Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics
 
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The Occasional Guide to Irish Politics: The “Compassionate” Racist.

Posted by Jason O on Aug 19, 2015 in Irish Politics, Not quite serious.

“Of course,” They blurt out, like a verbal innoculation, “I’m not racist. I don’t care whether someone is red, yellow, black, brown or blue. But we need to look after our own first!” They then expand on their deep, deep concern about the homeless, poverty, and how, of course, we must help the Third World, but only after we have solved ALL our own problems first. Poverty, disease, cellulite, the length of time it takes to get a sandwich in O’Briens, once we have fixed all those problems, then we can worry about the rest. Curiously, the compassionate racist doesn’t have any time to actually donate to charities helping “our own.”

In fact, he, or more recently, she, tends to have had no problem stepping over the homeless until there were different coloured faces appearing on the streets, and now she’s concerned. She goes to mass, of course, and is a good Catholic, although not happy with rumours about the new parish priest being black. She’s no problem with that, just that she doesn’t think it would be “appropriate” for the area. If she’d ever met Jesus she’d almost certainly  be onto the Garda National Immigration Bureau to report a scruffy looking Palestinian Jew who is certainly up to no good. I mean, look at all that bread and fishes he’s giving out? Who’s paying for that, hmm?

 
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Fishamble presents: Bailed Out!

Posted by Jason O on Jul 29, 2015 in Irish Politics, Politics

bailedIf you enjoyed Colin Murphy’s excellent “Guaranteed!” which told the tale of the bank guarantee, then, like me, you’ll be looking forward to “Bailed Out!”, the story of Ireland and the Troika.

Based on official accounts and off the record interviews, Murphy sets out to tell the story of the crisis that nearly crippled the country. If it’s half as good as “Guaranteed!” we’re in for a treat.

Coming to the Pavilion Theatre from September 23rd.

 
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How to vote (now with added Social Democrats).

Posted by Jason O on Jul 24, 2015 in Irish Politics

2016 Voter Guide flowchart v2

 
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Two interesting political blogs.

Posted by Jason O on Jul 18, 2015 in European Union, Irish Politics

I’m always encouraged to see more online political debate about Irish politics, especially if it is of the rational debate of ideas as opposed to the hysterical name calling of  TheJournal.ie comment section. Here’s two  links worth a look at:

The first is www.politicalpeopleblog.com, which covers both Irish and international politics, and the second is The Arena, a weekly podcast with John O’Donovan, John McGuirk and Jonny Fallon under the need-no-introduction Slugger O’Toole label.

Have a goo.

 
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Supposing Bertie HAD done the right thing…

Posted by Jason O on Jul 15, 2015 in Fiction, Irish Politics, Not quite serious.
Supposing Bertie had tried to do the right thing...

Supposing Bertie had tried to do the right thing…

REPOST FROM 2012

June 2007.

COWEN, BLAMING AHERN, CONCEDES DEFEAT AS KENNY OPENS NEGOTIATIONS WITH RABBITTE.

The Taoiseach, Brian Cowen TD, has conceded defeat after tallymen said that FF senator Cyprian Brady would narrowly fail to be elected to the last seat in Dublin Central. This result confirmed that Fianna Fail’s loss of five seats in the general election meant that it was now impossible for the party to attempt to cobble together a majority with the remaining PDs and independents.

Cowen launched a blistering attack on his predecessor, Bertie Ahern TD,  for his decision, following the 2002 general election, to restrict mortgage lending and tax breaks. He identified Ahern’s attempts to dampen down the property market as the key reason for Fianna Fail’s defeat in the general election. The decision to restrict lending was very badly received by first time buyers, who accused the government of treating them like children and not letting them borrow as much as they wished.

Ahern’s January 2003 RTE Prime Time interview, where he suggested that the banks and mortgage holders were piling debts upon themselves based on massively overvalued assets caused the Taoiseach to be savaged by the media, who attacked him (and not just in their weighty property supplements) of being alarmist and talking down the market. Ahern’s refusal to back down led to a gradual slow down and modest dip  in property values, and following heated rows in heated tents in Galway with party supporters, finance minister Charlie McCreevy announced his resignation, accusing Ahern of lacking courage.

