Sunday, December 20, 2009

Paul Gogarty?

At a time when Ireland has cultivated an image of a cultured, educated and able nation, Lucan TD Paul Gogarty has made us an international laughing stock on youtube, featuring on MSNBC and the BBC's HIGNFY, re-enforcing a stereotype of the thick Irish who cannot contain their temper.

His infantile, self justified outburst does not really project the desired image needed to promote a smart economy.
It was petulant, a comeback to heckling that would be unworthy of a 15 year old.
The childish frustrated schoolyard bully tactic of screaming profanity shows a lack of intellect and reason
His qualified excuses for his immature reaction to heckling was that his sincerity was called into question.

However, despite his bruised ego his sincerity is very questionable - but he does not see it that way, childishly he blames others.

Dep Gogarty has failed, the Green agenda has moved backwards in coalition with FF.
They have become a prop to a party that does what it wants with a little greenwash.
Mr Gogartys legacy is very different from the election promises of 2007.
A 50 point program to a better education system, including 2400 new teaching jobs, reduced primary class size and a statutory max primary class size of 25 was an election promise.
But when in office he backed savage education cutbacks that have impacted on every primary school in the country and Ireland has the 2nd most overcrowded class size in Europe.
He also voted for 5% cuts in student grants, this will have a very serious effect on families with kids in college and compound other government cuts despite
His eventual resignation as education spokesman was called pointless by the INTO.
He sees the cutbacks to education and NAMA bail out failed bankers/developers, which he publicaly protested but yet fully supported, as the conduct of others.
This was further enforced in an interview berating the Fianna Fail party.
Hardly sincere - but interesting as a classic separation of id and superego.

Several people have referred to Mr Gogarty as being a legend in hs own mind, and this common sense expression is based in fact.

Our society has followed an Anglo-American model in recent times. Being famous is seen as a life aim by children, whether through achievement or accident is unimportant.
It is a cult of personality. Some vestage of fame is seen as a life goal rather than achievement.
It explains Big Brother, X Factor and other trends in popular culture.

As an example Kate Moss is asked for her opinions - to which she is entitled - on current issues, not because of knowledge, but because of fame despite the fact that if she were not a 'celeb' she would be seen as being disfunctional.
Bono, regardless of the fact that he has never been elected or appointed to an answerable office, is percieved as an authority and world spokesman for various causes. He comments frequently on the Irish overseas aid budget despite the fact that by avoiding tax he contributes nothing to it.

Gogarty's fellow Lucan locals (and his former office workers I believe) twins known as Jedward did quite well in a UK talent show with no real discernable talent. Some tried to explain it as a reaction to poor programming in the UK, but in reality name recognition and newspaper coverage had more to do with it.

Fame for whatever reason, not ahievement, is more recognised. Famous for being famous.

This is partially due to people wanting to live vicariously. They base some of self efficacy on the achievements of others, best demonstrated by reference to the importance some people place on the performance of a football team - and in Ireland that may well be a football team in the UK with no regional tie to the supporter whatsoever.
When the team wins 'we won' giving a sene of achievement despite not actually participating. It also creates a collective mentality.
Due to the collective mentality, the elevation of professional footballer allows behaviour on and off the pitch which in general would be unacceptable.

There is a link between the acceptable berating, cursing at and insulting of referees and anti social behaviour experienced by social workers and teachers.

Dep. Gogarty, as with a soccer player - is excused by others, Yes he did it - Yes he is sorry - Yes it was regrettable - BUT (enter excuse of provocation/passion here) - apologies are always qualified.
This was demonstrated by Green and FF deputies in interviews.

Dep. Gogertys ego, in Freudian concept, seems modified in an example of Bandaras concept of self efficacy
In brief, social cognitive theory is that individuals possess a sense of self that enables them to exercise control over their thoughts, feelings, motivation, and actions. This self system provides reference for regulating behavior appropriate to our environment.

It provides individuals with the capability to influence their own cognitive processes and actions.
Most improtantly Bandura's emphasis that ones achievments, if you will, are the most influential self-efficacies. Individualy this is realised mostly through verbal persuasion methods.
Social cognitive theorists shift that emphasis and focus on a joint effort to raise competence and confidence primarily through successful experience.

Dep Gogarty, judging himself differently to others, coupled with his self justified berating and insulting of others due to inflated self worth and a readily apparent disregard for peer endorsement seems central to his superego.

Every thing centres around him. Others are there to assure, elevate and praise him, to pleasure the id, please the superego and hence effect the ego.
Because his ego percieves superiority, People should be more like him, he cannot be questioned and can behave in a way that others cannot.

As with football players this is apparent in qualified apologies issued after the outburst.
As for being in a position of responsibility, the Deputies level of self control is questionable.

A Garda, Social worker, Fireman, Nurse or Soldier at entry level, facing cutbacks to their pay, and work conditions as well as their childrens allowance and student grants cannot behave in a similar manner without facing disciplinary proceedure.

This is especially true of teachers while facing large class sizes - and pupils far more abrasive than Deputies Shorthall or Stagg - could never behave in such an unbecoming fashion.
They are public servants, why should elected representatives be expected to behave in any less a controlled and dignified manner.

His appointment as education spokesperson for the green party is in my opinion very questionable.
In my opinion, from what little I have heard from him, in terms of syntax, context and application his use of english is surprising for DIT journalism graduate.

His use of what I would refer to Palinesque psychobabble. The use of unusual, important words totally out of context may - for a soundbite - may sound impressive, but when looked at in writing are meaningless.
There need to use 'big' words to fill a silence is to appear slightly smarter than the average as we have seen with Sarah Palin and from Gogarty on a facebook page in his responses.


The use of words entirley out of context, and such angry reactions to any questioning in turn leads to other questions on his suitability.
A light hearted questioning of his linguistic ability resulted in a personal response and petty squabbling. Another posting resulted in an ill tempered response to a young woman on the facebook group.

Neither required his personal response in a time of national crisis but due to his inflated ego his priorities are skewed.
Also of note is the lack of any critiscism of homphobic comments about Deputy Stagg on the group.

Yet in a paradox they both appear to revel in a percieved dumbdown in a celebrity culture. His personal facebook  responses to a remix of his outburst demonstrate this.

"Mortified as I am this is the best, funniest and most tuneful remix of the lot! Highly recommended."
As Michael Franti said, in a celebrity obsessed culture the straightness of the teeth in your mouth are more important than the words that come out of it.

Much like Palin, there is a psycological reason for this. It is best described as a resentment of others whose professional achievements are percieved to outweigh their own.

This may be a driving force in some seeking self worth and through fame via politics or populism. In our celebrity culture, as evidenced with Blair, Palin, Johnson or Sarkozy - these are often interchangeable.
In the case of Deputy Gogarty this requires a sense of inflated importance and worth attached to the goal aim of election to a parliament in what is a very small country on the periphery of Europe.

Having resigned as a spokesman on education for the minor coalition partner to the obscurity of the back benchs with less influence than a local councillor the "Fuck You" explosion can be exlained in light of this.
The reason Labour were targeted by Dep Gogarty is simple.
If there was an election tomorrow they would replace the Greens as the minor partner in the Dail, as it is they rather than FG that would pick up the liberal vote from the Greens. It will be a Labour candidate most likley to replace GoGo.

Rather than try to increase self achievement - or falure to accept the lack of applied intellectual capacity to equal the percieved value of others, it is easier to lower normal standard of behaviour slightly and lash out, safe in the belief that the majority of people - i.e. the unelected, are percieved by the ego to be worth less, but will understand.

