Tuesday, May 19, 2009

No Junk Mail

Knocking around the doors in this election I've noticed an increasing number of signs in peoples porches or on the letter box stating "No Junk Mail".

Now this sign causes a bit of a dilemma for us canvassers. Junk Mail is subjective. Obviously I don't consider my local manifesto to be junk, but accept that others might do.

So the dilemma is this. If I post in the leaflet will the potential voter be annoyed that I didn't respect their wishes but if I don't put it in the letterbox how will the potential voter ever know that I respected their little sign about Junk Mail.

I would suggest that a bit more detail is needed and after careful consideration I recommend that the sign is changed to "No unsolicited mail or flyer's".

That would sort out the confusion :)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Plot Thickens

Last weeks Sunday Tribune led with a story on the country's property developers seeking to limit the reach of the recently established National Assests Management Agency (NAMA). Today's Sunday Business Post suggest that may not be necessary as NAMA has agreed "not to force up to 20 of the country’s top developers into receivership or liquidation".

NAMA was set up by Finance Minister Lenihan "so that bad loans can be taken off the bank balance sheets, freeing them up to lend to business and individuals in support of economic recovery".

The Agency also intends to take some of the good assets from developers and sell them on as well as the bad loans which are likely never to be repaid.

The problem with this approach is that announcing that gives the developers a lot of time to transfer their good assests out of the reach of NAMA.

Last week I was at a meeting in attendance was a official from one of the ancillary service providers to major developers. He told me later that he knew that some of his clients were frantically looking at legal ways to transfer their good assets into legal trusts that NAMA couldn't touch!

This nugget plus the revelation during the week that the designated boss of NAMA knows nothing more about the operation of the agency that "what he read in the papers" make it look increasingly likely that the NAMA plan to deal with the mess of the bursting property bubble will be a total failure and leave the taxpayers with a monstrous bill that will takes decade to pay.

I think at this stage the most logical thing to do it review the bank guarantee. I feel that the Government should only guarantee the deposits up to say €250,000. Then start looking at establishing a good bank using the money designated for the existing banks into this new bank. The already existing infrastructure of both the Credit Unions and An Post could as well as an efficient web presence could act as a interim solution.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

2nd best

The worlds second greatest band, after the Petrols obviously, have just been confirmed to play The Electric Picnic.

A Flock of Seagulls writers of the classic "I Ran" and "Wishing I had a Photograph of You" play down in Stradbally first week in September along with a load of other people of much lesser importance.

Now whats the chance of getting a t-shirt.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I'm not much of a gambler but always have a flutter on the elections. On the last General Election I won over €700 on betting on local constituencies. Ultimately betting is about knowing more about a 'race' than those setting the odds. If your into politics, know electoral histories and are canvassing it fairly easy to spot good odds.

Paddy Power have opened a bunch of books on the forthcoming European, Local and By-election.

I spotted Fianna Fail at 16/1 for getting no seats in the Euros and popped down to the shop in Baldoyle and stuck on €50. Another decent long odds punt is my colleague Christy Burke to win the Dublin Central seat at 10/1.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Respect

Hands in pockets, disinterested facial expression, disdainful slouch.




Priceless.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Family

What is it with Fianna Fáil and their families. The current ruling troika of Cowen, Coughlan and Lenihan are all the children of TD's and "inherited" their seats from their Dads.

The FF conventions for the forthcoming by-elections in Dublin Central and Dublin South were held this week and the winners were;

Maurice Ahern - brother of Bertie,

and

Shay Brennan - son of Seamus Brennan.

The losing candidate in the Dublin Central convention was Mary Fitzpatrick, daughter of Dermot Fitzpatrick

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Herd thinking

As is well known our economy is in a critical condition. Unemployment is soaring, the tax take has plummeted, manufacturing and construction is dead and state cuts are swept around the country.

There seems to be a complete lack of vision to actually;

1) face up to the problem
2) accept that radical solutions will be needed.

Now a radical solution, in my book, is not to rip the arse out of the domestic economy to the extent that your average citizen is terrified to even buy a hardback book for fear they may need that extra few bob in a few months time. A solution focused on jacking up taxes and cutting expenditure is not new or radical its a copy of policies that failed in the 50's, 70's and 80's.

