Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Crisis? Water crisis? Shortages continue in Dublin.

Haven’t been at the blog in the past few days. Given the time of year, I imagine most people have better (or arguably, worse) things to be doing with their time than reading – or even writing – blogs.

As always in Ireland, however, something is bound to stir you out of your blissful state of peace and goodwill, such as it is. Water, or the lack thereof, is this post’s stimulus.

We ran out of the stuff, without warning, the day before yesterday. It was about One when we noticed a trickle from the taps that quickly reduced to nothing at all.  After a look at the Fingal County Council website, and no mention of water shortages in the area, a quick call was made to the emergency phone number.

Well, when I say quick, It took about half-an-hour to get a human, which was excusable enough for the day that was in it.  I had to work Stephen’s Day, so have some sympathy for those on a skeleton staff coping with increased workloads.  But what about the following?

“Hi there. I noticed our water disappeared about just over half-an-hour ago. I live in Clonsilla. Have you any idea when it might come back on?”

“Clonsilla? Is that near Baldoyle?”

“No. It’s out by Blanchardstown. Dublin 15."

“Oh. Have you checked your outside supply, that it is not frozen?”

“No. As there is a thaw, and we had no prior problems even when it was freezing, I assumed it was part of an overall problem with supply?"

“I will follow it up and get back to you. What’s your number?”

Needless to say, I heard nothing more, nor did I expect to.  But tell me this:  how could they not have known that one of the most highly populated areas in the country had no water?  All I wanted was a bit of honest info - to know the worst.  But it was like there was no problem at all, other than Mr Cranky of Clonsilla.

If you google “Fingal water shortage” you will see search results going back to 2006, so this is hardly a new problem.  You might think that Fingal County Council would at least be able to tell us, with some accuracy, when and where the water supplies will be shut off?

Then, at least, it would be possible to plan for the most basic of things.  Mind you, looking at today’s website, which seems to have more information up, I’m glad we’re not one of the poor sods in Naul, Walshestown, Ballyboghil, and Balrothery.  It has been advised that they will have no water at all until reservoir levels increase again. 

As well as empty reservoirs, it seems that numerous leaks are the, erm, source of the problem.  Apparently, large quantities of precious water are gushing into the underground soil before even making it to our taps.   Indeed, Dublin City Council estimates that 29% of its supply was lost through leakages in 2009, something it blames on the age of the supply system. 

Let us hope the local authorities clean up their acts before the introduction of water charges.

If we, as individuals, have a responsiblity to conserve resources, surely this extends to the suppliers as well?

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Saturday, 25 December 2010

Merry Christmas and all that

Given the day that's in it, I've just been flicking through "There's Probably No God - The Atheist's Guide to Christmas", edited by Ariane Sherine.  A very good read I got from the sister-in-law. 

 There's a short story in it by Jenny Colgan, who expands on her idea of what Christmas is all about for the discerning atheist:

"In the northern parts of the world, the winters are long, and cold and dark, and people would get sad and miserable. So they have always in the very depths of winter, form the beginning of recorded time, celebrated light, and life, and the promise of renewal and new birth, just when they most needed cheering up.  

And they would store food, and eat, and drink and be merry.  And, in time, [I love all the "ands" - very biblical - GM] different cultures and creeds passed over the world, and changed and added to the stories about why we were celebrating, and said that perhaps we were celebrating because of a green man, or Mithras, or Sol, or that the Baby Jesus was being born, or because Santa Claus is flying over the world.  And now, like all the millions of people who lived before us, we too use midwinter to see our family and exchange gifts, and feast and be merry and carry on traditions from our ancestors."

Sounds good enough for me. 

Whatever your interpretation - merry Christmas.

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Thursday, 23 December 2010

One-fifth of teacher training places to be reserved for Irish speakers.

A few weeks back, Minister for Education Mary Coughlan greeted the news that Ireland's literacy levels had dropped from 5th place in 2000 - as measured in an OECD study - to 17th in 2009, as disappointing.

