Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Sinn Fein TD, Aengus O Snodaigh, wolfs toner

There is much ado  in the papers about Sinn Fein TD, Aengus O Snodaigh, who managed to use up €50,000 worth of Dail (Irish Parliament) printer toner - paid by the taxpayer - in only two years. 

 O Snodaigh doesn't appear to have an inkling that there is anything wrong with such abuse of state fonts - funds - maintaining that the toner was used for printing at his Dublin constituency office.  

That's a lot of ink toner.  The Indo puts it this way:

"It would have taken him three months, working eight hours a day, five days a week, even if he had been using all of his three Oireachtas-supplied printers simultaneously.

And it meant that Mr O Snodaigh would have printed enough A4 leaflets to cover the GAA's Croke Park stadium -- which sits on an area of 65,000 square metres -- three times over."

It seems that Sinn Fein TDs made up 13 of the top 20 Dail users of State ink cartridges, so they are quite prolific it seems.  And the same party, which hasn't quite managed to shake off accusations of involvement in the Northern Bank robbery and other armed actions, is now the largest opposition group, ahead of fellow shysters and cultural nationalists Fianna Fail. 

So it's not that long ago that the Shinners were stockpiling cartridges of a different sort, rather than the rather harmless variety available in PC World.

Perhaps we should see it as progress, of a sort?

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Monday, 27 February 2012

Michael O'Leary for CIE?

I hate flying Ryanair, I must say. But I can remember the days when you nearly had to take out a mortgage just to fly to London when Aer Lingus had a monopoly on Irish skies.

A few years back, I was in a situation when I had to take the plane every other week, and I was glad of Ryanair back then. If they hadn’t been around I couldn’t have done the amount of necessary commuting I had to do.

So, although Mick O’Leary might be a bit of a bollocks in many respects – albeit a clever and amusing one – he did at least open things up with the business model he copied.

You would wonder if he couldn't have a look at CIE? I mean, how many times have you been standing in the pissings of rain, to be treated to the sight of empty “OUT OF SERVICE” buses cruising blithely by? Can you imagine our Mick allowing a Ryanair plane take to the air empty because the pilot wants to get back to Dublin Airport for his sarnies?

And what about the vexed question of signage? Irish Rail must have spent a lot of taxpayers’ money on their fancy digital signs, which were to inform the public of their train’s arrival. As far as I can see, however, they were never switched on in some stations. Coolmine being one example and Maynooth (see pic) being another.

What is the point of investing in a system such as this if no-one can be arsed to make the things functional in every station? By the same token, I have seen northbound trains with “Bray” scrolled on the front (Bray lies south) and incomprehensible platform-change announcements that leave “the skulls” (Irish Rail staff's affectionate term for their paying customers) scratching said crania.

A lot of things get blamed these days on cutbacks and lack of investment, but this kind of nonsense was a boomtime phenomenon too.

Rather than a question of money, is it simply a matter of not making the effort?

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Thursday, 23 February 2012

Motorway driving, Irish-style

What is it about so many Irish motorists that they cannot get their muddled heads around the idea of motorways?

And what special kind of self-assurance and supreme confidence in their own stupidity do they possess that they will obstinately sit in the overtaking lane of a three-lane motorway, blocking traffic behind them, even as the inner lanes are free?

I’ve never seen it occur – on such a regular basis – anywhere else.

 Is it down to pure cussed stupidity?  Or is it because quangos such as the RSA (Road Safety Authority) do not divert sufficient resources to meaningful driver education in this country? 

It prefers to bombard people with ridiculous adverts depicting daydreaming drivers somersaulting their vehicles spectacularly before flattening  little Johnny on his swing in the back garden, instead of telling them how to use motorway lanes correctly. 

Of late, I’ve had cause to use the M50 several times a week, and my blood pressure hasn’t been the same since. It seems that the best way to make progress on the M50, and other Irish motorways I assume, is to stick to the inside lane. That stays relatively empty, apart from the occasional truck, while the middle and outer overtaking lanes are chock-full of half-wit lemmings driving within touching distance of each others’ bumpers, their  progress bearing no relation to accepted lane convention.

Paddy and Mary don’t do “slow” lane it seems.

And that’s mightily ironic.

