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

A border poll must be only the opening part of the reunification debate.

Posted by Jason O on Jan 6, 2021 in Irish Politics

Previously published by The Irish Independent.

It’s ironic to think that the single biggest outcome of Brexit could be the replacement of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland with Great England (featuring Wales and the Isle of Man.). But it’s not an unreasonable to see a domino track from Brexit to Scottish Independence to a United Ireland. This is a real live proposition and we need to start considering it.

So here’s the bit that will activate a thousand Shinnerbots and the usual Free Stater/West Brit name throwing: a border poll can’t just trigger a Brexit-style united Ireland without knowing the actual details of what a United Ireland will look like. 

Yes, I know, this is the bit where people jump up with well-worn copies of the Good Friday Agreement and a loud “Well, actually…” I get it. A border poll in the north (and only the north, something many in the republic don’t get) transfers sovereignty in principle.

Supposing Boris decides to honour it almost immediately, regardless of the size of the winning margin or any details, just ups and out in weeks, telling the Irish government that the salaries and pensions and health funding and all the rest are our problem from midnight of day X.

Don’t be ridiculous, you say! There are agreements and understandings between Britain and Ireland and words given and Boris…..Johnson…..isn’t…..like…..that….

See the problem.

Don’t forget, we can’t force the British to not give us the north of Ireland and all its public spending and pension liabilities and victim compensation responsibilities. It’ll be the first thing we’re asked by the former unionists and not an inconsiderable number of nationalists too. 

Will we meet all Britain’s spending liabilities?

But Britain has obligations, many Shinnerbots will cry, suddenly realising that it is they trying to convince me that I need to trust the British Tories to keep their word.  

Guess what: I don’t.

The Taoiseach will of course go on television that night and announce that the people of the north of Ireland do not need to worry. The Irish state will honour their NHS funding and pensions and all the rest.

Then the DUP will point out all the social welfare payments in the south that are higher than in the north, and demand parity of esteem. 

It’ll be at this stage that the minister for finance will be sending for a new pair of trousers. 

The Americans! The EU! The United Nations! Bill Gates! The National Lottery! The 2:30 at Chepstow! All will be declared to be the source of funding the ten to fifteen billion in extra spending we suddenly have to find. And all, suffering the same Covid ravaging of their national finances that we went through will say the same thing: sorry Paddy. You wanted it, you pay for it.

The minister for finance will know the reality. Yes, we probably can borrow for a while, the legacy of not going all Maduro On The Shannon back in the day. But it’s not sustainable. Either taxes go up, or spending is cut, but neither necessarily on either side of the former border. 

The minister, in front of a wall of tricolours announces that we, the Irish people, have always known that sacrifices would have to be made in the cause of unity, and so it has come to pass.     

By the way, speaking as a republican, I don’t regard Free State as an insult. I just like reminding people what it stands for: the section of the Irish people who actually defeated the British in our bit.   


What do TV ads say about us in the time of Covid?

Posted by Jason O on Jan 3, 2021 in Irish Independent, Irish Politics, Jason's Diary

Previously published by The Irish Independent.

Carrot Cannibals.

Has anyone noticed that Aldi’s Christmas ad? It seems to be about Santy delivering a carrot back to his family so they can all be boiled and devoured together in some sort of Tarantinoesque familial masochistic reverse cannibalism? That Kevin the carrot is giddy with excitement at the prospect of being eaten, along with his mum and dad Katie and Jasper, sister Chantenay and the youngest Baby Carrot? 

Maybe I’m overthinking it too much. You bloody well are, screams Aldi’s marketing department. 

Perhaps. I am watching a lot of TV ads. I like TV ads. In fact, as regular readers know, when I’m not shaking an impotent fist at our political system I’m a bit of an amateur TV history junkie, and I find TV ads can be a fascinating insight into a period in time, in that they’re not as rtepeated as TV shows are and so tend to be much more of their time. 

