Sunday, 30 October 2011

Patrick Nulty wins Dublin West by-election: capital now a Fianna Fail free zone.

Nice to see that Dublin is now - until the next election anyway - a Fianna Fail free zone.  

The party of chancers and cultural nationalists that gave us de Valera, his grandson O'Cuiv, Haughey, Lawlor, Ahern, Callely and numerous other shysters at national and local level is without a TD in the capital since... well, ever since its foundation,  I should imagine. 

That's good to see, so we should enjoy it while it lasts. 

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Friday, 28 October 2011

Irish presidential election ballot paper - Hobson gave better choice

Yesterday you will have voted for the presidential candidates you felt were less offensive, in order to keep out the ones you felt were more offensive.

It's a waiting game now, with the first results expected in the early evening.   Let's hope you made the right choice, such as the choices were. 

You know who they are... 

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Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Sean Gallagher for president now, is it?

You may be surprised to learn that my inaugural baby word was “muttonhead”. Yes, most infant first utterances are “mummy” or “daddy” or the like, but mine was “muttonhead”. Apparently it was a favoured refrain of my old dear’s.

Now this might sound slightly uncharitable, but whenever I see presidential hopeful Sean Gallagher, I think of that phrase. If I was in charge of casting for a film, whose lead character was a muttonhead, poor old Seanie would be the main man.

To be honest, when I heard he was running for president I just laughed. “Not a chance”, I thought. I think I looked at two episodes of Dragon’s Den (recounted elsewhere on the blog) and formed the view that Gallagher was by far the most bland, most uninteresting dragon in it -  amid a cast of bland, uninteresting dragons.

Once, I remember, he berated a participant who had hoped to sell locks of leprauchans’ hair as making fun of Ireland. Yet the party Gallagher supports and organised fund-raisers for, Fianna Fail, did more than any O’Carroll’s Oirish souvenir shop to make fun of dear old Erin.

How is this guy top of the polls? I can only assume that people think of him as a friend because he appears in their living rooms on that awful RTE programme. But surely not that many people look at it? It might also be because he isn’t an actual politician as such, a much distrusted breed at present.

The president of Ireland is a nothing role really, so any talk of job creation or any of the rest of it is nonsense. We simply want someone who is presentable, urbane, and articulate, and who does not have past baggage - be it murdering people or organising Fianna Fail fund-raisers.

Sean Gallagher? I don’t think so.  

But that's who they are going to vote for.

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Saturday, 22 October 2011

Out and about at Kippure

The Military Road has featured before on this blog, namely as a route used by Yours Truly to get away from it all since the days, long ago, when a Vespa PX125 (bored out to 180 cc) was the means of propulsion.

The road, built by the British military under the guidance of Charles Cornwallis between 1800-1809, is one hell of a feat of engineering.  Parts of it lie over more than four metres of peat bog. 

According to Michael Fewer's "The Wicklow Military Road", the road was - in such places - constructed by first excavating, then  "laying down a bed of timber logs, on top of which layers of stones were compacted, and the surface finished in gravel".   Fewer cites a local sheep farmer who saw the road opened up some years ago to a depth of 4 metres, and observed that its base was filled with tightly packed bundles of rushes.  It has stood the test of time, though. 

The Military Road is still a great way of getting out of the big shmoke, and although the PX has long gone to the great scooter scrapyard in the sky, and Cornwallis' access route is a lot busier than it used to be in the (19)80s, it is not bad for something right on Dublin's doorstep.

The (very arty, I like to think)  pic above shows Kippure, complete with RTE transmitter, which marks the boundary between Dublin and Wicklow. 

A good place to switch off. 

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Thursday, 20 October 2011

Problems with "Blogger" comments

Sometimes I wish I'd picked Wordpress when I was starting the blog, I really do.  But no, I picked Blogger

Blogger is the tool that puts the "blogspot" behind Gombeen Nation, but it can be very flakey.  I've had emails from readers saying they can't  select a profile to comment (even anonymously), yet some others have been able to do so. 

The only explanation I can come up with - not being a techie at all - is that some browsers will get around a problem Blogger is experiencing and others won't.   Looking at the blog's log, it seems that those using Firefox, for instance, can do so without problems.

After looking in the (very busy) "Blogger Help" forum, it was suggested that one way of getting around it is to do away with the embedded comment window that usually appears under Gombeen Nation posts, so I have done that.

Now, if you comment, you should get a separate window opening up, with the current comments to the left.     It's not as neat a version we are used to, but hopefully it will - at least - allow comments from all browsers to come through.

So if you've been trying to comment without success (and don't fit under the "spamming / trolling / nutters" category) that is the reason why.  I hope that you might be able to do so now. 

