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The Council of State, Atheists and Impaired Politicians


Michael D Higgins, our esteemed President, is about to convene a meeting of the Council of State to help him decide whether of not he should refer the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act to the Supreme Court for a test of its constitutionality.  If the court judges that the Act is constitutional, it becomes bullet-proof and can never again be challenged on those grounds.  On the other hand, the court might strike the Act down in its entirety and then we’re all back on the same merry-go-round yet again – the government’s nightmare outcome, and mine too, if I must be honest.  Another six months of listening to the Iona Institute people would just about finish me off.

michael d higgins

The President isn’t obliged to take whatever advice the Council offers him, but he must consult them before he sends an Act to the Supreme Court, so I thought it might be useful to explain how this Council is made up. According to Article 31 of the constitution, it consists of the current Taoiseach and Tánaiste, or, for those unfamiliar with ludicrously pompous feudal Gaelic terms, the prime minister and deputy prime minister.  Likewise, the Chief Justice, the President of the High Court, the Chairmen of the Dáil and the Senate (soon to be abolished if Enda gets his way) and the Attorney General. All former prime ministers are automatically members, though they must be willing and able, which brings up a difficulty I’ll come back to in a minute. In addition, the President can appoint seven nominees at his absolute discretion. The current members are as follows.

Enda Kenny Taoiseach
Éamon Gilmore Deputy taoiseach
Sean Barrett Chairman of the Dail
Paddy Burke Chairman of the Senate
Susan Denham Chief Justice
Nicholas Kearns President of the High Court
Maire Whelan Attorney General
Mary Robinson Former President
Mary McAleese Former President
Liam Cosgrave Former Taoiseach
Albert Reynolds Former Taoiseach
John Bruton Former Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern Former Taoiseach
Brian Cowen Former Taoiseach
John Murray Former Chief Justice
Thomas Finlay Former Chief Justice
Ronan Keane Former Chief Justice
Michael Farrell, Presidential Nominee
Deirdre Heenan, Presidential Nominee
Catherine McGuinness, Presidential Nominee
Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh, Presidential Nominee
Ruairí McKiernan, Presidential Nominee
Sally Mulready, Presidential Nominee
Gerard Quinn Presidential Nominee

The first hurdle occurs with our beloved deputy Prime Minister, Éamon Gilmore.  Éamon, you see, describes himself as an agnostic, but because our constitution is so deeply mired in the confessional swamp that was the Ireland of 1937, every member of the Council must swear an oath, as follows:

In the presence of Almighty God I, Joe Soap, do solemnly and sincerely promise and declare that I will faithfully and conscientiously fulfil my duties as a member of the Council of State.

As a non-believer, Éamon found himself conflicted by this and took legal advice, but it seems he’s happy enough to swear in the presence of a deity he doesn’t believe in, and I suppose he’s right.  After all, the wording seems carefully constructed to give atheists a way out, since it doesn’t require him to swear to Almighty God, as happens in the courts, unless a witness chooses the option toaffirm.  It simply requires him to promise and declare in the presence of the non-existent deity.  Look, he’s a politician, well-used to believing two different things at the same time. Besides, the preamble to the Constitution is far worse.  How’s this for inclusivity?

In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred We, the people of Éire, Humbly acknowledging all our obligations to our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ, Who sustained our fathers through centuries of trial, Gratefully remembering their heroic and unremitting struggle to regain the rightful independence of our Nation, And seeking to promote the common good, with due observance of Prudence, Justice and Charity,  so that the dignity and freedom of the individual may be assured, true social order attained, the  unity of our country restored, and concord established with other nations,Do hereby adopt, enact, and give to ourselves this Constitution.

Nice.  How does that work with Jews, Muslims, Hindus and people of no religion who also happen to be Irish citizens?  The most holy trinity from whom all authority derives.  That’s a theocracy, last time I checked. How does our Justice Minister, Alan Shatter, who happens to be a Jew, feel about his constitution acknowledging his obligations to our divine lord, Jesus Christ?

That’s Ireland for you, and Britain too, where the Queen is the head of the established church, lest anyone be too quick to sneer, but let’s get on with the Council of State.

