An Occasional Guide to Irish Life: The couple who argue in public.

We all pretend to be horrified, but have a good goo anyway.

We all pretend to be horrified, but have a good goo anyway.

They’re a treat, aren’t they? They tend to come in two varieties. First, there’s the “F**k you and your whore!” couple, normally fuelled with plenty of drink, where she doesn’t care who knows it, roaring at him about his infidelities and, occasionally, sexual inadequacies. All around the pub, conversations pause not in embarrassment but in an attempt to earwig on this juicy slice of life. He doesn’t put up much of a defence, normally deciding to build a defensive position around a single statement (“But I rang you! I rang you!”) which he believes absolves him of responsibility, or alternatively, he goes on the attack with a minor point that he attempts to magnify (“I saw the way you were lookin’ at him! I saw yez!”). It normally ends with him storming out because “his head is melted” and her realisation that the whole pub has been watching Eastenders: The Live Show. She then attempts to restore a few grammes of dignity by improved posture, walking back to the bar holding her alcopop like she’s a debutante at the Savoy. Kate Midleteon in leopardskin.

Then there’s the middle class couple, who manage the marvellous two-hander of being vicious to each other whilst on no account causing a scene. You’ll see them in professional workplaces, hospitals  or law firms, standing in a corner. He’ll be looking coldly at her, wishing death, she’ll be hissing through gritted teeth. A colleague will pass, and both smile and nod, perhaps  a playful remark, and then back to it. He’ll have an affair with one of the office juniors, her with his best friend.

They’ll stay together, however, for the good of the mortgage, or at least until David McWilliams says that property prices are rebounding.

An Occasional Guide to Irish Life: The Hot Mom and the Mortified Daughter.

She's all cougary without even trying. It’s not like it isn’t hard enough, being in one’s mid-teens, struggling to deal with raging hormones and physical changes and whether that boy you like actually likes you. Then SHE enters into the mix. My God, she’s in her forties! That’s nearly a hundred! Yet she dresses to show off her curves and legs and don’t even get started on that cleavage. For God’s sake Mum, put them away! No one wants to see them! Except they do, and that’s the problem. Not just the old farts hanging around the bar in The Lep Inn who watch her off every reflective surface and nearly cry into their pints. But the young guys too, including the ones she fancies! SHE always insists on coming over to the table with her and her friends, and even though the talk is always about school and how the rugby is going, the daughter can see the effect her mum has on the boys. They can barely speak to her, some reddening in the face, shifting uneasily in their seats, all struggling to keep eye contact with her and not drift southwards.

The daughter sighs, and hopes that what ever it is that allows her mother to send boys into a frenzy with a single arched and well manicured eyebrow is hereditary.

An Occasional Guide to Modern Life: The Deceased Former Lover.

She got a shock when she stumbled across the news on Facebook. Just a string of random comments and offers of sympathy to his family from friends, some of whom she had known. She was surprised at her own reaction. It had been years, and many relationships ago, and to be honest, she couldn’t remember the last time she had given him a thought. Yet today the memories were strong. The relationship had petered out, two people who hadn’t fought or cheated or disagreed, but just concluded that it was going nowhere. They’d kept in touch for a little while, sent the odd birthday text, just moved away from each other. Now, she’d never bump into him again, see him across a street, maybe even pretend not to see him, none of that would ever happen.

There was a moment when he really mattered to her, a torn strip in her life where he just might have been someone very important to her, or had the potential to be. He’d not been perfect, and was just a little too self obsessed for her liking, but he’d been kind too, and he had always made her laugh. They’d had their own in-jokes, their own words and phrases that meant something just to them. At night, in bed together, she had felt safe, and when she felt cold she knew she could just move close and snuggle against him and his arms would come around her and keep her warm. They’d joked about just how warm he was in bed, a human hot water bottle, she’d said. Now, that heat was gone forever.

A Guide to Modern Life: The Older Woman With The Younger Lover.

There’s no denying she’s in her fifties. Maybe early, maybe late, but the lines are there. She’s kept her figure, tall and slim and her legs still pass muster below a certain hemline. Even when she was younger, and was very attractive, she still kept her legs in the Hint Of Things To Come category as opposed to wearing a belt as mini-skirt. She wears glasses now, which she prefers to contacts, and keeps her long brown hair in a ponytail. In her stewardess uniform she has an effect on men, and she knows it.

