Friday, 29 April 2011

Everybody's Drinkin' by Damo and Ivor. And not a Pioneer in sight.

"Pioneer trail ends as cash dries up" read the headline of yesterday's Metro Herald.  It seems that the Pioneer Total Abstinance Association, an organisation of devout non-drinkers formed by a Jesuit priest in 1898, may have to call time on its continuing existence due to "falling membership and a lack of funding".  

You would have to feel for them, wouldn't you?  If the worst comes to the worst,  they won't even have the option of drowning their sorrows.

Page three of the same Metro Herald carries a story about Everybody's Drinkin', the latest serving from Damo & Ivor, the alter-egos of Andy Quirke of Skanger Me Banger  fame. It seems the ditty has raced to the top of the iTunes chart, displacing the likes of Black Eyed Peas and Snoopy Dog - sorry, Snoop Dog - on the way. 

Drinking or not drinking  -  we just don't do compromise, do we?  


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Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Norton technical support phone number for Ireland? Don't ask Nathan.

I had intended to get a blog post up today, but instead spent all of yesterday evening trying to get a technical support phone number for Symantec (Ireland), one of the many US multinationals that benefit from Ireland’s undemanding (for them) tax system.  They are just down the road in Ballycoolin, I think.

I  updated a version of Norton 360 a while back, but had inadvertently clicked on a trial version for something else which I could not subsequently cancel from my account.

They already had my credit card details from ordering the full version, so I got a bit nervous when I started reading terms like “opt-out trialware” in relation to some of their products. This means you have to physically cancel the order or they will “opt” to charge you for it.

Anyway, I was probably being a bit paranoid, but thought I would give their support line a shout and be sure that they cancelled the trial version of the software I did not want, or assure me I wouldn’t get hit with a charge for it in the next week or two.

I spent the rest of the evening looking for a phone number. Nothing.

On one occasion, I jumped through a whole series of virtual loops – in the shape on online forms – to get a promised phone number with a enquiry tag which purported to alert the techies of queries in advance.

After what seemed like an eternity, and the onset of repetitive strain injury in my wrists and fingers, I got a phone number.   Beside it, there was a picture of a plasticky looking guy with an insincere smile.  His name, apparently, was Nathan.

All that was bad enough, but imagine how I felt when I realised that Nathan's number was some kind of special-rate US one? One that you could not call from this country, despite me having obtained it through the Irish support "facility"?  

What a bloody joke. These organisations make “faceless” seem like intimate carnal knowledge.  Nathan's smug, JPEGed, countenance is the nearest you get in that regard. 

I’m still none the wiser after spending the whole evening farting around on my PC.  But rest assured, I will be taking an extra interest in my bank statements over the next week or two.

Only problem there is, who do I call if I find my bank account is 80 Euro lighter?  Nathan won't be any help.

Maybe just as well, you just know he’d only say  “Sorry, we really value your custom, sir, but we can’t help you. Have a nice day.”

Blow it out your ass, Nathan.

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Sunday, 24 April 2011

Rangers v Celtic and the Neil Lennon parcel bomb

Rangers v Celtic, Celtic v Rangers, is always a fascinating fixture - even if you (like me) have no real interest in the perpetual two-horse race that is the Scottish Premier League. Obviously, the standard of football skills on display is hardly an attraction either, but there is no question about the commitment and excitement.

Even when the teams are largely composed of players from beyond these islands, there is a frenetic edge that you just don’t get anywhere else in Europe – with the possible exception of Barcelona v Real Madrid. Even Shamrock Rovers v Bohemians, Manchester United v Manchester City, Arsenal v Spurs, and Everton v Liverpool are in the ha’penny place.

And speaking of Liverpool, one of that club’s former managers, Bill Shankly, once said that football wasn’t a matter of life and death… it was “more important than that”. It is a quote that Celtic manager Neil Lennon might appreciate, having been attacked in the street, had live bullets sent to him by post, and had threats against his own life and that of his family’s.

