Sunday, 31 October 2010

Halloween - the perfect night for the pub

I know it's a bit lazy but, given the day that's in it, here's a repost of something that appeared in Gombeen Nation two years back. Oh, and for any of you with little darlings - don't take it too seriously. 

I'm sure yours are impeccably behaved, anyway! ;-)

Don’t get me wrong - I’ve nothing against children. No, really! I mean, I wouldn't actually harm them, anyway. Not even the Celtic Bratz that knocked on the front door last year, and greeted my generous offering of assorted sweeties – bought expressly for the occasion – with a belligerent “is that all you’ve got?”.

I needn’t tell you, I only curbed my instinct to snatch back said offerings – while delivering a kick up the gits' podgy little arses – due to mummy’s threatening, po-faced, arms-folded, presence at the garden gate.

Mind you, kids are a blank canvas, aren’t they? If they’re ungrateful, spoilt little bastards – similar to that Viz character in the sailor hat – you can only blame it on their parents. After all, if their folks are stupid enough to believe their genes are worthy of perpetuation, they’ll be stupid enough to bring up their kids with all their own attendant character flaws.

Gombeen Man often ponders the near-extinction of the good, old-fashioned, decent Dubliner – and the displacement of that archetype by the modern Dublin skanger. Gombeen Man’s folks were Dubliners, of course, as were theirs and theirs (as far as he can go back, actually), and they were thoroughly decent people – shitty and all as their lives were. There are a few of that mould still around, but Christ, they are few and far between.

So what better time of the year to celebrate the ascendancy of the Dublin skanger than Halloween? It’s a time of lard-arsed little shits banging on your door, demanding sweets/money/a-standing-order-to-their-bank-accounts with menaces. It’s a time when no cat that values its arse can wander out, for fear of a tracksuit-clad scumbag sticking a banger up said orifice. It’s a time when the whole of the Dublin 15 skyline resembles the Baghdad heavens at the height of its forced “liberation”.

And do you know what else? It’s a time to get the hell out of the house and down to the pub, leaving those vile little bastards to knock on your front door – preferably in sub zero temperatures - in vain. Just in case though, take your car out of the driveway so they can’t slash its tyres.  Oh, and keep your cat indoors.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, 29 October 2010

Blame the Dail, not the Berlaymont, for Ireland's economic ills

Oh dear oh dear oh dear. It seems that another half-wit Herald Metro letter writer is continuing the great Irish tradition of blaming someone else for all our ills.  

As if in answer to the last Gombeen Nation post, which touched on the growing tendency of some to blame the EU for Ireland’s self-inflicted economic balls-up, a certain Jboy offers his example of the genre.  [Gombeen Nation comments in brackets]


"National debt at record levels and the EU now calls the shots. Some say it’s a great development and they’ll get us back on track. No it’s not. They haven’t solved financial problems in any other member state.       [Maybe Jboy should look up Greece at this point… if not “solving”, at least  they are  
                                                                 preventing the country from dissolving].

Let’s rewind back a couple of years, to when they accused the Irish of failing to understand the Lisbon Treaty after the initial rejection, or to put it more bluntly, the Irish were too stupid to understand it.       [Yes, indeed they were too stupid to understand it. Even gobshite commissioner Charlie McCreevy boasted his ignorance of it. Some sections of the Irish great unwashed voted against an imaginary EU army, others voted against abortion rights, others voted against immigration, and others (the farmers) played hard to get with a “yes” vote because they thought they would get more money by doing so].

…[Rambling bit cut out]… Back to the present, the EU has decided we have to send our Budget off to Brussels for their prior approval.

It seems strange that the Irish fought so hard and for so long for their independence [yaaawn]
then handed it back piece by piece on a silver plate, without a single shot being fired."


 What the hell is it about this place?

We are being shafted unmercifully up the back passage by our own political class in our rotten, failed, entity of a “republic” - yet we have imbeciles like Jboy getting all indignant about the Eurozone’s anxiety to prevent its currency being destroyed by our very own cute gombeen hoors!

Jboy, we are part of the common currency and therefore have obligations and responsibilities. Our banking system is being kept afloat by ECB money.   We might still have to apply for access to the EU Emergency Fund (bond yields reached a record of 7% today, even though we are out of the loop at present) and given the holy mess that previous FF Budgets have wrought on our economy, the EU has every reason to take a healthy interest in the next one.

