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

Europe needs to synchronise elections.

Posted by Jason O on Aug 18, 2011 in European Union

All together now!

All together now!

Imagine if the House of Commons or the Bundestag or Dail Eireann was not elected en masse in a single election, but had ongoing elections with individual seats elected every few months. Imagine the paralysis that would cause in politics. Yet, curiously, that is how we run the European Union, with upcoming national elections forever causing national leaders to postpone decisions or refuse to take potentially unpopular decisions.

The truth is, Europe is now so integrated that this is causing us problems, so how do we address it? I have a suggestion. Supposing every member state commits to scheduling the next national elections after the next scheduled elections to be all held in the same six month period. It would mean that newly elected leaders would not have to cut their terms short, and that within 5-7 years nearly all the EU would be going to the polls in the same year, those allowing a whole swathe of European leaders, freshly elected, to have a clear run, all agreeing that the final year of their terms would be an EU low activity period. Just a thought, assuming that we actually have an EU in 5-7 years!


Ireland nears its guff-free moment on Europe.

Posted by Jason O on Aug 17, 2011 in European Union, Irish Politics

Ireland shuffles its cards.

Ireland shuffles its cards.

Listening to Merkel and Sarkozy yesterday, it looks like a fiscal union is, if not on the cards, then certainly capable of appearing in the next pack. From an Irish perspective, this is going to mean that we actually have to do some serious thinking about what we want as a country.

See, the fact is, we’ve been very lazy about Europe. As long as EU money came our way we pretty much signed up to everything except taxes, aborting the unborn Irish in Ireland, and helping defend our way of life. But now we have to confront the reality of a higher standard of living through cheaper Eurobonds and German supervision, or a lower standard of living, exclusion from the bond markets for the short to medium term, but keeping total control over our very modest resources. What will we do?

The first thing we’ll do is get outraged, as we always do, and start throwing words like “democracy” around the place. Now, there is a democratic issue here. If we are creating a de facto US of E then we should have a democratically elected president running it, but that’s not what we mean. In Ireland, “democratic” means “other people should do what we want” and in these case it means that 80 million Germans should shut up and give 5 million Irish no strings attached money. Well guess what? 80 million Germans will almost certainly disagree with that, through their (democratic) ballots.

We need to be cool and calm about this. There is an argument that we would be better off staying out, keeping our fiscal sovereignty, and if we are willing to pay the price of having far less money to spend on public services, then it’s a strong one.

But one thing is certain. Indignant guff ain’t gonna buy us any chips at this table. 


An Occasional Guide to Irish Politics: The Illegitimate President.

Posted by Jason O on Aug 16, 2011 in Irish Politics, Occasional Guide to Irish Politics

The Aras: Where our Florida style president lives.
The Aras: Where our Florida style president lives.

The elction was clean. He won a clear majority of the votes, after preferences were distributed, and his opponents have conceded and rung to congratulate him. Ireland has elected a new head of state. Everything should be hunky-dory.

Except for the fact that the most popular candidate was barred from the ballot paper by the political establishment. Except that he got a smaller first preference than polls indicated the barred candidate would have received. In short, he’s the first Irish president ever elected despite the fact that he didn’t beat a more popular candidate. Can anyone name the more popular candidate barred from the ballot in the Robinson or McAleese elections? Probably not, because there weren’t any.

He is the legal president. But he is not legitimate, because we have never had a more popular candidate actively campaigning and barred from putting his name before the people before. He deserves legal recognition. But does he deserve our loyalty?

Doesn’t matter, his supporters say. He was duly elected under the rules set out in the constitution. They are, of course, correct. He is the legal president, according to the constitution.

The same way George W. Bush was deemed the legally elected president in 2000 by the US Supreme Court. He got less votes than the other guy too. 


Jason’s Diary.