I grew up in an era where it was perfectly normal for a squarejaw in a black poloneck to swim through shark infested waters with a briefcase(A briefcase!) to deliver a box of chocolates, and don’t get me started on the simmering filthfest of coy “wait ‘til mother goes to bed and I’ll show you buttered spuds” looks that was the KerryGold ads. 

Funnily enough, in the time we are living in (“These challenging times” is, I believe, the official description) watching ordinary TV with its ads and the rest brings a strange sort of sociability and connection. 

You can’t go to the pub, or restaurants, or your local car-keys-in-a-bowl party if you live in Enniskerry, but you can feel part of something just that little bit bigger watching terrestrial telly as opposed to binge watching “Suits”. 

By the way, if you haven’t watched “Suits” it’s about a group of beautifully dressed beautiful lawyer people who are constantly too busy to talk because they’re going to a meeting or being unhappy in their beautiful apartments pondering how hard it is to be beautiful all the time. “Suits”? Should be called “Ungrateful Feckers”, but I digress.

We’re getting very accustomed to the Covid take on ads: the lonely piano playing as we are shown someone’s granny looking sadly through a window at her grandchildren. People learning new skills on lockdown, like how to speak Serbo-Croat or dismantle a tactical nuclear weapon. A lot of exercise. And that “we’re all in this together” thing. 

We don’t see much of the granny delighted the little feckers aren’t wrecking her house. Or the couple in their pyjamas hoovering through a box of Celebrations. Or the odd murder. Wait and see: when this is all over we’ll be digging people out from under the rosebushes: You can’t be showing locked down people “Midsomer Murders” on a perpetual loop without consequences. 

But that’s all OK. The Covid ads show us a glimpse of where we are and also our technical abilities, with so many ads now filmed by people in their own homes, showing customers of X or Y talking Christlike about the company if only because they’ve nothing better to do. 

Some ads do get me roaring at the screen, I’ll admit. 

Those ads for men’s and women’s fragrances, which have gotten so po-faced.

Take that one where Thor strolls very handsomely through some city announcing that “Success without integrity means nothing”. What does that even mean? 

If he’d said something like “Slamming your lad in a car door will make your eyes water” I’d at least nod at the accuracy of the statement. The women’s ads are even worse, the montage ones showing her laughing with friends, storming away from a man, driving a car erratically, having a good cry, giving some other fella a good seeing to. You can’t move for sharp cheekbones, and that’s just the men..

Then some vacuous saying, and the bit that makes me explode: where they announce the name of the product in a deadpan matter-of-fact but-of-course voice.  It’s the fake profoundity of it that kills me, that buying a bottle of “Tumescence. Chanel” is some sort of statement about who you are. 

But that’s not where I reserve my leap from the couch in finger-pointing denunciation moment: that’ll be for the bank ads. 

Please. Spare me the “Brave” or the “we’re just like you” from the banks. 

You know we’re not. We know we’re not. 

Just for once I’d love to see a bank ad that tells an unvarnished truth that is at least authentic.

“We at Consolidated Bailout Bank really like making profits, which we try to make by lending to you for a cost higher than the amount of interest we pay to people to let us mind their money. We like making profits, but we get that if we make too much, you might go to some other bank, so we promise we’ll charge you as much as we can but not enough to make you  go over to those other guys at Unified Golden Parachute Bank. And we won’t try that usual Rubik’s Cube account charges thing where we try to bamboozle you by varying the charges using variables like whether Gemini is in line with Jupiter, Sine and Cosine from your Leaving Cert log tables,  or dividing the fee by the span of an African elephant ear if it’s Tuesday or Thursday. 

Consolidated Bailout Bank: Moneylending, but without ending up in the Sunday World.”

The ad I’m really waiting for is one full of really tired non-cheekboney people with grey hair giving a thumbs up to the camera, then the slogan. 

Vaccine. By Pfizer.

Copyright © 2021 Jason O Mahony All rights reserved. Email: Jason@JasonOMahony.ie.