15 Rules of Irish Politics (Updated)

  1. With certain exceptions (in particular Sinn Fein), the personal vote of a candidate is more important to election victory than their party vote.

  2. Voters decide what matters in elections, not candidates or party activists.

  3. Voters are strongly in favour of new housing in theory. But there are always far more votes to be won opposing a specific proposal to build new housing in an area than supporting it.

  4. Being an Irish legislator is like being a brain surgeon who is employed to carry out brain surgery but whose employment review is decided on how well he maintains a public car park on the other side of the country.

  5. You cannot be lazy and be a successful Irish politician. You can be corrupt, deceitful or stupid but you cannot be lazy.

  6. Irish voters are perfectly happy holding two or more completely contradictory beliefs.

  7. There are no votes in proposing long-term solutions. In fact, there may well be votes lost supporting long-term solutions because some voters want that money spent now. There is a “F**K our children’s children” constituency. 

  8. There is a large number of people involved in Irish politics who have almost no interest in the shaping or direction of Irish society. To them it is simply a job. 

  9. It is possible to have a successful career in Irish politics and never ever have to make an unpopular decision.

  10. Being an Irish citizen gives you more rights than the citizens of any other nation on Earth. Especially in a country where you can cherry-pick the rights you like and have a good chance of brassnecking your way out of obligations you don’t like.

  11. Increased public spending is a religious ritual: there is very little political interest as to whether the money is spent well.

  12. A very substantial number of the Irish have the bizarre belief that American, continental and British taxpayers are eager to pay for public services we don’t wish to pay for ourselves.

  13. Many of the same people who oppose tax cuts nevertheless insist on public sector pay being calculated based on post-tax “take home pay”.

  14. Most Irish voters believe that voters in other constituencies should vote for nationally concerned politicians whilst they need a local champion.

  15. Irish voters are still, after 100 years of independence, very happy with a political system based on “It’s all their fault up there in Dublin”. Unlike the Scots, Quebecois, Catalan and Basques, the Irish are openly hostile to having responsibility devolved into their local hands.

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.


What if…Ireland abolished the Dole?

USSR Soviet Russia Vintage Poster In the name of peace Classic Canvas ...

It was Ireland’s first left-led government that carried out the dirty deed.

To be fair to them, they hadn’t exactly abolished Employment Assistance as much as suspended it during a time of near full employment, and it had been the heretofore socialist minister for housing who had first concluded there was no alternative.
“Here’s the reality,” he told his cabinet colleagues.
“We are in a national housing emergency. We desperately need to boost housing supply. We have the funds, we have the land on which to build. What we don’t have are physical builders. Plumbers, bricklayers, plasters, electricians. Nor can we import them from the rest of Europe because there is nowhere for those workers to live. On top of that, we are losing existing indigenous construction skills to the Von Der Leyen Plan and the rebuilding of Ukraine. In short, we must create more construction skilled people from the existing population. We have successfully recruited from immigrants and we have created large apprenticeships and training programs to meet our needs. What we don’t have are willing bodies. We do, however, have 116,000 on the live register who say they are available for work.”

“You’re suggesting we force people to build houses?” another minister asked incredulously.

The housing minister shrugged.

Continue reading

An Occasional Guide to Irish Politics: The salary scandal.

A bank employee counts Euro notes at Kasikornbank in Bangkok

1. An individual in a public/NGO organisation is discovered to be on a Lotto style pay package.

2. Organisation initially tries to deem this a “private matter”. Is shouted down by public, stampeding backbench TDs and grassroots members.

3. Organisation admits truth. Suggests that no one in organisation can explain how salary came about. Suggestion that it was made by someone conveniently dead is a popular favourite.

4. Basic investigative techniques like inquiring from the bank who authorised the payments, and working backwards, are deemed “inappropriate”, which is one of the great Irish words.

5. The public get cranky over the idea that anyone can earn over €100k, on the basis that “if you pay peanuts you get monkeys rule” obviously does not apply in Ireland. (See Irish financial regulation, 1997-2011)

6. The story goes around and round in circles with the actual answer, who authorised this, never emerging. Public hearings seem to involve more windy grandstanding than actual specific questions.

