Michael Noonan the Minister of Finance said
Ireland is emerging from its economic crisis, Finance Minister Michael Noonan has declared in this opening remarks of the Budget 2013.
“the economy could soar like a “rocket” next year as new figures showed that the country’s goods-trade surplus jumped 20% in January compared to the same month last year”.
It is generally considered a truism these days to state that from the foundation of the Republic, the Catholic Church has had a large part to play in the running of the country. Legislation was passed or defeated on the whims of Catholic interests, social norms and conventions were passed down from the pulpit to the worshippers in the pews, and most shamefully, thousands of women and children were forced into what was essentially slave labour in the country’s Industrial Schools and Magdalene Laundries. However, the attitude of many towards the Church has changed dramatically over the last twenty or so years, no doubt caused by the revelations of what went on in the Industrial Schools, Magdalene Laundries, along with the revelations of a vast conspiracy to cover up allegations of physical and sexual abuse of children being carried out by members of the clergy. The Church as an institution, for all its posturing statements over the last number of years, will have to do something drastic if it is to recover from the various scandals that have hit it and continue to do so. One can clearly chart its decline in some of the latest figures regarding religious worship in Ireland.
In the 2011 census, a total of 3,861,335 people, 81.4 per cent of the population, declared themselves as Catholic, a 4.9 per cent increase since the 2006 census, when 3,681,446 people identified themselves as such. Yet, regarding this increase, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) stated, “that while the number of Catholics overall increased by 179,889, or 4.9 per cent, since 2006 much of this increase came from the non-Irish (mostly European) national community.” On the other hand, those identifying as having no religion increased by 45 per cent, up from 186,318 in 2006, to 269,811 in 2011. When broken down further in a separate CSO document, 72,914 did not state their religion, or lack of, with another 3,905 and 3,521 people stating Atheist and Agnostic respectively as their religion. As anyone remotely familiar with the religious demographics of Ireland will tell you though, the number of “true Catholics” is likely to be far smaller than the 81.4 per cent noted in the 2011 census. This can be seen in a range of areas.
For example, in 2012, Red C published the results of a poll they carried out in which they asked the public whether or not “Same sex marriage should be allowed in the Constitution”. A total of 73 per cent of respondents were in favour of an amendment to the constitution that would allow same sex marriage, which is up from 56 per cent in 2008. Regarding sex before marriage, according to the Irish Times, 6 per cent of those asked in 2004/2005 said that sex before marriage was always wrong compared to 71 per cent in 1973/1974. In another survey commissioned, also in 2012, by the Association of Catholic Priests, it was found that 35 per cent of Irish people attend Mass “at least once per week”, 36 per cent attend “a few times per year”, with 27 per cent attending Mass “less often”. In contrast, 85 per cent of people in 1980 stated that they attended Mass at least once per week. On the issue of clergy, 87 per cent stated that priests should be allowed to get married, 77 per cent stated that women should be allowed to become priests, and 72 per cent stated that “mature married men should be allowed to be ordained”. Everything mentioned here is at odds with basic Church teachings that anyone who has been raised Catholic would be well aware of.
This is why the number of “true Catholics” in the country is likely to be far lower than the 81.4 per cent who identify as Catholic. Peer pressure, family tradition, and social habit can explain why people identify as Catholic when their ideals are completely at odds with Church teachings. Despite the somewhat liberal nature, at least on the surface, of the majority of Irish society, there still exists a pressure to conform to some basic Church teachings which are now considered more tradition than anything else; christenings, confirmations, and church weddings. The Church as an institution however, is well and truly on the path of decline in Ireland if something drastic does not change in the coming years. According to a poll published in August of 2012 by WIN-Gallup International, Ireland is now rated as one of the least religious countries in the world, coming only second to Vietnam. Added to this is the very real fear that the rate of new priests being ordained in the country will not be enough to keep the Church alive, with only six being ordained in 2011.
Despite all of this, the Church and religion in general is going to remain a force in Irish politics and society for some time to come. The current struggle to take back patronage of the primary school system in Ireland from the Church demonstrates the power and obstinacy they still hold when their interests are threatened. Also, note the reaction of the various orders to the release of the McAleese Report; complete disregard and a callous indifference. In an interview that was broadcast on March 8th on RTÉ Radio 1, two nuns defended their role in the running of the Magdalene Laundries. When one of them was asked if they should apologise for the laundries she simply responded, “Apologise for what? Apologise for providing a service?” Answers like this should no longer surprise us, and neither should the anger that we feel at their utterance.
