Tag Archives: fine gael

Death and Taxes

Benjamin Franklin in a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy in 1789, stated that

‘In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

While not wanting to speak ill of the dead, for the late Brian Lenihan the certainty of death is now is all too apparent, yet because of his calamitous decision to give a blanket guarantee to our banks when the financial crisis came to a head in September 2008, for the rest of us, the certainty of taxes will remain for a very long time indeed. Taxes on our homes, taxes on our wages, taxes on our water, taxes on our fuel, taxes on generations to come, and all as a result of a decision taken in in secret, without consultation or accountability, by a small group of bankers, economists and political leaders.

The recent outpouring of grief and the media love-in over the death of Mr Lenihan concentrated on the man’s personal courage in the face of death, and his affability and generous personal nature.  He was, we were told, a man of the people. Though I did not know him, I am sure that all of this is most likely true. However HSE statistics show that on the same day as Mr Lenihan passed away, close on one hundred people in total died in Ireland. I am sure that much could be said of the personal courage and affability of many of those people also, but they will have died in relative quiet in comparison to the huge coverage afforded to Mr Lenihan, for they were ordinary people, perhaps not as important to society as one such as Mr Lenihan. Nonetheless, history will record that Mr Lenihan, along with a select few politicians, economists, civil servants and bankers, is unique among us as being the only person who signed away our nations future by lumbering us with the debts of reckless and criminal bankers, a future which, had he listened to the advice given at the time by Merrill Lynch a consultancy company whom the Government hired and paid 6 million to for a few days work and who advised him against a blanket guarantee, might have lead us to a much different place today. So while we can mourn the passing of Brian Lenihan the man, we must also face the fact that Brian Lenihan the politician, due to his actions on that fateful September night, played a huge personal part in the destruction of our economy and our society and ensured that whatever about the certainty of death, the certainty of taxes will remain with the rest of us ordinary mortals for generations to come.

For Mr Lenihan at least, these certainty’s  are no longer a worry.

Ronan Gallagher


The Politics of Hypocrisy

The actions of the New York Yankees in pulling tenor Ronan Tynan from his gig at their stadium over a passing and rather innocuous comment he made to a Jewish doctor, displays a sickening hypocrisy which is becoming increasingly endemic in our society. Apparently the incident happened when the 49-year-old Tynan met a real estate agent who was showing an apartment on his floor to a potential buyer, Gabrielle Gold-von Simson, a Jewish pediatrician from the NYU Medical Center. The real estate agent said to the tenor,

“Don’t worry they are not Red Sox fans,”

To which Tynan replied, “I don’t care about that, as long as they are not Jewish,” Von-Simson told NBC New York.

“Why is that?” the good Doctor asked of the singer.

Tynan replied that two Jewish ladies had been looking at the apartment before and they were “scary,” according to Von-Simson.

The singer now says the remarks were made in jest, a reference to the fact that the two women were very demanding and somewhat unfriendly, an opinion both Tynan and the Real Estate agent had formed on meeting them. The doctor chose not to see it that way.

“I didn’t know him at all so how could I take it as a joke,” said Von-Simson.

Tynan, for his part, apologised and claimed it was just a “misunderstanding”, however this did not prevent the NY Yankees from rushing to judgement and banning him from singing at their game, in an effort one presumes, to satisfy the Jewish community that the Yankees are not anti-Semitic.

This is the sort of hypocrisy and moral cowardice that allows Israel to slaughter thousands of innocent men women and children in Gaza at the beginning of the year in an orgy of butchery and crimes against humanity now being investigated by the UN, yet punishes a man who clearly does not hold, nor ever did hold any anti-Semitic views. It is the sort of hypocrisy that rails against the ruthless cowardice of a suicide bomber slaughtering innocents in a crowded market, yet finds nothing wrong with doing the exact same thing from a F16 bomber plane. It is the type of hypocrisy that sees our own Alan Shatter, Fine Gael’s Shadow ‘Minister for Children’, defend the slaughter, despite his and his parties long-standing condemnatory stance against IRA violence here in our own country.

It is the sort of hypocrisy that allows Dr Gold-von Simson turn a throwaway remark about two Jewish women to whom Tynan clearly took a personal, rather than racist dislike, into an anti-Semitic controversy when clearly there was no anti-Semitism meant or intended.

In short it is a hypocrisy that on  many levels sullies the names of those lost in the holocaust by its blatant misuse of their suffering to further a political and religious cause, something which Mr Von-Simson seems to have no qualms about in his rush to take offence and to accuse an innocent man of anti-Semitism.


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…..


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.


The One

They talk of him all across the land. On busy streets, in quiet corners, from atop mountains and in the valleys, they all speak the same name.

‘George’.

He speaks softly they say, but wields truth like a steely blade through a mire of corruption, cronyism, and deception. He can be many places at one time and though he has performed no miracles, they say that one day he will.

He has many followers. They are legion. Gathering in great numbers to hear him speak, they eagerly await his every word and with every word he instils in them new hope.

His wisdom is so great, they say that to look upon his face, is to look into the face of knowledge itself. He is reported to have visions, visions of a dark future for those who do not heed his word, and enlightenment for those who do.

Great leaders have courted him, seeking his knowledge and wisdom and the people have taken him into their hearts. Some say he is the Messiah yet none claim he is Messianic. He speaks his mind without fear or favour and delivers his message with crystal clarity. He is the name on everyone’s lips.

He is George. He is ‘The One’.

But there is a powerful force overshadowing him that will soon rise to challenge his power. A ‘Krypton like’ force that threatens to render him powerless and weak under its ruthless and indomitable power. A force as immovable as Mount Everest and as unstoppable as a Tsunami, but one which he must overwhelm if he is ever to be truly ‘The One’.

A force that has come to be known as,

‘The Party Whip’.


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?


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