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Monday, 20 February 2012

Public Consultation on VRT

I am sick of it, I really am.  Last week I got a renewal letter from my motor insurance broker.  I was somewhat disconcerted to note that my premium had gone up by 75% on last year's quote.  75%!!!!  

Before you ask, no - I was not done for drink driving.  I did not crash my car into a ditch or a wall.  I did not even get a single penalty point.  I have a clean driving licence, car, motorcycle, truck and bus.  I have the full no-claims bonus.  I have never made an insurance claim in my life, or had one against me.  Oh, and I don't own a MINI.

The reason - the broker explained - is because St Paul's, the insurance company that covered "niche vehicles" (in an Irish sense)  - has pulled out of the market.   Recession-torn Ireland is not a great place to do business, it would seem. 

Much of it can be blamed on VRT, in my view.  That and a compo-claim culture that makes insurance costs in Ireland - and the cost of living and doing business - far higher than they are elsewhere. 

There is currenty a consulation process (such as these things claim to be) on VRT.  If you want to have your say on the unfair Vehicle Registration Tax, please email your submission to the address below.  Include your name and address:

 For what it is worth, here is my submission:

Dear Madam/Sir.

I would like to suggest that, rather than playing about with VRT, your Department should simply abolish this unfair tax which is contrary to the principle of free movement of goods within the EU.

VRT was only introduced by the Irish Government of the day when vehicle excise duty was abolished by the EU. It is a disgraceful tax, Kafka-esqe in its lack of transparency (particularly the cooked-up Open Market Selling Price notion), and means that I, as an Irish citizen, cannot avail of the EU market when buying or selling my car.

It means that my fellow Irish citizens are forced to pay nearly twice as much for their cars, in some cases, as their lucky counterparts across the border who had the sense to maintain their union with Britain. A year or two ago, the Commission on Taxation - paid for by the Government - suggested that VRT be phased out. I believe your Department should, for once, heed advice it - through the taxpayer - has paid for.

VRT has a knock-on effect in the Irish economy as a whole, as it also inflates the cost of insurance, as vehicles have a much higher capital cost in this country purely because of VRT. If a car costs 40% more to buy, it is not unreasonable to surmise it will also be far more expensive to insure.

 It is also an anti-aspirational tax, as Paddy and Mary can only dream of owning higher-spec vehicles that are within the reach of ordinary working people in other countries. That has an effect on the motor industry too, of course, who have been remarkably compliant on this issue - possibly concerned for selfish reasons about the used car market seeing lower prices should VRT be scrapped.

This is not a valid argument. If I buy I car for €50,000 and it depreciates by 50% in three years, that means I must find €25,000 to replace it. If I was a British subject, and bought it same car for €30,000 in the UK, I would be looking at depreciation of €15,000.  My used car might be "worth" less as I sold it on, but I would be paying far less for any car I might buy. So SIMI and the rest should cop themselves on and look at a revived industry that would come about after the abolition of VRT. 

Remember too, that you can place a 100% tax on cars if you like, but you will not get a single cent if nobody can afford to buy them. Cheaper cars would mean more sales, and even then the Exchequer is creaming 23% VAT on each unit sold.

Motor manufacturers have been making great strides to make their cars cleaner and safer - this very consultation process admits to being prompted by the fact that manufacturers have cleaned up their act considerably, particularly the likes of BMW, and are producing vehicles which emit far less CO2 than a few years ago. They should be rewarded for this, not penalised. Or does the so-called "green" element of VRT and motor tax refer to "green" in an envious, rather than an environmental, sense?

The Irish government should stop robbing the Irish motorist blind. It does that well enough with road tax, in a country where motorways are tolled and some byways resemble a landscape from the Battle of the Somme.

Stop tweaking VRT.   Abolish it.

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Friday, 17 February 2012

Commemorating 1916 - let's admit it was a bad idea

Since independence in 1922, when our gombeen ruling class took over running the country, it has gone rapidly downhill.   Maybe it's time to admit it was all a bad idea after all?

And taking over a biscuit factory and a post office in 1916?  What was that all about?  As parody republican Ding Dong Denny O'Reilly once observed, would it not have made more sense to have taken over a brewery?  At least the following morning the rebels could have awoken with stonking hangovers, and incredulously asked themselves "Oh Jasus, we did wha' ???".

