Conned

Unnerving. This is a must read in today’s Irish Times.

It was originally printed last week in the German newspaper ‘Süddeutsche Zeitung’. Entitled, ‘Conned’: a German view of Ireland, it gives an insight into the ‘conning’ of Ireland – over several decades – by its political masters with some added comment and footnotes by Derek Scally.

Drawing a line through failures to negotiate an equitable fisheries deal with the EEC in 1973, through Ray Burke and Bertie Aherns giveaway of mineral rights, it identifies that type of attitude in the current #AngloTapes scandal:

The publication of the Anglo Irish Bank telephone calls has revived the outrage. In one extract a banker says: “The strategy is to pull [the government] in, so that they write a big cheque. If they realise the scale of this from the start, they might say it is too expensive for the taxpayer.”
It demonstrated to the Irish public like never before how they were conned ruthlessly by a shameless elite.

It also describes tax-exiling pontificate Bono as resembling a pudgy fly. Which works.

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  • thethoughtfulone

    I suppose that’s one problem with being “neutral”.

    In theory, you don’t have any enemies, but in practice you don’t really have any friends either!

  • DC

    Free State.

  • thethoughtfulone

    Indeed, the irony!

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    If only more governments had the courage of the Icelanders. Stare the thieving bastwiches in the eyes and say “You got us into this mess and, as is our privilege, we are going to rewrite certain laws”. Only alternative might be to invest State funds with the Turf Accountants; Bertie’s advice would be invaluable.

  • Alias

    Three major cons that are no surprise except to those who have been successfully kept in ignorance about them: a few of hundred billion in fishing stock; a few of hundred billion in mineral rights, and a few of hundred billion in guaranteed eurosystem debt. Three major financial ‘cons’ inflicted on the Irish by the Irish. The fourth major con was giving up their territorial claim to a major part of the Island and its natural resources and mineral rights. The fifth con is in the pipeline: the complete removal of the remnants of Irish sovereignty and its replacement with a ‘bi-national’ state where a foreign nation has parity of esteem, parity of nationalism, and parity of sovereignty.

  • Harry Flashman

    Whilst accepting the broad thesis that Irish politicians are a bunch of gombeens and shysters (and passing swiftly over the question as to who elected these politicians, are they like the Catholic Church, some form of alien life that descended on Ireland and took it over without the consent of the Irish?), I have a problem with two of the key elements cited.

    Number one, “we gave away the fish”, well not exactly, the fish was there to be caught by the Irish if they wanted but they didn’t bother. A massive great asset sitting on their doorstep and the Irish fishing fleet a miniscule wee thing while hundreds of thousands left to get jobs piling up bricks in London or Sydney. The Irish couldn’t be bothered catching the fish, they still can’t.

    There’s nothing actually stopping Irish fishing boats catching fish if they want to. They didn’t bother so the Spanish came and caught it instead.

    Secondly, the tiresome phantasmagoria of Irish oil. Since I was a wee nipper I’ve been hearing about how Ireland was just about to become the new Norway. I’m pushing 50 now, remind me, is all that Irish oil flowing ashore yet in great gushing spigots?

    Look if Irish oil was such a steal how come no one is stealing it? How come oil companies are going into Islamist hellholes, the frozen tundra of Alaska and Russia, fracking open Western Canada, building massively complex rigs for the treacherous North Sea in order to squeeze out the oil when apparently it can be picked up for pennies off the pleasant coasts of the Emerald Isle?

    Oil companies may be many things but stupid isn’t one of them.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Hello Harry! “Oil companies may be many things but stupid isn’t one of them.” Not stupid, just as sly and mendacious as the Anglo-Irish bankers! Just like those politicians, the “bunch of gombeens and shysters” who actually manage the whole show on their behalf.

    Yes indeed, the old saw “If you want an Irishman roasted, find another to do the business” has never been truer.

    In my own alter-ego’s time in the sixteenth century such villains were hired by an invading power. Today, they stand for election and when elected become “hired guns” representing Globalisation interests such as the big corporations, the oil companies and ….. first and foremost, themselves!

    Interesting that with all the “austerity” the Aegean is still black with hired and owned Irish yachts cluttering up the ports and discouraging the Russian oil-agarchs. How much of this floats on Public Money?

    But sadly the long awaited Irish oil boom is coming at last! As we approach the end of world oil (all those untapped reserves that we are assured will keep us going for donkey’s years only exist on paper, remember) the Irish paper reserves off Cork and the shale gas in Tyrone Fermanagh and Sligo are one of the few things that will encourage the banksters to speculate, and open their tight purse strings. Consequently, endless wells are being dug everywhere over in Brit land, but no-one mentions the dread words “shale gas” after confirmation that the Great Blackpool Earthquake was actually caused by unknown fissures expanding and a fault shifting.

    It does not mean that any of the oil will actually come ashore, or more than a few years gas will be recoverable without that “ultimate expression in old world heritage and new world luxury” the Lough Erne Golf Resort falling into the lough. But when has the need honest returns for financial investments ever held any potentially well-funded project back from just going for it?

  • Fortlands

    Did they mention a dung-beetle when they made the fly comparison?

  • pauluk

    What a disastrous failure in protecting Irish interests. Those people responsible for basically giving away the wealth of the nation ought to hang their heads in shame. Makes you feel sorry for the country.

    Got a good laugh at one comment, though: “You have to know that we Irish have no experience in confrontation.

  • http://www.secondnature.ie Michael

    It is of purely academic interest to single out a small and new nation for this type of analysis. I’d challenge the authors to point to any example in the capitalist world where the ordinary person has benefited to the detriment of the corporation. No government imposes that on their corporations because the corporations are in fact more powerful and influential and more enduring than any government.

