Friday, March 31, 2006

Top 6 Friday: Top 6 Fridays

In honour of the great precursor to our weekends today we pay special tribute to Friday, as described by Wikipedia the day is a cause for celebration and relief, its very name deriving from Frige, the Norse god of beauty.

6. ‘His Girl Friday’ A really charming, funny movie from 1940 starring Cary Grant. Some of the fastest paced dialogue ever committed to celluloid.

5. TGI Fridays As chain restaurants go this place serves some tastiest dam food on the other side of the Atlantic, 3 words- Jack Daniels Sauce.

4. ‘The Long Good Friday’ An excellent gangster movie from 1980 starring Bob Hoskins, a reminder that the British used to make good movies.

3. Good Friday Certainly not a day of celebration on the Christian calendar, but great things were coming two days later.

2. Man Friday A reminder of the importance of friendship and companionship.

1. The Good Friday Agreement Gave peace a chance.

Dishonourable mentions: Casual or Dress-Down Friday, Crunchie Advertising, 'Friday Night Lights'

Have your self a laugh

leprechaun spotted in alabama. Seemingly it real from wpmi

Nuclear Power

Prime time special 30 March 2006 Is nuclear power set to undergo a renaissance? Interesting note one of the guys is the son of Ernst Walton the only Irish man to win the noble prise for Physics. Personally apart from the safety issues which are debatable. Nuclear is a no go. On issues of cost and the fact that all though uranium is in safe countries like Australia and the US it is finite, the waste is a major issue and it is only a temporary solution.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

What can the government do about Road Deaths?

A mate told me this story. He was driving down a twisty turny mountainous road. In front of him was 2 cars and behind was a van. The van then decided to overtake all three cars. So the van driver put the foot down and accelerated passing out the three cars and cutting right across a blind corner to get back on correct side of the road. 10 seconds later and female driver came up on the other side of the road. If that female driver had left her house 10 seconds earlier she would have come around the corner and hit the van. She would not have seen it coming and probably would have died. Also the other three cars would probably have been in a pile up and more lives could have been lost. Maybe before leaving the woman might have changed the radio station taking 10 seconds, maybe she had trouble closing her house door lasting 10 seconds what ever delayed her that 10 seconds saved her life. From all the times you have been driving how often have you been 10 seconds from death. Road deaths are a national emergency. Since January 1 roughly 89 people have died on our roads, that is pretty much over one a day. But the government are not really to blame for road deaths.

Many people blame the road network and like to use the statistic that the fast roads in the country are the safest. This is a nonsense argument. The main cause of road fatalities and what the government have to deal with is not anything tangible like road quality it is to do with people not taking responsibility for there own actions.

Many road in Ireland are of poor quality and people know this. So they should act accordingly if a road is a twisty turny road don’t speed and don’t over take on a blind bend. All these things make sense to most people but why do people not take responsibility for their own actions. Instead with everything that goes wrong in this country instead of taking responsibility as we would have in yester year we blame the government and expect them act like parents mollycoddling us as if we are irresponsible kids that know no better.

Another argument is that we need more enforcement of the law. Basically what we are asking the government to stop people being stupid and irresponsible. Would we inspect the Gardai to force people not to put their ATM pin number in the newspapers. No of course not because no one would be that irresponsible. But for some reason when dealing with road deaths we never deal with the irresponsibility.

The reason of course is that the person who acts irresponsibly, does not just get their bank account emptied they hit someone in a car that is acting responsibly. Thus the government has to introduce measures to combat stupidity. We Irish are the most informed about the number of road deaths in Europe yet we don’t seem to get the fact that we need to cop on. So what needs to be done.

A Garda traffic corp needs to be put in place the only thing that will slow down people is enforcement of the speed limits. We also need speed cameras. Anyone that says the speed cameras are just a money making device. I say if you do not break the speed limit you do not get fined. Also if you wish to make the argument that you can get done 5 km over the limit. Remember the speed limit is a limit not a suggestion.

Penalty point should also be enforced it is no use having laws if they are not enforced. When they were introduced back in 2002 they did work and reduce fatalities but it was not enforced and people being people were irresponsible and thought sure it is only against the law if I am caught. Hands up who has not driven while using a mobile phone without hands free.

Another option to bring in is to limit engine size or put speed limiters for drivers of a certain age. This is an ok measure but will do little. In the above anecdote the speed wasn’t the problem it was the fact the driver did a horrendously dangerous manoeuvre whether that is carried out at 120kmph or 100kmph would not change the fact that a live would be lost.

