Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Venus v. Mars - again!

On Saturday last, the Irish Times published this photo of two young women mud-wrestling at Glastonbury on its front page.

The following Tuesday, the paper published letters from two female writers who objected to the photo. Then on Wednesday, the paper published three letters from male writers who didn’t seem to be offended at all.

Clearly Venus and Mars continue to maintain their independent orbits.

Footnote: Published as a letter in the Irish Times

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Britain to reciprocate with Ahern Chair endowment

It’s good to see the Government taking steps to create a long-term acknowledgement of Tony Blair’s role in the resolution achieved in Northern Ireland.

There is a strong rumour that, in a reciprocal gesture, the British Government will endow a Bertie Ahern Chair of Cash-flow Management in a suitable north side academy of learning?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Tony Blair's Legacy - and he hasn't even left yet.

Tony Blair faced his last PMQs on Wednesday and yesterday hosted his final cabinet meeting as Prime Minister. In 10-20 years time, how will political historians assess his term in office? It's far too early to make any definitive assessments, but the medai are already at it so I thought I'd just jump on the bandwagon.

In the immediate aftermath, it’s easy to point to Northern Ireland and Iraq as the high and low points respectively, but will there be any other achievement/failure which merits comment in the longer term?

These are just some ramblings on the Blair Legacy - more questions than answers, undera number of broad headings.

Labour Party
New Labour - moving Labour & UK politics to the centre, to be followed there by the conservatives.

New Labour’s “3rd way” - “left-wing” social policies funded by “right-wing” economic policies.

A 3-term, longest serving Labour PM, unlikely to be repeated by his successor.

Spin/Relationship with media. Will it even merit a footnote in history?

“Cash for Honours” - will anything stick, or does the public believe they‘re all at it anyway?

Northern Ireland - peaceful resolution of the constitutional position, probably his greatest political achievement. But will it last 10-20 years? When eventually transition to real Govt/Opposition political structures takes place, will the dam hold? Will NI vote for United Ireland within the next 20 years?

Devolution - Scottish Parliament, Welsh & NI Assemblies. Will these be hailed as examples of devolution of power at its best, or cited as the start of the process that led to the break-up of the UK? Alex Salmon for Head of the Commonwealth?

Education reform- will City Academies be remembered for changing the educational prospects of inner city kids or just be a footnote” in the “cash for honours“ chapter?

Reform of Lords - partially complete, will it stall? Will the hereditaries hang on? Will House of Lords reform also be just a footnote in the “cash for honours” chapter?

Economy: a decade of steady growth, growing employment, industrial peace. Will this just be taken for granted, or will all the credit be given to Gordon Browne?

Iraq will be engraved on his tombstone - though he’s still probably hoping for a miracle turnaround there which will result in a positive outcome, eventually. Afghanistan may go either way. He’ll hope to be gone before Iran comes to a head.

A big fan of the EU, he promised to place the UK at the heart of Europe. Instead, his alliance with Bush may have created a new barrier there. The paradox is that Sarkozy & Merkel might be much more amenable to stronger US ties, in contrast to Chirac and Schroder. Despite his initial desire for sterling to join the Eurozone, it looks further away than ever. And he seems to be ending his premiership doing a Mgt Thatcher at his final EU summit.

3rd World - his Commission for Africa, established in 2004, work in the G8, relief of 3rd world debt, WTO Doha round etc - what long-term impact will these have?
Ditto the Environment and initiatives such as the Kyoto Agreement and successor agreements e.g. G8 summit at Heiligendamm in 2007.

There are many other potential topic areas e.g.
National Security post 9/11, London bombings July 7th 2005
Law & Order/Society - ID cards, ASBOs, CCTV, extended detention
NHS reform
Immigration issues/policy
Middle East
Zimbabwe, Darfur
Etc etc etc

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

How Gerry Adams paid for that Donegal holiday home.

Government saving buyers from sellers!

The Government has published proposed legislation to eliminate all stamp duty liability for first-time buyers, to apply to all contracts signed on or since 31st march 2007.

There will be no change in the stamp duty regime for all other house buyers, who will continue to pay punitive rates of duty e.g. 9% on house/apartment purchases of over €635,000.

Thus Stamp Duty will continue to act as a disincentive to people who wish to trade-up or trade down e.g. it currently adds €58.5k to the buyer’s costs for a house/apartment purchased at €650k.