    The elite in Government move in the same circles as the elite in media and the elite in business. They are interchangeable, a revolving door of private board memberships and government roles. A self-interested grouping that knows how to preserve (in large) its own privileged position that is increasingly hard to attain.

    In fact it would be way more interesting to read a treatise of an example where a populace consistently takes decisions in the common interest. Doesn’t happen in Germany as it doesn’t happen in the UK, so why pick out Ireland as an example of where it doesn’t happen either? Iceland did with the banks but remember how they got in the mess and its not like they aren’t fast-forwarding into the same situation with their application to join the Euro.

  • Harry Flashman

    Is Ireland a “new” nation? It has had self-government for almost a century which makes it among the older nations on the planet.

    Much younger nations like South Korea, Singapore, Israel, Taiwan etc with much worse prospects, more adverse geopolitical situations and a hell of a lot fewer natural resources might think Ireland kinda got it easy over the last three quarters of a century and didn’t quite take advantage of the many good cards it was dealt.

    If the excuse is that Ireland needs more time to get used to this independence business then, er, you know, what was all the fuss about a hundred years ago?

  • http://www.secondnature.ie Michael

    Apart from missing the point I was making, who has benefited their “people” more than the elite? Certainly none of the four examples you list.

  • Harry Flashman

    You seemed to imply that we must excuse Ireland’s failure because it is still a new country, still feeling its way as it were, I merely pointed out that Ireland is in the oldest quartile of independent nations on earth and if it still doesn’t feel ready for this self-rule palaver well then, when?

    I would suggest that while no nation is perfect the four nations I mention above, in extremely trying circumstances and against horrendously difficult odds have built more equitable and successful societies for their citizens than Ireland has.

    I was in Singapore last week, an island the size of the Isle of Wyte but with a population bigger than Ireland’s. At independence Singapore had horrific inequality and dreadful slums. I didn’t see anything like Ballymun in Singapore last week.

  • http://www.secondnature.ie Michael

    A cursory research will tell you Singapore has the highest income inequality of the developed world and of course they don’t want you to see slums, that’s why they have an impoverished nation next door where the slums can reside.

    Ireland is a young nation, not just a young democracy. I didn’t say anywhere it wasn’t ready for self-rule palaver, did I? I suggested it is on a learning curve – much as the much older and not covered in glory democracies of the USA and UK who also follow the money men. If anything it unfortunately spent too many years aping its previous masters until it began to find its own feet. It has made nothing like the mess of itself that Israel has presided over for all of its existence.

    Needless to say there is an elite in that country too who govern to the detriment of the majority.

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    What was it that Churchill said about a democratic form of government?

  • Harry Flashman

    Ah yes, Singapore’s slums are in Indonesia, is that it? Sheesh, you’re beginning to flounder badly Michael old son. Yes there is great wealth inequality in Singapore between the comfortably off middle class majority and a small number of fabulously wealthy individuals. There is no poverty in Singapore. Unlike Ireland, a much, much older nation.

    Once again you come up with the absurd statement that Ireland is a “young” nation and democracy. This is demonstrably false, Ireland is one of the oldest recorded nations in Europe and has been a self-governing democracy for longer than 75% of the other nations on the planet.

    But hey give ‘em another couple of hundred years or so and they might be able to build a fair, just, equitable and well governed society.

    Maybe.

  • boondock

    Harry a 2 second google check is all that is needed you seem to have ignored the fact that there is a huge immigarant population and all are not so well off as you seem to believe

    http://sg.news.yahoo.com/blogs/singaporescene/hidden-slums-singapore-revealed-021739643.html

    And why would other slums be in Indonesia when they can be in Malaysia which is wait for it a huge 1km away connected by bridges and in fact they would probably have a quicker trip to singapore than my 2 miles to work into Belfast city centre

  • http://www.secondnature.ie Michael

    Harry, I love your optimism. Only a couple of hundred years? I’d say it will take more than another couple of hundred years for some country in the world to build a fair, just, equitable and well governed society. In fact I’d be even more pessimistic and predict that no nation state will ever achieve that (for a prolonged period) and the only possibility of living it is outside of nation state mechanisms. Rich will always abuse the poor, if not within a country then between countries. The Nordic countries have the best contemporary model but even they are reliant on low immigration, fossil fuels, and imports of materials, three core elements of life that are going to change in the next hundred years, therefore unsustainable.

    I’m sure you don;t but be sure to not fall into the trap of thinking that history is over and that we are at the pinnacle of human civilisation with democracy as we know it as modelled by the great Britons – I’m sure there are plenty of surprises ahead with how we govern ourselves. Bet it looks nothing like Singapore though.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Hello, Mr Joe. “What was it that Churchill said about a democratic form of government?”

    As in so many other things, like fighting Hitler being the way of saving Churchill’s beloved British Empire, Churchill got the 1947 democracy quip half right.

    “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” First half’s right….

    I do not understand how anyone watching the behaviour of the party at Stormont with the biggest single mandate could claim that “Democracy” works. And I’d like a decent working definition of Democracy, perhaps, so I can follow what everyone is trying to say. It very obviously means so many different things to so many different people that every time I hear the word, the old saw “Mother and Apple Pie” come to mind.

  • Harry Flashman

    Oh, I get it, Singapore has slums it’s just that they’re not actually in Singapore, they’re in two neighbouring countries.

    I see.

    By the same token Ireland has the biggest banking and financial services industry in the world. It’s not actually in Ireland you understand it’s in the City of London, but hey, it’s close.

    Ireland also has some fantastic football teams. In Manchester and North London.

  • http://www.secondnature.ie Michael

    Hey Harry

    I think you are finally getting it. The world really is integrated and the money really does cross borders, who’da thought? Keep on that track, follow the money.