The decline was the steepest of the 39 countries surveyed.  The study, Programme for International Student Assessment, also estimated that one-quarter of Irish 15-year-olds lacked the literacy skills to "enable them to participate effectively in society."

The Government has responded to this problem.  More resources are to be concentrated on promoting Gaelic.   In a truly Irish stroke of genius, one-fifth of teacher training places are to be reserved exclusively for students from Gaelscoils, or those who get high marks in “de Language” in their Leaving Certificate.

The other way of looking at this, of course, is that one-fifth of aspiring teachers who get the highest overall marks in their examinations (or excel at subjects that are not Gaeilge) will be denied places in favour of students who achieved lower marks in their exams but are good at Gaeilge or have attended Gaelscoils.  

Let us not forget that students who answer exam questions as Gaeilge are already awarded higher marks than those who answer the same questions, with the same level of knowledge, through English.  I suppose you could call it a “Double Irish”.

Good news for Gaelic language hobbyists, lobbyists, linguists, and others employed in the Irish Language Industry  - but not necessarily good news for education in general.   We’ve been there before, of course. But that does not matter for those in government, and other agencies of official Ireland, who are programmed to repeatedly carry out failed Gaelic revivalist policies. Witness the following…

In 1934 the government of the time introduced its Revised Programme of Primary Instruction. It abolished English, even as an out-of hours-subject, in infant schools (they were to teach children from English-speaking families only through Gaelic).  Maths requirements were relaxed in national schools to make way for more teaching through Gaelic. Drawing was dropped. Gaelic was made compulsory to pass the Leaving Certificate, grants were given to Gaelic speakers, extra marks were awarded for answering through Gaelic (still in existence, as you know), teachers of Gaelic were given salary supplements (ditto).

Way back in 1941 the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation questioned the strategy of using the educational system as an ideological tool centred on language revivalism.   Some were concerned that  “awarding extra marks [for those answering as Gaeilge] distorted the exam system by allowing less academically gifted students to achieve results which did not reflect their ability” (Wars of Words - The Politics of Language in Ireland, 1537-2004. Tony Crowley).   This is in 1941, remember.

But no matter.  The Irish Free State’s first Minister for Education, Eoin MacNeill (and co-founder of the Gaelic League - Conradh na Gaeilge), had already set the tone for Irish education when he made clear that " 'the principal duty of an Irish Government in its educational policy' was to serve the construction of Irish nationality" (Terence Brown, Ireland a Social and Cultural History 1922-1985. Fontana 1985). 

Indeed, no lesser a proto-fascist than Dev himself had already assured a meeting of Conradh na Gaeilge (along with the Catholic Church a major power on Irish educational boards since the State’s formation) that it was his “opinion that Ireland, with its language and without freedom is preferable to Ireland with freedom and without its language”. (DH Akenson, Pre-University Education, 1870-1921).

Right.  Ireland's educational system remains a sacrificial altar for the failed polices of Gaelic revivalism – and a cash cow for the ideologues and careerists employed in its industries.

Something we have been paying dearly for since 1922.

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Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Tide turning in favour of abortion rights in Ireland?

European Court of Human Rights rules in favour of woman with cancer who was denied termination in State

There is abortion in Ireland.  Of course, in true Irish hypocritical fashion, it doesn’t actually take place in Ireland. Instead,  Irish women are forced to travel abroad to  have terminations in Britain, Holland, France and elsewhere. 

Sadly, many Irish are masters of hypocrisy and doublethink.  Most of them, “informed” by the residual influence of the old Catholic therocracy down the years (for that is what our so-called republic was for most of its history) imposed their co-called morals on all of Ireland’s population: Catholic, Protestant, Jew, agnostic and atheist alike.

They voted against legalising divorce – “let no man tear apart…” being the hocus pocus informing their guiding principle.   It didn’t matter if you rejected the doctine informing such a view,  even after a childhood of being force-fed it in State-funded schools run by the Catholic Church.   If the great Irish public, ignorant imbeciles that most of them were, did not want you to have divorce – even as couples they knew personally  lived in separation – you were not going to have it.  It was eventually allowed in 1996, but only by the narrowest of margins.