I believe the core reason why is that the Government, under ex Finance Minster Cowen, are far too understating point 1 to even look at point 2. Simply put Fianna Fail are too busy introducing policies that seek to deflect blame than confront the scale of the challenge.

In today's Irish Independent, economist and columnist David Mc Williams had a provocative article on ditching the Euro for a new Irish currency. His main argument is that we are then in a position to devalue and some make our exports cheaper and hence more competitive.

The reaction on various on-line forum has been hostile. This hostility expressed in the appartnely closing argument of "do we want to end up like Iceland". To me the most important point from Mc Williams is not so much the merits of leaving, or sticking with, the Euro but his criticism of the Shibboleths or conventional wisdom that, seemingly, cripple Irish political and economic thinking.

And its the reaction of these Internet fora that only goes to compliments Mc Williams core argument. Conventional wisdom is that Iceland is in a even worse condition than Ireland.

So I had a look, and guess what, Iceland's unemployment is lower than ours, its not in a deflationary cycle, its exports is up, its economy is actually growing and wages are slowly rising.

In short Iceland's economy is in full recovery mode. We, on the other hand are at least 16 months before bottoming out, at which stage the impact may well have destroyed the country.

The one thing we have learnt over the past 12 months is that the unthinkable soon becomes the obvious.

Oh and Iceland's government resigned before the recovery took hold!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tight fisted &*%$@

And the award for the most miserly, greedy, avid, insatiable, penny pinching, small minded meanness proposal of the millennium goes to the Dublin Airport Authority.

The DAA, the recipient of serious chronic abuse from Ryanair's Micheal O'Leary, who considers them swine have outryanaired Ryanair with the introduction of a €1 charge for one of those plastic bags that you are forced to put your hand luggage toothpaste and gel into going through security. This being some sort of cunning way to catch out would be shoe bombers and assorted nutters.

A euro for a bag that would cost about 2 cent if you actually had to buy one.

And I'm sure it will be all justified through some corporatespeak gobbledygook.

In fact according to the DAA website their "Approach is to build a performance based and business focused company across all areas of our operations that aims to achieve the best in international standards".

By charging a Euro for a crappy plastic bag?

Agggh.

Gotcha!

Probably the singularly most quoted explanation for Ireland's recent economic boom (RIP 2008) is our low Corporation Tax rate.

Even suggesting looking at it and the fundamentalists are down your throat, dare mention that it might be a little low or that driving down the rate doesn't actual result in any increased productivity. The gospel of low corporation tax masked and stifled debate on changes that were desperately needed in the economy such as reducing the dependence on transactional and consumption taxes.

This over dependence and the lack of any public discussion on the wisdom of fueling our economy and paying for public services from stamp duties and VAT lead the government to sail cluelessly into the disaster we are now stuck in.

The "perfect storm" that is our economy has another gale heading its way. Flagged in his election campaign its been announced by PUSA Obama that loopholes that allow US companies to post profits in low corporation tax territories, e.g Ireland, are to be closed. The White House yesterday mentioned only three countries, Holland, Bermuda and Ireland as examples of where US multinationals post massive profits from.

The incentive therefore for US companies to locate and base themselves in Ireland will be significantly reduced.

Obama reckons he can save the US nearly €200 billion in tax forgone and provide employment in the US.

Maybe Fianna Fáil could send the cabinet clown Willie O'Dea to the US to convince him otherwise, after all Willie has form with the Americans given the great job he did when he visited Micheal Dell and made the case for the Dell facility in Limerick.

Oh maybe not - that closed.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Supporting the Province

Its said that all identity is constructed. Sometimes this construction is politically motivated, think of the efforts made that we are European. Anyone ever cheered on Europe?

But the relentless hyping of today's Rugby game represents a triumph of marketing over reality.

Yesterday I was speaking at a conference in Cork and was impressed by the amount of homes, cars, business's and people displaying and wearing the colours of the Munster Rugby Team. Driving home the only sign of any Leinster support was a couple of drop down banners on the M8 courtesy of the Leinster Rugby Branch.