Unlike Palin/Paisley (politics is identity) targeted demographic core vote the average Dublin mid west voter is not a theological conservative with focus on ethnic divisions.

Unlike the Healy Rae/Tipp O'Neil (politics is local) targeted demographic core vote the average Dublin mid west voter is not a person with long term ties to a regional political dynasty or system who is known to them and helped them or theirs in the past.

If this was an attempt cultivate an image of a straight talking, no bullshit TD appealing to the male demographic then this was a terrible mistake by Gogarty, despite the fact that he has attracted the lowest common denominator homophobic defenders online.

He simply does not have the charisma or the undeniable survivability of a Flynn, Lenihan, Healy Rae or O Donahue.
The average Irish voter is not suspicious of someone who projects a level of intelect or success - and the core Green voter, as it is a new post civil war party, tends to think about things, and is generally liberal.

He certainly has, like Gov. Palin, a political animal cunning that should never be mistaken for intelligence.

But the hubris of being elected can lead to a self deification and delusion of superiority, where power corrupts.
The anger and loss of self control indicates a sense of entitlement, that now in power he can behave as he wishes, without consequence or question.

Any questioning of him provokes a disproportionate and unreasonable reaction.
The reaction to Deputy Stagg was just one example of this.
This includes posting to a facebook group and mamanpoulet

This in comparison with Deputy Stagg, who understands and keeps sight of the bigger issue.
"I think the whole thing is a storm in a teacup. The huge issue is the Social Welfare Bill and its nasty cuts,"

Deputy Gogarty's behaviour is unconventional, but a meeting at Rathcoole against a proposed incinerator in the area his behaviour was utterly egocentric, normally behaviour of this extreme nature is a self preservation mechanism of toddlers.

In a packed hall FG Sen. Fitzgerald made a number of points, many that questioned Minister Gormley's and the Green Partys bone fides in objecting to the incinerator project.

During this Gogarty jumped to his feet, fell to the floor flailing his arms and rolling before lying still for a few minutes after which he sat back down?
Essentially an attention tantrum - in itself a preservation mechanism used by toddlers..

His explaination for this bizzare behaviour was that he 'took offence' the senators 'scaremongering rant'
The offence taken caused him to 'kinda fall on the floor in absolute puzlement. She always induces that sort of reaction in me. Hypocriscy and false indignation reverberating from a persona has a damaging effect on my psyche"

In the Sunday Tribune Dec 13 he stated "I am sorry for the language I used, but it was about a gut reaction. It was not an intellectual reaction. I psychologically bought time by saying 'With all due respect, in the most unparliamentary language' before using expletives. I was trying to say what I felt in a parliamentary way but I couldn't. It was an emotive outburst".
But again to quantify the apology he went on to say he had recieved a "barrage of heckling" and was disgusted when Stagg claimed on Friday that he was insincere, despite his support of Government after public protestation

His adolescent qualification of every apology issued, hypocrisy and false indignation cannot be attributed to him - again the superego and id create a barrier to that.

Within these two statements there are examples of freudian slips - and while again using terms out of context in an effort to convey a higher intelligence - quantifying his behaviour is in essence a denial of responsibility to reassure the superego - to control the immeadiate environment and make people like him despite his errors.

There is the use of adolesent language structure and the 'Yeah but, No but' syntax, or as might be better understood a Viki Pollard syndrome.
The quantification and denial process seems to me indicitive of a mid life crisis. For example, his statement that  "So far the reaction to my comments has been 50% of people telling me I am a disgrace, and other 50% saying 'fair play' is a denial, when a glance at or facebook show the vast majority of posters think his outburst was undignified at best.
The general opinion seems to be it was hypocritical, insincere or manipulative.

Having based so much of the self efficacy on electoral success, then to reach a sub ministerial position as a junior partner, only to face the reality that the partner party will do as they wish regardless of his input is emasculating, a loss of power resulting in anger.
In addition to that he is facing the very real prospect that his self worth goal of election is now slipping further from his grasp due to the fact the electorate have seen his ineffectiveness despite self promotion.

And his self promotion is very much in the search for notice. As a youth he apparenly was a flamboyant character, and in Dail Eireann we see him cultivating a new image.
Perhaps trying to emulate Tony Gregory, who was percieved as a cool maverick by some we note he does not wear a tie and suit, rather the open collar, blazer and slacks in an attempt to project non-conformity, youth and a rebellious image - much like that of the new romantic.
Because he attributes his own failings to the conduct of others a Medusa complex has become a factor.
He stated in an Irish Independent interview that his Fianna Fail colleagues were ' cute hoors' and hopes they get a drumming in the next election. Someone else is to blame for his failings.

In the words of a U2 song - I must be an acrobat - To talk like this - And act like that

So what will this outburst do for him. He had such a low national profile figure, this is going to be the first exposure people are going to have of him.

The only opinions which matter at the moment are his constituents and local party. If they have any sense they will replace him as their candidate, but one feels that the Deputy would ensure that those who make the decision are personal friends.
I can well imagine him featuring in some reality TV show, like the Osbornes - or doing a Galloway and going into a Big Brother format, and I feel he would be attracted to it.

His new profile should stop him  holding a public office.
Sadly, the way Irish politics operate this may well not be the case - as with John O Donaghue and Stroke Fahy - but one has hope that the voters of Dublin west will not return a man who has become an international joke - and has made the Dail a laughing stock because of his bruised ego.

If he did achieve anything it was to draw attention away from the most brutal cuts in social welfare that I have ever witnesed. This in addition to the continued crucifiction of public sector workers.
But the distraction may aid Fianna Fail - and may lead to a seat in the Senate.

Whether he wishes to admit it or not he has been party to a Government that has carried us into the worst financial crisis in the history of the state.

We are taking money away from those who can least afford it, and bailing out bankers and developers.
NAMA scares the bejesus out of me.

The deputies party should live up to its asperations and ban Stag hunting, inside and outside the Dail.
I admire a lot of Green party activists, but up to now the Parliamentary Green group have been a dissappointment.
Locally I am concerned that even with the promotion of public transport, rural bus services are under threat.

And my opinion is that the deputy should seek professional help from a psychiatrist or Max Clifford depending on which route he wishes to take.

Oh, just in case you missed it - heres the hissy fit

Free Blog Counter

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Church and State - Unholy Alliance

Despite their failure to gain a solid, legal commitment to workers rights the Government took great trouble to appease another group in Ireland.
To reduce the risk of another rejection they trumpeted a protocol, or 'guarantee' on the issue of abortion, and got the Catholic Hierarchy onside for the second Lisbon vote.

Not withstanding that I do not believe abortion to be a political issue but a moral one, I believe in total separation of Church and State.
I do not think any church in Ireland has the right to comment on the democratic process.
But it appears that with the blessing of the church the Government have given us provisional absolution, that is, provided we show remorse and redeem ourselves at the ballot box.


I wrote about my anger and sadness after the Ryan Report, the deviant cruelty of some clerics - perhaps worse still the cover up, the refusal to accept full responsibility and the reluctance to fully pay compensation.
A deal was agreed with Dr. Michael Woods (Fianna Fail of course) while serving as Minister for Education. Woods signed an agreement with the church about child sex-abuse scandals which limited their compensation liability to only €128 million.
However, this scheme is projected to eventually cost the Irish government, and therefore the Irish tax payers, €1.35 billion.

But hey, we are bailing out the bankers with the already paid bail out and the proposed future NAMA process.
I do feel it is important to stress that it was a minority in these orders that committed the worst abuses. But the abuse was systematic, and as the Ryan Report showed, known to the hierarchy.

