Monthly Archives: June 2009

Highway Robbery

There are some things that just don’t make sense. Things like taxing ordinary workers, cutting back services, and hitting Health and Education with massive cuts to bail out reckless and possibly criminal bankers in return for nothing more than their toxic debts.

We are told that this must happen in order to protect our international reputation. When we examine this more closely we find that those who we are concerned with impressing are actually the people who helped fuel the crisis in the first place. For example Standard and Poors are now judging our future credit rating unfavourably due to prevailing economic conditions. Fair enough you might say but you might also reasonably ask these people why, if they are such good judges of economic health, they did not foresee the crisis in the first place? Presumably their ability to judge the credit rating and economic outlook for nation states did not just come last week, or did it? Is it possible that these people decided that our borrowings should cost more because they know we need to borrow more to survive the crisis they didn’t see coming? You know how the capitalist mantra goes, the greater the demand, the higher the price. Simply put, make hay while the sun shines.

We are also told that if we don’t implement these harsh economic conditions on our citizens, our country will be taken over by the IMF who will ruthlessly cut services and slash budgets like some maniac Texan with a chainsaw. Perhaps someone could explain how this could happen? Was their an agreement made by any Government, past or present, that effectively borrowed money and put up as collateral the economic independence of this great country? Did I miss a referendum asking me to vote for something like this? This is a bit like waking up one morning to find that your wife, mother, or father, had borrowed a load of money and without your permission had given as collateral the title to your home and now that the money has been wasted, ask you to pay the debt in order to save the family home from takeover by their creditors.

It is a sobering thought that the recent 7 billion of state money pumped into our sick and blighted banks is three times that which the last mini budget tried to claw back from the taxpayer and almost equal to what will be clawed back over the next few budgets. Now I’m no rocket scientist but when you look at it that way you begin to get a sense of what is happening here. The citizens of Ireland and many generations to come, are being forced (not asked) to pay to prop up an unreformed, greed driven banking system and an incompetent, reckless Government which has failed miserably to govern this country in a responsible and prudent manner over the last ten years.

In the murky world where politics and business meet, that unfortunately does make sense.


Iraq War Investigation (The Napoleon and Squealer Show)

So. Gordon Brown has at last given the go ahead to an investigation into the Iraq war. There are caveats of course, the secrecy, the lack of apportioning of any blame, or of any criminal charges being brought to anyone found to have acted in a criminal way. Indeed the political manipulation of the process has started even before the investigation has begun with Brown ensuring that the report will not be available until after the next British general election.

And what, we ask ourselves will that investigation reveal? That George Bush and Tony Blair (Napoleon and Squealer as I call them) started a war on a lie, a war which both these brave men and their cheerleaders would never have to fire a shot in? That both these men lied to their respective governments to convince them to send young men and women out to slaughter and be slaughtered in the dust and intense heat of Iraqi streets and deserts? That they breached every human rights law in their own and other countries? That they are personally responsible for the deaths of at least a quarter of a million Iraqi civilians and over four thousand service men and women? That they did all of this from the safety and comfort of their power bases in London and Washington against the wishes of a majority of their people and most of the world?

Apart from the disgusting details of how these reptiles operate, we know most of what will come out in the investigation already. Given that Gordon Brown, the man who stood shoulder to shoulder (in a quiet ‘Wormtongue’ kind of way) with Mr Blair during all of the above has decided in advance that no one is to blame, then I think we can figure out for ourselves what he’s going to do about it.


But Blair and Bush are still relatively young and this may yet be their undoing. Did anyone ever believe thirty years ago that the former Chilean leader Pinochet would end his days scuttling around Chile like a cornered rat as he tried to hide from the vengeful wrath of his victims, or that Serbian leader Milosevic would spend his last days alone in prison?  Gordon may have decided that his old mate can walk free from his genocidal attack on the Iraqi people but like the odious Pinochet, Blair and Bush may find out that international law and the wrath of their victims may have entirely different ideas, especially if the investigation proves what we all knew anyway, that they started the war on lies and deception and that they are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

Time will tell.

Don’t Fear The Tally Man

It’s a funny thing how you can spend a lifetime taking an active interest in a subject to find out that really you know little about the actual machinations and processes behind it. Such was it for me who, for the first time in my life found myself at a count centre last Saturday.