But what more can we expect of the Irish electorate?   Didn't the same half-wits’ forebears vote for a Constitution that claimed sovereignty over the “whole island of Ireland”, even though it had no such jurisdiction? 

In another neat denial of reality, the same Constitution – formulated by neo-gaelicist de Valera – declared Gaelic to be the first official language of the country. Even though it wasn’t the actual spoken language of the country… and still is not, despite years of skewed educational policies and discrimination in State employment.

You are seeing a pattern here, right?  Conversely, the same applies to abortion – they try to turn reality on its head by believing that denying something exists means it actually does not.  Our courts even tried to stop a 14-year-old travelling abroad for a termination after she had been raped by the father of one or her friends (the X-case).

For the record, 4,422 women from Ireland had their pregnancies terminated in Britain last year.  That’s only in Britain alone, mind. The Irish Family Planning Association estimates that 142,060 women from Ireland have had abortions there since 1980.

Last week, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the Irish State had failed in its duty by not providing termination facilities for an Irish resident who had been diagnosed with cancer and subsequently realised she was pregnant. The woman sought medical advice in Ireland on the possible effects of the pregnancy on her own health and that of a prospective child. She was not able to get any such advice in Ireland – despite the obvious threat to her own life – and ended up having to go to England for it, and a resultant termination.

The State put its full weight behind preventing a favourable ruling for the woman and the IFPA, but failed. The European Court court found that the State had been negligent, and that the woman should not have been forced to travel abroad.

The ruling should now force the State to finally legislate on the issue, with a recent Marie Stopes/YouGov poll last March recording 78% support for access to abortion when a woman’s life is in danger.

The lights may well have gone out for those in the backwoods twilight:  the "moral" fundamentalists of Youth Defence and their fellow-travellers, whatever they call themselves these days.

Bring it on.

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Saturday, 18 December 2010

Michael D. Higgins on the minimum wage

I'm not on the minimum wage,  but I dread to think what life is like in this country for anyone who is.  Anyone who is honest and hardworking enough to get up out of bed in the morning and toil for a wage that has been deemed the minimum necessary in order to subsist.  After all, it was not called the minimum wage for nothing. 

As readers will know, our scumbag Government has cut the minimum wage by over 11 per cent, while leaving Ireland's scandalously low 12.5% corporate tax rate untouched.  While failed bankers continue to claim bonuses for wrecking the economy, and while those on over €500,000 will see a 4% net increase in their income.  The Labour Party, to its credit, tabled a motion against the cutting of the minimum wage, the text of which you can see below.  There are some very revealing points in it, so it is well worth a read.  

It is also a novelty to hear an Irish politician who is able to string a few coherent words together on any subject, let alone one as important as this.   Michael D. Higgins does so eloquently in the YouTube clip above (thanks Ponyboy). 

 Let's hope when Fine Gael / Labour form the next government, they remember their pledges to reverse this attack on the most decent, most hardworking, most pissed-upon section of our workforce.

Labour Party motion against the lowering of the minimum wage
“That Dáil Éireann:

recognising that the national minimum wage is low, providing a full-time employee with less than €18,000 annually (with reductions for those under 18 or in their first job), and that amongst EU states it ranks as 12th highest when measured as a percentage of average monthly wages and 9th highest if measured in terms of purchasing power parity

accepting that:

the current minimum wage has not kept pace with average growth in wages or been increased since July 2007;

the 2009 income levy has already reduced the real value of the minimum wage; and

the new universal social charge will be payable on wages at this level;

concerned that 116,000 workers, or 6.6% of the workforce, are living below the poverty line, that the working poor make up 24% of all those in poverty and 40% of all households in poverty, and that the minimum wage is especially relied upon for protection by women, migrants and other vulnerable workers;

noting that only 4% of workers, and only 1.2% of industrial workers in export sectors, are on the minimum wage, with no major impact on competitiveness;

