Friday, May 30, 2008

PC Gone Mad!

Part of the perverse logic of the far right and some self proclaimed libertarians is that the liberal left are intolerant and undemocratic.

They have popularised the phrase Political Correctness Gone Mad to such an extent that it has become a cliché.

Yet in another demonstration of the right's true roots, and its power, it was announced that Dunkin Donuts have pulled a on-line ad which featured a celeb TV chef wearing the keffiyeh, more popularly known as the PLO scarf.

It seems that D.D. were running scared after some of the more nasty, small minded wingnuts in the US started to express outrage over this satorial expression.

Along with the shoefaced Carol Coulter, Hysteric in Chief Michelle Malkin was upset. Claiming that the scarf "symbolized murderous Palestinian jihad".

One would have to wonder then what would Malkin and co would make of the tie, or fedora.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Brian Keenan

Saddened to hear that life long Republican Brian Keenan died this morning after a long battle with cancer.
One of the most important behind the scenes leaders in the peace process, Brian was a extremely articulate, intelligent and passionate man.
Rest in Peace.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Peacekeeping, but for whom?

Today 160 Irish defence force troops will journey from the capital of Chad to their AOR almost 1,000 kms away on the Chad/Sudanese border. They are the first in a 400 strong contingent mandated to protect some 400,000 refugees and IDPs made homeless from fighting in Sudan and the border region.

The deployment fits all the requirements of the triple lock arrangement fixed into the Irish law. It has a UN mandate and it was agreed by the Government and the Dail. Although given that the Government will have an in built Dáil majority surely this “triple lock” is really just a “double lock”.

The coverage from the mainstream media on this has focused mainly on the logistics of it and little on the politics of it.

The mission is part of the EU peacekeeping force and the UN Secretary General himself made the appeal for troops.

Obviously the very nature of soldiering entails some risk and danger and so no one is realistically expecting that the Irish soldiers will be welcomed with open arms by all. Peacekeeping is rarely truly neutral and one if not all domestic combatants will feel at some point that UN peacekeepers are biased.

Accusations of bias were constantly levelled against Irish peacekeepers as part of the UNIFIL mission by Israel and the Serb minority in Kosova has made similar unfair calls.

But this is different. Irish troops have been deployed to Chad and from the day they arrive our Minister of Defence and his EU counterparts have placed them in a much compromised position.

Headlines that point out how the mission is commanded by an Irish General, it is routinely omitted to note that some EU troops are already in Country.

In 2005 France, at the request of the Chadian president Idriss Deby sent additional troops to bring a total of 1,300 French military personnel in the capital.

Neutrality, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Willie O’Dea would have us believe that the Chadian rebels in the Toyota flatbeds whose stronghold is in Ireland’s AOR are going to recognise the visibly subtle difference between the EU troops sent to protect refugees and the EU troops sent to prop up their enemy.

It’s delusional to hope that they will. To them the French and Irish EU troops will be seen as one and the same. White Europeans siding with an unpopular leader with extremely dubious democratic credentials.

If there is any doubt see what UFDD leader, Mahamat Hassane Boulmaye, had to say about the EU peacekeepers “We will view the European soldiers as enemies, whether they are French or Austrian. For us all European units on our territory are enemies because they came to defend the dictator Idriss Deby."

By all means Ireland should take on assertive peace enforcement missions but we should have never agreed to contribute troops as long as France had troops acting as an illegitimate government’s Praetorian Guard. It puts the reputation and lives of Irish men at risk and threatens to further erode our neutral status.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Gaybo on Lisbon

While out walking the dog this morning one of my elderly neighbors stopped me to tell me she was voting no to the Lisbon Treaty "after what Gaybo wrote in the paper".

It turns out that in today's Sunday Independent Gay Byrne wrote a piece on his opposition to the treaty. The thread on outlines more.

Given that Gaybo and Myers are both against the Lisbon Treaty, I may have to reassess my own position.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Lisbon, Lisbon and more Lisbon

So the Irish Times had it latest poll on the Lisbon Treaty in today's paper. Yesterdays party results, FF lose a leader due to his financial wizardry and go up 8%, are far too surreal for serious political analysis. Time for a new electorate anyone?

Anyway the Lisbon Treaty poll shows that 35% intend to vote Yes, 18% No and 47% Don't Know. It would be interesting if there was a fourth option given to those polled, namely "What you talking 'bout" - I suspect that many of the Don't Knows are in this group.

That said the presence of tens of thousands of posters throughout the state provides a very visible nudge to the electorate that they are being asked to decide on something, and soon.

With 25 days to run the Yes side, although ahead on a 2:1 basis, are far from safe as the IT notes;

The first Irish Times poll during the Nice referendum campaign in 2001 showed the Yes side with a bigger lead of 52 per cent to 21 per cent, yet the No side won a month later.

