Is Ireland Bullying the ECB ?
February 12, 2013

If there is anything singular in the way the ECB is treating Ireland, why might that be?

Looking at it from an external perspective, Ireland is a tax haven, a money launderer’s paradise through which vast sums of money flow internationally, causing other EU jurisdictions with more restrictive laws a disproportionate number of problems. We know next to nothing about most of this activity and understand even less. What we do know is that it is routinely corrupt and out of control. Our government is even now a ferocious defender of this set-up and of international financier corporatism – among its most extreme adherents in the world. Throughout the crisis, the Irish Government (FF/Lab/FG) has indeed shown implacable steel about maintaining our tax haven status and our anti-EU corporate tax regime – which does nothing for the majority of people here and which is also a big **** off to the ordinary people of the rest of Europe.  Conor McCabe has shown, for example, that FDI accounts for just 7.25% of Irish jobs, despite all the bigged-up claims made for its importance to our economy.

Again and again, our government favours the same small elite, whatever policy is at issue right across the spectrum – health, education etc. It’s as if we are not even deemed human beings unless we are disgustingly rich. There are no concessions to this set up at home or abroad. Who can blame the EU or the ECB, in one sense, from saying ‘OK, if that’s how you want to play it, we’re happy to oblige’. The intransigence on debt write down begins with the Irish government: they refuse even to ask for it because they do not want to negotiate terms at all. The ECB only deals with us on the macro level.

The Irish government, defined by its visceral contempt for ordinary Irish people, only has to rely on sucker-punching us via a by-and-large remarkably stupid and unquestioning media. The worst we are asked to think of our government is that they are merely pathetic in the face of ECB bullying, when in fact they are getting everything they want out of the situation: the destruction of our welfare state, blamed on the Troika even when the IMF is clearly saying that austerity has failed and is being taken too far.   Every choice that is made at micro level on spending (choices which our government completely controls, despite claiming otherwise) protects the rich.

At the same time the Government is using the crisis to copper-fasten the financial elites to the control levers of the Irish economy and to our parliamentary democracy, such as it is. FG are indeed laying the ground work for a future, blue-shirt fascist state. Godwin’s law? Look at the power Noonan has abrogated to Ministers for Finance for the permanent appropriation of private property in this wonderful new deal. This is neo-fascism. Already, Michael D’s signature not even dry on the page, government cheerleaders in the media are wagging fingers at us to say that there will be no let up in austerity just because the massively expanded sovereign debt ‘deal’ is a magnificent success. Austerity is one of the most extreme ideologies ever to be foisted on people. It has nothing to do with fiscal rectitude or ‘prudence’. It is wrecking the economy, but still it is persisted with. Why? Because none of this was ever about doing what is best or what is right – these guys just want things done differently in their own interests and they want us to pay the full cost of that on their behalf.

Is this not, at bottom, the overall situation?.

Mediabite  11 February 2013

Legislation When ? …… The Political Rhythm Method
November 30, 2012

Let’s see. It’s nearly Christmas (extended Dáil break) so nothing can be done until January

In January, it is European Presidency celebrations so nothing can be done.

February is too close to Easter (extended Dáil break) so best to put it on hold.

April and May are just too close to Summer (extended extended Dáil break) so let’s handle it in September.

September, time for a Referendum Commission.   Need their approval before enacting legislation.

Six months later, when they report, it will be too close to Easter/Summer so best to delay until September 2014.

By this stage, way too close to Elections to deal with serious legislation, so just procrastinate until the next Dáil.

DCon 30th Nov. 2012

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IKEA and the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – Truth Stranger Than Fiction
November 17, 2012

I am even more impressed by the Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson when I read of this. I have not managed to find an exact reference, but those of you who have read the novels or seen the films will remember the character Wennerstrom, with his criminal activities in Eastern Europe. What follows is not, alas, fiction.

IKEA has apologised for using political prisoners and convicts, arrested by the Stasi in East Germany, as workers in its furniture factories in the ‘70s and ‘80s.  It was one among many manufacturers who used forced labour.

                                                                             Stasi Prison at Berlin

The apology follows on the publication yesterday of a report by Ernst & Young who examined 80,000 pieces of evidence from the German historical files and carried out approximately 90 interviews with IKEA employees, prisoners and witnesses.

