Nada corruption?

An article by Leslie Mallory in yesterday’s Sunday Independent talks about planning corruption in Spain. The general tone of the article is ‘If you think things are bad in Ireland, take a look at Spain.’ In other words Spain has a greater problem with corruption than Ireland. The article spoke of local politicians appearing in court, local government members charged with planning offences, creative accountancy and perversion of the course of justice and a deputy mayor facing four years in jail.

The key words here are ‘ ‘appearing in court’, ‘charged’, and ‘jail’. In Ireland, this simply does not happen, corruption is either ignored, side-lined into never ending tribunals or simply not noticed because it’s such a part of our culture.

In properly run democracies, when corruption is detected a sequence of events follows: police investigation, charges, court case and if guilty, appropriate punishment. This is usually done within a reasonable time frame.

Let’s make a comparison. The very powerful American billionaire Martha Stewart was found guilty of lying to investigators about the sale of some minor stock. It took less than two years from the date of the alleged dodgy stock sale to Martha finding herself slopping out with the great unwashed in jail. (Note that Martha got jail for lying to investigators, something that is regarded as a national pastime here by the so-called great and good)

Ray Burke was first investigated by the Gardai in 1974. Despite constant questions about his ‘activities’, it took 31 years before Irish justice caught up with him.

Of course there is corruption in every country but the difference between an accountable democracy and a Banana Republic is the action taken to counteract it. Leslie Mallory suggests that Spain is more corrupt than Ireland because so many politicians are facing prosecution. I maintain the opposite – the fact that no Irish politician has ever faced corruption charges is an indication that the system itself is corrupt, that it protects rather than exposes the guilty.

The Myers/Kennedy apology

In his by now notorious article on mothers of bastards (MoBs) Kevin Myers wrote: “…upon a career of mothering bastards because it seems a good way of getting money and accommodation from the State? Ah, you didn’t like the term bastard? No, I didn’t think you would.”. Here’s what he wrote in his apology. “I deliberately used the word “bastard “ because I genuinely feel that the word has no stigma attached to it; and because I feel this with such a passion..”

The contradiction here is blatantly obvious. However, Mr. Myers should be forgiven for this attempt at pleading the excuse of ignorance as overall his apology came from the heart, he seemed genuinely sorry for causing so much upset.

His boss is another matter. The editorial by (I presume) Geraldine Kennedy was pathetic to say the least. She starts off by praising the wonderful part the Irish Times has played in changing Irish society.

Later she states that the editorial process only interferes with the opinions of columnists when factual or legal grounds are involved and continues… “Journalists in the Irish Times are committed to free speech and the promotion of robust debate even if, at times, odious things are said which are offensive to some readers”.

So there you have it. No intention of taking responsibility for the decision to print the offending article, no apology and most incredibly free reign to her writers to write odious and offensive material whenever they want.

Kevin Myers realized that he had made a mistake and was courageous enough to admit it, Ms. Kennedy, apparently, does not even seem to realize her responsibilities in this serious matter – and that will have repercussions for her and the Irish Times.

Myers’ Apology:

So many readers have been made extremely angry by what I said that it is clearly not merely an issue of political correctness or social conformism. Their feelings are real, passionate and heartfelt, and I bitterly regret clouding an issue of major importance in Irish life by using provocative, ill-thought-out and confrontational language.

I was trying to insult nobody, but trying to discuss the subject of the rising tide of unmarried mothers, with the resultant increase in fatherless families, in an astringent and irreverent way. To take an issue of such sensitivity and present it in challenging language is risky; and in taking such risks, I failed lamentably. Indeed, by unintentionally insulting so many people, I lost both my audience and the argument – leaving me with much to regret and even more to apologise for.

I intended to hurt no one, but to cause people to discuss the subject first raised by Ed Walsh last week. It is a serious issue, which has emerged in other societies like ours, most particularly the US, where radical reforms in welfare have been made in order to curb the increase in mother-only families. In tackling this subject, I deliberately used the word “bastard” because I genuinely feel that the word has no stigma attached to it; and because I feel this with such a passion, I did not allow for other people’s sensitivities over it.

Here I was wrong, very wrong. A journalist who wishes to make a controversial case, and who knows he is straying into difficult areas of sensibility, must be careful of people’s feelings. I did not take the necessary care, and the outpourings of emotion and anger which have occurred are clear proof of this.

