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The awful new Oireachtas web site July 13, 2018

Posted by Tomboktu in Complete nonsense, Crazed nonsense..., Democracy, Luddite protest, Uncategorized.
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Who the f*** in their right f***ing mind f***ing would ever the-f*** think the f***ing useless new f***ing design of the f***ing g*d f***ing awful f***ing Oireachtas f***ing website was a good idea?

A basic starting point they missed: most of it is essentially a reference library of texts: dull, boring but important speeches, parliamentary questions, bills, amendments and other procedural documents which nerds, activists, scholars, civil servants, and (some) journalists and (some) politicians need to look up. The main content of parliamentary proceedings is not graphic-led — it is driven by the spoken and written word — and the removal of documents like the sedate boring PDFs of the debates in favour of the large chunky font size hip-to-the-groove ‘infographic’ that might fit well on a news magazine’s web site (albeit a decade ago) is just not suitable for presenting sober, technical, official records to the public.

Form won over function there.

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, again May 7, 2015

Posted by Tomboktu in Bits and Pieces, Complete nonsense.
4 comments

Regarding the title of this post, no, you didn’t miss a previous post in this series.

There’s a knack to being a successful Irish politician. It’s not enough to get things done for your constituency, you need to make sure the voters know that you did it. In fact, the first part of that statement isn’t even true, just the second. (I’ve known some politicians whose technique was to find out what grants, road repairs, housing allocations etc. were scheduled to be announced that day and get a letter out before their rivals could saying they were delighted/happy/pleased to announce that the long-fought for grant/road repair/ housing allocation had been successfully fought for/achieved/agreed, with occasional dips into a thesaurus to put some variety into their letters and press statements.) What you don’t do is promise something that is not in your gift.

Exception 1: you make that kind of promise so you can later resign (the whip or as minister) in order to prove the promise was a matter of principle.

Exception 2: you are Aodhán Ó Ríordáin.

In fairness to Aodhán, though, his dud promises aren’t about delivering to his constituents. He has high ambitions for his stint as minister of state. But he doesn’t realise that ministers of state are colloquially referred to as junior ministers for a reason.

One of his first promises was to amend Section 37 of the Employment Equality Act — the bit of the law that allows religious schools to discriminate in the hiring and firing of teachers. Now, this is not a new issue for him, and he really has worked to get is changed. The problem is that that work was when he was a backbencher, and when Alan Shatter was the cabinet minister with responsibility for dealing with this matter — and, vitally, was also interested in doing it. His new boss — sorry, ‘colleague’ — hasn’t shown the same level of interest as Shatter did, and Aodhán doesn’t seem to be able to move things along while she deals with laws on marriage and adoption by same-sex couples.

He was also going to sort out direct provision for asylum seekers. He was pleased that a committee — sorry: ‘working group’ — was set up to advise the government — note: not the junior minister — on what ‘improvements should be made to the State’s existing direct provision’. It would be wrong to say that the working group is packed with civil servants who have been happy enough to discourage bogus asylum seekers at the price of letting genuine ones languish in appalling conditions for years, but its membership was carefully crafted to ensure the civil servants do have a majority. And the vehicle of Aodhán’s hopes was shown to be of secondary importance when the cabinet minister introduced legislation to deal with the backlog of cases before the working group had a chance to finish its work (probably because the government needed to demonstrate some action on the disgraceful history in advance of the UN’s human rights body asking awkward questions in Geneva next month).

A third promise was that Traveller ethnicity would be recognised in six months. The six months runs out on 19 May, and I may be premature in declaring that another unfulfilled promise, but the word I am hearing is that the cabinet minister is not as enthusiastic about this as her predecessor was.

Now Aodhán has had responsibility for drugs added to his brief. And I hear that he says he wants to see medically supervised injecting centres for heroin users in place before the next election. I know that linguistically ‘want to see’ is not the same as ‘promise’, but when you’re a minister, even a junior one, that could be seen as a commitment. Forgive me for doubting it will happen. Again.