acknowledging the role of a statutory minimum wage in protecting against unfair competitive advantage by unscrupulous employers who exploit their workers;

further acknowledging the opportunity available through the Labour Court, which has yet to be invoked by any employer, to plead inability to pay the national minimum wage;

reaffirming that a statutory minimum wage is a statement of core values, providing a threshold of decency under which society agrees that workers’ wages should not fall, and that a reduction would signal a race to the bottom in which everyone – low wage workers, public and private sector workers, social welfare claimants and pensioners – will suffer;

believing that a reduction in the minimum wage will only create a disincentive to work, will have no impact on the public debt or on economic recovery and makes absolutely no sense at any level;

condemning the Government's logic that poverty wages will create more jobs and that welfare rates must be below even those poverty wages, which logic will in turn require major cuts in welfare payments; and

appalled that the Government’s four year plan has targeted the most vulnerable members of society and convinced that the proposed reduction in the minimum wage of one euro an hour will have the most profound impact on those who are poorest, deepen their poverty and draw more workers into poverty;

condemns the Government’s unnecessary, unwise and unfair decision to reduce the national minimum wage and calls for a reversal of this cut.”

— Willie Penrose, Eamon Gilmore, Joan Burton, Emmet Stagg, Thomas P. Broughan, Joe Costello, Michael D. Higgins, Brendan Howlin, Ciarán Lynch, Kathleen Lynch, Liz McManus, Brian O'Shea, Jan O'Sullivan, Ruairí Quinn, Pat Rabbitte, Seán Sherlock, Róisín Shortall, Joanna Tuffy, Mary Upton, Jack Wall.

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Thursday, 16 December 2010

Over half of Irish people get into debt for Christmas

As kids, my siblings and I always had a good Christmas. The Old Dear would walk us up to Gearys on the corner of Grafton Street, facing Stephen’s Green, and we would see the ‘real’ Santa there.

We had started asking awkward questions like how come there was a Santa in Switzers, in Arnotts, and every shop of any consequence in Dublin?   The others were “helpers” we were assured. The “real” one was situated in Gearys (a toy shop). 

We loved it of course, as the real Santa gave you balloons that “went up” – presumably they were filled with helium – which you attached your message to and duly dispatched to the North Pole. 

At the time, I had no idea of the sacrifices the old pair had to make to ensure that Santa left the latest Hornby train set, Matchbox Motorway, Scalextric, push-kart or whatever else under the tree. But they did. Which makes you think of the pressures people are subjected to – or subject themselves to – over the Christmas commercial money-spinning season.

Even people who have very few pennies to rub together will pull out all the stops to give their kids a good Christmas. It could even be argued that – like communion suits and dresses – the more spectacular the Christmas gifts (proportionately anyhow), the poorer the family.  It’s all they have – their opportunity for extravagance.

In our case there was another, more personal, factor. Our own wonderful mum – may she rest in peace – had an evil old witch of a mother who once left her a bag of soot via the proxy of Santa. As an aside, the same dreadful woman (my grandmother, such as she was) had been known to her childhood playmates around Charlemont Street as “The Butcher”. That will tell you something.  Anyway, the soot thing was never going to happen to us, no matter how tight the financial straits were nor how naughtier than nice we may have been.

What got me thinking about all this was a report that appeared in the Examiner last Monday stating that over half of the Irish adult  population will get into debt just to meet the cost of Christmas, with “a third borrowing on credit cards to cover the cost [who will then face] an uphill struggle to get back on track — it will take a quarter of us three to six months to recover financially from the festive outlay.”

Bloody hell. Now, given my own experiences, I can see how parents want to get their kids the latest X-Box, Playstation, Wii, or whatever else. But what about this pointless sham of spending money on presents for friends, siblings, and extended family? And what about all the stress involved? What about all the queues in the shops? And those awful songs being piped through every shopping centre and department store, with unnecessarily clinging tills as percussive background?