More recently Lennon, who was capped 40 times for Northern Ireland, and was its first-ever Catholic captain, received an explosive device by post (as did his lawyer and a former Scottish MSP who had worn a Celtic shirt on her last day in the Scottish Parliament).

Lennon was forced to end his international career when he was subjected to abuse by a sizable section of the Windsor Park faithful after he made the move from Leicester City to Glasgow Celtic. He even received a phone call from somebody purporting to be from the LVF (Loyalist Volunteer Force) saying that he would “get seriously hurt” if he turned out for Northern Ireland’s match against Cyprus in 2002.

Even living here in Dublin, it is very hard to get your head around such fanatical bigotry. Lennon was not the most skillful or quickest of players, but he was the kind of combative, determined midfielder that any team would have been happy to call on. Someone you would really want playing on your side. For a “supporter” of any team to boo and barrack such a player – their own player – simply because he is a Catholic who plays for Celtic is breathtakingly stupid. But to threaten his life too???

Not surprisingly, since Lennon withdrew from international football, many Catholic players who were born in Northern Ireland have opted to play instead for the Republic of Ireland. And who can blame them?

Ironically, the Old Firm are like Yin and Yang - they could not exist without each other. Nobody outside Scotland could be bothered looking at an SPL match without them, if only out of guilty fascination with the anachronistic nature of the fixture, with its overtones of historic and religious antagonism, and the displays of bigotry on the terraces.

Celtic has its “Boys of the Old Brigade” contingent, whereas some Rangers fans' favourite ditty celebrates a sectarian gang that went about Glasgow slitting the throats of random Catholics (The Billy Boys). The same club had an official policy of not having Catholics on its books until relatively recently.

But even against that backdrop, sending a parcel bomb to a football manager is a new low in backwoods, hick, stupidity.

It finished 0-0.

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Thursday, 21 April 2011

Nyberg banking report finds Irish banks, regulators, politicians, media and investors culpable - but no names

A Finnish economist and banking expert, Patrick Nyberg, who was commissioned by the last Government to look into the causes of the Irish banking collapse, published his report on Tuesday. 

For readers of the blog, there will be no surprises.  Ireland's economic hari-kari was caused by the collective greed, madness and - it has to be said - stupidity of the great Irish public... individuals and institutions alike.   They are not Nyberg's exact words mind, but that is the gist of it.

The report cited "a tendency to group think" resulting in "contrarian views" being "ignored or suppressed".   "Large parts of Irish society were willing to let the good times roll on until the very last minute".   The main cause of the financial crisis was "unhindered expansion of the property bubble" aided by loose Government policies and light touch regulation.  

'Irrational forces" along with "a national speculative mania... centred on the sale and acquistion of property" also get an honorable mention, with "culpability" for the collapse extending to politicians, media (who cheered it along) and... wait for it... investors.  

All this may come as news to those sections of the political left and right of Irish society, and those from the middle, upper and working classes, who are busily united in contending that the boom, bust, and resultant bailouts have nothing to do with the Irish public at all.  

On the contrary, it seems they had everything to do with the Irish public.   Sure, some of us who didn't get caught up in the herd's property stampede can say that we - individually - were not culpable. 

But the Irish public in general?  From whose ranks then, did the swarms of investors who "flipped" newbuilds off the plans come?  And was it not members of the Irish public who mobbed every pokey show apartment on Saturday afternoons, tripping over each other to put down their deposits?   Indeed it was.  

And we all know here - only too well - how little the great unthinking mass of the Irish public appreciate "contrarian views", don't we?  

We even had a prime minister who wondered how the few of us who did "moan" about the economy at the time did not "commit suicide".  

Says it all, really.


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Tuesday, 19 April 2011

The Easter Rising - the blood sacrifice that changed Irish politics forever

There were, arguably, two pointless blood sacrifices in the early part of the last century with a special relevance for Ireland.  One was the First World War and the other was the Easter Rising.

