The Government actually want you to vote against their Dublin Mayor proposals for the most cynical reasons possible.

Remember Vote No to Get Seanad Reform?

10 years ago, a very unusual alliance was assembled across the parties in Irish politics. The purpose of the alliance was to pretend they were passionately in favour of reforming Seanad Eireann to make it more democratic.

They issued leaflets, launched online campaigns, discussing ideas for reform at summer schools and debated people earnestly about the need for reform. What was most interesting about them was that up to the moment the Oireachtas passed Enda Kenny’s Seanad abolition bill many of them had spent decades, yes decades, opposing even minor reforms.

They opposed reform for very clear reasons. It was in their own own best interest to preserve the upper house in its current form, as an ejector seat for people who failed to be elected to Dail Eireann, or as a nursery for those aspiring to. But they also knew that  advocating for the status quo would simply not be popular. So overnight they became “reformers”. Sure enough when the referendum came about the proposal to abolish the Seanad was narrowly defeated and many reasonable people would say that it was probably on the basis that the majority of voters believed that they would rather retain the house but in a reformed way.

That was 10 years ago, and you have to ask yourself what happened to all those earnest reformers who promised that a No vote was a vote for reform? Some just laughed and went back to politics as usual. Some keep up the pretence, that reform is needed but there is no “consensus”, a rule which is never applied to Oireachtas salaries, funnily enough.

It was possibly the most cynical election campaign ever in Irish politics, where people who blatantly oppose something shouted for reform in public, despite the fact that they had absolutely no intention ever following through the reforms they advocated.

Until now, with the government’s proposal for a referendum to have an elected mayor for Dublin. Because there are two groups in particular who want to see the proposal defeated: opponents of Fianna Fail/Fine Gael, and…Fianna Fail/Fine Gael.

That’s the awkward reality: most of the people advocating an elected mayor IN PUBLIC are actually against it in private. Like the fake Seanad reformers, they are perfectly happy with the status quo, where councillors get €45k and a year in the spotlight without being held responsible for anything.

But they don’t want to admit it in public, and so spend years debating what would be the perfect form of elected mayor, and bouncing it between citizen assemblies and Oireachtas committees all with the intention of never genuinely pushing it.

Don’t believe me? Look at the half-assed campaigns FF/FG ran for the mayoral campaigns in Limerick, Cork and Waterford. Why did they even pick just those counties? Why not hold a vote in every county on the same day? Because that would have created a national debate, and we would have ended up with a dozen or so countries voting for elected mayors and it would then be a reality. Instead, the three county referendum was neither here nor there, a fig leaf to wave to see how committed they were to reform but not on a national scale.

But the greatest most cynical ploy of the proposed referendum will be that the people who oppose everything FF/FG do will be thinking they’re sticking it to the two parties by voting no, when they are actually voting for the status quo FF/FG and others want. They vote no thinking “fuck the politicians” and in reality voting to preserve the status quo the politicians really want.

Don’t believe me? Look how quickly Seanad reform was abandoned as soon as Seanad abolition was off the table.

Would the Irish elect a credible candidate who openly put parliamentary work ahead of constituency work?

In the 2002 general election the late Jim Mitchell TD was dismissed by the voters of Dublin Central. Mitchell had been first elected in 1977, and had gained a reputation as a solid constituency work, winning working class votes for a party more openly identified as middle class. In the run-up to the 2002 election, Mitchell had moved constituency and lost a lot of his base in a boundary change. It was also true that the election was a disaster for Fine Gael, being their worst electoral result since 1948.

But what was particularly noticeable was that Mitchell had been one of the most high profile politicians in the country as a result of chairing a very visible parliamentary investigation into tax evasion in the banks, which resulted in one bank making a settlement of €90 million with the Revenue.

Following his defeat, Mitchell blamed his own poor health (which took his life later in the year) as a factor in his inability to campaign as hard as he felt was necessary to keep his seat, where he got just over 11% of the first preference vote.

Yet here was a man who had spent the previous two years working in parliament  (and therefore not in his constituency) to recover millions in unpaid taxes, money which could then be spent on public services in Dublin Central and elsewhere. Wouldn’t you think that at least 15%-20% of Dublin Central voters could have rewarded him with their first preference votes for that alone?

Indeed, Irish voters have a history of not only not rewarding politicians who openly challenge corruption (Pat O’Malley, Trevor Sargent) but lavishing votes on openly corrupt ones. We all know of deputies and cllrs who have been caught thieving who were then re-elected.

Which begs the question: is there a vote for a pol who openly pledges to spend their time engaged in parliamentary scrutiny, rather than being a bionic county councillor? The history says no. But on the other hand, has any credible well-known candidate actually run on that platform in recent years?

We have a multi-seat constituency electoral system. It’s not beyond the bounds of the possible that 15-25% of voters in a constituency may not actually want a serious person in the Dail alongside the other super social workers?

Jason’s Diary

I see we are back into “The EU/France is on the verge of collapse” land from the Brexiteers again. A constant reminder that so much of the Brexit project was based on the idea that the EU would collapse once the UK announced its withdrawal, and the failure to do so has become such a source of Brexiteer frustration.