This should apply to previous posts, hopefully - though moderaton is enabled so there will still be a delay as before.

Sorry about the inconvenience!


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Wednesday, 19 October 2011

"Hey!" say teachers, "leave those pensions alone!"

A couple of weeks back I turned on the radio to hear a teachers’ union representative gnashing her teeth at government plans to reform public service pensions, including linking pension payments to average -  rather than finishing - salary, along with the linking of post-retirement pensions to inflation, rather than pay.

It sounded like a good deal to me, considering the protection enjoyed by public-sector teachers due to FF's Croke Park Agreement.   Perhaps others in the private sector who have been paying into contributory pensions for years, the eventual value of which remain doubtful, thought so too. 

The teachers’ representative, of course, called the proposed reforms “larcenous”.  She cited claims from some teachers who said they "would end up paying more into their (defined-benefit) pensions than they got out”.   Laughable... and no wonder mathematics is a subject we do not excel at, with half-wits like these out in front of our classrooms.

The interviewer than asked if they would prefer to swap their pension arrangements for those in the private sector. Predictably, the “ we don’t want a race to the bottom” argument came out. Sure they don’t.  Interestingly though, they weren’t campaigning to raise the standards enjoyed  by those on “the bottom”.

They want those very bottom feeders in insecure jobs and ill-defined benefit pensions – where they have any at all – to continue to subsidise their unsustainable ones. Pensions enjoyed, not uncoincidentally, by retired TDs, gardai, judges and top civil servants.

The thing is, there have to be enough such private sector bottom feeders working to pour money into the black hole of such pensions (not to mention all the various other unworthy bail-outs for banks, investors and developers).

Maybe they should consider the plight of those turning up at Aviva today to see if they have jobs at all, and use their educated minds to make some kind of connection with the reality that exists outside their staffrooms.

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Sunday, 16 October 2011

Oooh ah, up the Ra? Slow learners alert.

Pictured on the Carpenterstown Road, Dublin 15.   Far away from the "Troubles" of not so long ago. Good Friday Agreement, anyone?

Here's a joke, and a bit of light relief:  

Q "What's the difference between Dana and Martin McGuinness?"

A  "You can't remember Dana's hits".

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Thursday, 13 October 2011

Martin McGuinness - "the people's president"? Please, please no.

Don't  worry, Gombeen Nation hasn't come over all Shinnery.  This came in the door earlier, addressed to my alter ego.

It is a leaflet for Martin McGuinness, publicising his bid to become "UACHTARAN NA nDAOINE" ("The People's President" as Gaeilge - a language he doesn't speak himself, of course). 

But that is typical of the cultural-nationalist bollocksology of Sinn Fein, who are really nothing better than Fianna Fail in embryo.  The difference being that as long as the Shinners are in opposition, they can be "radical" grandstanders.  

They profess to be socialist, yet they don't support a woman's right to chose a  termination in her own country - a basic tenet of  left wing parties. 

They didn't have a nationwide policy on the bin charges, but left it at local level to take an opportunist stance when it suited.

They are "nationalist and internationalist" according to their website - or at least they were the last time I looked. 

According to a recent Irish Times MRBI poll, McGuinness' strongest support comes from younger working class male voters...  his vote being three times stronger among the unfairer sex. 

The point has been made that this is the very demographic most affected by the downturn, and most likely to fall for those making the loudest noises from the far benches.  Then you have the whiff of old cordite into the bargain, which some find more alluring than the roar of an Impreza STi.  

More of the same.  Just another "Republican Party" attached to a narrow, neo-Gaelicist, vision of Irishness.  A vision that started with Dev, and has been an abject failure for 89 years.

And a waste of another generation that might otherwise have opted for change, given real alternatives. 

Sunday, 9 October 2011

De Valera - Ireland's Hated Hero

Big thanks to John for bringing our attention to the documentary below, which is well worth a peek.

It is a rather unflattering look at Eamon de Valera, and alleges that the granddaddy of Irish nationalism actually refused Churchill's offer of a united Ireland in exchange for the use of the three Treaty Ports which Chamberlain - the master of appeasement -  had relinquished in the face of a looming world war. 

It seems that de Valera felt that taking in the Protestant/unionist population of the north would lead to a blurring of his vision of Ireland, which was an exclusively Catholic and Gaelic one.  As an illustration of the inherent bankruptcy of Irish nationalism, it is hard to beat.

It also deals with his opportunism around the issue of the Anglo Irish Treaty in 1921, in which he stitched-up Collins and the other plenipotentiaries who agreed to partition.  His rush to express his condolences to the German ambassador on the death of Hitler, when the rest of Europe was horrified by footage from the Nazi death camps, also gets an airing.