Anyway, glad to see Enda has been politically mature enough to release the following broadcast (sneak preview):

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Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Clondalkin and Ballymun Gaeltachts now, is it? Things become more bizarre by the minute...

It gets more and more bizarre as the recession bites, with the same old lobby groups fighting ever more vigorously for a slice of the rapidly depleting funding pie. And what more voracious an example of the genre than the Irish Language Lobby

Our so-called republic was founded on the twin stones of Catholicism and neo-Gaelicism. The priests and nuns have more or less faithfully departed.  Unfortunately, the Gaelic revivalists are still with us, nourished by a seemingly still-plentiful pot of taxpayers' money.

The latest example is a campaign to have Ballymun and Clondalkin declared Gaeltachts.  I kid you not. 

It appears that the Gaeltacht Bill 2012, currently in gestation, seeks to redefine the meaning of the term "Gaeltacht" to mean just about anything at all. Hence the above.

Up until now (according to the most recent Sunday Times) regions qualified for Gaeltacht funding if they claimed to have 25% Gaelic speakers among their populations. Another definition was an area where Gaelic is the predominant language.   So, boys and girls, are the burghers of Clondalkin predominantly Gaelic-speaking, or even 25% so?   No, I didn't think so either - but such troublesome provisos don't matter any more.
What this Bill will do, is stretch the credulity of the term "Gaeltacht" even further than it has ever been stretched before, therefore making a complete mockery of the whole idea.  In effect, a charter for grant-grabbers and opportunists.

See the following from the Irish Examiner, Feb 8th:

‘The Department of Gaeltacht last night said that language planning at community level will be central to the new definition of the Gaeltacht. Areas outside the traditional Gaeltacht areas may be recognised as Gaeltacht areas, subject to fulfilling particular criteria.” 

"Language planning at community level"... what?  Why should a language need to be "planned"?  And by whom?  Similarly, it is not clear what the “criteria” will be, but no doubt the Shinners, other cultural nationalists and busybody language hobbyists will be out in force to meet them.  Never mind reality and the compliant, passive majority.

Already it is proposed, according to the Times' piece, to set aside some local authority housing in Ballymun exclusively for Gaelic speakers. Now you tell me what other country in Europe discriminates on grounds of language when allotting State housing? 

And if this comedic scheme gets the go-ahead, will the words Ballymun and Clondalkin be obliterated from road signage in Dublin, as English names are currently expunged in the Gaeltacht proper?  Could the mocked-up pic you see above become reality?

If you consider that, according to the National Adult Literacy Agency,  25% of people even “have difficulty reading and writing” in Ireland as a whole, how much greater is the problem in places like Ballymun and Clondalkin? Places where considerable social and educational disadvantage have remained unaddressed for decades.

Rather than attempting to address the festering problems of Dublin's most disadvantaged areas, however, the Government prefers to give funding and encouragement to vocal Gaeilgeoiri hobbyists,  and enable them in their delusions concerning bilingualism.

Meanwhile, any real evidence of Dublin's true polyglotomy is most likely to be found amongst the capital's Polish, Chinese and other international citizens -  despite Government cutbacks in English language support in the State's schools, while it simultaneously indulges the nonsense bollocksology of Dublin Gaeltachts.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Road signage in Ireland... again.

Road signage in Ireland has been covered before on the blog.  You know... signs in Gaelic only, including the internationally loved "Stop" and every other sign in, or pointing to, the Gaeltacht.  Many gullible tourists have spent their two weeks' holiday - and large sums of money to "friendly" rip-off gombeens -  vainly searching for the town of Dingle.

We have a semi-orbital motorway part-way around the capital which informs drivers who enter it only of the directions "north" or "south" - no actual placenames.

We have dual carriageways with lower speed limits than bockety rural regional roads.  We have only a handful of signs informing motorists of junction layouts in advance. 

 It's a mess, but the Irish authorities have never quite grasped the intended function of signage:  to impart information. 

What about this beauty at a right-turn junction (or is it?)  at the Blanchardstown centre? 

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Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The Famine, the War of Independence and the Irish Civil War... some figures on mythology and nation building

Recently, there has been some soul-searching taking place on the subject of Ireland's "neutrality" during the Second World War, Alan Shatter's statement that  "‘we should no longer be in denial that, in the context of the Holocaust, Irish neutrality was a principle of moral bankruptcy"  being but one example.