7. Someone resigns on a Lotto style severance package.

8. The phrase “for legal reasons” (the other great Irish phrase) is bandied about to blur the situation. In a shock outcome, Learned Colleagues make a nice little earner on whole affair.

9. The organisation promises a new “robust” structure for salary/remuneration.

10. Rinse and repeat.

An Occasional Guide to Irish Politics: The Scandal.

A regular re-post, originally written in 2009…

Given the moral failings of the Irish as a race, it is hardly surprising that there is a clear and tested timeline to every scandal which besets Irish society, whether it is moral, political, social or financial. The timeline is as such:

1. Issue emerges. Country particularly mortified at how the British media cover it.

2. Public gasps at details. Sunday papers revel in particularly gory details. Fintan O’Toole writes a pithy piece which explains the cogent details very succinctly, and then drizzles it in extra-virgin head shaking like a nice salad.

3. Opposition call for unspecified action (“Something must be done! We need action!”) or specific action outside the power of the government. (“Bishops must resign! The effect on water of gravity must be reversed!”)

4. Government shakes heads, and promises that said event (Clerical child abuse/flooding/banking corruption/asteroid crashing into the Earth) must never be permitted to happen again, and calls for commission to investigate report of commission which investigated incident.

5. Media, political establishment, voters, realising that they actually play golf/went to school/are second cousin of individuals named in report, start calling for “due process” to be observed, and instead focus on details of events as if they were some abstract natural disaster.

6. The lawyers get involved. People’s right to “their good name”, passing of time, death of witnesses, gums up process of pursuit of actual criminals, drags investigations, trials, etc, in and out of high court for years.

7. Government takes money off people who did not commit these crimes (Taxes), and gives it to victims. The perpetrators contribution is eaten up in legal fees.

8. Some public officials take early retirement, on full pension. Which is pretty much the equivalent of a modest win in the National Lottery. Nobody goes to jail, except maybe a journalist who reveals how this thing is panning out, and is done for contempt of court.

9. In general election, Irish people vote for same people who allowed scandal to occur, on basis that although he/she failed to act to prevent sexual assault of children/building houses underwater, etc, he/she was always “very good for the area.”

10. In 10 years, another commission reports on poor handling of this scandal. Reset to step 1.

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?

The immigration speech I’d like to hear a Taoiseach give.

The full transcript of Leo Varadkar’s St. Patrick’s Day address to the ...“Good evening.

I’m speaking to you on the subject of immigration tonight because I wish to give you a better understanding as to the government’s thinking on the issue.

Let me start by outlining the key issues the government has to consider.

The reality is that a certain amount of controlled immigration is necessary for a modern industrialised country to provide additional workers and skills. We have a labour shortage in this country and need additional people to help create the national wealth which, through taxation, funds our social welfare system, health services and old age pensions.

It’s also true that many Irish people, myself included, believe that our history obliges us to show as much compassion as we can to others fleeing tyranny, war and other hardship.

Having said that, a country only has a limited amount of resources, in terms of money, housing spaces and other public services and so has to balance these competing needs.

A country also has a sovereign right to decide who enters it and what values they must respect. You do not have a right to go to a foreign country and start demanding that they must put their values second.

The wars in Syria, Ukraine and elsewhere have made inward migration a major issue not just for Ireland but the whole of Europe. Indeed, in some cases refugees have been weaponised by countries seeking to weaken the European Union.

It is within that context that the government will seek to pursue the following policies.

First, we will set an annual limit on how many asylum seekers and refugees we will accept every year, with a guarantee that people accepted under limit will receive decent accommodation, care, education and integration in dedicated and purpose-built reception centres.

Those accommodated in these centres will be screened to verify who they are and that they pose no risk to the community at large.

Anyone found to have destroyed documentation prior to seeking asylum will be removed immediately.

Secondly, the centres will also operate as training and education centres to identify and teach skills to permit our new arrivals to work and play their part creating wealth and paying taxes in our country.

Secondly, we must recognise that mass migration is a European-wide problem, and must be addressed at a European level too. Our nearest neighbour, in its attempt to seize control of its own borders outside a European framework, has resulted in it ceding control of its southern border to the French interior minister. I do not propose we join that experiment.