Today, canvassing in a local supermarket I bumped into a woman wearing a Leinster jersey. She confessed that she went in to buy the Munster Jersey when she was off on holiday last year but felt guilty and end up with the deep blue of the easterners rather then the red of the southerners!

This obvious lack of association hasn't stopped the game being sold as some sort of showdown derby akin to an Ireland vs England soccer match, Kilkenny vs Tipperary hurling or Fenerbahce vs Galatasary.

The complete indifference of Leinster probably has as much to do with the geographic limits of Rugby in the province. The only cluster of rugby playing being South eastern Dublin with a half dozen serious teams. Conversely the rabid support of their team in Munster is reflective more of their provincialism, enormous chip on their shoulders in relation to Dublin and they thinking they we care.

Rugby is an good spectators sport, high scoring and eventful. But the passion of sport is about the emotion of 'owning' and identifying a team. Todays result will be greeted by the residents of Leinster with a very large yawn - whether win or lose.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

PSNI attack. Comment

After 23 years, but only 36 hours after the RIRA, the CIRA inflict their first casualty.

A 48 year old PSNI officer, it appears, was lured into an ambush in a nationalist housing estate in Craigavon Co Armagh.

This is quite different from the killing of the British soldiers as the target was a local man and a serving officer of a police force that was slowly becoming "everybody's".

As I outlined in my previous post, this should not change anything, the military capacity and political strength of the groups is at best an irritant. There is no threat to the political or civic institutions.

As such the response should be;

Sinn Féin. Need to continue to be clear in their condemnation of this killing. Continue to encourage people to work with the police. McGuinness should leave for the Washington meeting.

DUP. Need to start publically calling for no response from Loyalists and need to demand they decommission. They also need to realise that governing means a lot more than vetoing Republican projects. Robinson should also go to the Washington meeting as planned.

Hugh Orde. Need to resist any temptation or pressure to use any sort of military support to the police. The PSNI should be given further police resources and they should easily be able to contain this.

Irish Government. Need to ignore any calls for new legislative nonsense, such as internment as suggested by Senator Eoin Harris.

British Government. Need to stop overreacting. The visit by Gordon Brown was not necessary. It served only to confirm my unease that it's the dissidents that are driving the agenda. They also need to remove all British army personnel, including those garrisoned in the six counties, back to Britain.

Those in powerful and influential position have to stop, take a breath and reflect. The Island hasn't changed because of this and the only people who will ensure that these killings escalate are those in position of power and influence.

Steady as she goes is the wisest course at this time.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Cui Bono?

Incidents, events and actions are the ingredients of life, what dictates history is the response.

Last night killing of two British soldiers at a barracks in Co Antrim, has the potential to shift the politics of the Island. This likelihood is dependent on the reaction of, amongst others; the British Govt, the Nationalist community, Loyalist paramilitaries, Sinn Féin, Unionist Politicians and the spook/special forces shadow men.

There are a number of questions that look decidedly odd in relation to the specific incident itself. One of the most striking things reported about the attack is that it shows a level of competence and experience that hasn't been demonstrated in previous dissident republican operations. Reports would have us believe that three men in a car drove up to a heavily fortified barracks, opened fire at soldiers then got out the cars and fired a second burst before escaping unharmed. A small series of actions that outlines a pattern of capacity and ability never seen before with any of the dissident groups.

We released a statement earlier today and although it received some of the expected criticism on some blogs, specifically about it taking a long time, the reality is that our statement had to be worded correctly. It is.

As of yet no admission of responsibility has been claimed. I am not sure that signifies anything.

The deaths are tragic for the families and friends of those killed. However the reponse must be political and not military. Its vital that the devolution of Policing and Justice is accelerated and that those responsible are pursued only through official and legal judicial means. Hugh Orde needs to reverse the decision to utilise SRS/SAS units to assist in anything. These are shit stirring trouble makers who will add nothing but confusion, chaos and death.