No – don’t get sucked into it. Christmas is one of the few times when most of us can get a few days off work to relax, be slobs, and eat and drink too much.  Apart from making sure Santa comes (usually for those with kids) there shouldn’t be any other pressure on you or anyone else.

For my part, I’ve sent off a balloon asking for a new X-Box.

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Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Charlie McCreevy - original genius behind the Irish economic miracle

The Two Brians are taking a lot of flak at the minute for destroying the Irish economy, but let’s not forget their predecessor as minister of finance, Charlie McCreevy.

McCreevy was seen by the  Irish capitalist and investor class - before they all became socialists - as the stormtrooper of Irish physical market-force capitalism. He greeted Ireland’s entry into the low interest rate Eurozone by cutting capital gains tax from 40% to 20%, for instance.

He also extended the property-based tax reliefs, set up the SSIAs, presided over “giveaway” budgets, introduced the failed decentralization scheme, and otherwise did everything in his power to set Ireland’s indebtedness and property "values" on a stratospherically high, unsustainable, upward trajectory.

Here are some quotes from the original guru behind the Irish economic miracle:

“I suggest the phrases ‘radical’, ‘reforming’ and ‘major’ might be applied to this budget – especially on the tax side”   On his 1999 Budget.

“I have it, so I’ll spend it”   Quoted in 2000.

“In the popular TV series, Yes Minister, the loyal civil servant, Sir Humphrey, often advised his political master as follows: ‘To be precise, many things may be done, but nothing must ever be done for the first time.’    "It will scarcely surpise that I do not subscribe to this political maxim”.   Before introducing Budget 2001.

“We got ourselves into a mire by borrowing for current purposes in the past. The legacy hung around our neck for over 20 years. I am not going to repeat the mistakes of the past”. Before Budget 2002.

 “Ireland needs good regulation of the financial sector. It is required to ensure that the hundreds of billions of euro invested by Irish people and organisations in the banks, building societies, insurance companies, investment firms and funds, directly and through intermediaries, are held in trust for them by a professional and secure financial sector”
When launching the Financial Services Regulatory Authority, May 1st, 2003.

“In the 1970s and 1980s our country ended up in an unsustainable situation because of the wrong budgetary policies. Governments refused to respond to challenges as they arose. They chose short-term solutions which caused long-term problems. This Government will not make the same mistake.”    Budget 2003 speech.

And the corker, apparently delivered without irony:

Everybody seems to have become an economics commentator in Ireland. People who don’t know the first thing about economics, public finances or anything else.”Quoted in the Irish Times, January 16th, 2010.

Sorry, Charlie. We all bow before your superior knowledge on such matters.

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Saturday, 11 December 2010

Lenihan's budget means the wealthy pay less tax while the working poor take the hit

We are all going to “share the pain” of Budget 2011, say Cowen and Lenihan. 

Not so. While minimum wage workers will see one Euro wiped off their hourly rate, and modestly paid workers will take home substantially less in net earnings, the high-earning self employed will see an increase in theirs.

According to a piece by Harry McGee (IT Dec 10th), those on €500,000 will pay €9,000 less tax in the year, while those on €1,000,000 will be €24,000 better off.

I’m no fan of Sinn Fein, but their finance spokesman Pearse Doherty summed it up well by pointing out that “someone with an income of €500,000 will get a 4 per cent increase in their net income.  At the same time someone on PAYE and earning €25,000 will be 4.3 per cent worse off”.

Labour’s Roisin Shorthall described the budget as a “working-poor tax”, which “significantly shifted the tax burden away from high earners and on to those on lower pay”.

Another example of Fianna Fail continually pandering to its wealthy friends was the lowering of stamp duty to one per cent on transactions up to €1 million, and only 2 per cent on those over €1 million, while first-time buyers will lose their stamp duty exemption.

Again, the very wealthy are the biggest beneficiaries. Under the old system, someone buying a house for €2,000,000 would have had to stump up €180,000 in taxes, whereas now they will only have to pay €40,000. A first time buyer purchasing a house for €240,000 did not pay any stamp duty before the budget, now they will be liable for €2,400.