A headline to behold April 3, 2014

Posted by Tomboktu in Bits and Pieces, Complete nonsense, Equality.
35 comments

The Belfast Telegraph’s lead story on its website at the moment is stunning.

Protestant schoolboys left at the bottom of the class – with results only slightly better than Travellers or Roma children

Belfast Telegraph

Of course, what they really meant is: “Traveller and Roma children left at the bottom of the class“.

John Waters on debate, the media, and truth February 22, 2014

Posted by Tomboktu in Bits and Pieces, Complete nonsense, Equality.
74 comments

You may have noticed that John Waters’s column has been absent from the Irish Times for the last three weeks. He has, however, provided a statement to GCN. GCN invited him, among others, to be interviewed.
This is his response.

It’s a little late for ‘debate’ when the night rallies have been scheduled and the hate-mongers have been given the run of the playing field. The problem with the word ‘homophobia’ is obvious: it’s a word with a deliberately cultivated demonic aura, which is used not merely to describe acts or words of hatred against gays, but also to demonise those whose positions about family, children or the Constitution appear to be at odds with what the gay lobby is demanding. But, when this is pointed out, the users of the word say that the word means what they say it means, no more and no less. In this they now, it appears, have the full support of an irredeemably dishonest media, together with the full run of the Internet to demonise anyone they say is homophobic – without, it seems, any requirement to produce proof or illustration to validate their assertions. Anyone who tried to speak truthfully about these matters in these circumstances would be insane. We have entered a new era in Irish life, democracy and free speech – and it’s not a nice place and unlikely to change for the better.

And in today’s news August 29, 2013

Posted by Tomboktu in Complete nonsense, Economy, Ireland, Journalism.
1 comment so far

At 11.50 today, breakingnews.ie has a telling juxtaposition with its top three news items in Ireland. The headlines were, in order

(1) Jobless total down 22,000

(2) Emigration figures continue to rise

(3) 30 new jobs in Kerry as discount retailer announces new store.

When you opened story (2), it revealed that the number who had emigrated was 89,000.

PAGE

That Great British class calculator April 3, 2013

Posted by Oireachtas Retort in Capitalism, Complete nonsense.
22 comments

I was already having nightmares about this thread on Broadsheet yesterday but this from BBC is a bit mindboggling isn’t it.

On wealth

bbcc2

‘cultural’

bbcc1

and who you know

bbcc3

Bizarre no?

Im boxed the lowest of wretched Proles however, while still living on >10k with no savings I effortlessly achieved social mobility by claiming to like Opera and know a Chief Executive (which could of course be my boss)

 

The traditional categories of working, middle and upper class are outdated, fitting 39% of people.

It found a new model of seven social classes ranging from the elite at the top to a “precariat” – the poor, precarious proletariat – at the bottom.

More than 161,000 people took part in the Great British Class Survey, the largest study of class in the UK.

Class has traditionally been defined by occupation, wealth and education. But this research argues that this is too simplistic, suggesting that class has three dimensions – economic, social and cultural.

The BBC Lab UK study measured economic capital – income, savings, house value – and social capital – the number and status of people someone knows.

The study also measured cultural capital, defined as the extent and nature of cultural interests and activities.

The ‘new’ classes are defined as:

  • Elite – the most privileged group in the UK, distinct from the other six classes through its wealth. This group has the highest levels of all three capitals

  • Established middle class – the second wealthiest, scoring highly on all three capitals. The largest and most gregarious group, scoring second highest for cultural capital
  • Technical middle class – a small, distinctive new class group which is prosperous but scores low for social and cultural capital. Distinguished by its social isolation and cultural apathy
  • New affluent workers – a young class group which is socially and culturally active, with middling levels of economic capital
  • Traditional working class – scores low on all forms of capital, but is not completely deprived. Its members have reasonably high house values, explained by this group having the oldest average age at 66
  • Emergent service workers – a new, young, urban group which is relatively poor but has high social and cultural capital
  • Precariat, or precarious proletariat – the poorest, most deprived class, scoring low for social and cultural capital

and what of this?

