direction?

Both brands of Christianity created the conditions for the holocaust. They were the foundation of the European anti-Semitism that existed for centuries, an anti-semitism fostered and encouraged by German church leaders long before the Nazis came to power. This church-inspired, institutionalized hatred was endemic in German society, and the Nazis gave it its fullest expression. Make no mistake: the anti-Semitism the Nazis fed off was firmly based on Christian “values”.

While we are at it, how about giving the Muslims a shot? Their religion has never even seen the Enlightenment and, as such, is even more misogynistic and backward than its Christian counterpart. Perhaps too much so, even for Cardinal Brady.

There are very good reasons why the EU promotes secular values. And if we are really so stupid as to look to Cardinal Brady or the Catholic church for guidance on any issue – political or moral – perhaps we don’t deserve to be in it.

Maybe we aren’t going back to the 80s so much as going back to the 50s?

See also Ireland says "no" to Lisbon - Gombeens rejoice

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Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Flooding in Dublin and Ireland

Do you remember the flooding in Dublin?

And in the outlying "commuter towns" such as Carlow and Dunboyne? As flooding goes, you could say it's biblical, only it is firmly rooted in fact. The authorities say it is all due to global warming - nothing to do with them, you see. Mind you, it's also possible that our Gombeen powers-that-be not clearing the drains, and their building-boom-era (RIP) habit of granting planning permission to their construction mates to build on flood plains might also be contributing factors.

Sure, the rain has been exceptionally heavy this year (oh... and last year), but this has happened before, and will happen again. Those who have not been roaming the Earth as long as Gombeen Man might think current "weather events" are without precedent, but not so. The years of 1985 and 1986, for example, were also washouts. And don't forget the denizens of Ringsend and Ballsbridge involuntarily sharing their homes with the Dodder on separate occasions in the not-too-distant past.

And then there is Dunboyne. Builders were granted permission to construct estates in and around that town on land that was known to be liable to flooding. Can you imagine that? Gombeen Man knows of one unlucky homeowner whose house has been flooded three times in the past seven years.

So, any potential home purchasers who don't want to dip their toes in the water could do worse than study this useful Office of Public Works website, and check that the home they've been dreaming off all these years does not come with a driveway mooring facility.

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Thursday, 14 August 2008

Englishman wins discrimination case against Irish work colleagues

Did you hear the one about the Irishmen who told the one about the Englishman who went to the Equality Board?

There is a certain class of person in Ireland who attributes an inherent superiority to all things Irish. But that’s par for the course. You get them everywhere, and nationalism isn’t the most noble or logical of –isms, after all. In every example of the genre, every nation has its conceits.

For us, they take the form of us being the friendliest people in the world, loved by all (except those bloody Brits, of course). We’re the funniest, wittiest people in the world (in fairness, what could funnier than Riverdance or Eamonn O’Cuiv?).

We’re morally superior too. For instance, we don’t allow abortion – let the deed happen elsewhere! We still wouldn’t have divorce if it weren’t for the pesky EU “bringing it in”. In fact, we didn’t even have sex before marriage until the 1990s, as only married couples could get rubber johnnies by means of a doctor’s prescription. Unless you were one of the few who could find another circumstance for using the things, in which case you might know how to get them illegally.

And speaking of things illegal, aren’t we a nation of rebels anyway, be the hokey? (Mind you, that doesn’t explain how we never rebelled against the nonsense above). Last but not least - we are not racist or prejudiced, thanks to a deep empathy and understanding forged by our collective experience of oppression, victimization and tyranny over The 800 Years.

So how does that explain why our bosses rip off foreign workers as enthusiastically as any foreign bosses? How does it explain how our new Irish landlord class is as bad as anything we had under British rule? How does it explain why some Irish workers abuse their colleagues on the grounds of their nationality?

An Englishman working in Ireland has won a complaint against his erstwhile Irish work colleagues on the grounds of racist abuse. I suppose the more hardline of you might look at it as revenge for the crimes that were Bernard Manning (above), Jimmy Cricket, Frank Carson, and others, who made careers out of racist “jokes” about the Irish to an appreciative British audience. But the problem with that is that you can’t tar all British people with the same broad brush.

Yes, some Irish people were victimized and discriminated against while working in Britain, but most (and there were thousands and thousands) of us living working in Britain in the 80s and 90s - I was one - were treated as equals, with respect and dignity. I suppose the bottom line is that there’s a world of difference between ribbing someone you are on good, friendly terms with, and using their accent or country of origin to isolate or ridicule them and make their lives hell.

And before someone says “hey, can this guy not take a joke?”, bear in mind that was precisely the argument used against the minority of Irish people in Britain who encountered who stood up to similar abuse in the workplace way back then.

If the other person isn't laughing, then it's not funny.

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Monday, 4 August 2008

EU opens prize bonds market to Irish citizens

The European Commission has told the Irish government to drop its ban on its own citizens buying prize bonds, or premium bonds, in other EU member states. This follows a complaint made to the EU against the Irish government’s policy by an Irish woman, Helen Mc Cumiskey.

The Irish Government had justified the ban on the dishonest basis that it was protecting its citizens from exploitation by unscrupulous foreign lottery operators - despite the fact that other prize bond-type investments (such as the British premium bonds) are State-guaranteed savings schemes where money is invested and not gambled, as is the case in a lottery.

The Irish government will have to amend its Lotteries and Gaming Act legislation this month. It means that Irish savers will have more choice, which will negatively impact on the Irish prize bonds scheme which is distinctly less generous than its British premium bonds equivalent.

Bravo for the EU. Now could they please force our Government to scrap its scandalous Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT), which means we have to pay up to 40% more for our cars than people in other EU countries?*

*See more on this here

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