The deal done gave protection to many abusers from Irish law, and absolved the hierarchy by sacrificing the named orders.

The agreement was signed just before the Irish general election, 2002, and was not laid before the cabinet for its approval. It then remained unpublished for several months.

In 2003 after brokering the deal, Woods claimed his strong faith made him the most suitable person to negotiate the deal.
In view of this I believe that Opus Dei and other Catholic societies should be made disclose the names of all members employed by the state or in the judiciary.

Woods defended the deal, claimed the Department of Education and Science had the management role in the schools in question and that the state knew all the details when making the deal.
That may well be true, the state allowed the institutions and the virtual establishment of a theocracy after all, but why is the tax payer in terms of burden ten times more liable.

Woods also declined to allow the examination of the the legality of the court orders that committed the child inmates for decades into the industrial school system.
This was a system whereby, on moral grounds, the church could have children taken into their care - and defended this power bitterly, as we will see from the Noel Brown Mother and Child act.

Pat Cox, Irelands primary Eurocrat, took objection to an anti Lisbon leaflet he received in Knock, a place of pilgrimage where the Virgin Mary, Mother of God is alleged to have appeared.
The irony is the leaflet came from a very right wing Catholic group opposed to Lisbon, COIR.
Quite often the Yes camp promote them as the main opposition to the Lisbon treaty. It is to associate all those who would vote No to Lisbon with a small splinter group, and I have written of this smear by association before.

A leaflet COIR produced featured Caravaggio’s “The taking of the Christ”. It is known as the Judas Kiss painting.

Ireland for Europe Campaign Director Pat Cox has brought the leaflet to the attention of the Jesuits who hold the image rights to the centuries old painting.
In line with the new directive from the Irish Hierarchy, the Jesuits stated that COIR did not seek or obtain permission to use this image and that the matter would be pursued.  The Jesuits would not allow the use of this image “for such controversial and inappropriate purposes”

In that case any church should remain outside of the political debate.
Pat Cox said he “was offended to see this sacred image being misused by associating it with this shameful and untruthful propaganda”
According to Ireland for Europe there is a clear dividing line between the protection or promotion of Christian values and the publication of false or misleading propaganda in relation to the Lisbon Treaty.

(* this section of the article has been updated further after the conclusion)

I do not believe that the church even has a moral right to comment at this point in time since the Ryan report.
And yes, the tax payer is the one who will bail out the church in Ireland in spite of their sins, along with the floundering bankers, failed politicians and reckless speculators.

For so many years, due to theocratic control exercised by a few unelected and unaccountable people over citizens and politicians we had a Gulag system in this republic where sin and crime were synonymous, even condoms were illegal. Because of the power of the Church, civil divorce has only recently been bought into law, whereas annulment was always an option, especially with the right connection.

Single Mothers were forcibly separated from their own babies and interned in Laundries and other institutes.
Rape victims who fell pregnant were also interned, and treated as if they were guilty of some crime.
Quite often we see that both they and their children were subjected to continued abuse.

Dr. Noel Brown, a man who was instrumental in ending the scourge of TB in Ireland was blocked by the church when he attepted to secularise and improve healthcare for mothers and children. He faced many of the accusations that face President Obama today.
It was apparently beter for a child to be institutionalised rather than take the risk in a country 85% catholic that a protestant family might adopt a child, for fear it would lose it's soul.
Browne had earlier also managed to snub the Catholic hierarchy in 1949 when he was the only minister to attend the Church of Ireland funeral of Douglas Hyde, the first President of Ireland.
The Catholic Church has, and will, play a positive role in Irish society, as have and will other belief systems.
But we come from an Island where more often religion was used to divide and control us.

Lets not forget that in the interests of preserving power the Catholic church has on many other occasions held back the progress of Ireland as a free and sovereign nation.

They came out strongly against Parnell because he was named in a divorce case, and he was Protestant.
This after having achieved more for Irish tenant farmers in his short parliamentary life than the church had achieved in all the years of the feudal system that existed.
In return they got Manooth University.

When the Fenians rose, they were read down from every pulpit in the land, hell was not hot enough and eternity not long enough.

The Churches centre of power is a transnational, unelected beaurocracy based in a European city that has a lot of power and influence across the globe.
To the centre of power delegates, selected by a local hierarchy, are sent to consult with the mechanisims of governance from afar.
Their are councils and committees, factions and different group who specialise in certain areas.
Their deliberations are done in camera - behind closed doors, with no accountability or independent oversight - and their decisions have a very real and profound effect for all Catholics.

It is little wonder that the EU as it will be if the Lisbon treaty is bought into law is something that is so familiar to the Irish hierarchy.

The entire republican ideal in Ireland came from Protestant nationalists like Tone and Emmet who did not see the importation of Catholic monarchs as a solution, but the development of a French or American republican system as an Irish answer to an Irish problem.

Catholicism is distinctly monarchical, where men have assumed the right to rule because of their belief in God. Cardinals are called the Princes of the Church for that very reason, that is the position that they hold, that one of them will be the next Pope, the next ruler.
Bishops equate to Barons, Arch Bishops to Earls. It is the same pyramid scheme that evolved from the Roman empire that monarchy did.
As with the UK's coat of arms, where Dieu et mon Doit - that God is my right, and other countries that have a monarchy decided on by accident of birth in the catholic church we have a situation where men elect from among them a man chosen to be the successor of the apostle Simon, Christ’s vicar on earth.
Due to this unquestionable authority derived from the Pope the catholic church in Ireland which has had an undue influence on our elected Governments.

A 5 year old child is no more catholic than he is a member of the fireman’s union.

I think the hierarchy’s primary mission right now should not be to copper fasten their position in Government circles with the self assumed protection of the unborn, but to seek forgiveness and redeem themselves in the eyes of the living victims of abuse

*UPDATE 12/11

In the Irish times on Thursday 10th again we see the link between church and state being used to supress opposition to the Lisbon treaty from any group.

Irish MEPs called on the church to take a stand against the monthly church newspaper Alive for publishing an advert opposing the Lisbon Treaty by a very small group from Cork called Éire go Brách for gods sake!

Alive was set up as a response to pope John Paul II’s call for “an evangelisation that is new in its fervour, new in its methods and new in its expression”.

Until the Lisbon treaty I never heard of such demands being made of such a minor publication, what are the Political clases so scared of ?

Marian Harkin MEP said the claims made in the advert were “disgraceful” and “deliberately constructed to frighten people”.

Éire go Brách's campaign director Máire de Faoite said the paragraph quoted in the advert was contained in an explanatory note on the charter, which was contained in a consolidated version of the EU treaties.

Ms Harkin said the church should take action to ensure that Alive is not being distributed in the porches of any of its churches.
Fine Gael MEP Mairéad McGuinness said the advert was scandalous, and the church needed to take on any groups that made statements in its name.
Fr Brian McKevitt, managing editor of Alive, said it was interesting that liberals who proclaim to be in favour of freedom of speech often want to silence criticism.
He said he would not comment on the veracity of the advertisement’s claims. “People have to judge for themselves the advert, like they do for adverts for plumbers in other newspapers”
One supposes that questions will only be raised if they do not tow the Government line.
Free Blog Counter

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Decent Dissent and Dodgy Decisions - Lisbon and NAMA

People who see certainties where others see nuances and shades of meaning are either prophets or a quacks, and our politicians are not prophets.
Our Minister of Finance cannot even accurately predict profits, or lack thereof, from the biggest gamble that Ireland has ever undertaken.
We have seen years of mismanagement and poor decision making of which NAMA is the most recent example, and with the Lisbon treaty we have chosen to say No, to dissent.
Dissent and disagreement with Government is the lifeblood of democracy, it is also essential because every once and a while it is right, and the powers to whom we try to speak are wrong.