Besides the atheist who’s happy to swear in the presence of a god he doesn’t believe in, we have five former prime ministers, four of whom assiduously dodged the problem of the X Case judgement.  One of them, John Bruton, is already on record as opposing the current Act on religious grounds.  Two others —  Brian Cowen and the man in the cupboard, Bertie Ahern — are responsible for crashing our country into a gigantic brick wall while another, Albert Reynolds, declined to give evidence to a tribunal of inquiry into planning corruption on the grounds of cognitive impairment.  In other words, he couldn’t remember an Irish military helicopter ferrying him to a secret meeting with a property developer and he had no memory of the government Learjet diverting to an unscheduled rendezvous in Bermuda.  Poor man’s mind is gone, sadly.  And yet, here he is, sitting on the Council of State.

Old Liam Cosgrave meanwhile, still hale and hearty at 92 years of age, will go down in history as the Taoiseach who voted against his own government on contraception legislation due to his strong Catholic beliefs.

There isn’t any set procedure laid down for how the meeting will be conducted, however, and Michael D is a wily old guy, so perhaps it will be closely circumscribed.  He might decide simply to ask them a legal question: in your opinion, is this Act constitutional or not?

If we exclude Brian Cowen on the arbitrary grounds that he completed the crash started by Ahern, that he’s only a small-town solicitor who never practised much anyway and that I just don’t like him, we still have eight senior lawyers who should be able to advise Michael D dispassionately. What will the others advise him on?  Who knows? I suppose Da Bert could give him a tip on ahorse and Cowen could offer his opinions on nude portraiture.  Bruton could entertain everyone with his famous party laugh and Cosgrave could re-enact his world-renowned Crossing of the Floor, the original Riverdance but with added hypocrisy.

Let’s not forget the ferment of rage that must be taking place in this assembly of the great and the good.  How does the chairman of the Senate feel about the current prime minister who supports this act and yet who wants to abolish the very House he presides over?  I’m only speaking personally here, but I think I’d feel tempted to shaft Enda one last time before being abolished.  Clearly, Mr Burke is a far more professional individual than I am and would never dream of sinking so low, but still, human nature is what it is.  I’d knife him.

I’m fascinated by the process, since it’s not laid down anywhere that I can find.  Where will they hold the meeting?  What time will it happen?  Will Michael D supply the drink or will they all turn up with slabs?  Will they drive or come in taxis?  Will they have a barbecue?  Will someone make a CD mix? The weather is really great at the moment although you can’t be too careful.  Lately there’s been a lot of thunderstorms but that’s to be expected with all the heat, so maybe they should set up a gazebo and everyone could huddle inside it together if there’s a sudden downpour.  It would make for a cheerful atmosphere, and they’ll get along much better after getting to know each other. I’d say they’ll make burgers and maybe put out some nachos with a cheese dip.  What do you think?  Spare ribs?  Red stuff all over your face?  Send Bruton down to the off-licence for more ice. Michael D might even read them some of his poetry before leading them to the overwhelming question: what’ll we do? Ah, I don’t know.  That’s why I’m not the president, the chief justice or even a spiv in a yellow suit hiding in a cupboard.

Thankfully.

 

VIA

http://bocktherobber.com/2013/07/the-council-of-state-atheists-and-impaired-politicians/

Thousands of homes targeted for seizure by banks


images

BANKS have initiated legal action to repossess thousands of houses and apartments, it has emerged.

This is despite a loophole in the law blocking repossessions.

A new report estimates that lenders have issued legal proceedings to take properties off up to 44,000 borrowers.

These are made up of residential and buy-to-let properties, according to calculations contained in a new report by Davy Stockbrokers.

An analysis estimates that what it calls non-cooperative borrowers number between 23,700 and 43,700.

FEARS

Letters threatening legal action have been sent to these borrowers.

And there are fears that large numbers of properties, particularly buy-to-lets, will be repossessed.

Legal action to repossess properties has been taken by both AIB and Bank of Ireland in around one in five of arrears cases, according to the report by Davy‘s Conail Mac Coille.

Ulster Bank said that up to a third of its property owners in arrears were making no payments at all. The bank said it would not hesitate to repossess in these cases.

Strong demand for family-type homes and the presence in the market of large numbers of cash buyers mean that a flood of newly repossessed properties can be absorbed.

