Archive for October, 2010

Ireland: Would State Suspicion be Cured By Local Power?
October 26, 2010

The recent death of a bachelor neighbour got me thinking about people’s attitude towards the state and the weak sense of nationhood we seem to have in the country. 

The man was elderly, odd, had little relatives and people wondered whether he made a will or not. The main conclusion from most people was that hopefully he left his land to someone so the state wouldn’t get their hands on it. There’s such an amazingly huge resentment and suspicion to this “alien” state.

From using green diesel, to fiddling figures to get college grants, working while on the dole, the main aim seems to be to constantly pull one over on customs, social welfare and revenue. The same people pulling all the strokes are then on hospital protests, wondering how the state can’t afford to keep them open!

I’m sure this behaviour is not unique to the west. But why do people feel such a detachment from the state? It’s often speculated that it’s down to the fact the old Gaelic tribe system never fully went away, in which political power was never really centralized and when centralized government was introduced, it was forcibly brought in by a foreign power.
So if centralized government seems to be something that we hold with such disdain and is clearly not working well, would Ireland be much better off as a federal nation? This, as RSF have proposed, could also have benefits in potentially re-incorporating the 6 Counties more easily.

For all our faults, there is certainly a great sense of community still left, in most rural and small town spots anyway. Never better observed when a person comes down with a serious illness and needs to raise money to go abroad for treatment, helping bereaved families after tragic deaths and even the tidy towns movement. People do seem to work a lot better on a local level.

So would local devolution work well for us or would the same problems with governance follow us on to the local field as well?

Fraxinus – 26.10.2010

‘Ireland’ and ‘The Irish’ are now ‘a commodity’!!!
October 23, 2010

In the past number of weeks, I have heard so much about ‘The Markets’, that I am truly sick to my stomach.

The budget and this 4 year plan must now SATISFY THE MARKET!!!! We are told that we must show that we are reliable and give confidence that we can pay back what we borrow.

I have no difficulty in paying back what we owe!!!! That is a given.

However, I have a major difficult in our country being reduced to commodity status. And that is exactly what we are, right now.

In this new ‘commodity status’, there is no relevance given to

people struggling to pay their bills,
people terrified for their futures,
people suffering the loss of loved ones who have taken their own lives,
people buried in ‘negative equity’ that they may NEVER be free of,
people living in ghost estates where there are drainage problems and no lightening,
people who have lost their jobs,
people, trying to give hope to their children about the future
people desperately trying to keep their business going
people terrified about this next budget, will send them over the edge
people scared that more ‘charges’ will be placed on their medicine
people who, under normal circumstances would NEVER steal, but now have to for their children to eat
people who are homeless
people who HAVE TO go to SVdeP for support, to keep body and soul, together
people who are sick
children at home
children in school

The list of PEOPLE’s circumstances could go on and on.

This is where ff have brought us……to the place of being a COMMODITY. We are nolonger ‘a people’, we are now ‘a good risk’ or ‘a bad risk’. Depending on our ‘performance’ our risk goes up or down.

So, what happens if e.g. this November there are major floods in the west of our country??? When PEOPLE have to leave their homes and find shelter elshwhere. Will that be seen in ‘The Markets’ as a threat to being payed and therefore our risk goes up, negatively???

There is no need any longer to watch the DOW, ISEQ, FTSE……just watch TI (The Irish) and see what kind of risk we are today.

I am truly disgusted that people who were given the privilage to govern this Nation, have brought us to this place. They truly were a VERY BAD risk. We are all suffering for it, since.

Newsy – 23.10.2010

You’ve Won The Irish Sweepstakes – The Outsourcing of Responsibility in South Ireland
October 15, 2010

You’ve won the Irish Sweepstakes An article taken with permission from
When the Saorstát was set up the new administration choose the least path of resistance when it came to the provision of a number of important services. Two fundamental services necessary for the development of a state where effectively devolved from state control – Education and Health. While there may have been a reason at the start to do so to allow this to continue for decades was a serious failure of State responsibility and helped create or perpetuate a state not able to identify its responsibilities and act on them.
Significant elements of Health care was provided by a mix of hospitals predominantly ran by the catholic church, with some few provided by the protestant churches and some intermittent, and resisted, state oversight. However while both voluntary hospitals resisted the state they accepted its funding as and when needed. The Saorstat was naturally in a financially weakened state considering the turbulent times it had passed through. Due to a low population base and a weakened economy it had difficulty raising the necessary funds to support hospitals. The answer was the Irish hospital sweepstakes – a state monopoly on lottery i.e a gambling racket – not that I don’t have anything against a flutter but you’d think churches would. The sweepstakes was an okay idea in the sense that it managed to extend the funding of hospitals beyond the limited population of the saorstát with significant funds coming from abroad. It was a bad idea in that it was used to fund institutions which were not under the absolute control of the state but were the equivalent of privatised institutions. Mary Harney would have liked the idea – State money to support non-state monopolies of critical services.

