Tag Archives: fianna fail

Fab Vinnie, David Lee Roth and Michael O Leary

Back in the early eighties Dave Lee Roth, the spandex wearing ‘wella’ haired front man for 80’s superband Van Halen was being interviewed by Vincent Hanley otherwise known as ‘Fab Vinnie’ for the then hugely popular MT-USA Show on RTE. Vinnie, obviously in awe of the golden haired Roth, couldn’t contain himself and asked him what it was like to be so fabulously wealthy?

With a deft wave of a gold and diamond bejewelled hand, Roth flicked back his hair and looked right at Vinnie with those dreamy eyes and said

‘ You know Vincent, by the time I get to pay my manager, my lawyers, my accountants, my staff, my entertainment bills and the taxman, I’ve just about enough left to buy a small Caribbean island!’

I was reminded of this the other day while watching Michael ‘Arc Angel’ O Leary tell the nation in RTE’s Prime Time debate on Lisbon that we should vote for Lisbon because we are broke, because it is good for business and because he would rather have Europe run Ireland than the ‘Shower of incompetents in Leinster house‘. Michael went on to tell us that he was an important businessman. He employed a thousand people. He paid huge amounts of taxes here in his home country and told the nation that he brought inward investment with his company Ryan Air. Readers should note that it was at that point the memory of Vincent Hanley interviewing Mr Roth nearly a quarter of a century ago popped into my head.

You see, when Michael pays all his taxes etc you can be sure that his take home cheque wont leave him standing at the ATM machine praying to the God of ATM machines to please give him something, anything except that heart sinking message of

‘Sorry you have insufficient funds for this transaction’.

That aside, as long as Mr O Leary pays his fair amount of taxes and covers his costs which I’m sure he does, no matter how much he pays he should not feel that he has any rights or privileges over other tax payers, or that this gives him a right to a bigger say in our democracy than any other citizen of this state, be they taxpayer or welfare recipient.

And there’s where my problem with Europe lies. Deep under my skin I get the creeping feeling that Europe is getting more concerned about markets than people. More concerned about the economic imperative than the  social one. The more I hear ‘We need to be at the heart of Europe winning friends and influencing people‘, I can’t help but wonder if the whole European project amounts to nothing more than a lobbyists paradise? If so why not send a ‘Frank Dunlop’ to Brussels and save all this voting malarkey. Frankly speaking, a word in the right ear from a ‘Frank’ would surely see a jacuzzi in every house in the land. Just imagine it. A Europe with a budget worth billions of euro, covering nearly half a billion people, controlled by a gargantuan political structure where things get done by ‘winning friends and influencing people’ and where the social agenda is being tamed to allow free market conditions to prevail. What’s not to like for  Michael and many like him. It’s a businessman’s paradise!

So every time I hear a well paid business man, politician, economist, banker,  or lawyer tell the nation that they too are sharing the cuts and the pain like everyone else in this seemingly ‘banama’d’ republic, the memory of Mr Roth comes back to me. It rises up when I hear well paid commentators and journalists tell the nation that public sector pay must be cut, education and health cuts must be implemented, that we are all living beyond our means. And it really hits home when one realises that the cuts that the well heeled are taking are more than the average yearly wage of over 80% of the people in this country.

Europe and Ireland. A world of equals? I don’t think so.


It’s Not Easy Being Green!

It’s not easy being green. So goes the old Van Morrison song, and in today’s political and economic climate, as John Gormley and the Irish Greens are finding out, never was a truer word spoken (or sung).