The Government offers the following explanation for not modifying the stamp duty costs to non-first-time buyers:

They argue that the reduction in stamp duty would simply be added to the asking price by the vendor, thus increasing house price inflation and removing any benefit to the buyer arising from the reduction in stamp duty.

In other words, to prevent the risk arising that the vendor might screw the seller for the amount of the stamp duty, the Government itself will guarantee that the buyer continues to be screwed for the amount of the stamp duty. That’s some deal!

The reality is that the Government raises billions of euros each year through this punitive tax. They'd have to work harder if they gave some of it up.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Bertie's Missing Money

From The Irish Times today:

"Meanwhile, Mr Ahern's spokesman said yesterday the Taoiseach has instructed his legal team to pursue the €60,000 costs and damages arising from his circuit court libel action against Denis "Starry" O'Brien. The six-year period in which Mr Ahern can claim the damages and costs he won is up on July 11th."

Mr Ahern was awarded £30,000 + costs in the Dublin Circuit Court in July 2001. The money has not been paid to date and the debt becomes statute barred after 6 years.
The spokesman’s statement suggests that Mr Ahern’s instruction to pursue the debt is a recent one. Presumably Mr Ahern’s legal team have long since been paid their appropriate fees, so he’s been out of pocket in a real sense for several years now.

What is it with uncollected monies and Bertie Ahern? Is he just forgetful, or too polite, or both?

Despite revelations regarding monies given to prominent FF members, e.g. Ray Burke, Charlie Haughey, Pee Flynn, which the donors claim were intended as donations to the Fianna Fail party, ending up in their private bank accounts, there appears to have been little or no effort to recover these monies on behalf of the party.

Presumably the original purpose of £5,000 NCB donation, included in the recently revealed “dig-out” to Mr Ahern in the early 1990's, will be clarified in due course by the Mahon Tribunal.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Political Banners

Published in Today's IT - the writer is the architect I used almost 20 years ago to remodel the house. He's also a rabid Shinner (note the "a chara" etc). I'm sure he's delighted to score a "hit" on me.

A chara, - Peter Molloy (June 9th) is dismissive of Richard Boyd Barrett's impressive electoral result in Dun Laoghaire, insinuating that Mr Boyd Barrett deceived the "middle classes" by standing for a People Before Profit Alliance rather than the Socialist Workers Party.

I suggest that Mr Boyd Barrett was no more deceptive than those candidates who stood as members of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael rather than a "Profit before People Alliance". - Is mise,

So I've banged off the following response, but I don't expect they'll publish.

Madam - E F Fanning (letters June 16th) justifies the action of the Socialist Workers Party in hiding behind the People before Profit banner during the recent general election by claiming that Fianna Fail and Fine Gael might have campaigned under a “Profit before People” banner.

In that scenario, the Sinn Fein banner would be “Pragmatism before Policy”, having ditched all their inconvenient tax policies in the weeks before the election. However, the winner would still be the Greens whose banner would proclaim “Pragmatism & Power before Policy & Principle“. Yours etc

Friday, June 15, 2007

An Taoiseach mis-speaks, again.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has a bit of a reputation for mangling the English language. Could he have done it again?

On RTE’s 6.1 News on Thursday 14th June, Bryan Dobson interviewed An Taoiseach, in advance of the announcement of his new cabinet.

Towards the end of the interview Dobson asks what the Government’s priorities will be for the next 5 years. Bertie Ahern speaks about the economy and finishes on the need to help the less well off in society.

His final sentence in the interview ends with the words “and we’ll continue to make great strides to deal with the issue of social exclusiveness”.

Could he possibly have meant “social exclusion”?

The 4min 20sec clip is available on,null,

Outgoing FF Minister claims authorship of Environment Policy

On RTE's "Today" programme this morning (with Tom McGurk), Dick Roche said that he was proud that only THREE lines of the Environment section of the Programme for Govt had not been written by him! If true, you'd have to wonder what exactly took 10 days to negotiate???

The most interesting thing about the Green Party position is the 180 degree political turn they’ve managed to perform in the past week.

For 10 days of negotiations, the country was repeatedly assured that getting Green policy in a programme for government was the complete focus and priority. Nothing as tawdry as cabinet seats was even considered.

Once the deal was signed and the paucity of the policy concessions to the Greens was revealed, we were told that having Green Ministers at cabinet to influence Govt was the only thing that actually mattered. The negotiated programme for Govt is almost dismissed by Green TDs as being relatively unimportant.