Oh, and by the year 2013, we will have received €41 billion in net funding from the EU.

So please… find a more deserving target for your indignation.  You need look no further than Kildare Street.

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Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Soden, ex-Bank of Ireland CEO, says leaving the EU should be considered

Yesterday morning I woke up with a good belly laugh, having just listened to the “It Says in the Papers”  feature on RTE… always a nice way to start the day.

The man behind the morning mirth was one Michael Soden, ex-chief executive of Bank of Ireland who, incidentally, had to resign his post in 2004 when it was discovered he had been browsing websites “of an adult nature” while, erm, on the job.  (Irish Independent, May 30th 2004)

It seems that Mike, being quoted by the Sindo from a book of his called “Open Dissent”,  thinks that we should leave the EU “if it prevents us from making our own decisions on the management of our economy”.

Well, I don’t know what kind of websites Mike has been browsing since 2004, when the banks’ reckless lending was heating up the economy very nicely, but hasn’t he heard what happened in the meantime?

Surely he knows that “we”, due to making “our” own decisions on running the economy, made a complete and utter bags of it?   He must do, as Lenihan appointed him to the Government’s very own Central Bank Commission last year.

Elsewhere, Matt Cooper, writing in the Sunday Times, pointed out that “the State-supported banks cannot refinance their debts so the ECB is doing it instead. Without this ECB intervention the State guarantee to depositors would be called in and that would be the end.” 

Soden, eminent banker that he is,  should appreciate that the ECB is the only thing keeping the country's banking system going at all - otherwise, it's hello IMF.  More worryingly, his sentiments are typical of recent attempts by some in Ireland to shift the blame for Ireland's economic ills from our own inept, corrupt, politicians to the EU. 

If thinkers of Soden's calibre are on the Government’s Central Bank Commission – ostensibly set up to “incorporate both the responsibilities of the Central Bank and the supervision and regulatory functions of the Financial Regulator”  -  perhaps the IMF might be the best option for us?

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Sunday, 24 October 2010

Hitler on the Luas?

You can't believe everything you see or read on the web - especially in the blogosphere.  With notable exceptions, of course.   That's why most things on Gombeen Nation that aren't stated merely as opinion, and everyone is entitled to their own, are usually backed up with sources - be they from newspaper, radio, TV, the title of a survey, or whatever. 

Take this picture doing the rounds on the web at the moment, spotted on the sometimes funny, sometimes serious, but always interesting atoast2toast site (some good stuff there about the Owen Gaffney v baton-happy gardai trial), which purports to be a shot of a Hitler lookalike taking a jaunt on Dublin's tram network.   It came orignally, I think, from popular Twitterer Twistedlilkitty, who put it up on TwitPic.

So what can we make of it?  Is it real?  Or is it staged, with someone dressing up as the happily expired Führer to do the rounds on the web, as an attachment in every office in-box? 

Or is there someone in Dublin with a decidedly dodgy penchant for dressing up and grooming himself in imitation of the jumped-up little corporal? 

Or is old Adi actually living in dear old Dublin with a plentiful supply of Grecian 2000 in his suburban bathroom cabinet, while Eva grows old gracefully.  Well, as gracefully as the wife of an ex-dictator and genocidist possibly can?

And is it actually the Luas?  If so, is it the Green or the Red line?

If the latter, what are the chances he rues the day he left the bunker?

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Friday, 22 October 2010

"Lucky to be leaving" - an Irish emigrant's lament (Metro Herald)

I read this in the Herald Metro yesterday on the way to work and did enjoy it.  It's not often you see a coherent, sensible, letter in that organ, so I do think it's worth running on Gombeen Nation, as it may strike a chord with some of you - as it did with me.  And I'm not being lazy, as I had to type it in.

Now I would differ with the author, Jack, on some points.  One being his contention that Ireland is a land with no "patriots".  In my experience, there are far too many of the bastards -  prepared to overlook any genre of shafting, scheming, shystering, ill-doing and outright robbery as long as it is perpetrated on them by "one of our own".

And then you have the kind of lumpen nationalist whose estimation of the most corrupt FF gombeen shoots up if said sleazeball is capable of belting out a few Wolfe Tones numbers after a feed of pints.  

I'm also a little unsure about him lamenting what he sees as the disappearance of Irish "democracy".  I mean, isn't it the great Irish public who have been voting for these slippery chancers all along?  And what does that say about them?

Anyway.  Here it is.  Enjoy.