The one consistent thing here is that Fianna Fail is still the party of the builders, the developers and the wealthy – despite the populist appeal it holds for the gobshites who vote for it and join its local party branches.  Even in this economic climate, when Fianna Fail ministers are under so much scrutiny, they are quite shameless about where their true priorities lie.

It is a racing certainly that the same ministers will be turfed out of office at the next election, leaving the task of cleaning up their mess to a Fine Gael / Labour coalition. By the time the election after that comes around, Fianna Fail will have a new leader and its TDs will have been making all the right noises from the opposition benches.  They will hope people might forget how they brought the country to the edge of ruin with their skewed policies.

Let's hope people do not forget, and  they deem the party's behaviour now and throughout its whole time in government to have pushed it beyond the rubicon.  Let’s hope that - for once - the Irish electorate shows itself capable of being rational, and remembers what Fianna Fail has done to the country and its working poor.

Let’s hope they never vote the cute hoors back into power again.

But that’s only wishful thinking.

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Thursday, 9 December 2010

Comical Leni and the Irish Budget 2011. One quote sums up its integrity.

Well, the budget was much as we feared, with the slimy fingerprints of Fianna Fail all over it  -  and that party’s own unique spin on reality.  I'm sure you'll read a lot more on the subject, in a lot more detail, elsewhere in Blogland, so let's just take one point as an indicator of its overall integrity.

Namely, Comical Leni’s interpretation of Cowen’s 6% pay cut (€214,000, down from €228,000 = a drop of €14,000):

“This brings the overall reduction on the gross pay of the Taoiseach to over €90,000…”  Lenihan.

Yet another example of how Brian Lenihan simply seems incompatible with the truth. Whatever he says or predicts, you can be sure the opposite is true/will happen.   Just as when he and Cowen swore blind that the IMF was not on its way with the bailout money – even as its officials were already in Dublin.

Lenihan’s imagined €90,000 Cowen paycut was based on the fact that the  “Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Service recommended in late 2007 that the salary of the Taoiseach be increased by €38,000 to €308,000, making the post the highest paid in the EU.  This increase was never implemented. Instead, Mr Cowen’s salary… rose to €285,000 but was reduced to €257,000 in October 2008 and then to €228,000 in January 2010”. (Harry McGee, Irish Times Budget Supplement).

So the €90,000 figure is a blatant fabrication. In isolation, you could take it as a simple mistake. But Lenihan’s inaccurate observations are far from isolated, they are legion – and always a pathetic attempt to put a positive spin on his Government’s imcompetence.  That means they are not inaccurate, they are wilfully untruthful.

Still.  Cowen's €214,000 is still a lot of money, particularly when you consider his British counterpart David Cameron gets a comparatively palty €172,000.

 I’m sure the lads in Fossetts would envy it.   They might even be on the new minimum wage.

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Monday, 6 December 2010

Discriminate against non-Gaeilge speakers in Civil Service, says language commissioner

In “Patterns of Ethnic Separatism”, David L. Horowitz sees processes of national secession being  driven by emerging elites who see their interests best served by autonomy. Tom Garvin, in “Preventing the Future: Why was Ireland so poor for so long?” sums the theory up thus:

“For Horowitz, the motor of secession is clearly driven by elite ambitions. Backward areas which have a cadre of relatively well-educated people… are reluctant to secede and only finally do so under exceptional pressure such as extreme discrimination, denial of educational opportunity, physical threat, or undermining of their local power base. Educationally backward elites in backward or advanced regions secede early if they can get away with it…”

It is mildly debatable which model – educationally advanced or backward – applied to the elite behind the Irish independence movement in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.  It is clear, though, that the cultural vehicles for that movement consisted of neo-Gaelicism (the "return" to an idealised, Gaelic-speaking, rural-based Ireland) and Catholicism.

