Tag Archives: Ireland

Policing, the rule of law & political interference.

4 May

As the furore grows over the behaviour of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (#PSNI) & it’s treatment of the President of Sinn Fein, Gerry #Adams a few points occur to me.
1) during the #gardagate, #penaltypoints & #shattergate controversies here in ‘The South’ the undercurrent was that the close relationship between politicians & our police force was unacceptable & that a police force ‘bending’ the rules to what it saw as the wishes of the political powers that be & politicians seeking/expecting special treatment from the police were equally reprehensible.

2) the police force should be free from interference to carry out investigations as they see fit & that for persons from the outside to pressure the police force in order to affect the conduct & direction of an investigation was unacceptable & a relic of a servile past.

3) the PSNI & its oversight set-up were the example for us to follow in overhauling/modernizing An Garda Siochana. Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald & Pearse Doherty were among the foremost advocates of this approach.

4) fast forward two weeks & because the police force in question, the PSNI, have behaved in a perfectly legal manner in performing it duties with respect to a notorious murder case by arresting the President of Sinn Fein various senior figures within Sinn Fein have gone on the media to denigrate & influence the behaviour of the PSNI, claiming dark deeds & dodgy conspiricies. The threats made have included a return to the previous state of affairs pre-Good Friday Agreement & a withdrawal of consent.

It must also be pointed out that the PSNI has an independent policing board to which it is fully accountable & Sinn Fein has seats on the board & the deputy leader of Sinn Fein is the Justice Minister in the Northern Assembly. Thus one assumes that not only does Sinn Fein have avenues to hold the PSNI to account for its conduct, presumably the PSNI is aware of this also. However Sinn Fein have chosen NOT to follow the legal route & support the system. Instead they have reacted emotionally, in a manner guaranteed to inflame passions in the North & increase the likelihood of civil unrest rather than seeking be a force of moderation & Democratic processes.

Also one assumes, unless some members of  the PSNI have a “death wish”, the inclusion of Gerry Adams in their investigation & indeed the conduct of all investigations into such sensitive topics would be scrupulously conducted within the rules set down.

It would appear that what we are witnessing is quite simply a belief in the old “exempt from the rule of law” system of certain people within Irish society & casts very real doubt on the acceptance of certain sectors of the “Republican” tradition to a free & fair system of policing & justice and casts significant doubt on just how deeply Sinn Fein are committed to power sharing & normal Democratic legal systems.

Teaching Religion in Primary School

27 Jan

At the moment there is an ongoing discussion about the teaching of religion in Irish State schools especially those “of a religious ethos”  i.e. those run by, or in buildings owned by, religious institutions.
So my questions are these:-

1) Why do we “teach religion” in school? Surely the churches & the homes of believers are the places where religious instruction should take place? Unless of course the religious orders do not believe that they are effective in reaching their flock in a church setting & also have little faith in their members’ ability to raise their own children in the faith. In which case why should taxpayer subsidized educational time & space be expected, nay mandated, to rectify their failings?

2) In an era of questioning teaching standards, performance related league tables & providing an education which fits the students for the world in which they live how then are we to judge the effectiveness & value for money of the religious education being provided by our taxes? All the major faiths claim to provide moral & ethical frameworks by which the individual can not only live their own life but also create a more moral & ethical society. So using this criteria how effective have Irish schools been in this regard?

On the personal level? The evidence is not good. During the Celtic Tiger religiously educated Irish adults, across the board spent with no regard for the future, when offered more money than they could possibly repay they just took the cash & now they cast about for others to blame, complain about having to honour their agreements & seek not to repay what they owe. In other words they were greedy, selfish & lacking in the “moral fibre” to face their failings & the courage to accept their punishment. All of this behaviour is contrary to the teachings of the Christ they have been alledgedy educated to follow. So the teaching of religion has failed in this area of education.
On the societal level one only has to look at the duplicitous behaviour of top politicians, church leaders, top business people & the boards of charitable organisations to see that the education system has most certainly failed to instill a Christian moral & ethical framework both in the persons & the institutions in which they serve. The failure is all the more glaring when one considers that many of the “leaders” of our society have come through the leading educational institutions & therefore had the best teachers. So here again “teaching religion” has failed the test.

The only area where religion as it is taught actually passes the test is in familiarizing the children with the rituals of the particular religion i.e. forming a habit of rote observance devoid of context or application to the adult’s daily life.