Teenagers in schools do not receive education in road safety. The point of education is to educate for living in a society. Schools need to start giving driving lessons as part of the school curriculum. Also the driving test needs to be changed. There is something fundamentally wrong when someone fails their driving test thus judged not competent enough to drive on the road and then drive home.

Drink driving is still rampant, publicans especially rural ones who are on first name terms with many of their customers and who know well who is driving still will fire out rakes of pints. Guinness Mid strength may come the drink of choice of people who are the designated driver. While 1 pint of it will keep you under the limit 10 pints of it wouldn’t. Also the limit is not a target it is the maximum. No alcohol should be consumed at all. An EU survey has placed Ireland at the bottom of the Euro-league for improving road safety. We need to seriously work on this. We need to enforce the law more, straighten roads even place restrictions on car engines

This may well be an issue in the next election. Even though it seems wrong that we have to legislate simple cop on but hey that is the world we live in.

Podge and Rodge and hostel

Great Story in The Examineer. Greens see red at Podge & Rodge axe

On another note I am now going to review the movie hostel.

Piece of Shit

Hope you like my review

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Many people go on about the errors in Wikipedia. But errors occur in all publications take this line from National Geographic
In 1884, with Ireland under the rule of the British Crown, a group of Irish nationalists met in County Galway to establish an organization for Irish athletes, the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). It is still the governing body of hurling and Gaelic football (as well as of ladies football and carmogie, a hurling-like sport for women).
Can some one please tell me when Thurles Co Tipperary was considered part of Galway. Did they even look this up

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Munster Tickets

Tickets are going on ebay for 202.50 on EBAY .

Saving a Counter weight to Dublin

Looking through the Party News on Irish Election .com I find no mention of the new IBEC survey about the Mid-West and the effect of the open skies policy on Shannon. For you who have missed the news basically from excellent the Limerick Blogger.
Shannon airport itself reckons it will lose 30% of its transatlantic business. According to the survey of 123 businesses who responded 25 of those expressed strong concerns that a reduction in flights could trigger decisions to re-locate from Ireland. Fears have also been expressed that parent companies may stop any further investment in existing businesses.

We hear much from all the parties of the need to create a counter-weight to the development of Dublin. This is not going to happen in Cavan (Sorry Cavan people) it is going to happen basically in Cork and Limerick. Galway while it has much infrastructure and indeed is a fine city it lacks two important things that Cork and Limerick have. Major Ports and airports. Cork has deepest natural harbour and Foynes just outside Limerick is Ireland’s largest bulk cargo handler. Also both of the airports are quiet busy with flights to America and to the continent.

From a markets point of view it could be said that Dublin is the dominate player in the market with almost a monopoly and is in need of competition. To attract companies away from Dublin you are not going to be able to bring them to Athlone. Only Limerick and Cork offer the competing infrastructures of airports and ports that companies need.

But to place Limerick and Cork into a position where it can compete with Dublin and slow down Dublin’s sprawl. The airports need to be better serviced. The bus services to and from the Airports need to be top notch. Yet the buses run at intervals of an hour at some stages. Once a flight hits the ground there should be a bus waiting to take the passengers away and regular buses to the airport. Also Shannon Airport is I believe about 3 miles from a train line. Why is a train line not being built to place a train station in the airport. Ireland must be the only country in Europe that does not have a train link any the airport. If we can build bypasses of every small town in Ireland surely we can build a train line to Shannon Airport.

Damien Clancy, president of IBEC, Mid West said

The key message of this report, encapsulating the views of companies in Limerick, Clare, North Tipperary and Galway, is that 'Ireland-US Open Skies' can be an opportunity if Shannon International Airport becomes a fully resourced, debt-free and independent entity, is properly financed and cost competitive so as to provide a full range of supports for airlines towards the development of new scheduled transatlantic services on a year round basis thereby substantially growing passenger throughput


But instead as usual in this country we get reactive rather then pro-active policy ( I hate that phrase but what else can I do) and while there are supposed to be plans for all this in Transport 21 it is years down the line. By that time if the government does not act, then companies will leave the mid west and leave the government one less counter-weight to Dublin.

