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This Ireland: Do you know or have you heard of this man? July 7, 2008

Posted by WorldbyStorm in This Ireland.
9 comments

From the recent Hot Press interview by Jason O’Toole with ‘celebrity’ solicitor Gerald Kean:

Q: What type of clients do you handle?

GK: I have 50-odd Premiership footballers and 30 international bands or artists. I don’t want to mention any names of my clients because it would be wrong, but it would be well known that I’m very close to people like Alan Shearer, Peter Reid, Gordon Strachan, Norman Whiteside and Paul McGrath…

… but the strength of the practice is not about that – it’s about people. It’s a people practice.

Q: How did you get so many celebrity clients?

G.K: Again, I got lucky. I met Jim Kerr [’nuff said] and became very good friends with him, and then from him Andy McCluskey of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and then I met Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran… I think it’s unfair of the likes of the Mail saying “Self-styled Celebrity Solicitor”. I have regularly contacted the media and said I’m not self-styled and I’ve asked for it not to be used- because ‘celebrity solicitor’ damages my business in that the amount of people that say to me, “God Gerald, I can’t believe you’re so nice”…

…People who know me know that I’m exceptionally honest. If you ask me to send out a letter tomorrow and I forget t do it and the day after you ask me “How’s it going?” I will say, “Jesus! Jason, forgot to send it out.”

I have advised some very high profile clients that got into some difficult situations to admit that you made a mistake. … Years and years before young Jason was working with Hot Press, people would say “Watch Gerry Kean – he’ll be in the Tribunals and tax scams!” I have never set up foreign companies. I have no offshore accounts. I had one offshore account 25 years ago. There’s no offshore accounts. There’s nothing there.

Q: How did you first become a public figure?

GK: I remember many years ago – when you were still a kid in primary school – going to a function with Simon Le Bon and one of the papers at the time – the Sunday Press – asked for a photo of myself and ex-wife Clodagh [reputedly the recipient of a €5m jet for her fortieth birthday] and Simon, and we pulled out of the picture and then the paper said: “Who does Gerald Kean think he is? He wouldn’t get in for a photograph?”, so I said, “I’ll go for the photograph the next time”. So I sort of felt I couldn’t win…

I didn’t go to the funeral [of Katy French] because I was afraid of the newspapers, such as the Mail, saying “Here’s Gerald Kean and Lisa Murphy turning up at the funeral of somebody for the sake of some publicity stunt”.

Q: There were some critica comments made about your recent birthday party, which was certainly extravagant.

G.K: I couldn’t get over the press coverage for something like that… I had to laugh at papers like the Mail going into why I picked – was it King Louis the XIV? Well I didn’t know what I picked! … I didn’t want to have a black tie event – boring! I didn’t want a fancy dress because I didn’t like people coming in Robin Hood rigouts. I wanted to do something different. Then I had this vision, which worked out. It was as good a night as you ever had. We had horses and carriages bringing in the guests and we had choirs calling out their names as they arrived. We had Belinda Carlisle, ABC, Alsan, Lloy Cole and the Commotions, Ronan Keating. And everyone was dressed up and all the girls who were thinking about a boob job decided that it wasn’t necessary because they have these corsets – they were just chuffed with their breasts! All the lads were going around with their wigs, saying “Jesus, I look quite good in a wig!” It wasn’t meant to be serious…

It’s serious alright.

This Ireland: Stating the obvious down the Sunday Business Post. February 5, 2008

Posted by WorldbyStorm in This Ireland.
4 comments

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A remarkable report in the Sunday Business Post. It says that:

Low income households were better off last year than in 2006, but many still face a financial shortfall every week, in order to have a minimum basic standing of living, according to new figures from a social justice organisation.

Think about it ‘Low income households … don’t earn enough’.

Who would have guessed it?

According to the Vincentian Partnership:

The group carried out a study in 2006 on the minimum essential budget for six typical households. It surveyed 161 people from a variety of areas across Dublin to determine their required weekly expenditure on essential things, including food, clothing and transport.

And in practice:

A single adult male working full-time and earning the national minimum wage saw his income rise in 2007, due to an increase in the national minimum wage.

However the new report found that such a person still faced a weekly shortfall of €63.68 last year to maintain a basic living standard.

I could continue in a mock-naive approach, but I don’t have the heart for it because these are very real impacts on very real people. Disturbing that some people don’t seem to quite get it in the world at large. Perhaps the Celtic Tiger has blinded people to reality for far too long.

