Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics

An Occasional Guide to Irish Politics: The salary scandal.

A bank employee counts Euro notes at Kasikornbank in Bangkok1. An individual in a public/NGO organisation is discovered to be on a Lotto style pay package.

2. Organisation initially tries to deem this a “private matter”. Is shouted down by public, stampeding backbench TDs and grassroots members.

3. Organisation admits truth. Suggests that no one in organisation can explain how salary came about. Suggestion that it was made by someone conveniently dead is a popular favourite.

4. Basic investigative techniques like inquiring from the bank who authorised the payments, and working backwards, are deemed “inappropriate”, which is one of the great Irish words.

5. The public get cranky over the idea that anyone can earn over €100k, on the basis that “if you pay peanuts you get monkeys rule” obviously does not apply in Ireland. (See Irish financial regulation, 1997-2011)

6. The story goes around and round in circles with the actual answer, who authorised this, never emerging. Public hearings seem to involve more windy grandstanding than actual specific questions.

7. Someone resigns on a Lotto style severance package.

8. The phrase “for legal reasons” (the other great Irish phrase) is bandied about to blur the situation. In a shock outcome, Learned Colleagues make a nice little earner on whole affair.

9. The organisation promises a new “robust” structure for salary/remuneration.

10. Rinse and repeat.


Should we nationalise Islam in Europe?

Posted by Jason O on Nov 23, 2015 in British Politics, European Union

Listening to the Islamophobia spewing out of some US GOP candidates, and others in Europe makes my blood boil. As an Irish Republican and a European, I find the idea of anymosquetower person being categorised and pigeonholed by their religion to be repugnant. That’s why my teeth go on edge when people talk about problems with Muslims and Islam. I don’t see that problem: I see groups of individuals who have made a twisted assessment of a religion and hijacked it for their own vicious fascist ends.

Having said that, even liberals such as I can’t ignore the fact that Islam seems to be capable of acting as a peculiarly effective breeding ground for extremism.

The role mosques and madrassas play in this can’t be ignored. Many are moderate places that preach tolerance and respect for other faiths. But some aren’t, and we cannot tolerate any place, regardless of how holy or revered it be, being used as a base to plot against western liberal values.

How do we balance our values of religious  freedom with the need to exterminate extremism?

One possible solution could be, as happens in Turkey and the UK, for certain religions to be brought under direct state control. At present, the British prime minister appoints the head of the Church of England. It’s a nominal appointment at the moment, but establishes a precedent. Given the unique position of Islam, is it time for European governments to take direct control of its institutions?

Let me be clear: we are not talking about turning Islam into a state religion. Many of our countries, my own included, would have a serious problem now with any state religion. But the possibility of the state taking direct control of the training and appointment of Imams and the running of Islamic schools and mosques, and yes, their funding, should be considered. Better us running them than some fanatic funded by the Saudis.

In many instances, the existing Imams will remain in place, and nothing on the surface will change. There are downsides, of course. Will radicals flee the “official” mosques and set up radical secret ones? Possibly. But they’ll be illegal and will be hunted down. Let’s be clear that those who regard an Imam who cooperates with the state as a traitor are exactly the people we need to be targeting. Let’s also be clear that we are not talking about the state imposing a Christianised or liberal form of Islam. That will be the business of the communities running the mosques under the Imam’s guidance. The state’s only interest is that mosques not be abused to preach against broad western democratic values. They should have the same freedom as any Christian church.

Yes, it’ll be messy and controversial, and maybe it won’t work. And I do find the idea of the state interfering in the private religious practices of its Muslim citizens to be pretty repugnant.

But these are the times we live in, and unusual compromises to defend European values must be considered.


The death of Schengen: don’t let Daesh decide how we live.

Posted by Jason O on Nov 21, 2015 in British Politics, European Union

It’s a curious thing watching the reactions of UK eurosceptics to the current difficulties the Schengen area is going through. They sure loving queuing, those guys.

The concept they’re pushing is straightforward enough: if we bring back rigorous border controls we can catch terrorists at the borders. But even that logic is shaky. Won’t we have to stop and search every vehicle, every truck schengenfor secret compartments, to make that work?

Good luck with that.

