Friday, 28 December 2012

"U2 tax dodgers" (graffiti spotted in Dublin)

Some time ago I read - and I'm damned if I have been able to find the article since - that Van Morrison, unlike U2, had not availed of Ireland's artists' tax exemption - a wheeze introduced by one of the country's most corrupt (and therefore most respected) politicians ever, Charlie Haughey.

If it is true, it is interesting, for the dour Belfast man is generally known for being a tetchy, grumpy so-and-so;  while the members of U2 - Bono in particular - are known for their vocal, and very public, devotion to helping eradicate poverty in the Third World...

Now U2 will point out that they are not tax dodgers, as the no-doubt libelous statement (left) proclaims. 

Indeed it looks like Bono or The Edge might even have been out with the paintbrush overnight in an attempt to erase the graffiti, spotted on Dublin's Benburb Street.

But we must tread carefully here.  Here is a group of leather-trousered philantropists who chased an ex-employee through the courts for a hat.

U2's decision to move part of their operation to Holland, when a cap (not a hat) was put on the amount of money rich artistes could avoid tax on in Ireland, was morally wrong. 

At least it should have been morally wrong by the standards of people who preach to governments' on how more of their tax take should be spent on eradicating Third World poverty, while denying their own exchequers of their contribution.

Give me tetchy and grumpy any day - much easier to stomach than posturing, holier-than-thou, pop star hypocrites.

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Tuesday, 25 December 2012

I wish it could be Christmas every day

"I wish it could be Christmas every day", the song goes.  

And, you know, as sentiments go, it's not a bad one.   Christmas day is a time of great meaning and significance.   

It is a day when you don't have to go to work (at least I don't) and you can slob around the house stuffing your face with food and booze and not feel too guilty about it.   

You can compliment this inactivity with sitting on your lardy arse all day looking at videos and You Tube - TV programming is deliberately worse than usual on Christmas day for this reason - and nobody bats an eyelid.


Maybe you're a bit more "spiritual" than me?   If so, that's your affair, and I hope you enjoy the day in your own way. 

For me, one of the best summaries of the significance of Christmas can be found in a book I received from my sister-in-law, when she visited us from Brussels a couple of years back.  It featured in 2010's Christmas Day blog.

I'll  repost it today, as I think it's very good.  

Happy Christmas.

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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Friday, 21 December 2012

Operation Freeflow, Blue Flu, speed vans and driving at night without lights

Remember Operation Freeflow?

When the coppers would do a bit of worthwhile work  by helping to keep traffic moving coming up to Christmas?
You know, the sort of stuff they do 52 weeks of the year in most other countries?

They stopped Operation Freeflow last year, in protest at the Garda recruitment ban. That and the infamous 1998
Blue Flu duvet day says much about where their priorities lie. We'd be better off with the Keystone Cops. At least they made an effort.

On a vaguely related note, one of the lads at work described how he was zapped by a Garda "safety van" on the Arklow Bypass as he did 10 klicks over the speed limit on one of the best stretches of dual carriageway you will find anywhere in the country.  

 "Saaaving liiiives" my pert little arse - boosting their "gotcha" statistics more like.  

Fish, barrels and all the rest.  But it will look great come the next Garda/RSA report when people can read how many dangerous, speed-addled, reckless drivers the fuzz interecepted.  

What, though, about gobshites who drive around at night withouth their head/tail lights switched on?  

Imagine my surprise when, driving along Parkgate Street at about 9.30pm on Wednesday, the 19th of December, I was overtaken by an unmarked, speeding Ford Mondeo made visable only by flashing blue illumination.

Are Garda drivers deliberately leaving headlights off in protest at cutbacks? Are they trying to save precious financial and planetary resources?  Is it some kind of Bondesque, super-sleuth thing, blending in with the darkness?

Or are some of them just very bad, very inattentive - and potentially very dangerous - drivers who don't even notice they are driving at night with no headlights on?   See pic above.

I'll have my guess.  Call me a cynic.

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Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Irish national anthem copyright scandal from the archives

Whilst flicking through one of the local freebie papers, I spotted the following reproduction from its "archives" feature:  namely an Irish Press article of 1932. 

It concerned a certain Peader Kearney -  who wrote The Soldier's Song, our little republic's national anthem -  and the issue of copyright when said ditty was given an airing in Dublin cinemas of the day..  

The Soldier's Song was later translated into Gaelic by our cultural nationalist leaders, who felt it wasn't Irish enough in its vernacular form, rendered as it was in a way that most of us could understand. 

And maybe they were right, for once? 

Most national anthems are jingoistic gibberish.  

Even the catchy Italian one  -  which sounds a bit like Rossini's Thieving Magpie crescendo from start to finish  -  is accompanied by bloodthirsty lyrics that might even have made Padraig Pearse blush. 

 It is probably for the best that people don't understand what is being said.

But copyright?   Have a read of the extract below.

And who said "republicans"  were fundamentally opposed to royalties?

See also:

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Friday, 14 December 2012

Residents to "share cost" of repairing roads

Remember a few years back when B-B-B-Bertie was giving lectures around the world on how to run (no, not ruin) economies, and Mary Harney was blabbing on about how Ireland was closer to Boston than Berlin?

When Paddy and Mary O'Gobshite, in general,  thought they had suddenly stolen a march over the best financial and entrepreneurial brains on the planet by discovering a way to make capital assets appreciate in value into perpetuity?  