Even though the Church in Ireland is far weaker now than it was decades ago, it still holds sway. We must always remember that it has the power it has now, because of the power it had in the past.
Democracy or just simply Demopsefia?
A new nationwide opinion poll in Ireland has shown that people are becoming more and more disillusioned with the political process leading one to wonder if democracy (people rule) has simply become demopsefia (people vote). This type of disillusionment is becoming widespread across Europe in general. While no one is naive enough to believe all the promises of politicians, in recent years the desires of the electorate seem to be ever more blatantly subsumed to the financial interests/problems of recent governments.
While in the past clientelism and patronage produced some semblance of benefit to the voters, the deepening financial crisis and unemployment is breaking down the old ways of thinking and behaving. Voters are becoming just that, voters. And as such, are starting to wonder what is the point of voting at all? Thus we have an increase in the third main aspect of the current crisis, emigration. According to Aideen Sheehan emigration is ‘at famine levels’ as 200 leave the country every day: ‘Some 87,000 people emigrated from Ireland in the year to April 2012, three times as many as the annual exodus during the boom years.’ Another source states that: ‘More than half of those who left the country in the 12 months up to April  were Irish and almost 36,000 were under the age of 25, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) said.’
We have come a long way from the desires of the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century, whereby, as the former President of Ireland Mary Robinson writes:
‘The motto of The Irish Citizen newspaper, published by the Irish Women’s Franchise League from 1912 to 1920, encapsulates not only the ideals of the campaign for female suffrage in Ireland but the longing of women the world over to be equal and active citizens in their societies: “For men and women equally the rights of citizenship; from men and women equally the duties of citizenship.”’
The sleight-of-hand conversion of the citizen into consumer only works insofar as the consumer has the wherewithal to consume. Another recent survey revealed that ‘Irish consumer sentiment plunged five percentage points in February  as the effects of January sales faded and a deal to restructure a €30 billion government debt failed to boost confidence.’
Furthermore, there is no reason to believe that consumer confidence will improve with the range of new taxes being prepared by the government at the moment. The downward spiral caused by taking more and more money out of the economy to pay government debts is reflected in the comment by KBC Bank economist Austin Hughes who remarked that: ‘The Irish consumer is seeing an improvement in ‘macro’ conditions across the economy but their personal finances remain under pressure.’
Yet while consumers become disillusioned and young people vote with their feet, the belief that the democratic system is not simply about voting on who will win/lose their well-paid jobs in the government is alive and well in the growing immigrant community in Ireland. At the Irish Citizenship Ceremony held in Dublin last year almost 4,000 people from 115 countries became Ireland’s newest citizens. According to Charlie Taylor in the Irish Times:
‘Attorney General Máire Whelan SC and retired justice Bryan McMahon presided over four ceremonies at which 3,800 individuals were sworn as Irish citizens, having made a declaration of loyalty to the nation and fidelity to the State as well as undertaking to faithfully observe the laws of the State and respect its democratic values.’
The enthusiasm of Ireland’s newest citizens was evident. ‘I am very excited today because I have been here for so long working hard to get my citizenship’ said Maria Elizabeth Mallo (50) from the Philippines who has lived in Roscommon for the past 10 years.
Is it possible that this enthusiasm for citizenship ignited by a newly globalised population will push the superficial concept of consumer (not to mention its manipulability) over the edge and bring about a return to a national ideology of rights and duties of citizenship? We are not beholden to the state for whatever we have or consume – we pay taxes and uphold the laws that keep the state in existence. To narrow the concept of citizen to the concept of consumer leaves out elites in society who have absolutely no loyalty to any state yet gain all the benefits. By re-defining ourselves as citizens again and re-imagining what kind of society we want to live in, surely we can put our votes to better use?
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin is a prominent Irish artist who has exhibited widely around Ireland. His work consists of paintings based on cityscapes of Dublin, Irish history and geopolitical themes (http://gaelart.net/). His blog of critical writing based on cinema, art and politics along with research on a database of Realist and Social Realist art from around the world can be viewed country by country at http://gaelart.blogspot.ie/.
