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

How to make Irish Politics work.

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

Jane Suiter over on www.politicalreform.ie makes this very vaild point about what we need to change in our political system to make it work better. Given that there is a consensus of sorts being arrived at that our political system has failed us, we need now to consider what sort of changes would make our political system more responsive to modern needs? I can think of four that would radically change how politics would work in Ireland:

1. A National Constituency. One of the greatest obstacles to rational national policy making is the geographical obsession in Irish politics. This is understandable, as we are a people with strong local community ties. The problem is that it is now a hindrance in that no candidate sees any votes in pursuing national issues. If we had, say, 90 TDs elected in constituencies, and 30 elected in a single national constituency, we would at least allow for some candidates to get elected on a non-geographical basis. You would still have the Candidate For The West, etc, but some of the national TDs would be issue or vocational based. The argument in favour of single-seat constituencies has a lot going for it too, when coupled with an open list PR system. Read more…


National Alliance.

Posted by Jason O on Nov 21, 2010 in Irish Politics

Now, this is interesting. In recent times, we have seen various attempts to set up new parties which get to mysterious website stage, and then peter out. What’s interesting about this are the people involved, John McGuirk, Marc Coleman, and David Quinn, all significant figures in the public eye to various degrees.

What’s also interesting is the party platform: Economically clearly centre-right, political reformist, ethically-orientated, and socially, if not conservative, certainly Christian orientated, but not in an overtly John Charles McQuaid sort of way. It also would seem to have a clear anti-partitionist tone (although firmly democratic in its pursuit) and, maybe it’s me, but do I detect a teaspoon of euroscepticism? Given the protagonists, that’s hardly surprising. I have to say, it’s a very attractive package, and I could see it getting some traction.

There will be some who latch onto the David Quinn involvement and start waving around a “far-right Catholic” label, which I think would be unfair. Even social liberals like me should accept that what we are trying to build here is a society where devout religious conservatives and gay secular liberals (for example) can co-exist peacefully, and that there is no current serious party that openly stands up for the rights of the religious.

One other interesting point is the group’s specific rejection of members with racist or anti-semitic views. Could a pro-Israeli policy emerge later? Indeed, would it be such a bad thing for Irish voters to have that option?

This is a very interesting development.


The EU hairshirt may well be the best thing that ever happened to us.

Posted by Jason O on Nov 21, 2010 in European Union, Irish Politics

And suddenly, The EU team arrived.

And suddenly, The EU team arrived.

The giant brain that is The Irish Times’s Dan O’Brien outlines here the sort of things that the EU may require of us. What’s interesting is that a lot of the things listed are things that a self-respecting reformist government should be doing anyway, crisis or no crisis, for the long term interest of the country. The fact that there is not a single party in the country that will have a manifesto even vaguely close to the radicalism of the EU reforms is telling about the state of us as a people. We’ll be forced to do this stuff, we’ll bitch and complain, and five years from now we’ll be handed back a country in a better state than the one we handed them. Or put it another way: What’s the bets that we’ll reverse hardly any of the reforms we will have been forced to accept?


Oh, and one other thing to say to the Brits: Thanks.

Posted by Jason O on Nov 20, 2010 in Irish Politics

When I was in boarding school, hardly a hotbed of violent republicanism, there were guys who would not wear Reeboks (Runners, as we called them back in the day) because they had a union jack on them. I knew other guys who would wear them, but would first blacken out the union jack with a black felt tip marker. Now, bear in mind that these guys had no PIRA tendencies. They regarded the Provos as psychos. It was just hardwired into us. Even today, outside many hotels and buildings, you will see the US flag (Who took us in, in the dark days), the EU flag (Who taught us how to use a knife and fork, use a belt instead of baling twine, and stop making a show of ourselves in front of the For’ners) and the German flag (who slipped the few bob into our hand like a decent uncle at a confirmation). We don’t fly the union jack. I’ve seen people who have objected to it being flown anywhere. I’ve even met one guy who objected to a union jack being flown over an Irish pub IN LONDON!

Yet here’s the funny thing: We all have British friends and family. We have nearly all been on holiday in the UK, and most of all, in recent times, the great majority of Irish people know (but won’t admit) that the Brits treat us better than we treat them. We will cheer Anyone But England even when they cheer Ireland. Yet, the fact is they don’t have anywhere near the animosity towards us that many Irish people purport to have towards them.  We watch their TV, read their newspapers, and we know that we are not treated as foreigners when in the UK.