All shite, of course.  

B-B-B-Bertie Ahern was just a dishonest, bribe-taking shyster ("I wun itt onna horse"),  Mary Harney was talking out of her far-from-insubstantial arse, and Paddy and Mary O'Gobshite's mad borrowing - replicated by thousands and thousands of Paddy and Mary O'Gobshites all over the country - made our crazy little country bankrupt.

Boston or Berlin.  That is: the US free-enterprise, low tax, scant-welfare model  –  or Berlin, the sluggish, state-dependent,  high-tax, abundant-welfare model.   The Irish political class, however, want it both ways:  high taxation while offering little in return.

Ireland - even during the bubble - was never a low tax economy, unless you were Bono, a US multinational, or one of the thousands of property speculators – amateur and "professional" – who destroyed the country with government assistance via tax shelters and incentives.  

Now we have Leo Varadkar, very much in the Harney mould, telling people who pay income tax, PRSI, property tax, the Universal Social Charge, credit card tax, insurance levies, RTE licence fees,  Deposit Interest Retention Tax,  cheque book tax,  road tolls, road tax, Vehicle Registration Tax and Value Added Tax will be given the opportunity to partake in a scheme which will

"allow people to help share the cost of repairing local roads – or do it themselves – from next year."

I'm not making this up.  See below, from last weekend's Irish Independent:

Residents may have to share cost of repairing roads – or grab a shovel

By Paul Melia
Saturday December 08 2012

THE public may be asked to get out their shovels and wallets if they want their local road repaired.

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar says a new scheme will allow people to help share the cost of repairing local roads – or do it themselves – from next year.

Between €5m and €10m will be made available from the Government, with further funding to be sourced from the public.

He added it would allow minor works such as potholes to be repaired which might otherwise not be addressed.

"There are proposals to introduce a new community involvement scheme for regional and local roads on a pilot basis in 2013 involving an exchequer contribution of between €5m and €10m," he said.

"This revised scheme should allow communities and the State to share the cost, or the workload, involved in repairing minor roads which wouldn't otherwise be improved."
Similar schemes are already in place in local authorities.

Laois County Council has a Community Involvement in Roadworks Scheme, which applies to all public roads in the county.

This scheme allows residents who want to have road improvements carried out to part-fund the cost of the works jointly with the council.

In Roscommon, at least 25pc of the cost must be met by local residents who want the work carried out.

The Department of Transport said details, which were still being worked out, were due to be announced in a few weeks.

A spokesman said the community element of the scheme was not yet clear, but money would be available to local authorities to employ local contractors.

"There used to be a local improvement scheme, and it's a similar idea where there's community involvement but it's being developed," a spokesman said.
"It's being looked at, and funding is being provided. It's very early days."

The scheme is expected to apply to local roads, including country lanes and boreens.
Meanwhile, a €22m new road improvement scheme from Carrick Bridge to Clonfad Road (Dalystown) in Co Westmeath was opened yesterday.

The N52 improvements cover 5.6kms of single carriageway, and will reduce travel times between both areas by about one-third.

Mr Varadkar said it would "significantly" improve road safety, adding that the work was completed three months ahead of schedule.

He added that four road schemes would be completed next year: the Belturbet bypass, Cork Southern Ring Road interchanges upgrade, Tralee bypass and a section of the N4 in Co Westmeath.

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Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Belfast City Hall controversy might flag problems for future

The current disturbances in Northern Ireland – provoked by Belfast City Council narrowly voting to fly the UK flag 15 days a year  - are a reminder of unpleasant days gone by, albeit on a smaller scale.    

It could also be a foretaste of what might lie further down the line should the united Irelanders ever get their way, and so bring about a sizeable unionist minority marooned in a country informed and inspired by narrow – and bogus – notions of Catholic, Gaelic Irishness.

It is not difficult to imagine a resurgent campaign of terrorism in such a scenario – the protagonists this time, however, being exclusively loyalist and their theatre of operations encompassing the whole island.

Despite the peace process the tribal divisions are as marked as ever in Northern Ireland.   The following piece from The Irish Times by former Alliance leader, John Cushnahan, contains some information that should – but no doubt won't – prove instructive to those entrusted with political responsibility north of the border, and those who beat the cultural nationalist drum here south of it.

Peace is a fragile plant that needs careful nurturing

Mon, Dec 10, 2012, Irish Times.

OPINION: We cannot afford to be complacent about the situation in Northern Ireland
In this part of Ireland – the South – many people, including some politicians, look at images beamed from Northern Ireland and conclude that the “ghosts of the past have been finally laid to rest”.

It is not difficult to understand their optimism when they see television footage of DUP leader and First Minister Peter Robinson sharing a joke with Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at a GAA match.

This “feel-good” factor is further strengthened when Peter Robinson says at his party’s annual conference that the party will now seek Catholic support and when Martin McGuinness strongly condemns the murder of policemen and prison officers by dissident republicans.

Unfortunately the events of the weekend and last week prove otherwise. As she witnessed the developments which occurred during her visit to Ireland, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton correctly warned that Northern Ireland’s peace process was still very much “a work in progress”.

The attacks on police and on the homes and constituency offices of Alliance Party elected representatives following the debate in Belfast City Council over the flying of the Union flag were followed by a death threat issued against its east Belfast MP, Naomi Long.