A frenetic place full of brisk activity, the count center is the hub of all politics in the region for that one day. Candidates, agents, activists, press people, tally men and women flurry to and fro, phones constantly at their ears, clipboards held closely to their chests, all checking and double checking the votes, trying to figure out what will become abundantly clear in a few hours anyway. Why bother? Why not everyone take a lie in and let the counters do their job and wait for the result to be announced? Why not put an end to this ludicrous practise of trying to second guess the people who are entrusted with the responsibility of counting our votes? Dammit! Why not go the whole hog and pull out those old e-voting machines and save all that time and bother?

The answer quite simply is trust, or to be more precise, integrity. Though not official, the function of the tally men, journalists, politicians and others at the count centre,  is to ensure that the count is conducted fairly and properly. The whole operation is carried out on a cross party co-operative basis with the full co-operation of the civil servants who are officially charged with conducting the count. Information from tally men is shared, parsed, and analysed several times over and with so many eyes and ears on the proceedings, any irregularities or errors, be they intentional or accidental, will be spotted and quickly brought to the attention of the count officers.

This process of tallying, counting, watching and analysing gives the process it’s integrity far more powerfully and transparently than any e-voting machine could ever hope to, because at the end of the day, seeing, is believing.

Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Underworld Trailer

A trailer for Underworld, one of my films with Don Baker and Michael McElhatton. If you like the trailer you can watch the full 20min film free at my site Iron Mountain Movies.  Just click on the Underworld thumbnail on the home page to view the film.  Don’t forget to turn up the volume and turn out the lights…

You’re not afraid of the dark?….

Are you?

Garret Fitzgerald and the 200K AIB loan write off.

Are there no heroes left? Has ‘Goodness’ abandoned us altogether? Has it scurried off into the night wearing a mohair coat?

I ask this only because I am in shock. Yes. In shock I am. Having listened to Garret Fitzgerald or ‘Garret the Good’ at the weekend, exhorting us all to vote for Fianna Fail’s Eoin Ryan, fearing for his health, I googled him and came across the following report on RTE’s website dated Wednesday, 17 February 1999 which reads

‘Former Taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald has confirmed that AIB and Ansbacher wrote off debts of almost £200,000 that he owed them six years ago. He was in financial difficulties at the time because of the collapse of the aircraft leasing company, GPA, in which he was a shareholder. Dr Fitzgerald was quoted in today’s Examiner newspaper as pointing out that the write off occurred after he had left politics. He insisted that no favours were asked or given.’

Now maybe I’m being picky here but if you took out the name Garret Fitzgerald and replaced it with Charlie Haughey in the above piece, could you tell the difference between the two? I heard Eoghan Harris allude to this last year on the Late Late Show but put it down to Eoghan just being daft! But now I find that, though Eoghan is still as daft as a fish on a bicycle, Garret was indeed the beneficiary of a 200k loan write off courtesy of AIB, that great friend and patron of politicians. Add to this the fact that this all took place in 1993 when 200k was a hell of a lot of money and one begins to get a bad feeling.

The Moriarity Tribunal investigated the matter, and compared the treatment by AIB of Fitzgerald with their treatment of Charles Haughey. They found no evidence of any wrongdoing, indeed the Tribunal heard evidence as to the considerable hardship that Fitzgerald went to, to the extent of selling of his family home to repay the debt to the best of his ability.

The Tribunal concluded in their report:

In summary it would appear that in compromising his indebtedness with the Bank, Dr. Fitzgerald disposed of his only substantial asset, namely, his family home at Palmerston Road, a property which would now be worth a considerable sum of money. As in Mr. Haughey’s case, there was a substantial discounting or forbearance shown in Dr. Fitzgerald’s case. However in contrast with Mr. Haughey’s case, Dr. Fitzgerald’s case involved the effective exhaustion of his assets in order to achieve a settlement whereas Mr. Haughey’s assets were retained virtually intact.

So, Garret had to sell his house to cover part of his loan from AIB. Fair enough. That’s what many people would expect to have to do when the chips are down and most likely will have to do in the coming years, due to the banking crisis caused by a lack of proper regulation by our politicians. But how many of these poor unfortunates, many who are in negative equity, will have the balance of their loans written off by AIB like Garret Fitzgerald, Garret the Good, our former Taoiseach did?

Answers on a postcard please to…..

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