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

Shouldn’t we have something like this?

Posted by Jason O on Feb 17, 2010 in Irish Politics, US Politics

President Obama explains the Pay As You Go law, which forces congressmen and senators to allocate actual funds from old spending/new taxes to new spending, here. Shouldn’t all proposed bills going through the Oireachtas have this attached, that is, they have to explain how they will be paid for?


Time for a Convention of the People.

Posted by Jason O on Feb 17, 2010 in Irish Politics

Tony Soprano TD

Tony Soprano TD

Here’s the truth: Expecting the Oireachtas to fix what’s wrong with our political system is like asking Tony Soprano to eradicate organised crime in New Jersey. Our system, based on a constitution drafted when radio was the coming thing, needs to be looked at. So how do we it?

A people’s convention. A what? A convention made up of, say, 50 of the usual political and business and union types, and 100 voters picked at random by demographic means. We set them a task, and a firm deadline, to invite experts, question them, and then draft a series of proposals which will go NOT to the Oireachtas, where they’ll only wreck them (just look at the bang up work they did with the 12 reports on Seanad reform. They’ve had their turn) but straight to the people in a referendum. If the Oireachtas isn’t happy, it can draft it’s own proposals, and we’ll let the people decide. It’s time.  


Putting our money where our mouth is on Children’s Rights.

Posted by Jason O on Feb 16, 2010 in Irish Politics

Ash have called here for a ban on smoking in cars with under 16s in them. It’s a fair point: Do parents have a right to give their kids cancer? Does Irish society put the health of children ahead of the right of parents to tell the state to get stuffed and not tell them how to raise/abuse their kids?


The End of the EU: A (very) short play.

Posted by Jason O on Feb 15, 2010 in European Union, Not quite serious.

And it's goodbye from them.

And it's goodbye from them.

A British television studio.

Intro: “ Good evening, I’m Martin Imaldahay. One year ago, the member states of the European Union, at a summit in Gdansk, yielded to two years of public demonstrations and the overwhelming rejection of the Treaty of London in nine referendums across Europe. The EU was over, dissolved, and unceremoniously dumped in the dustbin of history.”

Cut to footage of small but enthusiastic crowds cheering and demonstrating in London, Paris and Copenhagen.

Cut to footage of  a young, very pretty blonde Danish girl:

Danish girl: “ This is a great day for all Europe. No more Brussels telling us all     what to do.”

Return to Martin in the studio.

Martin: “ One year on, has it worked? Has the abolition of the EU freed Europe and created a new dynamic? I’m joined by John Hairpin, political correspondent with The Guardian, Steven Cough of the Confederation of British Industry, and Tom Breeze of the National Farmers Union. Steven Cough, Europe free and prosperous?”

Cough: “ It’s been a bit of a false dawn, to be quite honest. You see, people were always blaming Brussels for regulation, but with withdrawal, the regulation just moved to national level. Ask people are they against regulation, they will always say yes, until you get to the specifics. Against ingredients being put on packaging, for example, you find the public actually want more!”

Martin: “ But surely it has made it easier for business?”

Cough: “ It’s actually made it harder. With EU directives, you had a chance of getting it right with just minor tweaking for national needs. Now you have twenty seven countries all drafting their own regulations, and some with dubious purpose.”

Martin: “ What do you mean?”

Cough: “ Well, take the French. They’re constantly changing regulations to allow them to block imports on spurious health, safety or hygiene grounds. It’s protectionism, and now, without the EU, there’s nowhere to go.”

Martin: “ Not to the WTO?”

Cough: “ It takes years. At least with the EU, governments were always looking to trade votes on the next issue, and resolve these things quickly. Now, we have the trade war instead.”

Martin: “  Tom Breeze of the National Farmers Association. Farmers and fishermen were complaining for years about Brussels interference, and quotas. Surely farmers are happy?”