Also Shannon airport is also a very passionate issue in the Mid-West the ending of the Shannon stop over brought crowds on to the streets I can’t remember child care ever doing that. What ever party can come up with a good policy to save Shannon will not only be taking a step in the right direction to slow down Dublin’s relentless march west they will also be gaining strong support in a number of constituencies.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Privatising the Bus Eireann

Fine Gael are on of the odd ones out of Irish parties of late. It is the only party with a leader that is not from Dublin. Even though Dublin only has about a quarter of the population it has far more of a share of the power. Of the ten Taoiseach’s in history only 4 have been TD’s for constituencies outside Dublin and one of them John Burton was not far from Dublin. Even though Enda is from west of the Shannon much of their energies are centred in Dublin. This I guess has a lot to do with the fact that they basically got creamed in Dublin losing about 9 seats out of 12. So it is no wonder that they focus on Dublin. Anyway one of there recent announcements is about the Buses in Dublin.

Olivia Mitchell TD “Can somebody please explain why Dublin Bus will need fewer new buses in 2010 than it needs in 2006? Dublin is seeing massive population growth, yet a new report out from Dublin Bus this week has slashed the number of new vehicles being sought by the company.

Dublin Bus now wants an extra 425 vehicles by 2010. But in 2000, the Scott Wilson Report was calling for an extra 500 buses by 2006. Is this a joke?

Fine Gael solution “Fine Gael has put forward a viable solution that would mix public and private sector services to ensure that passengers come first.” This is indeed close to a real solution. Wulbeorn has previously talked about this as well pointing towards comments by PD Spokesperson on Transport Senator Tom Morrissey “Why should the taxpayer fund 120 extra buses at a cost of some €300,000 each while there are 5,000 under-utilised buses in the private sector?” The PD’s and FG seem to have the right solution but the question has to be asked why are they not implementing this. Market Liberalisation is essential to deliver better services and indeed is seemingly at the basis of there parties philosophy. So why is it not being implemented. The only explanation I can see for it is that Fianna Fail are dead against it and the PD’s are not forceful enough about it.

But it should be on more then just a Dublin solution. Bus Eireann being a state funded company can always undercut every other player on a route. They can operate at a loss until the competitor leaves the market then put the prices up when the competitor goes bust. As has been shown on some of the major routes competition has driven prices down. In some cases slashing the prices by half. Cost and availability are the main factors that deter people from using public transport. The Green party have talked about diverting much of the funds from the roads network to public transport. This is needed but if private enterprise is successfully brought into to market then the funds could better spent on education or health.

But don’t get me wrong the market is not the solution to all problems. Many routes in Ireland and especially rural Ireland are not commercially viable. These routes are vital to the local communities. I live in a rural area and use the bus. While it is quiet expensive and smelly it is a lifeline for the old and the poor who can’t afford cars. This has to be protected. The reason for the State in business is because they are the only ones that can do it. They should only be involved in offering bus services where no private business are going to set-up in an open market but where there is going to be competition the state should not be allowed to be in an denominated position. If the state sells the profitable parts of Bus Eireann the reduced cost of having not to have to continually buy hundreds of buses will allow them to concentrate on what they are needed for. Routes that are required where the market will not work. But will any party go the whole hog and implement it?

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Green Party Convention

It is clear that the one reason that the Green Party took place in Kilkenny Mary White. In the last General election Deputy Leader Mary White was eliminated on the 7th of 8 counts. Gaining transfers 10% of all transfers. She is one of the hopes for a seat in the next Dail for the greens. In his opening speech Trevor Sargent said she is “what the green party is all about”. But what does the Convention say about the Green Party.

By all accounts and these accounts are basically Green Party accounts the Convention seems to have been quiet good old time with the best crèche facilities of all of the parties and Organic wine. John Gormley hit back at Nazi jibbing Michael McDowell with a Nazi Jibe. It is great to see that the lost art of using the suffering of millions under the Nazi’s to score political points is not the sole preserve of any particular party. But outside the greens normal environmental issues and the obvious Reduce Class Sizes at Primary and Second level ( I mean what party is going to say they are going to increase calls sides) what of the larger issues.

The Greens idea is to tax smarter basically by basically trying to close some of the loop holes that the rich use to get of paying taxes. Basically there tax policy is as follows

to review, and where necessary decrease, the amount of tax relief that can be claimed in any given year by any single individual or company; • to relegate the use of residency as a means to avoid tax, confirming the principle that all money earned in Ireland and all wealth based in Ireland must be liable to tax; • to immediately rescind the most inequitable tax relief’s on capital and property; and • to introduce, on a smaller scale, tax relief’s with defined and measurable social, economic and environmental benefits.

