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TV shows people lie about seeing? Or making social interactions easier. December 4, 2021

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This mystified me a bit when I read it, apparently “in a new poll from RadioTimes.com, 52% of respondents admitted to lying about having seen a TV show, with Stranger Things and Game of Thrones the two most lied about.”

I can’t recall lying about cultural experiences ever – just never bothered. Books, films, television series, music just don’t impact on me that way. It might be my loss. In fact I sometimes wonder where people get the time to consume television in particular in such vast quantities. I’m perpetually surprised by those who have seen Breaking Bad (which came third on the list of television shows people lie about), Stranger Things, Game of Thrones (all of which bar GOT I’ve only seen a couple of episodes – GOT I saw a season and a half before I kind of gave up, overwhelmed by the lack of a moral centre).

And yet thinking about it a bit more, in fairness it seems to me to be a bit like sports – soccer in particular, where it provides a handy lingua franca for people to interact (not mad interested in soccer either!). I can’t blame anyone for finding that tool for social interaction useful and enjoyable – though rather like the Fast Show character (IIRC it was the Fast Show) it’s never good to bluff about one’s knowledge of sport, for which reason I never have though I’ve seen a few car crashes where people have tried to.

But then the water cooler culture kind of passed me by, bar a brief stint in London in the early 1990s. I never really worked anywhere people congregated around water coolers, of if they did congregate the conversation tended to be about the job, sad and all as that is in its own way.

So good luck to people who talk about sports/culture/television, whatever. It makes a break from the grindstone, and I’d argue that it’s best not to lie about it, but if fully 52% of people are doing so and this isn’t being picked up one would have to imagine that that social interaction is a lot more important than the actual content of the social interactions. And maybe that’s a good thing?

New Irish Writing… December 4, 2021

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Mentioned in comments last weekend but for anyone who missed it… New Irish Writing in the Independent and this lovely piece.

Speaking of which, any suggestions on other good new Irish writing?

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Cordell Jackson December 4, 2021

Posted by irishelectionliterature in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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What I love about Cordell Jackson is that she was such an unlikely rocker, the signature dresses didn’t really go with her music. She was a pioneer and thought to be the first woman to produce, engineer, arrange and promote music on her own rock and roll music label.

Signs of Hope – A continuing series December 3, 2021

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Gewerkschaftler suggested this recently:

I suggest this blog should have a regular (weekly) slot where people can post happenings at the personal or political level that gives them hope that we’re perhaps not going to hell in a handbasket as quickly as we thought. Or as the phlegmatic Germans put it “hope dies last”.

Any contributions this week?

Con hold… December 3, 2021

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Not a surprise that the Tories kept Old Bexley and Sidcup in the byelection yesterday. And Labour’s goal, supposedly, of pushing the Tory vote under 50% didn’t come to pass. But as the Mirror notes (thanks JH):

Any relief in the Tory camp will be tempered by the strong showing for Richard Tice’s Reform Party which came third last night with a vote share of 6.59%.

If the neo-UKIP party can repeat this performance in future elections then it would leave the Conservatives vulnerable in dozens of marginal seats.

Great. More – though not too much – power to Tice and his unmerry crew so.

 

Meanwhile, electoral politics never stops.

It is not surprising that Boris Johnson is reportedly heading to North Shropshire today to try to boost his party’s fortunes in the by-election on December 16 caused by the resignation of Owen Paterson.

Although Labour came second in the 2019 general election it is the Lib Dems who are increasingly confident they can overturn Paterson’s 22,949 majority and pull off another shock win.

Incidentally, the Lib Dems lost their deposit in Old Bexley which will fuel rumours they stood aside as part of an unwritten pact between them and Labour. 

Will Labour return the favour by taking its foot off the pedal in Shropshire?

Discussing this yesterday with a friend we both were sceptical about ‘lending’ votes to the Lib Dems. Their role in starting what is now a decade long stint of Tory political dominance should never be forgotten.

Not quite memory lane… December 3, 2021

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Every time I heard about Eugene Street in Dublin, as with this piece in the IT last week, something different comes to mind. An Phoblacht back in 2016 noted this.