Posted by Jason O on Aug 15, 2011 in Jason's Diary

Interesting story about how the Fianna Fail government basically kept the US in Shannon. Why is everyone so surprised at this? US soldiers spend money in Shannon, and US planes need to be refueled, all creating jobs. Why are we surprised at this? If I were a TD for Limerick or Clare, I’d want to keep them too. Of course, the question no one seems to be asking was whether the Greens were told of the offer? If not, then FF were being dishonest with their coalition partners. But if the Greens did know…


Interesting article in The Irish Times about EU integration, although I don’t agree with the European Parliament solution. If you let the EP choose a government for Europe, we’ll end up with a permanent and corrupt EPP/PES coalition that voters will never be able to actually vote out. No thanks.


I’d say Gay Byrne’s entry into the presidential election would have caused all sorts of problems for RTE. This is Ireland, and it would have been almost impossible for RTE to find an interviewer that will not give Byrne a relatively easy interview, out of sheer personal loyalty to a friend. The problem would have been that every other candidate, including the candidates of the governing parties, would have been watching RTE like a hawk for favouritism, and RTE know it too.

By the way, is Sean Gallagher not beginning to look like the candidate of the last government here?

If Byrne had been elected, I reckon he’d actually have turned the presidency back into the old Paddy Hillary model, and we’d rarely have heard from him. Hands up who can remember what Paddy Hillary sounded like as president? We all remember him from his famous “You can have Boland…” speech, but as president he was decent but invisible.


File this under the tab “Ah, here now!” You just have to love how crude the whole thing is.


I just love Adam West.

Posted by Jason O on Aug 13, 2011 in Not quite serious.


I just love Adam West’s respectable veneer with a whole bunch of crazy beneath.  


States’s Rights: A fictional tale of the end of the United States as we know it.

Posted by Jason O on Aug 12, 2011 in Not quite serious., US Politics

The margin by which President Obama was defeated in the 2012 Election was closer than had been expected, losing by 48% to 50% in the popular vote, and overall by failing to carry the state of Ohio in the electoral college. But what history would record as being even more notable than the defeat of the first African-American president was the victory of Wyoming governor James L. Tucker.

Unlike many of his predecessors as Republican nominee, Tucker was a true believer in the agenda he espoused as he had travelled the country seeking his party’s nomination. To him, the ending of abortion was not a political hot button to be used to rally the deepest red elements of the Republican coalition, but a moral imperative. Likewise, the dismantling of the federal government and the return to the states of federal power was not just a rallying cry for the hardliners. It was his agenda for government. Read more…


Dog kicks cat. Cat kicks mouse. Mouse kicks ant. FF kicks EU.

Posted by Jason O on Aug 12, 2011 in European Union, Irish Politics

Being a former Progressive Democrat, I’m well aware of this old Fianna Fail fallback. Back in the day, Fianna Fail TDs used to go on the radio and have a go at their junior coalition partner. I remember one clown having a go at the PDs until Cathal MacCoille asked him what specific PD policy he was against. The TD in question flustered for a few minutes, and then said that whilst he had no problem with any of the policies, he didn’t like the “tone” of the PDs. This is classic Fianna Fail. No party has been more responsible for shaping our relationship with the EU, and now they are bitching about it? But what’s even more galling is that deep down, Fianna Fail aren’t really eurosceptic, and would carry on as before if they were back in office.

So, just to keep, you know, the facts on the table:

Which entity ran the Irish economy into the ground?

Answers; A) Fianna Fail, B) The European Union, or C) When bad things happen, it’s a global recession. When good things happen, it’s down to Fianna Fail economic mastery. 


An Occasional Guide to Irish Life: The ho-hum guy with the hot girlfriend.

Posted by Jason O on Aug 11, 2011 in Not quite serious.

Sometimes, magic happens near Yo Sushi!

Sometimes, magic happens near Yo Sushi!

You see him through the window of Clarks, in the Dundrum shopping centre. He’s pretty forgettable, dressed like he’s been sleeping fully-clothed in a sleeping bag two sizes too small. He’s short, balding, with a belly looming over his belt, and he’s fingering the sensible brown brogues. He makes his purchase, wanders out of the store, and stops. Then you see what he’s looking at.

