Tag Archives: Irish Government

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


Lisbon: Post Coital.

The Lisbon Treaty referendum which we just went through was a bit like sex for Catholics.  We wanted to do it, but was it right? In the heat of the moment, with Lisbon, beautiful Lisbon, spread before us and simmering with seductive promise, we gave in, and in one  lustful moment threw caution to the wind resulting in a Yes! Yes! Yessssss! And now, as we lie, exhausted, sated, and puffing ponderously on  the post coital cigarette, the first tinges of guilt and the prospects of regret begin to creep in.

The tinges of guilt will stem from the fact that perhaps the whole thing was kind of forced, that in our lust we just couldn’t take no for an answer, the prospects of regret perhaps coming from the knowledge that now that we have made our bed, we must lie in it and can only hope we don’t get the wet side.

And if we do get the wet side what then? As the pro Lisbon forces in the country danced ‘the seven veils’ in front of our eyes, tantalising us with the promise of better things to come, they risked raising our excitement and expectation to levels they might not be able to live up to. The promise of jobs, economic stability, and a voice at the center of Europe was at the heart of the Yes campaign’s seductive moves as they strutted their stuff in a sensuous political pole dance which ended with them having their way with us. But as we all know, relationships often change and after the memory of the climax of our yes vote has faded, if those promises are not fulfilled, will we look to our bedfellow with the same dreamy, lust filled eyes? Or, in the cold light of day, will we  begin to see imperfections in our partner? If the result of the seduction does not lead to an improvement in our economy, more jobs, and our voice being heard effectively in Europe, will we become more distant and more critical? Will our lust turn to resentment, anger and ultimately blame? Will we begin to see Europe as a mistake, and, as with all mistakes in relationships, will it eventually lead  to increased pressure for a parting of the ways? And what if the same unfulfilled promise results in similar ‘relationship difficulties’ for other countries who ratified Lisbon, many without being even allowed to vote? What then for this new post coital Europe?

Will we be sitting together around the table come breakfast time or will we prefer to quietly slip out of the bed, sneak down the stairs and scuttle off into the cold, lonely, dark of the night? The outcome of this relationship depends on whether the seed of our seduction bears fruit or falls on barren ground. It is an outcome which now lies firmly in the control of our seducer whose power over us has been greatly enhanced with Lisbon.

Let us hope it is a power and an outcome that lives up to it’s promise.

For all our sakes.


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.


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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