One very important lesson came from America, from a courageous commentator Edward R Murrow - but more about him later.

The elected, transitional, holders of power in our state, our employees, continue to impugn the intelligence and the loyalty of the people of the state of Ireland in relation to the European Union.

Some media pundits credit our politicos with a knowledge and understanding of the challenges facing Ireland and Europe which neither common sense nor their track record suggests they deserve.
If our politicians had proven their self declared knowledge, foresight and planning, about finance, the economy, health services etc. we might be able to accept the premise that they knew what the hell they were talking about.

But to date this Government has proven little except their own arrogance and hubris in spite of its failure.
With bank bailouts, NAMA, toxic debts, rising unemployment and a real sense of insecurity and uncertainty their failures have enveloped the country in a fog of fear.
This fog, fear and confusion in addition to the BCI ruling on referendum coverage may yet be used to push through the Lisbon treaty on a second attempt.


One of, if not the greatest American journalist of the modern era was Edward R Murrow. Never in a thousand years could my writing even come close to how he phrased a warning about Governments who felt they - and they alone - knew everything, dismissed accountability and marginalized dissent. In 1954, in a challenge to the McCarthyite witch hunts he said:

"We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law.
We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men -- not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular"

These words are utterly appropriate to our challenges today.

We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty or allow the refusal to accept the Lisbon Treaty to be confused with our commitment to a European Union. Dissent is said to be the highest form of patriotism.

A No vote in a referendum is just that, we do not accept the proposition put before us by our elected legislators, and want a better deal.
We simply want a Union for the benefit of the people and communities, not for the politicians and corporations.

Our country was not created by people who achieved great things with courage, reason and conviction, not fear - and we must "not be driven by fear into an age of unreason based on illusory guarantees and clever editing.

When we dig into Irish history we see despite censure, public ridicule and the real danger of death we have had the incredible fortune to have had leaders who never allowed themselves to be subdued or cowed, and who supported just causes despite their unpopularity.

Our greatest leaders came from hugely diverse backgrounds. Jim Larkin overcame media vilification for Union organization.
James Connolly died for his belief in workers rights. Griffith’s commitment to self determination, O Connell’s belief in the right to vote, Parnell’s belief in fairness, Tone and Emmett’s belief in secular democracy and women’s rights fought for by people like Winifred Carney now buried in an unmarked grave in Milltown cemetary and Constance Markiewicz have all shaped our sense of nationhood.

We must remember that accusation is not proof, the cheap innuendos by Dick Roche and his ilk about funding of the No campaign mean nothing, particularly when dual standards exist in relation to the funding of the Yes groupings.
If the Government had accepted the recommendations of the Standards in public office, this issue would be more transparent and more in the interest of the democratic process but perhaps not in the interests of the Government.

With other EU states going for parliamentary ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, without plebiscite, the attempt to force through the second Lisbon vote is an appeasement of sorts.
Again, we can learn from history. Dealing with dissent at home so as not to upset Europe was a policy followed in the 1930's by the Chamberlain Government who appeased an unaccountable system in Germany.
Chamberlain knew most of all that the staunchest critics of his European policy had to be marginalized and isolated - his supporters in the media portrayed the foremost critic as, if not totally senile, at best morally or intellectually confused - he was called Winston Churchill. History has taught us that all Chamberlains' certainties were in fact miscalculation and confusion.

That suggests that the office can not only make the man, the office can make the facts. The solemn guarantee Mr. Chamberlain held in his hand after the Munich conference were about as believeable as those Mr. Cowen has shown us.

But by unremittingly repeating these pointless garuantees (about what is not in the treaty) the illusion is created that the context of the treaty rejected by the Irish, as well as the constitution rejected by the French and Dutch, has fundamentally changed.

At the launch of the Fianna Fail Yes campaign on September 2nd 2009 Mr. Cowen aptly demonstrated this arrogance by stating he did not even contemplate the rejection of the Lisbon treaty on a second attempt.
This is possibly the last chance FF have to 'win' an electorial victory before 2012. As the major party in power it is FF who, along with the greens and indies, have the power to put the referendum to the people, again, and have decided to do so, so it is primarily their referendum.

I for one do not want to see a triumphful FF telling us how they assured we won Lisbon. Its their only chance to win anything at this point, with the support of the opposition, corporations and even the church.

If Lisbon goes through they will use it as a further justification to go full term even with a 17% approval rating (i.e. family and friends) and as their are no more local or EU elections in that period, this is almost certainly the last chance people have to voice their dissent at the ballot box until 2012

We cannot allow a failing, self serving and corrupt Government, hardly worthy of the legacy of nationhood that they have inherited, or their corporate supporters to use control of the media and the fear of a deeper financial crisis that they themselves precipitated to force us to vote against our own best interests, and the interests of our fellow European citizens.

This country faces a great challenge. With the clear and present danger of financial ruin and longterm hardship, the confusion we as citizens must now address is stark and forbidding.
But note with hope in your heart we have made it through in the past.

The confusion and debate about Lisbon is really about if the Irish Government actually know what they are talking about - and their track record of the management of our country in health, education, financial regulation or economic planning does not engender any belief in their abilities to have made the correct judgement on the Lisbon treaty.

The chance to pause and reflect after democratic rejection has not been used to build the kind agreement that We the People really want, a desire that really exists

We want our leaders to give us a treaty that is accessable, that gives greater democratic accountability and transparency, and if they deliver that we will work with them to develop a better future for all.

Again, as always – thanks for reading. Even if you don’t agree with me – I hope you give some thoughts to the points made

And please let others now about these blogs

Citizen Simon - out

Free Blog Counter

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Corporations, donations, democracy and Lyin'air.con

I dont feel comfortable when multi-national corporations use their money and influence to promote their own agenda in a country.
Multinational corporations may be 51 out of the top 100 GDP's in the world, but they have lttle 'national' identity left.

Corporate requirements can override the democratic decision making progress of  sovereign nations.
We have seen so often the result of the need for corporations to make money takes presidence the most basic human rights and environmental considerations.

We have seen recently in the US how large corporations such as health insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies use professional lobbyists to manipulate public opinion and fight universal health care - a human right - by spreading half truths and confusing the basic issue.
The United States, the worlds leading economy is the last developed nation to not have a national health service.

But from the sick denied healthcare in the US to the increased privatization and degrading of private healthcare in Ireland we know the results of the neo liberal economic model, and we will look at this in relation to Lisbon next Thursday.

Indeed, one of the major supporters of the Lisbon treaty in Ireland, Brendan Halligan, already runs a lobbyist company, CIPA (former employers of Andrew Byrne of Generation Yes) who allegedly act on behalf of the tobacco industry in the EU.

This neo-liberal economic trend is global, bank bail outs, toxic debts nationalised, from the child labour sweatshops producing garments to the logging of the Amazon, from the suppression of dissent in Nigeria to the open strip mines in Argentina.

Corporations are not evil, they are simply amoral. Their primary consideration is to make as much money for shareholders as possible.
That is their job.
Reduction of labour costs by using children in the third world where it is allowed or the bypassing of environmental considerations by outsourcing to countries where laxer controls allow for reduced costs all contribute to that increased profit margin and share value.

