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.


Wrote this about 7 years ago, before the 2011 election. A bit of fun about Irish politics. Best enjoyed sitting down with cup of tea and chocolate digestive. 


The negotiations had taken six months, not including the two months of disbelief from the Irish government side at the initial proposal from the Omni-Ai Corporation of Massachusetts. Ten billion Euro. Not dollars, Euro. Five billion up front, and five billion after two years, on the basis that the Irish state complete its contract.

Initially, the Taoiseach said no. The Attorney General had pointed out the constitutional ramifications, and the fact that a referendum would be required, and he doubted the Irish people could be coaxed into voting yes. Yet  five billion in these times of fiscal hardship was a lot of money, and would solve a lot of problems, and stop a lot of people marching on the streets. And when the Taoiseach read the papers supplied by Omni-Ai, it was hard to say that there wouldn’t be a benefit to Ireland, even aside from the cash. There’d be safeguards, of course, and if anything went wrong the country could keep the money, so…

The leaders of the opposition were indignant with outrage, as only Irish opposition leaders can be, but the Taoiseach and his cabinet still saw the benefits, and so the Taoiseach addressed the nation.

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What if…NATO invaded Ireland?

Here’s an awkward reality. Whatever your attitude to neutrality, it’s fair to say that the chances of Russian or Chinese boots on the ground in Ireland is pretty slim. Air incursions yes. Getting bombed? Maybe. Naval meddling with infrastructure in our sovereign seas? Almost certainly happening already.

But actual physical invasion? Very very unlikely. Geography is our greatest weapon in the same way it was the UK’s in May 1940.

Except for NATO forces. The likelihood of NATO forces engaging in an offensive landing here is actually higher.

Consider the following scenario.

The Russians have launched an invasion of Finland and the Baltics. The Third World War has begun, and the United States is mobilising large quantities of personnel and equipment by both air and sea across the Atlantic to bolster its European allies. Ireland declares its neutrality and calls for the United Nations to something something something.

Those reinforcements come under immediate attack from Russian planes and submarines in a new battle of the Atlantic, and NATO commanders announce that the use of the airports of Shannon and Knock are deemed vital to the defence of Europe. The US president speaks directly to the Taoiseach requesting permission to use the airports. It is not the usual fluffy conversation between an Irish leader and an American leader, full of bromides and winks.

The Taoiseach is asked bluntly: will she openly permit, within hours, NATO use of the airports. NATO commits as part of the arrangement to deploy US aircraft to defend Ireland from the definite Russian retaliation.

An emergency vote in the Dail fails.

Within hours, US forces are landing in large numbers in both airports, having been secured by rapidly deployed special forces seizing control of the airport towers. Due to the lack of military radar, the first the Irish government knows of the attack is clips on Twitter and TikTok of US troops on Irish soil.

The Irish army is deployed a day later, with clear instructions not to engage US troops, and leaving a wide zone around both facilities. The US general in command invites his Irish counterpart to a hearty breakfast in Shannon to agree rules of engagement and ensure there are no misunderstandings. The Irish government also agrees that the occupying forces can source food and other products from local suppliers. The US agrees to pay all Shannon and Knock employees to stay at home.

Large numbers of left wing protestors turn up, and are warned by Irish security forces that once they cross into the “control zone” they cannot be protected, and US forces may use deadly force against them. They protest the US invasion, and charge the perimeter, but are repelled by non-lethal microwave weapons which cause great discomfort. Solicitors letters fly towards the US military like HIMARS projectiles.

The Russian government condemns the Irish government for permitting the invasion under the cover of sham neutrality.

“Why did Ireland, one of the richest countries on Earth, not detect the incoming US planes with its military radar and shoot down the planes with its fighter planes? Why are Irish forces not fighting right now to liberate occupied territory from NATO forces? Why are the Irish not defending Irish neutrality? A mere 5000 US troops are occupying a country of 5 million people? Well, Russia will strike in defence of Irish neutrality if the puppet government in Dublin will not.” The Russian ambassador declares.

A number of Russian bombers attack Ireland, with a large number shot down by US and RAF fighters, but with bombs landing in both Shannon and Knock, killing 50 people, both US and Irish.

Two Irish MEPs support the Russian “liberation”.

As hostilities draw to a close in Europe following the Russian defeat and withdrawal, the US announces that NATO forces will withdraw from Ireland shortly, and that the US will fund repairs to both airports.

Local suppliers and politicians call on the Dublin government to lobby Washington to prevent withdrawal, as local businesses have become used to the US military spend.

Continuing the great Irish tradition of elected Irish politicians passionately discussing areas outside their actual area of direct responsibility, Clare County Council passes a motion for Clare to join NATO. Dublin City Council writes to Cuba seeking Cuban forces to intervene.

Holding all the cards: the post-border poll Ireland/UK negotiations

Who Lives at 10 Downing Street? - WorldAtlasThe near future. Three weeks ago, Northern Ireland voted narrowly to join the republic. Today the negotiations begin…

Ireland: I’m sorry?

UK: The Northern Ireland share of the UK national debt. We’ve calculated it at…

Ireland: we’re not paying for that. We didn’t run that up.

UK: But we built roads, schools, the NHS…

Ireland: not our problem.

UK: I see. OK. Well, we were going to give a deduction for plant depreciation, etc, but we’ll just take it, and write it off against the debt.

Ireland: Plant?

UK: Yes. Ambulances, MRI machines, some of those special hospital beds are pricey. PSNI vehicles, fire brigade vehicles, air traffic control systems, computers, obviously the software systems…

Ireland: You’re taking all the equipment?