I've got my old job back in Australia and will shortly be re-emigrating. I'm overjoyed to be leaving this cesspit of corruption and cronyism.

I hate Ireland - a country where it's who you know, not what you know - with one rule for the elite and another for everyone else. Where someone who doesn't pay a TV licence goes to jail, but the corrupt bankers can transfer their assets to their wives. A country with no patriots, and that doesn't even pretend to be a democracy any more. A country full of moaning whingers, who now want their house for free because the banks "forced" them into paying the highest prices in the world.

I hope everyone enjoys the next 25 years paying off the debts you all incurred. The people who falsified their income to take on an excessive mortgage, who rang their TD to skip the queue or get something sorted in return for a vote, who did work for cash to avoid tax. The "as long as I'm alright Jack" brigade. I hope you look forward to Ireland becoming the first Third World member of the EU.

On a positive note, I leave behind a good "knowledge economy" job for one of the unfortunate victims of this regime, who are unemployed and aren't lucky enough to be able to leave.


Well said, Jack, and good luck.  The blog can't afford to lose people like you!

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Wednesday, 20 October 2010

World Bank report junks Irish "low tax" boast

According to a World Bank report, Ireland currently has an effective 46% top rate of tax. This, according to Ken Foxe reporting in last Sunday’s Tribune, ranks Ireland eight-highest in the world with regard to income tax. I imagine that the effective rate includes PRSI and the income levy… the Two Brians can call them what they like, they are tax.

Just to point out, according to the Revenue site an individual taxpayer goes into the “top” rate band on an income of €36,400. This applies only to those in the PAYE sector, of course – and PAYE workers paid €10 billion of the total income tax take of €13.5 billion in 2007. There are those outside this exploited sector banking multiples of €36,400 who pay little or no tax, due to still-in-effect tax shelters and creative accounting.

So next time you hear some gombeen politician blabbing on that we live in a low tax economy, consider the above. Also consider the fact that we pay more for our cars than most Europeans thanks to VRT, that we pay tax on our credit cards, pay DIRT on our savings, pay an insurance premium tax, and have a higher VAT rate than the UK.

The only low tax is the corporate rate of 12.5% - conceived to steal a sneaky march over most of our fellow EU member states. Ironically, we are likely to need their help increasingly over the coming years – and financial help seldom comes without strings attached.

Oh, and expect our standing in the World Bank’s high-income-tax league to jump a few notches after the next draconian budget hits the usual suspects.

We mugs.

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Sunday, 17 October 2010

Dublin-Dunboyne rail line Coolmine flypast OK with Barry Kenny

Does Barry Kenny, spokesman for Irish Rail, ever take the train to work? I can only imagine if he does, it is not from Coolmine Station, where he can stand on a miserable, windswept platform and watch the town-bound trains roar through the station without stopping.

A few weeks back, Irish Rail introduced the new Dunboyne to Dublin service and I – and I imagine other Dublin 15 residents – looked forward to some large gaps in the timetable being filled, bringing the service closer to DART levels of frequency. It never happened, though, as the new trains ignore all the intermediate stations, once they leave Clonsilla.

According to the Northside People West, Kenny thinks this is OK, despite local TD Leo Varadkar estimating that stopping at Coolmine, Castleknock, Phoenix Park, Ashtown, Broombridge and Drumcondra would only add four minutes onto the total journey time, off-peak.

I’m not quite sure about that figure myself, but surely if Irish Rail is going to the trouble and (public) expense of providing a branch-off line to Dunboyne, buying additional engines and rolling-stock, and training and employing new drivers, it would make economic sense to maximize the potential of the investment by taking on as many fee-paying passengers as possible?

But no. Irish Rail, in its profound wisdom, decided that the trains would pass through Coolmine – the second busiest station on the line, according to an Irish Rail employee I chatted with – without stopping.

Maybe if Kenny had a talk with Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary it might prove instructive to him, and be of benefit of the train-travelling public of west Dublin?

Sadly, it looks like yet another example of a State-owned body being run arseways.

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Saturday, 16 October 2010

Irish motorway service stations.

Bloody hell, it was a funny old day. This is probably the most controversial post ever in Gombeen Nation’s illustrious 3-year-plus history of giving out about everything Irish and to do with Ireland. …I’m actually going to say some nice things. Bear with me, now.

