Monthly Archives: September 2009

Held to ransom by the banks

David McWilliams accurately reframes the debate on NAMA. The taxpayer is not bailing out the banks, the establishment is holding the taxpayer to ransom. Once the ransom is paid, we are told, the credit will start flowing again…

“The NAMA saga is easier to understand if it is watched through the lens of a hostage drama. The bankers, the creditors, the Government, and the old establishment who got us into this mess, are the kidnappers. They ruined the banks, but now they realise that the banks are their last chance. So they have taken hostage the shell that is the Irish banking system. They have a gun to the banks’ head and are claiming that if we don’t bail them out, the hostage will be killed. So they demand the cash or else they threaten to bring down the whole economy.” [The Irish Independent, 16/09/09]

Frank Fahey says there is no connection between Fianna Fail and property developers.

On Newstalk today while speaking to Eamon Keane Frank Fahey claimed ‘with hand on heart’ (his actual words) that there was no connection between Fianna Fail and property developers.   This is his entry under ‘property’ on the Oireachtas Register of Members Interests:

(1) 2 apts Castlerea, Co. Roscommon: letting; (2) Apartment 8A, 16 Eglinton Court, Galway: letting; (3) House at Kilbeacanty, Gort: letting; (4) Apartment at Dun Aengus, New Docks, Galway: letting; (5) House at Dun na Coirribe, Galway: letting; (6) House at Liscannor, Co. Clare: letting; (7) House at Rinawade Close, Leixlip: letting; (8) Shareholding in apartment at Dun na Coirribe, Galway; (9) Shareholding in extended family owned properties at Moydrum, Athlone: letting;  (10) Shareholding 4 Apts & Shop, Lower Gerald Street, Limerick: letting; (11) Shareholding in Sage Construction Co. Ltd.; (12) Shareholding in retail unit, two offices and warehouse at Crowe Street, Gort; (13) House at Jumeirah Estates, Dubai;  (14) Dwelling house at The Grove, Crowe Street; (15) Shareholding in apartment at Starthmore Road and one apartment at Tappan Street, Boston, Massachusetts: shareholding in Fahey Higgins L.L.C. Boston; (16) Five apartments owned in partnership at Rue Paul-Emile, Janson 1000, ten apartments owned in partnership at Rue Du Sceptre 1015, Brussels; (17) Apartment at Chancery Lane, Dublin 2; (18) Apartment at Cathedral Place, Limerick: letting; (19) House and site at Villefranche, France; (20) Deposit paid and contract signed on property at Porto De Mos, deposit paid at Lagos and Mongadoha Lameira, Alcantarilha, Portugal; (21) Apartment at Irishtown, Dublin.

 The Register itself makes for some very interesting reading in connection with Fahey’s statement.

Expostulation and reply. Talking back to Fintan O’ Toole

Much though we love Fintan O’ Toole, it’s impossible to allow his column in today’s Irish Times pass by unchallenged. Read this beauty:

FOT is accusing us all on the ‘no’ side of the Lisbon Treaty of ‘bogeyman’ politics.  Most of us will likely have to rub our eyes on reading this because we can scarcely get out of bed in the morning without being told that Ireland will fall off the edge of Europe and be eaten up by deep sea monsters if we vote no.  In fact it is precisley because of the very paranoid politics that O’ Toole claims to  be exercised about that we are having to vote a second time at all. 

For the blog that is in it, a response was called for and duly fired off this morning:

“Dear Fintan

You really have a nerve.
Have you actually read the provisions of the proposed Treaty of Lisbon?  Just about everything you stand for is quite plainly threatened by it.  Does it not give you pause, to take just one example from among many, to hear the likes of IBEC welcoming the ‘liberalisation’ of public service provision in areas like health and education?  If Fungus the Bogeyman is being deployed anywhere it is by people such as yourself who insist on trying to intimidate us with the alleged dire consequences for us all of voting no.  Equally, it would be better for you not to insult the intelligence of the majority who voted against this treaty and at least engage with us on the specifics.  I cannot tell you how sick and tired I am of this sort of arrogant, undemocratic ‘mummy-and-daddy-know-best’ attitude from the Irish Times.  You would no doubt be filling your column with indignant outrage if we had voted yes and were all now being made to vote again to see if we really meant it.  If a yes vote is secured this time it will be precisely because of the sort of bogeyman politics that you pretend to decry. 
A little less hypocrisy and name-calling and more real engagement with the substantive issues would be in order.
Yours sincerely
Miriam Cotton
CC: MediaBite Blog

