The number of complaints received by the ethics watchdog last year which related directly to Tipperary North TD Michael Lowry is 388
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
A HIGH Court judge has cleared the way for aggrieved customers to initiate private criminal prosecutions against bank staff. read full article
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
Tapes show Anglo Irish boss demands
Anglo Irish Bank bosses were ordered to go down to the Central Bank with “arms swinging” to demand a multibillion-euro taxpayer bailout, latest leaked tapes reveal. Also in this Section. Man quizzed over double murder · Fast-growing firms create 90 …
See all stories on this topic »
German media fury at jibes of Anglo bankers
On Tuesday morning Dan Mulhall, the Irish Ambassador to Germany, gave an upbeat assessment of Ireland’s economic recovery and its EU presidency on Germany’s equivalent of RTÉ Radio 1. Just 24 hours later, he had a far less pleasant task: sending an …
Revelations of the behaviour and attitude of Anglo-Irish Bank executives before and after the introduction of the bank guarantee in September 2008 were stomach churning, the Minister for Transport, Leo Varadkar, has said. Speaking in Dublin as he …
Anti-austerity campaigners ask for three senior bankers to be charged read full article
This proposed prostitution law is going to run into the same problems as all the other attempts to deal with the subject because it’s fundamentally not amenable to logic. I personally find the notion of prostitution revolting, but that’s not a reason to ban it. I also find Youth Defence, Bono and Fianna Fáil repulsive […]read full article
Connection between Ireland’s sovereign and banking debts remains intact read full article
Ireland is officially back in recession after the government’s planned export-led recovery took a hammering. read full article
The bad news comes after shocking revelations this week about Irish bankers’ attitudes to the billions of taxpayers’ money used to rescue the banks at the start of Ireland’s financial crisis. “The economy is still ‘flatlining’ and net exports are a …
Trustees chairman warns payment to Government puts scheme under severe financial strain read full article
Material given to the Quinn family, in its battle with the former Anglo Irish Bank, indicates what would be revealed in a banking inquiry read full article
Minister asks FG colleagues to reflect on Bill before voting against it read full article
Fine Gael TD for Wicklow to join two others and break Government ranks read full article
A Festival of Cruelty curated by as pure a curmudgeon as ever sprang from Eire’s grassy hills. Culturalfatwa looks beyond the haranguing to the true message of Tonight with Vincent Browne.
By any measure Tonight with Vincent Browne at the unearthly hour of 11pm on TV3 is a weird yet wonderful phenomenon. In fact, in a political landscape almost completely devoid of genuine debate, it might just be said to be unique.
Stranger still the fishies that swarm and nibble about in the associated twitter hashtag, #vinb. Here extreme lefty meets dedicated republican, hard core begrudger and random Twitter smartarse, and all on a roughly even footing. Within this tag swim small schools of wrigglers of the anti-bailout right (the Karl Wheelan/Paul Somerville shoal for want of a better term), and occasionally, even in these shallows, drifting thoughtlessly under a bridge you hear a faint shout, “TROLL!” Too late! A doughty rock lobster of the Fianna Fáil, Labour or (horror) Fine Gael variety has you held in its vice-like claws.
The #vinb tag, rightly described recently on Twitter by @soundmigration as a genuine social/sociological phenomenon, would repay study – maybe someone is already on it?
Moving out of ‘virtual pools’ for a moment what we have is simply a TV panel show presided over by the mighty Vincenzo. It’s extraordinarily hard to describe to the uninitiated this man of (apparently) lefty-liberal leanings. Of course his arsenal of ticks, shudders and eye-browy moves and gestures have been well mimicked, if not quite equalled, by the short-lived Mario Rosenstock sketches on the show. But beyond the baleful sighs and the eyes up to a heaven he doesn’t believe in, to a god that’s not taking calls, Vincenzo is as pure a curmudgeon as ever sprang from Eire’s grassy hills.
Besides a photographic memory stretching back eons there is his most dreadful weapon, the phrase “Just answer the question”. So strong is this stinger that it seems to have been the main reason that the Troika refused to meet either opposition or press on their last tour of inspection. It is deployed with limpet-like tenacity, the hapless victim (be they left, right or centre) is allowed to blather on at will for a brief period. Then “the question”.
“The question” is always of a “have you stopped beating your wife?” nature. It might be nice to think that a simple yes/no could be returned as an answer, but that would be far too easy! Rarely has the harried victim even the microseconds to draw breath, yet alone stretch to audible sound. “The question” is always completely ‘loaded’, entirely and intricately of arch Vincenzo design and almost never, ever, drawn from whatever has been the media pre-approved ‘argument’ or ‘side’ in any particular debate.