The response by the pro GFA parties needs to be 'business as usual'. Political development should not be dictated by those most opposed to it. The attack changes nothing, the GFA is the agreed template, change can only occur by inappropriate reaction to last night events.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Like it, love it

A bunch of media today have an interesting poll done in Britain about books and reading habits.

One of the poll findings was around books that people claim to have read, but didn't.

Nineteen Eighty Four tops the list of non read books. The story caught my eye as I was recently in Dublin's best bookshop, Chapters in Parnell Street and was looking for a book to buy. I ended up buying Brave New World by Huxley a book that until I started to scan in the shop had always assumed I read. I hadn't.

A similar exercise can be done with bands.

I have found myself over the years agreeing with someone on the merits of some band - but really not being 100% sure clear what they actually sound like.

My favourite, not sure if I have actually heard them, bands are;

American Music Club.
MC5.
Television.
Pere Ubu.
Elbow.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Look mammy I'm on the telly.....

It seems to quite an Irish habit, but this one is just, well a little weird. On the nine o clock news last night we had a live report from David Davin Power on the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis.

He found himself delivering his piece with what looks like a bunch of minders, but in reality is a shoal of Fianna Fáil candidates. My favourite one is the guy on the bottom left with the burgundy tie. A thousand yard stare at the camera. He doesn't even blink once.

Politics.ie are calling them the David Davin Power Ten

Follow this link its the second report entitled David Davin Power said the Taoiseach's speech was well received at the Ard Fheis.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Another Day, another poll

The latest opinion poll, published in the Irish Indo today, confirms the trends of the most recent Sunday Business Post and Irish Times polls. Collapse in FF, huge rise in Labour, FG holding their own.

Sinn Féin are also steady, but frankly I would prefer to describe it as becalmed. We should be at least in double figures at this time.

We aren't for two reasons and they feed into each other.

1. There is a very perception that we are economic illiterates.

We get this reputation from;

a) Some odd policies that as recently as 2003 said things like this "Private property has been and remains an instrument of oppression of people the world over". I mean WTF!! I don't remember joining some commie party :)

b) We didn't "respect" the consensus on the benefits of low tax that was a tautology for a decade until a few weeks ago. In true Irish herd mentality, social partnership take a bow, our ideas were therefore deviant, not worthy of respect and so demonised.

c) Our spokespersons, party members and supporters were sucked into the myth that we had crazy economic policies (which by the 2004 Euro elections we certainly didn't) and so underperformed or apologised for them.

d) Elements of the media who dislike us spotted it as our Achilles heel and so kept repeating it until it became "true".

2. We aren't considered a coalition partner. The focus is on Labour and FG, FG and Labour as the alternative government and they are so far ahead in the opinion polls that SF support is seen as irrelevant. This perception feeds back into the difficulty of making ourselves heard and at a time when our economic message is extremely valid yet we can't get a shout in.

There's 15 weeks to the Local and European Elections. I think its not improbable that FF will be wiped out in the Europeans, returning with only one seat. There is a very real challenge on our part to ensure that we don't also become a casualty of the electorate voting only on general election lines in the European and Local elections.

Over the next few weeks we will be launching some new economic policy positions that should both surprise some and irritate others. Good. That coupled with a focused ground campaign should get us back in the national conversation we need to be involved in.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Tis Sunday...

Busy times. Just wrapped up with the Ard Fheis. Our IT lads set up a nifty site especially for the event. On Saturday afternoon I spoke on the economy.

It seems from the lack of any mention in the Sunday papers for my address that my Obama moment is still some way off.

During the weeks BBC Politics show was down and they spent a morning filming in Donaghmede. The line of questioning, not unreasonably, given our poll numbers was 'how come SF is irrelevant'.

At this point one behaves and goes out to bat for the team. The show was on at noon today and a repeat later.

Can't fault the editing.

Keeping with the 'look at me, look at me' theme, I had a trip report in the Irish Times travel section on Saturday. Part of it outlining my experience in a spa.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Incompetent or Indifferent?

UPDATE @ 16.31. I just recieved a call from Seamus Mulconry of Edelman (in his former life Director of Policy for the PDs). Seamus explained to me that the email which I recieved was mistakenly sent out by a staff member and was not intended to be disseminated until after the meeting.

