Tag Archives: Irish Elections

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.


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.


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?


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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