Some choice examples of this include asking Leo Varadkar, “Why did you put the ‘gun to head clause’ in the preamble to the Fiscal Compact Treaty?” (he also deployed this particular bludgeon during the first Compact Treaty debate with Micheál Martin and Simon Covney), asking Troika member Klaus Masuch, “did your taxi driver tell you how the Irish people are bewildered that we are required to pay unguaranteed bondholders billions of Euros for debts that the Irish people have no relation to or no bearing with, primarily to bail out or to ensure the solvency of European banks? And if the taxi driver had asked you that question, what would have been your response? That’s my first question”, or September’s evisceration of the hapless Kieran O’Donnell, “are you proud of what your party colleague, Phil Hogan, did in this instance – reassuring or assuring neighbours in this area that a Traveller family wouldn’t be housed in that area?”.
There are many other things that you are liable to see on Tonight with Vincent Browne that you will never see anywhere else on the Irish airways or, possibly, anywhere in the world.
There are the Festivals of Cruelty or bloodings, horrible rituals in which one of the major political parties supplies a young innocent for the specific purpose of a verbal savaging by Vincenzo. This seems to be based on the misguided notion that the victim will be steeled/tempered or toughened in some way. The repeat throwing of FG TD Paschal Donohoe into the metal box shows that particular theory up as a complete non-starter. The casual savaging of doe-eyed Paschal only seems to draw him back for more and at times even this seasoned anarchist antichrist feels like throwing a towel into the ring on his behalf. Seasoned ministers and party leaders generally will not be found even accidentally within a 50 mile radius of Vincenzo under any circumstances. In our lovely wee democracy in the year 2012 they are basically terrified of a ‘mere’ TV presenter. This is, obviously, hella cool.
There are times when an ‘ordinary head’, be they homemaker or community activist, is allowed to spout forth at and, occasionally, annihilate some stuffed shirt or other. There are times when an academic or expert is called out, though mind you one or two (Diarmuid Ferriter springs to mind) take to it like ducks to water. There are live embedded outside broadcasts from within protests ignored elsewhere on the airwaves. They have a presenter who reads viewers’ tweets, texts and comments out live, later reproducing them fully credited on a blog (politico.ie), responding in detail and often using that to generate debate in future shows.
This show never so much ends as fizzles out – usually in a bad-tempered, inconclusive and incoherent morass. Each ending is a tiny, beautiful example of another glib and easy closure (the sine non qua of most political broadcasts), deliberately and successfully elided. As a resigned Vicenzo stares directly into the void and mumbles something about the weather forecast the message is clear: if there is to be resolution or closure, indeed change of any stamp, it’s gonna have to come from out there beyond the TV screen, from you (yes, you!), the humble viewer.
The Labour party is in the midst of an internal storm. A storm the leadership is trying to control. We are not used to such events in the Labour party, associating them more with their partner FG and even more with the heyday of FF. However, heaves are not easy to organise or execute, just ask Richard Bruton and Leo Varadkar. It’s a game that requires huge political tact.
So the first thing to ask is why are Labour in this position? That’s simple, firstly they over promised at the election, the buck for that stops with the leader. Secondly, the perception is that Labour are being rolled over by FG. Eamon Gilmore has done himself no favours by being so determined to always show a united front with End Kenny. Distance and the odd falling out can destabilise governments but it is much better for your leadership.
The next question to ask is how serious are the rumours of a possible heave? They are pretty serious. I said at the start of the year that Eamon Gilmore was in a spot of bother and things have got worse since that. Labour are losing far too many personnel. The grassroots are feeling sidelined and angry. Now, we all know that in the normal course of events party grassroots don’t make the big decisions, however, once they start to get agitated they have enormous power as TDs feel the pressure and start to listen to people they are close to on the ground about the implications for their seat. All of those who have walked out of Labour parliamentary party are gone unless the leader changes. The only way to heal a rift is to move on from it and to do that, a leader must be changed. This is even true when a heave occurs. An FF leader never lost a heave vote. It’s what happed after that caused problems. Equally I have always maintained had Richard Bruton and Leo Varadkar and others not agreed to return to the FG front bench and held their nerve, Enda Kenny would not be Taoiseach today.