Many British readers can easily misunderstand the reaction to a possible UK funded bailout in Ireland, so let me clarify it: We are grateful, and we are not angry at you. We know it is in your own self interests to help us, but there is also a recognition that these two islands, since the Good Friday Agreement, have never had so good a relationship. What we are angry at is that in the past, we were looked down upon by the Brits. That changed in the Tiger years, not just in Britain, but in our own minds, and now we have humiliated ourselves by feeling that we are back where we started. But that is not the fault of the Brits. That is the fault of Fianna Fail.

So, to the Brits (And the rest of the EU): Thanks for being there when we needed you.

And to Fianna Fail: You just wait.


SWAT team blows away Jessica Fletcher.

Posted by Jason O on Nov 19, 2010 in Not quite serious.

Sources in the Federal Bureau of Investigation have confirmed that murder mystery author and prolific serial killer Jessica Fletcher was gunned down by an FBI SWAT team early this morning.

Fletcher had been on a murder spree for most of the 1990s killing vague associates on a weekly basis, and then framing innocent suspects for the murder, having used her fame to gain access to police investigations and crucial evidence.

An unnamed FBI agent described the author’s motive:  ” JD FLletcher was only interested in two things. Her psychotic bloodlust, and dick. She would engage in wanton acts of depraved sex with most of her victims, filthy, filthy stuff.  Sometimes involving live stock and weird  mechanical sex devices. But during it all, the abandon, the debauchery, her hair never moved once.”


The next election is too good to waste on Fine Gael.

Posted by Jason O on Nov 19, 2010 in Irish Politics

In 1993, in Canada, the Progressive Conservatives, the government, went into the general election with 151 seats out of 295 in the federal parliament, and came back with 2. Yes, 2. Now, in fairness, the Canadian electoral system is first past the post. It’s possibly the dumbest voting systems going if you have more than two parties, but it shattered Canadian politics for a decade. Are we heading that way?

Fianna Fail won’t be annihilated, because there are people who A) Don’t seem to understand that voting for Fianna Fail candidates gets you a Fianna Fail government, and B) will always vote Fianna Fail, although you do have to wonder what exactly would Fianna Fail have to do to not get these people’s votes? “Eh….that chopped up body was already here when I got here. And I don’t know who put those puppies in the microwave. And that MAY look like me on the CCTV with that bloodied knife but it isn’t.” But let’s be honest, Fianna Fail are now heading into what has been escalated this week from a very bad election result into a “They’ve blown up the Death Star? With the Emperor on-board? Really? ” moment. Read more…


God love them, but the Brits know little about Ireland.

Posted by Jason O on Nov 18, 2010 in British Politics, European Union, Irish Politics

I like the Brits. I have many British friends, I enjoy visiting the UK, I watch British TV and read British papers and magazines. Britain stands for a lot of good things. But reading this comment track from Tory website Conservative Home, you really have to wonder. How can a country that occupied us relatively recently know so little about us?

So let me clarify a few things for my British readers:

1. There is no desire in Ireland to rejoin the UK or sterling. You may hear the odd remark from the odd eccentric, but it is about as likely as Britain joining the Euro in the next 12 months.

2. Contrary to the coverage in some elements of the British media, Ireland is actually a functioning country with a functioning economy. We’ve a budget deficit, not a civil war. Nor are we’re the only country with hard left rioters. Ask the tenants of Millbank.

3. The Euro is not the source of our problems. Our exports continue to perform strongly. Please stop trying to project your Euro neurosis onto us. The Euro has flaws, but it is still where we need to be. We need to be competitive by cutting our costs, which we are doing, not by some Harold Wilson style three card trick.

4. Despite this crisis, our standard of living is still far higher than it was outside the EEC, and comparable to Britain. Bear in mind that one of the major rows we are having is about bringing the state pension, minimum wage and Jobseeker’s Benefit level DOWN to the British level, and bringing our tax levels UP  to yours.  

5. Our relationship with the rest of the EU is different from Britain’s relationship with them. Like them, we have known military occupation and brutal suppression by a hostile enemy power, and so understand that mutual cooperation is not a sign of weakness.