So its seems it was more of incompetence than indifference which I suppose is better!

Still awful day for the workers.....


Right now the 1,200 workers of SR Technics are in a meeting with management to discuss the future of the plant.

However last night at 00.49 I received this email from SR Technics PR firm Edelman.

So I, and I presume all the other Councillors in Dublin, knew that the plant was going to close 9 hours before people who worked there knew. All in the name of PR.

What an astonishingly insensitive way to deal with your workforce.

SR Technics Management
P.O. Box
CH – 8058 Zurich Airport

Direct dial: +4...
E-mail: bernd.kessler@srtechnics.com

February 12, 2009


SR Technics announces plans to close its Dublin operation and to enter into consultation process with trade unions


Dear Councillor,

I am writing to inform you of the difficult decision we have taken in relation to our operation at Dublin airport. Regrettably, we announced our intention today to close the facility and will now enter into consultation with the relevant trade unions.

The global economic crisis has had a profound impact on business and consumers around the world and across all sectors. The aviation industry has been severely affected. We are faced with falling consumer spend, rising costs and a trend towards consolidation amongst not only airlines but also the businesses that service them. As a result, reduced work volumes have dramatically increased pressure on independent MRO companies in particular.

The Dublin operation recently lost a number of key customers that were victims of this dramatic market downturn. In addition to this, Dublin has also lost major contracts from its primary base load customers.

The loss of major contracts from primary base load customers, the current business and economic forecasts as well as the high cost base of the Dublin operation means it will not be possible to fill the resulting capacity gaps with sustainable business in the medium-term.

The decision follows an exhaustive review and assessment of all lines of business across the entire SR Technics Group, including an evaluation of their financial, operational and strategic inputs. As a result of this review the Group intends to close its operations at Dublin airport which currently employs 1,135 people.

The intention to close the facility at Dublin Airport will have no impact on SR Technics’ other group wide operations, including its facility in Cork.

We will now enter into formal consultation with the trade unions in parallel with detailed discussions with the Irish aviation authorities, our customers, suppliers and other relevant parties.

I fully appreciate that this news will be unexpected and that you may have additional questions. Should you require any additional detail please call 087 25... and we would be happy to brief you further.

Yours sincerely


Bernd Kessler
CEO

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

There is something about this thread on politics.ie that I find hilarious.

Its clear the idea is ridiculous and yet....there's something there.

Isn't there?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The dodgy gets dodgier

The stink of sheer dodginess that is the nationalisation of Anglo Irish just got a hell of a lot worse.

The Irish Examiner reports today that "members of the cabinet were asked whether they had loans from Anglo Irish Bank. Six ministers refused to answer".

Now if it turns out that any of the Cabinet had sizeable loans from Anglo Irish we can safely expect that the Local and European elections scheduled for June 5th will see the late arrival of a ballot for General Elections.

On other Irish Examiner news, I was quoted yesterday in it. This "Fianna Fail hacks" comment led NCA board member Eddie Hobbs to contact the paper irate that, he was being called a hack. Apparently that it was somebody from Sinn Féin upset him even more :)

Maybe he could spend his time reflecting on whether its appropriate taking professional fees from a statutory body is a board member of.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Politicians and commentators are very fond of banging on about the knowledge economy, the importance of broadband roll out (note to Minister Ryan, Macedonia already has 100% wireless broadband penetration) and embracing IT.

But with a nod to the old saying of dressing up mutton as lamb, compare the website of zombie bank, of which I am now a reluctant part owner, Anglo Irish, worth about minus €10 billion to the company with the most expensive stock in the world, A single share costing $86,250!, Berkshire Hathaway worth €133 billion.

Its obvious auld Warren isn't spending the wonga on web designers.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I'm just saying like

Just an observation, but scroll down and see on the right hand side of the page of The Irish Times and you'll notice the most popular online story is a sub headline stating "Property Developer found dead at home".

Interesting whatever caused the herd, particularly give the events of the day, to have such an interest in that one.