This campaign is going to be decided in the last three days, the Yes voters and campaigners I have met and debated are uneasy and intend supporting the Treaty for largely emotional reasons or fuzzy logic; grateful to Europe, Europe is good, need to be in Europe.

By contrast the No campaign is clear on the dangers of the Treaty and the main groups have managed to articulate it in a precise fashion, and the most welcome and surprising development, in a sober manner without try to spin utter nonsense and ripping into one another.

I've two non constituency Lisbon events this coming week.

On Monday at lunchtime I am debating with Fine Gael MEP Gay Mitchell and Brendan Kiely of the Alliance for Europe, also speaking from a No perspective is Declan Ganley of Libertas.

The debate is a little different, its on a lunchtime in the KPMG office in the IFSC, the attendance will be mainly those working in the centre. Not exactly the people who will be hardcore Shinner voters.

Both Gay Mitchell and Brendan are aggressive debaters so while the panel may enjoy themselves there's a chance that it will become bogged down in too fine a detail on the text of the Treaty for many in the audience to engage with.

On Thursday I back to Dublin Castle for the last time in the current round of National Forum on Europe debates. Thursday features the new veliki sir. The format is protective of the guest speaker so I would expect Cowen to deliver a well researched civil servant written speech, light on whats good in the Treaty, but heavy on history.

Cowen's response to the questions he will be asked will be interesting; he can choose to evade the questions and finish content that he will have secured his 15 seconds and soundbite on the 6'O Clock news, or he maybe tempted to get stuck in.

Given that its not clear how much he knows about The Lisbon Treaty, any attempt by him to assert himself holds the real danger (for him) of making a false claim on the benefits of the Treaty.

Here's hoping he goes for the latter option.

Monday, May 12, 2008

I'll be a guest on Newstalk 106-108FM tonight, reviewing the news of the day. Hosted by Declan Carty, Late Night Live, is a cracking listen with the right guests and issues.

Throw in is at 10pm.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Is there a Power of One?

Last summer I read George Monibot's book Heat.
The book is a comprehensive assault on the complacency, wishful thinking and technological messiahness, that soothes most peoples concerns over Global Warming.

Systematically Monibot destroys the "easy options" being bandied about; nuclear power, renewables and, well, eating tofu.

The only alternatives to catastrophic climatic change, according to Monibot, is for a 90% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030.


After reading the book I went and through a friend had my carbon footprint calculated for 2007.

I had imagined that I would be below the average in Ireland. I walk regularly, drive a average car, recycle (sort of), don't take unnecessary flights and turn off the appliances at night.

However the result revealed that my carbon footprint was 12.1 tonnes in 2007. The Irish average was 10.2 tonnes.

Cracking into action, and as penance, I went down to the garden centre, bought and planted four fruit trees and a bunch of hedging.

For 2008 my aim is to get my footprint below 10 tonnes.


I recycle everything at this stage. Using the three bins we have in Dublin and separate the waste into each one.

I use conference calling and Skype with video to avoid needless work trips.

I have cut down on eating meat.

I check where the food produce we buy actually comes from. (No more tomatoes from Chile)

I got the bike out from the shed for the short trips to the shops and local house visits.

I fix things rather than looking to replace them.

I will buy second hand CDs and books on Amazon.

I have become somewhat obsessive about turning off household appliances.

Where I have failed and this isn't good, is around flights. Too many again this year, but will be one less than 2007.

The changes I made have been have been easy and I am confident I can get below 10 tonnes this year.

The nagging problem of course is what difference, aside from me feeling better about myself, will it make.....??

What we need is a mandated benign enforcer to bring in radical laws that oblige us all to conform to massive reduction.

Surely that's a role for the Greens in Government?

Calculate your own Carbon Footprint here.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Heard a bizarre bit of political gossip last night at a local community fundraiser.

A Fianna Fail Oireachtas member told me of a FF Councillor who rang one of their Meath TDs.

He wanted to check how come no Fine Gael TD got a promotion in Cowen's reshuffle!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Olympic Boycott

I see there are more calls for a boycott of the forthcoming Olympics appearing on the blogsphere. has a developing thread making renewed calls for Ireland not to send athletes on the basis of the refusal of Burma to allow access to international aid workers.

It seems China's allies have a bit of history in this regard, something I wrote about during a previous career in relation to North Korea. Still to this day the numbers who died in the North Korean famines of the 1990's are unknown.

A post on the thread captures some of my feeling on the boycott issue, saying "we knew they were assholes when we gave them the Olympics and we didn't care , so it would be a bit dodgy to suddenly start caring now".

In Ireland that has been almost a weekly roll out of politicians calling for a Olympic boycott because of Tibet, Burma or Sudan. Yet some of these same politicians don't seem to have the same concern about our cultural cousins abuses around the globe.

China should have never been awarded the Olympics but now that they have, what to do.

