I call bulls**t on racist propaganda!

I was asked recently for my opinion on the refugee crisis, and more specifically, the prospect of Ireland taking in Isis operatives masquerading as refugees.

The individual who asked me this question is a person who I know to be open minded, big hearted with a huge level of empathy for anyone struggling through life.

It was a bit of an epiphany if I am honest, the realisation that the racist propaganda bombarding peoples phones and tablets via social media was actually having an impact. (more…)

The problem with the Modular Housing Proposal is…….Everything is temporary, until it becomes permanent!

To begin with, it is important to say that I am broadly in favour of any measure which seeks to address the homelessness crisis. This includes the use of modular units.

However there are a number of potential pit falls in this strategy, which if not addressed from the outset, may lead to an even greater crisis down the road.

Mainly there is a very great risk of the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality coming into play here. If this solution relieves the current crisis and consequently the pressure on Government; what starts out as temporary may easily become permanent in time.
(more…)

We are witnessing the degradation of our society and they are calling it ‘Recovery’

Over the past number of days I have listened to Government Ministers and Senators express more concern over Irish Water and the ‘Conservation Grant’ then over the prospect of children sleeping rough and possibly dying on our streets. Where were all these voices over the past number of weeks as the homeless crisis has turned into a national emergency?

The harsh reality is that corporate interests are now being prioritised over the well being of Irish citizens and what we are witnessing is the degradation of society.

Peoples lives are at stake. Make no mistake about it, right now we are at the precipices of a social crisis in Ireland. (more…)

Response to David McWilliams: Is it Time to Redefine the Phrase ‘Contribution to Society’

In a very interesting and thought provoking article on Thursday, David McWilliams describes how we are on the ‘cusp of a fourth industrial revolution’ and discusses some of the implications for Irish society of such a revolution.

I agree entirely with the points that David makes in the piece and seek here to further the discussion, by expanding a little on one such point.

McWilliams tells us that “In time, there may not be any need for doctors, lawyers or accountants. One highly competent doctor with an iPad will be able to scan people’s files, diagnose and deploy medicines”, he goes on to say “The fourth industrial revolution will eliminate thousands of less competent doctors at a stroke. This will be creative destruction like we have never seen.” (more…)

Child Homelessness Up 188% since 2011!

As Government ministers attempt to clamber over all others, to stake their claim over any and all centenary commemorations of the 1916 rising, one might imagine that they would take the time to reflect on the promises and commitments made within the text of the proclamation. To measure themselves against those who laid down their lives for freedom, and ask ‘how are we honouring their sacrifice’?

(more…)

The Truth About Job Creation and, the Governments Youth Unemployment Strategy Exposed!

Despite much posturing from Government ministers, on an almost daily basis, there is a glaring fact that seems to elude many people. Governments do not create jobs!

Governments can certainly assist job creation by improving conditions. They can also incentivise organisations to hire from within a particular demographic and steer the overall direction of job creation. But Governments do not create jobs! (more…)

Did Ministers Actually Read the EUROSTAT Letter?

The question posed in the title of this piece is not only fair, but it is also pertinent. Did Ministers Actually Read the EUROSTAT Letter?

Having listened to the spin coming from Government over the past number of days following the publication of the EUROSTATS advice on the classification of Irish Water, one is forced to question from what information are they basing their statements?

Their overall argument is that EUROSTATS finding that Irish Water be classified as an arm of Government is based solely on the failure to achieve the much coveted quantitive 50% test; and that this will be achieved in short order once they have bullied, bribed and cajoled more people to register and pay their bills, with Minister Leo Varadkar going as far as to describe the advice from EUROSTAT as a ‘minor setback’.

The complete disregard for the qualititve issues outlined in clear detail in the letter is astounding! This goes beyond denial a moves into the arena of pure delusion.

After reading the letter in full, it is crystal clear to any right-minded individual that the 50% test is the least of the Governments worries.

First of all the document highlights that –

“a significant component of the strategy to establish Irish Water is that Irish Water will be classified, from inception, as a Market Corporation under Eurostat rules (as government documentation provided to Eurostat clearly recognises), rather than so to align with best commercial practices.”

In order to achieve this classification the Irish Government threw over €730m in taxpayers money at Irish Water. They secured veto rights of board member selection through ministerial control and rented out local authority staff through service level agreements (SLA’s).

Still they failed!

I summed the three points above up in one line, but their significance cannot be underestimated. In these actions the Government have essentially secured their place as the main source of funding for what is now a cross between a traditional QUANGO and a non-autonomous ‘private’ company providing billing and financial services, in some form of strange hybrid monster.