Breeze: “ I have to agree with Steve. Abolishing the EU got rid of a bogeyman, that’s true, but didn’t deal with the fundamental problems. British fishermen, for example are now over-fishing, and will almost certainly have to be curtailed by the British government, who won’t be able to hide behind Brussels, and whilst we can now stop the Spanish fishing in British waters, we can’t export fish products in France or Spain because of new French and Spanish regulations in retaliation.”

Martin: “ Another trade war?”

Breeze: “ And more besides. In Ireland, France and Poland, for example, we’ve seen massive demonstrations by farmers demanding that national governments replace the now defunct guaranteed price structures. Only this time, the public aren’t willing to pay it. The Irish government nearly fell last week over the proposed Farm Solidarity Tax. The trades unions in Ireland are threatening a general strike if it is introduced, and two people were killed in the O’Connell Street riot.”

Martin: “ But surely the Irish and others were passionate supporters of CAP?”

Breeze: “ When someone else was picking up the tab, yes. But now? President Fabius will almost certainly be defeated next year because of the issue. The EU was at least providing a universal bogeyman for everyone to shout at.”

Martin: “ Another trade war?”

Breeze: “ Another trade war. They block our lamb. We’re blocking their cheese. Its cost about 25,000 jobs so far on each side of the channel. And that figure’s soft.”

Martin: “ Like the cheese.  John Hairpin, from a political perspective, has the collapse of the EU benefited the nations of Europe?”

Hairpin: “ Depends what you mean. Chancellor Stoiber of Germany recently said that Germany’s period of guilt over a lunatic Austrian is now over. That caused mass demonstrations in Poland, and one can’t help wondering would he have said that within the EU, with a need for Polish votes on the old European council. Yet now, Germany with her 90 million people is now the dominant power on the continent. The Benelux countries, Poles, Czechs, Austrians and Hungarians all have to adjust national legislation to take account of the German market and German law, with no influence at all in its shaping. They’ve swapped a European Union for an effective German Union. Is that progress?”

Martin: “ So who has benefited from the collapse of the EU?”

Hairpin: “ The Americans, probably. And the Chinese. The scenes at the last WTO summit were embarrassing, watching the former EU leaders waiting for the joint US/China communiqué. They used to be in the room. Now they sit with Brazil, Australia and Bangladesh.”

Martin: “ No other winners?”

Hairpin: “ Microsoft, Coke, GM. All the big multinationals who can now bully individual national governments, play them off against each other. They used to hate dealing with the Commission because they controlled access to a vast market, and used it to get concessions on competition. But now it’s one on one. Prime Minister Cameron has recently proposed that new employees from January 1st will not be entitled to the same level of employment rights as existing workers. Microsoft got that out of him, by threatening to go to the Czech Republic which is now practically a US state. They just couldn’t have done that during the EU.”

Martin: “ Not quite what the French left had in mind, was it?”

Hairpin: “ Certainly not. France has suffered terribly with the collapse of the EU. The end of farm subsidies, and the attempt by Paris to create a national model has created a vicious urban/rural divide. Farmers and small businessmen are having practically staged battles in Paris every week. But then, France is a unique example.”

Martin: “ In what way?”

Hairpin: “ Well, France is a prime example of a spineless political elite refusing to be honest with its own people. When they pulled out of the EU, Fabius promised tariffs and protection for French products. He never told the French people that other countries would retaliate against French exports. He kicked out all the former EU citizens working in France, and now discovered that French people will not work in those jobs. So they’ve go the ridiculous situation of having 15% unemployment and a million job vacancies!”

Martin: “ And an economy in free fall.”

Hairpin: “ Absolutely. Rather than face economic realities, Fabius is now trying to spend his way out, which has run up a massive debt, caused a collapse in the New Franc, which is now causing raw material imports such as oil, rubber and steel to soar in cost, which is causing inflation to hit 14%. Lovely stuff.”

Martin: “ And if Le Pen, as expected, wins next year?”

Hairpin: “ He’s even more fun. As he can’t blame the EU anymore, and doesn’t want to actually have to tell the French people the shocking economic truth, he’s started blaming immigrants and homosexuals, all of whom will be “dealt with” after the election.

