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Archive By Topic

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----
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Rossport 5, 2
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Only students Get Better Holidays!
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M50 Completed
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Kylie and its Meaning for Us
Stem Cell Research
Suicide, 2

6.30.2005 » Author: Cian » Comments:

Iraq?

Some very provoking stuff from Harry on the attitude of the left to the insurgency in Iraq. He is of course quite right in his assertion that we should support the forces of democracy in Iraq while also being prepared even expected to criticise Bush, Blair and so many others who have led to such a mountain of human suffering.
I myself fully support all efforts to create democracy in the country but in saying so we must also countenance the prospect of failure which looms large over the whole project. It seems that democracy will never be accepted if it is seen as an american/collaborator fait accompli and stitch up.
Harry is right, to side with the monsters who are inflicting harm on innocents in Iraq is indefensible. To speak only against one side who is doing the damage is equally wrong. The way through the iraq problem as with Africa and most other states is to let them decide and own their system. There is no clear way for americans to do this so the status quo continues.
This self-defeating spiral of violence can only be ended by iraqis. I am fuly behind all attempts to reign in insurgents, including negotiation. The violence must end before democracy begins.
The democracy needs to be home grown and without undue influecnce to enshrine trade/economic liberalisation if the iraqis do not want it. I fear that in this regard the temptation to meddle may be too much for the US.
RR

» Author: Cian » Comments:

M50 is completed

Today heralds the extension of the large commuter car park that circumnavigates the city. There are still grave questions however that havent been answered over issues relating to the section.
Who exactly owns the land at Carrickmines where the road goes through?
Who benefitted from the rezoning of land to accomodate the M50?
The tribunals are of course dealing with this themselves and many of us have lost interest in the whole enterprise. We shouldnt though. This matters greatly for drawing a principled line in the sand in irish politics, we must stand and say the corruption of the eighties and of the broader FF establishment cannot go on. Ireland must be willing to stand tall against the vested interests of developers who have so hindered proper development of Dublin and created a maze of traffic and misery for so many.
Standing up requires facts and apologies. We must support the endeavours of our tribunals to secure truth and justice in the face of apathy and carelessness.
The future of irish politics is in bad hands if we cannot defeat the epedemic of corruption and self-interest in our planning and civic activity.
incidentally when cullen accuses those who object to motorway routes as robbing tax payers money, it is funny that the same accusation is not levied at our former and in some cases present establishment and certain business interests.
RR

» Author: Cian » Comments:

Shell Ruling

The jailing of five Mayo farmers for having the nerve to protest at the construction of a pipeline through their land is a sad day for all of us.
The protests by these people to protect their land from the havoc which accompanies the extraction of oil and gas in the presence of a multi-national.
unsurprisingly the lot over at indymedia have been first to arrive at the scene while RTE and other media outlets online are quiet. There take on things is here.
apparently the judges position on all this is rather disquieting and not reassuring for the broader state of things in Ireland at the moment.
I for one think all who can should attempt to make the protest at mountjoy only that it has actually started. Whoops. My bad.
Anyway the affront to our right to protest has just been binned today. According to Noel Dempsey speaking on 5-Live there is no ministerial authorisation for building to begin and as such the men are in my eye full justified in protesting. The problem here is that the big corporate again commands the loyalty of an establishment that is willing to siphon off E10,000 in taxpayers money daily to finance US overflight. This place is rotten to the core and when a man decides that building a pipeline which is unprecedented in format and style shouldn't happen on his land he is landed in jail.
My sympathies go to the family of these men tonight as they could be in for a long stay in the Joy.
More background to this case is located at shellfacts and the full Joe Higgins Statement from outside the court today is also posted on indy .
As Higgins points out, Shell are not paying royalties and securing valuable tax write off s to exploit the site. This is because the site is so bloody difficult to work and the corporation has backed the government into a corner. This is unworkable in the face of such malpractice across the world and particularly in Africa this cannot infest our working at home. Taking the people from the picket line is not on. There is a clear need for Dempsey to reexamine the whole set up of the project in light of the fact that it is not the best available model and so much danger is posed to those living in the region of the pipe. Bear in mind oil majors have a terrible record of cleaning messes from pipeline breakage and also a terrible record on actually maintaining those pipes.
This whole mess stinks and we should all get behind the protest at this injustice.
RR

6.29.2005 » Author: Cian » Comments:

childcare and children

The ombudsman for children yesterdayrelease her first report but there are a number of points that she made, which i think we should all be taking on board.
The first is that our childcare initiatives take little or no account of the welfare of the child and are merely functions of labour and work, this is a wholly unsatisfactory situation and is requiring of a broader government strategy on childcare and children. THe fact that both Mcdowell and Harney can legislate on chilcare is anomolous and unhelpful.
A genuine concerted effort to improve the standard of living for children must also provide for some early education which according to esri is very bad in ireland.
This means higher taxes for all of us but in my view its a price worht paying.
RR

» Author: Cian » Comments:

Bertie Don't Do Questions

Reading more of the fallout over the proposed reform of leaders questions in the Dail in todays Irish Times, I cannot believe that this government has the audacity to mount such an attack on oversight in our state. Whatever power the DAil may have is weak enough at enforcing government transparency and serious reform of practice and method should be introduced.
Having said that current government proposals that Bertie need not attend leaders questions should he so choose are preposterous.
I understand that the government are offering more prime time to opposition but what is the point of having loads of time to speak to an empty chamber with no government minster present? There is clear and present need to upgrade the status of the Dail as the representation of our interests in the face of executive power. No amount of argument can nor should be able to dissuade us from our need to maintain oversight on our government. Understandably all opposition parties are fairly angry and i mentioned Emmet Staggs response earlier.
Alongside this proposal however are some other serious proposals made by Chief Whip Tom Kitt, the idea of having interesting debates at sensible hours seems to be a no-brainer to most of us but in Dail this is real progress. There can now be televised debates at hours when people are awake, on topics which are current and needing discussion. This move however will only be of benefit if it is adjoined with reform of reporting criteria on the Dail. If RTE or TV3 were to be given more leeway in camera shots allowed and also a decent list of debates etc there would be little excuse for one or other to refuse to air dail proceedings. The BBC parliament model is probably unfeasible but certainly a daily dail show taking in topical debate and leaders questions is in order.
The moves by Kitt however are, as usual, unilateral and devoid of any braoder strategic vision for the Dail outside of rubberstamping Law and not asking too much questions.
Well the questions must be non-negotiable and these reforms should be part of a serious package of proposals to bring both activity and coverage of the DAil into the 21st century and attempt son reengagement with the electorate.
Im sure all leftwing parties will have something to say and a genuine commitment to Dail reform owuld garner more momentum and support for the opposition coalition.
RR

» Author: Cian » Comments:

AN insomniac reaction to Bush's Speech

The great PResident that lead the states in a new-era of post-september 11-tough love-warfare etc etc is in Fort Bragg. Bush is trying to rally the people of the US to the cause in Iraq with talk of founding fathers, democratic zeal, and the rights of each person to representation.
My late night reaction is to tell him stop furrowing and raising his eyebrows like a shit-eating second hand knife salesman. My head however wishes he would tell us all that he went to Iraq to secure the last region of the world where oil production can be ramped up.
Why wont he tell the people of america how many iraqis need to die to secure their way of life. Why doesnt he tell them that there were no WMD?
Why doesnt he tell them that Osama never liked nor worked with Saddam?
Instead he talks rambling about the new iraqi democracy, which has control of all of the green-zone in Baghdad and no more.
I am currrently reading John Pilgers 'Paying The Price' in his book "The New Rulers Of The World" it makes a speech by the PResident of the US on Iraq seem almost orwellian in its manpulation.
More detailed reaction tomorrow. For now i am sad. America still doesnt know about nor care to apologise for the 100,000 innocent people and children killed since the Gulf War II and over 1.5Million killed since Gulf I. Thats genocide in anyones language.
This man is a war criminal and so are his henchmen. The iraqi democracy is to be a puppet regime busy trying to control sectarian rifts while the states busily extract oil.
We should all bow our head in memory of those who die in our name.
For once the people in the US have it right. The war is wrong and america is a pox on the lives of so many in the middle east.
RR