Several multi-national corporations with operations in Ireland such as Microsoft, Glen Dimplex and Intel have thrown their weight behind the second Lisbon referendum in Ireland, the last democratic obstacle in the way of its implementation.
Intel, Dimplex or Microsoft could cut labour costs in the morning by transferring production to Eastern Europe or other countries, which they no doubt will do unless Irish workers accept reduced pay and conditions.

They tell us that a more efficient EU would sustain economic growth nationally as well as promote international trade.
I agree – but at what cost. I have long said I have no objection to the European Union, provided it is for the benefit of the People of Europe.

Along with them, Ryanair have come onside in the campaign for a Yes vote – so lets deal with them, at least Ryanair is Irish.

The Chairperson of PANA, Roger Cole said the Ryanair announcement was not a surprise to him. He has said previously that limits must be placed on the amount that private companies could spend in a referendum or election campaign.

This is particularly needed in our democracy in light of the BCI decision not to give equal treatment to both sides of the debate.
It is not reasonable that the Irish media give such coverage to money was being spent by bodies such as Libertas on a No campaign, but have little to say about similar sums of money being spent by companies such as Ryanair and Intel to promote a Yes vote.

The Standards In Public Office Commission, the independent body which oversees spending in elections and referendums, confirmed yesterday there was no spending limit for individuals and companies.

This essentially means we could have a company from the US, the UK, Germany, Russia, China, Algeria or North Korea coming to Ireland and spending vast amounts of money advocating a Yes vote with few restrictions or control.
A spokesperson said the commission, in its annual report, had called for a redefinition of what constituted a “third party”, subject to limits on spending in a referendum campaign.
It argued that the definition should not be determined on the basis of whether an individual or group had received a donation, but should focus instead on how much they spent. They should be regarded as “third parties” if they intend spending over a certain threshold.

Mr Cole said the Irish people had rejected the Lisbon Treaty last year in a democratic vote. “Now they are being forced to vote again on exactly the same treaty…these same firms.....who have a vested interest.....can spend billions of euro bullying the Irish people into submission.”
Well, at least not all of them want to charge us to use a toilet.
An EU court in 2008 backed Ryanair in a battle with state aid regulators on how far small airports can use public money to attract low-cost carriers.

The ruling from the European Union's appeals court allows Ryanair to keep a very sweet deal, a discount of more than €4 million that it received from the Belgian Walloon regional government to help run flights out of the state-owned Charleroi airport.
The Walloon Region gave Ryanair a half-price deal on landing charges that are usually fixed by regulation and promised to compensate the airline if it lost money on any changes to airport charges.
The airport would also help fund Ryanair's costs and pay it €1 per passenger for ground handling — rather than the €10 it charges other airlines.
In return, Ryanair pledged to base two to four aircraft at the airport and turn each around at least three times a day. The deal was for 15 years.

EU regulators ruled in February 2004 that parts of the Ryanair contract were illegal state aid and must be changed, which Ryanair appealed in an EU court.

But recently an EU Court said the European Commission was wrong to demand Ryanair refund the sum in 2004, and antitrust regulators had made a technical mistake when deciding the payments were an illegal state subsidy by not checking whether private investors would also have offered Ryanair low fees to start using the airport.
Mr. O'Leary now says the court decision also makes meaningless other EU investigations into claims that Ryanair received illegal subsidies at eight other airports in Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy and Slovakia

Co-incidentally, it wasonly after the Court ruling Mr. O’Leary announced he favored Lisbon and would campaign for it. The treaty is being supported by Ryanair to the tune of €500,000.

There is also the fact that Mr. O Leary has long wanted to take over AerLingus - his main rival on the Irish market.
This would lead to a monopoly, as stated in the EC ruling of 2007.

But the more recent court favourable judgment on the indirect subsidies from in Belgium seem to have given Mr. O Leary a reason to support the Lisbon Treaty
Ryanair - Shafting you at home

Ireland is an Island nation. It is vital to the national interest that we have frequent and economic air transport to Europe and the rest of the world.

Aer Lingus was our national airline, but increased privatization encouraged by the EU with regulations on state subsidies and competition is causing problems.

According to the Irish Times August 27 2009 AerLingus is planning a review of its business after reporting a sharp increase in losses due to downward pressure on fares and a highly uncertain outlook.
Aer Lingus losses after tax in the six months to the end of June had widened a massive 242% to €73.9 million on revenue down 12.2% at €555 million.
This is an operating loss of €93 million compared with a shortfall of €23.4 million for the same period a year earlier.

Aer Lingus were guilty in the past of extremely high prices when they had a monopoly on Irish flights, so this made flights very expensive. The arrival of Ryanair competed with this, leading to a reduction in prices. We have learned in Ireland in particular that free and fair competition in the airline business is good.

Ryanair has become the dominant force in Irish aviation, publicly promoting free markets and attacking any subsidy given by governments to state airlines, regardless that they may be needed for strategic reasons.

Ryanair strongly oppose any government interference in their business, as long as they themselves are not the beneficiary, this is a dual standard.

Despite a very public commitment to consumer choice, competition and a free market Ryanair already owns almost 30 per cent of AerLingus (about 4% more than the Irish Government) and said in a statement in 2008 it wanted a “merger of the two airlines into one strong Irish airline group under common ownership”

In December 2008 Aer Lingus rejected a Ryanair €748 million takeover bid, saying the offer significantly undervalued the carrier.
This is probably true in the current economic situation.
In December 2006 Ryanair withdrew its first €1.48 billion bid for AerLingus, due to an investigation by the EC.

The EC has been concerned that the takeover would reduce consumer choice and increase fares. In June 2007, the European Commission announced their decision to block the bid on competition grounds saying the two airlines controlled more than 80% of all European flights to and from Dublin airport.

Despite its dedication to neo-liberal economics, Ryanair is happy to create a monopoly and accept state subsidy, directly or indirectly.

By providing financial support to ensure the Lisbon treaty goes through in its current format, Ryanair and other corporations like Microsoft and Intel place decision making further from the democratic process.
With the money involved they also ensure that their lobbyists have access to or even places with the unelected decision making committees.

To make sure that government remains of, by and for the People, we need a treaty that enshrines democracy answerable to us - not special interest groups and their lobbyists-whether their influence is sought or unsought - it is a danger Eisenhower warned against.

The adage of Tacitus still holds true - that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Again, as always – thanks for reading.

Even if you don’t agree with me – I hope you give some thoughts to the points made

And please let others now about these blogs.
Citizen Simon - out

Free Blog Counter

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Disgard Giscard d'Estaing

We are looking at a Lisbon Treaty. Let’s take a look at one of its principle architects, Valéry Marie René Georges Giscard d'Estaing.

Today’s France, a democratic and republican nation, Europe’s first, was born out of the revolution of 1789, when the people stood against an unaccountable, expensive and ineffective system of governance.

Among those were killed in the struggle for liberty and equality was a good man, Vice Admiral Jean Baptiste Charles Henri Hector, Comte d'Estaing.
In 1922 a Monsieur Giscard added "d'Estaing" to the family name because of a rather dubious and distant connection.

Monsieur Giscard "d'Estaing’s" son Jean Edmond married Mademoiselle Marthe Bardoux – herself a great-great-great-granddaughter of King Louis XV through one of his many, many mistresses, Catherine Eléonore Bernard.

In a more amusing look at family history we consider Louis XV "le Bien-Aimé" ("the Beloved") was popular at the beginning his reign.
But he died amongst the most unpopular kings of France.
His lack of morals, inability to effectively reform France and the Monarchy, and the most dismal humiliating diplomatic failing in French history – the loss of North America and India - lost him the affection of his people.

