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Mandatory jail sentences for ‘white collar crime’… well, that’d be a start March 30, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics.

How’s this from the SBP at the weekend?

A Labour TD has drafted a bill to impose mandatory jail sentences on white-collar criminals. Clare backbencher Michael McNamara is seeking to get the support of his colleagues at their parliamentary party meeting this week.

He said he had drawn up the bill to extend the mandatory sentencing currently in place for firearms and drugs offences to white collar crime.

It is genuinely staggering the distinction made between some forms of crime and others. McNamara isn’t wrong when he notes:

“If you go ahead and hold up a shop and steal €1,000, you get a custodial sentence. If you steal the whole chain of shops, you get away with it. We just don’t view it as serious,” he said.

His bill provides for automatic jail sentences for those convicted of white-collar crimes, unless there are exceptional circumstances. It also provides for the establishment of an Office of Fiscal Prosecution, which would take over white collar crime cases from the Director of Public Prosecutions

And what of this example?

Last year, two former directors of Anglo Irish Bank were sentenced to 240 hours of community service for giving illegal loans to ten developers to buy shares in the bank. McNamara is planning to submit the bill for debate in the Dáil after presenting it to the Labour parliamentary party.

That gives a clear insight into how the system is structured to tilt towards the class interests of some and against others, doesn’t it?

Another poll, already? March 28, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.

RedC/Sunday Business Post…

FG 27% +3%, LP 10% +3%, FF 18% NC, SF 17% -4%, IND/OTHER 28% [includes RENUA 2%, GP 2%].

All very interesting, hard to know what to make of it given the IT poll this week too which offered a different picture again.

Meanwhile, what of this?

Despite the rise in support for the coalition parties two thirds of voters said they had not felt the benefit of any economic recovery.

Of those surveyed 62% believe the country is out of recession but said a change of Government is needed to deliver a fairer society.

Paying the price for centuries of contempt March 27, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics, European Politics, Irish Politics, Northern Ireland, Scottish Politics, The Left, Wales.

It’s not necessarily coming, as they say, from a place of love. More like a place of snark, but this is a great line from Simon Jenkins in the Guardian when discussing the shape of the next British Parliament.

British politics is paying the price for centuries of English contempt for the political aspirations of the Irish, Scots and Welsh.

Ain’t that the truth.

Throughout the 19th century Tory (and some Liberal) opposition to even moderate home rule for the “other British empire” ensured a more drastic separatism would eventually triumph.

Actually his line is intriguing because he argues that with SNP support a Labour government is more or less inevitable. Well, we’ll see.

He makes another point, one which given the way in which unionism looms large in the political consciousness is perhaps sometimes forgotten on this part of the island

The lesson of separatism across Europe is the same. For restless Ukrainians, Slovenians, Kosovans, Slovakians, Basques and Catalans, regional autonomy is not a passing fad, to be bought off with a few powers and subsidies. It is a visceral response to the arrogance of centralised power. It is the response that many Britons profess towards the overbearing power of Brussels; yet few in Westminster see themselves as the EU of Great Britain.

The Full Moon March 26, 2015

Posted by doctorfive in Irish Politics.

Deputy Joe Higgins: The former Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Deputy Pat Rabbitte, decided to come into the Dáil tonight, having alerted the media that he was going to make an important statement on Irish Water. In his long career we have seen him hawk himself around the political world from Official Sinn Féin to Sinn Féin The Workers’ Party to the Workers’ Party to New Agenda and to the Labour Party.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: And Democratic Left.

A Deputy: And Fine Gael.

Deputy Joe Higgins: Did I leave anyone out?

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: God knows.

Deputy Joe Higgins: The Christian feast of Easter approaches. It is a movable feast set for the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. The Government’s deadline for householder registration with Irish Water is also a movable feast. It is much more movable than Easter, however, and last night, with some puffing of his chest, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government came into the Dáil Chamber and announced no less than the fifth registration deadline of 30 June. At first sight, it appears to have something to do more with the sun than the moon because the first deadline was around the autumnal equinox. It was then moved to around the winter solstice, but that deadline then disappeared like the weak rays of the winter sun at Newgrange and we moved in the direction of the spring equinox. Lo and behold, we now have a date somewhere beyond the summer solstice. Is there any logic to this? I have worked out that there is a law governing the movable feast that is Irish Water registration and it runs something like this. It is the first occasion on which the Minister with responsibility for Irish Water gets to speak after the latest registration figures showing stubborn resistance to registration by householders after tens of thousands of the same householders have poured onto the streets of Dublin and elsewhere in Ireland to demand the abolition of water charges. In passing, some might say that in the case of the Labour Party persisting with water charges, it might have something to do with the full moon, but being a scientific socialist, I will not really comment on that.