So I ask again why do we “teach religion” in primary schools? What exactly are we teaching & to what end?

The drunken Irish teenager controversy

8 Jan

I find it telling that this story has been taken over by the ‘sanitize the internet’ wing of the political class & their media mates.

Some points which are being ignored:
1) the girl is 16! So are those who supplied her with enough alcohol to become very drunk being castigated? Pursued by the Gardai (procuring alcohol for a MINOR is A criminal OFFENCE)? I see no evidence of this.. Yet we are frequently lectured on the scourge of alcohol addiction & drink’s role in anti-social behaviour. Is this the main news story, or opinion piece? NOPE.

2) She launched into a pronounced & unprovoked attack on innocent people who just happened to have the misfortune to be in the fast-food joint she entered. This is surely BY DEFINITION drink-fueled anti-social behaviour. As part of this public order offence she launches a physical assault on the person filming the event, knocking their property to the ground. This too is a CRIMINAL OFFENCE. Is this the main media concern in this instance? Why not? Public behaviour of this sort is usually fair game for the mainstream media, usually in tut tut terms & demands that the Gardai take action because such drunken scenes provide a VERY BAD IMAGE of Dublin to the tourists.

3)Is she being prosecuted? Had the roles been reversed and the young woman been the victim of a drunken assault by someone from Ballymun or Tallaght say would the media reaction be the same? Or would the film clip be seen as potential evidence for a possible criminal prosecution?

4) If she had been the daughter of a lesser mortal again say from Ballymun or Tallaght would the video have been removed as quickly? I think not …is this very obvious inequity the main media concern? Nope.

5) The language she used to describe her fellow citizens was class ridden invective worthy of a drunken member of the British ruling elites. Yet, allegedly, we live in a democratic Republic where there is NO CLASS bias. Yet the behaviour of this young woman proves the opposite, at least in her eyes. Is this of concern to our mainstream media & political class? Nope.

What does concern them? The issue of the language used online. Language that one would have to search for & therefore not be subjected to if one didn’t wish to see it. Unlike the law-abiding clientele of the fast food restaurant who were the targets of her invective which they neither sought nor provoked.

Media agenda? Yep sanitize the internet & protect their golden goose…

I’m a parent of grown children & if I had found that my lads had used that kind of invective in such an unprovoked manner they’d be grounded for it, & face some very hard questions about their usage of alcohol.

The con trick of Irish austerity & our corporate tax regimes.

3 Jan

yeah we’re all in it together alright …http://www.irishtimes.com/letters/index.html#1224328377985

every time I see ‘new jobs’ being announced by a foreign multinational here I wonder just what taxpayer subsidies, write-offs and waivers they have been given …many multinationals get to pay NO tax for the first several years here PLUS having us, the taxpayer, build the factory & the estate it is in. Apparently R&D is the latest tax avoidance wheeze …if the activities can be labelled R&D (and I’m unsure as to how rigorous any checks on the accuracy of the designation are) then the company gets very generous write-offs against tax liabilities. I know of one multinational big pharma company which informed its workforce that they would be ‘invited’ to resign their posts & reapply for ‘new’ posts and contracts in order that the ‘new’ jobs could be classified as being R&D. Needless to say acceptance of the ‘invitations’ was compulsory and the ‘new’contracts were ‘less advantageous’ than the old ones. Faced with either compulsory redundancy most employees accepted the ‘new’ posts i.e. doing their old jobs but at worse rates & having lost valuable time of service. Yet the company was then able to avail of tax benefits. …then we get our politicians spouting populist anti-EU stuff like this

http://www.independent.ie/national-news/taxpayers-cant-bear-weight-of-eu-bank-debt-gilmore-3341610.html

whilst doing nothing to address this cash cow for the already mega-wealthy corporate entities.

Archbishop Brady’s Conscience

29 Dec

I really cannot understand how Archbishop Brady & his fellow Archbishops have the gall to lecture the Irish people, and, more importantly, seek to exert blatant political influence on our elected representatives on the X-case legislation issue.

Given that these self-same gentlemen were actively involved in the cover -up of sexual abuse of hundreds of children by their fellow priests. Brady himself was responsible for the swearing to secrecy of a child (and his family) who was abused. Brady’s conscience didn’t seem to prick him much back then.