It is no coincidence that this was preceded by the circulation of 40,000 leaflets by DUP and Ulster Unionist activists in east Belfast in advance of the vote, which inflamed tensions. It is also no coincidence that east Belfast just happens to be the former constituency of Peter Robinson before he was toppled by Naomi Long.

Meanwhile, nationalist members of Newry and Mourne District Council voted to name a children’s playground in Newry after dead hunger striker and IRA terrorist Raymond McCreesh.
And to further remind the parties in Stormont of the threats that existed outside their cosy Stormont forum, dissident republicans were busy preparing a bomb attack in Derry. Thankfully, they were prevented from causing bloodshed by excellent police work.

All politicians throughout these islands should pause and reflect on the true state of the peace process, and ask themselves where it is in danger of heading. Peace in Northern Ireland is a very fragile plant. It needs careful nurturing and ever-vigilant protection.

Considerable threats remain and, as events of last week so patently illustrate, a chain of events still has the potential to derail the entire process.

The images of a smiling Robinson and McGuinness perceived to be working harmoniously together induces a dangerous complacency.

It is true that remarkable progress has been made in Northern Ireland – as illustrated by what is happening in the corridors of power. Unfortunately the situation is totally different on the ground.
Attitudinal surveys carried out since the establishment of the Good Friday agreement have consistently revealed that the gulf between Northern Ireland’s divided communities is as wide as it ever was. Some have found that the polarisation is worse now than it was even at the height of the Troubles, and is increasing.

Furthermore, we should not forget that five times as many so called “peace walls” – physically segregating Northern Ireland’s historically divided communities – have actually been built (rather than come down) since the signing of the agreement.

The carving up of power between the former political extremes will not, of itself, bring about the changes in attitude that are necessary to guarantee a permanent peace.

The sharing of political power at the top level must be paralleled by sustained political initiatives at community level designed to reduce fear, create trust, build respect for difference and bring about true reconciliation.

The war may be over but the battle for reconciliation has not even begun. Until it happens, incidents such as those that happened outside Belfast City Hall or that occur at sectarian flashpoints have the potential to spill over into something more serious, as has occurred in the past.

Those who share power at the top level have a duty of leadership. They cannot indulge in cynical politics which heightens sectarian tensions, either by raising false fears about flags or insensitively naming children’s playgrounds after dead terrorists.

Their responsibilities, because they hold the top offices in government, extend beyond their own immediate political base.

They have a duty to work actively to unite the community and stop pandering to their tribal power base. Otherwise the peace that has been won at such a terrible cost of life and limb will be in danger of dissolving once again into violent sectarian conflict.

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Friday, 7 December 2012

The RSA and icy roads. Mutually exclusive, it seems.

Someone I know rather well is employed in Meath - perish the thought - and encountered one van and a car nestling in the ditch on the way to work on Tuesday morning.   The reason?   Icy roads untroubled by a layer of grit.

Cutbacks, I assume. 

We'll still have the authorities taking down signs to replace them with new ones featuring Gaeilge predominant over the vernacular, and painting out the English on signs leading to the Gaeltacht, but we won't have property-tax/income tax/road tax  money spent on gritting the roads when they are covered in ice.   But this is Ireland, after all.

Any chance of opting out of your "services", Irish authorities, and keeping my money in my pocket in exchange?  No?   I didn't think so.  

  It also makes you wonder about the  RSA (Road Safety Authority) - the quango charged with "saaaving liiiiives" on our roads.   

What is that body for, apart from issuing expensive platitudes?

See excellent letter below, from the corresponding page of The Irish Times, November 30, 2012:

Cold comfort on icy roads

Sir, – Having driven on perilous icy untreated roads from Terenure to Ardee, Co Louth on Wednesday, I witnessed four accidents, five near-accidents and miles of treacherous untreated roads.

Having worked in UK where at the merest whiff of ice or snow a comprehensive management plans swings into action and local authority managers are accountable for their performance in relation to gritting and keeping roads open, I mistakenly assumed such performance standards would pertain in this country.

To this end I telephoned the relevant county councils only to be fobbed off and dismissed. The Road Safety Authority suggested referring the matter to my TD.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) is tasked with improving safety on our roads in order to reduce death and injury resulting from road collisions. The legal basis for the RSA is set out in the Road Safety Authority Act 2006. An objective of the RSA is to bring Ireland’s road safety record into line with “best practice” countries throughout the world, another is “road safety research”, yet the response was to suggest that road safety is a political issue and not a statutory, civil or human right under the law, and it had no responsibility, merely to suggest that drivers drive “more slowly and with care”.

Only in Ireland, where we pay VRT, VAT, motor tax and excise duty, do we get nothing back but tolled icy roads. If the RSA doesn’t have a policy “remit” for the safety of the actual safety roads itself, what is its remit and why is it in existence?

Where is the joined-up Government performance management of this recurring health hazard? – Yours, etc,

Greenlea Drive,
Dublin 6W.

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Monday, 3 December 2012

Michael O'Leary calls The Gathering "The Grabbing"

Not a month after actor Gabriel Byrne described "The Gathering" – Irish officialdom's' attempt to celebrate "Irishness" by attracting gullible, spending-prone fools to Ireland in 2013 – as "a scam", another Irish public figure has spoken out on the coming event.