A number of banks were also likely to keep repossessed properties on their books, take the rental income and slowly release them on the market, Mr Mac Coille wrote. Changes in the law to restore the right of lenders to repossess properties have been passed by the Houses of the Oireachtas and are expected to become law soon.

Davy reckons that arrears will keep rising this year, with large numbers of homeowners struggling to repay largely due to income decreases rather than job losses.

Two-thirds of those in arrears are in a job, according to comments by Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan.

For large numbers of borrowers in trouble the mortgage repayments are so high they represent more than half of their income, Davy reported, citing unpublished Central Bank studies.

A separate MABS (Money Advice and Budgeting Service) report found that distressed borrowers had just €777 a month left, after paying for utilities, food and childcare. But the mortgage was around €500 a month.

SPLIT

Banks will have to write down up to €11.5bn of mortgage debt. Most of this will be in the form of split mortgages where part of the mortgage owed is put to one side, and in most cases will probably have to be written off at the end of the mortgage term.

But one-third of borrowers are in such a bad financial position that a debt writedown will not work. These are mainly buy-to-let investors.

Half of investor mortgages are paying interest only. Despite this, almost 30,000 out of 150,000 buy-to-let mortgages are in arrears.

Irish Independent

via Thousands of homes targeted for seizure by banks – Independent.ie.

Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly says current republic a ‘perversion’ of 1916 ideals


 

“The republic that was created from the ashes of the rising was a perversion of the human rights ideals of 1916,” the outgoing Ombudsman and Information Commissioner Emily O’Reilly has said.

Addressing the first evening of the MacGill Summer School in Co Donegal, she said people were not yet fully aware of what a real republic looked like. Delivering the 13th annual John Hume lecture, Ms O’Reilly said it was particularly appropriate that the lecture was named after the Nobel peace prize winner as he was a “pre-eminent human rights defender”.

She criticised the successors of the 1916 leaders, accusing them of franchising the State “to a private organisation called the Catholic Church, shedding in particular its responsibility for the education and health systems, and thereby allowing little actual space for the elected leaders of this republic to play their role in pursuing the happiness and prosperity of the nation”.

It was difficult for citizens to remind themselves that “we are actually the ones in charge”.

This was a difficulty, she added, that the executive and judiciary also struggled with. Referring to former attorney general Peter Sutherland, she said his core assertion made in a speech earlier this year, that the courts were “inappropriately forced to decide not alone what our values in this republic are or should be, but also to divine what the elected representatives of the people think about those values”.

She said that while the courts had too much unwanted power, parliament spent “much of its time ducking and diving and pretending it has no power whatsoever”. She accused the executive of “planting its boot far too firmly on the neck of the parliament and wielding power in a manner never envisaged by the Constitution.”

Quoting President Michael D Higgins, she said: “There is a deep-seated anti-intellectualism prevalent in Irish life,” and that our political and cultural life was marked by the false notion that one person’s ignorance was as good as another’s knowledge. She turned to the Constitution, quoting article 28.4.1 which states that the Government “shall be responsible to Dáil Éireann”.

“Quite clearly this is not the case. The nub of the problem is that parliament does not take itself seriously,” she said. “Our failures are essentially human rights failures and we should be particularly alive to the fact that, never more so than at a time of recession and austerity, are bodies such as a Human Rights Commission and an Equality Authority needed to make sure that in a decade’s time we won’t be weeping our way through another pitiful cataloguing of State-inflicted abuse, albeit with a modern twist.”

In his opening address, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he looked to 2016 and the centenary of the Easter Rising. “To be a real republic, Ireland has to be a sovereign republic,” he said. “We will strive . . . and work even harder so that we will become the best small country in the world for business, to raise a family and to grow old with dignity and respect. This will be the republic of 2016.”

via Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly says current republic a ‘perversion’ of 1916 ideals – Social Affairs & News from Ireland & Abroad | The Irish Times – Mon, Jul 29, 2013.