Having derived their political power from concerns about the future of the planet they seem to have largely forgotten that they need to have a social vision as well as an environmental one. Their support of Fianna Fail seems to be predicated on them getting what they want in terms of bettering our environment, at the expense of bettering our society. The unwritten rule seems to be that Fianna Fail can bail out banks, slash and burn services, and generally have a free hand at whatever they want as long as they allow the Greens to pursue and implement their own agenda. Listening to John Gormley today on RTE one would get the impression that he was the one responsible for the recent and forthcoming amendments to the NAMA legislation. No doubt someone more qualified than me will remind him that were it not for the grass-roots revolution in their Green party, John and his fellow Greens in Cabinet would have allowed the NAMA bill to go through unchallenged.  Their relative silence regarding the social devastation which much of the McCarthy report will bring on the most vulnerable in society is indicative of their ‘keep the head down and plough on with our own Green agenda’ policy which they seem to have  adopted since taking up their positions in Government. One does not have to be a Pulitzer prizewinner to know that were the Greens in opposition right now, they would be screaming from the rooftops in protest at the McCarthy report and the totally unbalanced Commission on Taxation Report which puts the burden on ordinary citizens and gives more tax breaks to business thus allowing the economic imperative to supersede the social imperative yet again.

Whilst I am in total agreement with them on their relentless pursuit of the Green agenda, I am also fully aware that these Green policies and initiatives will not be sustained if the Green Party is, like the PD’s, decimated and banished to history in the next election. Mr Gormley’s call yesterday for a social dividend to be paid from NAMA might be seen as a sea change but might also be too little, too late. The price they might have to pay for their political singularity could be total annihilation and a collapse in public support for all things Green.

That, dare I say it, could set back the environmental agenda by decades, something which would be disastrous for everybody and which could plunge Ireland into an even deeper economic, environmental, and societal black hole.


Deja Vu

Listening today to An Taoiseach Brian Cowan on RTE’s News at One exhorting us all to vote yes in the second, upcoming referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, I had a terrible sense of Deja Vu. You know that feeling where you are sure you have heard or lived through something before?

Our glorious leader warned us all that the best way to keep our commissioner was to vote yes. If we wanted to be at the heart of Europe we should vote yes. If we wanted to retain our ‘influence’ in Europe we should vote yes. If we didn’t want to be shunned by Europe we should vote yes.

Hadn’t I heard all this before not more than fifteen months ago? Did not our Taoiseach Mr Cowan himself tell us all this during the first and very recent referendum? Didn’t he have anything new to bring to the table? Then it occurred to me that I might possibly be listening to an interview which RTE had dragged up from the archives of the last referendum debate, but no, the presenter clearly informed the listeners that the interview was conducted live in the studio today Wednesday Sept 02 2009.

Is it truly possible that this Government thinks that it can win this referendum by repeating the arguments of the last one, arguments which were rejected by the people little more than a year ago? Is it conceivable that despite all the consultations, summits and other activities since the last referendum the Taoiseach can only come up with a repeat of the same arguments put forward back then? Or is it possible that Mr Cowan, having seen the so called ‘legal guarantees’ being exposed as little more than a toothless political agreement between heads of state, now realises that in fact what he is putting to the people next October is exactly the same as was put to them over a year ago, hence the repetition of the same argument as last time? And if this is true then could not Mr Cowan and many on the yes side be accused of corrupting and manipulating our democratic process to suit their wishes over those of the people by presenting the exact same argument which the people rejected on June 13 last year by a sizeable 53.4% of the votes?

A further worrying familiarity is that at the end of the interview Mr Cowan was asked again if he had read the treaty. This was a question he chose, for whatever reason, not to answer, instead preferring to tell us that the Government and all Departments would be ‘au-fe’ (I’ve never really understood what the hell that means) with all aspects of the treaty.

Today’s interview raises many questions which those who have been through the first referendum will find familiar. That is because they are exactly the same questions raised last time out. Questions like, if we vote no will we lose our Commissioner? If we vote no will we be shunned by Europe, and if so, who wants any part of that kind of democracy? Is our influence in Europe dependent on us saying yes to everything Europe demands? Oh and one last but very important one. Has our Taoiseach actually read the treaty this time?

Please tell us that you have Taoiseach….Please….

See what I mean about Deja Vu!