The policy led to a substantial drop in employment in the construction industry, with unemployment leaping from 3.1% to 5.1%, and demands for the Taoiseach’s resignation by some FF backbenchers. Fianna Fail suffered heavy losses in middle class areas in the 2004 local and European elections, with Fine Gael trouncing FF with a clear call to reverse Ahern’s restrictions. Polls showed clearly that Ahern’s interference in the property market was deeply unpopular with middle class and aspiring middle class voters,  and in June 2006, following a sustained campaign in the media, Charlie McCreevey announced that he was challenging Bertie Ahern for the party leadership. Although he defeated Ahern in the vote, McCreevy was beaten in the subsequent leadership election by Brian Cowen, his successor as finance minister, who pointed out that he believed in the “traditional idea that the leader of Fianna Failer should be, you know, a member of Fianna Fail.” The new cabinet announced it was reversing Ahern’s restricting on lending and restoring the tax breaks to the building industry.

The incoming Fine Gael/Labour coalition has said that it does not believe the fact that the country is building over 80,000 housing units when Sweden, with double the population, is only building 12,000, to be a cause for concern.

In other news, the family of Capt. Edward Smith, the “mad” captain of the RMS Titanic who rammed an iceberg in 1912 and caused over a £100,000 worth of damage to his own ship, have petitioned the British Government to clear the captain’s name. Smith, who died disgraced in 1950, always maintained that if he attempted to turn the ship away from the iceberg it could have been badly damaged along its hull in such a way as to sink the ship, a theory that modern engineers have recently begun to suggest has merit. For years, the phrase “To Smith Oneself” was a derogatory naval slogan to describe a foolish action taken by a person who claimed that they were attempting to avoid a greater catastrophe.

The former luxury liner continues to be one of the biggest tourist attractions in London, where it is moored.

 
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So, who to vote for?

Posted by Jason O on Jun 21, 2015 in Irish Politics, Not quite serious.

2016 Voter Guide flowchart

 
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Referendum gave us a taste of real power.

Posted by Jason O on Jun 8, 2015 in Irish Politics

Sunday business post logoSunday Business Post column, May 31 2015

One of the more moving aspects of the marriage equality debate was the stories of people who were canvassing for the first time. Many approached doors or strangers on the street, leaflets shaking in their hands. After all, it’s a big deal engaging strangers in a social setting where often normal good manners don’t apply. But what’s most interesting about their experience is how different it actually is to the experience they would have had if they participated in day to day party politics.

The marriage equality referendum campaign had a clear defined end and a clearly defined result, whether it was yay or nay. The campaigners, at least on the Yes side, knew what the outcome would be if they delivered a Yes vote. It’s a sharp contrast to normal political campaigns.

Sure, one has polling day to aim towards and the definitive outcome of one’s candidate getting elected or not, but after polling day the cloudy murkiness of the Oireachtas closes in, enveloping even the most noble of aspiring candidates. You can get the finest of people elected, but then watch as Dáil Éireann tells them to cut out all that nonsense about changing things and shut the hell up and vote the way you’re told. The country is awash with bitter or simply disappointed people who helped a candidate get elected but then walked away as the alien bodysnatchers of Leinster House replaced your radical reformer with a forelock tugging lickspittle.

But surely, some will say, the referendum disproves that. People got pro-equality candidates elected who then went on to get the bill passed. Primarily Labour, by the way, who should get the credit if there is any justice, but whom I suspect instead will discover this won’t be the last time we see Labour TDs bawling their eyes out at a count centre.

The problem is that marriage equality is almost the giant pink elephant in the room because of its rarity. Every other reform, from abortion to political reform onwards, has been blocked by the stultifying dead hand of our parliamentary establishment.