Actually, the anti-Schengen people seem to be relying on a)luck, b)the idea that all terrorists are essentially foreigners, and c)we’ll be able to determine whether someone is an Islamist through some sort of non-intelligence based test. I look forward to seeing what that could be: maybe make them French kiss another man and judge their reaction? Ask them to tell us their favourite Woody Allen film? See if they can dance to YMCA?

UK opponents of Schengen just can’t see beyond the blue flag, as usual. If we called it the Dad’s Army Zone and put up pictures of Gene Hunt on the border maybe that would help?

The way they tell it, Schengen is some sort of rogue self-controlling entity, as opposed to a tool for member states. Schengen can be temporarily suspended (rightly) by a sovereign member state. It also allows the sharing of information, the most effective way of tracking and determining would-be terrorists. Yet ask UKIP about sharing information with Frontex or Europol and they go all Chief Inspector Dreyfus on you.

But, after Brexit who do they think they’ll be dealing with? Do they think they can phone up President Obama, inform him that they refuse to deal with the FBI, and demand that all 50 state police forces deal directly with them? If the rest of Europe decides that Europol or Frontex is to be our central clearing house, then so be it.

Of course, if they really believe that random checkpoints are the solution, then surely they should be implemented inside member states too, along with national ID cards to allow security forces to identify the illegals, right? Checkpoints outside supermarkets, on the tube, train stations, on the street.

There’ll be another irony: eurosceptics bringing in that most continental of devices, one’s “papiers” after leaving the EU.

Here’s an awkward reality: if we can stop relatively small contained terror cells before they strike, it’ll be through intelligence, and that means mass surveillance of phones, social media, gaming sites. That’s how we catch them, not randomly hoping they turn up at our borders in “I love IS” tee-shirts. That’s the debate we need to have. How to do that  but prevent abuse of that information.

But that’s not the biggest single reason why we should be wary of scrapping Schengen. Schengen is part of the European way of  life, and if we are going to scrap it, let us scrap it for a definite guaranteed result.

But to get rid of it just to do something is to accept that a handful of hateful fanatics in Daesh get to shape our society.  Al Qaeda got to change the United States: are Americans living in a  better country having permitted waterboarding? Do Americans feel safer? Have you listened to the leading candidates for the GOP nomination?

Of course we must examine every option to make Europe safer. But we should be very reluctant to casually toss away one of the things that makes Europe the freest place on Earth.


An Occasional Guide to Irish Life: The Hot Mom and the Mortified Daughter.

Posted by Jason O on Nov 21, 2015 in Not quite serious.

She's all cougary without even trying. It’s not like it isn’t hard enough, being in one’s mid-teens, struggling to deal with raging hormones and physical changes and whether that boy you like actually likes you. Then SHE enters into the mix. My God, she’s in her forties! That’s nearly a hundred! Yet she dresses to show off her curves and legs and don’t even get started on that cleavage. For God’s sake Mum, put them away! No one wants to see them! Except they do, and that’s the problem. Not just the old farts hanging around the bar in The Lep Inn who watch her off every reflective surface and nearly cry into their pints. But the young guys too, including the ones she fancies! SHE always insists on coming over to the table with her and her friends, and even though the talk is always about school and how the rugby is going, the daughter can see the effect her mum has on the boys. They can barely speak to her, some reddening in the face, shifting uneasily in their seats, all struggling to keep eye contact with her and not drift southwards.

The daughter sighs, and hopes that what ever it is that allows her mother to send boys into a frenzy with a single arched and well manicured eyebrow is hereditary.


An Occasional Guide to Irish Life: The couple who argue in public.

Posted by Jason O on Nov 18, 2015 in Not quite serious.
We all pretend to be horrified, but have a good goo anyway.

We all pretend to be horrified, but have a good goo anyway.

They’re a treat, aren’t they? They tend to come in two varieties. First, there’s the “F**k you and your whore!” couple, normally fuelled with plenty of drink, where she doesn’t care who knows it, roaring at him about his infidelities and, occasionally, sexual inadequacies. All around the pub, conversations pause not in embarrassment but in an attempt to earwig on this juicy slice of life. He doesn’t put up much of a defence, normally deciding to build a defensive position around a single statement (“But I rang you! I rang you!”) which he believes absolves him of responsibility, or alternatively, he goes on the attack with a minor point that he attempts to magnify (“I saw the way you were lookin’ at him! I saw yez!”). It normally ends with him storming out because “his head is melted” and her realisation that the whole pub has been watching Eastenders: The Live Show. She then attempts to restore a few grammes of dignity by improved posture, walking back to the bar holding her alcopop like she’s a debutante at the Savoy. Kate Midleteon in leopardskin.

