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 F├╝hrer 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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Thursday, 1 November 2012

Going bananas in Wicklow

The lure of the Military Road enticed yours truly up into the Dublin/Wicklow Mountains yesterday, the pic above taken at the stretch just before the Sally Gap, going south.

But note the artwork on the rock to the right...  a screenprint-esque banana.

Andy Warhol was long departed, even before Ireland's artists' tax exemption was capped, so it can't have been him.  

And suitable as the image might be to replace the shamrock and harp as our national emblem, I just can't see us being that honest.

Maybe it is a political activist making a statement about the many crooked, rotten, slippery customers who inhabit our little land - more than you would find in a Fyffes' warehouse?

Or what about a  viral advertising attempt?  Gombeen Nation a hapless host for the marketing types' Chiquita campaign, going forward?

Or an art student who takes to the hills and paints bananas on the scenery?  As they do. 

Whatever the origin, it's nicely done, and a-peeling in its own way. 

Beats "Anto was here" in any case.

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