Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A hard one to write - David Norris, Nien Danke

I have always liked David Norris as a person, but as a candidate there are questions that public officials need to answer - And watching the Prime Time interview, I was not happy with the way he deflected and avoided valid questions on correspondence to do with the letters written in support of Ezra Nawi, a former boyfriend of David Norris - and let us not forget this - convicted of statutory rape.

Deflection on the grounds of disclosure or a trial being held in camera are no excuse.
Names, dates and locations can be excised and redacted, but details and context are valid questions.

Its not the first time that he has tried to intervene in a similar case.
In 2008, Norris called for a documentary, Fairytale of Kathmandu, to be postponed. The film documented visits to Nepal by poet Cathal Ó Searcaigh, during which he is alleged to have had sex with young men - about 16 years of age.

It questioned whether he was sexually exploiting the boys.

I have always felt very uncomfortable about the case, its not really clear - but clearly a charity worker having sex with 16 year olds (regardless of gender) is failing in duty of care, and remember here in Ireland the legal definition of a child is someone under the age of 17 for the purpose of the sexual offences (juristiction) act 1996

The sexuality of a person does not matter, but abuse of a minor does.

As an atheist I have to say for all the senators protestations about strong christian values, he would do well to remember Matthew 18:6  

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea 

Certain crimes should not and cannot be forgiven.
An adult who abuses a minor through violation of trust, position etc. is a criminal.
It is especially important to point out both cases involved poor, dependent persons of a foreign culture.

Various bleating by Norris about the pederasty in classical Greece with such echoes to a trial like this is both unwise, and I feel sinister.

We need more transparency in our body politic, not more cover-ups.

On that note from the Irish Independent on the 5th we learned that David Norris received a disability payment for 16 years while out of work as a Trinity College lecturer -- even though he was well enough to be a "full-time" senator for the entire period.

Mr Norris confirmed to the Irish Independent he received the payment, but could not specify exactly how much it was worth. He also initially refused to say what his disability was.

The payment began in 1994 and ended in 2010.

Over the period, while claiming disability he also received a senator's salary of  about €61,073 and an  annual leader's allowance -- the €23,383 Independent senators receive in unvouched expenses every year -- for his Seanad work.

However, he initially would not say what the disability was, and insisted it did not stand in his way of being president, insisting he is in "perfect health".

So at first, Senator Norris refused to comment on the disability payments - this is the clarification (?) recently released.

At his official campaign launch this morning, he has revealed the payment is currently around €2,500 a month. It is non- A, B or C Hepatitis, contracted from drinking water in Central Europe in 1994......left him so tired he was unable to do his job lecturing in Trinity

“I was medically advised it was not possible for me to undertake the stress of the very intensive lecturing and tutorial duties that I had,”
Mr Norris said it was the university authorities who decided to place him on permanent disability and replace him with another academic, giving him time to focus on the Seanad.

So well enough to lecture in the Senate, but not the School?

He did concede that if it were now he may think differently about taking the payment while having another job: He insisted his health would not be an issue for him to become President

Thats nice to know, so he can work then - even though it seems he may still receive disability payments!

“For three years I did not take any alcohol at all, which you’re advised, with the small exception every Sunday at St Patrick’s Cathedral.” What is it with religion again??

Further in that interview in relation to the abuse case  Mr Norris again stressed he was acting on legal advice from Israeli and Irish lawyers .......which stops him disclosing controversial clemency letters he wrote for an ex-partner convicted of statutory rape.

“This case involved real people,” he said.
“It changed their lives and left deep scars.

Real people, real scars?? No Shit Sherlock!!!
Letters can always be released after censorship - and it seems all the correspondence related to gaining clemency for the abuser - so far as we can tell, not having seen the correspondence.

But, as with the disability payments - this was done on advice - as were the disability payments but when asked to comment initially he asked not to go into the disability payment, saying there "was a whole story about that".

Im sure there is!

For the second time in a Presidential campaign we see that this may involve (another) rapid verbal u-turning change of tune - perhaps after "mature recollection"

GUBU speak is alive and well in Joyces Dublin

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Privatising Ireland

Well, we know they want to privatize water, which is not a commodity but a human right.
But other state assets are being sold to create a short term solution to bail out banks - in an effort that will fail, that is, the bank bailout.

Already our natural resources have been sold, as with gas and oil resources - or with coillte, will be sold.
We as a country do not have the best track record with privatization. Our Eircom flotation was a failure, Sugar and Steel went to the wall. Sugar in particular was a very bad deal, very short sighted and caused real loss.
Aerlingus shares fell from over 2 euro to just over 60 cents. Aerlingus landing slots are worth more than flight revenue - this is a service, not a business.
Now the ESB- the very foundation of our socio-economic structure is now up for sale. The ESB is a strategic company. The plan is not to retain any of the ESB but flog it.
Control of the network grid is where the money is, and with our shabby history of regulation, better a public than private monopoly.