That’s what makes the events of May 22 so extraordinary, because once the bill had passed ordinary citizens took over and fought the campaign themselves. The parties, and indeed many party members played a role, but it wasn’t the parties that made so many citizens decide to fly home, or got so many young people to register to vote, or indeed so many first-timers to brave the cold canvassing door. I’m not convinced this would have passed if the parties alone had campaigned. Is anyone else?

It’s true, this issue was laced with a once-in-a-generation raw emotion, but it was also about power. Ordinary people, from knocking on doors to wearing a Yes badge down the shops in a small village, had the power to make this happen, to convince friends, family and neighbours, get them registered, get them a lift down to the polling booth to cast actual legally binding ballots. Real power. And that’s the problem: all these new people will almost certainly never experience this sort of power again if they get involved in party politics and its guff.

As we have learnt with abortion, political reform, direct provision, the rotting corpse of Irish politics doesn’t actually want to do anything about this stuff.

If we want all these young and not so young who registered to vote and participated in politics for the first time to remain active, how do we do it? Tell them to attend their local cumann meeting? Get involved in the name-calling bunfights and shafting of Irish party politics? Let’s not forget the many politicians who seemed to take umbrage at being asked their opinion on the subject, as if it was none of their business and why were you bothering them? Abortion term limits? Banking lending policies? Will ye get away with yourself! I’ve three funerals alone to be attending this morning!

The reality is that the May 22 referendum showed us what could happen if power is taken from politicians and given to the people. Why should calling a plebiscite or constitutional referendum only be the preserve of an Oireachtas that doesn’t really like all these high-falutin’ issues anyway? You want to keep all these people in politics? Give them the power to propose change directly to their fellow citizens. You know, the power TDs don’t like using anyway because it’s too “political”.

California does it. So does Switzerland. Why not let all these enthusiastic new activists have a fair crack at the levers of power? After all, they own them.

 
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Ireland goes to war? A hypothetical scenario.

Posted by Jason O on Jun 5, 2015 in European Union, Irish Politics

NATO tanks1st December 2017: Russian forces enter Estonia, Finland and Poland, taking NATO by surprise. Resistance in all three countries is stiff, and US, UK, French, German and Italian aircraft all provide air support.

In the Dail, the Irish government condemns the invasion. Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein call for the United Nations “to act”. They are not specific on detail.

2nd December: it is now clear that a full Russian invasion is underway. Media briefings in Moscow clarify that the purpose of the “pre-emptive defensive action” is to secure the Baltic states, Poland and Finland as neutral states outside of NATO. President Putin goes on TV to explain the action, and, speaking in fluent German, pledges that only those countries are combat areas, and that Russian forces will not invade other European countries.

Read more…

 
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DUP to contest Roscommon-South Leitrim in Election 2016

Posted by Jason O on May 31, 2015 in Irish Politics, Not quite serious.

The Democratic Unionist Party, emboldened by No vote in the constituency in the Marriage Equality referendum, has announced that it is to seek a Dail seat in the forthcoming general election. A spokesperson said: “Given that the Brits are getting brassed off sending us cash, and if the Scots go we’re totally snookered, we thought we’d better start putting out feelers down south to see if there are any good God fearing people. We’re delighted to find that at least half of the constituency aren’t having any truck with, you know, fishers of the Brown Trout.”

The news comes despite protests from the other half of the constituency which objects strenuously to the label Alabama-on-the-Shannon. Local Yes voters pointed out that they had made up just under half the vote, and pointed to local former TD Ming Flanagan as proof of their broadmindness. “Didn’t we elect him twice? admittedly the second time to make him live in Brussels, but it’s the thought that counts!”

The county tourist board has expressed concern at losing the lucrative gay marriage market. “I mean, we’ve lovely counties here. We’re saving up to send someone to Hollywood to get Sarah Jessica Parker over to endorse us with The Gays. Sure they love her, and she seems to be in Donegal every second week and they’re against everything. Now that, that was a real blow, pardon the pun. When Donegal is peering over the top of The Irish Times at you, ye know you’re in trouble.”