» Author: Cian » Comments:

Rudderless Europe

There is an interesting take over at openDemocracy on the recent convulsions in the EU over the Constitution and the Rebate debate. The commentary, written by “Simon Berlaymont”, is a piece which chimes closely with my own reading of the situation facing Europe currently. The point of the fact is that the EU is not and never will be a Super-State and in representing this as its goal, both Euro-sceptics and Euro-federalists are misrepresenting the more global cases in favour of the EU.
These cases are the peace and prosperity offered by the EU since 1945 to citizens of what was once the most violent continent on earth coupled with the stabilising force which western EU provided to the Eastern countries following the fall of communism.
Of course most of us living in the EU are nominally aware of our cultural inheritance stemming from the formation of the EU and the post-war settlement across most of Western Europe. We have moved farther and farther away from the EU though as time has passed. The foremost of its achievements is no longer considered with gravitas among the younger EU generations. The threat of violence has not hung over us for a long time. Instead we take for granted the rule of law and the power to determine our movement across a continent that many see as naturally united.
It was not always so and the majority of our history is divisive and violent. Our current penchant for communal markets and regulation is an aberration from history and perhaps the best example of progress in our society.
The commentary from OD, perhaps obliquely or in abstract, suggests that the EU has now begun to lose its narrative and lost sight of its greatest strengths. There are and always will be a need for the EU to regulate and instigate shared relations and commerce between European states. It provides us with the greatest of platforms from which to spread or develop democracy and freedom for people.
At its finest the EU can act as the buffer between corporate interest and exploitation and the free individuals of Europe. There is a move it seems among those who are in or around Europe to finally move to reconnect and develop a narrative. By bringing the EU debate to the social aspects, by taking the debate away from the purpose of the EU and its natural domain and into that of the Nation state the leaders of the EU may be setting in train a process of encroachment that may do more harm than good.
I agree the EU bubble has probably now burst, but demographics ensured that EU was always going to lose touch or become irrelevant with the younger voters/citizens. A period of reflection, as Blair called it, is just the thing. I hope that on reflection those in Brussels decide to read what we are saying and writing about the EU.
By listening and developing a narrative for the next generation of Europeans, the EU may pull itself out of its nosedive.
Where does it go from here? In terms of policy that is a matter for national governments, in terms of purpose vision and direction the EU must be put on the track of employment, democracy and protection of individual freedom from corporations (that latter is my own hope and not currently the EU raison detre.
By creating a Europe wide consensus on the good work a large regulator can do, it’s the only way to cope with multinationals, and further increasing our democratic stake in controlling our common market and thus our interests, the EU can make a lot of headway. Here’s Hoping, but not too much.
RR

6.28.2005 » Author: Cian » Comments:

Greens give African issues Momentum

The Green Party are using their private members time this week to attempt to refocus attention on our responsibilities to other third world countries. For those who are living in a cave, tomorrow at 6.30 is the Make poverty history rally at the Spire.
These issues are bread and butter to the green party and a very opportune time for them to come to the fore and offer some leadership on the issue. The move somewhat sidesteps labour and also seems to be the result of not being tied to a coalition. I say this because in not being tied to any one wagon they can gorage their own path policy-wise and force the agenda is a few select areas. This would be stymied by the need to stay on-message in any coalition arrangement.
So the greens hard nosed electoral politics seems to be in osund affairs following their decision ot stay independent. Now on an issue like this they could do a lot of running in their traditionally strong affluent areas.
In terms of their core statement to the Dail and comments by the leaders, the greens are looking for some major scores.
Some of the main points in the motion are
a)forcing government to commit to a date by which time we will be contributing .7% of GDP in Aid. This is standard enough opposition fare although the comment from John Gormley that berite was only holding it out in order to get on the Security Council must sting with the Taoiseach. Having said that we made a commitment, foolish or not we must in all seriousness examine how and when we should meet that promise. the sooner the better, especially in terms of moral credit and fair play.
b) This is where the greens move from the standard fare to show why they are so associated with lefty causes. The motion calls for recogntion that debt and aid are only part of any wide ranging solution and call for proper agricultural market access and subsidy structure which promote growth and development abroad aswell as secure livelihoods here. In this Dan Boyle reckons that bogey man Blair is an ally and that the government cannot compromise on its view of 100% debt cancellation.
c) The restriction of Arms trading to promote peaceful initiatives and try to cut down on the strife and civil war which is ripping the south to pieces and renegotiation of Kyoto to encompass restraints on developing countries as well as the west.
Overall these are classic green areas of interest and a well timed piece of good publicity for the green party. The policies are ones both FF and FG may wince at but certainly wouldnt restrain anyone from entering government with them. Principle is a wonderful thing to have in a party but more than this when the greens actually talk up their principles they score very well in the affluent south dublin and leinster constituencies.
ITs all huff and bluster in front of the DAil but in staying out of any coalition arrangement the greens have space on the left which labour are moving out of that they can now move into. voters on the left will be pleased to see someone doing some independent running on the issue of debt and poverty.
It may interest people to know that the greens didnt have much to say on financing of the initiative on the GDP, in terms of CAP and Agriculutre reform they do seem to be on top of their brief.
Its a rare week they get to do some running in the dail but this could stand to them long term.
RR

» Author: Cian » Comments:

"Grade-A arseholes!"

For those who miss their politics with a bit of passion perhaps a trip down under is what you need. This from today's Sydney Morning Herald, is an extract from the recently deposed Labor leader Mark Latham where he looks back over those who brough him down.
For those on the left it might make tough reading, his assesment of the Labor prospects arent good and fans of universal social justice may all be disappointed. However as political outbursts go, it makes for some great reading.
RR

» Author: Cian » Comments:

UUP aftermath

Well I suppose since the election of Reg Empey there has been a spark of interest re the UUP and what is required of them in order to get re-elected. I really couldn't get my head around why no one was bothering to profile leadership candidates at all because I felt it was important to have an idea of what the key debates were and their attitudes to them.
So I read since the election contest of a purely chatterati consensus about what it is the UUP need to do. Empey needs to reclaim center voters, needs to motivate the electorate. Most of the solutions however sound like things all politicians need to do in these days of apathy. There has been little call for a clear and unambiguous interaction with the peace process. For a clear commitment to power sharing and to equality and justice.
Voters in the center don't concern themselves much with extremist views. They want to know that their cars and house are safe at night and the guy next door is looked after in times of need. Security is where its at. The UUP must appear to become the party that can provide the unionists community with the social security which has seemed so lacking this summer.
rebranding exercises are all lovely but a reengagement means meeting people at street level, talking to them and acting on their will. The DUP know that and use it to stoke their passionate brand of sectarian politics. The UUP were more aloof but now they have no excuse.
Its my simplistic reading but I think the papers are all being quite lazy in approaching this problem. The UUP are and will be again the party of Unionism. They need to be onside. If we don't understand them we will never make peace with them. The media attitude to them as past it and over the hill is hubristic. History will always bring back the center ground.
So we should be prepared and ready. More examination of a UUP rehabilitaion may help to promote calm in unionist areas.
The violence engulfing the marching season (4 stories on NI Violence on rte.ie this morning alone) must be put at rest by parties committed to peace and cooperation. I think the UUP need a strategic review re dealing with the Shinners and could steal a march on the DUP by being successful.
Anyone interested should watch the quite heated debate on slugger. Interesting analysis by watchman but the comments reveal the mindset up north right now.
RR

» Author: Cian » Comments:

Assault on Parliament?