In their zeal to retain control, through board member selection and by the capping of fee’s, as well as providing €730m in funding, they have removed any autonomy from Irish Water. How can a company be considered independent, if the board is selected by an outside entity and the fee’s they charge are dictated to them?

Furthermore as it turns out, the parent company of Irish Water, Ervia, does not consolidate Irish Water in it’s financial accounts. As such Ervia has no incentive to strive for profitability!

Finally by staffing Irish Water, via SLA’s, with local authority staff, the Government ensured there would be no competitive hiring process. That’s just bad practice! In fact non of the above could be considered good business practice, and non can be considered a ‘minor setback’.

To add to all of this, EUROSTAT, like the majority of Irish Citizens, opposition parties and political commentators, were not fooled by the Governments attempts to pass of the €100 bribe as a ‘conservation grant’ paid by Government and not attached to Irish Water stating –

“The intention of the grant of 100 euro per year is clearly to partially compensate for the new domestic billings……..In total, Irish Water domestic customers will receive 130 million in grants to compensate for the 270 million of new domestic billings. Eurostat therefore considers that the 100 euro grant should be netted from Irish Waters customers’ revenue – at least for the 50% test”

Nor were they willing to accept attempts at creative bookkeeping –

“Eurostat also considers that the CSO should envisage, when calculating the sales for the 50% test, to net household grants as well as the billings expected not to be collected (those provisioned) should the amounts be based on solid estimations, or to record such amounts on a cash basis if in a situation of high uncertainty concerning the total amounts which will be collected (which is to be expected, especially at the beginning of the activity of Irish Water, given that households will be called to pay water fees for the first time ever)”

Going further, EUROSTAT advise, that when all these issues are considered and consolidated, and with an independent assessment the CSO’s estimate of 54% of Irish Water revenue coming from market activity by 2016, is optimistic in the extreme –

“if more realistic or prudent capital costs were considered, the ratio would then fall to 27%, which is a very low ratio and which would reinforce Eurostat’s assessment of the appropriate clarification of Irish Water”

That covers some of the issues the Government face in relation to the classification of Irish Water, but there is more! Much more!

How will we the people react to all of this? And on the cusp of a General Election to boot!

There are a number of points in the letter to pick up on.

In terms of the overall cost to the taxpayer, EUROSTAT outline that ‘aside from current payments, government will also to a large extent fund the massive investment programme of Irish Water, foreseen to encompass €5.5 billion euro over 8 years’.

This tears apart the entire economic argument for the establishment of Irish Water. With the Government having essentially just reorganised the provision for water services, we are now on the hook to pay for the salaries of people like John Tierney who is essentially overseeing the same infrastructure with increased Government funding! The very thing we were told the Government could not afford!

In plain terms, the real world outcome would have been the same, had the Government have simply increased the funding to local authorities for the provision of water services. Although it would be less the cost of setting up and staffing the new utility and paying out millions in grants to people who simply could not afford to pay in the first place.

There are implications for those on Group Schemes also. Living in Monaghan, where schemes are prevelant I have been privy to many conversations where those whom are provided water through a ‘Group scheme’ have claimed that they are insulated from the issue. This has never been the case, and it is just a matter of time before the cuts to funding for these schemes hit those households – this is eluded to in the letter –

“Whilst billings to ‘domestic users’ of local authorities (now Irish Water) will be introduced in 2015, billings to ‘non-domestic users’ will continue unchanged, pending further decisions. In parallel, subsidies to “Group Schemes” appear to have been at the same time reduced, so as to largely equalise the charged water price for domestic users across schemes in Ireland

Finally there is the overall tone of the letter. Make no mistake EUROSTAT is not a friend to the anti-water charge campaign. They talk about the ‘monopoly’ on water and privatisation. Their advice, if followed to the letter, would see Irish Water become a privately owned organisation, with a strangle hold over Irish people and their right to water. Subsidies would be scrapped and profitability would be the sole aim!

For the right winger’s this is of course the ultimate aim, the only difference being that they would never spell it out in such clear terms as EUROSTAT technocrats.

For those whom agree with the concept, that is those who agree that water must be conserved and should be paid for, this should serve as an eye-opener. That €730m that the Government have put in to Irish Water is taxpayers money, you can sleep easy, you have already paid. Not to mention the fact that we have been paying for water for years through general taxation.

As for conservation, I agree, water should be conserved, but I’m sorry to say you have been sold a lie. Conservation is not even on the Governments agenda. The grant is nothing more than a bribe, designed to gain compliance with a view to passing a test, which they have just failed.

