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

A message from Roger Cole, Chair of PANA.

Posted by Jason O on Nov 30, 2010 in Irish Politics

I wish I was talented enough to be able to write material like this. In particular, I love the last line.

“PANA is really only an idea, as with an annual income of less than €10,000, what else could it be. The idea is that Ireland should be a United Independent Democratic Republic with its own Independent Foreign Policy with neutrality at its heart.It is an idea that originated in 1790 with Wolfe Tone. Throughout the 19th and early 20th century the Irish political elite gave their allegiance to the British Union and its imperial wars until the 1916 Rising broke their power over the Irish people. It took some time before the Irish imperialists regrouped and the Fianna Fail/Fine Gael/Labour elite gave their allegiance the European Union and its Battle Groups. However, as between 50,000-100,000 Irish people cheered on Saturday 27 as once more the 1916 Proclamation was read outside the GPO, as a clear majority of the people in the Donegal by-election voted for supporters of the Proclamation,  we can realistically ask, has the time for that idea come again? As Admiral Mullen, Chair of the US military Joint Chiefs of Staff and the real boss of the US/EU/NATO military axis states war with Iran is being considered, will the Irish political elite be able to sustain their power over the Irish people as they are drag! ged not only into mass poverty but yet another war? PANA has resisted these Irish imperialists since our foundation. We are part of a tradition that has resisted imperialism for 220 years. We shall never surrender.” 


Ireland: An interesting view from Germany.

Posted by Jason O on Nov 29, 2010 in European Union, Irish Politics

An article from German magazine Der Spiegel here. Well worth reading.


It’s all about money.

Posted by Jason O on Nov 29, 2010 in Irish Politics

I get a nose bleed trying to understand the whole bond market thing, but there seem to be certain realities behind everything which need to be understood:

1. Everything is connected. Of course we should tell the bank bond holders to get stuffed. They took a calculated commercial risk, and came a cropper. It’s called capitalism. Get used to it. But the problem seems to be that if we do that, we may do a Lehmann Bros on them and bring them down, which could bring down other banks (who they owe money to) across the EU and elsewhere. The truth is, we don’t actually seem to know what will happen, and so are basically doing a Micheal Caine at the end of The Italian Job. Hang on lads, nobody move, I’ve got an idea.

2. It’s all about money. We’re borrowing to stabilise the banks, as above. But we are also borrowing money to fund our services in excess of our own tax revenue. That’s what I find odd about the “F**k the EU/IMF” crowd. They’re very vague about what we do after giving them the finger. They say tax the rich, but the rich (and the middle classes with savings)  have already moved their money offshore. So what do you get? Confiscate their houses? To do what with them? Add them to the National House Mountain? Where do we get the money to pay nurses salaries when our borrowed funds run out in June 2011?

3. We probably will default on the banks eventually, and it won’t be anywhere near as big a deal as we think, because by then our public finances and economy should be hopefully on the mend, although it still threatens other non-Irish banks. People seem to think that we default and refuse to pay anything, but that’s not true. We’ll restructure our debt, that is, renegotiate what we are willing to pay (something businesses do all the time) do a bit of a haircut, and carry on. The only thing about defaulting is that it may become harder to borrow money, but given that the markets have priced themselves out of our price range anyway, is that such a big deal? It will lead to a fall in our standard of living, as we have to finally live within our (and the IMF/EU) means, but that’s just a giant big slice of reality pie, and not necessarily a bad thing. It’s important to remember that there is a distinction between sovereign debt raised by the state, which we probably won’t default on, and bank debt which we did not raise in the first place, and the markets will eventually have to recognise that, even though we made bank debt sovereign.

4. The Euro is a high but worthwhile price for stability. There’s a lot of talk of us leaving the Euro, or the Euro breaking up. This is the frontline, and we need to realise that this is where we decide what happens to the next decade of life in Ireland. The pros of leaving are that we could devalue, but that would be matched by an equally seismic leap in the cost of living and manufacturing costs caused by our import purchasing power dropping, and the possible need for high interest rates to stabilise the New Punt. In the long term, could we survive it? Possibly. But the bigger issue is the danger of the Euro breaking up, with a new Deutschmark soaring, and everyone else plummeting, and the German export-driven economy, the engine of Europe, being crippled in the process. Germany would suck in imports, which would be good for us, but would its inability to export bring demands for protectionism to protect German jobs? Would we be, in fact, just be exchanging one set of problems for another? It’s  just not worth the risk.