Martin: “ But surely, for ordinary people, the end of the EU has improved their lives. Reduced regulation, for example.”

Hairpin: “ You travelled recently? All the old customs controls are back. France and Germany have brought in visa requirements for other European countries, with Britain following suit next year. Tit-for-tat import restrictions are making customs hell once again. It’s like living in the seventies. I got stopped in Schipol airport for carrying French cheese last week. You’d swear it was plutonium the way I was treated. You now spend more time waiting for some official to search your bags and stamp your passport than you ever did under the bad old Brussels Bureaucracy.”

Breeze: “ Actually, I was on holidays in Spain at Christmas, and my youngest got quite sick. They wouldn’t admit him to hospital. Spanish Citizens only. Had to pay €2000. The EU citizen’s right to emergency healthcare’s been abolished.”

Hairpin: “ What about the costs of the EU. It cost European taxpayers €100 billion a year.”
Cough: “ Which is, coincidentally, exactly one third of the fall off in intra European trade last year. Not counting the welfare payments made because of increased unemployment. I’m not sure the abolition isn’t actually costing us money.”

Hairpin: “ And the future? We’ll start with Steve Cough.”

Cough: “ More protectionism, minus economic growth, higher unemployment. Organised crime growing stronger as it is organised on international levels, unlike the police.”

Breeze: “ Blue murder in the south west of England when the British government attempt to impose fishing quotas to preserve stocks. Cornish Independence Party will win the St. Ives by-election, reducing Cameron’s majority to single figures.”

Hairpin: “ The Islamic takeover in Turkey is threatening Greece, which is causing talk of a military coup. Germany has begun rearming in response to instability in Turkey and the Balkans, and Le Pen has said that France will begin rearming in response to Germany. Poland has opened discussions with Russia on a Mittel-Europa Stability Plan. All in all, you’d kinda miss Brussels now.”

Martin: “ Perhaps you would. Good night.”



Blasphemy De Burca Resigns.

Posted by Jason O on Feb 12, 2010 in Irish Politics

I’ve only ever met Deirdre de Burca once, and she came across as a nice, sincere woman, and I agree with a lot of her analysis of the party’s performance (not her criticism of Gormley though) but you can’t help wondering has she left it a bit late to be speaking out? After all, she rushed (literally) into the senate to vote through blasphemy. What was she thinking?

She says that the Green party is refusing to stand up to Fianna Fail. But why didn’t she personally stand up to them, and just refuse to vote for the bill, as she had promised to do?

What could they have done? Beat her up?

Correction: Deirdre De Burca has apparently also resigned from the senate, which is a noble gesture, it has to be said.



To save the Euro, end the right to borrow?

Posted by Jason O on Feb 11, 2010 in European Union

The Euro: Worth saving.

The Euro: Worth saving.

Eurosceptics are right about one thing, and that is that maintaining a currency union without a central treasury is leaving a crucial control open to abuse. It’s like putting an extra accelerator on the outside of the car, where the driver can’t reach it. If the Euro is worth saving, and I believe it is, then we need to ensure its credibility, and that means stopping member states from being reckless. The easiest way to do that is to bar member states, by law, from borrowing, and instead only having borrowing done at EU level. This will remove a key ability of a reckless member state to thrash the currency.

Now, don’t get me wrong: This is a massive ceding of national sovereignty, and the effective beginning of a United States of Europe. Some countries will not want to do this, and indeed, I suspect that some countries, like Ireland, would be politically unable to do this, and so would have to consider the unthinkable, leaving the Euro. That’s why such a decision would have to be ratified by national referendums. But either way, the Euro’s stability needs stable, well-run countries, and this is the tough love way of getting those countries.     


Time to tax US political donations?

Posted by Jason O on Feb 11, 2010 in US Politics

Oh, say can you see, the senator I pay top dollar for?

Oh, say can you see, the senator I pay top dollar for?