Michael O'Leary, Ryanair CEO, renamed the event "The Grabbing" while speaking at an aviation conference today in Dublin.

See Irish Independent report below:

RYANAIR boss Michael O’Leary lashed out this morning at everybody from unions and business group to the government and the Dublin Airport Authority and labelled next year’s ‘Gathering’ as ‘The Grabbing’.

“May I welcome you to The Grabbing,” the outspoken chief executive told nearly 200 delegates from Ireland an abroad in blistering attacks at an aviation conference in Dublin. “Because this time, you’re screwed.”

He said the Dublin Airport Authority was raising charges at a time that will coincide with next year’s ‘Gathering’ event that the government is hoping will lure an additional 325,000 tourists to the country in 2013. The DAA has previously described the increases as “modest”, saying it hadn’t raised its core charges in two years.

“We like, actually, the Gathering. I thought it wasn’t a bad idea. There’s no reason not to welcome everyone back to Ireland,” said Mr O’Leary.

But he said that increasing charges at the airport and hiking bus and rail fares flew in the face of the efforts to promote the Gathering.

He also criticised government aviation policy – just as the government formally announced its plans for separating Shannon Airport from the DAA structure and making it an independent business.

Mr O’Leary told international delegates that it was his first visiting the National Conference Centre in Dublin.

“It’s my first time in the National Conference Centre – the second big white elephant building in this country after the DAA’s T2,” he said. “For those of you who are visiting this country and want to realise why we are broke, you’re sitting in it.”

- John Mulligan


O'Leary is always good for a quote or two, and delights in stirring it up.  Always in his and Ryanair's interests, of course, but he can be quite amusing with it. 

The country is going down the tubes thanks to the stupidity of those who sit in government, and who maintained a deafening silence while in "opposition" as Fianna Fail ruined the economy with capital gains tax reductions and property tax incentives during the country's crazy property bubble.   

A bubble that has saddled the taxpayer with massive debts, which Brian Lenihan made sovereign with his bank guarantee.

Now we have "The Gathering" – even as thousands are forced to emigrate because of the foolishness of their leaders, and large sections of the Irish population at large.  

The Gathering is nothing more than a shameless attempt to attract gullible tourists with shallow notions of "Irishness" and deep pockets full of wonga.

An embarrassing pukefest of Paddywhackery and gobshitery, to which Ireland's greedy publicans, hoteliers, restaurateurs and assorted gombeens will hope to add the soundtrack of ringing greasy tills.

"The Grabbing", is right.  

If they can find enough gobshites to fall for it.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Navan Road Parkway railway station. The mystery of the high-vis jacket and the hand-written sign.

I'm not sure if Irish Rail, as a semi-state body, is subject to the Croke Park Agreement or not.  

The CPA was negotiated by Fianna Fail and the Greens just before they were turfed out of the last government.

It is now similarly championed by Fine Gael and Labour, as a means of "extracting extra efficiencies from the public sector" without its members feeling the pain felt by those in the private sector. 

 Benchmarking wasn't designed to work work both ways, it seems.

Coincidentally, this is the very public sector that provides the wages and pensions of politicians, judges and civil servants, including highly-paid senior ones who advise the government of today and those of the past, no matter what the logos.

So whether, or not, the semi-states are part of this happy band, it is quite likely - as bodies subsidised by the public purse – they are not subject to the wrecked economy's chill winds to the same extent as those outside the club.

Nice, so, to see this high-visability jacket putting in 24-four-hour shifts at Navan Road Parkway –  a supposedly manned railway station.  A human, however, has not been spotted behind the counter by this daily commuter for weeks or months.  

Stakhanov's high-vi, had he had one, might have been proud.

The sign on the window says "Tickets available only at the machine".  The authorities are expected to launch an investigation because it was not rendered bi-lingually.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Savita, abortion, and xenophobia

You will be aware of Savita Halappanavar? The woman who died having spent three-and-a-half agonising days with a miscarried foetus that University Hospital Galway doctors would not induce a termination on because it, however unviable, "had a heartbeat".

There has been considerable debate in Ireland since.

Mind you, "debate" is a very middle-class term in itself. 

 It is very easy to "debate" something that does not, or might never, affect you in the course of your life. "Debates" are usually about others.

It is nice to see, however, that successive Irish governments' inaction since the X-case on abortion rights has been called into question, and there have been demonstrations outside the Irish parliament on the issue. Good, and not before time.

It is sad, however, that it has taken this matter to provoke a belated "debate" on abortion rights in Ireland.   
Interesting too, are the many xenophobic interpretations surrounding the issue.  

There was a letter in the Irish Independent during the week, admonishing Savita's husband for his temerity in questioning Ireland and its institutions. Bloody foreigners, eh? How dare they do something that Irish people, institutionally incapable of criticising their elite's nation state, will never do?

I even spoke to a neighbour of mine - a lovely old dear who you couldn't otherwise fault - who opined that people who had such criticisms of Ireland should stay in their own countries. Her daughter and son-in-law, by the way, send their children to a Gaelscoil because (by their admission) they feel they will be less likely to share a classroom with "blacks and foreigners".

That was the term used. Though I don't know what their opinions might have been on the likes of Paul McGrath or Phil Lynnott. The former quotation-marked improper nouns not  being necessarily mutually inclusive.