Irish Water is now nothing more than a face saving exercise. The Government will not back down and be seen to fail. But they have failed. They have failed in the eye’s of EUROSTAT, they have failed the people by setting up this disastrous entity and putting us all on the hook to pay for it over and over again.

So how will you react? In the face of utter incompetence and outright delusion! What will you do?

Vote them back in? Elect people who cannot admit that they got it wrong. People who will happily allow citizens to suffer to buoy up their over inflated ego’s?

That would be the biggest failure of all!

We Stand at the Graveside of Democracy – But It’s Not Dead Yet

As events unfolded in Brussels throughout Saturday and Sunday, my fears were realised. The technocratic, neo-liberal underbelly of Europe was exposed, the sword of oppression unsheathed and brandished proudly by Europe’s most powerful and no dissenting voices were to be heard. It is much worse than I had thought.

Last week I offered my opinion as to why Yanis Varoufakis resigned. In that article, I highlighted that when politics trumps logic in Brussels, we have much to fear. I did not expect to be proven correct so swiftly. (more…)

Why ‘I Think’ Yanis Varoufakis Resigned – A Humble Opinion

The resignation of the Greek Finance Minister on Monday morning has sparked much commentary across the globe. Those who oppose left wing, socialist, anti austerity political groupings have accused Yanis Varoufakis of driving Greece off of a cliff and then proceeding to cut and run.

I disagree entirely and thought I might weigh in with my own opinion on the matter by looking at it from a less political and more rationale and logical standpoint. (more…)

Some Thoughts On Greece

On Sunday, the citizens and the Government of Greece spoke with one voice. Of course I was elated at the result of the referendum and as a European citizen I was proud beyond words at the courage and resolve of my Greek comrades.

In the fight against austerity, this was a decisive blow against those who would continue to hold us in the current pattern of increasing poverty, homelessness and deprivation.
(more…)

The Responsibility of Irish Voters

While discussing the ‘Responsibility of Intellectuals’ (The Essential Chomsky p.40) Noam Chomsky cites Dwight MacDonald as he posed the question to what degree are people responsible for the actions of their Governments? In MacDonalds essays he refers to incidents of conflict and war atrocities. Never the less the question remains pertinent today in Ireland. (more…)

Out of the Shadows: Direct Provision – Mohameds Story

“I sometimes think that it might have been better to have stayed in Somalia and died there, then go through this”

I doubt very much if those words will ever leave me, and after listening to the story of the man whom uttered them, their gravity is tenfold.

It was almost by chance that I met Mohamed. I had called to the “Accommodation Centre” in the hope that I might find a willing interviewee for my project, and Mohamed was right there as I drove in. (more…)

A week in Irish Politics – How far we have fallen

It seems like only yesterday, we were a nation in celebration. Across the globe we were hailed as forward thinking, open minded, Island of equals.

How far we have fallen in such a short time. A week on and we are the laughing stock of the global political arena. Yet again Big Business has trumped Democracy and we are once again reminded that we live under the thumb of the elites. (more…)

Marriage Referendum – An Example of How Equality is Good for the Economy

More Irish people turned out to vote on Friday’s marriage referendum than ever before, in any referendum, in the history of the state.

The mass mobilisation of young people was a wonder to behold, with my youngest at 11 years of age engaging in open debate in the playground, whilst proclaiming his disgust at the narrow minded views of certain posters littering his journey to and from school. (more…)

Open Letter to Referendum Commission Re: Campaign Material – Mothers and Fathers Matter NO Campaign

Further to my post here 23/04/2015 (see here) I sent the following.

Sent: 24/04/2015

To:

refcom@refcom.gov.ie

CC:

info@mothersandfathersmatter.org

A chara,

I wish to enquire as to the Referendum Commissions role in assessing the relevance of campaign materials relating to the marriage referendum 2015, and the commissions powers in calling for their removal and distribution discontinued. (more…)

No Campaign Posters – Not only Offensive, Just Plain Wrong – I should know!

It is surreal to say the least, to find myself sitting at the traffic lights, staring at a poster which calls into question my entire childhood!

Who exactly, felt that my return journey on the school run, was too mundane; and that it was high time I gave some thought to my Mothers decision to leave my abusive father when I was a boy? (more…)

Our Delusional Tánaiste and the Sheer Hypocrisy of it all!

Listening to Tánaiste Joan Burton, describe the disclosure of names within the Ansbacher dossier by Sinn Féins Mary Lou McDonald in the Dáil, as causing ‘hurt and damage…. to particular individuals’ I am truly stunned by her blatant hypocrisy.
(more…)

Out of the Shadows: Poverty Awareness Project (Cont.)