These words are not written at the request of the editor or anyone else, but entirely at my own initiative. This newspaper allows me great latitude to express my opinions, which are often at variance with those of my colleagues, and sometimes with our overall editorial stance.

This is one of the strengths of The Irish Times. We stand not merely for freedom of thought, but for freedom of expression also.

But there are limits to all freedoms, and I transgressed the limits of freedom of speech in the tenor of my remarks. I intended to abuse no one and to insult nobody. For this issue is not about individuals but a serious social phenomenon which must be addressed by the State. We cannot tolerate a situation in which large numbers of young women are drawn into the perils of early and unmarried motherhood by the allure of the apparent protection afforded to them by the State. This “protection” is a trap, in which young woman can spend the rest of their lives, thwarting them of ambition, purpose and any proper individuality away from a chronic State dependence.

This is good for no one, least of all the children, who not merely are raised without the disciplines of work and wage, but also without the presence of a male authority figure in their lives. Other societies have pioneered the mass experiment in fatherless families, and they have found them as way-stations to male delinquency, gang membership and criminality.

Some people have argued that the loss of so many men in two world wars in Europe and the US did not cause the male children of families thus made fatherless to become disruptive. But societies were more stable then, and usually other male figures – uncles, grandfathers, brothers – were there to assert themselves as centres of authority.

We live in different days, when society is more fluid, more dynamic and, for all the wealth that we now enjoy, more uncertain. I believe that families are better off with two parents; and though of course many, many single mothers are splendid and responsible parents, as a social construct we cannot do better than the two-parent family.

And this is not just for the good of the children, but for the good of the mother too: the burden of child-rearing is best shared, and not borne on the shoulders of a young woman who drifted into motherhood as a teenager because, for the moment, it seemed an attractive option.

For all the State benefits that a young single mother gets, the penalties are huge, and the price paid is enormous – not least the loss of personal freedom through her twenties, when she might be stranded in a flat, with young children to mind, and no outside support, day in and day out, for year after dreary year.

I wrote my column because of my concern for those who have already been lured into this trap, or are about to be drawn into the career of benefit-dependent single-motherhood. I feel passionately about the predicament that a dysfunctional welfare system is creating, usually for the most vulnerable, unwary and the most helpless in our society. Middle-class girls are seldom so misled.

In my desire to make my point powerfully, I used stupid, offensive language, and I deeply apologise for that. To Irish Times readers who were so offended and appalled at my words, from the bottom of a full and contrite heart, I am very, very sorry.

Kennedy’s Apology:

Irish society has changed hugely in recent decades and at a pace that has been breathtaking. Much of this change is for the good and has been led by The Irish Times. Stigmatising social differences is no longer as acceptable as it once was and rightly so.

We have become less willing to tolerate the passing of casual, cruel judgment on the lives of others, less willing to ignore the pain thoughtless slights and name-calling inflict on the vulnerable. That is social progress.

But with these changes come challenges: Irish society, no less than some others, is being confronted increasingly with the consequences of dramatic social change – changing precepts about the family, about marriage and partnership, about children and their welfare, about rights and responsibilities, collectively and individually.

There are many important issues that merit debate and The Irish Times will, as it has in the past, stimulate, facilitate and report this discussion. There is no doubt that remarks made by Kevin Myers in An Irishman’s Diary last Tuesday have caused great offence and grave hurt to many of our readers. A sample of the complaints is reflected on this page today. Readers are angered and appalled, not just by the nature of the views expressed by Kevin Myers about unmarried mothers and their innocent children but by the manner in which they were expressed.

Kevin Myers returns to the subject today with a rather different message of “unconditional apology”. He accepts that the reaction to what he wrote was not merely driven by political correctness or social conformism. He deliberately used the word “bastard”, he claims, believing that there was no stigma attached to it. In this, he was wrong.

The views he expressed were not, and are not, those of The Irish Times. The Irish Times defines itself in part by providing a platform for divergent views. The opinions of one columnist will differ from another; they may at times conflict with the editorial policy of the newspaper, as in this case. However, it should be pointed out to readers that the whole editorial process tries to avoid undue interference in the opinions of columnists, except on factual and legal grounds. And when it does occur, the newspaper, more than any other, is criticised for censorship.