It is probable that there would have been some form of Irish independence without the Rising, and the sharp divisions it introduced into Irish politics.

It is also probable that any independent state that emerged would have been more pluralistic, as it would have had to carry the support of the unionists/Protestants of the island.

The following article is by Stephen Collins, and appeared in Saturday's Irish Times.  Thanks to C for bringing it to our attention.


The murder of PSNI constable Ronan Kerr on the eve of Easter by people who describe themselves as Irish republicans should prompt deep reflection on the legacy of the 1916 Rising and the plans for the commemoration of its centenary.

There is no shirking the fact that the people who planted the bomb that killed Constable Kerr regard themselves as the heirs of the 1916 tradition, and would claim that their inspiration came from the Rising.
It is easy to dismiss such claims; much harder to recognise that they have a perverted logic that requires us to examine 1916 in an open-minded and honest fashion.

The central problem is that the Rising has been taken out of context and elevated into the supreme founding event of the modern Irish state when, in fact, it was one event in a series between 1912 and 1923 that changed the political structure of the country.

Taken in isolation, the Rising can indeed be interpreted as an endorsement of violent and anti-democratic action. What is so little understood in the popular version of Irish history is that with the passage of the third Home Rule Bill in 1912, Ireland was going to have its own parliament one way or another. John Redmond, the leader of the Irish Party, had mass popular support, and it was generally accepted that he would be the dominant force in a Home Rule parliament.

All those assumptions were swept aside by the Rising and the events that followed. The precise powers of an Irish parliament and the area over which it would have sovereignty were changed significantly by the Rising, but the central principle that the people of Ireland would have control of their own affairs was already established in 1912.

Two events that followed precipitated the Rising. The first was the establishment of the Ulster Volunteer Force as a mass movement designed to block Home Rule by violence. The support of the opposition Conservative Party for its illegal methods gave it enormous and sinister force, which prompted the formation of the Irish Volunteers as a nationalist counter reaction.

The second event was the outbreak of the first World War. It not only changed the political context, it gave respectability to the concept of blood sacrifice and political martyrdom promulgated by Pádraig Pearse. His beliefs, which appear very strange to most modern Irishmen and Irishwomen, have to be seen in the context of the bloodbath that engulfed the European continent.

If it had not been for the violent opposition to Home Rule, or for the war, Ireland would in all likelihood have continued on a path that would have led to independence, probably along the lines of Canada or Australia.
The Rising transformed the political situation utterly, but what cannot be overlooked is that it was an undemocratic project of a minority within a minority and was far from a popular revolt. The destruction of Dublin, the courage of the rebel leaders and, most important, the executions that followed, turned the tide of public opinion.

It marked the end of John Redmond’s authority as the political leader of Irish nationalism and triggered a violent approach to the achievement of nationalist aims. As the Times of London noted, the Sinn Féin movement “from the first was directed as much against Mr Redmond and the Nationalist Party as against Great Britain”.

For all the violence of 1916 and later years, the independence movement did not discard its democratic roots. The fact that an independent Ireland is one of the oldest continuous parliamentary democracies in the world is a tribute to the roots planted by Redmond and his predecessors, Parnell and O’Connell. Redmond would surely feel at home in the Dáil chamber, even if his oratory was of a higher quality than that usually on offer in Leinster House. By contrast, it is hard to believe that leaders of the 1916 Rising who seized control of Irish nationalism from him would be quite as happy with how things turned out. Modern Ireland is hardly the Gaelic-speaking, devoutly Catholic, anti-materialist nation dreamed of by Pearse. Neither is it the dictatorship of the proletariat envisaged by James Connolly.

The distorted version of history that traces Irish independence solely to 1916, and the Fenian tradition from which it sprang, has provided ideological cover for the minority in successive generations who have tried to destroy it. In his pioneering reassessment of 1916, written in 1966 for the journal Studies but only published in 1972, Francis Shaw pointed out the layers of contradiction inherent in the popular myth of modern Irish history. He was particularly concerned that it “asks us to praise in others what we do not esteem in ourselves” by disowning democratic values in favour of the cult of the gun.