For further on this very issue consider Mick Taft’s piece here

This Ireland: Gay Marriage and the Irish Times… a debate of sorts… January 17, 2008

Posted by WorldbyStorm in This Ireland.
18 comments

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How interesting the debate on ‘gay marriage’ in the Irish Times on Monday. How rarified. How informative. How useful. Or not… For under the heading ‘Should the State sanction gay marriage?’ in the (natch) Head2Head column Tony Allwright, engineering and industrial safety consultant, ‘blogger’ (and prodigious contributor to the Irish Times letters page) debates Eloise McInerney, communications officer of LGBT Noise, a group set up last November to lobby for gay civil marriage in Ireland.

Now, it will hardly come as a surprise to you that around here we’re in favour of gay civil marriage. It’s not that we buy into social liberalism unquestioningly, simply that this is an issue where the way forward is straightforward.

But these are mere trifles compared to the discourse on the pages of the IT. I won’t go into the points made on either side, at this stage – and for shame the Irish Times being so far behind the curve – I’d bet most people have a fairly good sense of their stance on this issue. But Mr. Allwrights thoughts are entirely worthy of parsing out…

Civil union, civil partnership, gay marriage. It’s all the talk, these days. Unless you’re one of those (say in the Vatican) who believe homosexuality is some kind of curable disease, or else a fun lifestyle choice like drinking wine instead of beer, you would have to feel sorry for the plight of gays and lesbians in a hetero world.

How about this?

A tiny minority wherever they go, often – and wrongly – despised, disliked or disparaged, whether to their face or not, I doubt they can ever feel fully comfortable except amongst fellow-gays.

One is immediately and unambiguously reminded of De Valera’s ability to look into his own heart to see what the Irish people were thinking. But do continue:

…a question immediately follows: what’s so special about a partnership that’s gay? If gays are to benefit, there are plenty of other partnerships that should also be considered: two elderly brothers who have shared a house all their lives; a spinster daughter and/or bachelor son living with their widowed mother; lifetime bridge partners who have long shared a home together; celibate gays; three siblings.

And the societal ramifications?

…numerous studies [unreferenced by our intrepid correspondent] demonstrate that kids have a better chance in life if reared by their married biological parents. This is society’s return for the tax breaks. Thus, the practical argument against gay marriage is that without the possibility of children, marital tax concessions have little payback.

It is true, however, that availability of gay marriage might help reduce promiscuity among gays, but although this may be intrinsically beneficial to society, it is not comparable with raising responsible future citizens.

Those pesky promiscuous gays – eh? One is amazed only by the fact that the word ‘the’ is missing after the word ‘among’. And here is an horrific prospect…

Once you move away from the one-man-one- woman formula, the possible permutations become limitless. The one thing that would distinguish gay partnerships from all the others is that sex is involved, albeit fruitless sex. But that is a ridiculous prerequisite for tax breaks.

Hmmm… hold on a second… So we take it then that only ‘fruitful’ sex is a suitable precondition of marriage… that seems to raise a whole raft of issues. But hold up, deftly swerving away from that wreck, there’s another reason…

Without discriminating in favour of gay sex, it will be impossible to stop two people hitching up for purely tax purposes, or indeed three or four. In jurisdictions – such as the UK – which have granted significant tax advantages to gay couples in civil unions, it is only a matter of time before non-gay couples claim and obtain similar rights. It’s already happening.

It’s only a matter of time, but… it’s already happening… Right so. And…

The “equal rights” argument does not hold water because gays already have the right to marry someone of the opposite sex; they just usually choose not to, albeit for understandable reasons.

Okay…. and this is presumably an argument based simply on financial issues…

So, for all the understanding gays deserve, any kind of statutory non-traditional marriage for them or anyone else is insupportable and unjust. It’s either too discriminatory against non-gays, or else too wide open to abuse by tax-dodgers.

Resultant tax concessions would, in the absence of any discernible payback, unjustly increase the tax burden on others. Non-marital vows and commitments are personal arrangements. The State has no business getting involved.

QED. Still, I note that somehow this argument about ‘marriage with fruitful sex between men and women’ doesn’t preclude the state from getting involved when those seeking it are siblings or other relatives and yet…somehow…the appalling (yet to my mind entertaining) vista painted by Mr. Allwright doesn’t come into play. Odd that.

