Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sub please...

Hey, RTÉ News -

insures ≠ ensure
seems ≠ seams

A spokesperson for the Department of Finance said the transfer of shares to the Government insures the taxpayer gets a return for the State's €3.5bn investment in the bank.

He said the payment of a cash coupon or shares was set out last February when the Government announced they would put €7bn into Ireland's two biggest banks.

Fine Gael's Finance spokesman, Richard Bruton was also critical of the Government's banking policy and said it was 'falling apart at the seems'.

(Of course, they update stories without changing the URL or tracking the edits on-page, so you lose any sense of process or ability to track how they've changed their position.)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bye bye Willie #odea

We posted a few days ago about Seanad questions regarding Willie O'Dea and his affidavit. O'Dea has this evening resigned as Minister for Defence.

Typically, he has accepted no blame and offered no meaningful apology, but then Irish politicians never do, it seems, even those who are forced to resign.

O'Dea has instead trundled out the usual blather about resigning because, as he said himself in his letter to Brian Cowen [pdf],
my continuing in office will only serve to distract from the important and vital work of Government
So he's casting it as noble self-sacrifice in the face of unwarranted harassment from the opposition and the media when he only made a silly little mistake.

The RTÉ report tonight also says this:
Asked about his statement that he received information from An Garda Síochána, Mr O'Dea said 'It was just general chit chat,' 'I passed it on - I shouldn't have passed it on.'

'I have made a bad mistake, I've paid heavily for it, I am sorry, I am contrite, I've apologised, I apologised again ... I don't know what else I can do.'

'I say things that I don't really mean sometimes in the heat of battle.'
There are a few things raised by that. Firstly, the problem was not just with what O'Dea said in the heat of battle (or the squalor of an electoral dogfight), it was also with what he, a qualified lawyer, said in a considered, carefully drafted, and solemnly sworn affidavit placed before the High Court. It was, at best, a serious lapse of judgment.

Secondly, what information was passed to O'Dea by the Gardaí, who exactly provided it to him, and on what authority was the information given to O'Dea? Was it official intelligence given to him in his capacity as Minister for Defence? If so, why was he revealing it to a reporter? Was he at liberty to reveal Garda intelligence or should he have respected the confidentiality of official intelligence rather than seeking to deploy it for party-political electoral ends? If on the other hand (although O'Dea appears to want to have it both ways), it was mere chit-chat then why is he talking about information received from An Garda Síochána, and - again - why and by whom was Garda intelligence being passed to him as chit-chat?

He said he forgot making certain remarks: perhaps on mature recollection he'll remember that he's not the first Irish politician to have been caught out by a tape recorder.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Lunatics to run asylum

The executive team of NAMA has been named. The head of portfolio management is John Mulcahy, "former chairman of auctioneers Jones Lang LaSalle".

Head of credit risk is Ronnie Hanna, who has held several senior positions in Ulster Bank.

So they've put a banker and an estate agent in to help sort it all out.

Grand - nothing to worry about there. I'm glad it's not a bunch of political insiders and cosy cronies or anything.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Dublin mayor and bye elections

Given that the Dublin mayor Bill has been cleared in cabinet, with an election mooted for the autumn of 2010, perhaps the government might be encouraged to get their finger out and move the writs for those bye elections.

As for the mayor - Bertie??? No thanks, but then the gobshites who kept voting for him and who keep Fianna Failure's poll scores up might just go for him again. You get the government you deserve, but some deserve it more than others.

The idea of a man who was implicated in some very questionable financial dealings;

who not only blithely presided over but positively helped to inflate a disastrous property bubble;

whose governments allowed the financial and construction sectors to freewheel without proper regulation (his chum and appointee Charlie McCreevy still doesn't see why we needed it);

who said that those predicting a financial crisis should go and kill themselves;

whose government entered into a dreadful agreement with the Catholic Church that indemnified religious orders against the financial consequences of their failure to deal with sexual abuse, and did it just before the 2002 General Election so that it was never put before the Cabinet and sat unpublished for several months;

a man who has never acknowledged any of those failings;

the idea that such a man should be put in charge of decisions on planning, transport and other elements of vital infrastructure for all of Dublin is appalling.

The idea that he might be trusted with any public office ever again is appalling.

It's interesting that in his interview with Uncle Gaybo Bertie happily wittered about his own holiness but mentioned that he doesn't go to confession: par for the course with him, really.

I wonder would George Lee go for Mayor instead? He might be able to get things done without having to wait for Inda Kinny to let him do it - and if it isn't working out we can all just have another go when he resigns a few months in.

On George Lee #GLee

Mark Little:
My point is this: I know George Lee and if a man like George Lee can’t make an impact on Irish politics at a time of unprecedented crisis and palpable public revolt, then we all have a problem. Not just George and not just Enda.