In the Dáil this week, Taoiseach Enda Kenny told Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams he would establish a consultative group to plan a commemorative programme in the run-up to the 100th anniversary of 1916. This would reflect not only the military history but the principles and vision that inspired the movement to achieve independence.

Kenny could start by ensuring Redmond and the Irish parliamentary tradition are properly commemorated next year, the 100th anniversary of the Home Rule Bill. In recent years Irish governments have accepted the need to appreciate the unionist tradition on this island. Surely we can acknowledge the role of constitutional nationalism in the creation of an independent Ireland.

If we want to take a mature look back, we could even go one step further and acknowledge that it was not just rebel gunmen who died for Ireland. The first casualty of the Rising was a 45-year-old unarmed policeman from Co Limerick, Constable James O’Brien. He was standing at the entrance to Dublin Castle shortly before noon on Easter Monday when a volunteer cycled up to the gate and shot him dead.

If we are now “mature” enough to respect the unionist tradition, surely we have also grown up sufficiently, and endured enough pointless violence, to honour the ordinary Irish policeman like O’Brien who died trying to preserve the peace.

Stephen Collins, Irish Times, April 16th, 2011


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Saturday, 16 April 2011

Allsop's auction... a fable for the Irish property market?

"So many people turned up for an auction of distressed properties in the Shelbourne Hotel today in Dublin that it had to be suspended amid Garda concerns for safety.  Some 80 lots, ranging from a Ballsbridge mews to a collection of cut price flats in Portlaoise, were offered to the highest bidders.....    Such was the interest in today's sale that crowds spilled out of the hotel and onto the street."  (Irish Times).

"So, is the time finally right to buy property?...........  The success of the Allsop Space auction at the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin yesterday suggests that the housing market could be at -- or close to -- bottom, with the prices achieved averaging approximately 55pc of what similar properties sold for at the peak of the market." (Irish Independent)

"Almost €14.5 million of repossessed properties were sold over five hours at the packed auction yesterday where bidding occasionally became frenzied — with one successful bid even coming from the street outside.........  Over 1,000 people packed into the ballroom of the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin .... "   (Irish Examiner).

Reading yesterday's  reports you might think newspaper property editors thought the bad old days of the property boom had done a Lazarus.  

Rather than debating rich men and their chances of passing through the eyes of needles, however, the big question at Allsop's auction seemed to be how many cash-rich bumpkins you could fit into the hall of the Shelbourne Hotel.  It seems the organisers underestimated.

Properties went for more than 20%+  above their reserve prices, but still about 50% below those asked at the peak of the bubble.  Looking at some of the Dublin ones however -  which I would be familiar with -  it is hard to see if there were any real bargains.    A €550,000 mews on Raglan Lane might be considered "cheap" by some, but there was a detached mews in the same spot on MyHome with an asking price of €620,000 last year.  OK, it's cheaper... but, what isn't?

Likewise, two Churchtown properties are thought to have sold for near, or thereabouts, the current asking prices in the area.  Some apartments were sold in the city centre, but nobody - nobody - is buying apartments in town at all these days, due to oversupply. 

So what did Friday's auction tell us?

It told us that there are still plenty of individuals with spare cash in their pockets, despite the austerity imposed on the rest of us.  It told us if you cram enough of them into an enclosed space, in response to a hyped event, they will recreate the bidding frenzies of the property boom in microcosm. 

But as a barometer of the Irish economy, the current postions of prospective purchasers on the ground, and the property market in general?

I don't think it told us anything.

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Thursday, 14 April 2011

Nama attempts to provide mortgage finance to maintain high prices, while banks moot debt "forgiveness".

The repossession cases that appear, in a constant trickle, before the courts these days make interesting reading.

Recently there was a case of a couple who took out a mortgage in 2003, but had not paid any repayments on it since 2006. Bear in mind it is now 2011.