The researchers said while the elite group had been identified before, this is the first time it had been placed within a wider analysis of the class structure,

Even on basic level of uselessness, White middle class kids have been the biggest consumers of “hip-hop/rap” for the last twenty years and what relation has it to Class at all?

So what would an Irish version look like?

sicc

Surely as useful a guide as the above effort.

For a better picture check out this week’s welfare reforms.

Dear FG, please copy and paste January 8, 2011

Posted by Tomboktu in Bunreacht na hÉireann, Complete nonsense, Fine Gael, Judiciary.
3 comments

Dear Fine Gael,

In light of the news that 22 judges are refusing to take a pay cut, and the failure to implement your 2009 promise to introduce a Constitutional amendment to allow judges’ pay to be reduced, Cedar Lounge Revolution is happy to present, for a second time (with the year changed), the English language text your party needs. Unlike the recently discussed plans to abolish the Seanad, this isn’t complicated and involves only one article in the Constitution. Could you arrange for it to be among our ballot papers on the day of the General Election, please.

 

With Kind Regards,

Tomboktu

(PS: Apologies that my Gaeilge is not up to doing the Irish texts, but I know that you have access to the necessary expertise.)

———————————————

———————————————

Twenty-seventh Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 2011

———

As initiated

———

———

TWENTY-SEVENTH AMENDMENT OF THE CONSTITUTION BILL,

2011

———

Mar a tionscnáodh

———

ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS

Section

1. Amendment of Article 35 of the Constitution.

2. Citation.

———

TWENTY-SEVENTH AMENDMENT OF THE CONSTITUTION BILL,

2011

———

BILL

entitled

AN ACT TO AMEND THE CONSTITUTION.

WHEREAS by virtue of Article 46 of the Constitution any provision of the Constitution may be amended in the manner provided by that Article:

AND WHEREAS it is proposed to amend Article 35 of the Constitution:

BE IT THEREFORE ENACTED BY THE OIREACHTAS AS FOLLOWS:

1.–(1) Article 35 of the Constitution is hereby amended as follows:

(a) in the Irish text – […],

(b) in the English text –

(i) the insertion of “except as provided for in section 6” after the word “office”, and

(ii) the insert of the following section after section 5–

“6 The remuneration of a judge may be reduced during her or his continuance in office only when and to the same extent that a reduction in pay is applied to a significant proportion of workers who remuneration is supplied from public funds.”.

2.–(1) The amendment of the Constitution effected by this Act shall be called the Twenty-seventh Amendment of the Constitution.

(2) This Act may be cited as the Twenty-seventh Amendment of the Constitution (Putting Manners on the Judiciary) Act, 2011.

———————————————

AN BILLE UM AN SEACHTÚ LEASÚ IS FICHE AR AN mBUNREACHT, 2011

TWENTY-SEVENTH AMENDMENT OF THE CONSTITUTION BILL, 2011

———

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

———

Purpose of Bill

The Bill is designed to amend the Constitution in order to achieve the following purpose: To make it constitutional for the pay of members of the judiciary to be reduced provided that this is done in a way and at a time that is similar to any reduction that applies to other public sector workers.

 

Minister White, here’s a better idea April 25, 2010

Posted by Tomboktu in Complete nonsense, Fianna Fáil, Human Rights, Minor Left Parties, Rights, Skepticism.
2 comments

I don’t know the motivation behind Minister Mary White’s first substantial decision since she was elevated: to commission assessments of three state bodies with responsibility for equality: the Equality Authority, the Equality Tribunal and the Human Rights Commission, which was reported in the Irish Times at the weekend.