Louis XV was notoriously promiscuous. Now, every man needs a hobby, and he certainly did it with elan. Some mistresses like Madame de Pompadour and Madame du Barry are as well-known as the king himself, and his affairs with three Mailly-Nesle sisters are documented by the formal agreements into which he entered.
In his later years, Louis XV kept several young mistress’ at a time in secluded living quarters known as the Parc aux Cerfs ("Deer Park"), one of whose inhabitants was the daughter of Daniel O' Murphy - Marie-Louise O' Murphy de Boisfaily, immortalized in a magnificent painting by Boucher.

Another Irish connection was the first person to adversely affect the Kings popularity. Monsignor de Fitz-James, premier aumônier, refused to give absolution unless the king renounced his mistress’. The confession was publicly announced, tarnishing the monarchy. Nevertheless, Louis XV soon returned to his adulterous ways.

The descendent of one of those trysts – a Great-great-great-great-grandson was none other than the man who was the principle architect of the Lisbon Constitution – Valéry Marie René Giscard d'Estaing - His name is often shortened to "Giscard" or even "VGE" by the French media. A less flattering nickname is l'Ex

Giscard was elected to parliament in 1956 with the conservative CNIP. They broke with the Gaullists in 1962 due to the euro-skepticism of President Charles De Gaulle; to hold onto power Giscard supported De Gaulle’s euro-skepticism, refused to resign and founded the Républicains Indépendants (RI). Relations with the Gaullists tensed when Giscard d'Estaing was dismissed from the cabinet in 1966 the group became a political party Fédération Nationale des Républicains Indépendants (FNRI)

In the 1969 presidential campaign, VGE supported the winning candidate Georges Pompidou and returned to the Ministry of Economy and Finance.
He was seen as part of a new generation of politicians emerging from the senior civil service, the technocrats.
Giscard fought socialist Mitterrand. Supported by his FNRI and benefiting from the divisions in the Gaullist party and defeated Mitterrand with only 50.8% of the vote to become Président de la République in 1974.

In 1975, he invited the heads of government from major economic powers West Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the USA to form the Group of Six (now the G8) major economic powers.
This select gang, promoting Reganite/Thatcherite unregulated market policies have in recent years bought the entire world to the brink of economic meltdown in recent years which does not engender confidence in Giscard’s long term view.

He supported the corrupt Mokhtar Ould Daddah, a man who in 1961 bought a one party system to Mauritania and was reelected in uncontested elections in 1966, 1971 and 1976.
Giscard ordered fighter jets to deploy in Mauritania in 1977. They propped up the Mauritanian army – mostly forcibly conscripted black Africans from the south of the country. The jets bombed and strafed the camel trains of Polisario freedom fighters in their struggle against military occupation. Daddah was eventually deposed.

They say you are judged by the company you keep. Most disturbing is VGE's involvement with the Bokassa regime of the Central African Republic (CAR) whose rich soil has uranium vital for France's nuclear energy and weapons programs.
There is probably a piece of CAR on the bottom of the Pacific near Mururoa.
The Central African Republic is also rich in diamonds – and blood.

Giscard supplied the regime of his "friend and family member” Emperor Bokassa I with financial and military backing.
His Highness frequently took Giscard on hunting trips in Africa
A former corporal in the French army Jean-Bédel Bokassa came to power in 1965 overthrowing his cousin David Dacko with the support of Alexandre Banza, an intelligent, ambitious and capable army captain.

In 1968 Banza tired the new President's extravagant spending. Bokassa murdered him.
Le Monde reported that Banza was killed in circumstances "so revolting that it still makes one's flesh creep….Two versions concerning the end circumstances of his death differ on one minor detail. Did Bokassa tie him to a pillar before personally carving him with a knife that he had previously used for stirring his coffee in the gold-and-midnight blue Sevres coffee set, or was the murder committed on the cabinet table with the help of other persons?
Late that afternoon, soldiers dragged a still identifiable corpse, with the spinal column smashed, from barrack to barrack to serve as an example

In 1972 Bokassa declared himself President for Life of CAR but not content with this in 1977 and with an incredibly expensive imperial coronation ceremony Corporal Jean-Bédel became Emperor Bokassa I.
At over 20 million dollars the coronation consumed one third of the impoverished CAR's annual budget and all of France's aid that year.

Despite growing concern about human rights abuses Giscard sent a battalion of troops to secure the ceremony; lent aircraft to the Emperor’s government, and even assigned French Navy personnel to support the orchestra of the land locked state.

Giscard’s fraternal feelings for Bokassa were perhaps eroded after riots and a massacre of children. Between 17 April and 19 April 1979 elementary school students were arrested for protests against wearing the expensive, government-required school uniforms that were only sold by a company that belonged to one of his 17 wives. Around one hundred were killed.
According to Amnesty International's report, Bokassa was personally involved with some of the killings beating some of the children to death.

A coup using French troops returned Bokassa’s deposed cousin to power later that year.
Rumours still abound that he ate body parts from opponents himself.
Even if these allegations of cannibalism are untrue, there is plenty of evidence of the extreme brutality of Bokassa's rule. Political rivals were murdered or tortured, and he certainly fed opponents to lions and crocodiles in his personal zoo.

In a related incident, 1979, Giscard was reported by the Canard Enchaîné to have accepted diamonds as personal gifts in 1973 from Bokassa — who fled the coup to France with looted millions from the Central African Republic's treasury, but was still given asylum under rules concerning service in the French military.

Official gifts legally are property of the Republic of France, not the office holder.

In 2005, perhaps inspired by his friend the Emperor, Giscard and his brother with support from the local municipality, purchased the castle of Estaing, Aveyron - formerly a possession alleged relative Admiral d'Estaing. A number of major newspapers in several countries questioned their motives and some hinted at self-appointed nobility and Grand Pere’s usurped historical identity.

I suppose that the other, actual, ancestral pile, Versailles, was not on the market.

In another delusion of grandeur in 2003, Giscard took a seat on the Académie Française; critics pointed out that he had written only a single novel, Le Passage, of dubious quality – this acceptance is particularly inappropriate when one remembers the seat he took belonged to the Senegals magnificent poet and President Leopold Sedar Senghor, one of Africa’s most important intellectuals and leaders.

Louis XV took time out for the first drawing and quartering seen in France for 147 years, and the last example of this barbaric practice in France.

Although Giscard said he had "deep aversion against capital punishment" he did not commute several death sentences during his presidency. As with his ancestor he oversaw the last executions of a type in France, this time using the guillotine.

The controversial case of Christian Ranucci, convicted of murder, raises doubts. Giscard refused to commute the death penalty only ten days after the case's arrival to his office, much quicker than the usual clemency process.
A book by respected journalist Gilles Perrault disputed Ranucci’s involvement in the crime. In 2005, other new claims were made that Michel Fourniret, a serial killer who murdered at least 9 girls had something to do with this case and could have been the real murderer.

By not abolishing the death penalty he kept France as the last country in the EU to apply it. The death penalty finally abolished when socialist Mitterrand defeated Giscard in 1981.

After his 1981 defeat by Mitterrand, he retired temporarily from politics.
In 1984, he regained his seat in Parliament and won the presidency of the regional council of Auvergne.

A la Vladimir Putin Giscard hoped to become prime minister of France after the re-election of Mitterrand with the theme of "France united", but he was not chosen for this position.

