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A different future… more Soviet Space Art… March 28, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, The Left.
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1958 postcard

Mentioned this here a while ago…

But there’s more… a multitude of sites online that have images drawn from the 50s, 60s and 70s by Soviet space art painters. Here’s the reliable io9 on this topic. I’m particularly fond of Andrei Sokolov’s work (scroll down) which I’ve mentioned before. More here (again, scroll down).

I love this imagery because there’s a difference in style to that of Western space art of the same period – albeit some of the spacecraft look deeply indebted to Chesley Bonestalls work. There’s something more painterly about these images, and a sense that they are different in intent and approach. It’s something in the sheer alieness of the depictions, of the craft. The eye wanders across fields of metallic objects and it’s difficult to tell are these human produced or alien artefacts.

It’s as if this is a view into an alternate history where the red star went even further than it did – and truth is the Soviet space programme was a very real achievement for humanity, and a remarkable one given the constraints on that 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.

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…

SOCIALIST VOICE – March edition out now March 25, 2015

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

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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,

Irish water charges: If they’re going to deduct it anyway, why register? March 24, 2015

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

A fair question, I think, in view of the latest news from Irish Water. For apparently the government:

is understood to be considering introducing legislation to recoup unpaid water charges from people’s income.

Latest figures show 1.23 million people have registered with Irish Water, with just under a million of them Irish Water customers.

And that out of, well, perhaps, sort of, kind of…:

The company believes there are a total of 1.5 million customers.


The Government is now thought to be considering taking unpaid water charges from peoples’ wages or social welfare payments.

A distinction would be made between people who cannot pay and those who will not pay.

Well, that’d be nice, some sort of differentiation between different incomes. Though the question comes to mind why not at first and why not through general taxation? But answers there are none to such questions.

Doublespeak! March 23, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
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The latest from Archon and political analysis from and on Cork and beyond…

LINGUISTICALLY, our politicos never fail to impress. Local lad, Jim Daly TD, is a case in point. Indeed, if Ireland had a counterpart to the Doublespeak Award, Mr Daly would be an ideal candidate for the honour. The trophy is a tribute that the US-based National Council of Teachers gives to the public speaker that has best-perpetuated political language.

As a former ‘máistir’ at Skibbereen Gaelscoil, the FG politico would be aware of the attention American linguists pay to the manipulation of language whereby politicians can make the bad appear good, the negative positive and the unpleasant pleasant. He’s a dinger at such skills.

Of course the punter should not forget that, even if politicos make things as clear as mud by distorting language for political ends, behind the nonsense there’s a very clear objective. They want to control what people think and, to achieve such an end, they use a form of language that is deceptive, evasive, vague and confusing.

With Doublespeak the medium is the message. In the old days, the message was called propaganda, but now politicos describe the message as ‘the organised dissemination of information’.

And, if we observe the Doublespeak process in relation to Mr Daly, when the fogginess of thought lifts and the insincerity is laid bare, we see that the purpose of party propaganda (or the dissemination of information) is to further at all costs the interests of Fine Gael and, where appropriate, to reflect the wisdom of the Dear Leader.

Cork left standing

Here’s an example: Last week, Daly told De Paper that he did not believe the Government should wipe Cork Airport’s appalling financial burden, the €120m debt that Mickey Martin’s FF government originally imposed on the airport and which now threatens to sink the place.

Tourism interests, Cork County Council, business, chambers of commerce, trade unions, the general public and this newspaper in particular frequently warn that the debt is strangling the airport and that its enormity is preventing Cork from competing on an equal footing with Shannon Airport.

Should Cork Airport cease to exist, the consequences would be horrendous for Munster’s economy. Multi-nationals such as EMC, Apple and global pharmaceutical companies have pointed out that the airport was a major factor in their decision to choose Cork as a location for their industries and, they warn, the airport remains critical to their ongoing success.
But West Cork man Jim Daly and most of his FG cohorts have a different take on the matter. They’re deaf to the warnings. When pressed, Daly argued in a neat piece of Doublespeak that, were the government to cancel the €120m debt, Cork Airport would ‘potentially be left standing still’.

A Eureka moment

Needless to say, nobody had a clue as to what he meant by the comment ‘potentially be left standing still’ but it had a ring to it and seemed to point to a subtle line of reasoning that we, sadly, just didn’t have the wherewithal to grasp.
And then came the good news bit. An increase in passenger traffic and air routes would solve the €120m debt problem – as easy as that! Classic Doublespeak!