Video and full debate from last night

Marriage equality… March 26, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Irish Politics, Marriage equality.

Bruce Arnold is in dissenting mode again. Fresh from the spat over the Irish language wording of the referendum, he writes along much the same lines as his IT piece about how so much is about to change and be changed utterly. And so he writes, despite effective evidence to the opposite in relation to the many marriages where people choose not to have children or are unable to, that ‘The complementary ingredients of marriage that give it completeness and are vested in sexual partnership would become an optional rather than an essential feature of marriage’. I’ve noted the willingness of the anti-marriage equality side to throw so many in marriages today under the bus. Having been married myself for almost a decade before the creature appeared I find it equal parts entertaining and absurd that that was clearly not a marriage in the eyes of those making that case.

The apocalypse beckons by his reckoning in other areas:

Much of the existing law of marriage would have to be revised and re-enacted – and much of family case law abandoned – at considerable loss.


The law of judicial separation would also change in that the grounds of adultery would no longer be sustainable, as adultery can only take place between a man and a woman.

Then there’s this:

A big question mark also hangs over the future solemnisation of civil marriages in religious ceremonies. It is very doubtful if solemnisation of civil marriages in churches could continue under a same-sex marriage regime.


Same-sex marriage is being aggressively promoted by a small minority of people for their own ends, regardless of the effect on society as a whole. It is the duty of the government and the Oireachtas to promote the interests of society as a whole, even if that impacts on the wishes of a minority. It is not possible to grant the wishes of every citizen. Mature and responsible societies know this.

And so on. Away from his eschatological visions those of us inclined to the sense that all this is easily enough dealt with will draw our own conclusions.

But’s what this, a new front being opened, or at least extended, by the anti-marriage equality camp?

Education policy would have to be reformed and widely changed. Under the amendment the state would be authorised to engage in a programme of positive discrimination in schools and elsewhere in favour of same-sex marriage.
The state would inculcate acceptance of the new reality of gender-neutral marriage in children and young adults. I believe parents are as yet unaware of this intrusive reality facing all types of the newly framed family.

‘positive discrimination in favour of same-sex marriage’… ‘intrusive reality’… hmmm… how on earth does he come to that conclusion? But it doesn’t take any great insight to see how that line will be used, or how articles like his which reference it will become touchstones in future arguments.

Sinn Féin and government formation after the next election March 26, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.

Pat Leahy writes at the weekend on foot of the recent Goldman Sachs report that fretted over the economic ‘recovery’ being jeopardised by the arrival of SF in power. And it’s particularly useful when contextualised with the poll today. He suggests that:

Sinn Féin cannot be in government unless either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael wills it.

And that:

I think it is inconceivable that either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael would join a Sinn Féin-led coalition as a minority partner after the next election.

Which leads the conclusion that the ‘ unless the current government is re-elected – unlikely at this point, but by no means impossible – the only available government will be a Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael coalition’.

I think he’s right. Perhaps some sort of coalition of all the talents can be assembled out of Fine Gael and RENUA and the Ross Brigade, and the Labour Party and… that’s a lot of ands in there isn’t it?
But real political activity, real governments, can’t depend upon such disparate and divergent groups, or not for long. Look at the 2007 FF led coalition of loads. It staggered and staggered again as the crisis came roaring towards it, ultimately falling asunder well before its allotted time.
Leahy, though, also points to a most interesting dynamic, one where…

The (mostly American) investors who freewheel through the Dublin stockbroking houses, the NTMA and the Department of Finance all ask about different aspects of the same thing: the rise of the left, the prospects for Sinn Féin forming a government, and what would such a government mean for their business and investments, current and future.
The concerns and curiosity of the international investors is increasingly mirrored domestically.

Many on the left will see this as a nonsense, but let’s not forget that in this wonderful world of markets perceptions are if not quite everything they are quite a lot. And not just perceptions. It is – of course – correct that revolution isn’t offered by such a government, or anything like it. But discomfort, mild or extreme, isn’t the same as annihilation and discomfort can be… well, unpleasant for those experiencing it.