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Incidentally if one follows the link so conveniently provided in the Irish Times for Tony Allwright one will discover, rather than his blog, a page detailing his contributions present and future to the world of engineering and industrial safety [to add to something that was raised yesterday on a thread, Pete implicitly made the point about whether people are qualified to post on blogs, or rather why should what is said be taken as read. It may seem strange but I completely agree… blogging isn’t journalism, it’s largely opinion even if people do try to reference – as I think we do here – and at the end of the day that means that information on blogs or from bloggers has to be evaluated with extreme care or taken with a large pinch of salt]. Discreetly positioned to the right hand side is the link to the blog. I’m certain this imprecision is a simple typographic mistake. Still, it makes me look forward to the day when, no doubt, there will be no complaints when the Cedar Lounge Revolution website is nested within that of my new company, WorldbyStorm Window Glazing Enterprises, and when said Enterprises are advertised – in passing, of course – on any future appearances on Newstalk by contributors from here as “The Cedar Lounge… revolution and reform sponsored by WBS Window Glazing Enterprises”

This Ireland: 1916 – 2007 ooops, I meant to write 2016 – A new and different form of Irish patriotism.. December 23, 2007

Posted by WorldbyStorm in This Ireland.
2 comments

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For some reason we’ve largely avoided discussion on the Tribunal. Not entirely sure why. Perhaps because it’s so opaque, so subjective. Perhaps – speaking for myself – because others can and have done it better, look for example at contributors to Irish Election. But, it would be nice, just once, to hear instead of short tempers and self-justification, some sense that whether right or wrong much of what has emerged simply looks and sounds wrong. That it cannot and must not happen again. That the personal and private is – at least on a financial level – the public, and that the demos deserves better. That a genuine patriotism (and in this specific case, one which has led to remarkable achievements on this island) requires no less.

On a related matter Mark Hennessy wrote in the Irish Times on the 13th of December:


The Government is to begin planning for the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising early next year, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said last night, as he launched a book recounting the events surrounding the 50th anniversary in 1966.


Ahern also noted that:

…it was impossible for anyone, regardless of their political allegiance, if any, to know how they would stand in 1916 and in the events that followed, including the Civil War. “To ask today what side would you have been on?” was a superficial question which ignored the fact that personal experiences and connections were central to most people’s actions, he said.

It is true. We can have very little certainty how we would align in historical circumstances of particular divisiveness, particularly ones which didn’t draw in clear left/right divides.

An Oireachtas committee led by Minister for Defence Willie O’Dea, which organised the planning for the 90th anniversary military parade in Dublin, will be reformed in January.The committee will have representatives from all of the political parties and one from among the Independent TDs and senators.

Hmmmm… perhaps Eoghan Harris will be given the position from the latter group [and incidentally, let the CLR be amongst the first to congratulate him on his recent marriage].

“We simply cannot know how we would have reacted in similar situations. What matters today is their idealism and what we have built on the foundations they laid,”


Very true.

Ireland’s more mature democracy is “hopefully arriving at a situation where all parties accept that Ireland’s history belongs to every Irish person and is beyond political posturings”.

Great.

“Lemass, despite being a veteran of the Rising, interpreted 1966 in terms of the present and the future. The message of the commemoration was that what Ireland needed was . . . a new and different form of patriotism.”

Aye, indeed. A new and very different form of patriotism. That’d be nice.

But not too new, and not too different.

This Ireland… 2. Rented property, metered televisions… and er… spying on the tenants. November 16, 2007

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Housing, Social Policy, This Ireland.
17 comments

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One of the weirdly counter-intuitive aspects of the current housing situation in Ireland is the way in which the near-impossibility of acquiring homes has led to something of a golden age for the rental sector. Well, a golden age for those who own rental property. Rents are rising as lack of supply leads to increasing demand. Ah yes. A wondrous time. And as with all such times certain oddities emerge…

Take for example the news on Wednesday.

Reported in the Irish Times under the heading: Landladies ordered to pay students €115,000 in damages

The details are as follows…

Two Dublin landladies have been ordered to pay damages totalling more than €115,000 to 10 students who were tenants in their house after the Circuit Court found they had kept the students under secret electronic surveillance.

The tenants, from Mayo, Galway, Donegal, Armagh and Monaghan, rented rooms in 46 Mobhi Road in Glasnevin from Rita McKenna and her daughter, Edel, in 2003 and 2004 while studying at the nearby colleges, Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin City University and St Patrick’s College in Drumcondra.

While the conditions were as good or as bad as one might expect there was a lovely touch…

The students paid €80 a week for a shared room and €90 for a single room, and an extra €5 for a meter-operated television. The McKennas lived in a separate part of the house. Nine bedrooms in the property were rented out, mostly to students.

But television, metered or unmetered wasn’t the problem.

The students became concerned in late 2004 that their conversations and activities were being monitored when the McKennas referred to details the students had discussed in private in the house. When they raised the issue with the McKennas, the students were evicted.

And as the judge noted:

the tenants were “unceremoniously evicted with less than four hours’ notice and left to their own devices with their belongings in black bin bags and boxes”.

The case threw up the surprising conclusion by the judge that…

…the evidence in the case left him “in no doubt whatsoever that the defendants had kept these plaintiffs under electronic surveillance”.