What’s more, he would prefer to see the government donate €1m (yes, as little as one million according to De Paper) for marketing new airport routes. This, in turn, would facilitate the growth of business and allow the airport to pay back its debt from the increased revenue. A truly Eureka moment!

Daly also believes better marketing of the West Cork region and the Wild Atlantic Way could attract ‘new tourists’ and that this too could have a significant impact on the ‘airport’s marketing strategy’.

So, with a smidgen of Doublespeak, everything eventually turns out easy-peesie, and there’s no need for the Leeside burghers and the prophets of doom to be getting their nether garments in a knot!

But, and here’s the million-euro question: when stripped of the rhetoric is Daly’s simplistic problem-solving just gobbledegook and unadulterated piffle?

No solution to crisis

Perhaps our esteemed public representative really does believe that if his gang sunk €1m into ‘marketing new routes,’ Cork Airport could spring into life and pay back its unsustainable debt?

On the other hand, the cynic might suspect that hidden behind the guff, Daly is merely repeating platitudes that are designed to conceal the fact that Kenny and Fine Gael have absolutely no intention of ever finding a solution to the crisis at Cork Airport.

Indeed, Fine Gael essentially shifts responsibility for the €120m debt onto the airport management and the Dublin Airport Authority (Cork’s indifferent bosses). It is the task of those bodies to reverse plummeting passenger numbers and, in some miraculous fashion, to make the place profitable!

Nor is Fine Gael prepared to introduce a ‘route development fund’ – presumably of the sort Daly had in mind. In answer to a Dáil question last February, Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe glibly replied with the stock answer that it was ‘a matter for the airport and DAA to stabilise and grow traffic’.

Interestingly, whereas Daly has little difficulty parroting the government’s anti-Cork bias not all of the Blueshirt camp is ready to do the same. Noel Harrington, Daly’s competitor for votes in Cork South West, declared the debt should be written off and the airport managed independently.

Reward for Jim?

Fine Gael TD for Cork North West, Áine Collins shares his point of view. She believes the airport is pivotal to the continued growth of the West Cork region (where tourism generates 250,000 jobs and revenue of more than €5 billion annually).
Nonetheless, to be fair to the linguistically-smart Jim Daly, he’s consistent in his support of government policies and always has been. He carried the can for the plan to slash teachers’ allowance payments despite a furious teachers’ union, the ASTI, complaining that he was ‘maliciously’ promoting a tall tale.

And, in the ambulance controversy that bedeviled West Cork, he loyally toed the party line when campaigners accused him of abandoning them in their hour of need. He hit back, alleging ‘vested interests’ within the campaign, and of ‘reckless and opportunistic scaremongering’.

The people deserved the truth, he proclaimed, and that as long as he had the responsibility of elected office he would communicate honestly with the electorate. ‘Electoral considerations do not feature in this very serious issue for me,’ he said at the time.

A principled politico, indeed, whose devoted attachment and allegiance to the Dear Leader has so far gone unrewarded. Even the most gnarled critic would agree that Daly deserves better for his years of total commitment. Like a seat at the cabinet table, for instance?

But, hang on a sec! Could that be another example of Doublespeak, that corrosive language that conceals and prevents thought?

Today’s march… March 21, 2015

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

…good numbers and reported as such in the media – both the Independent and Irish Times reporting the organisers estimate of 80,000. RTÉ a little more circumspect:

March organisers stated over 80,000 people took part, while observers said the figure was between 30,000 and 40,000. The garda press office did not provide an estimate.

Who are those unnamed ‘observers’ one wonders? Government, no doubt, was keen for the issue to go away, but this keeps matters simmering until the next national protest on the 18th of April.

Why the 2016 General Election will not be like the 2011 General Election. March 11, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
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Pat Leahy makes a piece in the weekend’s SBP about Labour and the coalition. In the course of considering the options for the government, forced to try to spin the best narrative it can in relation to the economy in advance of the election but constrained by both its own political direction and the broader parameters imposed and agreed with Europe he writes:

The coalition will challenge the opposition to accept their numbers and to explain where any additional resources to fund extra spending promises will come from.
It is a central pillar of the Fine Gael and Labour attempt to portray everyone else as more or less incapable of governing.
If that is an overwhelmingly negative strategy, it is also a potent one.

Of course that only works so far if others – as with SF, at least rhetorically, have decided to sit the next government out. And it falls asunder completely if the government parties can’t muster the numbers to return as a government.
Leahy argues that:

The spring statement will be followed by the “I can’t believe it’s not social partnership” process on pay and tax, a new public sector pay settlement and then the October budget. All of this, the coalition hopes, will keep the focus of political debate firmly on the economy – and on terms set by it.