Europe, Vincent Browne, and Me

Poor Vincent Browne. What Faustian deal did he make in his life that gave him that eternally perplexed look. Complimented by his raised eyebrows, crusty the clown haircut, and sad resigned sighs, it was very prominent on Monday night (11th May 09) when he had Euro Candidates Marian Harkin, Pascal Mooney, Jim Higgins and Declan Ganley on his panel. And who could blame him? Having sat for an hour through the ‘discussion’ I am, as he apparently was, no wiser as to why any of them should be paid hundreds of thousands of euro to ‘represent’ us in Brussels. Fianna Fails Pascal Mooney informed us that he wanted to be in Europe so he could win friends and influence people. He read about this kind of approach in a book, he told us.  Jim Higgins of Fine Gael said that he wanted to position Ireland in the ‘slipstream’ of France and Germany’s financial recovery. Not much of a plan if you ask me. A rather shrill Marian Harkin seemed hell-bent on ripping Declan Ganley’s throat out and Declan Ganley spent so much time defending himself against the other three that one has no idea what he wants apart from democracy and accountability which is hardly a revolutionary call. For some reason Padraig McLaughlin from Sinn Fein wasn’t at the table.

Vincent I’m afraid did not do too well in the chair, allowing the debate/discussion to plunge into  a chaotic cross talking cacophony of raised voices, accusations, and shouting matches, ending with Marian Harkin telling Mr Ganly somewhat childishly that ‘You started it!’

Somehow it all seems so distant. So irrelevant.

But then when I look at the powers which Europe has increasingly taken upon itself to run our lives I get a little nervous and suddenly it doesn’t seem so distant or irrelevant. For example why does nobody see Europe’s recent comments on our budgetary measures and on how our Government is running the economy, as tantamount to outside interference in our economic and political affairs? Are our budgets drawn up for the Irish people, or for a group of unelected mandarins in Europe? If these mandarins did not accept our budget would we have to draw up another one? One that is perhaps more suited to Europe’s interests than Ireland’s?

The lack of interest by the electorate in Europe is a dangerous thing and no doubt suits the politicians. It allows Europe to forge ahead with its plans without scrutiny or accountability. Ireland has a population not much bigger than the average European city. Four million out of a population of four hundred million means that we are at a numerical disadvantage and as such we run the risk of being swamped and trampled on by the vested interests of the bigger, more influential countries. It is for this reason we need to pay attention to what is happening in Europe and who we elect to represent us. Every day we seem to cede more financial and political power to Brussels without as much as a whimper. Our own Government seem to increasingly need the permission of Europe before they can pass any legislation in our own so called sovereign parliament. If our role in Europe has been reduced to ‘winning friends and influencing people’ then what can our expectations be from it? Playing along unquestionably to Europe’s tune as long as there’s a few bob in it? This would not be new. After all we played along with our friends in Boston when they needed a place to fuel planes for their illegal war in Iraq and turned a blind eye to rendition, and there was a nice few bob in it too.

There is no doubt that our future lies with Europe, but that future must be based on equality, respect for our vote, our independence, and our right to determine our own future.

If that is not in the mix, we might find that eighty years after our war of independence, we are in real danger of losing our voice and becoming little more than subdued vassals of a European regime we have no control over.


Saviours of Ireland

Dear Saviours of Ireland,

Just a note to wish you all the best in your attempts to gain a seat in the upcoming elections and save our country from economic doom and possible take over by the IMF, EU, UN, NATO, WWF, WBA, ICA, and any other CAPITAL LETTERS that threaten us. It is clear that you all feel that you have the expertise, intellect, and ideas required to undertake this great challenge and are all willing to ‘serve’ for the greater good of society. Your posters promise us that you will be great leaders of your constituencies, and you will work hard for your constituents. You will be strong and stand up for what is right.