Instead, Ireland will support and contribute towards efforts to create secure EU-run safezones outside the European continent to act as the first point of contact for those seeking to enter Europe.

Such a safezone could also act as a transit point for those individuals who have been removed from member states. I do not propose that these will be mass refugee camps where people will be abandoned, but functioning communities under European control where legal migration into Europe, having passed through a European cultural integration and screening programme may be permitted.

At the heart of such a programme is the core belief that it is Europeans who will decide who comes to live among us.

Finally, let me say that one of the reasons I decided to speak with you directly on this issue is because of the rise, both here and on the mainland, of dangerous far-right elements laced with fascist and neo-nazi tendencies, who see those of different religion, skin colour, ethnic group or other characteristics as not welcome in our society. Indeed, many of these elements are funded or supported by hostile foreign powers.

Let me be clear: I regard such groups as a clear and present danger to our republic and Irish republicanism itself, and will be bringing forth legislation to create a national security intelligence organisation to identify all such threats, foreign and domestic, to our democracy, and with the power and resources to act accordingly in defence of Irish democracy.

I understand that these are controversial proposals which will cause much debate in the country, as they should. I also accept that there are those in the country who will wish to propose alternatives, and that, my fellow Irishmen and women, are what elections are for.

Good night”.


What could an Irish Bill of Right & Obligations look like?

What does it mean to be Irish? It’s hard to use birthplace or bloodlines here because of our 19th century scattering to the winds. That’s also a very old fashioned way of determining nationality. Personally, someone who comes here legally and wishes to subscribe to our broad values can, in my opinion, end up as Irish as I am.
It would certainly help if we had a clear set of duties and entitlements we wish to grant to and expect from our citizens.

With that in mind, I decided to have a first crack at a few clauses of that charter. Feel free to add additions in the comments. 

1. All citizens have the right to freedom of speech, including the right to both offend and be offended. This right does not extend to the deliberate defaming of others through the use of reasonably verified untruths.

2. All citizens have a right to access to healthcare and housing up to a monetary value per individual as decided by the Oireachtas.

3. All citizens have an obligation to seek work commensurate to their needs and capacity, and to pay all taxes levied by the Oireachtas or other bodies authorized by the Oireachtas.

4. All citizens have a right to self defence, and to the use of reasonable force in defence of themselves, others or their property. This article may not be interpreted as granting an individual right to own or bear firearms.

5. The Oireachtas may extend some or all of these rights, or parts thereof, to non-citizens. 


Star Trek Picard: Aftermath.

President Chekov liked working on paper. Well, paper substitute, as they hardly ever manufactured paper by the old methods these days. The report on his desk had been replicated, and when he had finished reading it, his staff would scan any notes he had written on it with his father’s pen, and it would then be recycled. But it looked and felt like paper. His non-human advisors joked at the human love of paper, and the fact that humans still insisted that treaties be formally printed and signed, but even they get a frisson when they viewed the original Coalition of Planets declaration on view in the Pompidou Centre. Jonathan Archer himself once signed that.

The report was slim, the way he liked his reports. Straight facts, short sentences, clear conclusions. Another thing the staff knew to generate. This particular report was very stark. 6124 Starfleet officers had died on Frontier Day. Sol Station had permanently damaged or destroyed 37 ships, including the flagship.

The long-term psychological effects on Starfleet’s young officers continues to be felt, with just over 25% of them resigning or needing intense counselling, as all remember their actions vividly. Starfleet medical noted that whilst it would be possible to wipe the memories of those hours, it was a drastic move, and they couldn’t guarantee it would stay. The last thing you needed was Starfleet officers suddenly having flashbacks to themselves murdering their crewmates. The Troi report had been adamant about that: our young would have to be helped work through their pain.

The Troi report. He chuckled to himself. His dad would have been so proud that it had been the Enterprise that had turned the tide. What was it about that ship, the myth that hung about it? Names mean so much, and Enterprise keeps saving the Federation.

Even the aftermath had Enterprise’s crew taking such a role. Hardly surprising given how many senior officers died, but still. Picard as acting CinC until Janeway recovered from her injuries, Crusher at Medical, Tuvok (who had served under Sulu) at Starfleet Academy, LaForge and Data leading the rebuilding of Sol Station, although he had insisted at the rededication of the station that his assistant, Chief O’Brien, a retired engineer from Dublin (yet another ex-Enterprise crew), had done most of the work. Worf taking over at Section 31.