What her body loses with age she recognises she has gained with life experience. The ability to lock eyes with a younger man, perhaps one of her passengers, forcing him to break eye contact and more often than not blush, that always makes her smile.

Since her divorce, her last three lovers have been younger than her. Lovers, not boyfriends, she hasn’t time for that, the only man in her life being her twenty two year old son in college. Nor is she really interested in men her own age, with their jowls, bulging stomachs and insecurities.

There was the very handsome, almost rugged photojournalist in his late thirties who sat opposite her on the flight from Hong Kong. She’d pretend not to see his eyes running over her for most of the flight, but then watched him, never breaking her look. An hour before landing he was stuttering in the galley giving her his mobile number.

Her most recent was her son’s best friend, who called over to borrow something while her son was away travelling in South America. She had consumed a few glasses of wine, and had always had a soft spot for the beautiful young rugby player. She’d known that he’d always fancied her, an ongoing joke amongst her son’s circle of friends which she’d found flattering.

He’d stayed, taken her offer of wine and let her make him some supper. They’d then watched a DVD, and she had undressed him completely and taken him to her bed. They’d been lovers for three months, him calling around or both taking a weekend away. He’d fallen hopelessly in love with her, and had sobbed uncontrollably as she had broken up with him as college returned. He’d even pleaded with her to marry him, which she could have laughed at cruelly but didn’t, cradling his head in her chest and running her fingers through his hair, in that moment more caring mother than sexual partner. It was for the best, she wanted him to go back to college and live the life of a handsome young man.

She would, with her son, attend his wedding six years later, where he would with a simple glance from the wedding table thank her silently. Her eyes were always her best feature, she thought.

An Occasional Guide to Irish Politics: The Far-Right Patriot.

He is a warrior, only not with a shield and sword but an iPhone through which he confronts the globalist establishment and their (taps nose) paymasters.

He’s a great man for shouting abuse at Guards, calling them names and helpfully suggesting alternative uses of Garda resources. Everyone who disagrees is corrupt and has been paid off.

The first thing he thinks of every morning is Klaus Schwab, which is funny because Klaus Schwab doesn’t think of him at all.

None of his fellow patriots ever seem to notice how he always has money to throw around, or how the Guards always seem to be informed about their events. That’s because they don’t know he’s been a Garda informer since April 2019. That moment where he was accidentally outed by a Guard at a protest was clumsily edited out, but he got away with it.
The big mouth doth protests too much.

European Army? Might as well ask for a unicorn whilst you’re at it.

The Times ScreenshotPreviously published in The Times Ireland edition in 2016.

Twitter lit up last week, as it is wont to do, over the news that Hungary and the Czech Republic have called for a European army. Sorry, when I say Twitter, I don’t mean the 80% of Twitter that knows what a Kardashian is, nor the 18% that knows what a Cardassian is, but the 0.2% that worries about stuff like European defence. And that’s being generous.

For the political nerd and certain dog-whistling newspapers of the hard right in Britain, a European Army is a cross between the Loch Ness monster, a yeti, and a credible explanation as to what the hell the TV series “Lost” was actually about. It’s elusive, fascinating, and guaranteed to stir up heated debate on all sides of the argument. It allows our now departing British friends to put on a quite spectacular display of political schizophrenia, going from “Vote Leave because the rest of Europe wants a European army” to “See! Now we have left we can’t veto that crowd creating a European army! We told you!”

In other words, something for pretty much every voice inside the head of your average UKIP member.

From the Irish perspective, we get to do the usual “Down with war, up with peace” thing whilst ignoring the fact that if we hid any further behind NATO we’d all be living off the coast of San Diego. Not to worry: the last time we liberated a beach it was in Wexford for Steven Spielberg. The rest of Europe has never regarded us as one of the “we stand with you” nations. We’re more of a John Hurt in “The Field” operation, stealing ham from a sandwich and then protesting that we didn’t do anything. We don’t conquer other people, we don’t defend them. Nothing to do with us.   

Which is fine, there’s something in the European army debate for everyone as long as you accept the fact that discussing “Lost” is more likely to lead to a satisfactory conclusion than a European army debate ever will.