Currently watching “Poker Face” starring Natasha Lyonne on Now TV. Basically an homage to “Colombo” from Rian Johnson, right down to the credits typeface, it’s great fun. Lyonne plays, with great charm, a woman with a gift for telling if someone is lying. And a Jessica Fletcheresque ability to turn up in middle America just as someone gets murdered.


I don’t believe Irish polls.

There’s a poll in today’s Irish Times that says that only a mere 9% of voters want tax cuts, and the vast majority want any government surplus to be spent on public services and infrastructure.
I simply don’t believe that is what Irish voters believe.
I certainly accept that is what they told pollsters, because What Will The Neighbours Say is the core defining ideology in Ireland, and it is simply the done thing in our polite nominally centre left society to say you favour increased public spending over tax reduction.
But do they believe it?
Put it another way: if the Revenue sent out tax rebates cheques to every PAYE worker, with an option to tick a box and return the money back to be spent on public spending, would 91% of cheques come back to the Revenue?
They would in their bollocks.

But what do we REALLY want from government?

One of the issues of modern politics is the question of unfair expectations from voters. Irish politicians are relying more and more on creating a high barrier as to what voters should expect in government, to such a vague and non-metric extent that even if a government delivers on many aspects of service delivery it still leaves a disappointed electorate. Rather than promise “Affordable housing” or “a world-class health service” would it not be better for politicians to promise ultra-specific policy objectives which can be clearly seen to have been delivered or not?

What would those specific measurable promises look like? Here’s a few to ponder.

1. A dole payment of X.
2. A minimum wage of Y.
3. A state pension of Z.
4. Treatment from an A&E doctor, free at point of need, within 90 minutes.
5. A one bedroom apartment between the Dublin canals for a monthly rent not exceeding €800.
6. An appointment with a HSE consultant within eight weeks.
7. A Garda response at your home/business door within 20 minutes.
8. A seniorcare visit once every three days as minimum.

These are off the top of my head, and I’m sure you, dear readers, can come up with more. My point is that all those above are clear identifiable as having being delivered or not by ordinary citizens. Would it be a bad thing if our pols focussed on specific delivery rather than generalised over-emotional guff?

How would a new Pro-Car Party do in the local elections?

Anyone who has read Barack Obama’s autobiography will recall the shenanigans involved in getting him onto the ballot for the Illinois state senate election, as well as the equally vigorous efforts to keep all his opponents off the ballot paper. We don’t appreciate in Ireland how accessible our democracy is: it’s quite easy to get on a ballot paper. It’s also quite easy to register a party for a local election. You just need 100 registered members.

I bring it up as a simple experiment: what would happen if, in the four Dublin counties, a “Dublin Pro-Car Party” was on the ballot. No campaigning, very little money spent, just running a candidate in each of the wards under the party label. As a registered party it would be able to put candidates on the ballot paper without requiring deposits or signatures.

In terms of first preferences it would probably do poorly. But would it pick up transfers due to it unashamedly standing for a position that does not get much overt support despite there being 100s of 1000s of car-owners? Supposing it ran as pro-car park and anti-employee car park tax.

Just a thought.

Star Trek: Picard. A few thoughts. *SPOILER ALERT*

The Epic Series Finale of Star Trek: Picard is Coming to IMAX

I’ve just watched the penultimate episode “Vox” of the final season, and a few thoughts.  And yes, it’s full of spoilers, so you’re warned.

1. The big reveal about the Borg only makes sense if the whole Agnes Borg Queen story line from last season is resolved in the final episode. Which I’m assuming it will be. It has to be.

2. The evil plot with the transporters is very clever. Didn’t see that coming.

3. The actual activation of the plan is quite horrific when you think about it. Thousands of older officers being slaughtered by their own crews. It theoretically should have a huge impact on Star Trek going forward, I mean, who is doing the teaching in Starfleet Academy?

4. It’s Star Trek. We expect the good guys to win next week. But even in the STU we know that the Federation and Starfleet exist 800 years in the future.

5. Why didn’t Ro Laren tell anyone about the transporters? Remember she refused to use them?

6. Isn’t it logical that a load of ST favorites like Janeway will be killed in the massacre? Is Tuvok already dead?

7. Was never a fan of the D. Much prefer the A and the E. But that scene when they walk onto the bridge…

Additional: did the producers make a serious error in not figuring out how popular Shaw would be? Could easily have led a new show as the captain who is a bit of a dick.

Finally, you’d have to ask what is the f**king point of Section 31? They failed to stop two previous Borg attacks, the previous Changeling infiltration of Earth, the previous infiltration conspiracy, and a Romulan fanatic as head of Starfleet Intelligence. They’re basically shite. 


What will a proposed Neutrality Amendment actually say?

The most recent attempt to amend the constitution and insert a neutrality amendment was in March 2022, when the assorted Alphabet Left deputies proposed the 39th amendment. The wording is below, and raises some interesting questions.

3.1° War shall not be declared and the State shall not participate in any war or other armed conflict, nor aid foreign powers in any way in preparation for war or other armed conflict, or conduct of war or other armed conflict, save where it is immediately necessary in defence of the State in the case of actual invasion or armed attack, and with the assent of Dáil Éireann.