Section 31. He leaned back in his seat. Like so many in Starfleet and the Council, he was ambivalent about the organisation. Its mere existence was a stain on the ideals of the Federation, and yet in an age of the Tal Shiar and Obsidian Order every president faced the same choice, and concluded the same. To keep the Federation flag flying we needed the men in the shadows.

Not anymore, Chekov concluded. They had failed. They failed to detect Commodore Oh, an actual Romulan as head of Starfleet Intelligence. They failed to detect the first changeling invasion, nor this one. Well, correction, Ambassador Worf and Commander Mussiker had detected it, but their superiors had been compromised. Enough. He was going to bring Section 31 under the Council, and formally appoint Worf and Mussiker as director and deputy director and let them clean house. Picard had insisted that those Starfleet and Federation officials who had tortured the changelings be prosecuted, Chekov agreed. Their trial started in a month.

He found his own thoughts drifting back to the day. The horror as his many of his own bodyguards turned against him. The running battle to get to the bunker. The moment he suddenly remembered the very first thing they had told him when he had been elected by the Council, tapping his Federation lapel badge and the six Emergency Presidential Security Detail Holograms suddenly appearing and whisking him to safety in a hail of phaser fire. It was funny how little things stuck in his brain: how the EPSD all looked like Zimmermann but had the most beautiful thick lustrous hair. But boy had he programmed them well. As a cinema buff one of his favourite movies was the old 20th century classic “Heat”, with its spectacular gun battle scene as bank robbers with automatic weapons systematically fought their way up a street against superior forces. That had been what it had been like, his bodyguards, older ones and the holograms, had cut their way through the enemy (it pained him to think that) with those new phaser assault carbines. Outside he could see French police engaged in furious gun-battles with Borg Starfleet.

He remembered his transmission, when it looked like all was lost. And then the news that the Enterprise D was engaging the Borg over Jupiter. The D? Surely some mistake? Sol Station was holding out. And the Titan, whom Starfleet Command had informed him a day previously had been hijacked by possible changeling infiltrators, was engaging in a battle with the fleet. The Titan?

And then suddenly, it ended. The signal stopped, the assimilation ended as quickly as it started. He remembered his tense call to the Klingon Chancellor who was assembling a fleet to attack, and honestly wanted to know how could he tell if Chekov himself was not a changeling? Chekov agreed to a Klingon fleet coming immediately to Earth to see what was happening form themselves. Worf had helped with that too: the House of Martok was not without allies.

The raid by Starfleet special forces on the installation where the changelings had kept their prisoners. The fact that the Dominion very quietly (again through Worf!) assisted us was kept very quiet.

It had seemed churlish, the idea of a celebration. So many had died, a memorial had to be built to their memory. And yet as the days passed there was a growing demand on Earth for heroes too. The sight of the Enterprise D doing a barrel roll as it thundered down the Champs Elysee is not one Chekov would forget. And Captain Seven, of course. She was already famous as the ex-Borg drone but now, as the ex-Borg drone that had fought the invasion, those in Starfleet Command who had expressed misgivings (and were still alive) had the good sense to keep their mouths shut now, given that Starfleet was now made up of 40% ex-Borg.

The report also pointed out that it had been Starfleet’s Human Resources policy of keeping older families on Sol Station that had allowed the attempted takeover be repelled and the station hold out for so long. Indeed, the crew of Sol Station will be honoured separately, as no one had expected the station to hold out as long as it did. It later emerged that Sol’s defence upgrades had been installed by the former chief of Deep Space Nine (and the Enterprise), that same Irish engineer who helped Laforge rebuild the station. Apparently the Irish government are renaming Dublin Spaceport after him.

He closed the report, and opened the following file, and smiled at the heading. It was an unusual request, especially given the role the ship had played. But he’d consulted with the crew personally, and all saw it as an honour. Another glimpse at the picture of his father on his desk.

He signed it without hesitation: the Federation needed an Enterprise. Names mean everything.