Her motivation might be bad, in that it could be that she, a Green Party minister, rather than Fianna Fáil’s Dermot Ahern, has now taken up the cudgels that he was forced to quietly drop a little over a year ago when he cut the Equality Authority’s budget by 43% and announced ‘efficiencies’ would be introduced through sharing ‘back office functions’. (It would have been interesting to see how that could happen seeing as the Human Rights Commission has the colossal number of one staff who deals with administration and finance, and the Equality Tribunal and Equality Authority’s staff are civil servants in the Department of Justice (and Whatever it is These Days), and their pay-processing and other ‘back office functions’ are already pooled with the Department’s.)

Alternatively, it might be an attempt to kill that earlier plan by using a well-oiled civil service technique against itself: get a review done, but in Minister White’s case, it could be that she intends to stack the review to get the answer she wants rather then the one others have sought. What suggests that possibility is the report that the assessments are to be carried out by academics outside the civil service. However, the Irish Times report makes clear that the external assessments are simply to “prepare the ground for a full-scale review of the bodies”. Is it the case that ‘real’ Ministers or permanent government in the civil service (or both) want the irrelevant shenanigans these bodies get up to stopped, and have duped the knight on a horse from the Green Party to find out for them where the landmines are by sending her out to do the first sortie while they build a tank that will follow behind and trammel all in its path?

May I suggest an alternative, Minister, if you really want to see how we can improve the effectiveness of the equality and human rights systems in the State? Ask your academics from outside the civil service to do an assessment of how effectively each government department has implemented Appendix K of the Revised Regulatory Impact Assessment Guidelines for the proposals it has prepared for the Cabinet. As you and all the key officials will know, Appendix K sets out how a proposal is to be assessed for its impact on poverty.

And ask the academics from outside the civil service to establish how frequently each government department has, as recommended in paragraph 4.48 of the Revised Regulatory Impact Assessment Guidelines, contacted the Equality Division of the Department of Justice or the Equality Authority for assistance in carrying out an assessment of the equality impact of proposals they have placed before government, and how well the proposals have been amended to take account of concerns identified by the Equality Division or the Equality Authority.

Also, ask the academics from outside the civil service to establish how frequently each of the government departments have, as recommended in paragraph 4.58 of the Revised Regulatory Impact Assessment Guidelines, contacted the Human Rights Commission for assistance in carrying out an assessment of the human rights impact of proposals they have placed before government, and how well those issues raised in all of those human rights impact assessments have been dealt with in the final proposal. And ask how many ministers (other than Michael McDowell, who did use the system) have referred heads of bills or other proposals to the Human Rights Commission for observations before proceeding with it in the Oireachtas.

Finally, ask the external academics to examine the (public) records on cases taken before the Equality Tribunal to establish the proportion of those cases in which a state body has been found to be in breach of the equality legislation, and how many of those have been Government Departments.

I wonder what ‘back office efficiencies’ that exercise would suggest are needed.

My Da would beat your Da in a fight May 30, 2009

Posted by Garibaldy in Complete nonsense.
12 comments

Gotta love the Yanks. This story will raise memories among those who heard it of a joke doing the rounds in Belfast during the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

John Waters doesn’t believe that the current economic problems lie with systems but with an incapability for earthly satisfaction. No doubt that will be of great comfort to the victims of those economic problems. March 17, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Complete nonsense, Economics, Economy, Irish Politics.
11 comments

Granted this is a couple of days late, but it’s sort of suitable for St. Patrick’s Day as you’ll discover. And incidentally, what happened to the freezing rain and biting cold of previous St. Patrick’s Days? It’s an almost balmy 11 degrees in Dublin, although standard operating procedure hasn’t been entirely superceded. The sky is gray. I was working in Dublin city center yesterday (incidentally I’m guessing most made a long weekend of it, where I was was a ghost town) and at lunch went out for a few minutes to find the streets filled with tourists clutching tricolours and/or with fluorescent dyed green hair. Ah, our national holiday.