A Olympic boycott is the easy way out and would represent cowardice by Iveagh House. Most of the Irish Athletes have as much chance of winning a medal than I have of being Taoiseach in 2012. Its a possibility, just a very, very, very slim one. But similar to an aspiring Taoiseach an athlete rated 45th in the world, has to train and sacrifice as hard as those in the top 5. All their earnings go into their sporting ambitions and family and career developments are shelved. Most of these people probably couldn't even find Burma on a map.

We seem to think it appropriate that these athletes non participation will alleviate our guilt and establish our empathy with the oppressed in Lhasa.
A complete cop out.

If the Government wants to make a statement on China, it can do it, by withdrawing ambassadors, expelling diplomats, taxing imports, petitioning the UN or EU or even handing out melted Ferrero Rocher at the next embassy knees up.

If a citizen wants to protest against China do it with your wallet. Next time your out shopping check the "made in" label. If its China, purchase an alternative.

A reasonable course of action would be for a boycott of the opening ceremony and for no Irish diplomats or TDs to attend any part of the games.

And as a Councillor I would appreciate if the Department of Foreign Affairs would stop trying to twin Dublin with Beijing.
Irrespective of what goodies are offered I will not support Dublin being twinned with any City that is not democratically represented.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Deja Vu Again

A story from a week back in the Northside People outlined a local problem that I was facing. The issue was about the Old Station Masters house at Howth Junction Station.

Stay with me now...!

The building itself is not remarkable, but it is a handsome brick structure built in the 1890s and one of the very, very few historic buildings in the Dublin 5 and 13 postal districts.

It is also, importantly been on the Record of Protected Structures for Fingal Co Council since January 2006.

Yet it is literally falling down, with holes in the roof, open access to all and sundry to go in, covered in graffiti and being chipped away by local vandals. Surely, you may ask, part of the rationale on being placed on the Record of Protected Structures is to be "Protected".

So when I wrote an email to Iarnrod Eireann on the 1st February asking them to secure the site one would expect them to answer positively.

A few emails later and the relevant person, a Ms Joy Rogers replied on the 5th of Feb saying "My contractor has secured opes and lower roof areas. It is my intention to seek Fingal co co permission to demolish this dangerous structure."

Aside from wondering what a "opes" is (Anyone?), I was pissed with the comment that the structure is dangerous. Lets be clear here the building is in the condition it is in ONLY because, at best, Iarnrod Eireann don't care and Fingal County Council haven't forced them to address it.

Fingal County Council are supposed to apply the law and Iarnrod Eireann have eight weeks to comply. Since my email of the 1st February nothing has happened, except the building has become further damaged. Fingal have been useless, the officials I was speaking to protesting that they have already asked Iarnrod Eireann to comply. Its utterly pathetic.

I would go as far to speculate that this being a prime land bank location is informing their decision to allow the building to become an aesthetic and structural zit that Fingal will agree to remove it as a protected building and it can be demolished and the land sold off for apartments.

Fingal then get a few extra social and affordable units and a headache off their books.

This little local issue is so typical of the immaturity of Irish planning, it is infantile in its analysis of cause and effect and this example goes to show how far we have to go in terms of holding people to account.

Commentators and politicians like to think that the destruction of Georgian Dublin as happened in the 1960 and 1970 were an aberration. However the justification given then for the systematic demolition of entire Georgian streets was precisely the reason being given now, ie the building is dangerous. Well deja vu, and you know how many people seem to care; from where I'm standing, none.

The Ting Tings on Later

In two weeks, Salfords latest musical shock troops release their debut album.

The Ting Tings have a trio of cracking singles behind them, have managed to delicately straddle between NME cred and Radio 1 appeal and are gifted with two innovative (and photogenic) musicians and songwriters.

This apperance was the wow! moment for me. It was from Jules Holland's Later in, I think, December 2007. They are performing "Thats Not My Name", which was released in May of last year and will get a re-release on their major label next week.

Expect this album to be the soundtrack for the summer of 2008.

Monday, May 5, 2008


A bank holiday seemed like a good a day as any to finally get around to opening a blog.

Although I have had a web presence for a number of years I was always a little sceptical of the benefit, to local constituents or myself, of posting up detailed parochial issues with earnestism being the primary emotion. In addition the formats available through the web hosting company were stale and inflexible, meaning I needed to open a new tab for each new local issue. This made quick posting and commentary difficult.

As I am only a local Councillor and the web has a global reach the web seemed to be the wrong tool to use to highlight local work carried out or flag issues of concern. The tried (even tired!) and tested newsletter and door knock are both expected and effective.

So I decided that my homepage should be just a business card with contact details, a biog and a gallery of relevant pics.

This blog's aim is to comment on wider issues, I intend to use local issues to highlight some of the problems in local government that I think are emblamatic of a wider statis in administration in the state.

I also use the blog just to comment and give my tuppence worth on......well whatever.

As for comments, feel free to post, I'll try and respond but that subject to having time, the comment making sense and generally being arsed. I will delete offensive or libellious stuff.