Shortly afterwards, McGrath fell foul of the rival neo-nazi National Socialist Irish Workers’ Party (NSWIP). A letter sent to members from the organisation’s headquarters in Dublin’s Eugene Street described a “Mr Mike McGrath from Kilkenny City” and another man from Warrenpoint as “police spies”. It urged members to “beware” of the NSP which “has nothing to do with NSIWP or NSPUK”.

I remember that connection with Eugene Street being mentioned to me in the mid to late 1980s. 

Is Brexit consuming too much political bandwidth – for what about Europe? December 3, 2021

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Paul Gillespie in the IT asks the following:

Ireland’s European policies after Brexit badly need more detailed examination and debate than they get during the current necessary preoccupation with Brexit. That crisis is accompanied by very high approval ratings in polls of Irish EU membership, stimulated by solidarity over the Northern Ireland Border. It draws on the older nationalist impulse to diminish dependence on Britain by linking up with Europe.

It’s a fair point. But the answer is that Brexit cannot but consume this island and this state. The border represents the only land border between the EU and the UK. Short of that political geography being amended – unthinkable at this point, it will consume and consume.

That said, for those of us for whom Europe is more than the EU, or who feel that the EU is a very imperfect mechanism and seek its ultimate replacement with some more progressive structures, he is absolutely correct.
In some ways this is a situation that is beginning to re-calibrate. Mentioned this very week the fact there are now 45 ferry links to the continent from Ireland, up from a quarter or so of them pre-Brexit. That alone is a, literal, sea-change. And there’s more. There always is.

Gillespie mentions a “conference of the Irish Association for Contemporary European Studies. Entitled “After Brexit, what next?” [which] raised them within an engaged perspective on EU membership, yet open to policy criticism.”

Good and not so great contributions to that to judge from his report (the current issue of the Phoenix also mentions this). One good – the danger of monoglot practice and lack of multilingualism (in European languages). Oddly some interesting contributions by Eoin Drea who argued for public social care services. Perhaps less cheering to read the following:

 

In the field of Irish military and defence policy Ben Tonra of UCD is a long-standing gadfly on Irish neutrality. It is amoral, often immoral and hypocritical, he said, and Nato membership is quite compatible with Irish values and interests. Responding, Charlie Flanagan, former minister and now chair of the Oireachtas committee on foreign affairs, said there is no public support for joining Nato, though he thinks the subject needs much more engaged debate.

I don’t understand why Irish neutrality is amoral or hypocritical. Indeed why is this charge not leveled against the other members of the EU who eschew membership of NATO? And Flanagan is absolutely correct – there’s no appetite for joining NATO.

But perhaps the most significant thought came from Naomi O’Leary who as IT Europe correspondent has done some good work over the last few years. This links back to the point at the top of this post as regards Brexit consuming too much space.

In her keynote speech to the conference, Irish Times Europe correspondent Naomi O’Leary strongly emphasised how influential British framing of EU issues is here, seen as an Irish journalist in Brussels.

She is rightly worried that future EU policy shocks will find Irish policymakers ill-prepared for public surprise and dissent.

This is a very real problem, where so much is refracted through perspectives shaped by London. Much of this is inevitable, the UK being the nearest power of significance. But it’s not the only one and the points raised by others all too often feed in in pernicious ways to this. A lack of familiarity with non-English or Anglo-sphere languages and perspectives (Drea’s point about approaches to social and socio-economic issues, even from his right of centre views is spot on in that regard). An unwillingness to see beyond Britain. Even an unwillingness to see how, as with Scotland, so much is changing within Britain.

This is a key strategic issue for this state and this island across the next quarter and half century. That sounds bombastic, almost pompous, but it’s no wrong, is it? And the question then comes to the fore, what tools and approaches are necessary in order to engage with this profitably?

 

Spies, Rebels and Informers 2 – free online event on Saturday, December 4th December 2, 2021

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Spies, Rebels and Informers 2
 is a  free online event on Saturday December 4th featuring  presentations  by 


(1) Brian Hand, a grandson of Liam Tobin will focus on the post conflict careers of Liam Tobin and Joe McGrath in a presentation entitled Once an Intelligence Officer always an Intelligence Officer.