The Hungarians and Czechs were responding to an initiative by Federica Mogherini, the EU’s High Representative (the title refers to her status, by the way, not any state of narcotic substance use) to begin work on EU military structures. Now, if talks and initiatives about European defence actually counted as military capability, Europe would have the equivalent of a Death Star hovering over the Kremlin. But they don’t. The reality is that all Europe really does is talk about defence and design new logos for yet more defence bodies to talk about defence. But if a couple of thousand tonnes of Russian steel came lumbering over the Finnish or Estonian border, those European defence initiatives wouldn’t count for squat.

Well, maybe that is slightly unfair. The European Defence Agency does quietly work away on those technical things that matter, like research into drones and trying to get Europe some sort of coordinated air transport capability. But the actual shooting at Russians as they fight their way through the streets of Talinn? That’s NATO or to be honest, the Americans we’re relying on, which, whilst watching The Big Giant Loud Blonde Head running for the White House should really make us take this whole defence thing much more seriously.

The primary reason we won’t see a European army anytime soon is because nobody is really willing to die for Estonia, other than maybe Estonians and their near neighbours. Create and fund (there’s the tricky bit) a standalone volunteer European army, made up not of Irish or German soldiers but European soldiers who just happen to be Irish or German, and that might be a different story, but that isn’t going to happen any day soon. We can’t even get Europeans to agree on taxing companies we all say we want to tax.  

If you want to know why all this latest guff won’t lead to anything tangible, consider this:

There is currently in existence a detailed plan to create a European army.

It’s a very detailed plan which proposes the creation of a common European army, funded from a common budget.  It lists out how many interceptor fighters should be in each squadron. It permits the European Defence Forces to recruit in the member states. It allows for conscription of males between certain ages. It bars member states from recruiting for national forces except in very limited circumstances, mostly to do with defending overseas territories.

It is so detailed, in fact, that it even has a section on the tax arrangements of military canteens and restaurants.  

In short, it has all the things Sinn Fein, the Daily Mail and the alphabet left warned you about. As someone who supports a common European defence, I got giddy with excitement as I read it, and even more excited when I realised it had been agreed to by German, French, Italian, Dutch and Belgian ministers, who had even drafted a treaty to implement it.

I mean, a treaty! How more serious can you be?

Any day now, right?

The proposal was called the Pleven plan, and was announced in 1952, finally being rejected by the French National Assembly in 1954. Sixty two years ago.  

European Army? Yeah, right.

What if…The UK elected a genuine hard right Tory government.

The Prime Minister, Sir Keir Starmer MP, leaving Downing Street having announced his resignation.

The Prime Minister, Sir Keir Starmer MP, leaving Downing Street having announced his resignation.

The exit poll turned out to be accurate when it predicted that Sir Keir Starmer was going to be a one-term prime minister. The Labour vote had collapsed to the late twenties, with the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats hoovering up the disgruntled voters of the “Keirslide” of 2024. The Tories, with 36% of the vote, were back with a 60 seat majority, wiping out among others the 150 Labour MPs who had five years previously wiped out 150 Tory MPs.

The new Conservative leader had come out of nowhere, sweeping aside the Bravermans and Mordaunts with his telegenic looks and a set of policies that would have gotten one expelled from the party 15 years previously. He was Marmite from the word go, his posh diction carrying positions once unacceptable in polite company. Almost immediate a third of the country adored him, and a third hated him with a passion. Jude Law with Nigel Farage’s beliefs.

He moved quickly, bringing not just one but two former PMs back into the cabinet, as Foreign Secretary and Defence Secretary specifically. He also immediately announced the UK’s withdrawal from the Treaty of Dublin which had been the cornerstone of the Starmer administration re-engagement with Europe. Rejoining the customs union in all but name, and quietly rejoining many EU programmes was now, once again, suspended with the stroke of a pen. “They need us more than we need them, etc, etc”.

There was no doddering around. A stack of ready to go bills were on the order paper in days.

The Deep State Expulsion Act allowed ministers to appoint their own Permanent Secretaries from outside the civil service.

The Fairness in Broadcasting Act guaranteed freedom of speech to all broadcasters within libel constraints, and abolished OFCOM. It also permitted paid political advertising on all forms of broadcasting. All restrictions on political donations were abolished, and all taxpayer funding of political parties and campaigning organisations was scrapped.