He continued that…

… he could not say whether it was audio or video surveillance or both, but he was concerned that yellow wires found in the house were of the international standard used for video recording.

This conclusion being drawn from…

…wires were found during a search on December 3rd, 2004, when Ms Hegarty’s solicitor and a garda called to the house on the back of a court order. Solicitor Fergus Gallagher and Garda Alan Sherlock found themselves locked out of the house by the McKennas when they arrived.

A very very unwise thing to do. The Judge…

…found the students’ rights to privacy had been infringed and he awarded them damages varying from €7,500 to €12,500 each.

Still, one has to ask, why on earth were the landlords – or ‘ladies’ (and isn’t the original an incredibly revealing word when one thinks about it?) spying on them in the first place and what led them to believe this was appropriate behaviour in 2007?

But then, why look for explanations? The narrative of ‘ownership’ and the narrative of control are far far too close together sometimes. It’s not just libertarians of the anarcho-capitalist variety who believe that signing a contract invalidates the most basic rights to privacy and autonomy. Or rather that contracts work only in one direction, that direction being from the person who owns to the person who does not. A very basic power relationship played out before the Irish courts. Call it capital, if you wish. But sometimes – when it overstretches itself and seeks to dominate the entirety of the social space – capital loses.

Donald Horne once wrote about how in liberal-democratic societies, where, in varying degrees, the ‘myths’ of capitalist enterprise become ‘legitimations’ of the social order…’. He also noted that ‘most (capitalists) are not risk-taking entrepreneurs and controllers of small businesses, but investeros, or speculators in shares, in real estate… how they gain an income is not honourable by many of the standards of ‘the traditional virtues’, nor by the standards of utility of the free enterprise ‘myth’ ‘. It’s funny, isn’t it, how rented property points up this sense of ‘not [being] honourable’ if only because this is the sharp end, sharper still even than the work context, the domestic, the place where people live and seek refuge. But this is, at it’s most primitive, the place where the transactional aspects are also most evident, unmediated by mortgages or other.

Having been that soldier as regards renting my sympathies are with the students. Very definitely three cheers for them on this one… And fair dues to them for actually going to law. If we don’t try to take on that sort of abuse of power (and this incidentally holds as much for those who believe capital works well – after in the contemporary period all systems requires self-evident ‘legitimations’ as to utility and fairness however much they deviate from that in practice) how will we ever know what can be achieved?

This Ireland… 1 July 21, 2007

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Class, This Ireland.
3 comments

From yesterdays Irish Times…

Thirty-seven homeowners in a Co Dublin housing estate, where properties cost more than €1 million each, have no legal title to the driveways into their homes…

Mr Justice Esmond Smyth has been told in the Circuit Civil Court that they will have problems selling their homes because they do not have a legally-binding right-of-way to the estate, Elton Court in Sandycove.

Tell us more…

The problem over legal title to access roads to Elton Court came to light when Ronbow Management Company Ltd, the management company that runs the estate with and for the residents, tried to block a local vegetable sales man parking his delivery van in sight of their properties.

Niall Beirne, counsel for Tommy Byrne, who used to grow vegetables on the plots where Elton Court now stands, said the residents claimed the van lowered the tone of the area.

He said that after retiring Mr Byrne had been forced, through pressure from the residents, to get rid of the offending van and buy a car for himself and his wife Philomena.

I’m sure there’s a perfectly good explanation for the residents actions. Who are these Byrne people anyway?

Both of them have lived for 35 years at Breffni Terrace, Sandycove, alongside the relatively new Elton Court development.

Oh. I see.

Mr and Mrs Byrne took an action in the Circuit Civil Court seeking a declaration that they were entitled to park their car in Breffni Lane, close to their mews home along which they had access and parking long before Elton Court had been developed.

Mr Beirne said Sorahans, the developers, had granted them a licensed spot to park their delivery van or car in Elton Court where the residents now leave their bins, but his clients, who were elderly, had been unable to continuously walk the 185m to and from this parking spot. They said they were entitled to park their car beside their home.

I’m sure there are two sides to this story.

This was disputed by Ronbow Management Company Ltd, with a registered address at Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin.

See?

Mrs Byrne said the residents had visited her home when her husband was ill upstairs, and had threatened to stay until the vehicle was moved.

Okayyy…

Suzanne Boylan, counsel for the company and the residents, said the defendants were unable to consent to the Byrnes obtaining an easement to park because of the difficulty with legal title to rights-of-way on access roads to the estate…Judge Smyth granted the Byrnes a declaration of entitlement to an easement to park a car at their home. He said the residents had no alternative but to take the steps they had done because they could not be seen to consent to this matter without the court’s intervention in the case.

Hmmmm…..

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