Right turn ahead

Ireland, the Lisbon Treaty and the New World Order

By Miriam Cotton

This analysis of the background to the forthcoming Lisbon Treaty referendum which will take place in Ireland on 2nd October 2009 was originally published at Znet.

Here we go again

These days in Ireland, people are mostly either a ’Yes’ or a ‘No’.  There are also, crucially, the ‘Dont Knows’.   This situation has come about because the disobedient citizens of Ireland defeated the European Union’s proposed Lisbon Treaty in a referendum in 2008.   The Nos had won and the solidly Yes establishment consensus was furious with us.  We were ‘ungrateful’ and ’ignorant’.  We were ’liars’.  We would be sent to detention and our pocket money would be withheld.  None of our European friends would want to play with us any more and would want to punish us severely, what is more.  They would hold their party without us in future and we would have to wait outside the door looking longingly in at the feast.  The Lisbon Treaty has far greater significance than any of this.  If it is not also the focus of popular attention in the US, China, Russia, India and the Middle East among others then it really should be, though it’s certain that there are plenty of powerful people in those places who are watching its progress carefully.

For its own constitutional reasons, Ireland had to put the treaty to its electorate for approval.  Alone among all of the member states of the union, this pesky little country of just over 4 million people had delivered a verdict which should, because of a requirement for unanimity among EU states, have seen the EU go back to the drawing board or abandon the treaty altogether.   But things seldom work like they are supposed to round these parts and now we are being told instead  to go back to the polling booth to do as ordered last time and vote yes in a re-run referendum on the exact same treaty.   This has all resulted in a heated public debate that it had been intended should never take place but which has gone some way to exposing the enormous underbelly of the  Lisbon Treaty project.  And so we find ourselves in Ireland with the fate of 500, 000, 000 European people in our hands, almost certainly most of them begging us not to approve the treaty.  We have had to do this vote/re-vote routine with two earlier pieces of European legislation already as Irish people try to resist the increasingly but now utterly discredited ‘liberal’ or ‘free market’ economics which the EU is now trying to foist on us permanently.  But the Irish have obstinately refused to learn the lesson being rammed down our throats: get it right first time.  Each time around, however, the electorate appears to lose its collective nerve and we submit in the second vote to the prescribed view.    We have a bit of a shout about things and then settle down to behaving like compliant Europeans, though at the time of writing there is a possibility that the outcome will be different this time.   The Nos comprise mainly working people, trade unionists and peace activists for example, who fear a reduction in employment rights and a militarised, less democratic Europe.   The make-up of the first Lisbon Treaty vote was no exception – although it was notable that a large majority of women had voted against it.  Right -wing opponents of the treaty, though far fewer in number, had been the focus of hysterical pro-treaty media attention, as they are again now, but that did nothing to persuade the majority who had different reasons for saying no to Lisbon.

Continue reading Right turn ahead

Protest the culture of indemnity

A volley of invective sent to the Irish Examiner recently:

Dear Sir

While reading, with increasing alarm, your article about the licence to print money which is the new, untested swine flu vaccine it occurred to me that the principle behind everything Fianna Fail have ever done or will ever do is indemnity for their rampant greed: indemnity for vaccine makers who will make a fortune out of a rushed and risky product; legal and financial indemnity for decades of appalling physical, psychological and sexual abuse against children; indemnity against the mindless, craven give away of our natural resources; indemnity for fraudsters; indemnity for corrupt politicians; retrospective and wildly speculative(NAMA)financial indemnity for failed bankers and developers; indemnity for wreckless speculation on the financial markets; indemnity for environmental destruction and neglect of every sort and indemnity for pervasive, systemic maladministration and waste.  Fianna Fail have, over the last two decades, legislated the most comprehensive cowboys’ charter ever dreamed up – the crowning achievement of their Celtic Tiger years. More than the politicians and their backers however, it is the voters who created the opportunities for them to do this who carry most of the responsibility. Those who did not lose their heads and could see where all the madness was inevitably leading us were shouted down, ridiculed and frequently bullied and victimsed – even offered the option of suicide by our then Taoiseach, whose own personal fundamentals have since turned out to be something less than ‘sound’.  How can a person with a shred of integrity or sense of fairness bear to be publicly or privately associated with such a party?  How can these citizens look at the devastation their votes have caused this country – to their children’s futures, to the withering education and health systems, to the struggling and dying businesses throughout the country, to their unemployed family members, neighbours and friends and not feel appalled and ashamed?  Whichever party or parties form the next government (please, God, let it be sometime very soon)take note: if we elect you, it will be on the back of a firm and non-negotiable demand that you will destroy this profoundly undemocratic and destructive culture of indemnity.
Yours sincerely
Miriam Cotton

Talking over our heads about the Lisbon Treaty

Here’s a selection of what the proponents of Lisbon had to say about its purpose when they thought we weren’t listening:


“Public opinion will be led to adopt, without knowing it, the proposals that we dare not present to them directly …all the earlier proposals will be in the new text, but will be hidden and disguised in some  way.”
Former French President V. Gisard D’Estaing, who headed the drafting of the EU Constitution which the French and the Dutch rejected in their 2005 referendums, and which is now being implemented through the Lisbon Treaty.
Le Monde, 14 July, 2007

“The aim of the Constitutional Treaty was to be more readable : the aim of this treaty is to be unreadable … The Constitution aimed to be clear, whereas this treaty had to be unclear. It is a success.”
Karel de Gucht, Belgian Foreign Minister, Flanders Info, 23. June 2007

“90% is still there … these changes haven’t made any dramatic Change to the substance of what was agreed back in 2004.”
Bertie Ahern, Irish Independent, 24 June, 2007

“The good thing about not calling it a constitution is that no one can ask for a referendum on it.”  [Or so he thought.]
Guiliano Amato, Italian Prime Minster, later vice president of the EU Convention which drafted the Constitution. Speech at London School of Economics, 21 February, 2007


“In Europe one needs to act ‘as if’ – as if what was wanted was little in order to obtain much; as if states were to remain sovereign to convince them to concede sovereignty … the Commission in Brussels for example, should act as if it were a technical instrument, in order to be able to be treated as a government. And so on by disguise and subterfuge.”
Guiliano Amato, La Stampa, 13 July, 2000

“Of course there will be transfer of sovereignty, But would I be intelligent to draw the attention of public opinion to this fact.”
Jean Clause Juncker, Prime Minister of Luxembourg

“There is no longer the question of saying that are certain things that the Union can’t touch. Actually, the Union can touch everything.”
Gisela Stuart, British Labour MP who helped draft the EU Constitution, comment on Lisbon Treaty 18 January, 2007

The constitution is a milestone. Yes, it is more than that. I think the EU Constitution is the birth of the United states of Europe.”
Hans-Martin Bury, German Minister for Europe, Die Welt, 24 February, 2007

“Sometimes I like to compare the EU as a  creation of the organisation of an empire.”
J-M Barroso, EU Commission President, The Brussels Journal, 11 July, 2007


“The Commission has the legal basis for a future European Army.”
Dominique Strauss Kahn, former French Finance Minster, Oui Lettre ouverte aux enfants de l’Europe,’ Oct 2004

“I am sure that in the medium term we will have a European Army finaced by the EU budget.”
Wilhelm Schoenfelder, German Ambassador to the EU, Handelsblatt, 19 April 2007

“Our traditional concept of self-defence was based on the threat of invasion. With the new threats, the first line of defence will often be abroad.We should be ready to act before a crisis occurs.”
Javier Solana, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, in a ‘Secure Europe in a Better World’, endorsed by the EU in December 2003.