 
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Thought I’d repost a Sunday Business Post column I wrote on the Irish attitude to freedom of speech. No reason.

Posted by Jason O on May 29, 2015 in Irish Politics, The Sunday Business Post

Sunday business post logoLet’s vote on the Freedom to Offend

10 May 2015 by Jason O’Mahony

In a few weeks we’ll be voting on the age of presidential candidates, quite possibly the most moronically pointless referendum we’ve ever been asked to vote on.

All the political reform issues we could be voting on, and Fine Gael and Labour give us this thing they found crumpled up in a bin at the Constitutional Convention. Why are we voting on this? Because FG and Labour, having failed to do any political reform, are now trying to find something to point to and call reform. We should be thankful: knowing this crowd, we could just as easily be asked to vote on adding an exclamation mark to the country’s name to make it sound more dynamic. Ireland!

If we’re going to have a referendum for the craic, then let’s have one on an issue that actually matters and will shape Irish society for generations. Let’s vote on freedom of speech.

Don’t we already have that? Actually, we don’t. In fact, you can tell the Irish attitude to freedom of speech in one simple way. Is there a get-out clause? The US constitution says that Congress may not abridge the freedom of speech. That’s it. No ifs or buts.

Our constitution says something similar, except there’s a very Irish “however”, which then gives the state all sorts of excuses to tell people to shut the hell up.

Having sat through the Marriage Equality debate, it’s fair to say that the concept of what freedom of speech means is up for national discussion. The level of intolerance, of people ripping down posters because they don’t like what they say, or demanding that X or Y should not be allowed on telly shows that to many Irish people there isn’t a respect for freedom of speech as much as a respect for my freedom of speech but not yours.

It used to be simple. The Catholic right took a “you can’t see/read that filth!” approach to everything from Playboy to The Life of Brian. Those of us on the liberal side believed that people should make their own minds up about things. Yeah, I did support Section 31 back then, keeping the Shinners off the telly but guess what? I was wrong. But broadly speaking, it was freedom versus censorship.

Yet today, many of the most intolerant people I meet tend to be among my fellow liberals, and they’re hawking around a new concept imported from British and US universities where people seem to be claiming a right not to be exposed to opinions they don’t like.

It’s the Fox Newsification of liberalism, where you only start seeking news and information from sources you agree with.

Where the self-policing of rational thought, by reading what the other side is saying, is now regarded as some sort of dangerous contamination.

That’s why we need a debate on freedom of speech: because it is two sided, not just saying your piece but hearing what the other guy says too. That’s how we keep ourselves honest, and it’s under threat.

It’s a funny thing: as a country, we’ve never been that bothered by freedom of speech. Is it because we’re not a nation given to open public discourse? Is it because whether it’s the Dáil or the AGM of the Feckerstown Tidy Towns committee, the real debate and decision making is done elsewhere?

Would we vote for a US freedom of speech right? I suspect not, because we wouldn’t think “Finally, I can now say whatever I want!” No, we’d vote No in our thousands because we’d be terrified that absolute freedom of speech would allow people to say anything about us.

It’s one of those bizarre areas where the hard-left liberals and the hard-right parish pump conservatives could agree. Both like the concept of the approved public opinion, whether it’s only one acceptable opinion on Marriage Equality or keeping quiet about that county councillor sending his secretary to England for her “special medicine” while he was in Lourdes.

There’s no need for other opinions to be flying around, confusing folk and giving them the wrong ideas.

Think I’m being over-dramatic? Last year in Oxford University a debate on abortion was called off after a protest. The protesters objected to two men debating the issue, which is fair enough. But why not raise that in the actual debate? Instead, the protest group decided that its opinion was superior to the people who wished to hear the arguments, and demanded the thing be shut down.

We’ve been here before. There’s a line in Father Ted about fellas dressed in black going around telling people what to do …

Copyright © 2015 Jason O Mahony All rights reserved. Email: Jason@JasonOMahony.ie.