The haves, and the want-to-haves, of Irish society are rapidly waking up to the possibility of the most left-wing government that Ireland has ever seen, committed to highly redistributionist economic policies. They are contemplating significant hikes in income tax for the better-off, as well as wealth taxes, capital taxes and so on.
They are realising this isn’t the Labour Party, rhetorically committed to more extensive redistribution of wealth, but mediated through a power base heavily representative of the professional classes whose romantic 1960s leftism has been mugged by the realities of life in Ireland since. This is something very different.

And remember, it doesn’t even have to be that left-wing to upset the cosy apple cart of Irish society, not when one considers how clearly the system has been gamed to the advantage of the orthodoxy and the ‘haves and the want to haves’ since its foundation. Throw in the fact that even mildly social democratic approaches of a type that would have appeared centrist not that long ago are now apparently out of the question in the view of the orthodoxy. So while SF et al offer nothing as such in the sense of a genuinely revolutionary transformation – though in fairness nor do they pretend they do, for some any change, any change at all, is anathema.

By the way, isn’t that a neat analysis of the LP and its base? Perhaps one might quibble with an emphasis here or there. But… not far from the truth.

But as Leahy also notes:

Barring a political earthquake, there is no chance of Sinn Féin leading a majority government after the next election.
The party is currently polling in the early 20s. Even if it attains this, or higher, in an election (and we know that SF has tended to underperform polls when it comes to the actual casting of the votes), the party will need left-wing independents and smaller parties to win somewhere in the region of 30 or 40 seats to have the necessary numbers to form a government.

The numbers just aren’t there. He is sceptical about the ability of the rest of the left to work with SF – that is the rest of the left that might be willing to. And as he notes FF and FG would resile at the idea of serving as junior partners with SF and why would they hand SF a life line if they are the larger party?

Lots of people want some sort of an alliance on the left. Others, for political reasons, like to be seen to call for it on a regular basis. But very few of the people who would actually make it happen think that it will. The reasons for this are several, but it seems fair to say that a government of the left is very unlikely to happen after the next election.

After the next election. Right. So, an FG/FF or FG minority government with FF supply and confidence. As Leahy says:

Goldman Sachs can rest easily for now. Phew!

As noted earlier today such an outcome would represent a fundamental rupture with the status quo ante.

And what’s that there on the opposition benches, why SF with 30 odd TDs… And just what is likely to be the outcome of the election after that?

Projections after the latest poll March 26, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.

Impressive work from IEL getting those results of the IT poll so early – earlier than the IT website, for at 3am I went looking and they weren’t posted up on it. Anyhow, some poll that, indicating both FG and SF up, Ind/Others still with a huge bloc of support, the LP making utterly marginal gains and FF… well, that’s all analysis for another day.

But someone else burning the midnight oil is the indefatigable Adrian Kavanagh who projects the following:

Independents and Others 28% (down 4%), Fine Gael 24% (up 5%), Sinn Fein 24% (up 2%), Fianna Fail 17% (down 1%), Labour Party 7% (up 1%). My constituency-level analysis of these poll figures estimates that party seat levels, should such national support trends be replicated in an actual general election, would be as follows: Fianna Fail 28, Fine Gael 46, Sinn Fein 40, Labour Party 4, Independents and Others 40.

SF contesting for 40 seats? Ind/Others likewise. An LP that is hardly even a rump (fascinating how the strength of others renders even 7% for that party less useful, though presumably there’d be some transfers on election day that might buoy it up a little). And overall. SF and Ind/Others on 80 seats.

Of course that’s not going to be the election result, or probably anything like it. On a good day if SF and Ind/Others get 60 between them they’ll be doing remarkably well, but… how things have changed that FF and FG would hardly muster 75 seats between them. Is that the sound of leadership challengers massing? Might be for one. All that said the logic remains of FF and FG forging, presumably with the assistance of the Ross Brigade or RENUA (they like the name written in caps I’m told), an alliance to govern.

And that alone would represent a fundamental rupture with the previous settled dispensation in this state…

IPSOS MRBI Poll in The Irish Times March 26, 2015

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Irish Politics.

Fine Gael 24% (+5)
Labour 7% (+1)
SF 24 (+2)
FF 17 (-4)
Ind 28 (-4)

Good news for Fine Gael ,Labour and Sinn Fein, desperate for Fianna Fail who are lower than their 2011 performance. No details of if Renua were polled yet .