Following on from that, an article by Diarmuid Ferriter appeared in the Irish Times, which prompted some debate in the comments section.  The following is from "Kate", who makes some very interesting points which go beyond the subject of neutrality.  In effect, she questions the solidity of  of Dev's and the nation-builders' very foundation stones.

Well worth a read.  Thanks to Anna for bringing our attention to this one:

From Kate:

"It seems that De Valera's stance was not so much to keep Ireland neutral, but rather to keep her isolated. .... Maybe De Valera was just too much anti-Brit ..."

Well said: keep them poor, ignorant, swamped in myth and imbued with fear of outsiders. The 'history' of Ireland as instilled by Church and State was insular, self-aggrandising and devoid of context. In De Valera's Ireland the ‘outside’ existed as a threat to Irish Catholicism and/or 'independence'.

As for the magnificent ‘sacrifice’ in the war of independence: a total of 1,400 were killed: 363 RIC personnel, the majority of whom were Irish Catholic and killed by the IRA; 261 British Army soldiers; 550 IRA volunteers, and 200 civilians. (Hopkinson, Irish War of Independence, pp. 201-202).

Any objective student of history might note Ireland suffered little loss in "defeating” a “British Empire" weakened by 6 million soldiers dead or lost in WWI - 662,000 of the dead were British plus a further 140,000 British recorded missing; 5,104 of those, men of the 36th Ulster Division on 1st July 1916 at the Somme; just short of 10 times the 550 who died for Irish "freedom". The total number of Irish deaths in WWI as opposed to the 550 who died in the war of Independence was 27,405.

In such context, details of Irish nationalists then murdering each other in a Civil War leaves no space for the usual mythologizing; in rejecting the Treaty De Valera rejected the democratic will of the majority of the Irish people and turned “brother on brother” (James Stephens). Interestingly, the total number of Civil War dead and wounded has never been counted; records show 500-800 Free State Army soldiers killed and “over 12,000 Republicans imprisoned”.

Researchers have estimated 4,000 died – murdered by their 'own' kith and kin, nearly eight times the number of 'volunteers' killed by the British in the war of independence!
And then ‘The Famine' 1845; no acknowledgement EVER in Ireland that, mid-1840s, a 'potato blight' swept Northern Europe, not just Ireland. At that time, there was NO "social contract" anywhere - just charity. Indeed prior to the mirage 'Tiger', it would appear only the self-designated 'elite' survived comfortably in Ireland? I take my information from Mr Ferriter’s excellent series. Pre-1990 it was ‘normal’ for the Irish 'poor' to emigrate in their hundreds of thousands, as it is again today. 

Some facts:

In the mid-1840s: 40,000–50,000 died from famine in Belgium; in Portuguese Cape Verde famine killed 42% of the population; in the Highlands of Scotland 1.7 million either died or emigrated; in Ireland "it is estimated 1 million died; 1.5 million emigrated"; famine resulted "in hundreds of thousands of deaths in north Portugal”; in Finland “15% of the entire population died”; in northern Sweden “more than150,000 died”. People educated elsewhere know these facts and more. 

Something needs to change in the Irish Education system.

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Sunday, 5 February 2012

Jimmy Harte, "Magda" on the dole in Danagall, and the Irish Independent.

Last Wednesday the Irish Independent carried a story about a Polish woman supposedly abusing Ireland’s social welfare system. She also, according to the Independent, called Donegal – or Danagall – a “shithole”.

Few - apart from Danagallians perhaps - could argue with the latter, but she said no such thing. It seems, in fact, she was very complimentary about the place and its inhabitants in an article which appeared in Poland’s Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper, dealing with the experiences of Poles looking for work in Ireland.

“Magda” had actually said that she did not like being on the dole and wants to work (having previously been employed in restaurants, hostels, and hotels for four-and-a-half years before losing her job). She spoke of her plans to become self-employed having done a FAS course on Hawaiian Massage before pointing out she was getting €67 a week more on the dole than she had been getting in her last waitressing job.

The Irish Independent – hoping, presumably,  to tap the anti-foreigner sentiment that exists in Ireland – either wilfully, or mistakenly, mistranslated “Magda’s” words as saying that being on the dole in Ireland was "like a Hawaiian Massage".  I don't think even Google Translate would get it that wrong. 