In my last post I discussed the prospect of undertaking an initiative to create a book of case studies documenting individual instances of poverty in Ireland.

As with all ideas, it has grown! (more…)

Putting a face to Ireland’s Impoverished – Proposal for outoftheshadows Project

For many, the damning figures presented to us which indicate a crumbling society are enough to spark us into action, but others struggle to make the correlation between the numbers on a page and the real people behind the statistics.

This is not a criticism, more an observation! It is all relative, we are all struggling in own way or another, and our personal problems always seem more troublesome than those of our neighbours, I see this as being part of the human condition.

This can blind us as a society! It certainly blinkers our vision, and skews our perception of reality. As a result we often fail to see the true reality unfolding in front of us.
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The ‘F’ is for Failure, but Enda thinks He’s Worth It

In a recent report card published by Children’s Rights Alliance, in relation to action on child poverty the Irish Government got a big fat ‘F’.

“The F is for failure” said Barnardos Ireland CEO, Fergus Finlay, on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

Failure indeed with child poverty up 10 percentage points to 28.6%,  according to the latest figures produced by Unicef.

These figures are in stark contrast to the impression given by the Government. Tánaiste Joan Burton delights in telling us that she has protected core welfare payments, whether she is prompted to do so or not, yet the figures in this report show that regardless of the spin the reality on the ground is far from a picture of social protection. (more…)

Regional Jobs Plan: An over reliance on FDI

On Wednesday the Government launched their Regional Jobs Plan. While I welcome the realisation that unemployment remains high in many regions and any measures which seek to promote growth are very encouraging, it cannot be ignored that this plan, like those that came previously, relies heavily on foreign direct investment (FDI).

It is important that we be clear. I am not against Foreign Direct Investment, I welcome the prospect of companies moving their operations to Ireland. This provides employment, revenue and global recognition.  The question is, should FDI be the main focus of an action plan for jobs? Or indeed, the main focus of any policy aimed at economic recovery. (more…)

‘First Steps’ – I Can’t Believe It’s Not Job Bridge (Lite)

On Wednesday the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton and Minister for Employment, Community and Social Support Kevin Humphries announced a yet another activation scheme, condescendingly named ‘first steps’.

The simplest way to describe the ‘new’ scheme is to say that it is Job Bridge for 18-25’s. There are just two subtle differences; namely, a four day working week (down from five), with the fifth day allocated to job searching. There will also now be Pre-training.

Firstly the important question is why? (more…)

It’s The Debt, Stupid!

The tension is palpable; as the low hum rumbles, the political ground beneath our feet violently shakes. This is not a quiet call to action, it is a deep, bellowing roar. A growl from the belly of the beast saying ‘we are cold, we are hungry and we are tired; but we will fight!’

If ever there was a time for the Irish political left to come together, it is now! (more…)

Ireland’s Youth Guarantee: A Grimm Tale

The recent publication of a series of damning reports has brought the issue of youth unemployment back to the fore.

Regular readers of this blog might say that this author rarely allows a week to pass without making mention of the state of our social welfare system or unemployment, however given the picture painted in the documents I have been studying, it seems that for the Irish Government ignorance is bliss when it comes to the topic. (more…)

Calling for the Immediate Release of Ibrahim Halawa

After the third consecutive postponement of his trial, 18 year old Irish citizen Ibrahim Halawa,  continues to be held in Cairo’s Tora prison.

According to the case files, seen by Amnesty International[1], there were to have been 100 witnesses, most of whom are police officers or government officials, at the trials which were later postponed. Security forces have alleged that protesters were involved in an exchange of fire which occurred at the outer areas of the Mosque, in which many protesters, including Ibrahim were taking refuge.

However Amnesty International researchers who were present at the time have established that there is no way that the protesters could have fired at the security forces, as they were all locked inside the inner part of the mosque.

Subsequently Amnesty International describe Mr. Halawa as a prisoner of conscience, that is, he has been imprisoned for the peaceful expression of his political or conscientiously held beliefs. (more…)

New Year – New Fantasy Live Register Figures

As we head forth into a General Election whether it be in 2015 (as I predict) or early 2016, we can expect Government spin to be ever increasing over the course of the year.

As, I feel, is the case with the latest round of live register figures, which Labour TD Derek Nolan, on the Labour parties website, hailed as a sign that –

‘……economic recovery is very much in progress. The momentum and direction of these crucial figures show that new jobs are being created and activity in businesses across the country is increasing….’