Johan Stenebo, a former senior executive at the company, published a book, The Truth About Ikea, in 2010 which examined the practices of the company. In it he mentions the German links of of the founder, Ingvar Kamprad and of his father who is described as ‘a tough Nazi’

Spectabilis  16.11.2012

US Election Special
November 6, 2012

Captioned by 5intheface   6 November 2012

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Hitler is Told that Political World has won Best Political Blog at Irish Blog Awards
November 4, 2012

Irish Aid, Tullow Oil and Uganda
November 3, 2012

Quite a storm erupted in the Irish media last week when it was reported that four million euro of Irish Aid funding to Uganda had gone missing in a suspected fraud. The money was destined for spending on education, policing and continuing the fight against AIDS and HIV. Seventeen officials in the Office of the Prime Minister, the Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance have been suspended and two others have been charged. (1)

Foreign Minister, Eamon Gilmore, immediately suspended further aid payments and dispatched a team of Irish officials to Kampala to investigate the allegations of fraud – which were first reported to the Irish government by the Ugandan Auditor General.

There the story rests for the moment.

However, digging a little deeper into the history of Irish aid to Uganda reveals a rather more complicated picture than the unfortunate Irish citizen being ripped off by some crooks in the Ugandan administration.  The current Irish aid programme to Uganda was initiated in 2010 while Micheal Martin was the Minister for Foreign Affairs.  It is worth 166 million euro over a four year period.   It came at a time when intense negotiations were in train between international oil companies and the Uganda government over contracts to develop the country’s burgeoning oil industry. One of the major players involved was and continues to be Tullow Oil. (2)

Tullow was the brain child of Roscommon born accountant Aidan Heavey who founded Tullow Oil in 1985 while he was working in Tullow Engineering and built it up into a major international oil business over the next two decades through various acquisitions and deals all over the world.

Heavey was one of the major movers behind the establishment of the Private Sector Forum in 2004(3) which recognised ‘the need to focus on trade as a means of development’ and ‘challenged’ the Irish private sector to get involved.  The initative at government level was driven by Fianna Fail’s Michael Kitt, then Minister for Cooperation and Development, and, coincidentally, a shareholder in Tullow Oil.

A not for profit organisation named Traidlinks, mainly funded by public money from Irish Aid, was established. (4)   The board consisted mainly of Irish executives whose companies have continuing interests in Africa and included Tony Barry of Barry’s Tea, Jim Corbett of Bewleys, Liam Fitzgerald of United Drug and Adrian Heavey of Tullow Oil.   It is interesting to note that Tullow is registered as a UK company and no longer has any particular connections with Ireland.

Curiously enough, 2004 was also the year when Tullow acquired the Energy Africa company which held an interest in oil exploration around Lake Albert. Tullow continued to expand its interest in Uganda over the following years and signed an ‘early production agreement’ with the government in 2006.

In January 2001 Tullow bought the exploration rights held by Heritage Oil in the country shortly before President Yoweri Museveni was returned to power in an election that the opposition described as fraudulent and that many international observers described as flawed.

Allegations of bribery and corruption emerged in December 2010 when Wikileaks released cables appearing to show that Tullow executives had briefed the then US Ambassador to Uganda Jerry Lanier that the company had given bribes to government officials. (5)  Ugandan MP, Gerald Karuhanga, subsequently presented documents to parliament accusing Tullow of making payments to PM Mbabazi, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sam Kutesa and Interior Minister Hilary Onek.  Tullow have claimed that the documents are forged and have released emails from the Met Police which cast doubt on their authenticity. (6)

Meanwhile, back in Uganda it appears that legislation on oil exploration remains mired in controversy in parliament because of a power struggle between internal factions. Last week the Ugandan government took back an exploration block jointly owned by Tullow, China’s CNOOC and France’s Total SA after their license expired. (7) CNOOC and Total had bought into a partnership with Tullow in February of this year for a total of 2.9 billion dollars.

Its interesting to see the amount of Irish media coverage given to what appears to be a fairly minor case of corruption in the Ugandan government while it appears that almost none has been given to huge sums sloshing about in its oil industry.  Perhaps it would be wise not to ask too many questions.