Irish Economy:- Hold Your Breath – We’ll be Underwater for a Very Long Time –


Kevin O’Rourke links to an interesting paper by Jeff Frankel which discusses different ways recessions are measured.  The standard European measurement says that when an economy falls two quarters in a row it is officially in recession (we know all about that given our official double-dip).  This measurement has the advantage of being statistically clear and simple.  This, though, can lead to false readings.  For instance, over two years the economy declines in half of the eight quarters – leaving it much lower.  If, though, none of those quarters were consecutive, then according to the European measurement, there was no recession even though output has fallen.  This may be an extreme case but it shows how quirky this measurement can be.

The US has a different way of measuring recessions.  According to Frankel:

‘In the United States, the arbiter of when recessions begin and end is the Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).    The NBER Committee does not use that rule of thumb (Europe’s two consecutive quarters of decline), nor any other quantifiable rule . . . When it makes its judgments it looks beyond the most recently reported GDP numbers to include also employment and a variety other indicators, in part because output measures are subject to errors and revisions.   The Committee sees nothing special in the criterion of two consecutive quarters.’

The problem with this approach is that there is no single definitive measurement so disputes easily arise.

I’d like to introduce another way to measure a recession.  It is based on the sinking-ship metaphor.  A ship starts sinking.  It eventually stops and starts to rise again.  While it’s rising back to the surface we can say that it is in recovery mode.  However, it will remain below water until it gets back to the surface.

Similarly with an economy:  an economy goes into decline, eventually stops falling and starts rising.  However, it remains metaphorically below water until it returns to the point at which it had started sinking.  If an economy is below its pre-recession levels it remains ‘recessed’.

Take, for instance, the US Great Depression in the 1930s.  The economy tanked big time in 1929.  However, by 1935 the economy had experienced nearly three years of rising GDP, employment, consumer spending and investment.  However, no one then (or now) would have said that the Great Depression was over by 1935 – it was still well below its 1929 level.

Let’s apply the sinking-ship measurement to the Irish economy, using the IMF projections out to 2018.

GDPperC

In 2007, the economy was generating a little over €43,000 for every woman, man and child. As seen, according to the IMF projections, even by 2018 the economy will not have returned to the 2007 level.  It won’t happen until 2019.  In other words, the economy will remain under-water for 11 years – in other words, ‘recessed’.

Of course, this is GDP – which is flattered by multi-national accounting practices (profit-tourism, etc.).  What does it look like when we measure GNP per capita?  Here we use the Government’s own assumptions in their end-of-the-decade scenario.

GNPperC

When looking at this domestic measurement (with all its faults) we find that the economy will be underwater for 14 years.  14 years.  We won’t find ourselves above pre-recession levels until 2022.  And if that’s not depressing enough, the ESRI’s John Fitzgerald estimates that even our GNP figures are over-stated given the presence of re-domiciled multi-nationals.  The real GNP figures are substantially lower which suggests that a return to the surface could take even longer based on projected trends.

Staying with the metaphor, when the ship returns to the surface what kind of shape will it be in?  Even though the economy has returned to the surface, many people will still be underwater.   The Government’s end-of-the-decade scenario projects double-digit unemployment by 2019.  Average real wages may not return to pre-recession levels until 2020 and even later.  How many will still be living in deprivation, how many in poverty, how many will have emigrated?  The ship may be back on the surface, hundreds of thousands won’t be.

To give another idea of what we’re facing into, let’s use the Government’s assumptions to track the ‘jobs recession’.

NumbersAtwork

We won’t return to pre-crisis levels of employment until 2024.  That’s 16 years under-water.

So when we start growing again – GDP, domestic demand, employment – just remember:  we will have to grow for a long-time just to get back to where everything started collapsing.  In other words, the ship may start rising soon but we will be underwater for a very long time.

Hopefully, you can hold your breath.

By Michael Taft,

– See more at: http://www.irishleftreview.org/2013/07/26/hold-breath-underwater-long-time/#sthash.RO78Qpia.dpuf

VIA

http://www.irishleftreview.org/2013/07/26/hold-breath-underwater-long-time/

Politics and Money Irish Style


25

Lowry Tapes led to raid by Revenue

THE Revenue Commissioners‘ raid on the home of independent TD Michael Lowry was a “direct result” of his statement in the Lowry Tapes that he “never declared” a sum read full article

Note

 The number of complaints received by the ethics watchdog last year which related directly to Tipperary North TD Michael Lowry is 388

19

Not a bad old life for skint Quinlan on the Riviera, n’est-ce pas?

