Cowen: “They might be ready for an election, but they are not ready for government”

One of the biggest questions being asked by the twitizens of the Irish Twitterverse on the day of the Donegal South West bye election was ‘how could 21% of the population vote for Fianna Fail?’… Well, if you have 45 minutes to spare, it’s worth it to watch the Taoiseach in action at Castlefin pumping up the troops… It’s extraordinary to watch a man who is usually so buttoned up and carapaced when dealing with the press lamming into all and sundry … Read more

“for the promoting of Experimentall Philosophy” – Redux

On Wednesday 28th November 1660 twelve men met at Gresham College in London following a lecture there, and constituted themselves into an association “for the promoting of Experimentall Philosophy”.  Among them was “Mr Boyle”, likely Robert Boyle, son of the first Earl of Cork, born at Lismore Castle, Co. Waterford, on 25 January 1627, and employer, co-experimenter and friend of Robert Hooke. The Royal Society was born – although the first Royal Charter for the Society was not granted until 1662, with a … Read more

The Murphy Report One Year On and the State of the Irish Catholic Church: Does it Matter?

The one year anniversary of the Murphy Report was 26 November. It’s been a year of almost unremitting crisis for the Irish Catholic Church, as revelations about the scale of sexual abuse in the church – and the collusion of church and state authorities to keep it behind closed doors – have shocked almost everyone on this island. This year has seen a stream of stories in the media about particular cases. These have included: The dismay of victims and … Read more

Picamp: Challenging and new conversations…

So what was PIcamp all about? Well the idea behind is pretty straightforward. It’s based on the understanding that meaningful change happens iteratively, in small steps and not through large scale revolutions. We began this year’s events in Edinburgh, because one of the things that Scotland and Northern Ireland share is a lack of capacity with parties and government to come up with new ideas to deal with new problems. The internet may not be able supply the answers to … Read more

IRISH TAXPAYER (Séan): “I am really furious right now, Helmut…”

As I mentioned yesterday, the markets were distinctly unimpressed with the details of Ireland’s bail-out.  The Irish Times today notes that Although banking stocks rose yesterday, global stock markets closed lower as markets failed to be convinced that the €85 billion package for Ireland would solve the euro zone debt crisis. EU economic and monetary affairs commissioner Olli Rehn said yesterday that Spain may need further austerity measures to reduce its deficit if growth was lower than forecast next year. And the paper … Read more

ICLVR: “The results positively indicate that the remains are those of Mr Gerard Evans”

The BBC reports that the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims Remains [ICLVR] have confirmed that the body found after a targeted search of bogland in County Louth in October is that of Gerard Evans, who was abducted, murdered and secretly buried in 1979.  No organisation has admitted responsibility for his murder.  But some have unreliable memories… Louth is, of course, the constituency where the [soon-to-be] former International Representative for west Belfast is hoping to be elected. Pete Baker

Ireland can’t afford to bail out European banks

I think this point is worth highlighting more clearly. Below – Simon Johnson ex-CEO of the IMF – on who is owed money by the Irish banks German banks are owed $139 billion, which is 4.2 percent of German G.D.P. British banks are owed $131 billion, or about 5 percent of Britain’s G.D.P. French banks are owed $43.5 billion, which is approaching 2 percent of French G.D.P. But the eye-catching numbers are for Belgium, which is owed $29 billion – … Read more

vote early, check how it was counted often

Continuing on from a post on 1 November about “faith-based” e-voting. Some interesting ideas from David Bismark at TEDGlobal 2010 about e-voting that tries to simultaneously increases transparency and reduces fraud. One of the main objections to e-voting is that it’s difficult for each voter to know that her vote was recorded accurately and counted correctly, while she remains anonymous. In the system designed by David Bismark and his colleagues, each voter gets a takeaway slip that serves as a … Read more

Sovereignty is less Ireland’s issue than not knowing what to do with it…

A fair amount of rubbish is talked about Irish sovereignty. Despite what some have said, it is not like virginity (ie, once it is gone, it is gone forever). But then again, like sex, it is not something that Ireland likes to talk about in public either. In our Lisbon essays (scroll down) it formed the base of some of our liveliest contributions. I was particularly struck by Ben Tonra’s suggestion that the country was too timid to make any … Read more