The LPT redux March 25, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics.
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The government must be thanking its lucky stars that it decided to use Revenue to implement the payment of Local Property Taxes and perhaps wondering why it didn’t pull a similar stunt in relation to water charges – but of course that would have been to pull away the cosmetic facade that this was not a fund raising exercise rather than an effort, at least in part, to change ‘behaviours’.

Anyhow, the SBP notes that:

Earlier this month, the Revenue announced that 130,000 LPT compliance letters had been sent in respect of unpaid property tax bills for 2013, 2014 and 2015.
New figures from the Revenue indicate that the clampdown has yielded €12.2 million since March 2, with the tax authority receiving tens of thousands of calls to its LPT helpline this month.

Then there was this:

Meanwhile, close to 350,000 property owners will see their 2015 local property tax deducted from their bank account tomorrow, via a single debit authority, having chosen this option when they filed their LPT return last year. The Revenue spokeswoman said that approximately 344,000 chose this option.

That got me wondering, just how many people pay LPT in the state? This from 2013 is indicative:

The exact figure for the total number of liable properties is not known. A figure of around 1.96 million was mentioned by Minister Hogan and Revenue .

SOCIALIST VOICE – March edition out now March 25, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Irish Politics, The Left.

Layout 1

Northern workers protest against austerity
Eugene McCartan
On Friday 13 March tens of thousands of public-sector workers took part in a day of action against proposed cuts, job losses, and welfare cuts. Called by the Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, it brought public transport, ambulance services and other public services to a standstill.

Economic misery and bloody chaos
Tommy McKearney
The soap opera that surrounded SYRIZA’s limp attempt to negotiate with the vicious, agenda-driven European Union, led by the financial sector, has understandably captured huge attention during the recent past. As with all the best action within that genre, viewers were kept in mock suspense while the inevitable dénouement was played out.

The American media: a masterful work of deception
Richard Bryant
I have been fascinated by the coverage surrounding Brian Williams’s inability to accurately remember certain details concerning his time in Iraq and New Orleans. It is a story that says much about our culture and the times in which we live.

The Greek people are in a double bind
Mary MacMahon
Since the election of the SYRIZA government in Greece earlier this year the European media have gone into overdrive to marginalise the Greek people and the new government. Even the very limited agenda of SYRIZA, which raised so much hope within Greece and throughout Europe, has been dashed on the real existing European Union—not the air-fairy one that is the darling of the social democrats, ultra-leftists, and broken-down Labour Party types and their supporters within the trade union movement.

“Divide and rule” still the strategy of the United States
Tom Bateson
In early March the Obama regime issued an executive order placing sanctions on seven Venezuelan officials for alleged violations of human rights and the political prosecution of opposition protesters since February 2014.
The statement refers to “the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by the situation in Venezuela.”

Merkel’s poodle
Alan Hanlon
Adolf Hitler had a German shepherd dog named Blondi. Hitler liked to have photos taken of himself with Blondi, or with children, as part of his campaign to groom the German people into thinking of him as a man of peace, who loved animals and children, instead of the street thug that he was.

Take it down from the mast?
Tomás Mac Síomóin
Irish representatives, along with fellow EU neo-liberals, ganged up on Greece in the recent negotiations between the elected representatives of that country and the EU. Their stance, lauded by most of the Irish media, has already made a hollow mockery of next year’s official 1916 commemoration.

What’s left of Labour?
Robert Navan
On the 28th of January last Dáil Éireann debated a motion to approve the terms of the free-trade agreement between the European Union and Colombia, sometimes known as the EU-Colombia Trade Agreement.
The agreement has been in operation since August 2013 but still requires ratification by all member-states.

Back from the future
Jenny Farrell
The “Cold War” is not over. And it won’t be—until the very last memory of an alternative to the society of capital is deemed eradicated. So let us take a moment to stem this drive for oblivion.
As the rewriting of GDR (East German) history continues unabated, there are some areas in which the servant scribes find this a little more difficult.

Film review:
Some dreams are worth fighting for
Jenny Farrell
Jimmy’s Hall, perhaps Ken Loach’s last major feature film, is of special interest as it celebrates the life and struggle of the Irish communist Jimmy Gralton.
It is rare indeed to come across a film that unashamedly stands by the tradition of struggle by the dispossessed against the combined forces of economic, political and religious power,

Counter culture
Paul Doran
Counter Culture at the New Theatre, Dublin, Monday 16 March

This was a very enjoyable evening, organised by the James Connolly Festival, which is fund-raising for its major list of public events taking place in May.
The evening began with the poet Theo Dorgan,


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