First of all, let me praise the gardai. I won’t go into the details, but nobody wants to see flashing blue lights in their rear-view mirror if they’re a few (!) klicks over the speed limit, even on a relatively empty motorway. It’s an awful sinking feeling, altogether. But nice to see some of the lads in the unmarked cars have bigger fish to fry. I’ll say no more. Cheers lads!*

Went up to Newry yesterday, as I needed to get some jeans. I’m a bit old fashioned in that respect, as I firmly believe that a pair of jeans should only have one hole in them. The ones in my possession contained more than that – even when hanging in the wardrobe. I had a look in Blanch the other day and made a solemn vow I was not going to pay €109 for a pair of Levis. And what with the Gombeen Man wallet swollen from some shrewd play in the currency markets when Sterling was still cheap, I took off up to the brave north.

Said apparel was purchased in Debenhams, priced at £55 each, and the toy car (above) was spotted. I can only imagine it is the result of some bizarre form of “localisation”, although in reality it is highly unlikely, given that there isn’t even a Porsche dealer in post-boom Ireland, let alone a deal to supply squad über-cars.

But here’s the second bit of unlikely praise: the service stations. Despite initial resistance from the NRA, it finally bowed to common sense and conceded that the European best-practice idea of motorway service stations might be a good one.

The two on the M1 are exemplary. So far, anyway. You can get fuel at a good price – unprecedented for the genre – and can grab a coffee and a snack at a price not that much higher than that of the local Tescos cafe. I don’t think I have seen that anywhere else – usually you pay a premium due to their proximity to the motorway.

Incredibly, they are the best service stations I've ever seen, anywhere.

Let's wait until they catch on.

* I reserve the right to change my opinion diametrically if I get anything nasty through the letterbox.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

The plight of the involuntarily unemployed in Ireland

I remember some years back, when I played bass guitar in an awful pub covers band, I was told that a gig on the first Tuesday of each month was a coveted one, as the pubs would be full of people bursting with bonhomie and flush with Child Benefit cash (also known as the Mickey Money or the John Player Blue Allowance). Unfortunately, the band was too crap to get a gig on the first Tuesday of the month, so I never found out for sure.

But I often wondered, when I pottered over to the Blanchardstown Centre on a day off, how the hell it could be so busy?  Was everyone off work on the very day I was?  Were most people working night or evening shifts?  Or were there a lot of career “unemployed” in the area with lots of spare time and cash in their pockets?  Being something of a cynic, I plumped for the latter. And like most cynics, I may have been right.

IBEC* claimed in an Indo article (March 17th) that an unemployed couple with two children could receive up to €33,944 a year, or €458 a week, in welfare payments. This figure included jobseeker’s allowance (€196 a week), qualifying adult allowance (€130), and €59 a week for two sprogs. The same article claimed that a working couple would have to gross €45,000 to beat that, taking travel and lunch costs into account.  IBEC's figures, however, might have been more useful to us if they had focused on the career unemployed on benefit rather than people who have lost their employment and are on jobseeker's allowance (which lasts only one year), but they decided to go for higher figure rather than make the most obvious, valid, comparison.

Now my own research. A couple on the minimum wage of €8.65 an hour – and there are many - would only GROSS about €35,542 per annum. I assume they would pay PRSI and the income levy, though presumably not income tax. So these hard-working people are quite possibly taking in less, taking into account work-related expenses,  than those who enjoy a lifelong over-familiarity with daytime TV.  Likewise workers who find themselves suddenly unemployed, where a partner still works, find themselves at a disadvantage.  See the following example.

A letter in yesterday's Irish Times came from Ronan Murtagh of Mullingar who, having “paid taxes for almost 20 years”, found himself redundant in September 2008. He got jobseeker’s allowance for 12 months, but this was means-tested after a year, and he was told he would not qualify for benefit as his wife earns €375 a week. Nor did he qualify for mortgage allowance, as his partner works more than 30 hours a week. 

Maybe she should consider packing the job in?

Makes you wonder what kind of a place we live in.

* I detest IBEC too

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Monday, 11 October 2010

Gaeleagras - Civil Service language training - quietly wound down?

“There is a world of difference between the soul of an Englishman  and the soul of a Gael – that the Englishman is deceitful, full of faults, scoundrelly, and false:  and the Gael is straightforward, honest, and innocent” 

Seamus O’Grianna, 1921 (sourced from “The Prose Literature of the Gaelic Revival, 1881-1921 Ideology and Innovation".  Philip O'Leary, 1994). 

