“Now, let’s all try to think very hard”

In the Irish Times Fintan O’Toole highlights the Irish government’s [unwitting? – Ed] “clever campaign to destroy political satire by making it entirely redundant”.

Discussing the distressing incidents of kidnappings of bank staff, [Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern] began to ponder a great mystery: “The question must be asked why is it that we are one of those societies where there is a high proportion of cash in our system? Ourselves and Italy, we understand, are the two countries where there is a lot of cash in comparison with most of the other European countries. And this is something that I think we also have to look at as a nation ourselves.”

Now, let’s all try to think very hard. What could Italy and Ireland have in common that means that there is a “lot of cash” washing around in the system? Is there a papal anathema on cheques and credit transfers? Not that I know of. Are the Irish and Italians similarly obsessed with the fear that they might run out of ready money for ice cream and thus inclined to keep wodges of wonga in the drawer just in case? Hardly.

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  • Mack

    His (Fintan O’Toole’s) argument doesn’t make much sense. Now if he had bemoaned the introduction of stamp duty on credit and debit cards (which heavily discouraged their usage) he might have been able to put forward a sensible argument. Does he really think Irish banks have more cash in their safes so that Sean and Mary citizen can pay off their local councillor? Come on.

  • “What could Italy and Ireland have in common2

    I don’t think Fintan mentioned the Mafia 🙂

  • Mack

    Nevin –

    That’s another reason to dislike this piece, he’s either playing up to lazy stereotypes or he’s overlooked it. Either way not good.

    So how does Ireland compare to other European countries vis a vis Organised Crime?

    Is there an organised crime problem in the UK? Eastern Europe?

    No hard figures seem to be forthcoming, just lazy innuendo from Finners..

  • Amazing, Mack. You mention organised crime in (this part of the) UK and up pops a story on Slugger 🙂

  • Greenflag


    Fintan needs to broaden his brush beyond Ireland to comparisons of Britain with Italy or more specifically the Vatican, and no I don’t mean the long standing ‘double jobbing ‘of the Head of one Church also being to the Head of State ?

    I refer instead to that perceptive Englishman -John Cleese’s discovery (admittedly in the mid 1980’s) that of all the democractic countries in western europe only Britain and the Vatican City did not have some form of proportional representation in its electoral system .

    But Cleese did omit to give the Vatican ‘credit’ for the papacy at least going through the methodology of several votes until one candidate achieves at least 51% or such a plurality as to induce the other candidates to withdraw ? There is no vote at all a t all for the British Monarchy 😉

    As we approach another series of elections some ‘Britons’ can take comfort from the fact that their proximity to the Irish Republic has enabled them to have PR as part of their representative democracy eh ? Oddly enough there are still those who would prefer the old first past the post sytem of democracy which enabled 50 Unionist MP’s to be elected as opposed to 10 Nationalists for a period of half a century . And was’nt that ‘real ‘democracy . Did’nt cause any problems either from what I read 😉

    Cleese is worth watching for any who still don’t get PR including the so called weaknesses and strengths as compared to the FTP . Cleese’s humour gives his ‘lesson’ an extra appeal . The SDP approved the message iirc .

    Neither David Cameron nor Gordon Brown have suggestd that an introduction of PR is even on the cards in the near future .

    I wonder why ?

    In the current economy -cash is king – bricks and mortar are iffy – the stock market is jumpy and the outlook for both the pound and dollar is less than confidence inspiring to any who place more than a paper value on their cash holdings . Maybe some the Irish had a ‘premonition’ . Oh well the Poles had the Papacy , the Germans had the Mark , the British had an Empire and we Irish had green grass and a well fed and numerous clergy and the Italians had the mafia .

    Now all gone and more is going . Unionists should feel comfitted by the fact that they are not the only people ‘losing ‘ their world 😉

    New paradigms on the way -yet again eh ?

  • Greenflag, you may have missed the significance of Cleese’s yellow ganzy [genser in Old Norse, according to a Nordic relative]. Yellow IIRC is the LibDem colour so Johnny is just feeling a wee bit sore 🙂

    PS that FTP should be FPTP 😉 FTP makes you sound like an ignorant Prod.

  • ersehole

    Your Nordic relative may of course be right, though his claim would be disputed in the Channel Islands.


    I find it’s usually spelled gansey, and its Irish version -geansaí- is very common in the Gaeltacht.

    Well, amongst the older folk anyway.

  • Greenflag

    Nevin ,

    Your acronymic correction is noted but I’d say that there are more than enough ignorant prods out there without GF inadvertantly adding to the number;) .

    I plead not guilty to the charge but I’ll give you 9 out of 10 for observing Cleese’s jersey /sweater/geansai as being yellow . I was aware of the political significance -that was David Owen at the end of the clip approving John Cleese’s presentation . A bit dated but the basics re the PR option haven’t changed= as no doubt we’ll see if either the Conservatives or Labour manage to achieve a single party majority with 40% of the vote .

    Cleese in his listing of the European countries which use a form of PR mentioned Eire first -thus I believe prompting listeners at the time to call in and ask him why the Republic of Ireland was’nt mentioned ;)?