Monday, December 29, 2008

Something changed?

After years of running a servile foreign policy, two recent ministerial statements lend some hope that Ireland is growing some again.

Yesterday saw a welcome strong statement by Minister of Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin on the Israeli slaughter in Gaza and today I read that Mickey Mac is off to Cuba.

What has brought on this new found independence is unclear. Whether the recent change in the top Civil Service post in DFA is anything to do with it I don't know.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Operation Over the Top

Its the sense of deja vu that so dispiriting. Israel/Hamas or Hamas/Israel exchange fire until, predictably, Israel unleashes an utterly over the top military attack to a political problem.

After two days of bombing Israel has killed over 300 people, ripped apart a fragile infrastructure, made thousands homeless and caused the injury or hundreds more.

An attack that is completely counter productive and will do nothing to achieve the goal that Israel claims it wants.

I don't think anyone would argue with what Israel won't secure with their bombing of Gaza.

1. It will not bring an end to the rocket attacks launched by Hamas and Islamic Jihad on its territory.

2. It will not undermine the support base of Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

3. It will not gain them any new support from the international community.

So why proceed?

Well what the bombing might achieve is the election of current foreign minister Tzipi Livni in her February showdown with opposition leader, and even bigger asshole, Benjamin Netanyahu.

In a sense the very weakness of the peace process in the Middle East is the immaturity of the Israeli electorate. An electorate who continually elect "hardline" leaders whose very actions only ensure that peace in Israel is impossible.

At this stage and having met and talked to political people on both sides of the conflict I have to say that I don't believe that deep down the Israeli state is ready for peace with the Palestinians. The state of Israel is greatly reinforced by having a weak bogeyman at its side. The Hamas attacks are no more than an irritant to the state, yet the Israelis are able to portray them domestically, and to a much lesser extent abroad, as an existential threat, which is nonsense.

Until such a time that Israel converts its current arrogance into a self-confidence it will remain at war. It is not a David, 50 years after its birth it has become the dominant super power of the Middle East and mediterranean.

It will take an ex-military strongman to lead the Israelis out of the political cesspool they are in, its just not clear if one will emerge soon.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

UK of GB and Irl?

Sometimes I think that there is as much likelihood of Ireland being united as Ireland joining in a political union with Britain. That thought grounded with the trend of nativist shame in relation to our own history.

The last few days have seen, with the exception of Tom Mc Gurk in the Sunday Businees Post, a cluster of fawning obituries to Ireland's most intellectually corrupt politican, Conor Cruise O' Brien. A man whose acts were so singularly treasonous that in many other countries he would have served time.

Then today I get an email from Dublin's Lord Mayor , a pointless and pompous office as it now stands, but more of that at another time.

The mail was a press release entitled New Year Message. Nothing very interesting; noted that Dublin's great, the Garda, Civil Defence and Fireservice are doing a good job, that homelessness is bad and next year looks grim.

The wording that caught my eye was this;

We are certainly living in an unprecedented economic period but in its time Dublin has survived famine and rebellion.

Heh? "survived rebellion"?

Now this might seem pedantic but the wording here implies that Dublin's rebellions were something negative, some black spot on our history, some event of which we were helpless passive victims of.

History is constructed on myths, I accept this, but equally acknowledge the importance of these myths in helping form identity and loyalty.

Surely the most appropiate, and accurate, wording that could have been used was to say that Dublin had survived "colonisation", "invasion" or "attack".

I fired off a quick mail to the Lord Mayor on this, I will post an update.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

If thats the best you have....

More grimness reported in the sundays - it appears that Dell are about to fire 2,000 of their Limerick staff. Whats most shocking about this is that Ireland´s worst minister, the sociopath and liar, Willie O´Dea was dispatched off to meet with the boss of Dell to make the case for retaining the current workforce.

Now seriously if you were the CEO of a fortune 500 company and Willie O´Dea was sent as some sort of ambassador would you be impressed?

Willie O´Dea has left his mark in Irish politics in that he has managed to record a montrous personal vote yet conversally he has managed to achieve absolutely nothing of note either nationally or locally.

After he is retired mathematicians will try to devise formuale to explain the imbalance between his support and his effectiveness.

O´Dea personifies the fatal flaw in our PR-STV electoral system.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The lying liars are lying again

The latest of the banking 'indiscretions' exemplifies the complete lack of progress that Ireland thinks it achieved towards creating a meritocracy.

Last night the Chairman of Anglo-Irish bank, Seán Fitzpatrick, resigned. His resignation prompted by the reality that a story was about to leak about an eight year long sleight of hand he had been playing with a huge loan he took out from the bank during his tenure as CEO and then Chairman.

Now lets go back a little - to September 2008 - at the end of that month the stock price of Anglo Irish was hurtling down. The bank bailout/guarantee was triggered by the fear that Anglo Irish wouldn't last a few more hours trading. The Bank share price is now some 98% less than its peak 16 months ago and its worth only about €200 million. This figure puts into scale the size of Fitzpatrick's €87 million loan.

Whats so revealing about this story is the scale and extent of the deception. To ensure that the loan did not make it into the Anglo Irish's annual accounts, Fitzpatrick had to transfer the loan into Irish Nationwide. So the following people must have known about this huge loan;

Board of Anglo Irish Bank.
Loan Committee of Anglo Irish Bank
Audit Committee of Anglo Irish Bank
Anglo Irish Banks Auditors
Ernest and Young, the Banks Auditors
Irish Nationwide CEO
Irish Nationwide Board
and so on...

The point is that possibly hundreds of people, mostly based in Dublin, were complicit or at the least knew that the head of one of big four banks in Ireland was involved in deceiving the shareholders.

And all stayed schtumm.

I believe that Ireland operates, by and large, through a series of social platforms, the platform you occupy determined by; where you grew up, who your father is and what school you went to. Our society appears to me to be still largely tribal based. Irrespective of the rights and wrong of the tribes behaviour the rules dictate that your loyalty, co-operation and complicity is the only qualification demanded. By playing ball, rewards will be conferred on you.

Our political system is littered with examples of this.

Anglo Irish has only days left to live - its seems quite absurd that the guarantee introduced in September, primarily due to the performance of Anglo Irish, is likely to be called upon because of the indecent behaviour of those on the very top of the Irish financial community.

It appears nothing much has really changed.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I received notification of this seminar a couple of weeks back;


Olakunle Animashaun, Camino De Orula Productions

Making manifest the 'Spectagonist' and the Metatheatre in Athol Fugard's 'Sizwe Bansi is Dead'

I mean what chance is there of me going to this - I can't even understand the title.

One of the lads in the office reckons its an anagram.

Academia - don't you just love it.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ok hands up, I have been a bad blogger, with almost three weeks since my last post. In defence I was up to my proveriables.

The sense of impending economic doom has meant I keep agreeing to take on more work - on the theory that next year I will be standing at the local junction with one of these signs.

We are now in end of year wrapup time - so posting will resume from today on a much more regular basis.