In 1995 Giscard suffered a humiliating defeat when he was defeated in a bid for the mayoralty of Clermont-Ferrand.

Following yet another defeat in the regional elections 2004, he decided to leave partisan politics and to take his seat as a de jure member of the French Constitutional Council as a former president of the Republic.

Some of his actions there, such as his campaign in favor of the Treaty establishing the European Constitution, were criticized as unbecoming to a member of this council, which should embody nonpartisanship and should not appear to favor one political option over the other.
Indeed, the question of the membership of former presidents in the Council was raised at this point, with some suggesting that it should be replaced by a life membership in the Senate

Giscard has generally been seen as a proponent of greater European Union (except of course when it was politically expedient support a Euro-skeptic government and retain power)

From 2002 to 2003, a period when he could not get elected Mayor of Clermont-Ferrand or to the local council he served as President of the Convention on the Future of Europe.
In October 2004, the European heads of state, gathered in Rome, approved and signed the now democratically rejected European Constitution based on a draft strongly influenced by Giscard 's work at the Convention.

Giscard told MEP’s that the Lisbon Treaty is essentially the same as the rejected EU Constitution.
"What was [already] difficult to understand will become utterly incomprehensible, but the substance has been retained… Why not have a single text?
The only reason is that this would look too much like the constitutional treaty. Making cosmetic changes would make the text more easy to swallow

Giscard wrote in The Independent of London in 2007
"The difference between the original Constitution and the present Lisbon Treaty is one of approach, rather than content ... The proposals in the original constitutional treaty are practically unchanged….Why this subtle change? Above all, to head off any threat of referenda by avoiding any form of constitutional vocabulary”

In an interview with Le Monde in June 2007, he stated that
"public opinion will be led to adopt, without knowing it, the proposals we dare not present to them directly"

Regardless of the peoples choice he is determined on pushing through HIS Lisbon treaty/constitution - by hook, crook or title

In February 2009 Giscard told the Irish Times that the Irish should hold a second Lisbon Treaty referendum in late April, or early May – and not October, as this would occur
“at the moment when the new European Commission will be chosen for a five-year term...Until the Irish answer, people will not know whether it is to be 17 or 27, so there will be confusion”
The basic problem here is that there is no confusion.
We the people want 27 commissioners, one for each EU member - Giscard still wants only 17. Despite the promises that we have received on a commissioner Giscard maintained his long-held objections to each member state having a commissionership.
We also want a clearer treaty dealing with the issues that concern us, not what a technocrat believes is of concern to us.

Giscard in the same interview using the normal untrue Yes campaign scare tactics he implied that the EU big states will combine together and sideline all EU small member states if Ireland rejects the treaty a second time.

He admitted that
“the process was a difficult one in terms of democratic support”
This much is true, and despite the comprehensive rejection by French and Dutch citizens in 2005 Giscard continued to actively lobby for its passage in other European Union states.
In the LSE in 2006, he said that:
"The rejection of the Constitutional treaty by voters in France was a mistake that should be corrected."
Judging by the department map of the result, that would have taken an enormous correction, so Sarkozy ratified it without going to the people.

Giscard has also said
“It is difficult to ask citizens to approve a text that they cannot fully understand”.
The problem for him is that most of the Irish do.
The Irish are amongst the most politically astute and aware people in Europe.
In the last European Parliament elections 2009 Irelands turnout was nearly 59%.
The EU average was 43%, France had below 41%

Commissioner Charlie McCreevy said in June 2009 “Everybody says we do not know enough about Europe…..I can tell you in my humble opinion that the ordinary people of Ireland know a damn sight more about the intricacies of the European framework than nearly all the members of the other 27 states”

Giscard has been rejected by the French as a leader. Despite democratic rejection by the French and Dutch of his constitution, and the rejection of the treaty by the Irish which he himself states is de facto the same document he continues to push it - we need to ask why?

Giscard is a spent force in French politics. He cannot even get elected Mayor of a minor French town or the local administration.
This is his last chance at a lasting legacy. The Lisbon treaty is as much a vanity project as his Castle and his membership of the Académie française and as vain as the coronation of his “friend and family member” Corporal Bokassa.

L’Ex’s commentary about the Irish political process is as illegitimate as his name or his Great-great-great-grandmother, and it’s not welcome.

The Irish are the only nation in the EU holding a referendum on the treaty – despite Giscard’s stated desire to head off this democratic danger to his vanity project.

In 1745 at a terrible cost Irishmen played a vital role in saving Louis XV and France from the Austro-Hungarians Hapsburg Empire and its allies at the Battle of Fontenoy. The banner above under which they fought for France, Louis XV and Ireland says In hoc signo vinces is the rendition in Latin of the Greek phrase en touto nika, meaning "in this sign you will conquer".

In a bizarre twist of fate we find ourselves in the position of defending French democracy from a descendent of the Hapsburg aristocracy, the current Elysee Palace resident Nicolas Sarközy (de Nagy-Bocsa) whose father was a Hungarian aristocrat.
This is a man who pushed through the Lisbon treaty despite the democratic decision of the French People.

Perhaps we need a new flag for the Irish in the defense of the French people?

Giscard may have wanted an April/May election – that would suit me. We have a tradition of summer revolt. In May 1798 the Young Irishmen rose, in July 1848 the Fenians rebelled, and in April 1916 the Easter rising took place.

This year maybe we Irish will have an October Revolution.

Free Blog Counter

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Trying to join the dots - IIEA, CIPA, Ireland for Europe and Generation Yes

Financial ties between unaccountable groups and Government bodies are of concern to me.

Not only have we had - as I wrote about last time - the supression of dissent by the BCI, we also have a tax free and unaccountable charity in reciept of hundreds of thousands of tax euros and the rapid promotion of an 'independent' youth group who support the drive to force through a yes vote.

According to the Phoenix magazine the power behind the Yes to Lisbon Mark II campaign is a former (appointed) MEP Brendan Halligan (73)
As General Secretary of the Labor Party in Ireland he bitterly opposed EEC membership in 1972.

He has since metamorphosed into the Chairman of the Institute for International and European Affairs (IIEA), which receives hudreds of thousands of Euro from government departments and state funded bodies yearly.
Among the Members of the Comite d'Honneur of the IIEA are Bertie Ahern, Charlie McCreevy, Albert Reynolds, Pat Cox, Ray Mac Sharry and the bauld Pádraig Flynn

Following the failure of the Irish Alliance for Europe(the one that came up with the wrong result) it has been apparently decided that the next vote on the same issue will keep politicians in the background and that personalities from civic life — youth, women etc — would front the campaign.

There were efforts to find interesting celebrities like soccer players and U2’s manager, but it was soon realized by the Yes campaign that many such people were usually unable to answer half-serious questions about the EU or the complexities of the Lisbon Treaty.

Enter Andrew Byrne, former president of Trinity students’ union, and one of Halligan’s employees at his consultancy CIPA, who helped to set up Generation Yes.

A former member of the European Youth Parliament (a glorified youth club set up for secondary school students) he contnued to volunteer for the EYP and was responsible for bringing the group’s national conference to Dublin in 2007. Meanwhile, he attended plenty of talks and meetings of the IIEA.

Andrew Byrne had joined the Green Party and chaired the Trinity branch of the Young Greens during the senior party’s switch from an anti to pro-EU stance.
Andrew got himself onto the senior party’s national executive, where he now rubs shoulders with the now pro-European Green leadership.
This was a reversal in Green policy as traditionaly they had been against the threat to nutrality, workers rights and believed in more, not less, democratic oversight and accountability.