But will you be strong enough to stand up to the ideologies and vested interests in your own party, and in all others, ideologies and vested interests that have stifled creativity and innovation in our political, economic and social system for so long. The irony of it all is that despite the fact that these ideologies all came from new ideas, they also stifle them in a shameless and selfish act of self preservation causing stagnation in the political evolutionary process. Since 1916 and long before, all the people of Ireland ever wanted was a society based on equality, merit, justice and fairness. My late father who was a devout republican always said that if England had given us these things long ago, we might today be the Queen’s most loyal supporters. (His republican beliefs would never allow him to use  the word ‘subjects’).

So, on election night when you stand on the podium in the count hall, proud and ecstatic that you have at last won power, perhaps you might take a moment to ask yourself some very important questions. What will you do with it?  Will you use it wisely to build a fairer, more equitable society for all of the people? Or will you allow the ideologies and vested interests who selfishly expect us all to sing to their tune, run the show.

Who will you serve?


Honour Among Thieves

Ahh. The Artic waste of a blank white page as I take my first tentative steps at Blogging or maybe it should be called Blagging! Already the acres of content and ideas that I had written in my head leading up to this momentous occasion, and which would grace the pages of this first entry, have deserted me, and cowards that they are, have left me to face my demons alone.

For a long time I have put up with the computer monitor staring accusingly at me from the corner of the room with it’s snide cutting comments like ‘Go on you lazy bastard. Sit there on your couch! The world awaits your great words of wisdom, your wit, your thoughts,  and you, oh rotund one, you, who daily looks more like Jabba The Hut, sit there and moan at the hardship of it all. Call yourself a writer?’

Now, having risen from the couch and slithered over to the computer, I find myself in front of a sneering blank white page, daring me to go on. Is there a point I ask myself in that whiny thinky voice I sometimes hear in my head. Whiny Thinky Voice has a lot of questions to be answered before a letter can be touched on the keyboard. Will anyone bother to read what I write? Will anyone care? Should they? Whiny Thinky Voice can be an irritating fucker believe me, so I was glad to shut him up with these opening words and wipe the sneer off the page as well.

No such problems for the newspaper and TV hacks who seem to ream off thousands of words about anything you can think of in the newsprint and Television media. I have to confess to having stopped buying newspapers in the last few years. Far too much opinion and very little news for my liking. Yet one item which I did pick up on was the story that Noel Dempsey (and I am sure many others as well) is partly funded by bookmakers who in turn are trying their best to lobby the Government to allow gambling machines in their stores. Now I am sure that Mr Dempsey is an honourable man. Indeed after his stout and robust defence of Bertie Ahern during the former Taoiseachs recent troubles with the tribunals, one has to assume that Mr Dempsey along with his other ministerial colleagues sees nothing wrong with obtaining money from big business and despite the reported 17 grand he got from bookmakers, will not gift them any favours or unfair advantages. It does however raise questions as to the credibility of Fianna Failers asking Declan Ganley where he gets his funds from. Recently on Pat Kenny we had the extraordinary spectacle of a ‘very concerned’ FFer Eoin Ryan grilling Mr Ganley as to the source of his funds. Now I am no lover of Mr Ganley but it has to be said that if Mr Ryan and other FFers had grilled their former leader with the same vigour as they did Mr Ganley, they might have some credibility. After all, the party that gave us Charlie Haughey, Ray Burke, Bertie Ahern and many others is hardly the party we all turn to to ensure that corruption is banished from Irish politics.

It’s a hypocrisy that is hard to take yet is brazenly trotted out by such honourable men who are all part of such an honourable political party as Fianna Fail. It is the sort of hypocrisy that gives us the vomit inducing spectacle of Government Ministers on a quarter of a million euro a year, flying around in million dollar helicopters costing 8,000.00 Euro an hour, to land in plush hotels, and after a lobster dinner go forth to tell us, the people, that we are living beyond our means.

I guess it brings new meaning to the old saying of ‘Honour among thieves’.


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