Monday, June 30, 2008

The big R

Just about sums it up; the performance of Irish shares over the past two years on the ISEQ index.

Since the ESRI publication last week with the Celtic Tiger epithet "Thus Ireland will experience a recession for the first time since 1983" public commentary has been by and large one of gloom. The weekend papers had a fine time, with reminiscing from 40 somethings on the recession of the 1980's.

This morning the CSO confirmed that the first quarter of 2008 showed negative growth.

However not all bought into the script with some of the economists still King Canute like insisting all was well. A special mention must go to Dan Mc Laughlin of Bank of Ireland, a bullish economist who has a habit of getting ever prediction he makes wrong; he has been wrong about Irish economic growth rates, house prices, inflation and ECB interest rates. But he is not alone, with the exception of Jim Power, all the commentary and analysis from the bank employed economists over the past two years has been dishonest and self serving.

And normally that's fine, these economists know "who pays the piper plays the tune" and know that their employers need confident consumers to spend and seek loans. The problem has arisen that these economists were elevated into Oracles. RTE regularly sought out the economists to comment of the latest reports or news on the economy as if they were independent and neutral. Those who urged caution, such as George Lee or David Mc Williams were dismissed as doom merchants.

Indeed His Bertness himself claimed in 2007 that not alone was all rosy in the garden but that "sitting on the sidelines, cribbing and moaning is a lost opportunity. I don't know how people who engage in that don't commit suicide because frankly the only thing that motivates me is being able to actively change something".

Says a man who has since dumped the problem into the laps of other as he hadn't the guts to stick around.

Part of the recovery process of this country should include a in depth post-mortem to how we went from a bust to boom to bust economy. Questions that need to be addressed is why employees of the banking industry were allowed, usually unchallenged, access to the state broadcaster to decieve the Irish public on the actual trends and direction of the economy.

p.s. What is going on in Bank of Ireland - its share price just seem to be in freefall at this stage.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Next time

The Irish state lottery recorded it highest ever jackpot for the draw last night.

€19 million.

The winning numbers were 04, 12, 26, 27, 29, 37.

Mine were 02, 09, 10, 24, 42, 44.


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Real Democracy

In the US they do direct democracy like no one else, well maybe expect the Swiss, and at a time that our own Referendum vote is being demonised by the very people who were mandated to represent it, its refreshing that anti-establishment initiatives elsewhere can be simply progressed by the electorate.

The New York Times picks up on a story on a petition that has been gathering signatures in San Francisco to rename the local water treatment centre plant the George W. Bush Sewage Plant.

A local group the satirically named Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco has collected nearly 9,000 signatures to successfully ensure that the proposal to rename the treatment centre is included on a City wide ballot on the same day of the USA Presidential Election in November.

A simple yes/no option will be open to all registered voters at that time.

In a city that vote 83% Democrat in 2004, I think it won't be long before the liberals, pro-choicers, gays, greens, pinkos, gun shirkers, artisans, actors, and atheists of San Francisco have the last laugh on the most awful of US presidents.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Cowen's Downfall

This is priceless! Hat tip to Dan Sullivan.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Ah, Some Clarity

Richard Delevan has been tracking and hunting for the elusive Lisbon Poll commissioned by Eurobarometer following the Lisbon vote.

The first report of a detailed poll having been undertaken was in Tuesday's Indo. The Independent piece revealed that three quarters of No voters did so on the basis that parts of the treaty could be renegotiated. This claim is substantiated in the poll findings published today.

The same story claimed that "Immigration was an unspoken factor in the vote, as people expressed concern about the numbers of immigrants coming to the country in such a short time".
Except it wasn't.
The Eurobarometer poll noted that only 1% of those who voted No did so on the basis of fears around immigration and only 2% on concerns about the introduction of abortion, gay marriage and euthanasia.

Yet these issues have been repeated by all the politicians, Government and even EU Commissioners as an explanation of the No vote. It seems that having demonised the No campaigners before the referendum the Irish political and media is intent of demonising the No vote itself.

Some might say that just politics, but its not, the No vote was not a vote for Sinn Féin, Libertas, Patricia Mc Kenna or Joe Higgins. If our No vote is misrepresented by the Irish Government in Brussels we will end up with a rehashed Lisbon Mark II being presented back to the electorate in 2009, with some meaningless declarations about abortion and conscription.

This referendum that would end in a second defeat for the Government. That defeat would be interpreted around Europe as "we gave them what they want and they said no, what is wrong with these ungrateful anti-EU Irish".

Now that would be a scenario that would be very negative for Ireland.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Return of the Petrols

The world greatest band, scientifically proven, That Petrol Emotion, are reforming for a few shows this summer.

Their 1987 single Big Decision is often cited as the first dance/rock crossover 'hit' in Britain influencing the sound and success of the Madchester and Britpop bands. Unfortunately for the Petrols their much anticipated follow up album, recorded just as their main songwriter left the band, underwhelmed an expectant music media and fans alike.

They returned in 1990 with the my favourite Album, Chemicrazy, a 12 tracker, eleven of which are outstanding. Over the next four years I saw them at least 15 times and live they were incredible. Vocalist Steve Mack epitomised exactly what a frontman for a band should be, the only other even to approach his presence, energy and creativity was Perry Farrell.