Overall I have to say I agree with the above policies. The nature of tax relief’s is not to avoid tax but to encourage investment that is required by society. Back in the day people were needed to be encouraged to invest in property where it was required for instance student housing however now with the housing boom property tax relief’s have little place in all but various niece areas such as crèches. The fact that some millionaires are getting away with out paying taxes is wrong. However considering that in Ireland roughly the top 1% of the population pay 20% of the tax (correct me if I am wrong). This may not be as big an issue as it seems. On the issues of Education they had

1) Invest €1 billion in additional current/capital funding for education over and above the 2006 Estimates and Budget for the first year of the next Government's term of office, to front-load educational priorities;

2) Draw up a 10-Year Priority Funding Plan for Education within six months of entering office;

3) Commission a full cost-benefit analysis on the revenue implications to the State of further increased investment in education and, if it can be shown that an increased investment will pay for itself in the long term, we will:

4) Retain the additional €1 billion investment for each of a further nine years, index-linked to the first year's investment.

I have to say I am disappointed by this while it looks good it is short on content. Throwing money at a problem is never going to solve the problem. Education needs to be radically overhauled primarily and primary level. The essence of good performance in education is study. In many socially deprived areas the reason they perform badly is that the students are in an environment where they can’t study be it due to the parents not supporting them or they don’t have a quiet area to study. This needs to be addressed with some facilities as homework clubs. Whether this is in their Priority funding list I don’t know but from what I have read so far I am not impressed.

One of the next motions was.

devolve substantial powers to local authorities in areas such as transport, housing and education;

-introduce directly elected mayors to replace the existing County Manager system; -and shall place local authorities on a firm and independent financial footing, along the lines recommended in the Indecon Report; -and scrap the ill-conceived decentralization programme and instead devolve real powers and jobs to the regions on a planned basis.

Fellow Irishelection Blogger Cian said before "it was not the department but the power that needed to be decentralised". Personally I would disagree. Politics in this country is to local as it is. The TD member of the legislator doesn’t legislate he/she gets the road fixed with node and a wink politics. They put the services not where they are needed but where the votes are. Giving more power to local authorities is not going to fix this in fact it will make it worst. One village will be preferred to the other because that is where the voters are. Feel free to say I don’t have faith in councillors impartiality because I don’t. Save for a few rare exceptions services go to where the voters are.

One of the most interesting aspects of the Greens is that they don’t take corporate investments personally I could take or leave this policy. Corporate donations don’t make politicians corrupt, corruption only happens if the politician is corrupt anyway. But if it works for them fair enough. It is nice to see people with principles that they stick with. Rurari Quinn tried that with Labour last time around it didn’t work very well but certainly got into my respect book (more a scrap of paper really)

They have also vowed to clear the housing lists by building 10,000 social houses a year. A noble idea not sure how they would pay for it but still sounds good to me. They also proposed a Minister for migrant affairs. Which is an excellent idea. Migration is one of the big problems in Irish society and needs someone to deal with it full time.

I am sorry if a missed out on any major things but the Green Party website has been very poor. They have a blog of the convention that was very patchy on information. The audio of Trevor Sargent is in fact last years speech. Also unlike Sinn Fein they don’t have any of the speeches online. So as I was not at home to watch the speech. I relied on various sources for my post. But anyway on the face of it the Conference was like any other full of bluster and rhetorical nonsense but with one or two nuggets. While it has a long way to go to the election the poll that show the greens have 7% of Irish support, suggests that those nuggets might make it yet to government policy.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Friday, March 24, 2006

Top 6 Friday Reasons People Fear McDowell

6. McDowell is honest, a man of principle and not afraid to give a straight answer to a question. It's been so long since we've had a politician like that.

5. There's a nasty little rumour doing the rounds that he is in fact, a fascist.

4. He believes in capitalism and is not afraid to admit it.

3. He has an air of confidence about him that many may construe as arrogance. This frightens some people. We like our politicians to be in a perpetual, but futile, pursuit of our approval.

2. He doesn't shrink from confrontation. As Simon has outlined in a recent post, the man has a history. Someone like that might eventually come after each and every one of us.

