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Sunday Independent Stupid Statement of the Week June 27, 2010

Posted by Garibaldy in media.

As all us keen Sindo readers know, the current crisis is the consequence not of any systemic problem with the capitalist system, but of poor regulation and bad decisions made at the very top of the banking, property and political sectors. Oh, hold on a minute. The problem is actually government red tape, holding back capitalism and squeezing profits through silly things like health and safety. Unsurprisingly, Batt O’Keefe thinks the same as the three – yes three – journalists who wrote this story. Sounds like a bloated enterprise to me. They must be members of one of those trade unions sending the country down the tubes because of their selfishness. You can imagine how the rest of the article reads from the opening line.

Enterprise Minister Batt O’Keeffe is preparing a blitz against the mountains of red tape that threaten to strangle Irish businesses and swamp out struggling entrepreneurs.

Marc Coleman has an interesting piece, in which he mounts an assault on the rural gombeen politicians of both main parties, and their role leading us to where we are. This is a gambit in his ongoing campaign for a new political group, the underlying argument seemingly being that the urban bourgeoisie needs complete victory over their country cousins. We get two for the price of one in this article.

Knowing how useless Fine Gael is at opposing anything, Brian Cowen is now preparing to bring in a property tax. Not enough that we pay the highest marginal effective income tax outside Scandinavia, or that our life savings are robbed by stamp duty bills, or that we pay the highest management fees in Europe, or that protectionism and state control of the economy — not to mention the highest indirect taxes in Europe — have given us the highest cost of living in Europe.

Yes, protectionism ans state control. Clearly the defining characteristics of the southern economy over the last two decades.

And this gem too.

Fine Gael appears opposed to both but in reality, like every Labour leader before him, Eamon Gilmore will tell them what to do and they will do it. That is particularly the case now that Richard Bruton, Leo Varadkar, Lucinda Creighton, Brian Hayes and Simon Coveney will be — even if they make it back on to the frontbench — cowed.

I’d also like to nominate two whole pieces. One from Celia Larkin – who apparently has never heard of Margaret Thatcher – on how women entering politics would automatically make it a more consensual and practical business. And the other from Ruth Dudley Edwards, who has somehow talked herself into becoming a huge fan of Conrad Black’s.

And finally, not a stupid statement but a disturbing one, in a discussion of the southern economy from Róisín Burke. It puts all the discussion about stamp tax – clearly the Sindo’s economic/political theme of the week – into some perspective, and what the economy really needs.

But it’s not the key source of employment it was. The services sector, with its 1.4 million workers in everything from hairdressing to catering and financial services, has far eclipsed manufacturing’s 220,000 employment figure.


1. CL - June 27, 2010

Honourable mention to noted historian, and Bertie Ahern Senator, Eoghan Harris, for believing that Ronald Reagan’s father’s people were Protestants. Reagan’s father was a Catholic. Ronnie was baptized into his mother’s religion, the Disciples of Christ. LLoyd George and LBJ were also members of this group.


2. CL - June 27, 2010

And Harris is wrong too about the meaning of the term ‘black Protestant’. Where i grew up in Ireland it meant fundamentalist, dogmatic Protestants. The term would never be applied to the Church of Ireland farmers and working class that I got drunk with.


EWI - June 27, 2010

Where i grew up in Ireland it meant fundamentalist, dogmatic Protestants. The term would never be applied to the Church of Ireland farmers and working class that I got drunk with.

Same here. My grandparents’ generation down where I grew up used ‘black Protestant’ in those terms too, as someone who actively discriminated against Catholic members of their otherwise close-knit rural community.

‘Very hard to believe’ (to use a euphemism) that Harris doesn’t know this.


Starkadder - June 27, 2010

I never actually heard the expression “black Protestants” used
with that meaning before today. If you mentioned “black Protestants” in an Irish context, I would have previously assumed you were talking about the Evangelical African immigrants.

I do remember my mother telling me that some of the people
she knew as a child used “Proddy, Proddy Greenguts” as a sectarian insult.


EWI - June 27, 2010

I never actually heard the expression “black Protestants” used with that meaning before today. If you mentioned “black Protestants” in an Irish context, I would have previously assumed you were talking about the Evangelical African immigrants.

I’ve always had a strong hunch that it’s from the Gaelic, given the use of ‘black’ as an adjective (again, that generation had a lot of hiberno-english words and phrases that aren’t heard now).


EWI - June 27, 2010

Actually, there’s “black bastard” as well, that’s still popular in usage.