Election 2016 here we come. But he also notes further problems:

Both of these offers to the voters – the spending commitments on one hand, and the economic competence card on the other – have their individual merits in political and electoral terms.
But some of the more thoughtful TDs and people around government fear that there is a contradiction in trying to run both of them at the same time.
They wonder if you can promise a spending spree while at the same time claim to be the only people who can prudently manage the economy. It seems to me that this is a legitimate doubt.

And he suggests that:

It requires the voters to give the coalition – and especially Labour – the benefit of the doubt to an extent they are currently unwilling to do. It may be the best option open to the coalition, but for a government that has achieved its first objective (exit from the bailout) and is presiding over strong economic growth, it is a remarkably weak position.

And even if some voters do extend the benefit of the doubt where previously they didn’t is that enough?

There’s a fundamental difference between 2011 and now and it’s near enough a structural difference in regard to the strength of the traditional political parties.

We face a remarkable situation, one where, unlike 2011 all the main political parties are significantly holed beneath the waterline. FF still reeling from its years in government, Labour bleeding support continually, FG nowhere near the electoral titan of the last election. Paddy Healy has made this point now, particularly in relation to polling support, for some time.

This is, obviously, unprecedented. And the corollary is that the alternative parties, the opposition, are remarkably strong. Amazingly strong given precedents. The field left of Labour, and including partially SF in that category, is enormous. Granted not all the Independent and smaller party vote is left wing. As we will soon see with the Creighton operation there are manifestations of the right too. How strongly attractive they are to the voters remains to be demonstrated. They will get some support and presumably there has been advance polling completed on them (meanwhile Shane Ross’s vehicle may be moving closer to the light of day too… I’d be amazed if there isn’t some news about that shortly).

But all this means is that the government parties, the former establishment parties, are under siege in a way that is quite unlike anything they have faced before. And that means that there’s no particular reason for voters to want to give them the benefit of the doubt. Why bother when, as in 2011, giving them a good kicking is more satisfying. Indeed the rhetoric of a ‘recovery’, however empty that may be, could work against the government because it may engender a sense that there’s less to lose in delivering said kicking.

Either way I wouldn’t pin my hopes on ‘recovery’ and ability to govern as a winning gambit. And inconveniently there are problems with the latter in particular. The last year or two hasn’t exactly been marked by a superfluity of efficiency on the part of the Government. Anything but – and though no one mentions it much, for the LP to lose a leader and not gain a vote in polling doesn’t exactly send a great message either. Ministers have departed under clouds. There’s a year to go. Not a lot of time there, not a lot of room for optimism if you’re at the thick of it.

Putting Kinsale on the military map March 9, 2015

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

More from Archon, again many thanks to the person who forwarded this.

EX-AMERICAN soldier and Rosscarbery resident, James Sikora, has a plan of action to put Kinsale on the military map. He wants to commemorate the achievements of Irish soldiers. No, not our national heroes but the Micks and the Paddies who were part of British and US sponsored carnage in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Gulf and Vietnam!

Mr Sikora’s organisation, the Irish Veterans Historical Research Centre, intends to build an ‘Irish veterans memorial museum’ that will tell the story of ‘Irish men and women, and those of Irish descent, who served and who are still serving in various military forces’. In other words, in foreign armies! As a non-sectarian, non-denominational, massive tourist attraction, it will create jobs and be a force for ‘Irish reconciliation’. Wow!

Oh, and Mr Sikora says the project will need ‘significant funding’. So, he’s appealing to people with Irish connections to get involved and to honour those (the soldiers) who have gone before them.

Why? Because ‘a huge national blind spot about the Irish contribution to modern conflict’ still remains, he said. We should be proud of our foreign fighters and their stories, and ‘we must be brave enough to address historical reality, not hide from it,’ he added.
His group already has secured ‘an agreement in principle’ from the US government to display military hardware, and has been promised two helicopters: a Huey gunship that was used in Vietnam and a Chinook that also saw service in Vietnam.

‘American Warrior’

Indeed Kinsale is not the only town that wants to honour Irishmen hired to serve a country other than their own. Ennis Town Council, for instance, in conjunction with the Irish Vietnam Veterans Memorial Project, is planning a memorial to the Irish who ‘served in Allied military service in South East Asia’ and to the 2,500-army personnel who were Irish or of Irish descent in the Vietnam War.