(2) Liz Gillis, Historian and researcher with RTEs History Show, will focus on  Women in the Intelligence War. Although women were central to the intelligence war their contribution has often been overlooked. Far too many accounts of the intelligence war render women invisible, obscuring their contributions and the risks they took; yet without them the intelligence war could not have succeeded.

(3)  Séamus Cullen on Ned Broy – The Spy from Rathangan who was born in 1887 and grew up on the Kildare Offaly border. Broy, who was played by Stephen Rea in Neil Jordan’s film on Michael Collins,  did not meet the same fate as his fictional counterpart. But he was found out by British intelligence, and spent five months  in solitary confinement in  Arbour Hill on 56 charges of High Treason. Collins threw some doubt on the British case against Broy by persuading another detective in G Division to flee from Ireland. When Broy was released on July 12th Michael Collins was waiting outside the gates of Arbour Hill Prison for him with a new suit of clothes. Not long afterwards Broy accompanied Collins to London for the Treaty negotiations acting as his Private Secretary, and bodyguard. Seamus Cullen’s research reveals that Broy was far more important to Collins than was previously thought and in addition to passing on vital intelligence, he also helped shape Collins’s counterintelligence strategy, becoming a key player in the network of spies who provided Collins and the IRA with vital intelligence.

Click Eventbrite link below for further information an to registerhttps://www.eventbrite.ie/e/spies-rebels-and-informers-2-tickets-215932298317

Apologies for cross posting

45 direct links to France December 2, 2021

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Interesting point on the ever listenable Brexit Republic podcast from RTÉ. The indefatigable Tony Connelly noted that last week Thomas Byrne, the ROI’s European Affairs Minister launched ‘yet another ferry route from France to Ireland’ in Le Havre which would bring the number of direct routes to Ireland from France to he thinks 45. As he says they’re springing up all the time now. The one he references is presumably this one? RTÉ had already note the arrival at 44 routes prior to this in October.

But for a sense of the sea change (ahem) check this out:

Minister for European Affairs Thomas Byrne has today inaugurated a new Irish terminal at the French ferry port of Dunkirk, with Ireland-France sea routes rising from 12 before Brexit to 44 now.

And what of this?

The importance of Dunkirk has become the latest outworking of Brexit and reflects the growing need for direct sea routes to and from Ireland so that Irish and other EU exporters can sidestep the UK land bridge.

That is because the land bridge is now associated with delays and customs formalities.

Mr Byrne said the land bridge was still important as it took less time than average and was important for certain fresh foods.

Here’s a very illuminating tweet from the DFA.

That Tory contest… December 2, 2021

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This from the Mirror (thanks JH) points to Sidcup…

A storm in a Sidcup

If today’s Prime Minister’s questions has a more combative tone than usual that will be because both leaders will have an eye on tomorrow’s by-election in Old Bexley and Sidcup.

The Conservatives are not expected to lose the seat but they will be worried if Labour makes a serious dent in their 18,952 majority.

The contest was caused by James Brokenshire’s death from cancer. 

Brokenshire was a popular MP, regarded with affection on all sides of the Commons for the courteous way he conducted his politics, and the Tories may benefit from a sympathy vote.

But the by-election also comes on the heels of a difficult few weeks for the Government where questions have been asked about Boris Johnson’s style of leadership.

If his musings on Peppa Pig World have not have cut through to voters then the cost of living crisis certainly has as my colleague Ben Glaze discovered when he visited the seat yesterday.

The Evening Standard has also picked up on some buyer’s remorse over Brexit as people notice changes to the price and availability of goods.

Nor does it help that the Conservatives have picked a candidate, Louie French, who is regarded as on the low-wattage scale of charismatic politicians.

A poor result for the Tories will only add to the jitters in the Conservative Party, though much will depend on the results of forthcoming by-elections in Shropshire, caused by the resignation of Owen Paterson, and to a lesser extend in Southend.

Check this out…

In all three seats the Tories will be monitoring closely the performance of the Reform Party, the latest mutation of the UKIP strain of political parties.

If Reform can pick off even a couple of percentage points from the Tory vote it will cause more alarm than a mini Labour revival as it will signal they could be vulnerable in dozens of marginal seats.

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