What Mr. Nolan, and indeed a growing number of Oireachtas members whom seek to utilise these figures to lever favour with the electorate, fail to identify; are other contributing factors to a reduction in the live register.  Factors which do not go unnoticed by Sinn Féins Eoin Ó Broin, who on Friday stated

‘As always we do not know whether these people secured employment, emigrated, took up training or were simply cut off from their payments.‘However Government TDs have been falling over themselves with self-praise. Minister Fitzgerald said that the marginal drop signalled a ‘great positive start to 2015’. Deputy Dowds said that the fall indicated ‘strong growth and a tangible recovery’

To expand on the point made by Councillor Ó Broin, we can look to other figures and trends which provide us with a greater understanding of other contributors to a declining live register. (more…)

Syriza: Kick-starting A European Democratic Revolution

One of my favourite quotes, comes from Ancient Greece or more specifically from Plato, who said –

“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors”

It seems Plato’s philosophy is not lost on his descendants, with a General election now looming in Greece, and a far left, relatively newly formed, opposition party riding high in the polls the European tide may be beginning to turn. (more…)

Social Engagement: It’s Just Good Political Sense

One could be forgiven for concluding that if the Irish Government had their way, the only contribution a citizen could make of any value and worthy of note, would be via the payment of taxes. I intend to show here that, this is a particularly short sighted viewpoint.

Not only is a broad range of social participation and engagement oppurtunities, democratically progressive it also makes sound political sense.

(more…)

Homelessness: Be Part of the Solution, Not Part of the Problem (Simon Communities – Fitzwilliam St.)

The death of Jonathan Corrie on Dec 1st of this year brought home, for many of us, the reality of homelessness in Ireland 2014. Two weeks later and although his story is no longer making the headlines, Jonathan’s legacy remains and many individuals and groups are pulling together in a bid to provide a short term solution, and get people off of the streets for the winter.

The tragic death of two members of the homeless community in Cork city at the weekend, brings home the stark reality that this problem cannot be brushed under the proverbial carpet or pushed back into the dark recesses of the social consciousness. (more…)

Request For The Support of All Elected Representatives In Seeking The Abolition of The Gateway Scheme

The information provided herein demonstrates that the Irish Government, in forcing vulnerable citizens in receipt of Social Welfare payments to work for Local Authorities, is in breach of both the European Convention on Human Rights and the ILO C029 Forced Labour convention.

This document seeks to elicit the support of all elected representative from all parties and political groupings in calling for the abolition of the Gateway Scheme. (more…)

Does Poverty Proofing Require Constitutional Change?

The 1916 proclamation charged the generations of Ireland with ensuring  “religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens”; ideals which today would seem alien to many Irish citizens. It called upon us to  “Cherish all the children of the nation equally”.

We are failing to uphold these responsibilities, set by those whom sacrificed so much to ensure our freedom.  (more…)

Medical card reform. Did Leo miss something?

I recently listened to Minister for Health Leo Varadkar discuss the 10 point plan for the reform of the medical card system.  What caught my attention was when he stated that there may be a requirement for a change in the legislation to allow that a dependent of a medical card holder may not automatically receive a medical card. (more…)

We Must Unite In Our Stance Against TTIP!

It is awe inspiring to say the least to witness the mass protests in opposition to Water Charges across Ireland over the past weeks and months.

As a citizen, an activist and a Community leader I remain rightly fearful of the impact further charges will have on those whom already find themselves marginalised in our society. However a much more sinister threat beckons!

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) threatens our very existence. Despite promising to drive growth and create jobs, the reality is that TTIP has the potential to devastate the Irish economy and circumvent the democratic process. (more…)

When An Taoiseach Says of Protesters “I am used to it”, Then The Government Has Lost It’s Mandate

“I am used to it”

These were the words uttered by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny as, once again, he ran the gauntlet of protesters on Sunday whilst visiting the Mansion House.

I wasn’t there in person, but in my minds eye, it was said with a wry smile and glint of, well rehearsed, Kenny arrogance.

In other EU member states such as Greece and Spain, this statement from the political leader of the day may not carry much significance. But this is Ireland, and Irish people don’t protest!

When it comes to protesting, Irish citizens have phenomenal patience. It takes a lot to get us out on the street, it takes a hell of a lot! (more…)

Have Labour Really Protected Core Welfare Payments?

As we embark on another week of back and forth in the Dáil, noise coming from both the Labour & Fine Gael camps signals that despite efforts to play down media coverage, there is much uncertainty within the back benches surrounding the tenability of the current government.

Certainly it is clear that every day that the Labour party remain in Government, the chances of any of their TD’s being returned to the Dáil following the next election are significantly reduced.

What seems to be buoying up the Labour Party Leader Joan Burton, is the narrative that Labour have protected ‘Core social welfare payments‘. But how true is that statment?