Then there was another one a couple of weeks’ back. The borrower was up for mortgage arrears on 29 investment properties, and had to promise the court that he would put some of them for sale on the market. 

The above examples beg the question: what do you have to do in Ireland to have a property repossessed?  

It seems that the principle of moral hazard that applies in other countries does not figure here, as the attitude is that someone else – that is, the taxpayer – will pick up the tab for your recklessness.  We have been forced to do it for the institutions thanks to Lenihan’s bank guarantee, now must we do it for individuals as well?

It is not too far an imaginative leap to forecast how people who could pay - but are unhappy with negative equity - could elect not to, on the basis that they won’t suffer any consequences as a result.   The rest of us will bail them out, and they can continue to live in the dwellings they outbid us on during the market madness.

The thing is, someone has to pay.  To me, it seems most logical that whoever ran up the debts in the first place – investors in particular – should be obliged to do so.  They won’t be able to repay them in full of course, as they paid way over the odds,  but fire-sales of their bad investments would at least repay some of the debt and establish the true worth of property in Ireland today.

The banks and Nama will not do that though, as they have an interest in keeping property prices artificially high.   Indeed Nama, the Government creation that bought the developers and banks’ debts at a high price, is even talking about providing mortgage finance to the very same banks.  It has €1 billion on its balance sheet, according to its chairman Frank Daly, speaking to a “group of property professionals"  last Tuesday, according to The Irish Times.  (April 13th, “Nama may provide mortgage finance, Barry O’Halloran).

So let me see.  Nama, the “bad bank” that took on the bad loans of the bust banks, is now looking to "change the legislation that established it" so it can provide loan funds to the same banks it bought the bad loans from.    All in order to “generate sales in the market”, as Daly puts it, with the rider that “sales would have to be at prices people would pay”.   Where else would you get it?

And therein lies the problem.  Ireland is the basket case economy of the EU, a country kept from insolvency only thanks to the bail-outs, yet house prices are still higher than in many other European countries (have a look at The Irish Times "Take Five" feature every Thursday).  That does not add up.

And neither does Nama’s attempt to further prevent the slow dawn of reality in the Irish property market.

Brussels had better keep an eye on this one.

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Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Blogging and all the rest of it

Gombeen Nation is fortunate with the calibre of its comment writers.  If you look through previous posts you will see that most comments are either well-informed, amusing, clever, on-topic, and - for the most part - those who post them generally are civil to each other, even when there is disagreement.  

The vast majority of published comments add value to the blog, and are a great credit to those who take the trouble to read it and support it.

Most blogs, however, are moderated  -  and it is a necessary evil.   I remember someone once remarked that the idea of moderating comments seemed, to them, a touch "undemocratic". 

When you think about it though, it is not an awful lot different to writing to a newspaper letters page.  Some get printed, some don't, and there is always a subjective element.   A given newspaper might be happier to push a particular line on a particular topic, or a letter writer's opinions might chime more harmoniously with the paper's own editorial tone.

In blogworld, you'll find that you end up going over the same arguments over and over again... sometimes even in the one post.   This blog used to publish all comments.  Then, however, so much blogging time was spent arguing with detractors points that had already been covered that it became necessary to be more selective.  Sisyphus would have had an easier time of it. 

Then there is stuff that is potentially libelous.   I've left some comments unpublished simply because it was not possible to air them - even when it was quite likely they were true - due to a lack of supporting evidence.  Ireland is a litigious place... even for an "anonymous" blogger, so sorry to anyone who posted in that regard.

All the preceding is well and good, and is to be expected.  But what about the serial snipers?  You know, people who hate the blog and all it stands for, yet seem to have a fatal attraction towards it? Bunny boilers, I presume.  

Now, it could be fairly claimed that writing a blog is a pretty sad, solitary, Quixotian activity - and it is.   But how sad is it to be a compulsive reader of a blog you do not like?  Really, you'd be surprised at some of the nasty, spiteful comments that don't see the light of your VDU.   They nearly make a sad old blogger feel vindicated.