A judicial reform bill allowed for the appointment by the Home Secretary of hundreds of new judges “more in tune with modern thinking” and a very generous but time-limited retirement package was offered to existing judges. Many took it up.

A bill to hold a referendum on the restoration of the death penalty was rushed through, as was a Parliament Act to remove the ability of the House of Lords to do anything but hiss at legislation passed by the Commons. Owen Jones MP, the new Green MP for Bristol, was quick to point out that the upper house was now simply a members club for big party donors that just happened to be attached to parliament.

The new PM announced that all local and regional elections would be held on a single “Mid-Term” election day and that all forms of proportional representation would be scrapped. When this was pointed out that it would lead to a massive SNP landslide in Scotland, he shrugged.

But the most controversial bill was the NHS Reform Act which moved every single NHS trust and asset into a public company, the shares of which were then shared out to every adult in the country.

Over a million people marched against the bill, and polls showed 70% of voters were against the proposal, but the prime minister was adamant. He was not “privatising” the NHS. Yes, the shares would be listed on the London Stock Exchange, but they’d only be available to trade if the ordinary British citizens who now held the share certificates chose to sell them. He had made it a a truly public-owned health service. “I shall be keeping my shares. But if ordinary Brits choose to sell theirs, it’s them privatising the NHS, not me.”

As soon as members of the public used the handy phone app to offer their shares for sale, there was a stampede, and by close of business on the first day 80% of the shares had been sold. The protests started to peter out.

Keir Starmer the former prime minister, who had specifically blocked any electoral reform that would required a British government to win the support of at least 50% of the electorate, was physically attacked so many times that he had to withdraw from public appearances. The new PM offered publicly to give Sir Keir bodyguards to protect him from “his former supporters”.

The Mid-Term elections were dominated by the Death Penalty referendum which saw a huge Brexit-style increase in turnout in traditional low-vote areas, and boosted the Conservative vote share to 40% and a landslide win against the splintered opposition’s 60% share of the vote. The referendum passed 52%- 48%.

The new PM, along with his blonde principle-flexible foreign minister then surprised everyone by flying to Moscow to meet the elderly Russian tyrant, and announced that it was time for Europe to reintegrate the Russia of the Bolshoi, Tolstoy and traditional Christian values back into the continent, and that the now low intensity war in Ukraine be brought to a negotiated end.

The prime minister told Steve Bannon’s Patriot News Network in an exclusive interview that he would be withdrawing the UK from the Treaty of Warsaw negotiated by Starmer which had created an Anglo-Polish led defence alliance in Eastern Europe, and confirmed that it was his belief that the maintaining of UK forces near the Russian frontier did little to “contribute to trust” and that he’d be withdrawing them.

“Pouring more weapons into this conflict is not the way to go,” the new foreign secretary said without a glimmer of shame.

The Russian dictator smiled on approvingly.

An Occasional Guide to Irish Politics: The Politics Free Candidate.

Two types of candidate dominate modern Irish politics. The first is the crook, who is actually in it for the cash. The money is good, and if he plays his cards right, there could be an opportunity for more.

Then there’s that curious creature: The politics free candidate. The enigma wrapped in a puzzle wrapped in a ballot paper. The man or woman who goes into politics even though they aren’t actually that interested in politics in the first place? Surely the same as the first type, you say? Curiously, no. They get the good money, but often they spend much of it getting reelected. They aren’t particularly corrupt, so what are they in it for?

Sometimes it’s family. The father was a TD or councillor, and so they will be. It’s what they do. But ask them where they stand on elected mayors, or a carbon or property tax, or neutrality, and they’ll look at you with the face that says “Why are you asking me this? Why don’t you ask someone in authority?” In short, they tend to not actually have any opinion on the issue. Many of them become cabinet ministers, and still, on day one, arrive in their new departments not with the thought “Finally! Now I can do something about X!” but instead tell their secretary general to keep on doing “Whatever the last fella was doing.” The party tells them what they believe, they memorise the talking points, and you see them three weeks later on The Frontline blankly declaring that loading Jews up on to trucks for “evacuation” is a perfectly reasonable policy.  Not because they are bigots or intolerant, but because that was what it said on the piece of paper.