Two different stories from the same party and along the same theme so lazy me decides one post should do for them. The theme is the ongoing governmental attack on the power and influence of the Dail and unsurprisingly the party is Labour.
The first outburst comes from Emmet Stagg yesterday regarding new proposals being laid down by government whip, Tom Kitt, that would alter the current ineffective set up of leaders questions for an even worse looking set up. Apparently the Taoiseach finds Leaders Questions to be a frightful burden, what with all the tough questions and meanies looking for some accountability over decisions taken. So he has proposed through the whip that leaders questions now become, "whichever-minion-is-available-to-fob-the-opposition-off-questions".
The idea that the government leader should be allowed to duck the few mandatory appearances he has to make before the dail at a time when he is doing less parliamentary work than any of his predecessors is an abomination.
The strength of parliament is the strength of the people to constrain the overarching power and greed of a hungry executive. This is not some neo-American creed but simply that facts before us that this government has done a great deal to undermine scrutiny, accountability and responsibility in the process spreading disillusion and apathy with public life. Now the Head of that government is trying to reduce further the role opposition TDs may play in overseeing the governance of this country. Of course, there is probably a simpler explanation, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are good days for opening off-licenses.
The erosion of the powers of parliament is a dangerous precedent for no matter what they say any opposition that comes to power is unlikely to restore to parliament the power it deserves. We should oppose these measures and others this government may attempt to try and subvert the remaining health of our democracy.

THE SECOND story comes from the seat of our Tanaiste in waiting Mr Rabbitte. He is understandably upset over the attempts to shut the dail in the face of such serious legislation that still needs time to be brought through the dail. He has a point. This is not simply point scoring although I find it sick that my taxes papa wages and pensions of people with at least three months holidays and a terrible record of delivery in office. Talk about rip off Ireland. But I digress, the Dail is about to shut its doors with some serious work still on the agenda. The revelations regarding Brian Rossiter yesterday only add to the urgency of seeing the Garda Bill through in a form which reassures the public of the power we hold over the Gardai. We need to feel that there is an attitude of fairness and an abhorrence of corruption in dail eireann and if the attitude to the Garda bill wont give it to us neither will the attitude to the new disabililties bill.
This is the latest in a litany of upsets for disability campaigners who have been let down continually by government. By refusing rights based legislation, the government has refused to adopt responsibility for care and standard of living of the most needful in our society. In a country of unprecedented wealth we have elected a fat, mean and lazy leviathan to oversee the minutiae of our lives while ignoring those that most need intervention. I for one am disgusted at the inaptitude and ambivalence shown by government to the needs of the people instead opting to ignore us and go on three months holidays.
RR

6.27.2005 » Author: Cian » Comments:

New M50 Tolling

Apparantly the NRA are looking to make all tolling across the west link electronic. In my opinion the best way to deal with the west link is to blow it up. It is the last great relic of governmental malpractice stemming from the 80s. There is not the network to support tolling in that there is no alternative should one decide not to pay the toll. This is becoming a cash cow and a source of easy revenue. Any move on M50 tolling should be to abolish it.
This country owes its workers a decent standard of living. By imposing the unfair and exorbetant tax on communters at the M50 they are ensuring hours of endless drudge on the way to work and the way home for those who contribute so much to the irish economy.
This government shows little or no respect for those who put it there and through whose work the government can invest in the necessary infrastructure build.
One way to restore that respect would by abolishing the yolk on commuters collective necks.
RR

» Author: Cian » Comments:

US acts on Rogue States

From RTE via the Washington Post this morning comes news that the caped crusader of the white house is tilting at the next windmill. This comes in the form of a crackdown on the US assets of those doing business with Regimes ordained to be rogue states in the eyes of the Worlds-only-superpower TM.
Just a few issues I have, and I encourage all right thinking individuals to consider this point, who exactly decides and on what criteria just what is a failed state. How about those in Africa like DRC where war has been waged for years and over 4Million people have been slaughtered? I don't see assets being frozen of the Diamond and resource corporations doing business in a failed state and breeding ground for hardline fighters.
Nope it is the usual lazy assumption that only the axis of evil need to be considered and none of our messier allies like the shower over in Uzbekistan need to be fingered in the crackdown. The states has made an art-form out of hypocrisy in recent years, freezing PLO accounts etc etc but this smacks of undiluted stupidity and crass double standards. The businesses doing most harm to global security are those which undermine state structures in pursuit of profit while condemning local inhabitants to poverty. It is from this poverty that stems an affinity for hardline Islam or nationalist support for a dictator.
The usual near sighted solution from Washington is to tar them as with us or against us and of course no country which supports corporate bottom lines could be a rogue state.
RR

» Author: Cian » Comments:

FG/Lab Coalition update

Story in the Sunday TImes today suggesting that FG and labour may come to a compromise regarding th enumber of candidates FG will field so as to allow LAB to increase its seaat numbers aswell and thus not feel too robbed by FG in terms of votes etc. This is all part of the increasing number of feelgood stories around the coalition partners in waiting at the moment as the government lurches from one ineptitude to another.
Reading further through the article it becmoes clear what the true purpose of the story/leak is. As noted by the talking head in the article, little if any advantage will accrue to labour even in the event of FG cutting candidate number, thus its a win/win for FG again. This though is not what i meant by the 'true purpose'.
That is reserved for the tail end of the article which suggests that things in FG are really looking up becaue hey are reconnecting with voters through the Anti-Social Behaviour roadshow currently being conducted by FG. This article like the one regarding Kenny's penchant for cycling and hard graft scream of electability.
The target for seduction though is the FG voter who has left the fold and still has to return. THis is the magic four or five percent that are missing in Poll data from historical trends, i.e. the number of FG voters that left them in the GE of 2002 and have yet to be rewooed.
The opposition is certainly trying to appear to be gaining momentum and all political atrategy aside there is a concerted effort to present things as positive, different and healthy.
The beginning of the FG path to electability in the eyes of voters starts here, methinks.
RR

6.26.2005 » Author: Cian » Comments:

All elections are local

For those who were slightly bemused by my utterings on iran's election here then this might interest you from iranScan. As i said earlier the division of Irans candidates into pro-west reformers and anti-west conservatives is disingenuous to the real reasons iranians voted as they did.
All elections are local and this is no different. The result was a funciton of social inequality and disillusionment with the ability of reformist candidates to achieve equality and success in their goals.
Not that the result has no impact on us, merely that the electorate didnt have us in mind when going to the polls and that is the real issue here. Inequality at home is abhorrent to all people and breeds apathy. This suits the establishment in tehran but it will also breed other threats under the guise of the Law of Unintended Consequences.
Iran is not always outward looking, if at all. Politics is local but reporting this election was a tad iffy for my liking.
RR

» Author: Cian » Comments:

Brian Rossiter Again

For those who read both myself and Irishcorruption.com on the Brian rossiter case but couldnt track down the story in Village there is a condesed version of the article in today's SBP by Vincent Browne.
Again the questions ring loud and clear. Again the seriousness of the allegations are far in excess of anything levelled at Frank McBrearty. There is a 14-year old boy who may have died as a result of Garda abuse while in custody. There are far too many signs of an attempted cover up and even more signs of the Minister Michael Mcdowell trying to divert all attention away from such a damning series of events.
If, in any way shape or form, the gardai are responsible for the death of Brian Rossiter then heads will roll all over the shop. This is a story that looks likely to rumble on and on. If it does then the lid could blow off it right around the time of the General Election.
Finally i am concerned by the seeming blanking of coverage of this issue except by Browne and the Ireland on Sunday today. This seems to me that again our crime correspondents ave let us down by being so intertwined with the Gardai in the hunt for leaks and stories. For those not aware it is this cosy relationship that keep bad headlines for Gardai off the Airwaves except in extreme cases. The return for the journos is that they get privelaged leaks. Well sadly they have again doused themselves in glory by not building p momentum or public concern over such a serious issue.
This issue looks to me like the potential death knell for mick Mac, he is trying to ignore it. It certainly wont go away though. Nor should it.
RR

» Author: Cian » Comments:

How Corrupt can one Institution Be?