But to the rest of you, thanks for your valued input.

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Saturday, 9 April 2011

How dare they criticise our litter!

Remember the furore when German Ambassador, Christian Pauls, made some accurate observations about Ireland back in 2007?  

He described it as a "coarse" place where junior ministers were paid more than the German chancellor, where 20% of the population were public servants, where hospital waiting lists were "chaotic" and "would not be tolerated anywhere else".  A country where doctors rejected €200,000 posts as paying "Mickey Mouse" money. 

He was spot on about most things, of course.  Now, one economic implosion later, the natives are slowly, painfully, drawing the same conclusions. Too late, of course. 

You've heard the adage "a prophet is never welcome in his own country"?  Well, there's nothing more likely to raise the hackles of the Irish than an "outsider" telling them a few home truths.  Take an Aussie who wrote to the Metro Herald, Dublin's freesheet, to complain about litter in the city:

"People of Dublin, do you enjoy living in your own filth?  Or do you believe your mammy will come along behind you and pick up your litter?"    Confused Aussie.

Here are a couple of the reasoned responses he/she attracted:

"Confused Aussie,  do you enjoy coming from a stolen land?  I must say though, it's nice to see a confused Aussie for a change instead of the usual narcissistic one (sic)".    Paul.

"Confused Aussie do you really believe people appreciate your rudeness?  Being Australian is no excuse for ignorance.  If you hate Dublin that much, don't let the door hit you on the way out".       Proud Dub.

Such retorts are only too typical of discourse here.  Someone makes a valid point on a subject  -  be it the economy, society, culture, healthcare, or even litter - and they are told to "like it or lump it".

If the attitudes represented by the poorly punctuated missives (which, to me, point to a younger demographic) of Paul and Proud Dub are anything to by, it is no wonder the place is in such a mess... and not just litter-wise.

Sadly, it seems that Ireland is chock-a-bloc full of people who can't think critically on any issue, and hate anybody who can.

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Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Gardai "joke" about raping Shell to Sea protester - recorded conversation

Here is a recorded conversation between some gardai (Irish police) who are having a good old laugh and a joke about the idea of raping a suspect in order to obtain her name and address. 

The officers concerned had earlier been associated with the arrest of two Shell to Sea protesters in Mayo and had left a video recorder,  taken from one of the women,  switched on in the back of their squad car.

What, exactly, are they laughing at?  What is funny?  That's what gets me.

It is hard to imagine a gang of the most disadvantaged navvies deriving comparable mirth from such an ignorant, back-of-the-truck  discussion -  never mind our guardians of law and order supposedly going about their duty.

Big thanks to Ciancool for recording

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Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Modfest, the murder of Ronan Kerr, and the slow learners of the "dissident republicans"

Last Friday and Saturday found me at the “Modfest” in the Village, Wexford Street. The bands playing were The Purple Hearts, Secret Affair, The Lambrettas, and From The Jam (which featured one member – Bruce Foxton – of the original three-piece punk/mod pioneers, The Jam). 

I was mad into The Jam in my younger days, and liked a quite few songs from the other bands mentioned, who were all involved in the mod revival of the Eighties which, in turn, came out of punk.  

 I had the lot. The parka, the suit, the Fred Perrys and, of course, the scooter – a Vespa PX  (Jimmy's one - of Quadrophenia fame, left - is a Lambretta).  

 I even had a piece of masonry thrown at me once, which bounced harmlessly off my helmet. But on the plus side, dismissing such brickbats set me up nicely for doing the blog in later years.

Anyhow, the Friday and Saturday gigs were all very enjoyable, and I woke up on Sunday morning with my ears ringing and the radio announcing that a PSNI officer, Ronan Kerr,  had just been murdered by “dissident republicans”, most probably because he was a Catholic.