It gave the impression that Magda - and by implication other “foreigners” in Ireland, focusing as it did on her nationality – was in this country to rob us and our social welfare system blind, while laughing at us as a bunch of hicks. Well, Danagallians anyway.

Then, some half-wit senator called Jimmy Harte (above)  – apparently of the Labour Party - couldn’t get to the nearest radio station microphone fast enough in order to condemn her, and tell her to “go back to Poland”. Ever hear of “workers of the world unite”, Jimmy?

 I heard the interview myself, in which a seemingly frothing-at-the-mouth Harte hinted at physical retribution to Magda from some of his constituents if she didn’t leave the environs.  Even someone such as Harte should realise that phrases like “go back to Poland” are inflammatory in any context.  And how would Outraged of Danagall have identified her among the county's Poles, exactly?  Or would any Polish person they suspected have sufficed?

How many Irish people with a pre-existing jaundiced attitude to “foreigners” would have eagerly concurred with Harte’s statement, while at the same time thinking “they’re all at it” ?

 Never mind the fact that many Irish people have really – unlike “Magda” – been taking the piss out of us and our social welfare system for decades, and maybe generations – even when we had near full employment.  By contrast  “Magda”, and others like her, grafted in the jobs that the Irish did not want to do.  Jobs that career unemployed Paddy and Mary would not get out of their daytime pajamas for.

Sure, people can get all indignant about social welfare abuse if they want – and all the other abuses such as tax avoidance/evasion that go on here - but they should not focus on non-Irish nationals. Or are they saying that it is OK for Irish people to abuse the system, but not “foreigners”?

More importantly the Irish Independent, and other rags, should realise they have a responsibility to report stories accurately, and not publish cooked-up drivel that can act as an incitement to hatred against people who choose to live in this country and – like the real “Magda” -  make a valuable contribution to it.

The same cannot not be said of Jimmy Harte, many of his fellow politicians, and the odd Irish Indo hack.

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Friday, 3 February 2012

Crappy broadband, conspiracy theories, and Danagal

The last post dealt with conspiracy theories on how our beloved blog might be funded by MI5, or similar.  And goodness knows, I wish it was - I could do with the money.

Now it's time for my own theory.

Forces unknown, aided and abetted by persons unknown, are conspiring to keep Gombeen Nation silent.

A brief dalliance with Smart came to an end the day before yesterday when promised improved speeds - due to "uncontested" something or other according to a sales agent -  never materialised. 

The problem, it seems, is my telephone line consists of a bit of string joined to two tin cans.  One can is under the ground at my house and the other is at the "local" exchange some 5-and-a-bit kilometres away.   It's something to do with the Irish "smart" economy, I think, as I smart every time I try to log on.

The estate agent who sold me the house was obviously not just an estate agent, but a Government agent with strong links to Eamon O'Cuiv and the Gaeliban! Note how the word "agent" keeps cropping up. See?

This devious mistress of dirty tricks hoped that the blog would be silenced forever when I moved house, as she knew about the the string phone line.  She even arranged for the house to be bumped up the order on My Home when she knew I would be logging on.  She was given this information by an agent in Vodafone, the previous provider.

Now, thanks to the latest delay with Smart (that word "smart" again - there was once a spy programme called "Get Smart"... this is too much to be co-incidence!) another good blog post has been missed. Namely, the Polish girl stitched up by the Irish Independent... 

Its hacks  wilfully mistranslated an article in a Polish newspaper in order to get  Danagal politicians frothing from the mouth and Danagalians baying for the blood or the "deportation" of a Polish girl who supposedly dissed Danagal, and was depicted as claiming social welfare dishonestly.  (Something no Irish - nor bless the mark - Danagal person would ever do, of course. The Irish in general -  and Danagalians and Indo hacks in particular -  are fine, honest, upstanding people.)

See how reality and surreality seem to mix quite well in Ireland?  

So now, for me,  it's back to mobile broadband on a six-month contract while I wait for UPC to roll-out.  A source in UPC has informed me that this should happen in the next month or two.  Let's hope he is not a double agent. 

In the meantime, the blog will continue from a hidden attic location via newly-acquired mobile broadband. 

Please keep tuning in.

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