3. ejh - June 27, 2010

Seeing as these people are paid to write passable English, it’s not inappropriate to observe that neither mountains nor tape can “swamp out” anybody.


Tim Johnston - June 27, 2010

well spotted


4. EWI - June 27, 2010

And the other from Ruth Dudley Edwards, who has somehow talked herself into becoming a huge fan of Conrad Black’s.

I don’t see where you get the “somehow”, Garibaldy. I find it entirely unsurprising.

Her spin about this being a vindication of Black, the Enron boys etc. is untrue, except as a by-product. What happened is that a bloc of the liberals and swing votes on the US Supreme Court has ruled against the *vagueness* of the statute (the hard-right conservative wing dissented in the minority, wanting it removed altogether).

The statute has been used as part of the repertoire of charges to bring allegedly corrupt CEOs and elected officials to court, but as far as I’m aware nearly all were also convicted on other counts too (including the fairly loathsome Black, so Dudders needn’t break out the champers yet).


5. Garibaldy - June 27, 2010

Cheers for the info EWI. The somehow was a reflection of my opinion of Black.


6. shane - June 27, 2010


An awful piece. His conception of Protestants is in itself very sectarian – and indeed patronising. Given Harris’ obsession with this topic – it’s surprising he never refers to the huge increase in the Protestant population over recent years, primarily from immigration but also Catholic defectors, with the result that religious affiliation no longer connotes ethnic origin or constitutional preferance. Harris has actually referred to Martin Mansergh as a ‘lie down and die Protestant’ and seems to believe that Protestants naturally share, or should at least recover, an instinctive British identity. Rather than seeing Protestantism as a religion (or actually a collective of disparate denominations) he sees it as a tribe. Harris is a sectarian bigot.


WorldbyStorm - June 27, 2010

Actually that’s quite a fascinating point. Would Harris argue that in say, England English Catholics should cleave to some national identity other than that which they have. Seems unlikely, doesn’t it?


shane - June 27, 2010

And if we’re going back as far as Harris is, they might also have something to say about discrimination, and indeed an antagonistic national identity. Likewise with American Catholics, where not that long ago, to be a true and loyal American, in the eyes of many, was to be a WASP – as we seen with the treatment of Al Smith and JFK. British Imperial identity, particularly in Scotland, was closely associated with the Protestant heritage. The decline of the Scottish Unionist Party (Tories) is partly associated with the rise of ecumenism and the decline of explicitly Protestant working class fraternities. Of course Harris views everything in isolation.

Mind you, his colleague Kevin Myers has equally daft notions about Fine Gael being a party of Anglo-Normans and Fianna Fail being the party of Gaelic natives. Naturally he prides himself on his (supposed) Norman ethnicity.


Tim Johnston - June 28, 2010

It’s hard to escape that conclusion, Shane.


7. Captain Rock - June 27, 2010

Harris wasn’t so keen on Steve McDonagh when he was publishing Gerry Adam’s books. As for Daniel O’Connell driving Protestants away from republicanism, I think it may have been a bit more complicated than that.


shane - June 27, 2010

Sure King Dan wasn’t a Republican anyway. On the contrary I think Harris might share with him a few things in common. If he wants a more non-sectarian nationalism maybe he should look towards the Young Irelanders.


8. NollaigO - June 28, 2010

I have not read Steve Mc Donagh’s current book. I had read his biography some years ago. When I last spoke to him the Coolacrease controversy was ongoing. Steve rejected the ethnic cleansing/land grab view of the War of Independence – his own family, on his mother’s side, were landowners in the Bandon area during that period and used to entertain British army officers!
Steve’s father was a CoI clergyman and was a fluent Irish speaker who spent much time as a local priest in the Dingle area. When Steve moved to Dingle in the early1980s, he was heartened to meet older people who had fond memories of his father.

One of Brandon Books’ most successful authors, Alice Taylor, was viciously attacked by Roy Foster, the high priest of revisionism. [See Envoi Taking Leave of Roy Foster, Aubane,2006
So the Senator is on dangerous ground if he hopes to attract Steve McDonough as his ally.
A 1960s essay by the Senator, Maríodh Seán Sabhat i 1923, shows him in his Young Irelander days. WbS promises to put it in the archives just as soon as I write an introduction!


NollaigO - November 19, 2010

With sadness, I have just learned of the death of Steve.
I first met Steve in the 1970s when he was in the RMG for a short period. From mid 1980s onward I used to meet him in Dingle on my summer visits.

I hoped he is spared an obituary from the Senator portraying him a someone he never was.



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