The Minister for Death, Michael Noonan, has suggested that grieving families may be permitted to use the new LUAS excavations and other roadworks throughout the state as a means of disposing of unwanted cadavers.
“It’s a question of logic, really,” the minister said, easing back into his seat and resting his feet on a grateful Fine Gael backbencher.
“We’re spending a fortune on aggregates, filling in foundations for the LUAS and new roads, and yet we have to put all these bodies somewhere, especially now as we had to abolish the funeral grant. Of course, we’ll have to regulate it. We can’t have people just turning up and chucking granny into a hole, I mean there’s health and safety implications. And then there’s the whole Love/Hate thing too. The Guards’ll want to know who is going in too, in fairness. But the basic idea works, and Leo’s got his department looking at it. Actually, now I come to think about it, I think Leo started looking at this idea before I ever suggested abolishing the grant.”
The Department of Foreign Affairs has proposed that as part of the Irish Heritage Certificate programme, members of the Diaspora could pay to be buried under a piece of Irish infrastructure of their choice.
“We’ve been missing a trick with this, to be honest,” an official said yesterday. “After all, Italian-Americans have been burying each other under roads and buildings for decades.”
Brosnan: Will cut a dash at European Council meetings.
The Irish Tourist Board has proposed that the membership of the lower house of the Irish Parliament, Dail Eireann, be replaced by well known Irish actors.
A source in the state agency said: “The thinking is that, as proven by opposition deputies reading Michael Noonan’s speeches back to him, it doesn’t really matter who wins elections in Ireland. The country’s too small to actually control its own direction, so we might as well make politics a bit more interesting for the tourists. How about Pierce Brosnan as Taoiseach, maybe Gabriel Byrne as leader of the opposition? We reckon we could get Martin Sheen to do a few cameos as minister for foreign affairs, and maybe Sharon Corr as health minister, I mean, she looks healthy!
We were thinking of Claire Tully as Science minister, but it turns out that not only is she a model, but she actually has a honours degree from Trinity in Science, so the department vetoed it on the grounds that they’re not going to set a precedent of having a minister who actually knows more about something than they do. Liam Neeson is looking good as Justice minister, by the way. Farrell has asked can he be minister for love?”
The decision of the Minister for Children to order all parents, not just Roma parents, to submit to DNA tests to verify that their children are in fact their own has met with a “mixed response”. Sources close to the minister, explaining the policy, suggested that “given that many people in the non-Roma community supported the Garda action this week, we thought, in the interests of Better Safe Than Sorry, to check to make sure that everybody’s kids were who the parents say they were.”
A large number of solicitors letters originating in South Dublin have already arrived in the Department, and a number of barristers have announced that they will be challenging the policy in the High Court. One leading barrister stressed that they were doing so “purely to test the constitutional principle of the policy, and for absolutely no other reason, and if you run a picture of Prince Harry anywhere near my statement I’ll see you in the High Court too.”
Dublin Airport denied that the large increase in young Baltic au pairs leaving the country with young infants has anything to do with the minister’s announcement.
The National Milkman, Polish Handyman and Tennis Professional Coach Union has expressed its vehement opposition to the new policy announcement in a statement today.
It’s not as much a single moment as a gradual acceptance. She’s known relationships and love and happiness in them, but that is the past. The men she loved were good men, and she seemed to have avoided the monsters other women had met, but still, it was not to be.
Now, occasionally, on a street or through a friend on Facebook, she’ll see them, with their new lovers, wives, children. She is now just a discarded fragment of someone else’s life, a crumpled paper ball of an relationship that might once have had merit, might have grown into something beautiful, but is now abandoned, perhaps even the source of rolled eyes and “what was I thinking?”
For her, it’s not unhappiness, per se. Loneliness comes, in waves, but the funny thing about loneliness is that it’s a known quantity. It can be managed, and distracted, and tricked by other pursuits, hobbies, sports, reading, friends. Never quite extinguished, especially not in bed, where she sleeps against a pillow if only to feel it against her, reflecting her own heat back, something against her, in the night.
Places hurt. She can never return to the Place de la Concorde because that was where he held her on a cold winter’s night, a thousand tiny white lights around them, and for a moment she had everything she wanted. Now the Place would just be a reminder that her most cherished memory was merely the high point on a slope to pain and tears.
Same with words. She’ll hear a word, an inflection, and it’ll remind her of him and what’s gone.