UK: As you said, it’s our debt. We paid for it all. Fortunately it’s all NHS England compatible. The rest we can sell on the open market. Now, the pension liability. We’re happy to deduct National Insurance contributions…

Ireland: Pensions? That’s your responsibility.

UK: Yes, we’ll deduct all the NI payments UK citizens in Northern Ireland paid in from the overall liability. It’s only fair.

Ireland: No, the UK will have to pay the total existing liability.

UK: No. 

Ireland: I’m sorry, but this is not up for negotiation.

UK: We are not paying Northern Ireland’s total pension liability.

Ireland: We’ll take you to court. 

UK: Sure. But that’ll take years. Your pensioners will want their pensions next week.

Ireland: They’re your pensioners!

UK: As of three weeks ago, they’re your pensioners. And by the way, how are you going to pay them?

Ireland: With the software, of course.

UK: What software?

Ireland: Very clever. You’ll abandon loyalist and unionist pensioners?

UK: No. the rich ones will move to England. The poor ones won’t be able to afford to. You can keep them. I’m sure the Garda Siochana can handle them when they kick off demanding their pensions. On the streets of your East Belfast. Unless you want to reopen the national debt question, of course…



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 would an Irish right-wing party manifesto look like?

Supposing we had a party unashamedly to the right of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael. Here’s a random selection of what-ifs…

1. The on-site arrest, detaining and charging of those attempting to enter Ireland by destroying their travel documents?

2. The setting of an annual limit of refugees Ireland will take in and shelter to recognised UN standards.

3. Setting an 18 month limit on receipt of Jobseekers Allowance during a period where unemployment is below 5%.

4. The introduction of 8 hour on-street summary detention by Gardai, as issued by two Gardai and recorded on bodycam.

5. The reduction of NGO funding to no more than three organisations per designated sector, with open Oireachtas hearings on each organisation funding application.

6. The right to self-defence to be inserted into the constitution.

7. The right of the Dail to increase a prison sentence by 20% on a two-thirds vote to be inserted into the constitution.

8. A dedicated Garda investigative team and public prosecutor to be appointed to specifically prosecute insurance fraud, with the prosecutor to present a progress report to the Oireachtas annually.

9. A fast-track legal mechanism to allow individuals to take effective possession and renovate abandoned properties, with prescribed compensation and penalties for legal owners if they emerge later.

10. A referendum to insert into the constitution  that no action taken by any paramilitary organisation was taken in the name of the Irish people.

11. A referendum to abolish Seanad Eireann.

What do we mean by Social Conservatism anyway?

How did you vote in the referendum on the death penalty?

Referendum on the death penalty, you ask? We didn’t have any referendum on the death penalty!

Yes, we did. In June 2001 we voted by 62% to insert a ban on capital punishment into the constitution, and the fact that we have collectively forgotten about it tells you how radically Irish society has changed its view on the issue. In the 1983 Magill book of Irish politics the late Niall Andrews TD is described as being on the liberal wing of Fianna Fail because he was against hanging. It’s easy to forget that within our lifetime we have moved as a society from a point where the state having the power to execute Irish citizens was not only legal, but was a mainstream view held by a substantial section of society.

I raise the issue today within the context of what some speculate as a resurgence in social conservatism. It’s a catch-all phrase which is, I think inaccurately, used to label many citizens who have challenged particular viewpoints, and to label that challenge as somehow anti-progressive. It’s also a very unattractive label, in that it attempts to attach huge amounts of baggage to anyone challenging certain positions. We’ve all heard it:

“I believe in X”

“Well, I agree with you on about 75% of that”

“So you want to round up all those X and put them in Nazi death camps, do you?”

The issue of sex education is one which has come to the public fore once again. I’m old enough to remember when teaching kids about basic sex and contraception was controversial, and I was very much on the liberal side of the argument.

The current debate raises two valid points: 1) what age is appropriate to be teaching very sexually explicit information, and 2) should we be doing it at all?

I can see both sides. Parents appalled at what is being shown to their children. But also the reality that in a digitally-connected age we have young children (especially boys) being exposed to a pornified version of sex and relationships which will not help them or society.

This issue needs a rational and calm discussion, and not the heated hysteria of calling each others groomers or 1980s social conservatives. But we also have to be careful of the US model, where small but highly motivated groups of political activists hijack a process and twist the system to suit their own agenda.

The Man Who Does Political Anger As An End In Itself.

At the most extreme end, he’s his own worst enemy. He can sometimes make a valid point, but always destroys it by getting nasty and personal. C**t is a big one. He just can’t help himself. Scroll down his timeline and take out the personal attacks, and see what’s left. Very little. Hating has become a way of life. He wakes up to the blurt of the name of whatever politician he hates, and can’t stop from there. Even if that politician does or says something good, he has to find a flaw, from accusing them of not believing what they’re saying to dragging up an historical crime. No one on the other side can ever be forgiven. No one can ever change their mind. Even an admission of error, or an apology, is to be banked as a weakness to be exploited. It is, it has to be said, a wonderfully simple way of living a life. No self doubt, no internal monologue. A nice simple They Are Wrong We Are Right always.

He demands instant dismissal by employers of those he does not agree with. Having said that, he does become incredibly subtle about the nuances of employment protection law if his own position comes up for debate.

Ireland goes to war? A hypothetical scenario.

NATO tanksOriginally written in 2015.

1st 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.

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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.