The Sweepstake itself was open to all the flaws of a racket managed by Govts. (of both parties) with a penchant for handing responsibility to someone, anyone. The American edition of Reader’s Digest once described the Sweeps as “the greatest bleeding heart racket in the world”. Many of the funds raised in America of Britain never made it back to Ireland but went into the pockets of distributors. But there was a more pernicious element to the Sweepstakes than that.

The story of the Sweepstakes has many parallels with modern Ireland. The Sweepstakes was set up with loopholes that allowed its organisers leave large sums undeclared as expenses. The impact of the sweepstakes started to spread to other sectors beyond the health. Soon directors of the Sweepstakes were to be found in every sector of the economy with some directors sitting on up to 30 company boards. Similar to the golden circle mapped by TASC a small group of men were taking control over every aspect of the economy. Apparently RTE had enough material in the mid 1970s to expose the deep concerns many felt about the Sweepstakes. It will surprise no one that RTE choose not to broadcast it. (How RTE can be made a neutral non-govt. controlled station is an important challenge for the future.)

The state failing to provide important services, instead relying on non-state institutions funded by state raised revenue, corruption and the misuse of state funds to gain control of wide sectors of the economy, a media gagged and incapable of reporting the truth. A decades long story unchallenged by FF or by FG.

Education is also another area where the state just mosied on glad that someone else was doing the lifting. Currently about 90% of primary schools are patroned by the Roman Catholic church. These schools are privately owned, publicly funded institutions. Across the school sector the state is an outside party – there to pay the bills. The patron is not a figure head. They have ultimate responsibility for the school ethos, the appointment of the board of management, financial and legal matters and the supervision of staff appointments in accordance with Department regulations. Patrons generally discharge their responsibilities in close consultation with boards of management and other interested parties involved in the schools. In other words they have significant powers.

While the catholic church figures heavily in the outsourcing of Education as well this is not about the catholic church. Indeed there are many other denominations and of course non-denominational schools. Similarly while in the Health sector there are some very objectionable acts by catholic denominated churches. (Notably in 2005 the board of the Mater Hospital in Dublin stopped a trial for a new cancer drug. Women who wished to take part in the trial could not get pregnant which obviously meant they had to use contraception or not have sex. This was in conflict with the ethos. Money from gambling was not in conflict with the ethos of hospitals though – but as horrible a story as that is I am not trying to focus on the catholic church here)

The main focus must be on the state’s tendency to step back from taking responsibility for critical functions. While they may have reason to do so for a few years at the foundation of the southern state it was not acceptable to leave the situation continue for decades across two of the most important areas in which a state must provide services. To do so was to accept the principle that any service, no matter how critical need not fall under the Govt’s direct and complete control. The Govt. became a partner rather than a leader. Rather than forcing the pace of change, modernisation etc. it just sat back and let society drift. Little surprise then that the current Govt. has provided little leadership in the financial crisis. Instead it has taken the Banks at their word, it has followed the interests of the developers and the golden circle rather than steering its own course. Commentators like David McWilliams and Brian Lucey have both wondered aloud about whose interest the Govt. is serving. At this point about 3/4 of the south’s residents agree its not the Irish nation. But I dont believe that the Govt. could ever have done anything other than follow the Banks and the advice of the special interest groups even if they were not as delinquent as they have proven. The tradition of governance in south Ireland is not one of leadership but of relinquishing sovereignty to any group willing to take over some of its tasks.

Fianna Fail stand indicted as do Fine Gael on this point.

The final point on this abdication of responsibility I will leave to Professor Kathleen Lynch who recently gave the annual Tasc lecture. In a speech entitled From a Neo-Liberal to an Egalitarian State: Imagining a Different Future’ she notes:
As a society, we do not have a strong commitment to public solidarity despite our rhetoric. This is reflected in failure over the course of the last 10 years for social welfare provisions to keep pace with the cost of living. We have one of the lowest rates of social expenditures on education, housing, transport and welfare within the EU. (See Tables 1 and 2 below using the SILC data). Our lack of commitment to the public sphere is evident in many concrete ways, from the lack of public spaces for play for children (especially safe indoor places) to the lack of public sports facilities, to the lack of investment parks and public amenities in so many towns and villages.