(more…)

What About These Tweets Gerry? & #wherespearse – Labours Descent Into Farce

Letters released by Briege Wright in relation to Máiria Cahill case go, in the whole, unreported. The release of correspondence between Trichet and Lenihan show that Ireland was bullied into bailing out the bondholders; and the Government continue to drag their heels on the issue of Irish water. All the while the risk of mass riots becomes a very real concern, as reports surface of Gardai using pepper spray to neutralise protesters in Coolock.

Despite all of these critical issues, Sinn Féin opponents and the wider media, continue their political attacks with joyous abandon.

I sat aghast on Tuesday evening as I watched TV3’s Ursula Halligan quiz Gerry Adams on his tweeting habits, in some form twisted attempt to reinvigorate the Máiria Cahill story.

My first thought was, this has descended into farce. (more…)

Jobpath: Irelands Job Seekers For Sale

In the early 1900’s, Chain Gangs were all the rage in the American southern states. Hobbled cadres of strong backs bused in to repair buildings, build roads and clear land. This was seen as fitting punishment for law breakers of the day, but by 1955 policy makers realised that this barbaric practice was unbecoming of modern society, and promptly phased it out.

Fast forward to 2011, and somewhere in the halls of Leinster House, sits our new minister for social protection Joan Burton. Faced with high levels of unemployment, brought on by the failings of the banks and the ineptness of the previous Government, the new minister took the decision that the best way forward was a the old way.

This gave rise to Job Bridge and Gateway, two of the most regressive back to work schemes imaginable.

It would take much longer than I wish to spend here, outlining all of the schemes that Ms. Burton has presided over. No, today I wish to discuss her latest offering, Jobpath.

I can only assume that what the minister realised is that although the current schemes do a wonderful job of massaging the unemployment figures, they do nothing for the budget.

“Roll up roll up, job seekers for sale to the lowest bidder” is the call we hear from Minister Burton in this, her latest attack on the unemployed. For Jobpath is the sale of our job seekers, pure and simple. (more…)

26%: What It Means To Me (Reflections from a Sinn Féin Activist)

As the graphic rolled over, I found myself holding my breath, and in that instant every article, every news report, every tweet flashed through my mind. Have we managed to stem the tide, with rationale thought and factual evidence? Are we screaming into the abyss or can the people see the true motive behind recent smear campaigns?

As the number appeared I felt a swell of pride, not only pride in myself and my party, but pride in the nation. It burst forth from my lungs in a thundering roar. I was euphoric, the fact that the poll being displayed to me on RTÉ’s Six One news was commissioned by the Sunday Independent felt like justice! Sinn Féin at 26%, Top of the Poll, the most popular party in Ireland. (more…)

New Child Poverty Figures: A Wake Up Call For The Irish Government

Some reports I look forward to reading, some require matchsticks in the eye’s and then there are those that just take your breath away. Today’s UNICEF Report Card falls into the later category. I have no intention of regurgitating the entire report in an attempt to pass it off as my own work, however there are a number of critical points which provide a broad picture of the impact austerity has had on Irish society. (more…)

Just a Thought: Effective Politics Vs. Effective Political Parties

It occurred to me today; there is a marked difference between Effective Politics and an Effective Political Party and that under the current system, the least effective, will become, the most successful political party! Clearly, if I am a correct, this identifies a huge fault line in our political system.

It comes down to prevention vs. cure. A political party in Government, engaging in effective politics, would not only deal with the issues of the day, but would also engage in preventative measures to ensure that potential economic and social threats do not come to pass. In doing so they protect citizens, whom would, in the whole, remain unaware that their way of life was threatened. (more…)

NOONAN: ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL, WITH HOWLIN TIED UP IN THE BOOT

I’m sure as Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin retired to their respective boudoir’s on the night following the delivery of Budget 2015, they smugly smiled to themselves thinking back on the shocked faces in the opposition benches as they delivered their €1bn give-away budget.

There was a notable lack of the usual kite flying in the days and weeks leading into the budget, the reason for which is now clear. The aim was a shock and awe campaign designed to recoup lost votes. Well they partially achieved their goal, there was shock and awe, when after very little scrutiny it became abundantly clear that Budget 2015, despite costing the taxpayer a cool billion, served only to increase the the level of inequality in Ireland by benefiting the wealthy and once again hammering the poor. (more…)

Irish Water: To Pay Or Not To Pay, Let the Decision Be Their Own

I was recently the focus of much criticism as a result of a blog post which questioned the stance on Water Charges taken by the Socialist Party/Anti Austerity allowance. In that article I highlighted the irresponsibility of said parties, and their members, in advocating for non-payment of these charges, despite the reality that this action may well lead to increased financial hardship for families.