Run, Fintan, Run!

Posted by Jason O on Nov 28, 2010 in Irish Politics

Step up to the plate.

Step up to the plate.

I don’t agree with Fintan O’Toole about a lot of things. But I do believe him to be sincere, intelligent, and a patriot with the best interests of the wide majority at heart. I also think that he is dead on the money in saying that radical political reform is a vital part of what is needed to get the country up off its’ knees. He has brought a seriousness and a thoughtfulness to the public square that is lacking in our political system. Yes, the Jackie Healy-Raes and their supporters will sneer at him, but people have to ask themselves in their hearts: Of those two competing visions of Irish politics, Fintan and Jackie, which is more likely to have brought us to where we are today? Make your own judgement call on that.

Fintan O’Toole needs to put his name on the ballot at the general election. It’s the next logical step. If no party is offering radical political reform, then he should. Now, some of my readers have had a go at me for suggesting this on Facebook, pointing out legitimately that it’s all very easy for me to advocate other people running, and that running for election is not the only way to effect change, and that other things such as NGO activism and even blogging can affect change. These points are true. Well, the NGO one is, anyway. 

As for running myself, if I was as well known as Fintan I’d be down with me nomination papers faster than a senator running at a county councillor he’s never met before (A little Seanad election humour there for the aficionados). Running for election is an expensive business, I agree, but I think Fintan could fundraise quite easily on the web, people donating five and tens and twenties. I’ll start the ball roll by pledging him €100 if he runs. Anyone want to join me? Just pledge what you can afford, no sum too small.

Worse case scenario, he loses and there’s a rake of material about the campaign to write about. Best case scenario, he wins, and can at least speak for those of us who want political reform. Is the Dail the place to bring change? I don’t know.

Let’s get one of ours on the inside and find out. 


The United Left Alliance should be welcomed.

Posted by Jason O on Nov 28, 2010 in Irish Politics

Time for Joe?
Time for Joe?

The decision of the Socialist Party, People Before Profit Save Dun Laoghaire Baths Socialist Workers Party and the Tipperary Workers and Unemployed Action Group to run 20 candidates on a united platform is to be welcomed.

It means that nearly 50% of constituencies will have a genuine far-left alternative to vote for, giving socialist activists a clear opportunity to prove that the Irish people are just crying out for socialism. Good for them, and let’s be honest: If they can’t rally a huge swath of votes against capitalism now, then when?  Surely, Joe, Seamus Healy, Clare Daly, Richard Boyd Barrett and Joan Collins (the other one) all have a shout in these surreal times?   


A big march alone is not democratic.

Posted by Jason O on Nov 27, 2010 in Irish Politics

Given the weather, Jack O’Connor, David Begg and Fintan O’Toole must be delighted with the impressive turnout at the SIPTU protest today, and the well-stewarded peaceful outcome. However, they surely have to recognise that they speak for no one but themselves unless they are willing to take their actions to the next logical conclusion, that is, to seek an electoral mandate from the people.

There are many who say that running for election is not their job. I disagree.

Whether you agree with them or not, you have to accept that all three men, and others, are attempting to shape the direction of their society. They have espoused their platform. Surely the next step, short of openly endorsing (and possibly running for. I can think of worse phrases than the phrase Fintan O’Toole TD) an existing party that adopts the lion’s share of their agenda, is to go to the people directly seeking a mandate to implement that agenda. 

How can you espouse radical change in a free society, and yet be unwilling to give that society an opportunity to cast its judgement upon that platform? We shape our society by free election, not by 50,000 people walking along the same route.

It’s time for them to step up.


The Give Us Other People’s Money March.