The furore that is erupting around the Justice Dept/Gardai following the publication of the summary of a report made by present Garda Commissioner Conroy in 2000 to the then Justice minister. The revelation that in 2000 Conroy appeared to know, or at least have an inkling, that there was serious misbehaviour going on in the Garda Forces.
This is a serious blow to the credibility of both our police forces and our whole government. As far as McDowell is concerned he is unlikely to be resigning soon, however as is always the way with the stubborn politician events may overtake him. Joe Costello was correct in the Dail recently when he said we had entered resignation territory. There is likely to be a sustained and, in my view, justified campaign for the scalp of ministers who at the time allowed the ongoing victimisation of the McBrearty's and by extension the Barron family.
A politician knows that there is nothing worse than the drip drip of bad news. It has a way of building momentum and doubling the controversy by virtue of its sustained momentum. As McDowell introduced the Garda Bill 2005 with its raft of new Amendments this week, i believe, in agreement with Drapier that he was trying to preempt further drip drip by having already taken remedial action. Only that the action is not really remedial. The foremost of people involved with policing, Senator Maurice Hayes, was never consulted by the Minister. Neither was Howlin involved as he should be, since he was deeply involved with this issue.
The whole thing stinks of a stitch up. McDowell and O'Donoghue knew in 2000 that there were suspicion s at the very least hanging over the heads of the Donegal forces. They were aware of attempts to finger the McBrearty's wrongly. Yet no tribunal was forthcoming until 2002 and further remedial action (in the form of institutional reform) not here until now.
Many of you are familiar with my unhappiness at some of the Bill's provisions, i don't believe they go far enough to curb the free hand this state has granted the gardai since the founding of the state and latterly in the fight against the IRA. Today's report is more in the inevitable drip of bad news for the justice department.
If however Bertie is moved to remove McDowell, it could precipitate the end of the current coalition arrangement although perhaps not an election. What he must replace McDowell with is a genuine person of vision, belief and a minister who presides in a governmnet intent on reform and remedying the rot in our state. I don't know many on the FF backbenches who fit that bill. There is little option for Bertie in this one.
RR

6.25.2005 » Author: Cian » Comments:

Iranian Election

The victory for the Tehran Mayor Ahmadinejad over the ex-president Rafsanjani, allowed many media outlets to paint this fight in particularly black and white views. On the one hand we had a "reformer", on the other we had a religious "conservative" or depending on your outlet, a "hard-liner". As with most cases of black and white media reportage, it seems likely that the broader mass media missed the point completely. The assumption that one can simply divide candidates in an Iranian election according to their wiews and attitudes toward the west is disingenuous.
The Iranian election, like all others is a myriad of narratives occuring in the local body politic at any given time. We can see here, that the platform adopted by Ahmadinejad was one of liberator of the poor. Such revolutionary zeal is what erupted in Iran all those years ago, instead of tarring him as some religious fanatic, which he may well be, there is further onus to explore why religious fanaticism marries so well with the poor in Iran and the middle east.
This election was not won on theoretical debate over division of powers and balances nor the interference of the Guardian Council in election conduct.
This was an election of rich and poor, employed and unemployed. The west may have fitted that narrative in terms of talk about oil and jobs but it certainly wasnt through genreal foreign policy. The middle east is like most other electorates, elections tend not to be won on foreign policy, although talking down america is a bonus, it is not the vital cog in an election victory.
While much of the reaction will be the effect on current nuclear negotiation with the IAEA and others, talk could also center on the reason Iran chose to embrace more religious revolutionary fervour. How come when iranians went to the polls, they saw the Imams and religious leaders as more qualified to provide jobs and a living standard?
Perhaps most worrisome of all is why so few turned out. The apathy toward democracy is not confined solely to the West it seems. How can Iranians be motivated to vote? Lower turnout lowers the threshold for extremism to gain power. In iran this is especially dangerous.
So what do we do? Wait and see? Hope for another colour coded revolution? Intervene? This election is about Iranian issues and the voters were not voting with us in mind. Reportage should represent that fact and give insight into the socio-economic climate that yielded this result. As we can see here at IranScan, this was an iranian result on local iranian issues. most of my coverage has revolved around the democratic theory, institutional debate and foreign affairs, issues least likely to decide electoral outcome.
It is the aftermath that gives us insight into the need for 2-Dimensional labelling on the international stage.
RR

» Author: Cian » Comments:

Only Students get better holidays

The dail recess is on its way. On june 30 the curtain will come down on this term, a wonderful success for government and a bit of nagging from opposition benches harping on about hte work the government still have to do etc etc.
They will not return until 27 SEPTEMBER!!! Only students have better holidays, and they work through them.
I for one am glad to know that all the problems highlighted in the Gardai in recent times has been ironed out with sufficient and suitable legislation
I am glad to know that our helath service can cope with the demand for service without recourses to trollies or other forms of chair.
I am delighted to feel that the gridlock in our country has been sufficiently alleviated to allow for a break for our hard worked minister.
Luckily for us enought child places are available to tide us over till the Government gets back.
I could go on but i think ive made my point. Sure a politician has a thankless job but its well paid and i am pretty sure there is a lot left to do.
Dont forget your suncream.
RR

6.24.2005 » Author: Cian » Comments:

Village & Brian Rossiter

I see that IC has started looking at the case of Brian Rossiter which made headlines in Village last week, i thoroughly agree that in a country which claims to be a democracy the case is a travesty. unfortunaltely the village magazine holds no archive online so a link is difficult. Simply put we see the Mad Mike move to the Dial and say that hte Garda is a great and good organisation that requires only a nominal and ineffective ombudsman to ensure its virtue is unsullied by the few "bad apples" who may act indpendently in the wrong.
Nonsense from as far back as Plato the question has always been who guards the guards? how can we ensure that as power corrupts absolute power cannot corrupt absolutely. While the facts of the Rossiter case are a travesty and another great black stain on Irish history, it points the way to a far deeper institutional malaise rampaging through the heart of hte Cetic Tiger. It is the wnaton disregard for power and the unceasing abuse ofo it to further narrow self interest.
I am going to get tired of saying this but so long as Mcdowell refuse to listen we must keep speaking louder and louder. The present system is failing the people of the irish state. no one can guarantee the sanctity of public life and noone can make clear and transparent hte workings of state institutions. We are again back to the enlightenment and the struggle to break the yolk of feudalism. We cannot allow such corrupt and blakc institutions to run our public lives. the power of the state is reenforced by public confidence. Democracy is a two way street.
Reform is needed, not small and piecemeal, large and strategic. I want an obudsman, less powers to do more work for Gardai and a strong committe and oversight system. And thats the least of it. If we cannot trust the Gardai to care for a 14-year old boy in their custody without beating the head off him then we are in a bad state.
RR

» Author: Cian » Comments:

Too Many African solutions

Any of you who have been following the chatterati fallout from the G8 Debt relief proposals will no doubt be aware that there are literally hundereds of various voices supporting a variety of solution on Africa. Todays altest contribution comes from the esteemed pages of the Guardian and perhaps one of the more sensible proposals Ive seen recently. Literally this guy is proposing a boost to African based incentives and intitatives. This seems to be insanely practical and full of common sense Of ocurse it is likely to be ignored by government as they will never ever act against their own interests. These interests are best served by ensuring corporate dominance and access to mineral rights. Africas interests arent served by such a position. The dichootomy is thus clear to all that most of the furore surrounding the piece meal and unilateral initiatives coming from the G8 are mostly smog which can be used as a conscience appeasment exercise while affecting little in the general scheme of things.
For those of you who think you might have read his argument somewhere before, i.e. that nothing in Asia followed the neo-liberal prescriptions for growth and development but instead embraced intervention and protectionism in order to secure competitive growth before liberalising, if at all, then it is probably George Monbiot's book Age Of Consent. The major point in all of this is that much of the prescriptions circulating in wetern circle of comment come from western sources. Many government are acting unilaterally in most cases in the bilateral debt programmes etc. There is no consensus on where to go and nor is there any solace to be taken from the belief in the primacy and sanctity of free markets in lifting all boats as the tide comes in.
The local African solution is that which is best for all of us who desire a strong and serious solution to Africa. The local solution allows states to evolve their own strong states, strong democracy but not of the one size fits all variety. It most of all goves asense of possession and ownership too those who reside there. This will mean the retaking of reosources and the west will never let that happen.
Its a crazy mire of mess and fudge. one which creates little confidence of solution being reached and one which certainly obscures the tough solutions and clear dialogue necessary. By getting in first and framing hte debate around CAP, Markets, Debt and Aid, we are not cultivating local solutions but again embarking on the utopian projects of free marketing and debt peddling.
RR

» Author: Cian » Comments:

China Steams Ahead

The moves to purchase Unocal, a us mutinaitonal oil corporation by CNOOC, a chinese business for over $18 billionis the beginning of a process that was recently flagged somewhere i dont recall.
The main thrust of this idea is that china is only bereft of one modern element to become a global power which rivals the US, that element is Brands. The purchase byLenovo computers earlier this year of IBM personal computer business shows that china is ready to begin taking on board larrge corporations which it feels will give it identity abroad. No longer will it be a halting site for goreign business but a hive of local corporate activity which peremates the activity of the broader world around them.
I think we are all sick of hearing the chinese are coming to get us etc etc. But the fact of the matter is that coming they are and doing so in a prodigious manner and feeling no responsibility to give ground to democracy or even human rights. The chinese miracle will put paiid to tow fundamental beliefs,
a) Free-market evangelism brings about democracy naturally by promoting some sort of natural evolution of man. Rubbish such a correlation is merely coincidental.
b) The US is powerufl enough to withstand any challenge to its supremacy. Again this is nonsense, it is the most indebted country in the world, mostly to China. The fact is that shold any major holder of US treasuries decide to sell or change to Euro the staes whole global dominnce collapses. Unlike the Brits before them and now the chinese, the US doesnt send out good and capital around the world it actually takes it in. Thus it is overdrawn and actually in a pretty unhelthy state.
It is against this background that China is buying an oil company. Soaring demand in both the US and china could make this a Stand off to rememeber and even draw up the battle lines for future resource wars of trade or military. ITs not unlikely and indeed probably going to happen.
The changes we see before us are the prescott-esque tectonic plates shifting.
RR

6.23.2005 » Author: Cian » Comments:

Childcare Moves Afoot

Interesting to see Mick Mac yesterday take some notice of the full title of his office and bring forward plans to invest in some form of School-Age childcare initiative for working parents. I'll come clean and say that childcare is not a topic which affects me yet but at some stage i will desire astrong and caring system available to allow me to work etc.
The proposal seems to take a few ideas from Ruth Kelly in the UK and try to implement a scheme which uses schoools as after care facilities aswell. THis on paper is fine but the points raised by labour make for some discomforting reading.
The implication in their release is that much of the care in this sector is unregulated and that it is not part of some broader strategic vision but merely a play as you go approach to child care. To be honest this is an unacceptable government position should it be the case. however to give some benefit of the doubt at least there is some support for around 5000 kids in 41 places and projects aorund the country.
Yup 5000 that to me is a small number, i think there are far more that require supervison and care in a sound environment. In the UK they are stting aside around 600 million to provide this service of opening up schools early and leaving them till late to provide an environment for homework and sport. I fully support such action where parent have an option which is of benefit to kids. The point is in the UK they reckon 600 million is not enough. We got E40 million (30 Million Pounds).
THis project pales in comparison both in terms of vision and of commitment. The delivery of childcare services is expensive but on any evaluation always worthwhile. I understand that through the NDP we have 400 million set aside for capital provision but it makes sense to consider that much of that is directed at school development aswell as they will now operate a dual role.
It is the accusation that government lacks a direction or even a big idea on child care that is most deeply damaging to the credibility of this project. I agree with Labour that regulation must be ensured to protect the child and more places provided.
As always the best way to do this is through a strategy and planned delivery. Of course the places are going to be welcomed by those who get them but it is provision of affordable and even state paid-for care that is the requirement for those who are squeezed and cannto afford it.
RR

» Author: Cian » Comments:

Bush Privatisation Deal Dead

The Bush privatisation scheme for social security seems to be dead in the water following a meeting with GOP comngressmen. Fair play to them they struck a hardy blow for the public sector as guarantor of the security of the poor. Its about time that someone stood up against corporate greed and interests that has so badly infected the entire american political establishment.
There are alternative proposals on the table and to be fair the amount of money spent in Iraq could easily cover the deficit predicted at some stage next year. The democrats are implacably opposed to the last deconstruction of the newDeal by the Rebpublican party. However there is not just feeling opposing privatisation for the sake of it as TPM has been covering and arguing since the inception of the plan, the state can and should retain full responsibility for proteciton fo the weakest in america's deeply divided society.
Just a few links and posts but i intend to return ot this later.
RR

» Author: Cian » Comments:

Bad Form

not content with tabling an impenetrable number of amendments to the Garda Bill, the government now wishes to call a vote without actually debating over 200 of them. This is the current state of our democracy, a government introduces unpopular legislation that broadly agreed doesnt actually tackle the problem properly and then refuses to discuss or defend the proposals. AFAIK presenting laws as a fait acompli is more a characteristic of an autocracy of dictatorship.
The house is falling down.
RR

» Author: Cian » Comments:

Sugar Regime

Interestingly it is both the Farmers of the EU and Africa who look unhappy with the reform to the EU sugar regime. It has been forecsat yesterday that the outcome would be too simple to deal with poverty and take little or no account of the substance behind the WTO ruling. However when they released the statement most development campaigners realised the raw deal that was received by everyone but those with the power to cut costs on a massive scale, i.e. the "Sugar Barons". There is a broader point here, simple free market deregulaiton only benefits the biggest of those in business that can absorb the risk and reduce costs accordingly.
The reform of the sugar pact seems to have been a simple revision of price, little or no attention paid to export subsidy and other trading standards such as access. This is shameful and the wilfull determination of the EU to not reform CAP and Agriculture policy may take a more malignant form of disinterested and lazy reform. At present the doomsayers reckon no one wins and my rudimentary knowledge of economics tells me that they might be right.
Certainly this is nothing like the Wholistic and global solution that is needed to remedy the current regime in favour of small farmers who trade in the EU. Big farmers are benefitting from big corporate interest and economies of scale. Small farmers need our help in ensuring that they can sustain a livelihood.
Back to the sugar reform, it seems that oxfam(2) aint happy. And why should they, for once some farmers were getting some benefit from the EU regime on sugar and agriculture. It seemed clear to anyone with a conscience that this reform is an abysmal disregard of global responsibilities to use the vast wealth at the disposal of the EU to guard the small and the poor from harsh and exploitative regimes of pricing across the trading field. Yet all they have done is simply chop the price floor. It lack imaignation andengenders little confidence in the EU's drive to support development and progressive causes like tempering the harsh effects of the markets on the weakest of the sector.
The uproar in ireland will probable focus on the farming lobby and the perceived wrongdoing done to them. There is no moral ground for subsidising the rich, on the other hand those in ireland who struggle to make ends meet due to size, price or capacity and those who suffe similarly across the EU and the South deserve support in the struggle to be self sufficient.
RR