As regards John Waters. He’s in fine form. Oh yeah. He’s in fine form. Revived and revitalised from his break earlier in the year John Waters has decided to give us the dubious benefit of his opinions on a range of issues. Now he starts with a reference to his book “An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Modern Ireland” which I have to admit is one I like more than usually. Sure, there was a hint of later problems seeping into the text, but it remained a pluralistic and essentially grounded work. But now he seeks to quote from it in reference to a point he made about the Éamon de Valera 1943 St. Patrick’s Day speech which is often misquoted as mentioning ‘comely maidens’.

He argues that:

…recently I’ve taken to floating an idea I ceased promoting over a decade ago because you cannot argue it with success: that Éamon de Valera, when he delivered his 1943 St Patrick’s Day “dream speech” was not wrong about everything. For years it was impossible to say this without being run out of town.

He continues;

At the mention of Dev, my recent researches have established, the national expression still creases into a sneer. The objections haven’t changed, in spite of everything.

And then that:

I find it infinitely interesting that, even now, in response to such provocation, someone will immediately mutter disparagingly about Dev and his “comely maidens dancing at the crossroads”, although the speech referred to neither phenomenon. Unfazed by such semantics, the speaker will invariably plough on to condemn de Valera for urging us to remain poor and isolated.

But here’s the problem. Even though the speech contained no such phrase, that doesn’t suddenly mean that the speech was correct in all or part. But for Waters it is not just a speech, it is never – as his words on Brian Cowen’s recent speech to businesspeople demonstrated – just a speech, but instead a sort of psychological mine that dives to the hidden depths of the Irish essence. So he argues that:

[De Valera’s] purpose was to establish a philosophical bedrock on which a coherent society might be built. The idea that Ireland might be “the home of a people living the life that God desires than man should live” is surely recognisable as code for a society in which connectedness with absolute values would enable a balance in which human happiness would be maximised. Dev was speaking at the level of metaphor, outlining not a literal landscape but a parable of a society in which human beings might prosper without succumbing to illusions or false gods. He was proposing the cultivation of a collective consciousness wired to the true meaning of human existence, bounded by a healthy sense of sufficiency and capable of growing by its own lights. The nearest he came to fantasising about comely maidens was the expression of a desire that his ideal Ireland would include the “laughter of happy maidens”, which always stuck me as fairly unexceptionable. He made no mention of crossroads at all.

Was de Valera really doing any such thing? Did he genuinely attempt to generate such a parable, or was it more likely that in a time of war, this was after all the Emergency, when a small impoverished neutral and essentially undefended state on this island attempted to stand aside as best it could, he decided to give a pep talk to the nation, one that remained within the limits of what was achievable?

And like all pep talks it consisted of saying back to the recipient the truth varnished with some stirring rhetoric about just how fabulous we as a people are. Ireland was dilapidated, in material terms there was little to be done about it at that point, what else would de Valera have suggested but that “Ireland was the home of people who value material wealth only as the basis for right living”? He was hardly going to usher in the consumer society. And Waters mistakes or elides the loftily worded but essentially pragmatic statement of the now in 1943 with some sort of template thereafter.

Which makes his subsequent statements seem just a little bit odd…

Is what scares us the thought of being satisfied with frugal comfort? Are we still offended by the notion that the population of this ideal Ireland might devote its leisure to the things of the spirit?

That’s all fine and dandy, but it seems wildly at variance with the reality of life in a somewhat secular democracy. Because it’s not due to offence at such a notion as to a sense that it is simply not a plausible mode of life for people. Nor, quite frankly, does it seem terribly attractive, or even hugely worked out. What is the detail of this life of the ‘spirit’? What would it entail? How would it be imposed and so on?

Because the reality away from the life of the mind Waters parades for us is that things haven’t been quite as wonderful at the coal-face as he might like to suggest. The boom in this state lasted about fifteen years, a little more or a little less depending upon analysis (I’m of the view that things really took off in 1997 – 1998 – late enough in the day). It’s impacts were far from even either geographically or demographically.