In autumn 2008 Andrew, Bart Storan (his students union election campaign director) and Claire Tighe (his deputy president) – started work on Generation Yes.
To raise funds for Generation Yes they fired out a hundred or so letters to like-minded souls outlining what they intended to do, some of which must have included Brendan Halligan, Pat Cox, Brigid Laffan and a clutch of other faces from Halligan’s IIEA.

Brendan Halligan – who knew Andy Byrne well from his attendance at various IIEA talks and meetings – needed someone to work on a few Euro-related projects.
It’s hardly surprising that by November 2008, around the same time as he was working on Generation Yes, Andrew Byrne found himself in Brendan Halligan’s employ at CIPA(Halligan’s lobbying company, which worked on behalf of the tobacco industry)

Interestingly, in echoes of the controversy over whether Declan Ganley’s staffers were employed by Libertas or Rivada – Andrew Byrne claims he was not employed by CIPA but by Halligan personally.
Obviously the multi-national tobacco corporations are not the people our clean, green and keen Mr.Byrne wants to be associated with.

While the media were rigorous in their pursuit of Libertas’s funding, they have shown no appetite for applying similar rigor to Brendan Halligan’s pro-EU bodies, particularly in relation to their murky funding arrangements (largely public funds coming from government departments).

Indeed, The Irish Times, Independent News and Media, and RTE have all been listed in the past as donors and corporate members of Halligan’s IIEA.

The Generation Yes team - who seem to want to appear completely disconnected from the politicians - along with other Yes campaigners have met the minister for Europe Dick Roche and officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) at Iveagh House to plan their campaign.
This is not independent action, this is co-ordinated support.

In December 2008, Andy attended his first meeting of a group that included Halligan, Pat Cox and UCD professor Brigid Laffan, all were keen to devise a campaign strategy that worked and Andy was involved in the creation of Ireland for Europe.

When Andrew Byrne had to choose between Generation Yes and Ireland for Europe Pat Cox suggested he go forward for the position of chief of operations and he cruised in, leaving Generation Yes to Bart and Claire and others.

Not a bad move for Andrew Byrne, who has very quickly ascended to the vanguard of the Euro movement and the Green Party.

Ireland for Europe is a much grander affair than Generation Yes, and a much bigger challenge for Andrew.
Large ads in the Sunday and daily newspapers suggest that it’s very well funded, too.
He is involved in a far more impressive organization now, so he doesn’t have to worry unduly about Generation Yes, who still maintain their Leeson Street Office – donated by a business man (?) and their use of IBEC for printing, meetings etc.

Andy Byrne of Generation Yes may find he has less work to do than he anticipated, but he won’t be too bothered; he’s already made his bones with the Greens and the Euro Mafia.

When The Phoenix asked Ireland for Europe about their funding situation, they trotted out the same old line about donations being received “in accordance with the Electoral Acts”, “treated with absolute confidentiality”, compliance with the Standards in Public Office regulations, etc, etc.

It’s a line Andrew Byrne has learned as well and he was less than forthcoming on the subject of who provided the Generation Yes offices on 39 Lower Leeson Street – right to privacy of donors, you understand.

Incidentally a quick whois search on Aug 11 2009 reveals that is owned by Generation Yes Ltd, contact person Andrew Byrne

Now - back to the funding of the IIEA, a think tank and a registered charity who pay no tax.
They used to publish detailed accounts but ceased doing so after the Phoenix published a series of articles about the extent to which the Institute was funded by the public.

In April of 2008, due to the McKenna judgment the IIEA was reported as saying it could not take sides in the Lisbon referendum as it is a registered public charity (it pays no taxes) and is in receipt of hundreds of thousands of tax-payers money.

In times when there are meant to be public service cutbacks like in hospitals, when we are borrowing 50M per day according to Morning Ireland, one has to take a closer look at the financial set-up at IIEA.

Repeated demands for scrutiny of the institute’s finances are normally met with a blank silence.
Recently TD Finian McGrath demanded answers in a series of parliamentary questions to all fifteen government departments that have been funding the institute for nearly 20 years.

Mr. Halligan’s financial MO is to secure annual membership subscriptions from nearly all government departments and state agencies.

In total, the IIEA received over €820,000 in 2006 with much of this coming from public funds.

In the early 90's, government departments to become corporate members of the IIEA, in most cases donating an annual sum of £1,000.

Inflation would account only partially for the 500% circa increase in this stipend by 2008.
According to twelve of the departments that responded to McGrath, each now donates an annual sum of €6.000 to the IIEA.

In January 2008 the Dept. of Arts, Sport and Tourism, under Seamus Brennan, decided not to renew membership “as part of an effort to reduce the department’s administrative costs”.

Halligan, well known to the Department of Foreign Affairs (They’ve funded his IIEA for over 15 years) was more than compensated for this decision by donating €32,626 (over five times the corporate membership) to the institute in 2007.
This was made up of payment for the Communicating Europe Initiative and €23,626 for consolidated versions of the Lisbon Treaty.

Then there are the plethora of tax funded government entities such as the Higher Education Authority, the local Government Management Services Board, the NESC and dozens of other taxpayer-funded organisations.

Just why the DPP, the Attorney General and the Office of the Houses of the Oireachtas should be funding Halligan’s super quango is beyond me.
And subscribers to the VHI may be equally curious to know why it is listed as an ongoing contributor to the institute.


The IIEA, a self-governing body, tax exempt and unaccountable registered charity, intended to be independent of political, economic and social interests is certainly not living up to its charter.
According to its website, the Institute represents no sectoral viewpoint and expresses no corporate views of its own. Views expressed in the Institute's publications and at its conferences, seminars and briefings are those of the authors and speakers

Despite this, and the McKenna ruling, since the Lisbon defeat, the IIEA has been busy preparing arguments in favour of

a) a second referendum and
b) the need for a Yes vote this time round.

In a lengthy tome sent to all Oireachtas members and hundreds of other decision makers (157 pages costing €20 a copy, courtesy of the taxpayer) the charitable institute warns of catastrophe should Ireland fail to ratify the Lisbon Treaty next time round.

The IIEA, despite its official, and legal, political neutrality is unashamedly pro-Lisbon and has produced literature and propaganda in favor of Lisbon and employed people to promote the Yes agenda at great cost to the tax payer.

IIEA literature has said if government did not decide to seek ratification, the document argues, “the damage would be irreparable” for Europe itself, while the implications for Ireland “range from the disastrous to the catastrophic”.

Halligan went so far in his scare tacticw as to speculate in a letter to the Irish Times on July 10 2009 that a No vote would result in our being excluded from the EU -which is something that cannot happen.

Using the usual scare tactics the IIEA has said the electorate votes No a second time, then Ireland might have to leave the EU; Irish farmers would lose out on CAP funding; we would lose all regional and any other EU funding; we might have to leave the euro currency and all foreign investment would be threatened.

All are untruths, if we say No it should force our elected representitives
But as Eddie Vedder says, drilling for fear makes the job simple.

These scare tactics propagated by the IEAA and associates, which we the people are paying for are simply untruths and lies.

We need to vote No to get a better and fairer deal for ourselves and our fellow European citizens.

Our elected representives should use the chance to pause and reflect and build the kind Europe that We the People really want – a democratic collective of nations for peace and prosperity who respect each other, not to repackage the same rejected and unwanted treaty that denies peoples democratic voice.

As always, thanks for taking the time to read - let others know about the blog, even if you dont agree with me I hope you at least consider the opinions and vote.

Citizen Simon out

Free Blog Counter