We have had many opportunities, since the State’s foundation in 1921, to ponder the  irony of the above quote from  Gaelic revivalist and author, SeamusO’Grianna, who was also employed as a translator in the Irish Civil Service.

The Irish State was founded on such strange cultural nationalist ideas, and the emerging Irish elite saw language as the key to national identity: and the subsequent empowerment independence would afford them as a class.

 O’Grianna’s statement reads as out-and-out racism these days.  Strangely, however, the real purpose of Irish cultural nationalism was to promote the idea of racial difference, when none actually existed.  The notion of a homogenous, Gaelic, Irish race, is a bogus one -  there is no such thing. The aim of the cultural nationalists was to construct a binary divide based on language, with Gaeilge as the cornerstone of Irish identity.

 As a result,  after Gaeilge was made the State's first official language in de Valera’s 1937 Constitution (written in retro Gaelic script) it became a requirement for entry into the Civil Service and other State jobs.  It later became the medium of education in infant schools - an unmitigated disaster which resulted in children getting no early education at all.   Furthermore, failing Gaeilge in the Leaving Cert meant failure in the entire examination - regardless of a student’s results in other subjects.   One wonders how many otherwise gifted and promising young people were subsequently lost to the country?  

The doctrine of cultural nationalism was a totally bankrupt philosophy, but it was not until 1973 that Gaeilge was dropped  by the Fine Gael / Labour coalition as a prerequisite for entry to the Civil Service and for the attainment of the Leaving Certificate.  The effects of the old cultural nationalist policies linger on, however, and are well documented on the pages of this blog.

Interesting then, news I received from a friend of mine – let’s call him Paul -  who works in the Civil Service.  According to him, Gaeleagras, the Civil Service language training centre, has been quietly wound down and courses withdrawn.   In the recent past, candidates had experienced difficulty in securing foreign language courses through the body, which had decided to "concentrate on Irish Language provision... due to cutbacks”.  Now, if my contact is correct, even this is no more.

Gaeilge courses were the most popular among Civil Service staff - possibly as a means to enhanced promotion prospects within that organisation.   Those who pass special CS Gaeilge exams enjoy an extra 6% on their marks at promotion interviews.  Then there was the carrot of a one-week scholarship course in the Gaeltacht  which counted as an extra week’s leave with half of each participant's living expenses paid for.  And you know by whom.  

This quiet climbdown, then, is especially ironic considering the extra costs imposed on the public purse by O’Cuiv’s 2003 Official Languages Bill.  (As an interesting aside, the intended title for this legislation was The Official Languages Equality Bill until TDs remembered that it had little to do with equality, Gaeilge having priority over the vernacular of the country, English).

O’Cuiv’s bill slipped through in Boomtime Ireland, when paying through the nose for all sorts of nonsense we did not need was seen by some as a badge of honour.   The hard fact is, we simply cannot afford the financial burden of O'Cuiv's language bill and the bureaucracy it engenders any more.

Maybe, as with Gaeleagras, it is time so say “slán” to it.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Going, going, gone. Let's sell up and ship out.

There was an excellent letter in last Thursday’s Irish Times.  Sorry I’m only getting around to it now, but even we bloggers have lives sometimes. I think the writer, Stephen Joyce of Thurles, intended the following idea as a joke, but I really think we should take it seriously.  See what you think.

Madam, – Prof Ray Kinsella (“Saving economy requires changed political mindset”, Opinion, October 6th) argues that handing over economic control to the IMF would be “a bleak commentary on the capacity of an ancient and cultured people to manage its affairs”.

Given that our current options for taoiseach are Brian Cowen, Enda Kenny, and Eamon Gilmore, perhaps it is time to face the hard truth – we have given the whole self-government thing a go and we can’t do it. This may be a betrayal of Éamon de Valera’s vision, but then Dev also imagined an Ireland where everyone spoke Gaeilge while cailíní danced at the crossroads, so he was a man given to unrealistic ambitions.

Once we accept that we cannot govern ourselves responsibly, we can accept the only viable option left to us: we can auction off the entire country to the highest bidder. As a strategically situated island off the coast of Europe, we may be able to play off superpower interests and raise the price for the whole country to about €4 trillion, which would mean €1,000,000 for every person in the country to move to a much better-run country and start a new life. Those with a particular fondness for the Ould Sod could probably stay on as cleaners or tour guides, giving vibrant accounts of the glories of Irish civilisation to sympathetic tourists.