Posted by Jason O on Nov 25, 2010 in Irish Politics

One of the more interesting aspects about the political time we find ourselves in is the fact that politics is beginning to divide into sides. This is a good thing. People need to take stock of their interests, and stand behind candidates or groups who speak for them, as best they can. The SIPTU march on Saturday is an example of that: It will, I assume, be dominated by people paid either directly by the taxpayers (the public sector) or funded by the taxpayers (NGOs and their interest groups). If you don’t believe that, then I ask you to count how many “Scrap the Croke Park Agreement” placards you’ll see. Public sector workers make up 19% of the workforce: Anyone really believe they will only make up that proportion of the marchers?

Don’t get me wrong: They are entitled to stand up for themselves. But let us be very clear. They do not speak for the Irish people as a whole . They speak for one self-interested sector of the people, and I use the phrase self-interested not in a pejorative sense. The unifying factors of their beliefs are a) an Anti-FF agenda, which, to be fair to them, is shared by the great majority, and b) a belief that their entitlement to public monies funded by other taxpayers is a greater entitlement than that of those taxpayers to keep their own money.

It is the debating of that second belief that should be at the heart of the election, not because it is right wing or left wing, but because it is being honest about what sort of society we should be. 


Presents for the Political Junkie.

Posted by Jason O on Nov 24, 2010 in Books

For that political junkie in your life, I’ve a few suggestions for stocking fillers. But first. Here’s what not to buy: Do not buy them either The West Wing on DVD (They probably have it) or Bertie Ahern’s autobiography, because just because someone is “into the politics”, it does not mean they want crap.

Here’s some political books a little bit off the beaten track that they may not have, but will enjoy. And if you want, click on the books category to the right, and scroll through. You’ll find a link to them to Amazon. And no, Amazon does not pay me for this. I’m just a really nice guy.

“Politics Lost” By Joe Klein. The best current book on how political consultants ruined US politics. A page turner.

“Boss” by Mike Royko. The story of Chicago Mayor Daley Snr. Raw politics at its best, and  a fascinating glimpse into how Irish culture dominated US big city politics.

“Alpha Dogs” by James Harding. The story of the first political consultancy, Sawyer-Miller. Great Fun.

“A View from the Foothills”. Labour minister Chris Mullins diaries. A very human and honest view from inside the Blair government. Best political book I read this year.

You will note that I have not listed any of the current batch of Irish political books. Sorry, but I’m up to my tits reading about fecking NAMA. A man can only take so much.


An Occasional Guide to Irish Politics: The Rat.

Posted by Jason O on Nov 23, 2010 in Irish Politics, Not quite serious.

“It is with a great heaviness of heart that I feel I have no alternative but to call for the resignation of the man I hoped might appoint me a junior minister at some stage and now it looks like we’re totally flutered if I don’t say something so I’ll say it. The Taoiseach should resign. I have given this serious consideration, and conferred with my family, including our youngest who looked me clear in the eye and asked “Who is this man, mammy?” Let me be very clear: It is not true that I happily voted for whatever nonsense the party leader put in front of me for the last three and a half years and now that the chips are down and I’ve a better chance getting elected as a member of the Gary Glitter Party. Each one of those votes was arrived at by a careful consideration of what was in the best interests of the people who would be best served by my being named minister of state with special responsibility for badger conservation or the black babies or something. Even though that did not happen, I stood ready to serve, preparing myself for the role by nodding sagely at whatever the Taoiseach happened to be saying about whatever that stuff is he talks about in the chamber. Let me also say that I have been accused of speaking against the closure of St. Furiousbridget’s in my constituency, voting to close it, and then going on a march to keep it open. If anything, this merely goes to show how broadminded a person I am, as indeed does the fact that I held off lifting a finger against the Taoiseach until I got word that that drunken, womanising whoremonger, sorry, my party running mate, was about to attack the Taoiseach in the Feckerstown Gazette tomorrow morning. Never let it be said I did not give the man a chance to repent his ways.”


Dan Sullivan has a go!

Posted by Jason O on Nov 22, 2010 in Irish Politics

Political blogger and FG activist Dan Sullivan reponds to my “This election is too good to waste on Fine Gael” blog here.

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