Journalists in The Irish Times are committed to free speech and the promotion of robust debate even if, at times, odious things are said which are offensive to some readers. There is a fine line between strong views stimulating necessary debate and odious opinions causing hurt and distracting from real issues. Exposing a mindset which could stigmatise innocent children forms part of the debate. The Irish Times regrets the offence caused.

PDs = Fianna Fail

The Progressive Democrats, once the bright shining light in the murky and corrupt world of Irish politics. The only party that had principles and actually stood by them. The party that stood up to Haughey’s rotten Fianna Fail. The party with the passionate rallying call, “We are either radical or redundant”. Well, they certainly aren’t radical any more but neither have they become redundant, instead they have rejoined the Fianna Fail fold, indeed it could be said that they have become more FF than the FF’s themselves. The following examples will serve to illustrate the point.

Speaking on Morning Ireland on February 2nd, Mary Harney being questioned on why she chose to terminate the investigation into companies associated with the Ansbacher affair despite the authorizing officer in charge of the investigation disagreeing with her decision. These are her main points:

“I acted on strong advice from officials in my Department. I did not initiate the ending of the investigation, my officials did.” The investigator was coming across tax matters which should be dealt with by Revenue and also others matters that the tribunals should be dealing with.

When asked the direct question – “You wanted to end this enquiry, the authorizing officer wanted to keep going, why did that officer want to keep going? Here’s Mary’s telling reply – “There’s lots of things, unfortunately I can’t say, it’s a criminal offence for me or anyone else to reveal anything that comes to light during these enquiries”. Perhaps Labour leader, Pat Rabbitte got it right when he suggested the investigations had been terminated “not because they have come to fruition but rather because they might”.

Ah, a PD supporter might say, the law’s the law and must be obeyed but the PDs are still intent on strong investigation into corruption. Hmmmm… PD senator John Minihane reacted on Morning Ireland to the launching of the Centre for Public Enquiry, an independent group with a mission to investigate corruption in Ireland. He noted:

A private body funded from outside the State, accountable to no one… people want to undermine the institutions of the State.. shows a lack of confidence in state bodies like the Gards, Revenue and even the Oireachtas itself…we are a sovereign State and should only operate under that State…very dangerous step…we have to protect the institutions of the State.

Hardly a ringing endorsement for accountability. In fairness, it should be said that all the other major political parties also expressed a negative (but not as hysterical) reaction. Funny isn’t it that all the main parties want to keep control of the investigation of corruption where they make laws that forbids anyone from revealing the outcome of such enquiries.

But, our erstwhile PD supporter might exclaim, the PDs are still strong on accountability, for keeping an eye on the ‘baddies’, in particular in Fianna Fail. Hmmm… On January 24th PD Tom Morrissey was on the Vincent Browne Show when he was asked why the PDs didn’t act when Ray Burke lied to the Dail in 1997.

We’re not in the business of asking for heads on plates anymore. When we did, what thanks did the electorate ever give us? We’re not there as a watchdog anymore.

Judging from the attitude of Mary Harney and John Minihane, it seems indeed that the PDs are not in the business of accountability anymore. So where does that leave the once idealistic party? In power but out of principles, I would say.

Myers causes a storm

Kevin Myers has finally lost the plot. Writing in the Irish Times(sub. required), he attacks teenagers who, as he says, “Consciously embark upon a career of mothering bastards because it seems a good way of getting money and accommodation from the State.” Despite massive public and media reaction, Mr. Myers has (perhaps wisely) apparently gone into hiding. The article in question is quoted below, judge for yourself.

However, a far right fellow traveler, Mary Ellen Synon, defended Myers case on RTEs Liveline. People will remember Mary, some years ago she wrote an article in the Sunday Independent that was very offensive to the disabled. On that occasion, after Mary had done a disappearing act, Myers was the only one to defend her. There is no doubt that both of them have a talent for defending the indefensible. (A thought? What if both of them wrote an offensive article at the same time, who would do the defending? Mark Steyn, perhaps?).

Anyway, the Liveline programme is a classic. Powerful, emotional, angry and at times very funny. Check out Joe Duffy’s reaction when Mary refers to him as ‘boy’ and the man who told Mary that her head was up her arse. Great stuff.