6. And by the way: About Irish people travelling to the UK looking for work, don’t forget who the single biggest minority group is in Ireland. That’s right: Brits. It cuts both ways.

And finally: Today’s editorial in The Irish Times is the most succinct description of our situation I’ve yet seen.


Is it time to ban Fianna Fail?

Posted by Jason O on Nov 17, 2010 in Irish Politics, Not quite serious.

And to think, all he ever nicked was a newspaper.Sad and all as this is, you have to appreciate the irony. Fianna Fail, the party of Dev, is the party that is negotiating the de facto end  of Irish independence. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those Eirigi/Coir sovereignty nuts: Sovereignty is only any use if you can do something with it, and in this case, trading sovereignty is what’s needed to stabilise our country’s banking system. So be it. But the fact is that it is happening on Fianna Fail’s watch, because of Fianna Fail mismanagement. I wonder is this going to be the thing that finally tips FF over into being, like, say, the Irish Home Rule Party, a symbol of a past Ireland that needs to be moved on from?

In fact, is there an argument for the new non-FF government to begin a process of DeFiannaFailisation, like denazification in Germany, or debaathification in Iraq? Supposing we banned all FF Oireachtas members from holding office, like bankrupts, and made FF a proscribed organisation, like the IRA or UVF? True, it would probably take a constitutional amendment, but even that would be a fun day out.

Even if FF appealed to the Supreme Court, there is certainly enough evidence about to at least make a reasonable case that FF is, if not a de facto criminal organisation, certainly a threat to the continued existence of the state. The interesting thing is that given the make up of Fianna Fail (10% idealists, 90% gougers, hucksters and sticky fingersmiths) even a temporary ban on the party would disperse the gougers to the political winds as they found another political dog to infest. At least they’d be less concentrated in lower doses.


An Occasional Guide to Irish Politics: The Sneering Insider.

Posted by Jason O on Nov 16, 2010 in Irish Politics, Not quite serious.

Too good for him?He shakes his head, mouth grimacing in a sad, patronising “You just don’t understand” frown. He tries to give you a pitying look, as if he is trying to help, but he comes across, instead, as a prick. Which is handy enough, because he is.

He works for “the party”, or as a ministerial adviser, drinking in Doheny and Nesbitts, and is bought and paid for, seeing his job as protecting his political masters from the torch-and-pitchfork bearing little people who “just don’t understand”.  When you ask him why ministers get to keep open their former teaching jobs, or why well-paid public servants can’t just pay for their own pensions like everyone else, he doesn’t even soil himself with constructing a half credible answer. He doesn’t engage or even try to argue a valid if unpopular point of view. He doesn’t try because you are not worthy of it. You are a “civilian”, and the only time he will even half attempt to assuage you is in the run up to polling day. Instead, he points out “that’s not the way things are done”.  In his world, that is an acceptable answer.

He’s lucky he works in Irish politics. In other countries, he’d be found hanging from a lamppost as the presidential palace burns, with the word “traitor” painted on his chest, probably in his own blood. And probably too good for him, too.


Movies to avoid (Or watch in horror): Skyline.

Posted by Jason O on Nov 15, 2010 in Movies/TV/DVDs

Run from the aliens? The cinema, more like.

Run from the aliens? The cinema, more like.

I don’t review  every movie I see, just the ones that catch my eye for a particular reason, or ones like this that are just so bad as to be worth noting for their awfulness. It stars people who tend to be second tier stars in TV shows (Scrubs, 24, Dexter) whose names you won’t know, and is about an alien attack on Los Angeles. What’s so bad about it?

Well, it isn’t for the fact that it is basically derivative of Independence Day, HR Giger and Cloverfield, because derivative can be good.

It isn’t for the fact that the dialogue is bloody awful and just there to link one pretty impressive CGI sequence to another.

It isn’t even the decision of the two main characters to snog in the most odd place possible.

It even has some good points, in that the aliens aren’t indestructible, as the US military and one character proves by physically beating up an alien.

It’s the ending. Now, I like science fiction, and I accept that science fiction endings can go odd ways, but the ending of Skyline is so preposterous that I actually felt cheated. The end credits have a number of scenes in them finishing out the story, and the last image actually had people laughing, which I suspect was not the intention.

It’s a good job the International Criminal Court doesn’t do directors, because these guys would be going to jail. 

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