Then there’s the middle class couple, who manage the marvellous two-hander of being vicious to each other whilst on no account causing a scene. You’ll see them in professional workplaces, hospitals  or law firms, standing in a corner. He’ll be looking coldly at her, wishing death, she’ll be hissing through gritted teeth. A colleague will pass, and both smile and nod, perhaps  a playful remark, and then back to it. He’ll have an affair with one of the office juniors, her with his best friend.

They’ll stay together, however, for the good of the mortgage, or at least until David McWilliams says that property prices are rebounding.


An Occasional Guide to Irish Life: The Affair.

Posted by Jason O on Nov 15, 2015 in Not quite serious.
The key to illicit excitement.

The key to illicit excitement.

It wasn’t like they had planned it. He was single, out of a messy relationship. She was married with two young kids and a husband who was not by any accounts a bad guy. It just happened. They met at a work related social event, and their eyes, yeah, that corny moment actually happened. When two people look at each other without a word, without even having met each other, and they knew that they wanted each other.

Her boss had introduced them, and they had been careful not to show too much interest in each other, but both knew. When the event had broken up, both had slipped away to another bar in the hotel, and talked, both pretending to be more drunk than they actually were to allow for the excuse of the first kiss.

Her hand had shook in giddy excitement as she had phoned her husband to say that she’d be late, trying to find a little glimmer of anger over his casual acceptance that his wife was giving such a feeble excuse for being late, but she knew the answer. He trusted her, the bastard. In the room, it was like being a teenager again, hungrily wanting and being wanted. When she got home, her husband was snoring his head off and the kids were tucked in.

She had resolved that it had been a one off, a moment of weakness, but it wouldn’t go away. They had met again, her determined to end this before it escalated. He understood, and respected her decision, which made it all the harder, and the reason they ended up in another room again.

How will it end? Will it peter out, the danger finally outweighing the pleasure and the excitement? Possibly, but please, a tiny voice says in the back of her head, don’t let anyone fall in love.


The price of peace?

Posted by Jason O on Nov 14, 2015 in Events, Politics

It’s hard to fight an idea, and that’s the problem with IS. This isn’t Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union where there was a clear command structure and someone at the top to negotiate with, someone who can then give an order and hostilities cease. Radical Islam isn’t like that. There isn’t a boss, just loose networks and cells and feeble minded young foot soldiers willing to give their lives in pursuit of an idea.

The truth is, we’ll probably never eradicate the idea, or the threat, just learn to contain it better. Paris in the last few days is maybe, God forgive me for saying this, the future.

The way it is going to be.

Yet there might be a way to stop the attacks. We could try to deliver on their idea, to the extent that we no longer become a target because we deliver better on it than they do.

In Ireland we could start by rounding up the small number of Irish Jews. The Chief Rabbi of Ireland, former justice minister Alan Shatter and others. Take them all to the Curragh under armed guard and then what? Maybe execute them, live on television so that IS can see our commitment to their idea? Or, to avoid the bloodshed, maybe transport them to Iraq and hand them over. At least we would not be the ones actually killing them, right?

Would that be enough? Maybe not. What about the gays then? Maybe round them up. Bit tricky, as we don’t have a list, but you know, start with Panti’s Twitter feed and go from there. True, it’ll be awkward, having celebrated passing marriage equality, but needs must. We could even use the marriage equality campaign’s email and activist list to identify more of the gays we will need to kill.

That won’t be the first instance of irony either. To placate the idea, we’ll probably have to ban all the non-Islamic religions, and pick up their advocates too. Bishops, priests, again it’d almost be funny to see David Quinn and Panti both staring at the same firing squad, but that’s the price.

Would that be enough? They’re not mad on the whole women equality thing, so strip women of their rights, just to be safe. Clare Daly, Averil Power, Ruth Coppinger, they’ll all have to be put in their place because there’ll be no room for uppity women with their notions of being equal to men. Burkas all around, no girls to go to schools, maybe beat the women who can read just to get them used to their new place. Would that be enough? At least it would solve the gender quota issue.