"If yer not with us, yer against us", it seems.

However  it might be defined.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

The fall and fall of Judge regime-alike Perrin

I don't know if any of you have had the misfortune to grace one of our courtrooms?  Or been present with someone who has? 

Or even read about the myriad instances of poor, unfortunate bastards hauled up before the modern-day despots who preside over them on the flimsiest of transgressions?

Usually motoring ones.  Ahem.

It's a scary experience. 

Imagine, into the bargain, being a polish person called up to the court of Mayo despot Mary Devins  (see link).  How are such patent idiots appointed as judges in Ireland?   Is there no quality control?

What about today's news of another one, convicted of diddling a client - in her solicitor life prior to being conferred a judge - of a cool €500,000?  See  below:

Judge facing ruin after trying to trick pal over €1m will

By Alan O'Keeffe, Evening Herald, Wednesday November 21 2012

THE judge convicted of trying to trick a friend out of half his €1m estate faces losing out on her judicial pension. Judge Heather Perrin has been on sick leave and has not worked the minimum five years needed to draw down part of her pension.

She now faces up to five years in jail, with pressure expected to mount on Justice Minister Alan Shatter to seek her impeachment.

The 60-year-old judge was ordered to hand in her passport to Malahide Garda Station yesterday as she awaits next Thursday's sentencing hearing.

The District Court judge was convicted of attempting to deceive Thomas Davis out of half of his estate while he was a client of her solicitor's firm.

Her trial heard she tricked the elderly man into bequeathing half his estate, worth about €1m, to her own two children.

Perrin ran a solicitor's practice in Fairview in Dublin before being appointed a District Court judge in February 2009, a month after she carried out the scam.

The jury returned a guilty verdict yesterday and Perrin was remanded for sentencing.
If she does not appeal her conviction or resign, she could trigger the first ever successful impeachment of an Irish judge.

A judge can only be removed by a joint resolution adopted by both houses of the Oireachtas for "stated misbehaviour or incapacity".

Perrin has been a leading light in the Christian Girls' Brigade and a respected member of the Anglican parishes of Malahide and Portmarnock.

She appeared shocked at the verdict. She wiped away tears and was comforted by her husband Albert and supporters.

Perrin, of Lambay Court, Malahide, pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to deceptively inducing Thomas Davis to bequeath half of his estate to Sybil and Adam Perrin at her office on Fairview Strand on January 22, 2009.

According to the prosecuting counsel Dominic McGinn, Perrin fought the case using "lies, half-truths and deceptions". When the scam first came to light she claimed it was a mistake by her secretary but later claimed she had drafted the will in line with Mr Davis's instructions.

Her defence team suggested that Mr Davis, who is in his eighties, suffered memory problems and had forgotten leaving half his estate to the Perrin children. The prosecution produced medical evidence that Mr Davis had no memory problems.

Charges of deception relating to the will of Mr Davis's wife, Ada, were dropped before the trial because her mental state has declined to the point where she is unable to give evidence.
The trial heard Thomas and Ada Davis decided to make their wills with Perrin before she was officially made a judge.

Mr Davis gave instructions to leave €2,000 each to various churches, €2,000 each to Perrin's children and split everything else between his two nieces.

As has been wondered aloud before:  who judges the judges?   And what will next week's sentence be? 

One can only imagine a judge might get roughed-up big-time sharing living space with (official) fellow-crims.    She'd be safer in the Dail.

 Irish Officialdom, as expressed by the courts, is ever mindful of this, and is inclined to be lenient with its own. 

Plod, politician or judge.

Let's see what happens, shall we?   

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Monday, 19 November 2012

A Yankee in de Valera's Ireland, by David Gray. Worth a read?

Had intended to highlight this extract from The Journal before now. A reader emailed it a week or two ago, but between one thing and another, I'm only getting to it now.

It's the memoir of a US ambassador, David Gray, who had a stint in de Valera's Ireland during The Emergency. Or the Second World War as the world outside Ireland knew it.

Well worth a read, if the extract below is any guide.




‘Mr de Valera’s conviction that Hitler would win the war was stupid’

David Gray, the US Amabassador to Ireland in 1940, reveals just what he thought of Dev, the 1916 leaders and why he thought Ireland was in collusion with the Nazis.

Eamon De Valera on the steps of No. 10 Downing Street, London.
Eamon De Valera on the steps of No. 10 Downing Street, London.
Image: (PA Archive/Press Association Images)
David Gray became US Minister (Ambassador) to Ireland in 1940. His memoir, written at the age of 89, is published for the first time by the Royal Irish Academy and is a patchwork of top-secret documents, letters to Roosevelt and extracts from his diary.

Gray was born in New York in 1870 and was a journalist and playwright before joining the military and entering politics. He was not well disposed to Irish republicanism. He came to hold Irish society in contempt and despised de Valera, believing that certain Irish officials were collaborating with the Nazis to achieve a British defeat and a 32-county republic. This extract is from 1940. He writes: 

The Taoiseach’s office (pronounced popularly ‘tee shack’) and surroundings were all as they had been so often described by interviewers. He himself was the tall, gaunt figure with the suggestion of Lincoln, and ironically in the corner stood the O’Connor bronze statue of Lincoln which John McCormack, the singer, had given to the Irish government. The office was bare, the flat-topped desk was bare and Mr de Valera was dressed in his invariable black clerical-looking suit with black string tie.
He was always neat and his linen was always fresh. His grave eye trouble excited sympathy. It was said that he suffered from glaucoma. From time to time he removed his spectacles and put his hands over his eyes, and from time to time he showed the appealing smile that I had heard about and the suggestion of his peculiar charm.

