Tag Archives: Ireland

THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT

Somewhere in the world a butterfly flaps its wings. This seemingly insignificant action causes a tiny fluctuation in the earth’s atmosphere which sets off a train of events that over a period of time, results in a massive tornado occurring somewhere on the other side of the planet.

‘The Butterfly Effect’ is an elegant explanation of ‘Chaos Theory’ a strange and complex mathematical equation which essentially says that everything on the planet is interconnected and even the smallest fluctuation in the system can have far reaching, unforeseen, and sometimes devastating consequences.

It is a theory that our leaders here in Ireland and in Europe would be wise to take cognisance of as the current path which Irish and European citizens are being forced down by largely unelected and unaccountable mandarins, is of far more significance than a butterfly’s wing flaps, and if the Chaos Theory equation is applied to our economic and political system you can be sure that the resulting hurricane will have hugely devastating and as yet, unforeseen consequences.

One such consequence could be the break up of Europe and a reversion to insular nationalism which could put us right back to Europe pre 1939. Am I being ‘alarmistic’, as an unfortunate former Minister once put it? Should we be stocking up on our iodine tablets? Well, let’s see how such a scenario might play out.

As the debt contagion spreads throughout Europe, more and more of her people are being burdened with the debts of the banks and the bond holders who invested in them. Whatever one’s position is on this, there is absolutely no doubt that these debts were incurred through reckless, negligent, and possibly criminal behaviour by those banks and an abject failure on the part of bond holders, auditors, regulators, Governments, and the ECB to recognise the dangers of ‘bubble economics’ and take action to correct it. Having failed in their duty to the citizens of their countries, and the citizens of the wider Europe, these same leaders guarantee to pay these private bank and bond holder debts and place the burden on the shoulders of their citizens. In an attempt to ensure that these debts are paid and to further certain right wing ideologies, these elite groups inflict austerity measures that bite deep into the pockets of citizens and further contract already shrinking economies resulting in rising unemployment and unsustainable personal debt with devastating social, political, and economic results.

Already we are seeing these ripples of unrest spreading throughout Europe. In Spain a social network revolution not unlike the ‘Arab Spring’ managed to bring thousands into the capital Madrid’s Puerto del Sol square to camp out in protest at Spain’s rising unemployment and growing economic crisis. In Greece there is rising political and social unrest and increased defiance of the imposition by the Greek Government of IMF/EMU austerity measures and the forced sale of strategically important state assets. Portugal has just negotiated its own bail out with austerity measures to follow and Spain and Italy, both on extremely shaky ground, could be next. How will the citizens of these countries react to their loss of sovereignty when unavoidable austerity measures are imposed on them to pay for the debts of the banks, and the failures of their own Governments and European leaders? And what about Germany whose people have been told (wrongly in my opinion) that their taxes are being used to bail out countries such as Ireland, Greece and Portugal? Notwithstanding the fact that German taxes are ultimately being used to bail out German banks who recklessly gambled on Irish banks such as Anglo Irish, a fact which is not being made clear to them, people in Germany cannot be best pleased if they believe that they are being asked to pay for the excesses of others in what now seems like a failed European experiment.

There are those who will say that my above description of what is being done to the citizens of Ireland, Greece, Portugal and what will be done to other European countries whose economies also fail is too simplistic, that it’s too black and white with no allowance for grey areas, but no matter what nuance or spin you put on it, the core effect of what is happening with the IMF/EMU bailout deals is that private commercial debt is being burdened on the shoulders of the citizens of Europe at the same time as we are going through the worst recession since…well, since 1939.

The current recession with its crushing and unsustainable burden of debt, with no growth, no hope, rampant unemployment, economic uncertainty, and the social and political unrest which all that brings with it, is fertile ground for an upsurge in nationalism. The perceived injustices of pouring huge debts on the citizens of Europe to pay for the excesses and failures of others disconnects its citizens from the political system and enhances the growing view that Europe is more interested in serving the interests of big business and less and less in serving the interests of its citizens. This disconnect serves only to foment growing resentment among Europe’s citizens, erode the union’s authority and leadership, and diminish its relevance to its citizens thereby creating a void in European politics. Who knows, perhaps as in the 1930’s, under such circumstances a ‘charismatic’ leader or leaders, swept to power on a nationalist anti European agenda, might rise up from the ashes of an economically ruined Europe to fill that void. The reason given for Europe taking the path it has chosen to take during this economic crisis is to hold the union together; however as the chaos theory equation demonstrates, the possibility of the exact opposite happening is equally as likely.

And we all know where that led to in 1939.

Ronan Gallagher


Spirit: We are the Earth.

Spirit

A short documentary I made exploring our relationship with the land asking if that relationship has a spiritual dimension to it.


Laws of Attraction

Some time back at the height of the boom, a high ranking member of one of the countries leading tourism bodies called for Ireland to build a ‘super attraction’, something like the Eden Project in the heart of the English countryside, a kind of ‘super botanical garden’ which apparently attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. The idea is that this ‘super attraction’ would bring lots and lots of people into the country and help boost our tourism revenues. Maybe it would and maybe it wouldn’t, but the notion that we need super attractions, whether they be Disney fairgrounds or well meaning scientific projects, underlines the fact that we have been obsessed with new development and have paid less and less regard to our most important and oldest attraction, our landscape and our heritage. It also says a lot about modern Ireland and how we see our selves in the twenty first century and gives us an indication of where we might be headed for in the future.

Ireland was not called the Emerald Isle for nothing. It described fairly accurately the first and immediate impressions of nearly every first time visitor to these shores. They saw a green and pleasant land rooted firmly to a vibrant and friendly rural community. Many of these visitors were people who spent most of their lives living in highly developed sprawling suburban landscapes that, while comfortable and modern, lacked charm, had no sense of history and no connection to the land or people around them. They holidayed in Ireland to get away from all that, not to see it replicated here.

Are we in danger of turning rural Ireland into such a place? Could we end up with a large modern urban sprawl with no charm, no scenery and no heritage? A kind of ‘Celtic Tiger Theme Park’ super attraction?  We don’t need to look too far to see that the pressures of modern Ireland as a vibrant economy weighed heavily on rural Ireland. All around the country large tracts of land were being traded for large housing or industrial developments while more and more farmers are forced to leave the land. Many small towns and villages around Ireland have been changed irrevocably due to the development of houses in and around them. This has had the effect of giving them a more urban or perhaps suburban feel. The white and yellow road markings, traffic islands and red brick pavements in our redeveloped towns and villages while making a place look tidy and fresh and possibly safer, do nothing to add to the charm and rural feel they once had. Every day it seems, another piece of rural Ireland is lost to us.

And what loss is it? A big loss actually. A loss which in future years could cost us dearly. Our landscape and our heritage is the very thing that makes us attractive in the first place. It is our very own ‘super attraction’ and it is an attraction that Disney and all of Hollywood couldn’t hold a candle to.  It is unique to us, and though it was forged from the past, it is as important to our future as the air we breathe today is to our present. It is our greatest asset and with its loss we might find that the stream of visitors and holidaymakers to this country and the accompanying revenues they bring will dry up to a mere trickle, something which may have terrible consequences for us all as we forge ahead into the twenty first century.


How to escape from Plasti-cuffs.

This is something our bankers and politicians will never have to worry themselves about.


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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