» Author: Cian » Comments:

Garda Bill 2005

Here is an exerpt from Brendan Howlin's speech last night on the topic of the new garda bill, bearing in mind the fact that the minster saw fit to add in over 100 amendments at the last minute its strange that these quite sensible proposals were dismissed as being reactive in a white heat of anger. STuff and nonsense and only the state wins. "
From Howlin's contribution;
a)“the establishment of a new Garda Authority, to set the priorities for fighting crime at national level, to make the key decisions relating to policing more open and accountable, to be responsible for senior appointments in the Garda Siochanna and to receive and consider reports from the Garda Commissioner on operational decisions.
b)The establishment of county policing liaison committees, to agree a county or city policing plan, with regular meetings between the committee and local Gardai to monitor progress and address the concerns of local communities, and
c)The abolition of the Garda Complaints Board, the role and functioning of which is widely agreed to be unsatisfactory, and its replacement with a Garda Ombudsman to be responsible for investigating complaints against the Garda, such an officer to be provided with his own staff and to be responsible for a new, independent system for ensuring Garda accountability;”

Again these proposals were considered to be reactionary and not neessary. especially when, i suspect, such proposals might make ignoring the will of the people quite dificult. I think all of us appreciate the contribution of both Howlin and Higgins to this issue over the last few years and it strikes me that such is their involvement that they are probably more qualified than Mcdowell to furnish the solution, which incidentally is available here.
McDowell was again caught red handed in trying to subverty our democracy to suit his own designs and will. We do not desire a state where those who guard usand our institutions are insulated from accountability.
It has nearly got so far that a public oversight commission made up of a sample of the electorat must be put in palce and given statutory power to summon and oversee all aspect of our executive and legislature. Now that is a sad condemnation of the state of things.
RR

» Author: Cian » Comments:

Garda reform

News that last minute changes to legislation on the Garda Bill 2005 should be met with laughter. Its wonderful to see the commissioner has the power to dismiss ranking gardai for misbehaviour or corruption, but who gets to fire the commissioner and the minister for the same offences and more serious crimes of lying to us about prior knowledge?
Still no sign of decent ombudsman and no sign of serious cultural change at the DOJ or Phoenix park.
The more things change.....
RR

6.22.2005 » Author: Cian » Comments:

This government is sick and our democracy disabled

There are a number of stories in today’s IT that are worth drawing attention to for those who don’t read it. The first is again regarding the ongoing difficulty of Lewis o Carolan and his family. Yesterday Bertie refused to make funding available for his specific care in Wales, if there is one thing this government is going to avoid doing like the plague in regard to disability legislation and treatment of the disabled, it is setting precedent. There can be only one reason for intransigence on the part of the government to the plight of societies most vulnerable, that is cash.
This government has in its Health ministry a minister who abhors the raising of tax to fund care for those who require to protection of the state. This situation means that the state of the health services is never debated in an atmosphere of payment and maintenance of standards of care. If the O’Carolan family are wrong to look for top quality care for their son then I am moving abroad. The attitude of the establishment in this country has grown sick and hubristic with power.
This leads me into the other article I wished to bring to your attention. Vincent Browne’s response to the TASC Democracy Audit which I mentioned earlier is likely to get many people hot and bothered. However for any dislike of leftie thinking, the fact is that he is correct in his assertion that the people responding to this article are responding in aspiration and the will they display is seriously detached from the reality of our democracy. Genuine government is pie in the sky, and the potential enshrining of social rights is never going to happen while the government are unaccountable to the people.
Again I think we are all going to be forced to stand up to government and reassert our sovereignty in the face of overwhelming political disinterest and abuse of power. The government feels neither shame nor any sense of accountability in winning a fight with a 14-year old autistic boy over the semantics of the constitutional obligation the state has to care for him. And we lift not one eyebrow.
The veneer of public service is visibly gone form our present government and lets face it the opposition are unlikely to offer much improvement. The only way to ensure that the government acts in our interest is to hold all the aces and simply elections are not that effective. If our TDs cannot influence government but rarely then we have no chance. It’s a simple proposition, are our politicians glorified middle-manager and the state a national corporation or are they the effective representation of our interests in the face of predatory practice by those who wish to exploit our workers?
Following the response of government to disbility legislation and to the plight of the elderly in Leas Cross, following the reneging on a promise for 200 more full medical cards and a responsive health system that meets the needs of the population, following the tales of corruption in the institutions of state, I am forced to believe that again we have allowed “accepted common knowledge” to crowd out the truth. Our vast wealth has not been tempered with any social progress nor has it made us a better or more inclusive society. we are narrowly focussed on profit and nothing done about people.
We need reform, much reform and any hope this country has of realising the aspiration of equality and fairness will not be achieved until a process of democratic renewal is put in place.
RR

» Author: Cian » Comments:

Book: John Gray-Heresies

Just finished readaing Heresies by John Gray, a philosopher at LSE. Its a most powerful work of 24 short essays which were commissioned by the newstatesman. The essays date from 2002-2004 and encompass topics from general political theory and ideology through Iraq and terrorism, onto Europe and 21st century politics. Its a lucid and very tough account of the vainities and faith of being either right or left. He goes to town on the ideals of progressives as a faith based culutre.
For many who are supporters to this day of either Marx or Smith then this guy is a very challenging read. Many of my core assumptions re politics were challenged by the reality of his thought and the insight into its motivations. His agruments about the new religion of secularism sournds like a warning to all of us to open our eyes. At the end however i am still erring on the side of striving for better not accepting inequality in its current form etc.
On Iraq and the UK he gives again a lucid and at the time quite prescient account of the motives and potential fallout from iraq.
The beuaty of the book is the short essay style allows him to make a myriad of seemingly unrelated points which certainly challenge world views. Also his work is grounded in history and ideas of historical movement as such the reading is some of the most illuminating ive picked up for a while.
FYI Moved on to one of those new mini penguin jobs; The Economics of Innocent Fraud by J.K. Galbraith. So far its excellent. the only word for it. Buy it now.
RR

» Author: Cian » Comments:

No action of environment in UK

this across at the BEEB suggests that the Government in the UK is only paying lip service to the problems of global warming and more focussed on jobs. Personally i reckon its a little more comlex and that the UK government is focussed on votes aswell. there is no votes in trying to change peoples behaviour and it is a long ahrd trek of a debate ot have with an electorate. Many in the departments (esp the Treasury) have eyes on the big prize post-Blair and one cannot be surprised to see hard nosed calculation taking place.
However this is one of the many opportunities presented to our incumbents to do something necessary and constructive, if they squander it we may not enjoy the fruitsof their failure but our kids will. Doomsayers tend to be ignored but Global wrming is no longer doomsaying except in the white house.
All of us need to pay attention to the environment and governments need to get active in changing behaviour patterns in electorates.
RR

» Author: Cian » Comments:

Immigration

News over at RTE reports a survey suggesting that economic migrants are actualy a plus not a minus to the economy. this is nice to hear and offers a further larger basis to calls for asylum applicants and others stuck in the system to be allowed temporary green cards. It also backs up what i was suggesting about the employment figures earlier this month, i.e. that there is a growing discrepency in job creation between high and low pay jobs with little or no middle goround. We have imported the american McJob culture and the irish are not very ahppy about working these jobs, so we need economic migrants. that fact has been plain for a while.
The other issue regarding immigation is that nowhere have i seen a government official stand up and say to us (or the minority of boneheads) that current levels of immigration are good for hte economy and necessary if this country is to remain moving. Personally, i think that most of this competitiveness stuff is nonsense and using immigrants to fill cleaning positions is a condemnation of the hubris and inequality so pervasive in freemarketism.
However there is no solid argumetn left for the neo-loony racists bith right and left who are calling for caps and other draconian actions to be taken to curb immigration.
The only cure for immigration is making the home state a welcome and profitable place to remain. the only way to do that is encourage selective protectionism and in some cases hand over resource rights. No that is more unlikely still than cutting immigration.
RR

» Author: Cian » Comments:

$60 oil is BAD NEWS!