Labour are starting to realise that the only way they can convince people they are going to change and get tougher is if they start with a new face and perhaps also remove some others at cabinet. Pat Rabbitte and Brendan Howlin will be most certainly in the firing line.
Now, back up the horse, because all is not lost for Eamon Gilmore. He is rumoured to be talking to TDs. That’s a wise move, he needs to know what he’s dealing with then he needs a strategy. The first stage of this would be to try calm fears, and avoid an all out vote against him. Heaves are useless and get no where unless one of your front bench moves to support it. Gilmore can rest assured that he has strong support from his ‘old boys’ he has one weak link, Joan Burton. He needs to stop Joan making any attempts in the short term and just buy some time.
Joan has her own issues. She knows there are limits to what Labour can achieve. If she were to take over then she would certainly be expected to take a tougher line with FG and be far less chummy with them. That’s fine, she also knows that FG are desperate to remain in power and avoid an election so she could get a few big wins on that basis, but it would require brinkmanship and that will weaken the government. In reality such a strategy may start to halt the Labour decline, even gain them a few points but it wont be huge (a few points could be at least 10 seats saved though). However it’s unlikely the government would last full term, she would be looking at an election in 12 -18 months. Timing would be everything. She may well prefer if Gilmore could remain for another year and she could face such a strategy and timescale from next year. However, the opportunity may be presenting itself in the coming months. Timing is everything in such a strategy. This helps Gilmore as he may be able to keep Joan onside for the next while.
That’s valuable breathing space but then he needs to figure out how to use it. He needs to talk to Enda. The chummy façade needs to stop. FG need to realise that they are better off with Gilmore than whomever might replace him, therefore they need to find an issue that they can publicly disagree on, let it carry on, argue, and then allow Eamon a decisive victory that will shore up his support. It may hurt FG but its better than the alternative and if FG are really smart then they can surely find an issue that they know they can afford to lose on but matters to Labour.
That would allow Eamon Gilmore escape from his current predicament, but he’s on the ropes right now and there are a lot of ‘Ifs’ in that strategy. Those in Labour hoping for change need to be far more organised and need to know who they support. No matter how you look at it, Eamon Gilmore is now only Leader at the behest of Joan Burton, she can decide to loyally follow him until its too late (a bit like Micheál Martin did with Cowen) or she can ensure he is removed now and give Labour a fighting chance of showing a new image. The question is does she want the job? Such heaves require a certain steel, an ability to stand by what you do and accept the repercussions, they can even end your career. It needs enormous conviction. All sides will be tested in the months ahead
Leo Varadkar’s Constituency Newsletter
4:38 pm December 3, 2012 Chompsky
Plenty of transport budget gone into rail, cycle and road projects in D15.
Well, they don’t call him the ‘Minister for Transport’ for nothing.
More stroke politics
Voters have approved the children’s rights amendment to the Constitution but the scale of the No vote has come as a shock to the Government.
Barely a third of the electorate went to the polls with 58 per cent voting Yes to the amendment and 42 per cent No.
The prospect of a legal challenge to the result remains in light of last week’s Supreme Court ruling that the State had misused public money on its information campaign.
Constitutional law expert Paul Anthony McDermott said if it could be proved that most people did not make up their minds until they received the Government literature and were influenced by it, a credible challenge might be brought.
But, he said, overturning a referendum result would be “a nuclear remedy”.
Prominent No vote campaigner Kathy Sinnott said she hoped there would be a voter willing to take the challenge.
“I will help them in any way I can. This referendum is unsafe in legal terms because the result does not represent a fair choice on behalf of the people. Rules were broken by the Government and they spent our money on a one-sided and misinformed campaign to ensure a Yes vote,” she said.
The passage of the referendum will make it easier for the children of married parents to be adopted and will lower the threshold for proportionate State intervention in the family in exceptional circumstances.
Three constituencies recorded No majorities in the referendum when ballots were counted yesterday. They were Dublin North-West (50.39 per cent), Donegal South-West (56.47 per cent) and Donegal North-East (59.66 per cent).
Responding to criticism over the low turnout of 33.49 per cent, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said yesterday: “I can’t force people to vote.”
Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar, Fine Gael director of elections, said it was not the first referendum in which the turnout was low.
“In the fullness of time, few will remember the exact figures but history will record that on this day the Irish people decided to enshrine children’s rights in our Constitution. We have drawn a line under the past and now we begin anew.”
Asked if the Government would schedule Saturday votes again in light of the low turnout, Mr Varadkar attributed the turnout to “the nature of the referendum” rather than the day on which it was held. “I wouldn’t close the door on Saturday voting just yet.”
However, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, who said he was “disappointed” with the turnout, said Saturday polling was something the Government may have to look at again.
Geoffrey Shannon, the Government rapporteur on child protection, said he would forever remember “this day … I think of the many children and families our child protection system has failed over the years it’s a new beginning, it’s an acknowledgement of those for whom this amendment comes too late. It will refocus our child protection system. The State is now doing something to ensure children will not drift rudderless in our care system.”
Ombudsman for Children Emily Logan said “in the fullness of time we’ll realise and understand the importance of today … It’s a really important day for children” .
Minister of Health
The pill will be available over the counter and will be marked under the brand name “Apology”.
ITGWU objects to the introduction of controversial day shift working. A protest rally will take place outside the Dáil tomorrow evening to voice disapproval of this concept.
Alcohol awareness week set for Ireland next year
Ireland will have a week dedicated to highlighting the intoxicating benefits of Jameson’s, Guinness, and Magners cider
Minister of Finance
Michael Noonan stands by his pledge to lower cost of fillet steak, caviar, and tiramisu for the middle classes. However, he did hint that all state benefits paid to the working classes would have to be slashed to facilitate this concession. Wild applause was heard from Leo Varadkar.
Enda Kenny knelt in the confessional and said, “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned”.
“What is it, Enda?”
Enda said, “Father, I have committed sin. Every a day I suppress the truth from the public. The priest turned, looked at Enda, and said, I have good news. That isn’t a sin – it’s only a mistake” sure have we not being doing that ourselves for years.
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.
THE FINANCIAL difficulties of middle-income families who bought their home during the property boom have been highlighted by the wife of a Garda sergeant in a letter to a number of Government ministers.
The woman describes how a €1,400 monthly mortgage payment on a four-bedroom semi-detached family home bought seven years ago along with the repeated cuts to her husband’s wages have left them “living a nightmare”.
“. . . There are weeks when I can’t put food on the table. I call them ‘cornflakes days’ when all we eat all day is cornflakes . . .”
The woman wrote that even though her eldest child got enough points to go to a prestigious college they couldn’t afford the fees: “Imagine how upsetting that is?”
The letter – unsigned to protect her husband’s identity – was written after a Mabs (Money Advice and Budgeting Service) adviser had offered to refer the couple to the St Vincent de Paul Society for assistance.
Her husband has gross earnings of more than €65,000 – including allowances and unsocial hours coverage. After tax, Universal Social Charge, pension, health insurance, mortgage and utility deductions, a typical weekly payslip shows a net payment of €109.
By the Mabs analysis, however, the weekly household budget was running a deficit of nearly €300 and there appeared to be no means of reducing it.
The woman wrote that she and her husband “have no savings, no holiday homes, no fancy cars. We have never done anything to put ourselves at risk, only move house to have an extra bedroom . . . We live in constant terror of the washing machine breaking down or the car . . . If it wasn’t for my mother bailing us out all the time, we would be right under.”
A spokesman for the Minister for Transport, Leo Varadkar said the woman had been in regular correspondence with the minister. “He understands that her husband is in secure public sector employment but they bought their home at the height of the boom and are struggling to pay a large mortgage on reduced pay.” He hoped she would be “able to resolve her financial problems with [the] assistance of Mabs and others.”
James Reilly Minister for Health
Reeling in the broken promises
“…the day that we don’t keep that promise, the day that we let you down, the day when we let your local services go when there’s nothing to replace it, that’s the day I’ll walk away, I’ll retire.”
Congratulations to Leo Varadkar
Lion Mouth Varadkar appears to be showing some interest in the tourism portfolio. Three vacation over the summer, which included Euro 2012 and the Olympics. In addition, you know he even found the time to look for pay cuts for people on a fifth of his salary.
A Political Joke
Four surgeons are discussing who were the best patients to operate on.
The first surgeon says, ‘I like to see Accountants on my operating table because when you open them up, everything inside is numbered.’
The second responds, ‘Yeah, but you should try Electricians! Everything inside them is colour-coded.’
The third surgeon says, ‘No, I really think Librarians are the best; everything inside them is in alphabetical order.’
But the fourth surgeon shut them all up when he observed, ‘You’re all wrong. Politicians are the easiest to operate on. There’s no guts, no heart, no balls, no brains, and no spine, and there are only two moving parts – the mouth and the arsehole – and they are interchangeable’