How did Edward Walsh feel as he found himself sitting outside the warm tepee of political correctness, and in the howling blizzard of reality, after his remarks about unmarried mothers? Kevin Myers writes.

Not very comfortable, probably. Never mind, Ed, I’m used to the vitriolic epistolary hiss in the column inches that besiege me in my little corner here. We can sit together here in the snow and perish together – or maybe think the unthinkable.

Such as that our system of benefits to unmarried mothers is creating a long-term time-bomb. Even as things stand, we are bribing the unmotivated, the confused, the backward, the lazy into making the worst career decision of their young lives, and becoming professional unmarried mothers, living off the State until the grave takes over. Our welfare system is creating benefits-addicted, fatherless families who will be raised in a culture of personal and economic apathy – and from such warped timber, true masts are seldom hewn.

The response of Anne Bowen, policy officer of the One Parent organisation was – naturally – that Ed’s remarks were “offensive” and “hurtful”. God knows why she didn’t say “unhelpful”, “unsavoury” or “distasteful”, which form part of the usual verbal repertoire of the politically correct. This assesses any political observation not on its factual merits but on the lachrymosity of the audience.

So she naturally declared that it would be extremely “hurtful” to suggest that women would choose single parenthood for financial pain, or that “they would be put themselves before their children”. No doubt it is hurtful. But is it true? And how many girls – and we’re largely talking about teenagers here – consciously embark upon a career of mothering bastards because it seems a good way of getting money and accommodation from the State? Ah. You didn’t like the term bastard? No, I didn’t think you would. In the welfare-land of Euphemesia, what is the correct term for the offspring of unmarried mothers? One-parent offspring? But when we use that deceitful term, one-parent, we actually mean fatherless, in the social meaning of the word, though not of course in the genetic sense. The lads who (in Sinead O’Connor’s immortal word) are the donors are probably off elsewhere, donating away wherever and whenever they can, and usually without having to pay a penny of child support for the results of their generous donations.

Ed had suggested that mothers of bastards could earn up to €20,000 a year from benefits. Through her gushing tears, Anne inconsolably declared that a lone parent (i.e., a MoB) gets only €148.80 a week, plus €19.30 per child. And indeed, this would be impossible to live on if it were all that the State forked out; but it is not. In addition, the State pays for the MoBs’ rented accommodation – worth over €13,000 or more a year. So the MoB’s real income could come to nearly €23,000. If you’re working, you have to have pre-tax earnings in the region of €38,000 to match that income.

All of which is a long-winded way of describing insanity – because we all agree it is mad to bribe impressionable young women into a life of MoBbery, which is crushingly limiting, with little sense of achievement or personal ambition, and no career to speak of, other – that is – from cash-crop whelping.

And how do MoBs cope when their male bastards (in a literal sense) become metaphorical bastards in adolescence? How does a woman assert her will over a sour, aggressive, uncommunicative teenage boy? Well, she usually doesn’t – as a study of the parental backgrounds of gang members in London and New York – where they are ahead of us in such matters – will tell you. Mob members usually have stressed-out MoBs for mothers, and absent FoBs for dads.

The central heresy underlying welfarism is that benefits don’t influence general conduct and that all the State is doing is simply helping individuals. Social groups – the argument goes – do not emerge in direct response to welfare payments. That’s what liberals in the US said, so they formulated policies that were kind and good, and certainly not ones that were designed to corrupt and deprave. But corrupt and deprave they did. Welfare lines and teenage moms by the hundred thousand emerged as a direct result of the apparently but illusorily attractive State incentive not to work.

Well, even that compulsive sharer of pain, Bill Clinton, knew something tough had to be done: at the instigation of a Republican-dominated Congress, he began a concerted drive against MoBbery, cutting welfare and introducing strong tax incentives for working MoBs. The results were amazing. After 30 years of unbroken increase, the rise in MoBbery was swiftly halted. Welfare handouts plummeted; and 10 years on, two out of three MoBs are now in work.