Upon acquiring independence, the first things the new Irish ruling class did was begin transforming the Civil Service and the educational systems to bring about a Gaelic, Catholic Ireland.  Driven by the ideal of reviving Gaeilge as the spoken language of the new State, they made it compulsory for entry into the Civil Service and a mandatory requirement to attain the Leaving Certificate in schools.

The higher ranks of the Civil Service became populated with linguistic evangelists, many of them Gaelic Leaguers. Effectively, the State bureaucratic apparatus and the schools were little more than tools to bring about Dev’s Ireland of comely maidens and sturdy youths...  Gaeilge-speaking, of course.  A nonsense project, and doomed to failure from the start.

It seems, however, that the old Gaelic League rump within the Civil Service and Government quangos is still in business. In 1973, a Fine Gael/Labour coalition abolished Gaeilge as a requirement for entry into the Civil Service, but now  today’s revivalists want to turn back the clock – without being quite so blatant.

In last Monday’s Irish Times, Anne Lucey reported that language commissar - sorry, commissioner - Sean O Cuirreain called for “positive discrimination” in the public service for Gaelic speakers, due to falling numbers of civil servants who speak the language.

O Cuirreain asserted that only 1.5% of administrative CS staff could provide services as Gaeilge, compared to 3% in 2005.  He described this state of affairs as a “scandal” - and all despite the fact that “there was strong official recognition of the language, It was mentioned in 140 Acts, and some €700 million a year was spent teaching it.”

According to census figures, only 72,000 people (outside the education system) claim to speak Gaeilge on a daily basis.  It is unknown how many of this number would demand all discourse with Civil Service offices to be conducted “as Gaeilge”, but it is known that there is a distinct lack of demand for government and council documents in that language (Clare County council translated three development plans in 2009, at a cost of €30,000. Not one was bought).

Similarly, the Irish Times reported in February of that year that only 0.5% of Government websites were accessed through their Gaeilge versions. This is not so surprising, for there is not one person in the country who speaks Gaeilge alone. Not one. They are all English speakers.

For what it is worth to the Gaeilgeoirs, “positive discrimination” for them exists at this very minute in the Civil Service. Gaeilge speakers/enthusiasts get extra marks for internal promotions exams, for instance.  It is also likely that sitting a Civil Service entry exam with the “optional” Gaeilge paper must confer some kind of advantage too.

The bare fact is that language hobbyists and careerists are calling for non Gaeilge-speaking workers, both native and non-native, to be further discriminated against in the sphere of public service employment.  And at a time when jobs are becoming ever more scarce.

That is the real scandal.

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Saturday, 4 December 2010

News of Celtic Tiger's death reaches Taiwan

I don't know how our good friend at came across this one, a video put together by a Taiwanese concern called Next Media Animation TV

I laughed out loud - to use that horrible expression - when I saw it.  Very funny, and all the funnier for being all too true... 

Thanks, Toast.

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Thursday, 2 December 2010

Dublin's winter road budget on slippery slope

We say it every year. A little bit of snow and the whole place grinds to a halt. The wage earners are briefed, every morning by radio, to leave their cars at home and take public transport. Yet anyone who ever uses public transport knows what that means.

It means hours standing at desolate suburban stops as empty buses whiz past en route to the depot (an experience of a Knocklyon work colleague yesterday). It means trains that run 50 minutes late (my own experience). It means the roads, no doubt populated by public-transport sceptics, are chock-a-block skating rinks.

But it seems that this is just a harbinger of worse to come. Our friends in Dublin City Council revealed that they received no extra Government funds for dealing – in a manner of speaking – with the capital’s January cold snap, which cost an extra €323,199. 

The financial cost of the current cold spell has yet to be taken into account, which does not augur well for next year.  According to an Irish Times report (30th Nov), Dublin will have no budget for extreme weather in 2011, as its entire winter budget for road clearing next year has been set at €152,466.

There was no discussion, it seems, as to what efficiencies could be achieved in other areas at the council bunker to free up more money from its total budget of €870,000,000 in order to keep the city moving. Safely.

We’re on the slippery slope.

But hey, we might not have jobs to go to next year anyway.

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