As we’d watch our sisters and mothers and daughters become chattel, as we watch our Jewish and gay and lesbian friends get shot dead, as we all praise Allah and punish the non-believers and especially those Muslim traitors who dared stand with the Jews and the gays and the women, maybe that’ll be enough for the believers in the idea to stop attacking us because we are implementing the idea better than they can.

Let’s do it all across Europe. Stop bombing IS. Maybe start bombing Israel instead? They’d like that, right? All across Europe we could round up the Jews again, raid the synagogues, watch the Jewish schoolchildren holding their German identity cards which told them they were equal citizens shaking in their hands as they are separated from their non-Jewish friends.

Let a religious police beat Dutch girls in Amsterdam who dare wear short skirts. Close Anne Frank’s house, because after all, the Nazis were right. Same with Auschwitz and Birkenau. We’ll have to rewrite our schoolbooks obviously. As for all those refugees fleeing IS, maybe order the Royal Navy, the Irish Navy, the Italian Navy to open fire and machine gun them in the water?

The truth is, if we surrender enough to the idea, the attacks will probably stop. If we don’t, the chances of us completely eradicating the terror cells are slim. In a continent of 500m, it’s impossible to stop every three or four poisoned fanatics with a bomb vest or a machine gun. We just can’t stop them. We may even stop most of them, but we just can’t stop them all.

The truth is, surrender is the most effective option.

But you know what?

Fuck them. Let them come with their bombs and their guns, and let them face the barrels of Muslim British soldiers or Muslim French cops or gay Dutch special forces officers or female Irish Gardai. We’ll put them in the ground, and the next ones too, and then mourn our losses. Because what we have in Europe is a different idea to IS, and it is an idea worth fighting and yes, even dying for.

There is a high price we will have to pay to defend our synagogues and magazines and gays and women and all religions and yes, our Muslims too.

The alternative is not peace, but a living death watching our Jewish friends and neighbours and all those others whom IS deems not fit to exist disappear off in the back of a truck or in a train carriage.

No. This is Europe. This is our way of life. Out on a Parisian night, men, women, gays, straight, Jewish, Muslim, Christian, atheist, this is our idea.

Fuck them. Let them come. Europe can take it.





We have been here before.

Posted by Jason O on Nov 13, 2015 in European Union, Events

Repost: wrote this in response to Charlie Hebdo. It still stands.

Amidst the debate over recent events in France, there’s been, particularly online, a sub-text. In short, it’s summarised as “Yes, we know all Muslims aren’t terrorists, but…” The Irish have an insight into the thinking, having experienced it directed towards us when we were in the UK during the highpoints of Provisional IRA  terrorism. Plenty of British people looked suspiciously at the Irish and struggled to separate the murderers of Enniskillen or Hyde Park from the millions of Irish who didn’t support the IRA. Statistically, as with Muslims now, there was a higher probability that a terrorist would come from an Irish Catholic background.

There was no shortage of talk that the Irish as a people “weren’t doing enough” to condemn and oppose terrorism. Yet, what would a crack down on the Irish population in the mainland UK have done for reducing terrorism? As much as the hardline did in Northern Ireland for IRA recruitment?

The awkward reality is that Europe is faced with a choice. We can single out and target our Muslim citizens, or we can accept and treat them as we treat everybody else and fight the terrorists as simple criminals.

Speaking for myself, I don’t want to live in a Europe where the targeting of one religion is regarded as a solution to our problems, even dressed up as something like fighting terrorism. We have been here before, the only difference being that our great grandparents in the 1930s had never experienced the outcome. We have. We’ve seen the footage and we’ve stood in the places that result when you single out one religion. It starts small, with registration. Then certain jobs are restricted. Then they are made live in certain controlled zones. There are those, when faced with this argument, who say that The Jews weren’t carrying our terrorist attacks. Either are The Muslims. Nor were The Irish. Some Muslims are, and the moment we start pointing at a group as a single monolithic bloc, well, we know where it leads.

Europe is the freest place on Earth, where you can sit on a beach and on one side see Muslim girls wearing hijabs and on the other women sunbathing topless. Where a Muslim, a black and a white police officer be honoured for defending our and their way of life. The threats to that freedom come from extremists on many sides, and we must be vigilant.