Correction: I've listened again to the interview and Roche's claim regarding authorship of all but 3 lines related to the Local Government Reform section of the Programme for Government. His claim with regard to ownership of the Environment policy in the Programme for Govt was a more modest 85%.

I'll excuse myself this error on the basis that it was significantly less misleading than FF's 97% v. 3% tax benefit pre-election ads, which were a straightforward, bare-faced and deliberate lie.

Greens - the new Fianna Fail Lite

Trevor Sargent launched an astonishing attack on Enda Kenny in the Dail last night for not looking at the first Inter-Party Government of 1948 as a model of achieving power.

He said that, had Kenny really wanted to achieve power, he would have negotiated with Sinn Féin to form a Government, just as Fine Gael's John A Costelloe had appointed former IRA chief Sean McBride as Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Sargent was effectively saying that the Greens had been willing to sell their souls to the devil in order to get into Govt with FF & PDs. He was mocking Kenny for not having the same naked appetite for power. How quickly the Greens have morphed into FF-Lite

Sargent’s outburst clearly shows that the Greens were willing to go to any lengths, compromise any principles, sacrifice any sacred cows etc to get into power.

The Greens are clearly intoxicated by office, behaving like an order of nuns who've unexpectedly discovered sex and can't get enough of it. They'll find themselves holding the FF baby in due course

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Greens in office but not in power!

The new Government Ministers haven’t even gone to the Park to get their seals of office from the President, but already Fianna Fail are screwing their new Green partners in Government.

Although Green Party president John Gormley has been appointed Minister for the Environment, Heritage & Local Govt, the Taoiseach announced that responsibility for non-National Roads will be transferred from Environment to the Dept. of Transport.

Later it emerged that outgoing FF Environment Minister Dick Roche has today signed the order permitting construction of the M3 Motorway to continue on its original route - straight through the recently discovered pre-historic henge.

Given that re-routing of the M3 was a major platform for the Greens in the recent election, and failure to get this agreed in the joint programme for Government was a major embarrassment for them, this really is FF giving them the two-fingers on their first day in office, but not in power.

PS: 15th June 2007 - incoming Environment Minister John Gormley announces that he doesn't believe he can rescind his predecessor's decision. They're learning - "big boy's games, big boy's rules".

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Who'll be next leader of Green Party?

Who’ll be the new leader of the Green Party? The front-runners appear to be Gormley, Ryan and Cuffe.

John Gormley has always struck me as the main representative of the flakey wing of the party, but his personal conduct during the recent negotiations (not necessarily his ability as a negotiator) has suggested that he may be calming down to more acceptable and balanced levels.

Eamonn Ryan is another front runner who makes me uncomfortable. In fact, as uncomfortable as he himself appears to be - he twists and squirms as sincerity is given a physical manifestation as he speaks in a voice laden with emotion. But I don’t trust him since his solo-run in 2004 when he announced his candidature for the Presidency, without prior consultation with his party colleagues. This smacked of naked personal ambition and was ultimately shot down by the party, merely succeeding in making the Greens look like fools and political novices in the process.

Ciaran Cuffe is touted as another front-runner. He seems like a cold fish, I can’t imagine him enthusing members or being a great ad to attract new members. His pre-negotiation blog likening a deal with FF as a deal with the devil was in stark contrast to his pro-coalition attitude at yesterday’s Mansion House conference. He strikes me as a charisma-free politician who keeps his cards close to his chest and I wouldn’t trust him.

Gormley would probably be the deserving and safe choice, while Ryan might be more dangerous but, with more imagination, could produce innovative ideas and appeal to a younger audience.

Sargent sacrifice a necessary fig-leaf for Greens

By entering government with no concessions on major Green demands - such as an end to hospital co-location, US military use of Shannon, corporate donations, the M3 at Tara - the Green Party has laid itself wide open to the charge of abandoning principles in pursuit of power.

The public self-sacrifice of leader Trevor Sargent was necessary to provide a fig-leaf of principle to an otherwise naked Green Party

Footnote: Aired on RTE's Today programme 14th June & published as a letter in the Irish Times 15th June 2007.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The fate of the man in the white suit?

What was that recent event on Sandymount Strand all about, with the Greens prancing about with their umbrellas, led by John Gormley - The Man in the White Suit?