IF one were to liken the boom and the bust that followed to a game of musical chairs, former King Midas to Ireland’s great and good Derek Quinlan didn’t just grab a chair when the music read full article

independent.ie

22

Varadkar bid to prevent TDs abusing travel privileges fails

AN oIreachtas committee chaired by the Ceann Com-hairle Sean Barrett has rebuffed attempts by Transport Minister Leo Varadkar to draw up guidelines to prevent TDs from abusing their tra read full article

independent.ie

11

With €2.5m debts plus tax arrears, what’s keeping Minister Perry?

PRESSURE mounted on junior minister John Perry to resign last night after it emerged that he will be highly unlikely to be able to pay off his €2.5m debts – even if he sold all of his a read full article

independent.ie

24

Jailings for not paying tiny fines up 25 per cent

THE number of people being sent to jail for failing to pay paltry court fines has soared by 25 per cent in just two years. read full article

2

Budget will be tough, Gilmore warns householders

HARD-pressed householders have been warned not to expect any respite from the forthcoming Budget.read full article

independent.ie

16

Court clears way for people to sue individual bankers

A HIGH Court judge has cleared the way for aggrieved customers to initiate private criminal prosecutions against bank staff. read full article

independent.ie

4

Childers: Labour figures bullied me

INDEPENDENT MEP Nessa Childers, who resigned from the Labour Party last week, has sensationally claimed that she was subjected to a campaign of “overt bullying” by senior part read full article

independent.ie

 

 

Meetings of the council take place behind closed doors and no detailed record kept read full article

irishtimes.com

‘NO COMMENT’ SPOKESMAN REFUSES TO ANSWER QUESTIONS ON EVERYONE’S LIPS


The Sunday Independent posed the following questions to Minister of State for Small Business John Perry but he refused to comment. A spokesman said: “As this matter currently remains before the courts, Minister Perry will be making no comment.”

In relation to the loan Mr Perry agreed with Bank of Ireland to help pay his outstanding tax bill of approximately €100,000, what security – if any – was provided to the Bank of Ireland?

• Why did Mr Perry tell Danske Bank officials that he was friends with Bank of Ireland chief executive Richie Boucher? What would this have to do with any decision the bank would make on extending credit to him? Did he expect it to make a difference?

• Why did Mr Perry meet Danske officials in his Dail office? Did he not consider this to be an inappropriate use of that office? Did he think a meeting held in a minister’s office would in any way influence Danske Bank officials in their treatment of him?

• Can Mr Perry explain his remark to Danske Bank officials on January 31 last, where he accused them of being engaged in a form of bullying? Why did he go on to ask the bank’s officials if they treated all their customers in the same way? Does he consider it appropriate to have referred to the bank’s relations with other customers given his position as a government minister?

via ‘NO COMMENT’ SPOKESMAN REFUSES TO ANSWER QUESTIONS ON EVERYONE’S LIPS – Independent.ie.

Former Anglo Irish Bank bosses claim media lynch mob ahead of trial


Lawyers for disgraced Anglo Irish Bank chief Sean Fitzpatrick fear a media witch hunt when he finally goes to trial next year.

They have also claimed the Irish media are fuelling a ‘lynch mob’ mentality against Fitzpatrick and other Anglo bosses.

The comments were made as Fitzpatrick’s lawyers sought the early appointment of a trial judge to deal with disclosure.

They claim the appointment is necessary to prevent ‘a media frenzy whipping up a lynch mob mentality’ in relation to the upcoming trial of former Anglo Irish Bank executives according to the Irish Times.

The report says the trial of the bank’s former chairman Seán Fitzpatrick and two former directors was before Judge Martin Nolan at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in order to check on the progress of the case.

Fitzpatrick, William McAteer and Pat Whelan have been charged with 16 counts of allegedly providing unlawful financial assistance to individuals to buy shares in the bank.

Judge Nolan said the case would be dealt with in the usual manner.

The Irish Times says that lawyers for the men and for the State all stressed that that they felt it was necessary for the smooth running of the case to appoint a judge now to deal with the large volume of material and issues which may arise leading up to the trial on January 14th next.

Whelan’s lawyer Brendan Grehan said “I don’t think this case can be progressed to trial without a judge taking charge of it now.”