I could suggest that the same people were somewhat disappointed it wasn't one of the big names. Hmmm.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Its stinks

How come everything that is being done by the Govt either reeks of gross incompetence or has a whiff of corruption about it.

This morning it emerged that draft legalisation published by the Govt on the nationalisation of Anglo Irish Bank is to be amended. The change is that a clause that stated that people with deposits of more than 20 million are not allowed to withdraw that money if they owe more than 20 million.

It was a clever clause in a piece of legislation that, I presume, aimed to ensure that the huge debtors of the bank, who now owe the money to the state, cannot flee with some cash will owing a pile more.

The government however removed the clause and left chief blusterer Martin Mansergh on RTE today to explain why. As is his style he created a lot of heat and little light.

Its claimed that the Attorney General advised that the draft clause was "unnecessary". This is a peculiar word as the Attorney Generals role is to "provide the highest standard of legal services to the Government". His job is the provision of legal advice to the Government on the constitutionality of a bill.

Now "unnecessary" is not a word that really could be used when providing advice on the constitutionality of proposed law. Unnecessary is a political opinion not a legal position.

Either the clause is unconstitutional or its not - the AG's opinion that he thinks it "unnecessary" is irrelevant.

More and more its becoming apparent that the operation of Anglo Irish Bank has little to do with bad management or over aggressive lending but a corrupt company designed to exploit cheap credit. An impotent regulatory regime facilitated by a interested networks of compliant friends in the politics, the media and in the construction industry made it possible.

On a related note Irish Bank shares had another fiasco of a day. BoI shares today cost 34c in February 2007 they would cost €18.53. AiB can be yours tomorrow for 60c in Feb 2007 a share would have cost you €23.95.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Irish house prices to fall by 80%

My reaction rhymes with clucking bells.

Story here, commentary here, here and here.

And just for auld time sake - lets reflect on the words of wisdom from Brendan O'Connor of the Sunday Independent who in July 2007 advised us "The smart, ballsy guys are buying up property right now".

I am safe in the knowledge that I am not the only one, whose birth year is an even or odd number, who hopes that Brendan took his own financial advice.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Israel's allies

Phew, looks like Israel might come out of this ok.

Remember Joe the Plumber?

Well he has arrived in the promised land and is angry about the terror that Israel citizens are subjected to.

In the Jerusalem Post today, Joe empathises with those citizens of Sderot who can't do normal things like "get soap in their eyes" as they may have to flee to their basements.

Read about other minor inconveniences the people of south east Israel are subjected to and Joe's advice .

Next week Joe tackles the challenge of alchemy.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Another day another Sindo

Ireland's most inaccurate paper, The Sunday Independent, tends to snub its nose at such concepts as evidence and facts.

During the last general election they aggressively supported Bertie Ahern, and called for the various Tribunals investigating criminal behaviour by politicians and others to be shut down.

As recently as July 2007 were claiming that it was the time to buy property. Property has gone down about 20% in real terms since that little nugget of advice.

You get the feeling that they have a Millwall supporters attitude, 'everyone hates us and we don't care', but it appears that increasingly this attitude extends to its own sizable readership.

Yet despite all these readers and associated revenue, it appears that none of their journalists can count.

In today's edition they publish a poll. The presentation and commentary of which is both unbelievable and hilarious.

They report that the Lisbon Treaty will be passed by 55% Yes, 37% No and with 15% undecided.

That a total of 107%!

They also report that the state of the parties is;
Fianna Fail - 28%
Fine Gael - 27%
Labour - 18%
Greens - 2%
Sinn Féin - 2%
PDs - doesn't say
Don't Know - Doesn't say.

This adds up to 77%. They have either failed to re-distribute the don't knows, the PDs have had a phoenix like revival or the polling company simply has no idea what a proper political poll is supposed to look like.

The poll was carried out, allegedly, by a company called Quantum Research International Inc, who goggled leads to these, they appear to be one of those armies for hire. A search of Ireland's registered companies uncovers these guys.

A thread on Politics.ie is quite indicative of the esteem that the Sindo is held in by its peers.