Why Mr de Valera replied to my English speech in Irish was a question not difficult to answer. Both languages are sanctioned by the new Constitution, but Mr de Valera and his Separatist group were anxious to impress on the outside world that English is only an unfortunate and temporary makeshift and that Irish is the true and natural tongue of the nation, though today only one person in six speaks it. Very few Irish politicians speak Irish except as American High School students learn to ‘speak’ French, but they usually begin their speeches with a paragraph in Irish, which they have memorised, and then continue in English. It is the badge of being ‘Irish’ Irish, like the Gaelicisation of proper names.

1916 leaders turned out in tails and white ties
The official dinner in the state apartments of the Castle that evening was as elaborate and well done as the ceremony in the morning. Food, wines, service, cigars, all were unexceptionable. The de Valera revolution had been to a large extent a ‘social movement’. It appealed to the ‘common man’ and repudiated the symbols of privilege. Mr de Valera banned the ‘topper’ and wore the black ‘cowboy’ hat. He and his Cabinet constituted the surviving nucleus of ‘The Sixteen’ and the left-wing IRA faction that had staged the Civil War. Almost every man present had been condemned to death or jail either by the British government or by the Free State government, yet only eight years after coming to power this new aristocracy had all turned out in tails and white ties in the best London tradition, I had never sat down to dine with so many people who had been ‘martyred’ and thrown into prison, nor with so many politicians, who after having been down and out had ‘come back in’ and stayed ‘in’. It had its embarrassing side. It was like dining in a house in which there has been a highly publicised domestic difficulty.
Just as I would have wanted to ask my host whether he really beat his wife as alleged, I wanted to ask the questions to which every historian of the period was trying to find the answers. I wanted to ask why Mr de Valera had not abided by the majority action of his own parliament; why he appealed to the gun and started a Civil War. How he escaped being shot for rebellion, first by the British and then by the first Irish government ever to be recognised by the comity of nations. I wanted to ask him whether Michael Collins had been the chance victim of an ambush or the designed victim of an assassination; and if he knew who murdered Kevin O’Higgins. Of course I asked none of these questions.

The German Ambassador
Herr Hempel – the German minister to Ireland – had a charming house and garden at Blackrock, a suburb on Dublin harbour. His chancery was an ugly, modern red brick house in Northumberland Road. It was here that I called upon him. Herr Dr Hempel received us with great courtesy. He was somewhat over-civil and did not ring true. He spoke fluent English with little accent. I was conscious of being ill at ease. Hempel might be doing his duty as he saw it but he was serving a Führer whose hands were red with the blood of Jews, Poles and Norwegians, on whose conscience was the annihilation of Austria and Czechoslovakia. I was naive enough at seventy to be shocked by these things.
We exchanged pleasant commonplaces. I was not to re-enter the German legation at 58 Northumberland Road till I took possession of it in the name of the United Nations at the end of the war and found the wires of a radio sending set and other interesting items. The Irish government had seen to it that we did not gain admittance until the files had been destroyed.

Collaboration with the Germans
Mr de Valera’s conviction that Hitler would win the war was stupid in view of the opportunities he enjoyed for obtaining authoritative information as to what was going on in the United States. It was doubtless due to the fact that he knew few if any Americans, only ‘Irish in America’. As a matter of fact he himself never told me that Hitler would win, though he scoffed at the suggestion that the United States would become involved. But his deputy Joe Walshe told me. Further, Mr Walshe was confident that at the worst, Hitler would not lose. Cardinal MacRory told me that Hitler would win. Count Plunkett, the patriarch of the IRA, expressed the same opinion. We know from the German papers that one of Mr de Valera’s generals was collaborating with Hempel. Belief in German victory was in the Dublin air. At the end of the war a former Lord Mayor of Dublin, ‘Paddy’ Doyle, a very ‘decent’ man, said to me ‘You know, at the beginning we were all sure Germany was going to win’.

A Yankee in De Valera’s Ireland: The Memoir of David Gray is edited by Paul Bew. Paul Bew is a member of the RIA and Professor of Irish Politics at Queen’s University Belfast. A historical advisor to the Bloody Sunday inquiry, he was appointed an independent cross-bench peer in 2007 and is a member of the British–Irish Parliamentary Assembly.

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Thursday, 15 November 2012

Woman dies of miscarriage in Ireland, having been denied termination

Just in case the world was forgetting what a nation of stupid, hypocritical, backward gobshites Ireland is,  University Hospital Galway saw fit to issue it with a timely reminder.

I speak of 31-year-old Savita Halappanavar, who died there needlessly because doctors would not countenance the termination of a miscarried foetus. 

"Ireland is a Catholic country",   she and her fellow Hindu husband were allegedly told.  

Instead of instigating an immediate termination on a foetus that had no chance of survival, they opted to make her wait in agony for three days because the foetus "had a heartbeat".   When they eventually did induce a termination, when said heartbeat had stopped, it was too late for the mother.  

Her organs went into septic shock and she died. 