3° Ireland is a neutral state. To this end the State shall, in particular, maintain a policy of non-membership of military alliances and shall not allow its territory to be used by other states to transport war material or personnel to third countries for the purpose of war or other armed conflict

4.10° The State shall not adopt a decision taken by the European Council to participate in any war or other armed conflict, nor aid foreign powers in any way in preparation for war or other armed conflict or in the conduct of war or other armed conflict, where such a decision would include the State.

For example, would such an amendment leave the government open to be taken to court for massively underspending on national defence? The proposed amendment above requires the state to “…not allow its territory to be used by other states to transport war material or personnel”. Does that oblige the state to acquire the capability to enforce that constitutional imperative, that is, military radar and interceptor aircraft? Or can we just accept the word of the United States as we do now, which makes the whole thing a waste of time? Or does “the assent of Dail Eireann” provide a get out clause to basically maintain the status that we’re “neutral” (wink wink)?

Does the European Council optout mean that in the event of an actual attack on Ireland the state would not be permitted to support the EU taking action to help Ireland defend itself? That’s certainly a very Irish solution to an Irish problem.

Also, the “immediately necessary” clause is interesting. It’s the equivalent of saying that the state will order a Fire Truck from the manufacturers only when it hears of a house on fire.

What about our relationship with Palestine? If we recognise the state of Palestine, as many on the left wish, doesn’t that mean we have to cease funding the Palestinian state as we cannot aid any foreign power (including Palestine) involved in an armed conflict, Unless of course, it becomes the policy of the Irish state that Israel is not engaged in any sort of hostile act against the Palestinian people, or that Israeli fighters bombing Palestine does not count as “armed conflict” under Irish law.

Which would be a novel interpretation, it has to be said.

Life in the Constitutional States of America.

A political fantasy.

President Cruz looked out of the window of the New White House at the large crowds gathered in front of the building. The executive building, formally known as Mar a Lago had not been an ideal location for the new government of the CSA, but as with so many things, a Trump family tax shenanigan had led to it. The former president had “Gifted” it to the new nation, and the whole area had been designated a Constitutional District and so was now the capital. Somehow, of course, the Trumps had made money out of this, but not one member of the CS Senate had dared point this out. Cruz had read a piece in The Economist which had likened the Trumps to the Thai or Saudi Royal Families as the CSA’s “ruling family”. It wasn’t a million miles from the truth: the former president and now his children still had a bewitching power over voters in the Constitutional Republican primaries, and that was the only way into power in the CSA given that the more liberal urban areas were now gerrymandered and voter-harrassed into ineffectiveness.

The peaceful separation of the United States into the Federal States (mostly blue) and the Constitutional States (mostly red) had been a long and painfully negotiated process following the nightmare of the 2024 presidential election. Minnesota voted by a surprising margin to join the CSA whilst Georgia, Michigan, and North Carolina all surprised pundits by voting to join the “blue US”. The United States continued to exist legally, as a common customs, currency and defence bloc, but within ten years of the “manifest divorce” clear differences were visible, and no more so than in the CSA.

The Govt needs to educate voters. The new Electoral Commission should take up the job.

Last week I had to explain to a grown adult what happens if the government were to give every Irish adult a cash handout to combat rising prices. This was not an unintelligent person, just someone who had never had a reason to formally study economics. But it raised an issue with me: how can our political leaders provide leadership on inflation when possibly a majority of voters do not know what inflation is actually caused by. It’s true, economists are arguing over what is causing inflation from massive central bank printing of cash to Covid/Ukraine impact on supply chains. But one thing is certain: put €1000 cash into every Irish adults hand and price inflation will jump sharply as the extra cash pursues limited supply of product and services thus pushing up prices.
Inflation is just the latest public policy area where the level the public is informed about the issues affects the quality of the debate. I’ve met people who believe TDs pay no taxes and that 50% of the national budget is spent on Oireachtas salaries.

It’s actually 0.14%.

47% is spent just on social welfare and health.

These aren’t party political talking points: they are actual facts whether you’re Sinn Fein or Fine Gael.

A key component of a mature and healthy democracy is a well-informed electorate. It is as important to democratic stability as clean and fair elections. The new Electoral Commission should be tasked (and funded adequately for) with a rolling advertising campaign not only to ensure that voters know where to register and how to vote, and to analyse election results, but also with ensuring all voters are familiar with key non-partisan information they should know when deciding whom to vote for.

Who pays taxes and by how much? Who doesn’t?

How our homeless rates and social welfare payments compare with other comparable countries.

How many of our people live below the poverty line, and what the definition of poverty actually is.

As part of the process, there’s nothing to stop any political party asking that certain verified facts be included in the campaign, within context.

Indeed, parties should even have a right to publicly request that specific facts not be included. 

There are some who will argue that such a task as this is the media’s job, not the state’s. I disagree, in the same way that I disagree with those who say only the private sector should be involved in education.

An educated population is the first line of defence against manipulation by evil forces, and as a result, it is certainly something our taxes should be spent on.