1. We need him and that frightens some of us. Our guilty conscience might force some of us to vote Green or Labour, but deep down inside we secretly long for a cold-hearted McDowell-type to lower taxes, brutalise criminals and rule us like a King!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

What Changed Ireland

With all the talk of Ireland's low tax economy etc I wonder is this what really changed Ireland and made us believe.That lift us out of the centuries of feeling inferior. Was this the birth of the proud nation we are today.Give it a lash

Isn't Ireland great.

Brussels Journal certainly think so. However they don't address Ireland's large personal debt.

McDowell. Moses to Ireland's red sea

The one thing that Bush can do is divide people. In America people tend to either love him or hate him. In Ireland we have the same figure. You would think that it would be either Ian Paisley or Gerry Adams. An anti-Irish man or an alleged “former” IRA chief of staff. But no Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley do not cause the same kind of passionate hate/love as one Michael McDowell.

It is funny people are rightly angry that McDowell referred to Richard Bruton as a Nazi yet do these people apply the same anger when people refer to McDowell as such. How many times do people refer to Herr McDowell. This is clearly a Nazi slur. I doubt these people are actually referring to him in the polite German form. In fact a google search for “Herr McDowell” produces 87,500. In fact this has been used by many of my fellow bloggers who I shall not name that are very angry at Richard Bruton been referred to a Nazi. So I have to ask this is latest anger against Michael McDowell against what he said or is in general a hatred of the man. To find out lets take a quick spin threw the history of McDowell hatred.

The real anti-McDowellism can about over the Citizenship referendum. At the time I have to say I was against it. In fact I am still against it. A kid born in this country is entitled to Irish citizenship. But to call it a racist referendum is wrong. Ireland was the only country in Europe to do this. A lot of people want us to copy European models yet they don’t want us to adopt that one. Something has to be done we need tough but fair immigration laws. While I disagree with not granting Irish Citizenship I also see the need to stop people abusing the system. It is always tricky when dealing with immigration. So bring our laws inline with Europe is probably not the worst thing to do. Also I don’t recall McDowell saying anything like “there is 122 million Nigerians you know”

The next big McDowell thing was his attack on Sinn Fein/IRA over the northern bank. Much of it has been vindicated with money been found in various places. I would say much of the money may have been destroyed once the Northern Bank changed its notes and rendered the bulk of the money useless. Part of his Anti Sinn Fein thing was his attack on the Daily Ireland newspaper. He basically called it a Sinn Fein propaganda newspaper and compared it to Völkischer Beobachter the Nazi propaganda paper. I note few gave out at McDowell doing this other then Sinn Fein supporters. Perhaps because it is as fair and objective as the Fianna Fail party newsletter is without possible connections to the IRA.

Then we had the next big clash with Michael. Over Olunkunle Eluhanla a Nigerian who was deported during his leaving cert year. There was a massive outcry plenty of Herr McDowell’s and he back down allowing him to return to finish his leaving. The reason he had been deported I am guessing was because he broke the law over some driving offence then early this year he was deported again because he had broken the law again. So McDowell was in the end right. But yet people gave out about this even when there was far more worthy cases in the country. I guess the length of anti-McDowellism is a Schwarzschild radius.

Then he had the café bars where he brought in legislation to fight the vintners lobby. By trying loosen the licensing laws to attempt to create a European type drinking scene and curb the excessive drinking culture we have. But is was defeated by Fianna Fail backbenchers who rowed in behind the publicans yet again proving the old joke Fianna Fail the Publican Party is far from the truth.

Then we had the Frank Connolly affair and the much debate that caused. In my opinion he was right in what he had done. Anyone who does not think that the head of an organization that is for investigating corruption in government, an organization that could bring down a government, can have links to an organization that wants to bring down the state and train FARC rebels in terrorist technology is a problem. Well they are not going to agree with me. When he was editor of the Sunday Business Post Pat Rabbitte called it the Continuity Business Post. Most people came out and gave out about McDowell giving Sam Smyth a Garda file when he in fact gave him a copy of a fake passport application which is a foreign affairs document. Then when Finian McGrath asked him a question he answered it and then came the acquisitions of abusing Dail privilege. This really must be the first time in Irish history that people have been given out to a politician for giving a straight answer.

Anyway sorry about that I probably should have given a less biased run down on McDowell’s time in office. But the thing is few people can give a straight analysis of McDowell and I did say it was a spin threw. Everyone has a strong opinion of him, some hate him others love him, some even fancy him. Turn on Vincent Browne of late and you can practically hear him dance a jig when talking about McDowell apologising so giddy was he with the excitement. Read the Herr McDowell blogs and Indymedia and strains of “Celebrate Good Times come on woohoo”(requires Real Player) waft over the keyboard.