The Sunday Independent isn't subtle with its political agenda and that its prerogative, what is unacceptable for a paper with its resources is amateurish polling and sloppy analysis and then broadcasting that as news.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A must read

Cynical, jaded, defeated romantic, like to round off a evening out with a good sneer, think that the Blacks in the Jacks issue of the Slate was the most misunderstood piece of Irish satire since Gullivers Travels?

Well then subscribe to My Little Piebald, a weekly wickedly contemptuous look at Dublin.

This weeks highlight include news that;

For 125 years, the GAA has dominated
Irish sporting culture, and the Late Late Show
returns tomorrow with a fitting tribute in which
Z-listers like Brush Shields, The Saw Doctors,
Tommy Fleming and Nob Nation's Oliver Callan
talk about their love of these primitive games


and a event guide with advice such as;

SATURDAY
--Natty Wailer, The Button Factory. In a breathtaking
display of false advertising, it is claimed that 'Natty Wailer'
toured with Bob Marley and The Wailers. However, Ian
Wynter never got within a Camberwell Carrot of gigging
with Marley, and in fact played keyboards with a Wailers
spin-off in the 90s.


Send a mail to mylittlepiebald@gmail.com for your weekly dose.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

So to no-one's real surprise computer maker Dell announce that they will be firing 1,900 workers from their Limerick plant.

Fired not downsized, outsourced, laid off, migrated, cut, transferred, offshored, consolidated or any other linguistic distortion.

This is a complete disaster for the City. Dell itself is the country's biggest employer and adds about 5% to the states GDP. Those clever people in Economicsland reckon that every one job in Dell supports another four jobs in the area.

Somewhere between 6,000 - 10,000 jobs will be lost in the City over the next 12 months as the firings progress. This in a city and suburbs with a population of only 97,000. The equivalent impact would be like Dublin losing up to 100,000 jobs.

I was listening to Radio 1's Drivetime and as a guest they had on Dr Ed Walsh from the University of Limerick. Now I don't really know much about Eddy, from time to time he appears on TV and seems a tad pompous.

Pompous in itself is harmelss enough and this man is an actual rocket scientist who holds four honorory doctorates as well as a gilt edged CV.

Despite this it seems that Eddy's ego has got the better of him and has succumbed to that irritating habit of the American right where you simplify complex problems to force a ideological point.

In the interview Dr Walsh claimed that Dell moved to Poland as "our public service is too bloated" that "public servants need to take a 30% cut", that it was wrong that "a waitress in Dublin gets 20% higher wage than one in Copenhagen".

The interview exposed a couple of things about Walsh; one a complete ignorance of what caused wages to increase to the point that we priced ourselves out of the labour market and secondly a twisted understanding the effect that globalisation has had on manufacturing trends.

Given that Poland's average weekly wage is less than €180 a week what does Walsh recomneded - that we drive wages down to a level to compete with the Poles?

Here is a man with multiple degrees and qualifications coming out of his ears and he blames the massive loss of jobs on the fact that Tracey in Dublin gets paid 1 euro more an hour than Trina from Copenhagen.

Walsh is obviously bright but from reviewing some of his TV appearances it appears that he has reduced himself to blurting obnoxious statements in order to maintain a public profile.

Sad.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Books as pressie's

Christmas is a time not for family but books, as we get older, the books get harder and generally more challenging.

This year brought me;

Dreams from my Father, Barack Obama. - Sis in Law.

The Third Chimpanzee, Jared Diamond. - El Wifo.

The Ascent of Money, Niall Ferguson. - Alma, my sister in law bought this.

The Whisperers, Orlando Figes - Brudda.

The Gods That Failed - Larry Elliot and Dan Ferguson. - Brudda2.

One Hit Wonderland, Tony Hawks - Mudda.

I'm not sure I can read the Obama book, I have a bit of a prejudice against the guy - I blame the media who sold him as the messiah - but I kinda think he is a bit of a tonic salesman. I hope I'm wrong. I really hope I'm wrong.

Halfway through Niall Ferguson's book, its a cracker of a read, uncomfortable as I am with some of Ferguson's opinions, his interpretation of Pinochet's Chile is very neo conish.