Back in September the Department of Foreign Affairs and IBEC’s Engineering Enterprises Federation launched a major new report as part of the Winning Business in Africa programme which identified over 100 new projects worth a potential 12 billion euro. (8)

With that kind of money at stake there’s unlikely to any kind of close examination into the ethics of doing business in East Africa.

PaddyJoe  November 3 2012


Europe on Austerity’s Knife-Edge – How Long is this Going On For ? Forever ?
October 17, 2012

As of 15/10/2012 we see yet another few days of unfinished business, in the ongoing “Troika vs. Greece” sparring match. Greek political “leaders” are walking a very fine line. On the one hand the politicians need to be seen to please the Troika, on the other hand, they can’t afford to alienate themselves any further from the Greek people. Greece’s political leaders tell us that if they can’t get agreement with and from the Troika, Greece will not get the next 30 billion tranche of the bailout, and the country will be bankrupt. We’ve heard that three times so far, and each time, without any apparent agreement with the Troika, money has magically appeared from somewhere, and things stumble along again for a few months. Then we are told we will bankrupt again, and magically, money appears….

Conflicting pressures on politicians, to say the least.   The latest opinion poll will no doubt have frightened both Greek politicians and their European handlers like never before. It indicates a serious political polarization in Greece; with a 48% majority intending to vote SYRIZA should an election be held tomorrow, while the far right Chrysi Avgi holds its ground.   Evangelos Venizelos, leader of Pasok, has special reason to worry. Despite his defiant rhetoric, the party is on the slippery slope and is polling less than 10%. This downward trend is now pointing to the serious possibility of the once mighty Pasok polling around 5% or less, with a very real danger of the party not even reaching the required 3% of the vote to claim representation in the parliament.

Under this pressure, popular stances need to be taken, and both Venizelos and Kouvelis have started opposing various Troika demands, resulting in the announcement on 15/10/2012 by the Greek Finance minister Yiannis Stournaras that talks with the Troika will continue after the EU Summit.   At the same time, some 20 Greek government MPs have made it clear that they will not support the measures demanded by the Troika in terms of 15,000 immediate redundancies in the civil service and complete abandoning of all the provisions currently enshrined in the various labour laws to protect the basic rights of the Greek workers. More and more international voices are echoing the idea that Greece will indeed need not only more time, but also more money. And the question is being asked in Greece and across the EU

“How long is this going to go on? Forever?”

In order to answer that question one has to understand what is really going on in Europe. Let’s make one thing very clear from the outset. Despite all the talk of Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and others being “bailed-out”, nothing could be further from the truth. Neither Greece, nor Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Slovakia or any of the current or future “bailout programs” are intended or designed to bail out the respective countries to which they are allocated.   In simple terms, the so called bailout allocated to these countries is in reality the amount of internationally held bank debt these countries have been “volunteered” to clear. This can be understood by looking back at the financial developments of the last 15 years or so.  Around 1995, the “Home owners’ market” came into the sights of financial houses. Home owners in general have no other corporate exposure, and their only means of investing and “creating wealth” is by investing in their houses. It was therefor in the interest of the financial institutions to have as many home owners as possible. Millions of people did however not fit the traditional “safe borrower” profile, and needed to be brought into the “home owners’ market” some other way. Subprime lending, a system of high risk, high interest lending, often more correctly referred to as predatory lending, was born.

And then something strange happened. In an effort to reduce the high risk element of this kind of reckless lending, while keeping the high interest component, financial houses started repackaging loans, and selling packaged debt to each other. This was a completely new, and as we now know, very dangerous development. Rather than debt backed up with bricks and mortar, or government guarantees, or something with value at least, we now had people investing in debt backed up by debt, backed up by debt, backed up … The perceived value of this debt was seen as wealth “locked in” to the debt, which would be released upon settlement of the debt.