We just know that’s not going to happen in Ireland while debate remains mired in the schoolgirl swamp of what is “hurtful” and “offensive”: why, thith howwid talk makes one want to cwy. Even our super-sized MEP, Big Mac, tearfully denounced Ed for his heartless remarks. Well, naturally. After all, Sinn Féin/IRA have strong proprietorial feelings about single-parent families, having made hundreds and hundreds of them out of what had originally been two-parent families: why, God love them, they’ve even dabbled in making a good few no-parent families.

We have 80,000 MoBs, and the numbers are rising; time to ring the alarm bells. But of course, in Dáil Éireann, we’ll get some weepy, sanctimonious bilge over what is “offensive”, while the rest reach for the ear-plugs.

Fisking John Drennan

Ireland is a corrupt country. The disease of corruption is so embedded in Irish society that it is not even noticed by the majority of the population. Even in the media, there are many who simply refuse to accept/recognise corruption when it stares them in the face.

John Drennan wrote an article (reg. required) in the Sunday Independent on 2nd May 2004 and it is a good example of how, even well informed journalists, refuse to see reality.

He begins:

THE triumph of the liberal agenda over the chieftains and robber barons of the Haughey era is complete.

The message here is – Liberal agenda = bad. Robber barons and Haughey = good. Haughey is a former Prime Minister. He’s a liar and tax cheat who was funded by wealthy businessmen for most of his career especially when Prime Minister. Among the many nasty smells surrounding Haughey, is the strong suspicion that he stole money from a fund that was meant to pay for a life saving operation for his ‘friend’ Brian Lenihan. Incredibly, there are many Irish citizens who think that Haughey is a ‘great’ leader/chieftain.

In spite of Beverley Flynn’s ‘class act’ on the steps of the Supreme Court, the great Flynn dynasty which once ruled Mayo and Europe is in pieces. Seven years ago Beverley Cooper-Flynn (as she was known then) was a successful bank employee and a talented politician who could have expected to enjoy ministerial office.

Today she is a ruined woman. The worst of criminals might have some chance to experience a form of redemption. That has been denied to Beverley Flynn. Her status as a woman of no repute and a political outlaw is set in stone.

Flynn freely decided to sue RTE, the Irish national broadcasting station, for stating that she encouraged people to evade tax. She was found guilty of the charge by the High Court and again on appeal to the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land. In other words she availed of the court system just like any other citizen is free to do, so she has nothing to whinge about. Had she won the Irish taxpayers would be paying out a hefty sum for her troubles.

No company will ever employ her again. In politics, the most she can hope for is a sort of half-life as the female equivalent of Michael Lowry.

Lowry, another dodgy Irish politician, once a member ot the main opposition party, Fine Gael. Under investigation{7 years now} for a variety of reasons but is still strongly supported by his voters. Another indication of how politically ignorant the Irish are, unable to grasp the connection between dodgy politicians and the massive damage the disease of corruption is doing.

The independent career woman who was once a role model for the progressive female Fianna Fail politician has evolved into a political Blanche du Bois. She is dependent on the charity of the Mayo electorate, her builder boyfriend, RTE and the legal profession and if the thin levels of charity which characterise the latter are any indication, then all she can expect is a bankruptcy court, the loss of her seat, the tender embrace of Justice Mahon and the Inspectors Report into NIB.

It might appear to be a heavy sentence. However, for some it still wasn’t enough. The reason for this is simple. Beverley Flynn was the last politician standing who was guilty of an intimate connection to the show-band loving, cream-suited world of the economy of the pig, the potato, the church and the chieftain.

This is what I call the ‘bullshit excuse factor’. Think up any waffle about the ‘lost and pure’ Ireland and relate it to your ‘hero’. It’s difficult to believe that anyone actually takes this drivel seriously, but it appears that an awful lot of Irish people do.

Though she portrayed the image of a modern career woman, her personality and politics was formed by that era. And the problem with being trapped between two cultures is that you can disappear into a chasm. Ironically, had Beverley forfeited her pride, indulged in a post-Orlando, Ben Dunne-style press conference and wept copiously as she adopted the guise of a victim of the culture of the time she would have escaped Scot free.

This in fact is what Flynn did. She also denied that she was guilty of anything while at the same time putting forward the defence that she was only following orders. Dubious claims at best.

Her refusal and that infamous “a Flynn will always support a Flynn” stance meant Beverley became a legitimate target of the new regime of tribunalistas.