There is a welcome glut of readable books on economics and the economy out now. So no excuse for us lefties bumbling our way through interviews that involve the economy, leaving listeners with visions of bread queues, Bulgarian trainers and badly dyed hair.

Jared Diamond's writing to date has been genius and Guns, Germs and Steel a personal bible, his follow up, Collapse a warning that most likely will go unheeded.

As for Tony Hawks, the comedian not the, looks too old to be skateboarding , stakeboarder, I'll get around to him - his book a 'mmm what small book will I take for this reasonably long journey that I don't mind if I lose'.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Crystal ball redux

video

Going out on a limb on this one a bit, but hey its Tuesday.

Serena Maneesh, a Norwegian band whose productivity compares to Chad's, are set to release the follow up to their debut album in 2009.

Their debut was a cracker and as all great albums slowly burned it way in people stereos, ipods and what nots.

They managed to get that delicate balance between making a racket and constructing a piece of beauty. Thats the difference between My Bloody Valentine (Racket) and Rollerskate Skinny (Beauty).

Its all about the layering (and skinny jeans).

This album will be huge in 2009.

For previous musicial predictions see this post

Monday, January 5, 2009

Urban Myths

I've always been curious on how urban myths start. Well I think I have found one in gestation.

A trade union offical, Michael Kilcoyne, who is also Vice Chairperson of the Consumers Association of Ireland claimed in the Belfast Telegraph on Friday 2nd Jan that on a couple of Polish building sites have signs saying "No Irish Need Apply".

The story doesn't specify at what site in which towns these signs appear and do not carry a picture of these signs. Indeed the claims of Mr Kilcoyne are comfortably vague in that he claims that "it had recently been brought to his attention that No Irish signs" were appearing. Meaning that he has also not seen these signs and equally can't be specific on where they are.

Indeed it could have been brought to his attenton by a drunk in a pub or a complete madman.

The story then was picked up by RTE, Newstalk, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times all with no additonal detail or specificity.

There is also a thread on it on Politics.ie, Boards.ie, polishforums.com and various other blogs and fora. Even Wikipedia has it included in its page on anti-Irish racism.

The claim is absurd on a number of levels not least the fact that Poland's winters mean construction is on hold for three months and there would be no need to have either signs up at hibernating sites or a requirement for walk in labourers, as the full workforce will return in March.

As confidently as I can state this story is utter rubbish I can equally be as confident that I will hear about the "no Irish signs in Poland" for the next few years on any discussion on immigration.

A little bit of digging reveals that the Michael Kilcoyne of SIPTU and the Consumer Association of Ireland, is the same as the Castlebar Town Councillor. With local elections only six months away perhaps Cllr Kilcoyne regards the publicity he is getting on this claim far more important than its accuracy.

Friday, January 2, 2009

You are not alone

This blog started in May 08 and in that time I managed 54 posts, less than I hoped, and up until the end of the year had 19,709 visitors. The busiest time was two weeks around the end of October. The most popular posts were about Sarah Palin.

I've had visits from 128 countries/territories.

My top 10 visitor origins were from;

USA - 7,751
UK - 1,825
France - 1,662
Ireland - 1,591
Canada - 1,114
Germany - 1,103
Poland - 655
Spain - 487
Sweden - 306

Single visitors include those from Gabon, Kosova and Papua New Guinea. I recieved no visitors from countries including North Korea, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Yemen, Mongolia and most of Africa.

For 2009 I want to post a minimum of 150 times and fill in the rest of the globe.

All figures are from Google Analytics

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Predictions for 2009

Ten random predictions for 2009.

1. Fianna Fail lose their Dublin European seat.
2. Somali becomes Obama's first foreign policy military intervention.
3. Bangladesh suffers from serious civil unrest.
4. Ireland qualify for the Soccer World Cup.
5. Lisbon Treaty is passed in October.
6. Irish Unemployment reaches 12%.
7. Teachers and ESB workers strike.
8. Emergence of Irish neo nazi gangs.
9. Anglo Irish ceases to exist and BOI and AIB merge.
10.Labour win the Dublin South bye election.


over to you.....