The best gig, by a long way, I've ever been at was a eve of US tour 'secret' New Inn show in Dublin. A 200 capacity venue run in the early 90's by Smiley Bolger, it had a low ceiling, sticky carpets and warm beer - but hey, it was ours. The band that night played for two hours, the hits, album tracks, b-sides and covers.

The Petrols play a warm up show in Dundalk on the Thursday 28th August and the superb Electric Picnic (I have my brother Dec to thank for his wise and tasteful booking skills!) on the 30th.
Check their new site for updates which now includes a video of the band rehearsing the songs in London last week.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Lying Liability

I have blogged about the concerns I have in relation to the Chad EUfor mission previously.

After hearing Ireland's worst minister on Morning Ireland this today those concerns are heading to despair.

Responding to UNHCR complaints that Irish Defence Forces failed to provide protection to their staff and offices during a rebel attack on saturday Minister Willie O'Dea, a proven bullshitter wholly unsuitable as in any Ministerial post, claimed that it not their mandate to protect UN staff.

Now, O'Dea is one of those people whose belligerent assertions have an inverse relationship with the facts.

Security Council resoultion 1778 which authorised the mission has an number of points which implictly authorises UN peacekeepers to be proactive in "securing the environment" and one section which explicitly states that EU forces deployed are;

To contribute to protecting United Nations personnel, facilities, installations and equipment and to ensuring the security and freedom of movement of its staff and United Nations and associated personnel.

Now by no means do I think it feasible for Irish peacekeepers to be able to perform miracles in the political pisspot they have found themselves in. But rather than O'Dea pointing out the very difficult situation they are in, the obvious lack of air assets and the incident based selective interpretation that is pragmatic and sensible he blames UNHCR and also lies about the mandate.

O'Dea has only two gears in his political armour one is lying the other is blaming the nearest available scapegoat.

It is plainly obvious that the Irish troops are in a very, very exposed and vulnerable position in Chad, it is more than possible that will be able to carry out their UN mission and at the same time avoid getting pulled into the civil war. For this to happen though O'Dea needs to be removed, he may be an effective political scrapper in Limerick, but in his current position the causalities of his approach will be far more serious than some ambitious FF councillor.
The Minister of Defence first and foremost should be in a safe pair of hands, I don't think even O'Dea's greatest supporters would call him that.

UPDATE: O'Dea is now claiming that the UN apologised to him for the comments made by their offical spokeperson. The Irish Times report that they are unable to confirm that any apology has taken place!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

No, Nien, Non.

Oops I was wrong it was a resounding No!

53% of the electorate voted against the Lisbon Treaty.

In Dublin North East it was a 57% No vote on a similarly high turnout. I was very happy with the turnout as it was obvious that the Treaty really captured peoples attention.

I did the tallies for the area.
It was apparent from about a half hour after the first boxes were opened that the Yes side was in trouble. The boxes from Donaghmede were recording a 2:1 vote against the treaty. Raheny boxes were about 5:4 against and the Bayside boxes were 3:2 against. The only parish that returned a solid Yes vote were those boxes from Burrow Road (Sutton). At the other end of the constituency and economic bracket and my party colleague Larry O'Toole's stronghold, Darndale had one box that was over 90% No.

Interestingly Dublin North East was the only DARTland area that recorded a No vote.

What happens next?

Tomorrow we will be presenting our alternative and the changes necessary in a new treaty.
The proposal will map out how to proceed with a new EU Treaty, but one that defines a limit to the EU's creeping powers, protects Irish, and other small states interests, and promotes a more social Europe.

As for the Government, they need to ensure that they hold firm and inform our European Partners that Irish people are uneasy about the extent of EU political power, concerns on neutrality and workers rights and worries on our place in the future of the EU.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Just waiting now

So after almost six months involved in the Lisbon Treaty campaign for SF its finally over.

I was pleasantly surprised at the turnout, RTE are calculating (as of Thursday evening) a 43% national turnout).
From what we can tell in Dublin North East we think the figure will be about 51 - 53%. That ranges from the low 40's in the Darndale polling station to the high 60's in Sutton Polling Station.

Kilbarrack and Donaghmede were both busy with Turnouts in the region of 50 - 55%.

And my national prediction?

I really have no clue.

Anecdotaly its a 70% NO, but clearly that reflects more on my own professional, political and social circles than anything else.

All day voters in and around my electoral area unprompted told me they were or had voted No. Again that's meaningless as I can't see why a constituent would be so keen to tell me they voted in a different way than we had been advocating.

Looking at the turnout figures also heartens me, the working class areas engaged and voted on this and so should be good....but this referendum clearly had massive class, income, age and gender cross over that makes presumptions on the result foolish. Also as this post points out on, there has been assumptions made on turnout benefiting one particular viewpoint that simply don't add up to a hill of beans.

I am off to witness and tally some of local boxes count for Dublin City tomorrow morning and I expect that by 1o.30 am we will know how Dublin North East voted.

As an indicator DNE voted;

56% against Nice 1 on a 40% turnout.

60% for Nice 11 on a 60% turnout.

Getting partly off the fence, I forecast that DNE will be....

55% against Lisbon.

And nationally I think it may just sneak over the line. The lower turnout in the country I think reflects indicative NO supporters loyal to one of the three major parties who decided in the end to opt out rather than voting against the Lisbon Treaty.

As a campaign I enjoyed it and learnt a hell of amount.
More tomorrow.