Is it not strange kind of "pro-life" outlook that will cause two deaths (by its terms) to take place rather than one?   An outlook informed by absolutist religious fundamentalist interpretations of life, and devoid of any kind of commonsense, rationality or logic?

It is an outlook with many subscribers in this country. 

But it is Ireland after all.

The following is taken from the UK's Guardian, to provide some flavour of how others might see it.

Scandal in Ireland as woman dies in Galway 'after being denied abortion'

Health authorities investigating septicaemia death of 31-year-old dentist Savita Halappanavar

Members of anti-abortion groups demonstrating in Dublin last year as a private member's bill proposing legalising abortion in Ireland was debated. The bill did not succeed. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Health authorities in Ireland are investigating the death of a pregnant woman whose husband says she was denied an abortion following severe complications.

Savita Halappanavar, who was 17 weeks pregnant, died of septicaemia a week after presenting with back pain on 21 October at University hospital in Galway, where she was found to be miscarrying.

After the 31-year-old dentist was told that she was miscarrying, her husband reportedly said that she had asked for a medical termination a number of times over a three day period, during which she was in severe pain.

But he said these requests were denied because a foetal heartbeat was still present and they were told at one point: "This is a Catholic country."

Medical staff removed the dead foetus days later after the heartbeat stopped but Halappanavar died of septicaemia on 28 October.

Ireland's health service executive, which runs the country's public health care system, has initiated an investigation into the incident, which is also being investigated by the hospital itself.

Reports of the death sparked an outcry on Wednesday night in Ireland, where abortion is illegal unless the life of the woman is in danger.

The Fine Gael/Labour government has struggled to respond to a 2010 ruling by the European court of human rights, which found it had failed to implement laws to enable women to have an abortion when their life is at risk during pregnancy.

Rachel Donnelly, a spokeswoman for pro-choice campaigners in Galway said: "This was an obstetric emergency which should have been dealt with in a routine manner. Yet Irish doctors are restrained from making obvious medical decisions by a fear of potentially severe consequences.

"As the European court ruled, as long as the 1861 Act remains in place, alongside a complete political unwillingness to touch the issue, pregnant women will continue to be unsafe in this country."


Now,  I have no problem with people pursuing whatever religious beliefs they like, though I am an atheist myself.   Whatever makes them happy or gives them comfort.

The problem, however, is when a supposed "republic" is guided by  the supposed morals of one particular religious franchise, which are imposed on its entire population, subscribers or not.   

Welcome to the  Republic of Ireland, twinned with the Republic of  Iran. 

Monday, 12 November 2012

Mike Aynsley defends bankers' high pay

"If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys".

Old saying.

But might things have worked out better for our  banana republic had a troupe of monkeys been in charge of our financial institutions and government in the not-too-distant past?   

Might they have done somewhat better than lower primates such as Seanie Fitzpatrick, Michael Fingleton, Charlie Mc Creevy, Bertie Ahern and all the rest?

Bailed-out-bank boss MIke Aynsley would appear to consider anything below 400 or 500 thousand euro to be peanuts.   So monkeys still won't get a look-in, it seems.

Not enough money to attract "talent" to our bankrupt banks, you see.   You know that old argument that served us so badly in the past, as even now our own prime minister is paid more than Barack Obama, and our senior civil servants enjoy extravagant pay and pensions.

Have a read of the article below.  It's enough to make you go ape.

Thanks to a reader for sending in the article.  