By a strange coincidence, President Obama also wants to pay tribute to Vietnam veterans and has designated the next ten years as the time-period in which to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War – admirably fitting in with Mr Sikora’s proposed military project in Kinsale.
But in the United States, Obama’s plan has outraged large sections of a public that continues to condemn American politicians for prosecuting a brutal, pointless war that killed 58,000 Americans and more than four million Vietnamese, Laotians and Cambodians. They argue that the consequences of the bloodletting shaped American society in a terrible way, and that the conflict ushered in the era of unending Washington-inspired wars.

Others believe that the glorification of the ‘American Warrior’ is meant to divert attention from questioning the reasons for the Vietnam War, its failed objectives, and why it is still considered to have been a hugely-immoral war.

Ultimate sacrifice

Also at issue is the absence of official concern as to why an estimated 22 veterans commit suicide every day, and why the suicide rate among veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is 50% higher than those who never went to war.

Will Mr Sikora’s museum do anything to answer those questions? Or will it be just one more monument to American and British barbarity? If so, commemorating Irish involvement in the wars of other nations runs the risk of turning his museum into something in the style of Madame Tussaud’s grotesque Chamber of Horrors.
Irish people are not militaristic or lovers of war. and for Mr Sikora’s museum to be a success they will want an explanation of what lies behind the ‘service and sacrifice’ eulogies to GI Joe and Squaddie Bill.

For instance, the UK’s Royal Irish Regiment (RIR) probably deserves a special place in Mr Sikora’s commemorative league-tables on account of its record number of ‘Southern’ Irish. Trouble is the Ulster Defence Regiment (formerly the ‘B’ Specials) amalgamated with the Royal Irish Rangers to form the Royal Irish Regiment but the hated ‘B’ Specials-UDR never changed their spots, as any nationalist family who suffered at their vile, bigoted hands will attest.

More than 200 UDR-RIR members paid the ‘ultimate sacrifice’ between 1970 and 1992 and the obvious question swings into view: will Mr Sikora be ‘honouring’ that detested bunch of Oirish soldiers? For that matter, will he also honour the Irish that served in the Parachute Regiment?

Dodgy business

Mr Sikora’s focus on British and American soldiers (of Irish extraction) may well irk those with family members in the Irish Defence Forces – our Army – who served on UN peace missions. Some made the ‘ultimate sacrifice’ in their role as peacekeepers and did so in the knowledge they were bringing stability, security and peace to conflict zones.
Relatives might well take the point of view that extolling the virtues of Irishmen who participate in foreign armies is a sort of kick in the face to our sovereignty and to our own Defence Forces. They might even consider the Kinsale museum to be repugnant to what patriotism and love of country is all about.
Nevertheless Mr Sikora’s museum plan is gaining traction and at the first meeting of the ‘Irish Veterans’ in Kinsale honour was paid to a young US navy man, Lt Michael Murphy (known as ‘the fiery Irishman’). He was killed in 2015 in the obscene Afghanistan war.

In attendance were the boy’s parents (the father is a Vietnam vet), Minister for Defence Simon Coveney, Admiral Joseph Maguire of the US National Counter Terrorism Centre, and a representative of the Irish Fishery Protection Service.

Hopefully, Mr Sikora and his ‘vets’ also will keep in mind the fact that commemorations can be somewhat of a dodgy business. The recent very controversial failed attempt to give ‘equality of status’ to the Auxies (British paramilitary thugs that the IRA wiped out in the Kilmichael ambush), is a case in point.

The Brits, nevertheless, are past masters at commemorations. Whereas they insanely go overboard with their poppies and Remembrance Day, a wry disconnect sometimes can be observed if a commemoration involves anyone other than those belonging to the Old Boys club – as was evidenced in a Times report on a London commemoration of Viking life and legends.
The scribe wickedly commented: ‘A longboat full of Vikings was seen sailing past the Palace of Westminster yesterday. Vikings were famously uncivilised, destructive and rapacious, with an almost insatiable appetite for rough sex but, nonetheless, the MPs looked up for a bit to admire the vessel’!

Battleship blues

Remember those old schoolboy jokes about how to make a Maltese Cross? Stamp on his toe! Or how do you make a Maltese Cross with only one match? Set his trousers alight!
And of course the updated version about making a Maltese Cross? Give him the clapped out LÉ Aoife for nothing, if you’re Simon ‘away with the fairies’ Coveney, our hilarious Minister for Defence.


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