Tribunalistas = citizens who want to root out the massive corruption which is destroying Irish society

In the aftermath of the judgement, some of the “brazen political hussy” anger was because Beverley had not accepted her status of guilty. However, no-one stopped to ask what she was guilty of.

She was guilty of facilitating tax evasion.

Of course, she is arrogant. Yes, she facilitated tax evasion.

So, we’re all agreed, she facilitated tax evasion, that’s what she’s guilty of.

Ultimately her gravest sin was that she was not one of that powerful unelected cabal of thought police who dominate the media, the law library and politics and whose weapon of choice is the tribunal.

No, her gravest sin was facilitating tax evasion. This is another example to the ‘bullshit excuse factor’. In a real democracy, Flynn would have been investigated by the police, charged, and if found guilty, given appropriate punishment. In Ireland, those who are unable or unwilling to face up to the fact that we are a Banana Republic will say anything to avoid facing reality.

Beverley is an enemy of the new elite and the tribunalista is only satisfied with annihilation. In spite of Beverley’s defiance, it was still a triumphant week for the tribunalistas. It may appear that the great ‘Get Bertie’ project has failed. However, in another more subtle way, it has been a success.

One of Bertie Ahern’s more impressive traits was a certain humanity. Last week, as the Irish Times celebrated the ending of Fianna Fail’s love affair with luxuries such as due process in submitting to the new ethicists, Bertie may have lost more than he gained.

New ethicists = citizens who want honesty and accountability from their politicians.

Those unreformed Mayo councillors are not an aberration. Instead they represent the electorate’s growing disenchantment with an arid school of political ethics which is dominated by a small elite, costs billions, doesn’t create a single job and is utterly irrelevant to the experience of their lives.

Unfortunately for Ireland, this is true, most Irish councillors are like most Irish citizens – unable to see any further than local politics. What the writer means here is – political ethics are just a pain in the butt, Irish people are different from other nations, we don’t need all that regulation, law, accountability, it’s too expensive and anyway we’re better off being ruled by robber barons and dodgy characters like Haughey.

They suspect the price Flynn is paying for a minor, youthful role in an entire society’s revolution against punitive levels of taxation is too high. They suspect that Beverley’s enemies are no friends of theirs and that our new clergy of tribunalistas, Equality Authorities, Human Rights/Race Commissions will be as oppressive a regime as their predecessors.

This is one of the most idiotic, inane, bullshit excuses prevalent in Ireland as a justification for widespread criminality. Every corrupt individual, group, organisation spouts this vomit when challenged on their criminal behaviour. Here’s what they mean. “There was very heavy taxation in Ireland during the 80’ and 90’ therefore I was justified in breaking the law.” In a Banana Republic, this stupidity makes perfect sense, that’s why it is almost universally accepted in Ireland. The stupid/greedy are unable to grasp the fact that if individuals are allowed to decide what law they will obey, then democracy becomes a joke, which has happened in Ireland.

Up to last week Bertie was still one of them. Not any more. Now he has joined the ‘other’.

Perhaps we should not have been too surprised about the treatment of Flynn. Earlier that week due process had already taken a beating. It wasn’t exactly a hard decision. Brian Curtin is the sort of soft target tribunalistas love to hunt. He is an unprepossessing, portly junior judge who has a messy personal life.

As the taoiseach basked in the new mantle of decisive interventionism, once again the polit-bureau of tribunalistas celebrated and, once again, nobody stopped to ask just how impressive a figure will Ahern cut if Mr Justice Curtin is actually innocent.

Using the majesty of the constitution to sack a judge who is not guilty would certainly provide us with some interesting precedents.

But as elections loom, the government is not in the mood to be troubled by facts. A scapegoat, any dusty old scapegoat, will do and it’s all to the good that Mr Justice Curtin does not “photograph well”.

However, even as we dance on Judge Curtin’s grave, we should consider one point. What works for a rogue judge, will be just as effective when they come for us.

Fortunately, some groups are still safe. Last week when Mr Justice Feargus Flood appeared on the Marian Finucane radio show, he might have expected to face a hard-hitting critique about the status of his tribunal which is regarded as an embarrassment by the Dail and the law library.