But the biggest single threat to that freedom is not a savage attack on a magazine. We can face that down. We are stronger than those bastards. The biggest single threat is the temptation to destroy our freedom by forgetting the lessons of our European past, by listening to those who point to one group of Europeans and say that they are the problem and we must find a “solution” to them.

We have been here before.


An Occasional Guide to Irish Life: The man who chooses drink over women.

Posted by Jason O on Nov 12, 2015 in Not quite serious.
Mmmmm. Beer. You'll never leave me, will you?

Mmmmm. Beer. You’ll never leave me, will you?

It’s not that he isn’t  attractive to women. He’s single, in good shape, a nice guy, not bad looking. Women like him. Yet put him in a social occasion, and he’ll follow a pattern. He’ll see a woman across the room that catches his eye. He’ll ask his mates who she is. They’ll tell him, and confirm that she’s not there with anyone. Grand, he thinks.

Then he hits the bar like the Allies hitting Omaha beach.

An hour and a half later, he’s ready, magically transformed from a nervous but not unappealing guy into a fella full of soup who’s ready to rock this one’s world. That’s his point of view anyway.

She gets the sloppy drunken grin, the waft of booze and sweat, and his personality which is either wonderfully relaxed (his view) or incapable of self-editting (hers). He may still succeed in charming her. There are some women who will be just as drunk as him, or feel that that an Irishman being drunk before attempting to chat one up is standard procedure. On the other hand, she could have different standards, and expect that a man who expresses a romantic interest in her might at least attempt to remain fully conscious during the initial encounter.

He continues drinking during the event, even when she decides to call it quits and heads to get a taxi, which he volunteers to assist her with. Outside, alcohol pumping through his bloodstream, in the foggy recesses of the judgement centres of his mind, an idea suddenly ignites: He’ll play his trump card. As she struggles to wave down a taxi, he unbuckles his trousers, pulls down his flies, and extracts his flaccid penis, asking her as to whether she’d like “a bit of that”?

She’s out of there fast. The following morning, as he nurses his hangover, he remains oblivious to most of the details of the previous night, save for his conviction that Dublin has an awful lot of lesbians.

Author’s note: ‘lest I be accused of exaggeration, all events in the above post have been witnessed by the author.


An Occasional Guide to Irish Politics: The Scandal.

Posted by Jason O on Nov 9, 2015 in Irish Politics, Not quite serious.
Our elite legal system swings into action!

Our elite legal system swings into action!

A regular repost.

Given the moral failings of the Irish as a race, it is hardly surprising that there is a clear and tested timeline to every scandal which besets Irish society, whether it is moral, political, social or financial. The timeline is as such:

1. Issue emerges. Country particularly mortified at how the British media cover it.

2. Public gasps at details. Sunday papers revel in particularly gory details. Fintan O’Toole writes a pithy piece which explains the cogent details very succinctly, and then drizzles it in extra-virgin head shaking like a nice salad.

3. Opposition call for unspecified action (“Something must be done! We need action!”) or specific action outside the power of the government. (“Bishops must resign! The effect on water of gravity must be reversed!”)

4. Government shakes heads, and promises that said event (Clerical child abuse/flooding/banking corruption/asteroid crashing into the Earth) must never be permitted to happen again, and calls for commission to investigate report of commission which investigated incident.

5. Media, political establishment, voters, realising that they actually play golf/went to school/are second cousin of individuals named in report, start calling for “due process” to be observed, and instead focus on details of events as if they were some abstract natural disaster.

6. The lawyers get involved. People’s right to “their good name”, passing of time, death of witnesses, gums up process of pursuit of actual criminals, drags investigations, trials, etc, in and out of high court for years.

7. Government takes money off people who did not commit these crimes (Taxes), and gives it to victims. The perpetrators contribution is eaten up in legal fees.

8. Some public officials take early retirement, on full pension. Which is pretty much the equivalent of a modest win in the National Lottery. Nobody goes to jail, except maybe a journalist who reveals how this thing is panning out, and is done for contempt of court.

9. In general election, Irish people vote for same people who allowed scandal to occur, on basis that although he/she failed to act to prevent sexual assault of children/building houses underwater, etc, he/she was always “very good for the area.”

10. In 10 years, another commission reports on poor handling of this scandal. Reset to step 1.

Copyright © 2015 Jason O Mahony All rights reserved. Email: Jason@JasonOMahony.ie.