“Applications are going to arise, apart from issues of relevance and privilege in relation to disclosure in the case.

“It would also be appropriate to appoint someone to take charge of the trial now who can give directions not just to the parties but also to the media.

“In the six months leading up to the trial it is vital that an air of calm be restored to the public from which a jury will be drawn.

“We simply cannot have a fair trial take place where a media frenzy is whipping up a lynch mob mentality.”

State lawyer Uná Ní Raifeartaigh admitted: “The issue of publicity is of concern to the DPP. It is important that in the last six months the media would be mindful in matters that may ultimately lead to the postponement of the trial.”

via Former Anglo Irish Bank bosses claim media lynch mob ahead of trial | Irish News | IrishCentral.

Public Inquiry · It is practically impossible to challenge the power of state corruption


The following editorial in today’s Irish Examiner is worth reproducing in full.

The header asks: Why are we pathetically complacent?

I don’t’ think the Irish people are complacent. I think rather they have, over the decades, being rendered totally powerless by the sheer weight of corruption within the political/administrative system.

Irish citizens can see the corruption, they are extremely angry about it, particularly since September 2008, but because the governing system is so infected with the disease it is, short of a revolution, almost impossible to make any serious challenge to the power of state corruption.

Challenging corruption – Why are we pathetically complacent?

Friday, July 26, 2013

It is not an exaggeration to say that the country was convulsed in the run up to the passage of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill through the Oireachtas.

Tens of thousands of people marched, every media platform was dominated by debate on the issue. Croziers were dusted off and swung like broadswords in a way that once commanded obedience. Taoiseach Enda Kenny showed an unexpected ruthlessness to get the legislation passed.

We had, in Irish terms at least, a spectacular and almost unheard of form of protest — politicians risking careers on a point of principle.

It was, whichever side of the debate you stood on, a matter of right or wrong. A position had to be taken, remaining neutral was not an option.

Yet, and though the ink is barely dry on the abortion legislation, another manifestation of this society’s justice system’s dysfunction and ongoing failures, our seeming indifference to allegations of corruption — or the innocence and good name of those accused of it — presents itself and there’s hardly a game-changing ripple across the public consciousness.

There is certainly no prospect of 40,000 people marching through the streets of our capital to protest at yet another Irish outcome to an Irish problem.

Is it that we don’t care? Is it that five years after our banking collapse and not a single conviction to show for society-breaking years of Wild West banking that we are a beaten, abject people who have come to accept that for some people accountability is as remote and unlikely a prospect as levitation?

The collapse of the planning and corruption trial earlier this week because a witness is too ill to give evidence has served nobody well, not even the businessman, the councillor and the two former councillors in the dock. Though the principle of innocent until proven otherwise must always apply, too many important questions remain unanswered.

This one case may put the issue into a sharp, if fleeting, focus but there are myriad examples of our failure to adequately deal with the whiff of corruption.

Speaking to the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee, former financial regulator Matthew Elderfield put it in the gentlest terms when he chided that we do not have a system capable of holding individuals to account or tackling white-collar crime.

How could it be otherwise? A report from that committee suggests that fewer than 60 state employees are focussed on white-collar crime. This figure includes all relevant gardaí, Central Bank officials and the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement staff assigned to the problem. We probably have more dog wardens.

It is surely, despite the occasional protest from cornered politicians, naive to imagine this is accidental. If it is, like our tribunals, it is profoundly under-whelming and utterly unequal to the challenge. More likely it is another example of our enthusiasm for rules but our fatal distaste for implementing them.

There is great, chest-filling talk about political reform, about a new political party even and changing the culture of how a citizen interacts with the state. Sadly, all of that will stand for nothing more than a cynical diversion unless we have a policing, regulatory and justice system capable of, and most importantly, enthusiastic about, investigating allegations of corruption.

It is said that a society gets the politicians it deserves and that may well be true, but it is absolutely certain that a society must suffer the consequences of the behaviours it tolerates. The evidence is all around us.

via Public Inquiry · It is practically impossible to challenge the power of state corruption.

Me Must Defend Our Democratic Right!


The following statement was issued to the media in Cork this morning, on behalf of Cork’s ‘for DEMOCRACY!’ group.