The financial world embarked on an insane orgy of buying and selling debt, the amounts involved became ever larger, fooling themselves and everybody else into thinking that they were “creating wealth”. In reality, all they were doing was creating a phenomenal amount of unsecured, and unsecurable debt. In order to maintain the momentum, and create more POTENTIAL wealth, enormous amounts of cheap money were released in to fragile economic systems like the whole Southern periphery of Europe, officially enabling those economies to import product from the export oriented Northern European economies. In reality, all the banks were doing was increasing the amount of debt they owned, and still believing that the wealth locked into that debt would at some stage make it all worth the risk. Believing their own hype, the financial madmen of the day started investing heavily in the very Ponzi scheme they devised, buying the debt they created, creating more debt, and the vicious circle became an ever faster turning merry-go-round of buying and selling debt. Essentially, it was always the same debt, simple repackaged and re-priced, and made more expensive. In other words, more debt created from existing debt. And it was only a matter of time before the whole thing would come to a crashing halt.

The collapse of Lehman bank was the trigger for the financial master minds of the world to try and safeguard their insane investments. The banking crisis hit, and with it the most fragile economies went into a downward spiral. Of course, local corruption and manipulation by “interested parties” only helped to make a bad situation worse. Debt could not be paid, wealth locked into that debt could not be realized, and the very rich were not happy in seeing a possibility of not getting what they think is their God given right to get, yet more money. Lehman bank had shown them just how much they stood to lose, and they were not going to let this happen on a world wide scale. Banks holding debt, or in their sick minds “Potential Wealth” could not be left go ever again, no matter what the cost.

The fact that they brought this upon themselves is an inconvenient little side note. There is of course also the very real consequence to the larger economies in Europe, who were only too happy to supply cheap money to fuel their own export-based economy, would end up holding the debt they created. So a firewall needed to be erected that would prevent “contagion”. And somebody had to pay for this. To use the words of the late Brian Lenihan “We were bounced into a program”.

But this was not just in Ireland. The same treatment was dished out to Portugal and Greece. The method used to stop “contagion” is the bailout mechanism. Every cent of bailout money “given” to the various countries goes straight back to the so called lenders, with a handsome 7% interest in this case Greece, for the privilege of having their respective countries used in what is nothing short of a gigantic money laundering operation. The system was invented by the so called lenders, and is operated by the EU through the ECB, EMS, etc. According to those in charge of the plan, the firewall guarding against contagion is now in place. But more money is needed. A second firewall must be erected. This firewall is to guard against bank insolvency. Joe Soap must cough up even more money to fund this, so Spain and soon enough Italy will get “bounced into a program” to provide the extra cash. Meaning, Joe Soap in the various countries has everything, including his very livelihood stolen of him through “austerity” in order to safeguard the solvency of the banks, and thus realize the wealth locked into the debt created by those very same banks.

When Poul Thomsen, the IMF representative assigned to the “Greek case”, admits that the IMF got it wrong, he does not mean they got it wrong in the sense that they are sorry for leaning too hard on Greek Joe Soap and pushing him into levels of poverty not even experienced during the Nazi occupation of the country. What he does mean is that they are sorry for leaning on Greek Joe Soap so heavily that they endangered the possibility of recovering the wealth locked into Greece’s allocated slice of international bank debt. There is,no apology to Greek, Irish or whatever Joe Soap. In fact, they couldn’t care less about Joe Soap.

The problem the financial gangsters are facing is that, until this second firewall is in place, not only does the situation get worse by the day, the merry-go-round, of which the likes of Greece, Ireland, Portugal are fixed components, must be kept turning, and the debt contained in this merry-go-round must keep going round. Buying bonds, selling sovereign paper, propping up banks, whatever, it must be kept moving between ALL the components making up the merry-go-round. The money stolen out of pockets of Europe’s Joe Soap ensures this, while it reduces the bank debt slowly, or looking at it another way increases the bank’s wealth.

If one element is allowed to drop out, through sovereign bankruptcy, or Euro-exit, the merry-go-round suddenly becomes a deadly game of musical chairs, and the last one standing picks up an enormous bill. By the nature of things, that last one will be the stronger components in the merry-go-round. And instead of realizing the potential wealth held in all this debt, they will be left holding the debt. That is the real reason behind the bailout/austerity scam. Joe Soap is being made pay for the debt mountain created by the corrupt and often criminal bankers, on behalf of the richest 5% of the world population. Once this scam is seen to be working, they will want yet more again, this time encouraged by the knowledge that Joe Soap will pay, willingly or otherwise.