And yet, she’ll manage, and carry on, and find that curious settlement that comes from accepting where one is and where one is going. She doesn’t worry as much about fitting into that dress or whether she should have that biscuit, and the liberation is tangible.
It feels like a section of her life has finally been neatly parcelled away and stored carefully on a top shelf. Not thrown away, not obliterated forever, just put away.
Perhaps it will be opened again one day. But, as she gets older, she recognises, perhaps not.
If one were to ask a scientist to come up with a device to measure false outrage in Irish politics, you would expect the needle to at least reach 50% most of the time. It’s hardly surprising, of course, in a system as centrally dictatorial as ours. When most elected officeholders either have no power or do not want to use it (something you don’t hear as much about) they resort to spewing out vast quantities of emotion-load guff about “dignity” and “esteem” of one group of vested interests or another.
Take almost any issue to do with old people. You can play bingo with the avalanche of grovelling pander that comes out of politicians when anyone suggests that senior citizens carry their fair share. “They have worked all their lives!” is a favourite. Some of them have. About the same proportion of non-senior citizens who have also worked their whole lives.
Then you get the “the measure of a civilised society is how it treats its old people.” Again, this is true. But if you squeeze “financially comfortable with mortgage paid off” into the gap between “old” and “people”, it doesn’t quite sound the same.
But let’s call the truth here. Dignity me eye. We all know why politicians are terrified of old people. They vote. And fair play to them, because at least old people are smart enough to scare the shite out of politicians and use the system to get what they want. For that they deserve admiration.
But please: spare us the puffed out political chests and the “look at my inflated social conscience as I parade it down the street” from politicians who start to believe their own speeches.
Because in this age of media accessibility, it’ll come back to haunt you. This is what happens:
Sure, this isn’t fair at all. Didn’t he do his bit in three county finals and two All-Irelands, and now here he is in Dail Eireann and fellas are asking him about abortion and laws and the like? What’s it got to do with him?
He was sent by the good people of the parish to get St. Handout’s grounds better drained, an extension for the Old Folk’s Home in Ballygrasping, and to get them fancy Dublin lads off the backs of the ordinary people going on about feces in the drinking water and other high falutin’ notions.
Now they’re asking him about laws about what now? Ladies private parts and what goes on it them? Sure what business is that of his, he said on the local radio, until Father Jude rang him up and told him that it is very much the state’s business what goes on in there and had he been reading dirty foreign muck like The Irish Times and Supreme Court judgements? So, you want me to vote for legislation, then, he asks, and your man in the collar goes ballistic telling him on no account should he darken the door of Our Lady of Perpetual Curtain Twitching if he does.
He’s completely confused. There should be some sort of special body set up to look at legislation, debate and vote on it, and stop troubling ordinary Dail Deputies like himself. Sure hasn’t he enough to be doing? There’s that poor woman in Feckerstown whose son keeps getting harassed by the guards just because they keep finding him, by pure coincidence, in the driving seat of stolen cars. Or that man in Goonyaboya who the county council are discriminating against because he keeps putting dead cattle out with the bins for collection. He’s more important things to be worrying about.
I’ve been watching, on Youtube, episodes of an old 1970s US sitcom called “Barney Miller”. You might vaguely recall it being repeated on RTE in the 1980s, or at least its theme tune, which was quite well known. Set in a detective unit in Greenwich Village, NYC, it’s a quirky character driven comedy made all the more interesting by the times it was made in. The cops in the unit (it rarely ever leaves their squad-room, and so feels like a play) pretty much accept that the city is ungovernable, but also display an extraordinary reluctance to actually jail criminals. It’s very indicative of an attitude prevalent in the US in the seventies where criminals were seen, in many instances, as victims of society. It’s a charming show. Give it a look.
On another topic, check out COGS:THE BRAIN SHOP in ST. Stephen’s Green Centre. A new business flogging some pretty cool games for kids and adults, including my favourite, Quoridor. Just the sort of shop I’ll be getting Christmas presents in. You’ve been warned.
There’s a standard formula to every recent Irish budget:
1. The leaks. People forget there was a time when leaking the budget, even accidentally, got you fired. Ask Phil Hogan. Now it’s standard.
2. We all assume that the German parliament has given it a good going over. You know, like reading it whilst our senators are going to councillors’ mothers’ funerals.