A serious issue arises from the weekend’s events in Cork that should concern everyone.  A concerted effort was made by officials claiming to represent Cork City Council to stop the activities of the ‘for DEMOCRACY!’ group.  The group have organised an Anti-Austerity / Pro-Democracy stall in Patrick’s Street every Saturday for nearly a year, distributing leaflets and speaking with the public.

On Saturday, in successive incidents, up to six individuals approached the group’s information table to demand that the leaflet distribution stop, also demanding that the group stop speaking with the public.  Diarmaid Ó Cadhla, spokesperson for the group, said that “despite being advised that we were entitled to be on the street the officials demanded that we ‘move on’, they claimed authority from Cork City Council for doing so.”

At one stage the speaker at the stall was man-handled while addressing the public, at other stages the officials lined up in front of the stall, face to face with members of the group – invading personal space in a threatening manner.

Ó Cadhla said, “Thankfully the Gardaí came to the scene and after some discussion they advised the officials that we were acting within our rights and our work continued uninterrupted.”

Mr. Ó Cadhla says that the ‘for DEMOCRACY!’ group will be lodging an official complaint and is already in contact with City Hall in this regard.

Ó Cadhla said “apparently City Council decided that last Saturday was a ‘festive day’ and for ‘fun’, our likes were not wanted … street performance was organised for entertainment and public money spent on it.”

Diarmaid Ó Cadhla noted that “the incidents on Saturday follow a number of earlier attacks on our work against Austerity made by Councillors and Management at City Hall”.  He continued, “whether these incidents are related or just some officials ‘going maverick’, it remains a most serious matter – either way we want clarification and an apology from City Council”.

Mr. Ó Cadhla asked “Why does City Council feel it should stop citizens discussing the lack of democracy in our country/city and the unjust imposition of policy on the people?”

He also asked “Why does City Council feel that the people of Cork need more ‘festive’ and ‘fun’ days while so many thousands of families are facing destitution?”

Given that the Constitutional role of Local Government is to provide a “forum for the democratic representation of local communities” why isn’t City Council providing such a forum for the people? rather than distract them with trivia and try to silence anyone who speaks out?

Further information:

Diarmaid Ó Cadhla 086-3805005

Cork for DEMOCRACY! c/o Ionad an Phobail, 99 Sráid na Dúghlaise, Corcaigh.

Note: It is understood that the event organising was undertaken by a Dublin based company, Emergent Events, who were sponsored and assisted by Cork City Council

via Me Must Defend Our Democratic Right!.

Beleaguered Perry owed more than €100,000 to taxman


Junior  minister John Perry’s position has become increasingly tenuous after it emerged he had tax arrears of €100,000 with the Revenue Commissioners.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny yesterday gave a less than ringing endorsement to the minister and speculation has already begun about his successor as Small Business Minister.

Court documents also reveal Mr Perry told Danske Bank, to whom he owes €2.5m, that he “knew Richie Boucher of Bank of Ireland” during negotiations on his loans.

The documents also show Mr Perry accusing the bank of “a form of bullying” and alluded to the personal consequences of actions by the bank “with his job”.

Mr Kenny said he has spoken with Mr Perry about his financial difficulties this week.

And the Taoiseach has also discussed the matter with Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore as concern within the Coalition over Mr Perry’s position mounts.

However, it is not clear if the Taoiseach or Tanaiste were aware of Mr Perry’s tax arrears – as neither Government leader is commenting.

But Mr Perry told Danske Bank in January 2012 that Bank of Ireland had agreed to give him a 10-year loan to help him address tax arrears of about €100,000, according to Commercial Court documents.

But it is not clear if the minister has since cleared the arrears with Revenue.

Last night, opposition parties called on Mr Perry (pictured) to make a statement on his finances as the reference to tax arrears piled the pressure on the minister.

Mr Perry has six weeks to repay €2.5m after he and and his wife Marie consented to a judgment for that amount against them at the Commercial Court over unpaid loans on Monday.

Mr Kenny said Mr Perry’s case was “indicative” of a number of business people across the country who have got into financial difficulty. I don’t really want to say anymore about John Perry’s particular problem.

“I spoke to him on Sunday and obviously they are working on that for the future,” he said.