Critics of the piece, the majority of which were SP/AAA members, refused to acknowledge that the advice they were offering to their supporters may lead to further fiscal difficulties and instead accused me of being in favour of water charges (an interesting take as I made it abundantly clear that I, and my Sinn Féin comrades, are fully opposed to water charges). (more…)

STOP: Irish Water is Fragmenting the Left

Irish Water is most certainly, the contentious topic of the day. This controversial issue has fragmented the Irish political left in a manner which I could have never imagined. But just what is going on and why is it that we seem to be incapable of finding a common plinth from which to challenge this unjust and immoral tax?

We will look at both sides of the argument coming from the left and offer you the opportunity to make an informed decision. (more…)

Draghi’s Big Plan, I’m Not Convinced

President of European Central Bank Mario Draghi, announced yesterday that the ECB is to begin buying bonds in the form of asset backed securities in a bid to kick start the European economy. To my feeble mind this is quite simply a form of Quantitative easing, printing euro’s and dishing them out to member states via the purchasing of bonds. (more…)

Replacing Job Bridge in the Community & Voluntary Sector

This note follows on from my last post Getting Job Bridge Back to Work! in which I offered recommendations for the reform of the Job Bridge internship scheme. A key recommendation within that offering was the creation of a Sponsored Volunteer Scheme. The following is my vision for such an initiative –

Sponsored Volunteer Scheme

Aim

The aim of this proposal is to, make an argument and set out the terms for, the creation of a Sponsored Volunteer Scheme (SVS), to facilitate the assistance of organisations in the Community and Voluntary sectors whom are currently reliant on the Job Bridge Internship program to bolster staffing levels.

Rationale

As the community and voluntary sectors have experienced reductions in funding of the past number of years, the requirement for them to rely upon schemes such as Job Bridge to maintain staffing levels has increased. As  Job Bridge is part of a wider job creation strategy, the utilisation of this mechanism within these sectors provides false hope to participants. Therefore its use in this context is questionable and in the authors opinion, unwarranted.

This proposal offers an alternative mechanism which seeks to both, provide much needed support to the community and voluntary sector whilst also offering participants a rewarding, yet flexible alternative to Job Bridge with a realistic outcome. (more…)

Getting Job Bridge Back to Work!

The Job Bridge internship scheme, launched Wednesday 29th June 2011, by Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton, offered to –

‘give people a real opportunity to gain valuable experience to bridge the gap between study and the beginning of their working lives’[1].

In a statement at the launch event, Minister Burton stated –

“Job Bridge will run for two years so applications for internships will continue to be accepted until June 2013. The duration of individual internship positions will be from six months to a maximum of nine months[2]

How it Works

The scheme offers host organisations, of which in July 2014 there were 13,810, the opportunity to recruit a jobseeker, as an intern, for a period of between 6 to 9 months.

The HRM process of ‘taking on an intern’ involves, advertisement, selection and recruitment, similar to the hiring process engaged by most organisations.

Guidelines for this process are offered via a PDF document available on the job bridge website[3].

What is an Intern?

Section 16 of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2011 states –

‘A person who is engaged by another person to carry out work or perform any duty or service pursuant to a placement under the National Internship Scheme shall, for the purposes of any enactment or rule of law (other than the Tax Acts and the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005), be deemed not to be an employee of the other person or to carry out such work or perform such duties pursuant to a contract of service[4]

According to the above, an intern performs work for an organisation, but is not however considered and employee, and as such, neither party is bound by contract to the other. (more…)

Government Inaction will lead to the Creation of Slums in Dublin

The FG/Lab Governments inaction in relation to the Housing Crisis, has today hit a new low. The announcement in today’s Irish Times that Dublin City Council is – “seriously looking at building prefabs on derelict sites to house homeless families”, is an indictment of this laissez-fair Government and I fear, will ultimately lead to the creation of slums within our capital city. (more…)

Applying the Nash Equilibrium to the ‘Fight’ Against Poverty

John Nash (1950) proposed that there are occasions, in a game situation, when in order to attain the best possible outcome every interested party must not only do what is best for themselves but also do what is in the best interest of the group as a whole, this is the Nash Equilibrium. (more…)

Open letter requesting statement from Minister Alan Kelly regarding Homeless children returning to school

Minister Alan Kelly,
Custom House,
Dublin,
D01 W6X0

To: minister@environ.ie

August 31st 2015

Dear Minister Kelly,

Today, August 31st 2015, children across Ireland are returning to school. Some taking their first steps through the school gates with all of the fear and anticipation that accompanies the beginning of any new journey, others returning, to be met by familiar faces. (more…)

If Debt Relief Were Offered, Would Fine Gael Even Accept It? – Fair Question.