So did Marian ask about the ineptitude which allowed a tribunal which was supposed to resolve serious concerns about corruption as a matter of urgency to be dragged by the nose by Mr Gogarty into a morass of irrelevancy?
What do you think? Instead the judge was allowed to reminisce about his days with Paddy Kavanagh. As Marian interjected with sighs of “Gosh!”, all that was missing was a throaty “Aren’t you a wonderful little fellow”. Public service broadcasting at its best.

In spite of all the back-slapping, last week told us a great deal about Ireland and very little of it was good. We now live in a society where accountability is only applied to those who are not one of us.

In fact, accountability is only applied to the small citizen, to social welfare ‘cheats’, to handbag snatchers, to those who live at the bottom of the pile. The rich and powerful are NEVER held accountable. Just this week we had a perfect example of what kind of a country Ireland really is. AIB, Ireland’s largest bank, was found to have ‘mistakenly’ taken money from its customers for at least two years. Whether we are to believe the infamous AIB is another question.

This is just the latest in a long line of scams by the banking sector involving the theft of millions from the State and bank customers. Not a single bank official has ever been questioned about these crimes, never mind being charged.

Eighteen months ago a new body, the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority (IFSRA) was set up to curtail the mendacious activities of Irish banks. The first thing to come to light after the latest scandal was that the IFSRA does not have the power to prosecute anyone. So apart from meeting the bank bosses for a cup of tea and mildly berating them for being such naughty boys, there is really sweet fuck all they can do about it, and that suits the banks and their political pals just fine. Legislation is apparently on the way to give the IFSRA – but we shall have to wait and see.

We have a legal system which offers the defeated the sole option of bankruptcy, a school of ethics which cannot rise above the cowardice of scapegoating the weak while politics has been reduced to a series of thoughtless displays of moral braggadocio.

Beverley Flynn and Brian Curtin represent the least of our worries.

Especially when John Drennan is writing such nonsense.

Pause for a laugh – Genuine extracts from letters sent to Local Councils in Ireland

1. I wish to complain that my father hurt his ankle very badly when he put his foot in the hole in his back passage

2. The lavatory is blocked so will you send a man to look into it?

3. Our gutters are blocked. This has been caused by the boys next door throwing their balls on the roof.

4. This is to let you know there is a very bad smell coming from the man next door.

5. The toilet seat is cracked – where do I stand?

6. I am writing on behalf of my sink which is running away from the wall.

7. Please send plumber to burst in outside toilet.

8.I am still having trouble with smoke in my built-in drawer.

9. I request your permission to remove my drawers in my kitchen.

10. Our lavatory seat has broken in half and is now in three pieces.

11. Can you please tell me when our repairs are going to be done as my wife is about to become an expectant mother.

12. I want some repairs done to my gas cooker as it back-fired and burnt my knob.

13. The toilet is blocked and we cannot bath the children until it is cleared.

14. The person next door has a large erection in his back garden which is dangerous and unsightly.

15. Will you please send someone to mend our broken path. Yesterday my wife tripped and fell on it and she is now pregnant.

16. Our kitchen floor is very damp. We have two children and would like to have a third, so will you please send someone to do something about it.

17. Would you please repair our toilet. My son pulled the chain and the box fell on his head.

18. This is to let you know our lavatory seat is broken and we cannot get BBC 2.

19. I awoke this morning and found my water boiling.

20. Would you please send a man to repair my spout. I am an old age pensioner and need it straight away.

21. Will you please send a man to look at my water, it’s a funny colour and not fit to drink.

22. My carpet is not fit for human consumption. It got soaked and I didn’t send the form in sooner as I’ve been ill with bowel trouble.

Revenue not taxing itself over prosecutions: Colm Keena

This article in the Irish Times (subscription only) is reflecting the fact that Irish authorities are not serious about dealing with white collar crime. In effect, it again confirms that corruption is endemic in Ireland. Over recent years Revenue have been given many extra powers to deal with tax cheats but have failed to use these powers. This is not because of any legal or constitutional constraints but simply because Ireland is a totally corrupt state or in other words a banana republic.
Continue reading “Revenue not taxing itself over prosecutions: Colm Keena”

Ronan Mullin and Bush

According to Ronan Mullin, George W Bush is a clean-living, born again Christian who opposes abortion. Opponents of Mr. Bush like Howard Dean and General Wesley Clarke are loons and weirdoes. Al Gore is a pathetic whining figure who slobbers over his wife and wears too much make-up.