Google shares fall on early publication of poor results
GOOGLE’S shares crashed by as much as 11pc this evening, after the web search giant published its results prematurely and exposed a 20pc fall in its profits.
Fitch latest agency to say outlook for Ireland improving
FITCH HAS become the second ratings agency within a week to signal an improved outlook for Ireland’s credit rating.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal yesterday, Fitch analyst Gergely Kiss said the agency could be approaching a point where it would remove its “negative” outlook on Ireland’s BBB+ rating.
He said, however, that it could still be some time before the rating itself would be improved. Such a move would rest on any deal the Government could secure with its euro partners on easing its debt burden.
Varadkar warns CIE that public transport system could collapse next year
Leo Varadkar has warned that the public transport system will collapse next year if the CIE group doesn’t get its house in order.
The Transport Minister says €36m in extra funding is still available for the company this year, but he Is “running out of pockets”.
The Minister has ordered CIE to develop a realistic business plan, implement cost reductions, sell-off non-core assets and secure new credit facilities.
Varadkar says the very survival of public transport depends on it: “This year I may be able to take money from one pocket and put it into the other, rob Peter to pay Paul, and kick the can down the road. But I’m running out of pockets and running out of road.
“If we don’t see progress on the four issues I’ve mentioned, I won’t be able to find the money to keep the companies operating by the middle to the end of next year.
“There will be no choice, public transport will then fail in Ireland
CSO figures show significant increase in number of people with no religion
According to the latest figures released by the Central Statistics Office about Census 2011, 277,237 of the population (6%) now describe themselves as having no religion, or being agnostic or atheist.
The number of people who describe themselves as Catholic is increasing but represents a smaller percentage of the total population.
A significant surge in payment of the €100 Household Charge in North Tipperary in recent weeks has resulted in the lifting of a Government threat to further slash funding for local government services in the county.
During the summer Environment Minister Phil Hogan, noting that just over half of North Tipperary householders had paid the charge, threatened to cut the County Council’s Local Government Fund of €14.5 million by €1.5 million. Such a cut would have resulted in major cuts in local government services across the county.
But over the past six weeks or so a surge in payments saw a further 8 per cent of householders pay the charge, thereby removing the threat of the swinging cuts being imposed.
Two out of three householders in North Tipperary have now paid the new €100 charge
Via Nenagh Guardian
By God how they all tremble when the hear Hogan’s bark
We learn from the Offaly express that 7,041 non-Irish nationals were living in Offaly at the time of the Census, accounting for 9.2% of the population of the county.
According to figures released by the Central Statistics Office, of the non-Irish nationals resident in the county, 1,865 were UK nationals – the largest non-Irish nationality in the county, followed by Polish nationals with 1,566 persons.
To be consigned to living in the bogs of Offaly these people must have suffered desperate deprivation elsewhere
From the Munster express we observe
The Munster Express has learned from reliable sources that the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Mr Phil Hogan, TD, is likely to announce this week that Waterford City Council and Waterford County Council will definitely be merged and that the headquarters of the new body will be in the county, not the city.
While such a move has been opposed by many politicians from both local authorities, it will be a particularly bitter pill for Waterford city to swallow.
It looks like cheerio to Waterford city Council oh well maybe a few less people claiming expenses
From the Gorey Guardian we lean
WE’RE sitting on a goldmine. Literally. Prospectors have struck gold in North Wexford, and say the samples taken to date have the potential to yield hundreds of millions of dollars worth of gold and other precious metals.
‘It was very exciting,’ said Liam McGrattan, who works in Investor Relations with the IMC Exploration Group plc.
‘ This is a pretty big strike. I’d compare it to the oil strike off the coast of Cork recently,’ said Liam.
‘If we got two big strikes we could get rid of the IMF and the ECB out of the country,’ he joked. He said the operation would require an underground mine, meaning a huge jobs boost for the local community.
Well now Liam good news indeed but I see you work in investor relations. A profession well known for kite flying
The specter of the immigrant ship lies in wait once again according to Martin Hughes.
Mr. Hughes a leading financial expert has warned that Ireland’s enfeebled economy will soon be dependent on payments sent homes by emigrants.