3. Every pressure group does the same trick of isolating its wish list and comparing it to the whole budget: “For a measly €40m out of a budget of €50,000,000,000 we could buy a hat for every lesbian badger in Ireland, and stamp out lesbian badger head-cold in a generation! If this government cared about the self-respect of badgers, that is.”
4. The same people who sneer that you “can’t put a price on dignity” nearly always can, especially when it comes to the budget of their NGO/Quango, salary and pension packages.
5. The hard left always react hysterically, and call for a general strike against “the most right wing government since Pinochet!” They always predict that the young people are finally rising up in socialist revolt. Seven of them turn up at the rally outside the GPO. Incidentally, the same seven who attended the meeting to plan the GPO rally. There had been fifteen at the meeting, but there was a split. Somebody made a remark about Trotsky’s address to the 3rd Soviet Tractor Production Council, someone denounced someone else as a Kerenskyist, and it all kicked off from there.
6. The hard right proclaim it to be another “Tax is theft” budget and denounce the government as “the most left wing government since Allende!” Save for one who denounces Pinochet as a Chardonnay swilling social democrat who might as well have been a Guardian columnist. They at least have the sense to hold their “rally” in the Market Bar on a Saturday night.
7. Labour once again bizarrely manage to transfer limited tax revenue from poor people to the middle and upper classes. Again!
8. Am I the only person who thinks it is actually astounding that TDs are voting through billion euro spending plans they have only just seen? Seriously? Would you buy a car as casually as that?
Just a quick note to thank all those who nominated and voted for me in the 2013 Irish Blog Awards, where I won in the “Best political blog” category. Genuinely flattered to win. Thrilled that someone is actually reading. Thanks.
I look forward to receiving my €50,000 in stolen Nazi gold prize.
There was once a time when you knew where you stood. The mega wealthy, the Hearsts and the Rockefellers and the Morgans were very powerful and used their wealth to further their interests. They bought newspapers, hired muscle, politicians, judges, even started wars.
Pretty much same as today, you say?
Not quite, because at least back then they had the subtlety to keep pretty much out of the limelight, and even their hired political lackeys would pretend to be working for the ordinary joe.
Now, however, we have the surreal scenario of the plutocrat class not only having all the money but actually demanding that the rest of us, under the threat of some Fox News applied collective Chinese arm-burn, say it’s a good idea.
The pinnacle of this recent movement was, of course, the nomination of Mitt Romney, a good man (I’ll get back to that in a minute) who actually felt obliged on the campaign trail to stand up for the civil rights of corporations.
Think about that for a moment. In an age where the western middle class is genuinely fearing, for the first time since World War II, that its living standards are actually in reverse, the nominee of one of America’s two great parties felt an obligation to step in and stop billion dollar corporations being bullied by poorer people, including many of those same middle classes now fretting.
And here’s the thing: I think Mitt Romney is an honest, decent man whose values told him that those businesses were being harassed by someone and he felt it was unjust. He genuinely saw them as the victim. He’s like the guy who sees Lucy pulling the ball away from Charlie Brown at the last minute, and thinks “Poor Lucy! She must be so exhausted having to trick Charlie Brown and make him going flying through the air every time!”
It wasn’t always this way. In the 1950s, Eisenhower and Churchill, both in office, and hardly doyens of the hard Left, saw mass society-wide membership trades unions as legitimate actors on the economic stage, with just as much right to be there as business. Both men sided with business, but saw society as a careful balancing act between capital and labour where both sides had to be able to walk away feeling they’d gotten their slice of the pie.
Now, you have an appalling lack of grace from the mega wealthy, where many plutocrats not only believe they should be free to use their resources (wealth) to further enrich themselves and their class, but then get indignant at the middle class for using its great resource, government through democratic elections, to pursue its class interest.
This leaves us with the jaw dropping scene of the mega wealthy feeling genuinely aggrieved, pointing fingers at people economically far beneath them and accusing them of “class war” for wanting things such as employment rights, universal health care or minimum wages.
It results in the grotesque spectacle of a US Republican Party, a party founded on the principle of righting one of the greatest wrongs of human history, now reduced to regarding the taking of food assistance from low income families and stripping them of low cost health insurance as a noble aim worth pursuing.
It is, quite simply, appallingly bad manners of the part of a class that should know better. A class that seems to lack, for want of a better word, class.