Speaking on Mid-West Radio in Mayo, Mr Kenny said Mr Perry was committed to continuing his work as Small Business Minister.

“Obviously he has worked exceptionally hard in terms of his ministry. He’s got a court judgment to deal with here now in respect of the next five or six weeks,” he said.

Mr Gilmore’s spokesman said the Tanaiste reiterated that Mr Perry and his wife should be given the “time and space” to deal with the issues.

He also confirmed the Taoiseach and the Tanaiste had a “brief conversation” on the matter.

Mr Kenny’s spokesman also would not comment on the tax arrears question.

“The Taoiseach is not going to comment on the details of the case as the court proceedings progress,” the spokesman said.

But Fianna Fail finance spokesman Michael McGrath said it would not be acceptable for Mr Perry, as Minister of State for Small Business, to preside over businesses that were not meeting their taxation obligations to the State.

“In my view, on that issue alone, his position is very much called into question,” he said.

Mr Perry also told Danske Bank that AIB had agreed to give him an 11-year loan to pay €125,000 to other creditors and his other lenders had agreed to continue facilities on an interest only basis, minutes of meetings state.

The minutes relate to some of a number of meetings held between Danske and Mr Perry about delays in making repayments on a loan of €2.4m made to him and his wife in October 2011.

It also emerged that when the bank indicated last january that it would seek judgment or appoint a receiver if satisfactory proposals were not provided, Mr Perry expressed shock at the bank’s “aggressive approach”.

Irish Independent

via Beleaguered Perry owed more than €100,000 to taxman – Independent.ie.

College asks its ex-president to repay expenses


Waterford Institute of Technology has asked its former president Kieran Byrne to repay some expenses incurred during his time in office that it claims were of personal benefit to him.

He was not reappointed to a second term in 2011 after details emerged of spending by his office that peaked at €630,000 in 2008 and included serious breaches of spending controls in areas such as hospitality and taxis. In total, €3.7m was spent by the college’s office of president from 2004-11.

The WIT governing body’s decision not to reappoint him is understood to be the subject of a legal challenge by Mr Byrne against the college, where he was director and later president since 2001.

WIT has now reviewed spending by his office from 2007-11 to identify any spending that could be deemed of personal benefit to him.

In a letter to the Higher Education Authority (HEA), his successor as president, Ruaidhrí Neavyn, and WIT governing body chairman Donal Ormonde, say the college has sent Mr Byrne a claim for reimbursement.

The Irish Examiner sent WIT a number of questions on the nature and scale of the expenses it claims were of personal benefit to Mr Byrne. A spokesperson said the college could not comment for legal reasons.

The WIT letter of Jun 27 to the HEA was forwarded by the Department of Education to the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which has published it on the Oireachtas website.

via College asks its ex-president to repay expenses | Irish Examiner.

It (fraud) will continue until you no longer give your consent


The following very strong, very revealing letter was published in the Irish Examiner last Saturday.

Beware third party rules on mortgage transfers

“In our view, the code could potentially slow the increase in mortgage arrears in Ireland, and may allow lenders to start repossession proceedings sooner.

“We view this as a credit positive for the senior notes in outstanding residential mortgage backed securities.”

Let’s translate this quote from the Standard & Poor’s ratings agency as they commented on the new Central Bank code on mortgage arrears.

The important line is the second one. Your mortgage was sold to third parties by your bank. These third parties are hedge funds, insurance companies, etc.

These are the senior note holders. Your bank was paid in full for your mortgage by these institutions. Your bank now acts as a debt collector for these third parties. Basically, they bought your promise to pay from the banks.

The Irish Central Bank rules clearly state that a debt cannot be sold on to third party investors without your consent. If it was then the debt is null and void.

The next question to ask yourself is was your mortgage sold on to investors? The answer to this question is the same as the one about the bear, the woods and toilet facilities he used.

So unless you received a letter stating your mortgage was no longer owned by your bank then your mortgage is null and void.

This is just another example of the multi-layered fraud that continues daily in this country, all perpetrated by the suited and booted ones.

It will continue until you no longer give your consent.

Barry Fitzgerald

Lissarda

Cork

via Public Inquiry · It (fraud) will continue until you no longer give your consent.

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