Is it just the Greens mimicing Jack Vettriano - someone (possibly every Green) has one of his posters on the bedroom wall. Believe it or not, this painting is titled "Mad Dogs" - apt or what? Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery - but this really is "Art Lite".

Or could it be “The Man In The White Suit” a 1951 Ealing Comedy starring Alec Guinness.

Guinness plays Stratton, a researcher working in a textile mill who invents an incredibly strong fibre which repels dirt and never wears out. From its fabric he makes a suit which is brilliant white because it cannot absorb dye. Stratton is lauded as a genius until both management and the trade union realise the consequence of his invention - consumers will only need to purchase once (how many permanently clean white suits would you need?), then demand will drop and put the textile industry out of business. The business owners try to trick Stratton into signing away the rights to his invention but he refuses. Managers and workers try to shut him up, but he escapes.
The climax sees Stratton running through the streets at night in his white suit, pursued by both the managers and the employees. As they close in, the suit begins to fall apart as the chemical structure of the fibre breaks down over time. The mob, realizing that his yarn has a flaw, rips pieces off his suit and he’s left standing in his underwear.

In the current political scenario, John Gormley plays the man in the White Suit. Will history repeat itself? Or has he already signed away his rights to the magic formula?

Or is John Gormley modelling himself on former BBC man Martin Bell, “the man in the white suit”, who ousted disgraced Conservative MP Neil Hamilton in the 1997 UK General election?
Is it an omen that Bell was defeated in the 2001 election (albeit in a different constituency)?

How hard will it be to keep that white suit clean when you’re sitting and supping with the devil? Only time will tell.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Blair to become catholic deacon?

Over the weekend, UK press reports that not only will Tony Blair convert to catholicism when he leaves No 10 but that he also wants to be ordained as a Deacon.

The Blair’s catholic cleric was on Andrew Marr’s BBC TV programme yesterday morning, he’s recently written a book about his own horrific childhood, but he refused to answer any questions about Blair’s personal religious leanings or intent. However, he confirmed that a catholic deacon can perform many services including preaching, baptism and marriage but he can’t celebrate mass. So if the press reports are correct, Blair could be a busy man post-No.10.

It seems odd that the Prime Minister has to be so coy about his religious beliefs, but perhaps it’s not all that surprising.

About a year ago, Blair was explaining that he didn’t go to war in Iraq on a mere whim or just to keep in with the USA. He stressed how seriously he had considered the decision, pointing out that it wasn’t just the judgement of the court of public opinion or history he had to face, he would ultimately be judged by God for his actions.

Immediately, much of the media and the anti-war brigade jumped on this to ridicule Blair, presenting it as proof that religion and politics don’t mix. They deliberately mis-represented what he’d said, twisting it to mean that Blair believed God had given him the nod for the Iraq war.

Which wasn’t at all what he’d either said or meant. But it did illustrate how readily the media could and would use any religious utterings by him in order to damage him. Even if he has already converted to catholicism, he’s a wise man to keep it quiet till he leaves No 10.

The spin around Blair isn’t all one-way!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Chavez - time to Chile out!

After the 1973 overthrow of the Allende regime in Chile, Fernando Flores, his Finance Minister, spent 3 years in jail. After his release he fled to the USA (a strange destination if you believe the CIA coup theory) where he subsequently became a very successful business consultant, his consultancy firm is known as BDA (Business Development Associates). BDA is linked to Billy Glennon’s Vision Consultants in Ireland.

About 5 years ago, I attended a private weekend conference in Dublin, hosted by Fernando Flores. It was a very interesting experience, not least because he was probably the most autocratic host speaker/presenter I’ve ever encountered at many a business conference over the years. He also SEEMED to admit (I don’t want to misrepresent him) that the Allende regime had tried to make too many radical changes in too short a time-frame and, with the benefit of hindsight, might well have achieved their goals if their approach had been more pragmatic and less ideological.

He told us that, in the hours after the coup and the death of President Allende, the surviving cabinet members were offered safe passage and a plane to take them to Argentina. This offer was declined because they didn’t trust the bona fides of the coup leaders, and subsequently they were told that their plane was to be shot down over the Andes - an unfortunate accident and what outside body would ever investigate the “crash”?.

It’s hard not to be sympathetic towards the new left-leaning and reforming regimes in South America e.g. Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil - but you have to worry that, through natural impatience to achieve social justice and overthrow the ruling elite, some may repeat the mistakes of Chile and fail to achieve the social and democratic change that is necessary.