It is even evident in our churches. Most of our leisure and sports facilities are actually privately owned by clubs that are legally constituted as private bodies; GAA pitches, tennis courts, gyms, rugby pitches, golf courses etc. are all private. Indoor play areas for children are almost universally commercial. And the lack of commitment to the good of the public sphere is evident when public and private interests collide; it is evident in the way space is organised and the quality of the built environment between public and private hospitals, in the relative luxury and comfort of private rooms versus public wards; it is visible in the pitches, tennis courts and other facilities in well-off schools compared with the bare yards of small fields that are there for those in less-well-off or poorer areas.

Irish economics 15.10.2010

The Financial Crisis is an Illusion Which Can Be Shattered
October 11, 2010

The seemingly endless, downward spiral of financial crisis which threatens the prosperity and lifestyles of future generations of Irish people can be arrested and circumvented. It’s not even real. Most if not all of the money apparently ‘owed’ by the people never existed in any material form in the first place. It’s FIAT money, illusory finance pulled out of the arses of bankers and never converting from digital to material. Why pay interest or even capital return on what never existed to begin with?

Those who created the illusion should be punished, severely and their criminal activities investigated and exposed. ‘Agreements’ and ‘debts’ resulting from said criminality should be withdrawn from.

The means to do all this lies off the West coast yet the criminals are expending the 26C’s tax revenues on yet another aspect of the illusion. There’s enough oil and gas to keep Ireland self-sufficient in energy for generations yet the 26C tax payer pays to have it extracted by foreign corporate interests and pay exhorbitant prices for imported fuel from the same foreign corporate interests. The oil and gas reserves should be nationalised and processed safely offshore. Ireland could produce enough oil and gas to supply the entire nation for generations and still have some for export. The same is the case with food production, we produce more than enough to feed ourselves and will never want for trading partners. We also have expertise and education which not only can be exported but could sustain indigenous industry. Dell might have moved but why couldn’t we have a state computer company cloning them; if it’s good enough for the Chinese…….
The present corrupt system which sustains the illusions for the benefit of the few needs to be smashed and control of the country given to the people. Committees of technical experts should be responsible for the decision making in their respective fields as opposed to the inefficiency of corrupt cronyism. With a combination of indigenous industry and an expanded military / national service corps involved in real development work overseas helping emerging trading partners there is no reason why there couldn’t be universal employment.


Cáthasaigh 10.10.2010

Infant Drug Trials in Ireland – “We haven’t Gone Away”
October 6, 2010

Just to remind the Government that we haven’t gone away; that the publication of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse Report was not the end of the matter. That report is only the beginning. You and your friends in the Catholic hierarchy treated us with contempt when we were children, using our small bodies as your slave labour, allowing our bodies to be used for the sexual perversions of the clergy and, if those weren’t bad enough, you also used our bodies to enrich yourselves and drug companies.

Children brought up in Irish care homes may unknowingly have been used as human guinea pigs in vaccine trials with the approval of the religious Orders and the Irish Government. Vaccinations were tested on the children throughout the 1960s – with the last known case in 1973. The kids were in care homes in Dublin and Cork and claim that neither their relatives nor guardians were consulted about the trials. A woman subjected to a controversial vaccine trial as a baby without her mother’s consent broke her silence last night to reveal her traumatic decades-long fight for justice. Mari Steed (50) was effectively used as a guinea pig during the ‘four-in-one’ vaccine trials carried out on her between December 1960 and October 1961 when she was between nine and 18 months old.

When I was with the nuns we were split into four groups and, depending what group you were in, you either got an injection, or a sugar cube, or a mug of some drink poured from a tall ceramic jug, or nothing. We all had patches sewn onto our clothes [shirts, trousers, hankies] denoting which group we were in. When I ‘graduated’ to a different Industrial School we were split into just two groups. One group received generic toothpaste and the other received Colgate. Same with the injections – sugar cubes or injections.

I can’t understand how useful all this testing of products or drug trials could have been, unless similar trials were also going on outside of the Institutions – on healthy children. How accurate were the results of these trials in anyway? All of the children, myself included, were already suffering from little food, little heat, hard work and generally in a lousy condition. It beggars belief that they would use the children in Ferryhouse in these trials. They knew in 1967 that the place was not fit for the purpose – which was the care of children. In the official language Ferryhouse was described as a ‘social malaise’ – that from a secret Department of Health report of the same year. That report was compiled after the death of a child – caused by the bad conditions and overcrowding in Ferryhouse.

How anyone thought we were fit subjects for product testing is almost beyond me. I say ‘almost’ because there is a possibility that we were regarded as expendable. Surely not!

Andrew49 5.10.2010

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