Its not exactly my area of expertise but it cant have escaped many of your notice that the price of oil has moved toward all time highs today of $60 in New York trading. The knock on effect of expensive oil is myriad and even economists struggle to predict the impact it will have on the world at large particularly industrialised states.
I only have a number of small and perhaps obvious contributions to make but I seriously welcome anyone’s contribution on this hot topic. Its preoccupying many of the worlds top states so that’s reason for us all to have a position on it.
So my points, in no particular order;
1) The rising price of oil has the potential to guarantee a vast amount of wealth to any nationalised oil company. Most of our new oil discoveries are coming from African exploration in Nigeria and the Atlantic coast. The rising price of oil dramatically increases the paper value of Africa as a whole. However the majority of people in Africa have ZERO access to their own resources or the wherewithal to ensure that the government can renationalise the oil industry to an extent and redistribute the wealth. It is a key component of any democratisation process that mineral rights are addressed. On the current terms of trade with the West, Africa all but gives up its right to its own natural mineral wealth. This is an obscene culture but the reality of global politics means that the G8 China and India are going to resist any democratic movement in Africa that supports retaking oil wealth and redistributing it. The resulting insecurity in access to oil makes states quake.
The only conclusion to reach is high oil prices are bad news for any hopes of a home grown re-/evolution in Africa similar to the one in Bolivia at the moment.
2) The Euro has sunk to near three year lows against the dollar recently and any insulation that Eurozone countries had against oil price rises have now dissipated. This is bad news for Eurozone economies and particularly bad news for states struggling with manufacturing industry. Its also bad news for the gas-guzzling nation that is the Irish republic. There has never been a bigger onus on government to start some strategic thinking and forward planning, but then how good have they been at it so far??
The fact is that majorly expensive oil means that the spread of industrialisation as the cure to all other countries ills is at best impractical and at worst impossible. IT also ensures that currently industrialised nations are on the edge of a major recession with every spike in oil.
I reckon the US could be in major trouble domestically if Gas prices keep rising. No politician will survive the backlash of the irate consumer.
3) The increasing price and diminishing amount of oil should be screaming to us all that the world is about to call time on our lifestyle. Those who are waiting for technology and science to provide a panacea answer are living in cloud cuckoo land. Its time to have a genuine chat as people of the world about what the hell we plan to do when the black stuff runs out. Its no longer pie in the sky and it also is likely to hit poorest countries first. Those who are poorest will be the first to be unable to afford enough and so on.
4) Kind of related to point 1, taking on again from the book im reading by John Gray, resource wars are about to become inevitability again. Iraq may have had the veneer of spreading democracy and so forth but it will not be long before China, Russia, India, the US and Europe square off over land on central Asia and African and the era of empire is restored. Or human nature could take a startling turn and react before we reach crisis point.
5) In this race to consume oil the big winners should be those who have the oil, however the era of free trade and liberalisation has ensured that countries literally sold themselves to corporations. So well done to all those economic theorists for ignoring reality.
8) OR the price of oil goes back down. Many of you will cling to this possibility as the saving grace. It’s unlikely to occur though. The world requires 81million barrels of oil a day. Current refining capacity is in and around 81 million barrels a day. This is a tight margin and any event of any magnitude will push oil only one way. UP.
7) We are well screwed by oil dependency. FACT.
Still keep the faith, as I said I am no authority and these are only logical musings not hard fact. I really would like some replies to this one for above all else this will become the defining feature of 21st century international relations and social development.
Solutions to the world crisis on a post card to the usual address.
RR

6.21.2005 » Author: Cian » Comments:

More inept governance

Many of us got very irked at the debacle of the Health and Children committee report into the Travers Report. The divisions put on display that day were a condemnation of our present committee system which fails to encourage oversight and merely promotes divisive party political positions.
The report today from the PAC goes some way to renew my own confidence in the whole committee process and provides some welcome oxygen for dissent within the government ranks. It is nice to hear the PAC which has proven itself to be the best example of a cross-party committee providing oversight and collective argument and critique. We should be desiring more of this behavior from across our parliamentary body, a fear of speaking the truth to power is a crippling deficiency in any parliamentary democracy.
Fair play to the FF member of the committee, TD John Macguinness for getting on board and calling a farce a farce. The usual government prevarication in the face of overwhelming evidence of wrongdoing cannot be allowed to go on. I am a firm believer in the power of a good committee system to generate public interest and the ideal of good governance. The whole debacle of the Health committee made a joke of the notion that the Dail can adequately oversee government. Again the case is becoming stronger and stronger for a reform led government to tidy up the mess that years of laissez faire have done to our houses of oireachtas. Its a sad but not irrevocable situation.
Government in this country is basically an exercise in spin, damage control and ineptitude. Its time a genuine and honest government came into power. One who realises the need for reform of the dail and who can take control of the institutional malaise in this country. A root and branch evaluation of the way this country is run must be undertaken and the whole democratic system dragged into the 21st century in its outlook and responsibilities. We don't want more laissez faire we want some guarantees that society can benefit equaly and a fair society is not mutually exclusive with a wealthy one.
RR

» Author: Cian » Comments:

Hear Africa 05

For those who arent regular Guardian readers, an excellent pullout feature is available here with a special report on Africa. Must read stuff.
RR

» Author: Cian » Comments:

More on Q&A

Last night while posting about the interesting Q&A we were all watching, I mentioned the whole EU thing again and the thoughts of John Gray (Professor of European Thought at the LSE) on the whole Britain in Europe paradox and the direction of Europe generally. While the timing is a little out of date his analysis is incisive. He argues that the purpose of the EU is most certainly to rebalance the power currently held by the states as a global superpower in doing so it can outline differing approaches to international and internal issues like social provision and cultural identity. By offering a second major rallying point for international actors some of the damage done by the US globally can be undone. Culturally the EU is far closer to the consensus driven and often war torn history of much of Asia and South America.
In striving toward this goal, which he argues is essential for balance of some sort in the world order, the EU is best served by Britain remaining on the sidelines. Thus the latest scene of divisiveness only serves to offer more opportunity for the EU to respond to voters concern and define Europe, give it a narrative and make it relevant to people.
From the look of it, Tony reckons he can start to hammer his way out of this in the same way he hammered himself into Iraq and a series of other messes. I am amazed by the man’s belief in his own ability to make the world see things his way. He should be busy tidying up the mess left by his forces in Iraq and his labour party. Not picking old fights with France again.
Still its unlikely France will ever follow a British ideological lead. The divisions within Europe are startling. For the first time in years the voters have asked “what is the EU for?” The political response was naval gazing and turf wars. This nonsense will get sorted out, it always does.
On a similar vein, isn’t it funny how the lack of direct democratic accountability has actually insulates the EU from the devastation of two ‘no’ votes? Were it a regime of elected representatives, heads would have rolled and paralysis set in at all levels. However because it doesn’t answer directly to us the EU can carry on regardless. A wonder of progress and modernisation.
RR

» Author: Cian » Comments:

Disability injustice

Sparing a thought for the much overlooked tribulations of the O’Carolan family, the awarding of costs today is among the least of their worries. Again this government has fought long and hard to try to convince us it is doing the least possible to live up to its constitutional obligations.
The disability legislations has become so watered down that it now enshrines little or no actual rights for the disabled of our community.
Since disability campaigners walked out of the talks with government there has been little concerted effort by government to get them back onside. Surely following the fact that a boy with severe autism cannot be catered for in the institutions of the state it is time again for someone in the government to put up their hand and say that enough is enough. Disabiltiy rights are part and parcel of the equal society that most of us believe in.
This government has moved a long way from promising rights based legislation for last November in 2003. Now most groups are waiting to see what the legislation looks like having little or no input unless rights will be guaranteed.
Having seen the trauma that the O Carrolan family endured at the hands of an inept state care system, one can only be moved to agree with campaign groups when they argue for rights and legal recourse to ensure proper care is given. Since no government is required by statute to give adequate care it must fall to interpretation of the constitution to give it. Having come such a long way economically in such a short space of time, we really need a reform based government who are willing to tidy up the mess left by the whirlwind of economic globalisation and the devastation it wreaks on social cohesion and care.
RR

» Author: Cian » Comments:

Q&A Tonight

just watchng the unusually interesting Q&A this evening and il tell you this, i am convinced now more than ever in my pet theory that following the departure of Bertie from the FF kingship his replacement will be his namesake Dermot. The man is perma-tanned, polished, eloquent and inoffesive to most. above that he comes across as genuinely thoughtful and able to conduct himself internationally. I dont aim to become a cheerleader for FF nor for any single policy of faction therein.
However i am constantly returning to Ahern as the man to take FF in a new direction. its a pet theory and you can all call me up over it if he fails.
Alongside this i am struck by the degree to which yer man stokes reads opendemocracy. His whole reply on Africa resembles the Article on African Democracy i linked to earlier.
Also its impossible to conceive of Mairead Mcguinness not being parachuted into a constituency for FG in the next GE. *hat tip*-phoenix
Also on Europe i was coincidentally reading john gray this evening and am swayed by the argument that Europe will be better off with britain throwing stones at it rather than trying to influence it. More on all this tomorrow.
Finally back to Q&A where again the African problem was discussed in the vacuum which failed to advocate a wholistic solution to Africa requiring action on Democracy, Governance, Debt, Aid, privatisation and Trade rules.
Talk to ye all tomor.
RR

6.20.2005 » Author: Cian » Comments:

Demorcacy Audit

TASC released earlier today the results of the Democratic Audit which they had been carrying out. What i thought might be some institutional evaluation or oversight report, turned out to be a survey of attitudes of irish voters.
Still some interesting highlights and insights into how the electorate sees its system.
1)interestingly only roughly 5% of the electorate see a full free market economy as the major factor in a democracy (roughly equal to PD support surprise surprise)
2)Most voters value a fair society highest at around 40%
we always knew there was a progressive consensus there to be forged!!
Incidentally also very interesting is the result that 66% of the electorate support extending social and employment rights to non-nationals in this country.
Im going to keep perusing it and from time to time make some major profound points. or you can simply read it yourselves.
RR

» Author: Cian » Comments:

First US Presidential Candidate (Maybe)

Over at Salon.com we got news of the first democrat to formally jump into the 2008 race with both feet. unsurprisingly it is the uncompromisingly straight Joe Biden. Harry's place picked up on his comments over iraq earlier in the interview on CBS but failed to spot the senator on page 8 where he reckons he will kick start the deomcratic process of nomination a few years early.
We have ourself the first candidate of what are likely to be a lot of runners in this race. being in first gives Biden little advantage but he has considerable nous on the Hill, though most may remember his debacle in 98 where he was accused of cogging a Neil kinnock speech.
Anyway folkd sit back and enjoy the fireworks for the next 3 years as the ambitious among americas finest fight on up the greasy poll.
RR

» Author: Cian » Comments:

Uk smokers

Looks like the observer called it right and there will be a few unhappy bunnies over at harry's place.
Still its nice that for a very odd time in our political existence we have exported a major policy position to Britain and not the other way around. I chersih the thought of Mcdowell arguing the case for mandatory ID cards on the grounds of a terrorist threat to us from Algeria. You might scoff but if he can chance his arm with those bloody ASBOs then he will have little quibbles with enforcing state observation and interference.
Look out also for the election tactics being imported for 2007. one wonders why the brits still see us as part of the empire...
RR

» Author: Cian » Comments:

Live 8 opening our eyes

Over at slugger, its back to africa and the point being made across the board by development commentators that resource wealth needs to be fairly distributed if poverty is to have any chance of being abolished. I thoroughly agree with the point that Live 8 has opened our eyes to the problem but on a deeper level, i am again drawn back to the arguments over CAP etc.
As i stated earlier the issue of Africa requires a wholistic solution, none of the propsals to alleviate poverty will work on their own. For real progress to be made, many of hte peoples of Africa need to feel ownership of their systems and states. the biggest hinderance ot the spread of democracy in the region and the cultivation of democratic thought is the interest of big business. the reason signing off on debt is easier than aid/trade is because the issues of aid/trade require us to explore the state of governance and ownership of resources. Africa is a hugely wealthy continent which is riddled with corrupt leaders opening the floodgates to big business resource interests. they profit in the meantime and the loser is the people at large. an excellent article on moves toward a phase of 'humanistic enlightenment' and democratic spread is located here.
The major point i am making is that in everything we do in the west we are prescribing solutions uni-laterally and not giving fully what is desired or needed by those on the ground. Similarly in abolishing CAP we are likely to benefit big business far more than we are small farmers. The global price system will again fall and unless tariffs are lifted, which is unlikely, the effect will be to make it easier and more profitable for big organisations to force privatisation on us all and move most small farmers along the poverty line. I am wholly convinced of the need to reform CAP to the advantage of the poor in both the EU and Africa but i will not support the mindless and directionless abolition which opens up the vacuum into whihc jumps private interests.
Africa needs help from all corners and EU farmers should do their bit, tariff reduciton and active competition as well as resource owenership reform and stronger democratic governance is a good start. Corruption indeed is right. And solutions are hardest for the most corrupt.
It is about Fair trade not free trade. Protection for economies that are not comptetitive on a global scale and openness for developed countries. However recent policy moves by EU and USA suggest the idea of Panacea global free markets have been dropped in the national interest. France will not share CAP funding. Ever. Moves to reform are essential but cannot be dictated or motivated by corporate interest or big business profit.
RR

» Author: Cian » Comments:

Tax Evasion & Loopholes

In the mood for a bit of a rant at government policy this morning so I alight on a story from the tail of last week regarding the artist exemption from tax on income. Many leaked stories are flagging this as a new government initiative in the coming few months. This is a sad state of affairs for anyone who believes in the value of a thriving writing scene. Of course the usual names were trotted out as spongers coming to our shore to steal our wealth, DBC Pierre, John Simpson and even mistakenly Freddy Forsyth.
However Labour always quick to pounce on philistines accused the government of trying to cover the fact that far more serious loopholes exist in the Irish tax system whereby the richest in the country pay the least in percentage terms in tax. I agree it’s not fair, as the title of the site suggests, I support a fully progressive taxation system.
If government is insistent on removing the artist exemption or placing a cap on tax free income, it can only come and we should only accept it as part of a broader review of tax policy and loop holes. One recalls a recent budget by Biffo where he committed to review tax break loopholes. Tax avoidance costs us all. The merit and national value of a reputable Arts scene is a price worth paying for artist exemptions within reason. The same argument tends not to apply to other more shady breaks and loopholes.
while on this topic I came across news in the IT of one of these social attitudes survey regarding behaviour toward the law. By the looks of these results we should be more focussed on those more likely to rip off the state and us as taxpayers. not artists who are by and larger relatively poor and not on a fixed income.
RR

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