How long will this go on for? The answer is very simple, until Joe Soap says, and means, enough. No sooner. Joe Soap would be a wise man to say enough now. If he waits till the second firewall is ready, the whole Southern Periphery and Ireland will be dropped like a hot potato, and Joe Soap will be left wondering what happened, and how long it is going to go on for…

Ephilant  16 October 2012   Greece

Greek students protest against the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the EU

Is Ireland bound by right to integrate fully into a political union motivated by interests entirely counter to ours?
September 23, 2012

There is a new political concept in recent times. It’s called being pro-European. In France and Germany (having lived in France for a year and spent a few weeks in Germany and much time among many German friends and learning the German language even whilst in France ), this seems to be pro-integration with regards to European political union. To be against such a concept, for whatever reason, is to risk being called a nationalist or anti-European.

The word nationalism means different things in different European countries. In Irish history it tends to be associated with a United Ireland, Republicanism and in some instances, to have left wing sympathies is to be either Nationalist or Republican. Irish nationalism, or republicanism for the two are oft linked, are concepts that arose out of a suppressed colonised history. 7 centuries of oppression led to the concept of an Irish Republic, first touted by Wolfe Tone in 1798.

Its roots essentially stem in part to French republican ideals, as many Irish revolutionaries in the late 18th century such as Tone and Emmet had dealings with the French Revolutionary Republic in a bid to liberate themselves from English rule and establish an Irish Republic. One modern day equivalent might be found in Scotland where nationalism in the form of the Scottish Nationalist Party has led to an independence referendum in late 2014 ( ). One thing bearing in mind is Scottish First Minister’s Alex Salmond’s desire to follow the Nordic energy fund model of Norway, and any implication that might have on Irish affairs (the status of Ulster, possible Irish reunification, possible withdrawal from the EU along with Scotland, who have been told by Jose Barroso, an unelected well paid technocrat that they will need to leave the EU if they declare independence which the Scots might look on as an opportunity) but more on that later.

In German history, nationalism has shown itself to mean something different altogether. In fact it would seem that the German establishment has developed a phobia of the word. As anyone knows, such a concept in Germany is a right wing concept due to obvious historic reasons. The fact that the two terms are intertwined in countries like Ireland, and possibly Scotland, and that they signify left wing and inclusive ideals, must only make matters more confusing for those who might be for whatever reason incapable of (or unwilling to) differentiating the concepts of self determination (the right to a people’s sovereignty, freedom and exaltation among the nations of the World) and nazism (superior nationalism or xenophobic nationalism). Fear fits a fine pair of blinkers.

In Ireland we have 3 main political parties, which are all pan European vessels. They operate on the basis that they are pro-european and anyone who opposes them must therefore be anti-european, dangerous radicals, or else extremist.

It is a little reported fact in our media that since the Maastricht Treaty of 1992, we have been the victims of a creeping coup on our semi-democratic but nonetheless sovereign Irish institutions. It is funny how the Brussels accounts have not been signed off on in nearly 2 decades which shows that Europe’s elite has been investing untold sums and time in full political and economic union.

Take the European Commission for instance. Nobody elects these people, yet they represent Ireland, a constitutionally neutral country on the U.N. Security council. They would potentially have the right to decide in the not so distant future whether to send Irish people, and other people across the continent in different E.U. member states, to fight a war for economic or vested interests. Given that we live in the 1930’s this is not an altogether unrealistic prospect.

European Law now accounts for most modern Irish laws. Ireland may no longer have the right to military neutrality since the passing of the EU Treaty. A very good legal paper by Karen Devine which she composed after the first Lisbon Treaty campaign (…bon_Treaty.pdf ) states the following: In the Lisbon Treaty referendum, neutrality emerged as the most divisive issue in referendum debates (IMS/DFA, 2008: 25) and was the second most important reason why people voted ‘no’ (IMS/DFA, 2008: 14). Evidently, many Irish people have consistently demonstrated a belief through their voting behaviour that further integration in the area of EU foreign, security and defence policy is incompatible with the concept of neutrality they support.’