Furthermore these self-same Princes of the Church were part of the organisation which had ‘backroom’, off the record talks with An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to limit the financial exposure of the Catholic Church to compensation claims by those abused. Resulting in the Irish taxpayers picking up by far the largest portion of the tab. Their conscience doesn’t seem to have bothered them over this.

Most of the Religious orders involved have so far failed to meet their financial obligations in this regard meaning that the victims are still waiting to receive their recompense from the organisation which caused them to suffer. Again Brady’s conscience doesn’t seem to be bothering him over this disgraceful behaviour.

These ‘gentlemen’, by their actions & inactions have, long ago, forfeited any right to lecture anyone on issues of conscience. They are a disgrace to their Church & their country.

Sean & Peter Darragh Quinn, GAA, the rule of law & the Irish Media

29 Jul

Some points about the Sean Quinn saga;

1) the Quinns are not facing jail for their involvement with Anglo Irish bank they are facing prison for their flagrant contempt for the rule of law. They were subjects of a court order which they very publicly & deliberately flouted with elements in various Eastern European countries whom, I think it is fair to assume are not the most upstanding citizens of those jurisdictions.

2) the Quinns involvement in Anglo Irish bank was not as a result of public spiritedness but was instead motivated by a desire for profit but was IN FACT a gamble with what was it has since transpired NOT their own wealth as Sean Quinn & his apologists in the media & elsewhere like to portray it. The resources he used to gamble with his mates in Anglo was monies he had ALREADY promised as collateral for his Quinns Insurance business i.e. it was resources mandated in law to protect the cars, houses & futures of millions of ordinary people both here in Ireland & the UK. by gambling it & losing he IN FACT insured that anyone of his policy holders who needed to make a claim was unlikely to receive a reimbursement of the monies they had already paid to Mr Quinn  his family i.e. he cheated ordinary people who had placed their trust in him. This is deception number ONE.

3) When the UK financial regulator became aware of this fraudulent conduct by Mr Quinn it quite rightly put the business into receivership at least in part to safeguard the property & livelihood of ordinary people from further risks by the Quinns. Quinn & his apologists both his local ‘friends’ & Irish media sought to portray Quinns as the victims of British perfidy & cited his job-creation credentials (more on this later).

4) he was then declared bankrupt in an attempt to salvage as much of his personal fortune as he could. Also at this time as a result of the bank guarantee IBRC sought to recover as much of it’s outstanding credit as possible i.e. to reduce the amount which we Irish taxpayers have to pay for the gambling of Quinn among others. in order to help achieve this IBRC sought court orders to stop the Quinn family dodging their liabilities by ‘hiding’ their liabilities in ways which would frustrate the ability of IBRC to recoup what was owed to them & by extension to us the Irish taxpayers. This is deception NUMBER TWO.

4) during the period when they were under court orders NOT to dispose of their assets the Quinns quite deliberately did so, thus actively defrauding their fellow citizens. And perhaps more damagingly Darragh Quinn  was caught on tape bragging about his intention to lie under oath. They were subsequently summoned to the courts to explain their behaviour and duly found to be in contempt of court & given 2 weeks to purge their contempt i.e. to obey the rule of law like every other citizen is expected to do. This they failed to do thus quite reasonably the two younger Quinns were jailed for their failure to comply ( and Darragh Quinn didn’t even have the guts & decency to turn up in court to face the consequences of his actions). Sean Quinn Snr was allowed to stay out of jail to attempt to set matters right. He chose instead to justify his lawbreaking 7 contempt for the rule of law and worse sought to protray himself as the victim in all this. This is deception NUMBER THREE.

5) in his media pronouncements on this he has NEVER been challenged on his version of events by a complicit Irish Media (despite the same media calling for heads to roll, people to be brought to book over the Anglo debacle and lamenting the attitude of the Irish elites to their liabilities vis-a-vis the Irish legal system. How often have you heard the statement ‘nobody in the inner circle is ever brought to court in this country’? Well here is a case of someone who has been, who has been caught in flagrant breaches of the law & yet the media & his supporters are only too quick to portray him as the victim. This is deception NUMBER 4.

6) in Sean Quinn’s defence we hear his job-creation credentials put forward as somehow mitigating his law-breaking, cavalier attitude to those whose insurance premiums he fraudulently accepted & imposition of higher costs on us the ordinary Irish taxpayer who has to pick up the tab over the wealth he has secreted away. In response to this spurious defence of Mr Quinn how many jobs would I have to create to mitigate my stealing your purse or TV? This is deception NUMBER 5.