A Castle Built on Sand

Six months ago I wrote in this column about the very generous welfare payments being paid in the Republic of Ireland, sometimes two or nearly three times the equivalent levels paid in the North(1). As the Republic now plumbs new depths of national indebtedness and near-bankruptcy, it is clear that this attempt at a welfare state was constructed on the flimsiest of foundations, a real castle built on sand. During the weeks of Ireland’s financial ‘bail-out’ crisis this month, the … Read more

Fintan’s Enough is Enough petition is a better start for reform

Although no fan of Fintan O’Toole’s spasm of direct action, his headline political reforms are admirable. Once he’s won some support, he surely needs to transform the petition into a collective enterprise. Political reform is no solo run or quick fix. He will also realise he needs support from among those he has  been slagging off or he’ll not get very far.   For Irish reform, old ghosts should not inhibit a comparative analysis with the British experience. Ireland like Britain … Read more

Tell us honestly, Fine Gael and Labour. Are you in favour of default?

Is there an alternative strategy after all? Might the euro’s continuing adversity become Ireland’s opportunity? The first thing to notice is that the Irish government rejected the Financial Times’ stern advice and succumbed to overwhelming pressure. Ireland is readying itself to sign the dotted line of a rescue package foisted on it by Europe. It should not accept before securing terms that avert a bail-out of European lenders paid for by Irish taxpayers thrown into debt bondage. Although we won’t … Read more

“what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Termonfeckin to be born?”

Well, there’s one for the record. Dermot Ahern quits ahead of the election (and it could be 28th December if Lowry and Healy stick to their rebellious murmurerings of last week). Who’d have thunk it? Well Brian Feeney for a start (H/T Kate!). He may not have suggested Ahern would so spectacularly have quit the field, but he hinted darkly at his imminent defeat few others in the southern space thought likely. Already the Twitterverse is waxing lyrical on the … Read more

S4C – The only place to watch the Rugby

Astonishing – Murray v Nadal? THE BBC was forced to apologise yesterday after it was heavily criticised for not showing the opening seven minutes of Saturday’s match between Wales and the All Blacks. The broadcaster’s decision to stick with Andy Murray’s tennis match against Rafael Nadal on BBC2 meant many fans did not get to see Stephen Jones’ kick which took Wales into the lead in the first minute. The decision was condemned by politicians and Wales-based BBC staff are … Read more

NI Assembly Speaker: “They are treating the House with contempt…”

Despite changes to the Standing Orders in June 2009, the Northern Ireland Assembly Speaker was forced to crack some heads together in the chamber today over MLAs’ attitudes to Question Time –  as UTV reports here. Hansard records what the Speaker, Willie Hay, had to say [permanent link] Mr Willie Clarke is not in his place for question 1; that is another issue that I intend to deal with. Departments and Ministers spend a great deal of time and resources on Question Time … Read more

SF: More lessons on not making a clear statement

It is increasingly bizarre that is was DUP MLA Robin Newton who announced major changes on SF’s team at Belfast City Council while Cllr Tom Hartley declared any changes would merely be about phasing out dual madates: Sinn Féin is replacing a number of Councillors at City Hall in line with our party’s policy of phasing out dual-mandates With Deirdre Hargey, previously suspended from SF and dropped as a council candidate in 2005 over her actions during/following the murder of … Read more

A debt unpayable without mass migration?

And another from Henry whilst we’re there (and he’s thinking of his forlorn homeland), he makes an important point about the unreal nature of expectations in Dublin. In particular he takes Stephen Collins to task for taking: …as a given that Ireland’s growth rate from the mid 1990’s through 2008 or so reflected “normal economic and political conditions.” They didn’t. Ireland was playing catch-up with the developed industrial democracies – and during catch-up, one can hope for very high growth … Read more

Julian Assange and the story of the talking cat…

Whilst I think Daniel may be right about Julian Assange being anti American, that doesn’t really speak to whether his revelations were useful or not. These revelations were more interesting than previous tranches, possibly because the involvement of mainstream journalists teed them up better, but also it passingly lifts the skirts on workings of private life of international diplomacy, and turned it into a public affair. But no one describes the problem better than Henry Farrell, turning to his collection … Read more