Get yourself a mug of coffee/cup of tea/can of beer/bottle of whiskey and have a look (preferably when you are not at work). 

DeValera - Ireland's Hated Hero

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Thursday, 6 October 2011

Taking Racism Seriously report - attitudes don't tally with Irish self image

We’re great, we Irish, so we are.   

We survived the 800 years of oppression and the Famine, so we have an inbuilt affinity with the underdog.   The whole world recognises this, of course, and all true lovers of freedom love the Irish. 

So the Irish patriotic delusion goes.  But patriots' delusions everywhere should be challenged, and in many other countries that process has taken place.  Jingoism is seen as distasteful and foolish.

Not in Ireland though, where patriotism is a continuation of the same unquestioning blind faith that the Catholic Church enjoyed for so much of the state’s history.  And the other side of exclusive patriotism and narrow nationalism is xenophobia, racism and an unhealthy attitude to “outsiders”. 

The following is from the RTE website report last Tuesday.

The Immigrant Council of Ireland has said that racism is an everyday fact of life for migrants in this country and people must do more to challenge those who engage in racist behaviour in public settings.

The Council has launched a research report entitled 'Taking Racism Seriously: Migrants' Experiences of Violence, Harassment and Anti-Social Behaviour in the Dublin Area'

It worked with Dublin Bus, Veolia Transport (which operates the Luas), gardaĆ­ and the Integration Office of Dublin City Council in producing the research report.

Focus groups were held with African bus-drivers, Luas revenue protection officers from a variety of ethnic backgrounds and Asian healthcare workers, all of whom had lived in Ireland for between six and ten years.

Many of those participating in the focus groups were naturalised Irish citizens.

The vast majority had experience of racist incidents, varying from long-term harassment and violent assault to anti-social behaviour that resulted in victims having to flee their homes.

ICI Chief Executive Denise Charlton said what was striking about the report is that the people interviewed believe racism is more prevalent in Ireland than in many other countries in which they have lived.

She said some of those they spoke with have lived in the UK, Holland and Sweden, but said they never felt as unsafe as they do in Ireland.

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Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Eamon de Valera Crescent, anybody?

Just an amusing snippet from an Irish Times letter writer in today's paper:

"...My father used to say that the reason that nobody had named a street in Ireland after de Valera was it had proved impossible to find one that was long enough or crooked enough."

I liked that one, I have to say.

Funny how the most enduring patriots in the Irish popular consciousness are the ones who died gloriously, before they had a chance to live on and mess things up.

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Sunday, 2 October 2011

Tesco's incorrect pricing policy - Maynooth an exception?

Years ago, the Irish customer was far from royalty.   Dunnes Stores, for instance, did not even have changing rooms... I kid you not.  It was only when BHS (now gone), M&S and the rest came in that they felt they had to supply such luxuries.  

Until then, you simply held your diamond patterned jumper up in front of your chest before the mirror - thoughtfully supplied - and made a rough calculation.  Dunnes had to catch up when the British chains came in.

Similarly, Tescos introduced a policy whereby anyone who was overcharged got the product concerned for free, plus their money back.  There were signs in their shops clearly stating this, and once again indigenous chains were left in the ha'penny place.  Superquinn only offered someone to pack your bags wrongly.  An irritating role some eejit collecting for the Grab All Association now does for Tescos, and whose services you politely - or maybe not so - demur. 

Now, it seems, things have changed.  Tescos Irish website does not carry any details of its policy in this regard anymore - at least not anywhere obvious that I can see... try it yourself.   My understanding though, from talking to people,  is that they now offer "double the difference".  That is, if you were charged €5 for something marked €4, you would get a "refund" of €2. 

Just try that in Tescos Maynooth.  Now Tescos is a pretty profitable company, so far as I know.  But if you buy something on, say, a "two for €4" offer, only to find you are charged €5.10 at the checkout, and then proceed to the customer service desk - which is the longest queue in Tescos Maynooth - you will have to fight tooth and nail. 

We went up to the desk, showed the receipt and the advertised price, and were told by the assistant "I will just go and check".  She came back and said "no, the wrong prices were put on them.  They are really €5.10". 

Natural forces know, shop assistants have pretty tough jobs.  They work all the hours there are for relatively poor pay, which is being further attacked since judges ruled against compensation for workers who are subject to unsocial hours (judges are not).

But bloody hell, how can a shop assistant, on the customer service desk, not be informed of company policy on overcharging?  Eventually a manager arrived, like the cavalry to the scene, and all was resolved. 

As dark Internet conspiracies go, this might be a bit low-rent...  but does Tescos Ireland now only carry out its not-so-clearly-stated policy on refunding overcharged customers, if they make a fuss?