And the major complaints that one will hear expressed, if one asks about fears are not about the fripperies of life, DVDs, Flatscreen televisions, new cars and so on, but about the fundamentals. Will I have a job next week? What sort of health care can I expect as I get older? Will my private or state pension be sufficient unto the day? Will I get by?

And when the job goes the questions get simpler again, but worse. Much worse.

The last time I was made redundant, some five years ago, and I’m hesitant to bring this up again, those were thoughts that went through my head. Life gets awful simple in that context, dismantled to its most basic elements. How will I eat? How long can the redundancy be eked out? How much dole will I receive and how long can I get by on it? How do I explain to prospective employers what has happened? Then there is the basic raw shock of the situation, so powerful that it saps even the energy to try to get a new job. The fear that nothing will improve, that the responsibilities to family and others won’t be met. And that’s happening to thousands of people across this island.

But for Waters, seemingly insulated from such petty concerns it is all about the big stuff. The very very big stuff. And it’s all a bit absurd and, frankly, more than a bit self-indulgent…

A caricatured version of this speech was used for several generations to sell an entirely different kind of existence: one in which the sense of an absolute relationship with reality was replaced by the idea that limitless progress could one day meet all human needs. In this dream of Ireland, happiness would be predicated on belongings and sensations. Dev’s speech became the key weapon in an ideological war that, in truth, has brought us to this sorry pass: reduced to a dependency on the material and no longer able to maintain the habit.

Which is close enough to nonsense if you think about it. He sounds for all the world like a child who has had their iPod whipped away from them, or rather, he appears to believe that everyone else is like that child. But the situation we face is vastly more serious than such trivialities.

And when he does attempt to make a linkage with the economic he staggers badly…

What has happened, it is surely obvious, is more than an economic crisis. It is a crisis in the relationship between human beings and the systems they created to serve their wants. Human desire has burst at supersonic speed through the fragile edifice of the money system, leaving nothing in its wake but shattered illusions and unsatisfied appetites. The problem lies not with the systems, but with the fact that human longing, being infinite, is incapable of earthly satisfaction.

Which again is near meaningless. The human longing for security of employment, for security of income, for healthcare, for provision for family and friends are all eminently capable of earthly satisfaction and entirely subject to socio-economic and political processes.

The sort of ‘longing’ he refers to sits above such matters, is indeed the product of societies where there is time to ponder such matters. Which ironically is precisely the sort of society we live in today where people have disposable time as much as disposable income.

Oddly enough André Gorz, and indeed most Marxists and post-Marxists, have had similar thoughts, about societies which would eschew the commercial and the mass produced, of humans unshackled by economic concerns so that they could live the sort of insightful and enquiring lives that are a cousin of those proposed by Waters, but their proscriptions (quibble about the details as we might) was that it would take an engagement with the material, not a sort of headlong rush away from it, in order to generate those societies and those reformed human relations. Which means that glib talk about ‘unsatisfied appetites’ when unemployment increases seems at best off the point, at worst callously detached from the day to day concerns of hundreds of thousands.

But that wouldn’t fit into an analysis which concludes:

The idea that “regulation” could have saved us from the present calamity is as ridiculous as it is pervasive. This now constant refrain implies that some among us should have kept their heads, gone against the mood of the moment and sought to deny us our due. But the mindset epitomised by the caricature of Dev and his dream had made this all but impossible. Central to our post-de Valera imagination was the idea that restraint was a reactionary idea, that limits were for losers, that values were whatever the market decided. And despite everything, we remain incapable of making connections. We have learned nothing and understood nothing. Our towers of Babel fall around our ears, but still we hear only what justifies our deluded determination to make the same mistakes all over again.

There is no ‘we’ in this discussion and debate (at least not in the sense that he means it), no meta conversation about the Irish psyche (however that may be defined), no reason to berate people one more time for their supposed failings in not living the life of the mind as defined by Waters. There are only people in a society trying to get by as best they can, as they always have. No help though from articles like that.

And for the day that’s in it… Happy St. Patrick’s… however you choose to interpret that… 😉

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