‘Ireland doesn’t want a better deal on odious debt’ – That is the message being sent by our Government, and we were never consulted!

It wasn’t always that way. For a fleeting moment logic did prevail and Irish ministers indicated that maybe a better deal could be a good thing.

On Jan 13th 2015 Minister for Finance Michael Noonan told a gathering of Irish ambassadors and top civil servants that he would be ‘broadly supportive’, of the idea of a European debt conference, and of Greek debt being discussed at such a conference.

This came on the same day that the Irish Times reported that –

Government sources suggested that any European conference could consider not only the Greek debt but the Irish, Spanish and Portuguese debt as part of a new approach to remaining problems facing the European Union bailout states.

Later; in February Minister Simon Coveney stated that –

Any deal negotiated with Greece needs to be applied to Ireland if appropriate…….We will show solidarity with Greece as all European countries should.

But then it all changed!

For the past number of months, the Irish Government has done all within it’s power to prevent the new Syriza Government in Greece from securing any form of debt relief.

Michael Noonan retracted any support for a debt conference, and has shown nothing but outright disdain for Greek PM Alexis Tsipras and former finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis.

Simon Coveney has also reversed his stance.

When pressed recently on Morning Ireland on the question of whether he still believed that if Greece secures any form of debt relief that Ireland should receive the same, he deflected by simply stating, (apparently speaking on behalf of the IMF, ECB & EC) that “debt relief is not on the table for Greece”

This was followed up in an article in the Irish Independent, where a spokesperson for the minister was quoted as saying –

Ireland would not seek a renegotiated bailout package on the back of a new Greek deal.

Embarrassingly this came just two days before European Council President Donald Tusk urged for debt relief to form part of Greek deal, stating –

The realistic proposal from Greece will have to be matched by an equally realistic proposal on debt sustainability from the creditors. Only then will we have a win-win situation. Otherwise, we will continue the lethargic dance we have been dancing for the past five months.

Even after the phenomenal referendum result in Greece where the Greek people said NO to austerity, the general consensus from our political leadership remains, that Greece should ‘tow the line’ and Alexis Tsipras should emulate the poster boy for austerity, our Taoiseach, Enda Kenny. Whom repeatedly trots out tired lines urging Greece to bow to EU pressure.

Presently there is no indication that if Greece were to negotiate a deal which incorporated debt relief, the Irish Government would even seek the same relief for Irish citizens! In fact judging by the statements coming from Leinster House, it is fair to ask –

If debt relief was offered to Ireland tomorrow, would the Government even accept it?

So why is it that Irish ministers are reluctant to seize this potential opportunity? What is the purpose of this furious back peddling? Who is running the show here?

Well I think it is abundantly clear at this point, that we are being dictated to by a group of EU elites. Ireland currently has no political leadership! Just a few EU puppets.

Whilst debating the proposals put forward to creditors by the Syriza Government which seek to ensure a fair recovery for all Greeks, the Greek PM Alexis Tsipras, in his closing remarks, said –

We have the right to choose, as a sovereign Government, where we will decide to put the tax burden to achieve our objectives; and I honestly believe it is the sovereign right of a Government to increase taxes on a profit making business and not affect the lowest pensions.

If it is not the right of a sovereign Government to decide how it is going to achieve those objectives then I think we should adopt a very anti-democratic view. In those countries under a [bailout] program elections shouldn’t take place. Technocrats should be appointed and they will be responsible for making the decisions.

Of course, the Greek PM is not advocating that we dispense with the democratic process. He is making the point –

Where is the logic in holding elections, if those elected to run the country are denied the right to make decisions which they feel offer the fairest possible outcome for that society?

What we have here in Ireland is a mix of the two scenarios outlined by Mr.Tsipras. We have an democratically elected Government which is being instructed by a group of Eurocrats to continue to enforce austerity and resist any attempt by other member states to change the status quo.

These instructions are being dutifully, even gleefully followed to the letter by our political leaders with zero resistance. Even when, the prospect of a better deal for Irish citizens being avaliable and a fairer recovery is most certainly achievable, they continue to opt for compliance over defiance.

Presently, the Irish Government are actively pursuing a course which will ensure that a better deal on odious debt may never be possible for Ireland and it’s citizens. Their spineless inaction, will ensure that generations to come will pay the price for their ineptness.

As far as other EU leaders are concerned, Ireland and it’s citizens have no interest in a better deal on debt, and unlike the Greeks, nobody is asking us how we feel about that!