David McWilliams:
i know that some people think he bottled it, but why are we defending a system that has failed? the system is broken. he is the evidence [here]
so what to people want? the useless gobsite whose dad had the seat and who has been eating chicken dinners for years to get the top job? [here]
re sticking it out for a while more - was GLee's crime that he didn't spend longer wasting his and our time? [here]
i take the points re bailing out. but if in this economic crisis he can't be elevated with 28k 1st prefs, what hope is there for anyone? [here]

Taxation without representation

Bunreacht na hÉireann sets the level of representation to which a constituency is entitled. Article 16.2.2 says
The number of members shall from time to time be fixed by law, but the total number of members of Dáil Éireann shall not be fixed at less than one member for each thirty thousand of the population, or at more than one member for each twenty thousand of the population.
George Lee's resignation raises again the issue of bye elections and the representation of the people. Lee was elected to the Dáil in a bye election held on 5 June 2009 and necessitated by the death of Séamus Brennan of Fianna Failure on 9 July 2008. So the constituency went eleven months without one of the five TDs to which it is entitled. If we assume a similar delay this time then we can expect a bye election in January 2011. Even if we are generous and assume that the people will be made to wait just six months and so have a bye election in August 2010 the constituents of Dublin South will still have endured seventeen months of under-representation since the last General Election (held in May 2007) - that would be seventeen out of thirty-nine months.

Why the delay? Fianna Failure lost a seat there and Fine GLee gained one. The government don't want to let voters do that.

The Donegal South West constituency has a population of 71,039 (see here [PDF]) and consequently is entitled to be represented by three TDs. It currently has just two sitting TDs, Mary Coughlan of Fianna Failure and Dinny McGinley of Fine GLee.

A Dáil seat has been vacant in Donegal South West since Fianna Failure's Pat 'The Stupid Nickname' Gallagher was elected to the European Parliament in elections held on 5 June 2009. That's a little over eight months ago.

Why the delay? The danger that a Fianna Failure TD might be replaced by one from Fianna GLee or even Labour. The government don't want to let voters do that.

So the government has been ignoring the constitutional entitlements of the people of Donegal South West for over eight months and there is still no date set for a bye election there. When the government keeps talking about a national crisis and patriotism, and keeps piling on the taxes, those who face the burden of taxation should have representation.

When it suits him, Dermot Torquemada Ahern is good at responding swiftly to what he sees as constitutional imperatives but when the precarious majority of a patchwork government might be under threat he and his colleagues are quite happy to drag their feet. There is no requirement on the government to move the writ for a bye election within any set period of the seat being vacated, and only the government can move the writ. If it doesn't suit them to do it, they don't do it. The Donegal South West bye election was debated in July 2009, but the government defeated the motion. Mary Coughlan went so far as to say, "In the interim, Deputy McGinley and I will continue to work on behalf of the people of Donegal South-West." In other words, sod the constitution, we'll do what we like.

Denying the people their constitutional rights is a political game. Is it any wonder that George Lee decided he'd had enough of the Dáil?

Friday, February 05, 2010

'Eugene Regan challenges Minister O'Dea on perjury'

To put it in context, this was posted on youtube by FineGaelMedia, so there's a party-political agenda here (isn't there always?) but the question being asked about Willie O'Dea is a reasonable one.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Really?? WTF??

Miley's 9-year-old sister launching a lingerie line for kids

There's something very very wrong with those pictures... Who the hell thought a pole dancing photo-op was a good idea?

In fact, never mind the pictures - the whole thing is a stupid idea.

Tour de France 2010 etc.

We hope to have downloadable 2010 cycling calendars online soon. Details of some races are still not available but we might post what we have and update them as more information is released.

Mortified or delighted

Kay Burley says she was mortified when Peter Andre became upset by her line of questioning, but it's hard to believe her and hard to think that getting some tears out of him wasn't on her agenda from the start.

We're more inclined to think she was delighted rather than mortified - it's just her style, really. She does revel in the "And how upset are you?" school of interviewing and is very familiar with the idiotic Sky News approach of asking people, "Are you upset to see your home and livelihood being washed away by flood water? If I poke you with a sharp stick will you cry for the camera? Please?" She's a prime example of the journalist-as-emotional-voyeur, those who pass off their own vicarious and prurient wallowing in and peddling of the misery of others as a "human interest angle". It's a grubby sort of schadenfreude - the newsroom equivalent of Jeremy Kyle.

But she's always been a classy operator...

Oh, and while we're at it there's always this.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Swap you TG4 for BBC [u]

What will this mean in practice for TV watchers south of the border?
Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan has signed an agreement with the British government to ensure the continuing widespread availability of TG4 in Northern Ireland following the switchover from analogue to digital TV services, which is planned there for 2012.

The agreement commits the two governments to facilitating RTÉ services in Northern Ireland and BBC services in the Republic of Ireland on a free-to-air basis.

The minister said the agreement provided for an all-island approach to the development of digital television services in Ireland.

Do we get some sort of free access to all digital BBC channels without the need for a satellite dish? It seems so - whenever we in the Republic actually get around to establishing a working DTT system.

Will we be able to get around geo-blocks on iPlayer or watch Match of the Day online without resorting to underhand proxy tactics? Now that might make the money thrown at TG4 worth something.

Also, it's nice to know that we still have an approach to the development of digital television here. It seems to be a very slow approach from a long way off, but it's an approach all the same.

[update] You can get the memorandum itself here [PDF, 21kb].