You would notice her, in fact, she’s what the shopping malls financiers were thinking of when they briefed their marketing people. She’s well dressed, stylish, perfectly coiffured and walks like she belongs on a catwalk, which she looks like she does. Men and women both take a second look. Our schmuck smiles weakly at her, like a barely flickering candle in the middle of midnight desert.

She stops, towering over him, bends down and kisses him with one of those kisses that brothers and sisters don’t give each other outside of Mississippi. People genuinely stop in disbelief. A rotund fellow in a snug Darth Vader tee shirt almost cries. She takes his hand, he takes some of one of her many bags, and they walk on, as the question hangs:

How the f**k?

It wasn’t easy. She had been in a bad relationship, and the window had opened at just the right moment that he fell through a window. How does he keep her? Will it work or just be a random moment? Perhaps. But as she walks away, she laughs, and not the laugh of good manners, but the laugh of genuine amusement. He makes her happy, and that’s what she wants at that moment in her life. She’ll want him to change, of course. To change his diet and cut out deep fried stuff and she’ll play a more active role in his wardrobe, but he doesn’t mind, because he’s smart. He knows what he has, and he isn’t going to give it up easily. 


Guilty Pleasures.

Posted by Jason O on Aug 10, 2011 in eNovels & Writing, Jason's Diary, Just stuff

Probably not about a secretary in love.

Probably not about a secretary in love.

I love a passion. Apparently, there are people who enjoy nothing more than spotting different Eddie Stobart trucks (they’ve all got different female names. One is named after William Hague’s wife, apparently) and noting it down in a log book. Now, that’s not my cup of tea but I understand how someone can find their thing, and I respect that.

I have a lot of passions. Writing fiction is my big one, as is collecting thrashy thriller novels from the 1960s, 1970s or 1980s. But specific ones, big idea thrillers, about powerful people and big concepts and gorgeous illustrated covers that give a taste of what the book is about. Take this one to the right here, which is Alistair MacLean’s “Air Force One is Down”. Guess what it’s about? Go on, I dare you. One of the reasons I collect them is for the covers, which were commissioned especially for the book and tend to illustrate a key scene in them. They weren’t cheap either. When I enquired about getting an illustrated cover of that style for my own novel “The Ministry of Love”,  I was shocked at the cost. So, it seems, are publishers, because we now see these antiseptic shadowy covers that could be stuck on any thriller. Compare these two, from Colin Forbes’s “The Stone Leopard”. The left is from the 1980s, the right an edition from the 1990s. I know which one I prefer. I keep a load of these on display as I write my own stuff, just to remind myself. I’m not writing literature, I’m writing stuff that people will enjoy reading on a plane or by a pool or on the LUAS. And if it goes well, one day I’m going to treat myself and spend the big bucks on getting one of those covers for one of my own. 


An Irishman’s Guide to British Politics: The Looter as Victim.

Posted by Jason O on Aug 9, 2011 in British Politics

It's the Tories, innit?

It's the Tories, innit?

“It’s the Tories, innit? The cuts, like, an’, like, no, social justice, like.” He announces, as him and Stammo manoeuvre a 60 inch plasma screen TV through the shattered window of Currys. It’s just not his fault. There’s nothing to do around here, other than drink Dutch Gold, get out of bed at 2 in the afternoon, collect the dole, and knife the odd peer, and he’s not talking member of the upper house either.

The fact that most unemployed people don’t cave in the windows of high street stores, and lob rocks at the constabulary is not the issue. In fact, you’re a racist for saying it is, because you’re being classist and racist and, well, generally an ist. Young, working class and white, it’s the new black, innit? What can we do, with all the foreigners coming over and takin’ our jobs because we can’t get out of bed before Jeremy Kyle because of our disability? It’s not our fault that I get massive headaches when we down a tray of Dutch Gold, that’s our genetic makeup, isn’t it? Nothing to do with us? Think we want to have a raging hangover, and watch geezers from Poland and Pakistan walking pass the house on the way to work when we’re getting up for a piss? It’s just not fair. Where’s our dignity, eh?

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