This may seem a bit drastic, but in the absence of any meaningful desire among the Irish people to change our current political structure so as to find leaders who can actually do the job of running the country, I see no alternative that we could hope to carry out. A public auction of everything we own in order to emigrate is at least well within the Irish experience. – Yours, etc,

Then all we would have to do is sort out our visas.

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Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Councillor Nial Ring opposes Queen Elizabeth's visit to Ireland

The Northside People (West) came through the letterbox the other day, bringing with it the usual bad tidings from the region. One report detailed a horse found in a Finglas field with its spleen protruding from its body, held roughly in place by duct tape. The horse had to be destroyed..

Then there was Joe Duffy yesterday, I’m told. In the early hours of Saturday morning, a band of BMX riding scumbags wielding hammers smashed the windows of 40 parked cars in Castleknock.  It seems, however, that apprehending the pedal-powered posse in the act was beyond the powers of the local plod. 

Elsewhere, Englishman Raymond Bates was beaten to death by a hurley-swinging scumbag in Sandymount because he took off from the lights too quickly for the Gah-head's liking. Road rage, they called it - yet it sounds more like pure hatred to me. And let's not forget Polish worker, Lukasz Rzeszutko,  murdered by an unemployable local bumwipe in Coolock while on his way to start an early morning shift.  The whole place is awash with skangers and scumbags, no two ways about it.

Having spent several years living in one of England’s poorest boroughs – Newham, East London – and other places besides, I can say that few others can hold a candle to Ireland when it comes to producing scumbags. It is enough to make your heart burst with patriotic pride.

And speaking of patriotic pride, step forward Dublin City councillor Nial Ring, also featured in the aforementioned local freesheet. Never mind scumbags and social breakdown: Ring’s big concern is the proposed visit to Ireland by another EU head of state, Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain.

According to the People, the independent councillor - who comes from a proud Fianna Fail family - opposes the visit as his relatives were involved in the Easter Rising and the War of Independence.  Furthermore, it seems that one of Ring’s forebears, Liam O’Rinn, translated the Soldier's Song (our national anthem) into Gaelic – presumably so we wouldn't be able to tell what drivel it is.

And there's more.  Apparently Ring’s ancestral inner city home was used as a safe house during “the fight for Ireland” and “several people who were informers were actually taken out of the house for execution”.   What better patriotic credentials could a man have?

Councillor Ring thinks Lizzy should issue the apologies, however, despite the mess of a country his brave rebel forebears helped create. “Queen Elizabeth is not welcome in my country unless she is coming to say sorry”, he is quoted as saying. “She can also apologise to me and my family for crimes by her country against my grandparents and their brothers and families. Then the healing can begin.”

Healing? What’s that, Nial?  “She has a lot to say sorry for but I don’t think she has any intention of doing so”, he expands. “For a start, she needs to apologise for the crimes against the Irish people, their language and culture”.  Bloody Hell. And there's me thinking it's 2010. 

Tell me this and tell me no more.  Are people not sick of being manipulated by this sort of  insulting, knee-jerk, bar-stool, lumpen Republican rhetoric?  Especially after the mess our very "own" gombeen political class have made of the place they profess to love so much? 

I am no fan of monarchy and hereditary power, but that would apply to Beatrix of Holland as much as Elizabeth of England.  Not to mention the Dail.  But if the head of state of another EU country – even a constitutional monarchy – wishes to visit, what is the problem?   I'll tell you what it is, according to these people:  it's “The Past”.   Strongbow, Cromwell, the Famine and all the rest - the 800 years.  Stop the record, puh-leeese!

Let us just consider the more recent history of our continental European neighbours.  55 years ago - a blink of an eye in the Irish "folk memory" - the end of the Second World War saw much of Europe laid to waste and millions upon millions of its inhabitants killed.  Yet most of the countries whose forebears were involved in that carnage have put it behind them, and enjoy relatively civil relationships today.  They’ve moved on.  It's the only way forward, after all.

So instead of banging on about the Brits and the 800 years, maybe our gombeen political class should apologise for what they have been doing to us since 1921?

And we should not allow ourselves to be so easily distracted by them.

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Monday, 4 October 2010

Protester parks cement truck outside Dail, butt politicians are not impressed.

Should we lie on our bellies and think of Ireland?

I’m informed that the implement masquerading as a microphone in the video above is something known as a butt plug. I imagine it is a device used by someone suffering from severe diarrhoea.