Postscript: The Chilean Embassy is located in Sandycove and the ambassador’s son, Manuel, sometimes works as a lounge-boy in my local. None of yer Ferrero Rocher nonsense there!

One Night in Paris

Paris Hilton - in jail, out of jail, back to jail - the things she’ll do to keep her name on the front page!

A couple of years ago she made an explicit sex video with her then boyfriend, which soon became available for sale on the internet, under the title “One Night in Paris”.

Apparently this was one of the few things she’s done that genuinely upset her parents, as apparently the video was shot in a Marriott hotel room.

How do you get on Pat Kenny's panel?

Anyone know how you get on the “Friday panel” on RTE’s “Today with Pat Kenny”?

More specifically, anyone know how Emer O’Kelly gets on it so regularly? Somehow, she also manages to get on Kenny's Late Late Show on tv. Every time I see or hear her pontificating on politics or anything in the real world, I become even more convinced that she knows SFA about most things.

Yesterday was a case in point: she delivered a fluent dissertation about democracy in Russia and the respective roles of Gorbachev and Yeltsin.

Luckily Conor O’Clery was also on the panel and came in straight after her to flatly contradict her analysis. I suspect that, having been Irish Times Moscow correspondent and married to a native Russian, he might actually know something about the topic.

And then there’s her accent - what part of Kerry is she from?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Green Party VAT Policy seems misguided

It’s beginning to look as if the Fianna Fail talks with the Greens may fail to arrive at a successful conclusion. This will bring the game back to the original FF/PD + Independents model.

There are several points of policy compromise which could prove insurmountable, particularly with the Greens having to get approval for any deal at a convention of their members next Sunday - and the need a 66% vote to approve the deal.

Quite separately, and not something I expect is a problem in the negotiations, one aspect of Green manifesto has puzzled me - the proposed reduction in VAT rates by 1% - supposedly to help the “less well off”.

Most family supermarket trolley items are already Zero VAT rated, as are medicines, children’s clothing & footwear and books.

A blanket reduction in VAT rates will give most benefit to those who have the greatest discretionary spending capacity, the “less well off” will have very limited spending capacity beyond the staple items.

So such a VAT reduction will certainly put a little more small change in the pockets of the needy.

On the other hand, the big spending Killiney & Dalkey residents ordering their weekly wine deliveries from Mitchells, dining in Cavistons, putting €80 worth of petrol in the Merc, booking the Riviera holidays etc., will be material beneficiaries.

Have I got it wrong?

Boyd Barrett Bullsh1t

In an Opinion piece in today’s Irish Times, Richard Boyd Barrett makes a number of substantial claims for his near success in the recent general election, totally ignoring the complete failure of the other handful of candidates running in other constituencies under the “People before Profit” banner.

In response the following letter published in the Irish Times on 9th June 2007:

Madam - Richard Boyd Barrett claims that "against the background of a very poor overall performance for the left, the shock caused by the People Before Profit Alliance in Dún Laoghaire in coming so close to taking a seat may be a small but significant pointer towards a possible way forward."

This assertion would be more credible if Mr Boyd Barrett had made Dún Laoghaire voters aware of his prominent role in the Socialist Workers Party and familiarised them with that party's Marxist economic policy.

I suspect that many middle-class voters in Dún Laoghaire identified Mr Boyd Barrett only with the public baths protest, without knowing of his SWP affiliation, and voted for him on that basis.

Next time he should run with his true colours flying and we can then assess more accurately the appeal of his politics and the effectiveness of the electoral strategy he espouses in his article
. Yours etc.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

It's Thatcher time

Two brand-new ESB power stations out of action for months, what the hell is going on in that overstaffed, overpaid semi-state company.

Modern state-of-the-art power stations are completely automated, all you need to run one is a computer, a man and a dog

- The computer to run the station
- The man to feed the dog
- The dog to keep the man away from the computer.

And now Brendan Ogle, formerly of train-driver strike fame, is threatening us with power blackouts over proposed changes in the ESB.

It’s time to hire Maggie Thatcher to advise on how to break the power of the public service unions.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Dutch blocked air support before Srebrenica massacre.