The recent decision of the US Supreme Court to remove bans on corporate donations is just plain obscene. It’s daft. It gives corporations and trades unions the rights of individual citizens, which is just plain odd, but what is most offensive is this bizarre association of money with free speech. In other words, the more money you have, the more free speech you have? What?

As if there isn’t enough on the president’s plate, this needs to be fixed. Until such a time as he can get a moderate majority back onto the court, which is going to be damn hard considering the conservative judges are younger (although conservatives tend to eat more red meat, don’t they? I’m just saying!) than the liberals, maybe a constitutional amendment has to be looked at? Could he get it through the state legislatures? Interestingly, how do independent voters feel about the issue? Could it be a way of bringing them back into the Obama camp?

In the meantime, how do we deal with the new right of big business to buy themselves congressmen? How about a tax on political donations, rising with the size of donations? The money raised could be used to fund candidates who don’t take large donations, of all parties. If anything, it would discourage election spending, which is surely no bad thing.  


iTunes: A query.

Posted by Jason O on Feb 10, 2010 in Just stuff

You might be able to help me. Given that I have an uncanny ability to make hi-tech stuff not work (am on standby to be parachuted into Iran where I am, under Pres. Obama’s orders, to just stand beside Iranian reactors, thereby rendering them useless) I’m having a bit of difficulty with iTunes, so here’s my question: Is it possible to download ones’ previously purchased iTunes tracks when one no longer has access to the original computer they were downloaded onto? I’ve gone onto my iTunes account from a new laptop, and found that they are not listed at all on my account. Thoughts? Or should I just use a hammer?


Fine Gael expected Lee to be as mediocre as they are.

Posted by Jason O on Feb 9, 2010 in Irish Politics

Imagine getting a new, well paid job, and then being told that you may have to wait a few years before you can do it. That’s pretty much what FG did to George Lee, despite the fact that that is not what they told the electors of Dublin South they’d do with his talents.

But what is most telling about this affair is the response given by young FG TDs: That George should have been willing to pretty much waste years of his life before FG get into government, and even then there was no guarantee that he’d actually get any sort of job in government worthy of the skills that FG told us he had in the byelection.

That’s the crux: That there are people in FG willing to squander years of their lives doing little of real use in opposition, leading empty lives of frustration. They say that it’s not their fault, they are, after all, not in government. But this just goes to show the mediocre thinking in FG. FG could get parliamentary reform, with powerful committees and open votes on issues and a huge increase in private members bills if they wished? How? By telling FF that they will refuse to cooperate in pairing arrangements, and effectively ending the ability of government to pass bills. But FG won’t do that, because that is not “the way things are done”, the defence of the mediocre throughout the ages. Instead, talented people like George Lee, who wish to lead a useful life now, leave the Dail to the cud-chewing peaceful bovines of FG, lolling around in their peaceful opposition pasture. Moooooo!


Fine Gael celebrate expulsion of “dangerous radical” from party.

Posted by Jason O on Feb 8, 2010 in Irish Politics, Not quite serious.

Fine Gael: It's disgraceful when the help get uppity!

Fine Gael: It's disgraceful when the help get uppity!

Sources in Fine Gael are praising party leader Enda Kenny for shrewdly engineering the departure of George Lee from the party. A party spokesperson said: “We knew from day one that fella was going to be trouble. Sure he walked into the parliamentary rooms with a load of bukes under his arms. Bukes! And just because he was an expert in economics, sure that doesn’t mean he gets a say in nuttin’. He kept using sentences in the party meetings that didn’t have “Fianna Fail are a crowd of gougers” in the middle of them! Sure, he needs to know his place: Did any of his family fight the irregulars? Does he have any breedin’? Was Eoin O’Duffy ever to tea on the family ranch? Has he ever shot a tinker? And what sort of name is Lee anyway? I can tell you one thing for certain: It is days like today that will let the ordinary people of Ireland know exactly what sort of people run Fine Gael!”

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