The lumpen logic that informs the slow learners of the Real IRA and their like, means that they deliberately target Catholics joining NI's new police force in order to discourage balance between members of the two communities within it.   Then in a few years' time, they can claim it is a sectarian force.   Then they can kill and maim some more in pursuit of their "united, 32-county, Ireland'.  You know?  26+6=32 and all that.   Einstein it isn't.

The ironic thing is their actions, informed by their deep cultural exclusivism, makes their ideal of a united Ireland even ever less likely.  Do they think the unionist community is just going to up sticks and leave them the place, even after all these centuries? 

Funny.  Last weekend at the event I attended there was a large turn-out of mods and ex-mods, old and (I was surprised by this) young.  There were people from all over the place, there was a party of Italians, for goodness sake. 

 There were those of us - like me - from Dublin, along with enthusiasts from Galway, Limerick, Cork and any number of places in between*.  There was a big group from England, and a very large contingent from The North / Northern Ireland, whatever you prefer to call it.   Many of them, I suspect  from my experience back in the Eighties,  from a "Protestant" background.   And we all had a great night. 

I suppose the 32 County Sovereignty Committee - political wing of the Real IRA - would have called it "cultural imperialism".

Pity those boys and girls - or at least the ones pulling the strings - didn't get involved in the mod scene instead, back in the day.

We might all have benefited.

* Maybe even Kerry, BH.

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Saturday, 2 April 2011

Ireland facilitates multinational tax dodging... with a begging bowl in both hands.

It's a bit of a hard landing, isn't it?  From being the cocky "we'll tell you how to run an economy", new-money braggarts of the EU we are now back to being the beggars of Europe. 

Now, however, we can't find a begging bowl big enough for the bail-out our domestic banks need.  Banks our Government guaranteed.  Banks that  ran up massive debts on the back of Irish individuals' and institutions' stupid property speculations.

But we can still hang on to that comical sense of overblown pride, as we are "business friendly".  We won't mention the reverse state socialism of Nama, Bank bail-outs and investor mortgage moratoriums for now.

You will hear a lot of misguided comment on  "imperialism" in Ireland, usually in relation to Cromwell and the 800 years (yawn).  Well boys and girls, tug your foine Oirish forelocks to your new masters - USA Inc, and Ireland's role in facilitating multinationals to evade tax.

A recent report called Driving the Getaway Car? Ireland, Tax and Development  published on behalf of  Afri, Christian Aid, Comhlamh, Oxfam and Trocaire found the following (Cian Nihill, Irish Times, March 30th):

"Irish legislation is jeopardising the 12.5 per cent corporation tax rate while aiding the robbery of tax from poorer countries according to a report published on behalf of six leading global development organisations.

Speaking at the launch of the report this morning in Dublin the report’s author, Dr Sheila Killian of the University of Limerick, said that some multinational corporations are illegally diverting profits to Ireland from abroad in order to pay less tax and damaging Ireland’s international reputation.
Dr Killian maintained that by being perceived as a tax haven, Ireland will find it increasingly difficult to attract multinationals that are conscious of their global image.

She also pointed to the difficulties that have arisen recently between Ireland and other EU countries in negotiations to keep our corporate tax rate at 12.5 per cent.
The report advised that by becoming a leader on a fairer international tax system, Ireland would be in a better position to negotiate on the 12.5 per cent rate.

It claimed that a small but significant minority of companies, with vey little presence in Ireland - in terms of employment and manufacturing – are sold goods and services by foreign sections of the parent multinational. By subsequently selling on the produce from Ireland, these multinationals can avoid the higher tax rates in the country of origin. By doing so, they deprive the original country of its deserved and often much needed tax revenue."

Ireland's 12.5% tax rate has come under criticism recently, but the real issue  that companies  with shelf operations in Ireland channel their profits through it to avoid their tax obligations elsewhere...

So there you have it.  We are the scammers, leeches and guttersnipes of Europe, with not a gramme of self-respect. 

Which is why some form of  Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base is the only thing that will stop Ireland facilitating unscrupulous, tax-dodging conglomerates.

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