Witness, however, the verbal equivalent it extracts from various TDs in the aftermath of protestor Joe McNamara parking a cement mixer, with “toxic bank” and “Anglo” painted on it, outside the Irish parliament .

What dildos.

The Anglo Avenger / Politicians buttplug video is by Madam K and I saw it on atoast2toast

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Saturday, 2 October 2010

Ireland: Busted. The Guardian on Ireland's economy.

Sometimes those on, or from, the outside can see things better than those in the thick of it.  Wood from the trees and all that.   The German ambassador to this country hit it on the head some years back, when his accurate observations on Ireland, the Irish economy, and the Irish were met with frothy indignation from the natives. 

I imagine that, in the aftermath of Black Thursday and the latest estimates of how much the bank bail-outs will cost us, this weekend's international papers - and particularly the Sunday titles - will have some interesting things to say about Ireland's self-inflicted economic woes.  

Cowen thinks we must sort it out ourselves, as it is a matter of our country's sovereignty.  Well maybe sovereignty is too expensive a commodity?   And after all, sovereignty is what put gombeens like Cowen and Ahern in power.  Maybe this country of shysters and chancers was never fit for it?

Anyway, thanks to C for sending this.  It's an editorial from yesterday's Guardian.


From Greece to Japan to the US, countries across the world have been devastated by the banking crisis. But no economy has been wrecked quite so brutally as Ireland's. The erstwhile Celtic Tiger has seen its national income shrink 17% over the past three years – the deepest and swiftest contraction of any western country since the Great Depression. At the height of the long boom from 1990 to 2007, property in Dublin was worth more than in London. Since then, prices have dropped by around 40% – and are still sinking. At this rate, the country will soon hold the dubious honour of hosting the biggest property bubble and bust in modern history. When financiers joked in 2008 that the only difference between bankrupt Iceland and hard-up Ireland was one letter and a few days, they got it wrong – the mess the Emerald Isle is now in is so much worse.

When a country has gone bust in such spectacular fashion, the causes for its crisis are bound to range far and wide. Primary among them we might count an overreliance on property prices both for the feelgood factor and for public revenues. During the boom, Dublin cut income and corporation tax and relied increasingly on property taxes. As soon as the bubble burst, revenues collapsed. In other aspects, policymakers can claim that they simply stuck to the international orthodoxy for economic success – lure in foreign capital wherever you can, pursue your comparative advantages (which in Dublin, as in Reykjavik, came to be seen as finance) and remain open. But one of the lessons of what Gordon Brown once termed the first crisis of globalisation is that being open for business at all costs does not work well for small countries with homogeneous economies. And it really does not work with dozy policymakers.

As Pete Lunn of Dublin's Economic and Social Research Institute notes, the elite directing the Irish economy is more tightly closed than an oyster shell – so that the top civil servant in the department of finance would normally expect his tenure to be followed by a stint as chief central banker. Policymakers shrank from calling the property bubble a bubble until it had popped. And when it had burst, they accepted too easily the bankers' claims that they were merely short of liquidity rather than utterly bust. They did as the IMF advised and put into force some of the most savage spending cuts ever – with the result that nearly one in six workers is now unemployed, and that another economic downturn has begun.

Similarities exist here with other countries: just ask Gordon Brown. The big difference with the UK is that, as part of the euro club, Ireland cannot unilaterally devalue its currency. Its only road back to competitiveness is to cut workers' living standards. Which means that, whatever Mr Lenihan claims, the Irish economy has further to fall.
They were at it again yesterday. The Irish finance minister, Brian Lenihan, promised voters that the national "nightmare" they have had to live with for the past couple of years would soon be over: "We are now bringing closure to that." He did not convince financiers, who have heard a similar form of words from Mr Lenihan every time he has brought forth another ill-advised plan. Even measured against the minister's previous gambles, though, this one is huge.

Yesterday's bailout will include Anglo Irish, the property developer's favourite bank, as well as Allied Irish and Irish Nationwide – and it is set to raise the budget deficit from around 12% of national income to an astounding 32%.
And all the way down, Dublin ministers have promised voters that things are about to get better. Those emergency loans to the banks – that would sort it. These savage spending cuts – that would do the job. That decision to pretty much guarantee the entire banking system (with practically no questions asked) – this time for sure. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Like a body flung off the roof of a skyscraper, the Irish economy has just kept on falling.

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