7) the GAA is part funded by the Irish taxpayer. We the Irish taxpayer are facing higher charges in part due to the activities of the very Darragh Quinn who they quite happily embraced. I for one think this is disgraceful behaviour and want my share of my taxes which went to those officials and clubs who have backed this law-breaker refunded so I can more easily cover my day-to-day expenses.

8) how many of those backing the Quinns & their deceptions have been campaigning against the Eurozone in the recent referenda? Why is this relevant? The EU & euro-zone have created many times more jobs & wealth in this country especially in rural Ireland via the CAP & related policies & structural funds…So on the one hand we have people supporting a law-breaker on the basis of his job-creation & support for his local credentials whilst AT THE SAME TIME campainging against one of the major sources of job-creation & community support on the island…deception NUMBER 6.

9) Law & order does NOT depend on the numbers of Gardai on the streets, nor solely on likelihood of being caught if I commit a crime. Rather law & order relies on the belief of ordinary people that the system works & is fair, equitable and enforced without fear or favour. Which is why it is of crucial importance that public breaches of the law are punished with the full force of the law. In which case why have the PSNI not been asked to apprehend Darragh Quinn and hand him over to the Gardai? If he were any other criminal this would have been done already. If the Irish legal system is to have ANY credibility Darragh Quinn  must be arrested and sanctioned for his arrogant & flagrant disdain of due process … and the media has to decide whether it wishes a society were we observe the rule of law or it wishes a society of untouchables and no-go areas.

The Eurozone, The Fiscal Treaty Referendum & future directions of EU Ireland & UK

27 May

After watching Mike Smyth on BBCs Sunday Politics show (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01hxlf9) (the NI element) where in answer to questions about the Irish EU Referendum campaign and likely outcomes, there are several points I think are worth wider consideration.

1) Consequences of a YES vote: in line with the views of Dr Alan Ahearne (http://www.nuigalway.ie/staff-sites/alan_ahearne/) expressed on Newstalk’s Breakfast show on Friday 25/05/12 (http://www.newstalk.ie/programmes/all/breakfast/listen-back/) where he said that in order to survive the Euro MUST have Banking Union, Fiscal Union & Political Union, which is in line with ex-premier of Greece Papindreou’s ideas (http://www.papandreou.gr/papandreou/content/Document.aspx?d=6&rd=7739474&f=1359&rf=1307755822&m=17793&rm=12740065&l=1) i.e. MORE EU NOT LESS. Thus a YES vote will tie Ireland to ever closer ties to the Euro and EU with all the implications for among other things our Corporate Tax Rate.
An inescapable consequence of this ever closer union will create problems for the 32 Counties project in that with ever closer union within the EU will put distance between the two jurisdictions on this island. Especially since the UK (especially the electorally crucial ‘middle England’ voters) are becoming MORE eurosceptic (indeed Cameron may have to promise an EU membership referendum in order to stay Tory leader). Such a referendum would (especially in England) give a NO to EU result which would create huge border issues on this island and have implications for business and migration. Today the Tories are talking about Greek migration but it is equally plausible given EU economic issues that one could change Greek to Irish. (The issues different referendum voting patterns would create in terms of the regions, e.g. in the event of either/& Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland voting FOR as opposed to ANTI, or conceivably the South West which has close economic ties to France through Plymouth votes to stay in, I’m not going into in this post but the divisiveness shouldn’t be underestimated).
2) Consequences of a NO vote: and again my thinking has been prompted by the thoughts of Messrs Ahearne & Smyth is along the lines of Ireland is NOT Greece because Ireland has a viable Plan B: namely leave the Euro project and come back into the £ Sterling ambit. Note I am NOT arguing that the UK economy is in better shape than the Eurozone or that Cameron & Clegg’s austerity programme isn’t as damaging as the EU inspired one, merely that unlike Greece, Ireland does have this option, and there HAS been a huge positive UK publicity drive in the last year, Queen’s visit (and the apology she was ‘forced’ to make), various high level Ministerial visits and now the Olympic Torch.
None of this is set in stone it is purely a view from where I sit.
The big question would be what price the Tories and the City would demand – Financial Services, Corporate Tax Rates, Inward investments, Northern Issues?