All this invective comes from a journalist who constantly lectures the media for its unbalanced and intolerant analysis, especially when reporting on the Catholic Church. Could it be that this attack on Mr. Bush’s opponents is related to the fact that Mr. Mullin and George Jnr. occupy the same position on the political/religious spectrum – the Christian Right?

To add some balance to the debate, here is a very brief analysis of George W Bush. Before he was born again, Mr. Bush was a cocaine-snorting, drunk driving lout who took advantage of his daddy’s influence to avoid serving in Vietnam. Instead he safely ‘served’ his country in the Texas Air National Guard. Not exactly an all-American hero.

Since coming to power, in very dodgy circumstances, George Jnr. has rejected the Kyoto Protocol that is so vital to the future of the global environment. He has broken long standing ballistic missile treaties with Russia and adopted a first strike military foreign policy. Vast tracts of previously protected regions in Alaska have been handed over to his oil- drilling buddies. On the basis of a lie concerning Weapons of Mass Destruction Mr. Bush is responsible for many thousands of deaths in Iraq.

However, the most bizarre aspect of the born again Mr. Bush is his crusading zeal in defending the rights of the unborn while at the same time enthusiastically signing death warrants for dozens of his fellow citizens. With 152 executions to his name Mr. Bush holds the gruesome record as the most killing governor in the history of the US. Incredibly, Mr. Mullin defends this grisly record by claiming that Mr. Bush is “not always consistent with Christianity proper”.

The overall point seems to be, that so long as Mr.Bush supports extreme right wing Christian ideals all his other bizarre ideas and actions are fine, even if a little ‘improper’. I’ll leave it to you to decide who the weirdo’s are.

No taxation without representation

“Sit there in the corner, keep your mouths shut and do what you’re told.” This in a nutshell is how the Town Manager of Cobh Local Authority, Mary O’Halloran, dealt with our so-called public representatives at the annual estimates meeting of Cobh Council.

Ms. O’Halloran was delivering a diktat from Central Government that Service Charges would be set at €400 next year and no citizen or local politician would be allowed to question this autocratic tax imposition.

In effect, Central Government is dismantling local democracy. It is saying to the people of Cobh and many other communities – “Your opinion does not matter; the opinion of your local representatives does not matter. What matters is that we, the bureaucratic, unaccountable, centralised power demands an unquestioned right to plunder the financial resources of local communities. To make that convenient for us it will be necessary to terminate the bothersome concept of local democracy”.

There are two reasons why Central Government believes that it can get away with acting in this dictatorial fashion. Firstly, the system of Local Government is rotten to the core. Over the decades, the main political parties have, through self-serving agreements, turned council chambers into comfortable clubs for party activists. Serving the local community is almost always a secondary consideration. They have, in effect, become puppets of Central Government. Central Government knows that, apart from the occasional principled (but always ineffective) stand taken by genuine councillors, it has nothing to fear from local politicians.

Secondly, the Irish people themselves have become almost totally apathetic. Battered by decades of revelations of sleaze, corruption and incompetence, most Irish citizens have lost faith in their democratic system. They either don’t care and therefore don’t get involved, or have concluded that all democracies operate in this manner and therefore it must be the norm. Nothing could be further from the truth. The manner in which the Irish body politic operates is, to a great extent, abnormal when compared to other Western democracies. For example, when corruption is discovered in these democracies it is acted on immediately- the police and courts are involved from the very start, people actually go to jail if found guilty. In other words, justice is seen to be done. In Ireland, corruption is sidelined into never-ending tribunals where millionaires are created in the legal profession and the politicians can hide from being made accountable.

In 1776, the thirteen British colonies in North America challenged the right of the British Parliament to arbitrarily impose taxation without representation. Their successful challenge resulted in the creation of the greatest democracy of modern times. By abolishing local democracy and imposing punitive taxes on local communities, this Irish Government is doing exactly what the then British Government did to her colonies. I believe that no Irish Government has the right, either legally, constitutionally or morally, to remove local democracy from the people.

The citizens of Cobh and local communities throughout Ireland should challenge this threat to their democratic birthright by adopting the rallying cry of the American colonies – ‘No taxation without representation’