Since the passing of the Lisbon Treaty at the second go, largely due to ‘vote yes for jobs’, it has emerged that the Treaty, which no member of the government or opposition (the current shower) who supported it at the time publicly stated they had read, fears have emerged over article 42.7 which states a need for ‘mutual defence’ in the case of EU member states. Thus it appears, that after the Lisbon Treaty passed in 2009, Ireland had, under undemocratic threats of economic chaos from both home and abroad (‘yes for jobs’, and Sarkozy’s visit to Dublin being but small examples), ceded its right to assert neutrality which has been a key factor in determining our sovereignty throughout the history of the state, most notably during World War Two when despite threats of invasion from Churchill’s British government (who along with America occupied our Nordic neighbour Iceland during the war), from Hitler’s Germany and even from America, southern Ireland stayed neutral for the duration of the war. As Devine rightly states in her paper, many Irish people quite reasonably oppose and have opposed on many an occasion since the Single European Act of 1987 full EU integration on the grounds of neutrality alone.

Another way in which the EU has creepingly come to control our affairs was the establishment of the Euro. In 2002 we adopted the common currency, which flooded a booming Irish economy with cheap credit, something we have been paying for the last 5 years, as we are constantly told we all partied and need to clean up our own mess and to front Europe’s banking bill 100% on our own shoulders (despite the fact that the cheap credit which could not have been made available had we still had the Punt was lent by central European Banks and most notably, the ECB, at rates of below 1%). The question then arises, who sought to lend this much money to an Irish economy which did not need such credit as it was already booming ? The answer in the main, is Germany(by which I mean German businesses, German investors, the ECB which is based in Frankfurt and which has an uncanny reputation for following German Monetary policy and German banks).

This excellent article by Laura Noonan not someone given to criticising bigger European economies, states the following:

As of early 2011, it was known that German Banks were exposed to Irish banks for over 21 Billion euros, which explains why ‘Germany, along with other European countries, has been vigorously opposing Ireland’s efforts to enforce losses on certain categories of bank bondholders. German banks were owed another €64.7bn by Irish enterprises, suggesting that the banks have an interest in making sure Ireland survives the economic crisis. The final sum owed by Ireland to German banks was €2.3bn, attributed to “general government” debts. Germany’s exposure to Ireland significantly exceeds the country’s €25bn exposure to stricken Greece and its €27.5bn exposure to crisis-ridden Portugal.’

When understanding why Ireland has, under considerable duress from fellow European states, forsaken its’ economic sovereignty entirely, it is worth bearing in mind that the governments of some fellow European states, especially that of Germany, have stated that as our banks borrowed from their banks, all Irish people must pay back these banking debts to ensure no European bank closes, thus the reason for Ireland’s so called bailout in 2010. Germany was far more exposed to Irish banks and businesses than it was to those of any other EU Member State.

Considering the German media’s castigation of a Greek society and a Greek government whose banks and businesses owe(or rather owed as we, and most likely the Greeks as well have paid much of the European bondholders back, having being told by the ECB to do so) far less than our banks and businesses do (not forgetting the Spiegel’s recent headline on why Athens must leave the Euro) to Germany, it is worth remembering the type of people who lent this money ridiculously.

Essentially we are being told the Banks are Irish, you’re Irish, so you’re all guilty.

A European political union would seem to many within this society to be tyrannical, undemocratic, imperialistic, and against our sovereign wishes, economic and political interests and our wish to retain neutrality in the normal event of war which often follows economic depressions. Perhaps it is time to look to other countries, most notably our Nordic neighbours Norway, Iceland and Greenland, (as well as a potentially independent Scotland), outside the immediate union with vast energy, and fisheries reserves and small populations like ours, ideal for trade and in our own case, mass food production.

A political union, particularly one which fails to address the understandable and perhaps healthily cynical Irish suspicion of external powers wishing to control our affairs, is looking increasingly incompatible with Irish economic and political interests.

Arguably, it was always incompatible with our desire to maintain political and economic sovereignty, which was once stated by a small group of brave men as ‘indefeasible’ and which has now become a supposedly dangerous and radical concept.

Apjp September 2012

Photo: EU Commission  EUFOR

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