He is predicting that by 2020, the collapse of the economy will force emigration to levels that will see the country’s population drop to figures last seen in 2004 that in turn will pull down consumption levels and real estate prices.
“Quite different but not, we must add, altogether new. Having not depended on remittances for many decades, Ireland, like Portugal, will come to rely on these once more.”
If this grim scenario is true, it would seem like we are wasting our time repaying the bankers debts. Perhaps the better option is to repudiate the debts and suffer on our own terms. This option might be a brutal but swifter option in getting the country back on a firm financial basis.
Whatever the case it looks like a return to the sad,bad old days of the 50’s where Ireland depended on immigrant money to keep the country ticking over
Irish bank deposits up 0.7% in August
In July, deposits were falling at an annual rate of 0.8% but last month deposits increased by 0.7% compared to August 2011.
Private sector deposits from outside Ireland grew by €712m during the month.
Even though banks appear to be slowly, repairing their balance sheets this seems to be happening at the expense of any new lending.
The volume of retail sales rose by 0.4% in August compared to July, while there was an annual decrease of 0.6%.
The CSO said what when car sales are excluded, the volume of retail sales rose by 0.1% in August from July, while there was an annual increase of 0.4%.
Breaking down the figures, they show that sales in bars rose by 3.2% in August, while sales of hardware, paints, and glass increased by 2.1%.
The largest decreases were seen in sales of furniture and lighting (3.5%), clothing and footwear (2.3%) and fuel (2.2%).
NEW FIGURES show no slowdown in job losses. The number of people at work in the April-June period fell by nearly 14,000, the biggest three-month fall in a year, according to the Central Statistics Office. The figures appear to dash hopes that employment growth is at hand.
They show there were 1,783,400 people employed on a seasonally adjusted basis in the second quarter, meaning there are 357,000 fewer people at work since employment peaked in 2007.
Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton last night acknowledged the continued fallout from the collapse of the “bubble economy”, but said “the sectors on which we will build the future economy are now showing signs of growth”.
The CSO’s quarterly national household survey is the most comprehensive source of data on employment across the economy. It shows the downward trajectory in job numbers remains broad-based, with most sectors continuing to shed labour.
There were 13,700 fewer people at work in the April-June period compared to three months earlier when seasonal fluctuations are stripped out. Slightly larger numbers left the labour force entirely in the second quarter. This kept the rate of unemployment stable at 14.8 per cent of the labour force.
The survey shows employment in the construction sector has fallen below 100,000 for the first time since the bursting of the property bubble. It fell by another 4,000 on three months earlier to stand at 99,300. Five years ago, 273,000 worked in the industry. The construction sector has accounted for almost half of the total job losses since 2007.
The financial, insurance and real estate sectors employed 96,100 people in the April-June period. This was a decline of almost 4,000 over the quarter is a new post-crash low.
Leo Varadkar/Cycle Routes
Minister for unused roads Leo Varadkar has instructed the national road’s authority to examine possible future cycle paths. The first proposed public route is Dublin/Galway. The Minster stated he would shortly implement this scheme, as there was no money left in the country to pay for fuel as the Government has now given away all domestic fuel to maintain the statues quo with offshore fuel.
New figures from the Central Statistics Office show that inflation rose to 2% in the year to August.
How can one believe figures when nobody has any money left to spend? Inflation is now the end product to the myth of disposable income.
We invented the game and it’s not right that those Irish teams keep winning…………im going to tell my mummy and take my ball home, so there!
Siptu workers at Aer Lingus to strike
This is unlikely to happen, as SIPTU were unable to find any genuine workers.
Get lost’ says Adams
They should be told to get lost.”
Surly Jerry you mean disappeared.
Department of Health explanation on emotional disorders
A nervous wreck: a man who has a house payment, a truck payment, a wife and a girlfriend…. and they’re all a month late!
A total of 6.6 million visits to Ireland by overseas residents were recorded in 2011, an increase of 500,000 on the previous year.
The number of nights spent in Ireland by foreign travellers also rose by 6.1 per cent, from 48 million in 2010 to 50.9 million last year. Hotel bed nights were up 13 per cent, while nights spent with friends and relatives were down.