But here’s the thing: Never mind them. To them, it’s a 9 to 5 job, a means of paying the bills. Ask yourself: Who are the f**kwits who vote for them? Who are the people so devoid of any idea as to what they would like their society to look like that they vote for these guys, the equivalent of a jug of tepid room temperature water, because iced water would be leaning too much to one side of the water temperature issue?

See  them? We should be rounding them up on trucks.

Ireland 2035: Gardai protest growth of Private Police.

Galway 2035.

Garda unions have lodged a formal protest with the Mayor of Galway following the decision of the City Council to outsource public order duties to National Police Service of Ireland Ltd. Under the decision of the council, the Garda Siochana will no longer be responsible for non-national security policy in the boundaries of Galway city. This has followed a three-year trial period where the NPSI policed the city alongside the Gardai, as they were entitled to do under the 2014 Private Security Act.

Addressing a press conference, the mayor stoutly defended his policy: “The reality is that, after three years patrolling public areas, dealing with tourist crime, public order and safety issues, our polling has shown that the people of Galway overwhelmingly preferred dealing with the NPSI over the Gardai. They found them more responsive, more courteous, more professional, and the fact is, they are better at solving crimes than the Gardai.” The Garda unions complained that NPSI have more resources than the Gardai, a claim disputed by the mayor. “Since the government devolved policing budgets to the county councils, we found that the cost of putting a single Garda on patrol, when you weigh in salary costs, pension and early retirement, is the same as two and a half PSNI officers. NPSI officers tend to be younger, fitter, better trained and have more modern equipment than the Gardai, because their budget is not overwhelmingly spent on pay. Galway just cannot afford the Gardai anymore.”

The Director of Public Prosecutions was criticised by Garda unions earlier in the year when an email from within her office admitted that NPSI’s in-house  unit of barristers supervising investigations had meant that NPSI files tended to be far better prepared and generally stronger cases than those submitted by Gardai. Garda unions demanded more resources. The email stated: “It should be noted that NPSI cases tend to be founded on presentation of forensic evidence, CCTV footage and corroborative statements to a much greater degree than Garda files, which rely overwhelmingly on confessions by an alleged guilty individual. There are also far more cases submitted, per head of population, by the NPSI than by the Gardai. It would seem that the NPSI seem to “see” more crimes committed than the Gardai. Having said that, the Gardai continue to lead the NPSI on road traffic violation charges, particularly during good weather.”

The decision follows six years of legal battles, where Garda unions attempted to force the DPP not to accept files prepared by the NPSI, claiming that as a private organisation it could be corrupted. Previously, the court had ruled that the DPP had to consider properly prepared documents indicating that a crime had been committed, regardless of their source. The case memorably collapsed in the High Court last year when former FBI agents, brought in as consultants by NPSI, conclusively proved that not only were investigation standards in the NPSI higher than the Gardai, but that anti-corruption measures within the NPSI were far stronger than in the Gardai. A further embarrassment was caused when the Garda Ombudsman, charged with regulating the NPSI, admitted that the NPSI cooperated with her office to a far greater degree than the Garda authorities did. Garda unions demanded more resources.

Ireland 2035: Surprise Yes vote on Wexford Nuclear Plant.

Wexford 2035.

Despite a series of opinion polls predicting defeat by a 10 point margin, Wexford County today voted by 57.1% in favour of the ESB proposal to build a nuclear power plant at Carnsore Point. Leaders of the NO campaign were quick to condemn the result, pointing out that the voters had been bribed by the Community Gain package that had been promised by the government if the proposal was ratified by the voters of the county.

Under the package, every existing home will be entitled to a a tax free lump sum of €5000 each year, as a recognition of the county’s willingness to “bear the burden” of hosting the nation’s sole nuclear power plant. It is hoped that the scheme, which will last for 20 years, and cost the ESB approximately €28 million per annum, will protect property prices in the county.

The leader of the NO campaign, Sebastian Wilcox-Smyth, speaking from his home in Dalkey, said that the people of Wexford had no right to impose nuclear power on the “ordinary people”, and would be taking the matter to the High Court. Wilcox-Smyth was involved in a controversy during the campaign when it emerged that his group, People Before Everything, had previously campaigned against the building of wind farms near anywhere “where human beings dwell.” The YES campaign suggested building them on Mars.