Anglo boss Mike Aynsley defends executives' €500,000 pay

But our bankers heavily criticised in influential global financial newspaper
Irish Independent, Friday November 09 2012
THE boss of the former Anglo Irish Bank – now IBRC – has robustly defended the €500,000 salaries paid to his top officials.
In an exclusive interview with the Irish Independent, Mike Aynsley said the public should not be "bloody-minded", nor should they believe that "all bankers don't deserve to be paid these high levels".
Mr Aynsley said IBRC was an "easy target" for people who wanted to bash at bankers because it was seen as the bank that took the country down.
Speaking at his headquarters in Dublin, the Australian, who was brought in to sort out the mess of Anglo Irish Bank, said there was a high turnover of staff at the bank and that he needed high salaries in order to keep good staff.
"There are certain types of individuals that are critical for us in the tapestry of this workforce that we cannot get for less than this sort of money." Mr Aynsley continued: "You can't lose qualified people who manage complex accounts and just transfer an IT specialist or a human-resource specialist to that position."
The IBRC chief 's comments put him on a collision course with the Government, which is under growing pressure to address the thorny issues of bankers' pay and pensions.
The issue of high pensions for Irish bankers is also tackled in a hard-hitting editorial in today's 'Financial Times'.
The editorial – which is headed "Dublin's shame" – says that Ireland's bankers have not covered themselves in glory in recent years.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore have insisted that they will push for lower salaries at IBRC, which is 100pc-owned by the taxpayer.
When asked if he would bow to political pressure to cut salaries, Mr Aynsley said he had a work force to protect and that he would continue to run the bank on a commercial basis.
"We have a team that has done a tremendous job chasing the problem areas in this institution. The biggest has been Sean Quinn," he said.
"I think we are an easy target for people who want to bash away at banks. Because we are the bank that is seen to have taken the country down. On the other hand AIB and BoI have been designated pillar banks and I think rightly, they need to be positioned for recovery."
He warned that the loss of good staff would cost the taxpayer in the long run.
"There is a direct link between the quality of people we have and the recovery of assets.
"As a country, if we don't recognise this, we are going to find that we won't have enough good people and we will just be exploited by people who want to come in here and buy at the bottom of the market."
IBRC's top six executives earn more than €500,000 each.
Mr Aynsley is paid €663,000 -- a €500,000 salary, allowances of €38,000 and a pension sum of €125,000.
The head of IBRC's UK operations, Jim Brydie, is on a salary of £400,000, or €501,000.
Chief financial officer Jim Bradley; head of asset recoveries Tom Hunersen; head of Irish recoveries Mark Layther; and head of specialised asset management Richard Woodhouse, are each paid a salary of about €400,000. They also receive the equivalent of 25pc of their salaries in annual pension payments -- on top of €30,000 each a year in allowances.
Mr Aynsley's outspoken defence came as Michael Noonan, who controls IBRC, said he would continue to push the issue. The Finance Minister has admitted that he asked IBRC's chairman Alan Dukes for wage cuts at the bank, but said his request was turned down.
"I wrote to Alan Dukes and I asked him to talk to the board of IBRC to impose a pay cut right across the pay levels because it was done for the public service and I can't see why it wouldn't be done elsewhere," Mr Noonan said. The request was made on April 5.
A review of pay at state-controlled banks is expected to be completed by the end of the year by consultants Mercer.
Pay rates will be assessed under the review but the Irish Independent understands that it will not offer the Government any new tools to force pay cuts or change terms and conditions of bankers.
Senior political figures last night vowed to tackle the issue.
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore said there was the "political will" to tackle the pay packets. These exceed a government-imposed cap on the pay of anyone taking up a new job in a bank.
"It is not acceptable to the Government or people of this country that these levels of either pensions or salaries should continue to be paid," he said.
The Tanaiste said Mr Noonan was looking at the various options "that may be open to Government" and had declared that there was the "political will" to deal with the issue.
However, Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin has confirmed that bankers cannot be singled out for higher taxes.
"You can't simply say, 'you and you will pay extra'," he said, adding: "This is careful and delicate work and we need to bring fairness to it."
- Maeve Dineen, Colm Kelpie and Donal O'Donovan

Thursday, 8 November 2012 email service discontinued - new email address

have known about the above for weeks but did absolutely nothing about it until today.  

Suffice to say, the email facility is no more, so I had to find a new email client.  

From henceforth, Gombeen Nation's email address is gombeenman(at) 

I tried to set up an auto-response on the old email to let people know that the address has changed, but it doesn't seem to be working.

Nothing's ever straightforward, eh?

Thanks for your patience, and please update your contacts list accordingly!

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Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Gabriel Byrne slams "The Gathering 2013" scam

Some of you may have heard about "The Gathering"

It is a  Father Ted-esqe ruse planned by the Irish government and Tourism Ireland to attract gullible idiots to our bankrupt hell-hole in 2013.

Exploiting the "Irish diaspora" and all that. 

"Exploiting" is right, even after the poor bastards, or their parents and grandparents, made the wise decision to get out of the kip way back when.    
If they do actually come here, maybe they deserve to get ripped off? And, sure as shite, they will.

"Actors are the only honest hypocrites" said William Hazlitt. 

In a country that produces hypocrites by default, it's refreshing to see the following quote from an actor, Gabriel Byrne, on "The Gathering 2013"... 

Nice to see a bit of rare honesty.

Gabriel Byrne slams The Gathering

Irish Times, Mon, Nov 05, 2012

The Irish actor Gabriel Byrne has dismissed the Gathering 2013 initiative as "a scam."
Byrne, who previously served as the cultural ambassador for Ireland in the US, said many who left Ireland for the US feel abandoned by the Government - and that the bridge between Ireland and its diaspora is broken.

He also said Irish-Americans are not receptive to being "shaken down" for money.

The Gathering is a tourism initiative to entice people with Irish connections to visit the country during 2013.

Speaking on The Last Word on Today FM today, which was broadcast from New York, Byrne said the Taoiseach’s speech launching The Gathering was "slightly offensive."

"People are sick to death of being asked to help out in what they regard as a scam," he said

"I wish The Gathering the very best of luck but they have to understand that the bridge between the diaspora and the people is broken and I tried to fix that for two years and it’s still broken.... Most people don’t give a shit about the diaspora [in Ireland] except to shake them down for a few quid."

"The diaspora has a very powerful spiritual connection to the island of Ireland. I remember when I was growing up in Dublin those buses would pull up and those people in Burberry coats would be laughed at because they’d say 'here come the Yanks looking for their roots.' Well, as far as I’m concerned one of the most sacred things you can do is look for your roots."

"The other day I was talking to a group of people. One of them was an illegal immigrant. His father died, he couldn’t get home. He feels abandoned by the Irish Government. He feels an alien. He can’t go back. Then I talked to two kids, a girl and a boy who were forced to emigrate because there are no jobs. And they blame the incompetence and the gangsterism of the Government for being forced to emigrate.‘

Byrne stepped down as Ireland’s cultural ambassador at the end of last year.

"It was a tremendous achievement what we did in two years. I was really disappointed the way all those contacts, all that hard work was just dropped and it really made me disillusioned and disappointed with this Government who go on about their love for culture for arts and actually really don’t give a toss about it."

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