It is a bad time to sell, the buyers know we are in a bind, it's like going to the pawn shop instead of the antique stores.

Pat Rabbite talks about giving an assurance to the potential buyers that we could sell in the future. This neglects the point that this will hamstring future governments.

The ESB and rural electrification was the jewel in the crown of the early free state. We need to think in creative terms, as they did - ambition on behalf of the nation, rather than assisting the private debts of banks.

We need to look at visionary projects like Spirit of Ireland , keeping control of distribution, improving the grid and generating jobs and income - rather than that the current Government want to sell off an asset that has the real potential to really do something radical and creative and create work, improving the lives of the majority.

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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Icelandic Indications, Forestry and Fracking

Iceland is dealing with the financial crisis, and part of that is holding people responsible.
Of those responsible in Ireland, a small select group of bankers, politicians and senior civil servants, they are not being charged, they have been moved into NAMA.

People say that the establishment link between politicians and property developers is a conspiracy theory, but the connections are clearly there.

Bertie Ahearn has instead of facing an investigation about links with property developers and banks has become a paid advisor to Parker Green International, a multi-national property developer.

We will not benefit enough from natural resources like the Corrib gas field, but we are also in danger of losing other resources like our state forestry, Coilte, in a drive to privatize state assets to bail out the banks.

Now Bertie Ahearn is working for the International Forestry Fund, financed by Hevetica Wealth AG - their intention is to take over Coilte, and get an area twice the size of County Meath at a bargain price from the new coalition Government.

Neil Ginty has written at length about this issue. Its not just trees and land though, this is state owned property, minerals will lie under the earth, but we do not know what is there because the survey done is not subject to the freedom of information act.

"Pat Carey’s signing off of the Corrib gas line on Election Day marked what many considered one last act of treason in giving the go ahead for Shell to build infrastructure that will pump gas from the west coast to their interconnectors in Britain."

Bertie is being paid by a foreign company who want to purchase an area twice the size of County Meath!! Is it just me or is there something wrong about this?

The driving force behind the planned sale of state assets is Colm McCarthy. 
His report wants to sell pretty much everything to the highest bidder.
As well as being a lecturer in UCD, Mr McCarthy also works with the ERSI and DKM Economic consultants.

Also on the board of DKM is Annette Hughes - a former BP employee. Ms Huges is an expert on energy, with particular focus on interactions with demographics and regional development - one sees what that means in Mayo. 
She is also on the board of FÁS as well as being a Director of DKM.

This takes us back to the issue of resources, and the looming threat of fracking, a very destructive means of extracting minerals, and the ownership of vast tracts of land, that when privatized means we the people if we protest can be done for trespass.

We need to stop this happening. We need to hold those responsible for the financial crisis responsible, and certainly not put them into new positions of power to do further damage.

If default happens, so be it. If we need to revert to our own controllable currency so be it.
Iceland was warned that it would never borrow again if it failed to honour the debts of its financial sector. 
But the country already seems to have been forgiven by the markets. 
The Icelandic government issued $1bn in sovereign debt in June at an interest rate of around 6 per cent. 
This was twice oversubscribed by investors. The contrast with Ireland, which assumed responsibility for all the liabilities of its bust banking sector, is stark. 
Thanks to Dublin's blanket bailout, total government debt is now more than 100 per cent of GDP, four times pre-crisis levels. 
And Ireland's reward from the markets has been a rise in the cost of insuring its sovereign bonds. Iceland's currency depreciation also looks good by international comparisons. 
Latvia doggedly kept its peg with euro after the 2008 crash and has experienced a catastrophic 25 per cent decline in GDP and seen unemployment reach 22 per cent.
The economic policy orthodoxy through this crisis supported by McCarthy and others – sale of national assets and pushed by ratings agencies and European politicians alike – has demanded that the national governments honour the private debts of their banking sectors, protect their exchange rates, eschew capital movement restrictions, and impose massive austerity to earn back the confidence of bond markets. 
Much of that wisdom was ignored by Reykjavik. And the early signs are that Iceland is doing quite well - it is a model that has been working, and it should be this model we adopt. Part of that is accountability, which again in Ireland is failing badly.
Also, our media is failing to address these issues. McCarthy is a commentator on RTE, but no-one elected him - why does an unelected person get to decide to sell of national assets?

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