An abbreviated extract from a Reuters report in today’s Irish Times breaking News Section - under the title “Dutch 'blocked' support before Srebrencia massacre”

The Dutch refused crucial air support to their own troops defending Srebrenica under a UN mandate, allowing Bosnian Serb forces to take away and massacre 8,000-10,000 Muslims, it was claimed today. Lawyers representing about 6,000 relatives of the victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, are suing the Dutch state and the United Nations for failing to stop the killings.

During the 1992-95 Bosnian war, Srebrenica was declared a safe area and guarded by a Dutch army unit serving as part of a larger UN force in Bosnia. The lightly armed Dutch soldiers, lacking air support and under fire, were forced to abandon the enclave to Bosnian Serb forces, who then massacred Muslim men and boys who had relied on the protection of the Dutch troops.

"Shortly before the fall of the safe area air support was obstructed by the Netherlands itself," lawyers Axel Hagedorn and Marco Gerritsen said in the writ of summons to be filed at the district court of The Hague.

The Dutch state has always said its troops were abandoned by the UN which gave them no air support, but public documents show a network of Dutch military officials within the UN Protection Force blocked air support because they feared their soldiers could be hit by friendly fire, the lawyers said. "It is a wrong idea that the Dutch soldiers were let down by the United Nations," Mr Gerritsen added.
"It was a decision by high ranking Dutch officers together with the Dutch state to see that requests for air support were denied."

After requests for air support were initially granted by UN officials the Dutch state did everything in its power to reverse this approval.

Who is suing the UN on behalf of the estimated 800,000 victims of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda? Is this the only way that the international community can be shamed into taking effective action against regimes engaged in genocide within their own borders?

Are FF the only party honestly enaged in the current negotiations?

Strange as it may seem, Fianna Fail are the only party honestly engaged in the current negotiations regarding the formation of government. They are displaying their natural pragmatism in pursuit of achievement of their ideological goal: the acquisition of power at any cost. The electorate expects no more or no less from FF.

By contrast, their main negotiation partners are doing political handstands and pirouettes in order to get on the Government bandwagon, freely abandoning core principles and ignoring inconvenient elephants in the corner.

The Greens will readily abandon
- their principled opposition to the use of Shannon Airport by US military
- their strong rejection of the last Government’s hospital co-location strategy
- their demand for the banning of corporate donations
- Trevor Sargent’s promise to resign as party leader rather than lead the Greens into coalition with FF

The PDs will forget
- their firm commitment to only coalesce with “like-minded parties” and the Greens would not qualify.
- Mary Harney’s intention to quit Government in the week before the election, based on revelations from the Mahon Tribunal. The fact that the Tribunal’s opening statement for it’s current module has raised even more questions for the Taoiseach, and seems to further undermine his latest “full explanations”, will have to be ignored in order to ensure survival of the Progressive Democrats.

Thus, any remaining perceived vestiges of PD high principle in politics are shed. Sic transit…….

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Mother Teresa of broadcasting

On RTE’s Morning Ireland programme today, one of the presenters expressed surprise that the Dell share price had risen on the news of the proposed job cuts.

Yesterday, Bank of Ireland announced annual profits of €1.96bn, an increase of 28% on the previous year. The share price promptly fell 3%, making a total fall of 14% from its 2007 high.

Both these events illustrate the high expectations and lack of sentiment of investors.

I’ve often thought that since RTE is a cosseted public service employer, with its employees cushioned from the realities of the real commercial world, the station may not be an appropriate commentator on business or commercial matters in general. They often come across as a broadcasting Mother Teresa, defending the “rights” of the worker or the consumer against the interests of “big business”.

RTE thinks that it's performed exceptionally well if it breaks even for the year, profit seems to be something of a dirty word there.

Who'll win Political Gobshite of the Year 2007?

I had thought that John Deasy would be a racing cert for the “Political Gobshite of the Year” award come December.

But Jim McDaid has overtaken him and now leads by a sizeable margin, between his screw-up of the FF election campaign in Donegal and his latest outburst, saying that he may not support Bertie for Taoiseach. “FF did nothing to support me in the election, I don’t feel under any obligation to support them”.
(Has he been breathalysed?).

McDaid’s biggest threat may not come from Deasy, but from Finian McGrath who’s making up ground rapidly. The longer the Government formation process takes, the more pirouettes McGrath will be able to perform, each one gaining him multiple PGY points with the public and the media.

Speaking of pirouettes, and factoring in election results, Michael McDowell has to be in with a shout. Only time will tell.

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