But that is the nature of the man. He tells it as he see it. If every politician did that then we would be a lot better off. We wouldn’t have such PR sugar coated answers that leave us wondering what the f**k do these parties stand for. We must be the only country in Europe where the biggest party has no ideology. If Dev hadn’t called them “The Republican Party” they wouldn’t know where they stood on that either. But that will never happen we don’t want it to happen we like are political debates sending drunks and insomniacs to sleep and devoid of passion. That way we can bitch way about “that shower in the Dail” all day long and still go out and vote the way our parents did.

Auds has a crush

It seems Auds of Realitycheck(dot)ie has a crush on Michael McDowell. :-)

Google video

Just realised you can look at some of the National Archives and Records Administration of America video files. Here is an old news real of Marines Raise Flag Over Iwo Jima [Etc.] 1945

Moon pie what a time to be alive.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Programming help

Hey everyone. Just working on some stuff for the Irishelection site and just wondering does anyone out there know how to either get a web page to load a different style sheet if the resolution of the computer is under 1024 and also does anyone know how to get a bash file to delete the first line of a file and rewrite it with a set pattern or delete a certain portion of the first line. Help appreciated. Update: I managed to get the line deleted. Using a bash script. If anyone is interested in how let me know. Still no idea on the stylesheet though

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Iraq, Fintan Double Standard O’Toole and 2007

Ah Fintan O'Toole Fintan Fintan Fintan what are we going to do with you. Yesterday in the Irish Times apart from the piece on the Irish Election site. We had a piece from the boald Fintan. Basically it is about Martin Cullen's meeting and "welcoming back of US troops from Iraq" in New York over Paddies weekend. Which included a wreath-laying ceremony in New York. And he told the audience that Ireland was proud of the contributions made by many Irish men and women to the uniformed services of New York and the US. The unit he was with was the 69th the "Fighting Irish" who took sustained 13 deaths in it tour of Iraq.

All fairly ok now you say. However then Fintan goes into his usual spiel. He says that because of the killings they sustained that it is was hardly surprising that they had a shoot first ask questions later attitude. Then he details the case of some Italian Journalists that they shot in a tragic accidents. He gives out that because of this Italians are angry and then says about the decision to say "Ireland was proud of the contributions" that "it is hard to know whether the stupidity of these decisions is greater then their immorality". He finishes of with how Iraq is failing and American public doesn't want it anymore and the neo-cons admitting they were wrong yadda yadda yadda. Now just in case any of you anti-war people are going right on Fintan is the man and I am an evil sugar. I ask you this question if Martin Cullen had said that to about a British Army regiment one that served in Northern Ireland. Lets just say the parachute regiment. Would Fintan be highlighting the case (the many cases) where this regiment shot un-armed innocent Irish citizens? Go on about British occupation of the six counties how the British public no longer want the North, how their rule of the North has ruined the North and how they will leave Northern Ireland "with a toxic residue of tribalism and sectarianism" . How all the pro-union conservatives now admit they are wrong. Would he of the decision of Martin Cullen to meet with the Parachute regiment "it is hard to know whether the stupidity of these decisions is greater then their immorality". No of course not Fintan would be praising Mr Cullan for reaching out to the other side. Going on about how democracy has won over the gun man. I am sure he would pull out Connolly's quote " I pray for all brave men who do their duty according to their lights". He would wax lyrically on about how far we as a nation has come that even if we disagree with a countries policies we can respect the brave men that risked there lives for their country and only then can we really find peace. But alas the nation has yet to go as far as to accept Connolly's words extend to all people not just British Soldiers that kill Irish people. It extends to all armies in the world. Agree with the war or not but the troops in Iraq are not the ones that started it the blame. If blame is required it lies solely at the feet of the administration. The soldiers task is to do and die not to question why. Using the lives or deaths of the soldiers for political point scoring is shameful whatever side do it.

But how will all this reflect on the next general election. Will Iraq become an issue will the Greens Socialists and Labour that demonstrated in Shannon last week get a bump in the polls. I think not the level of demonstrations over the Iraq war have dropped dramatically from what they once were. A mere 500 turned up at the last one. True it was after Paddies day and some people might have sore heads but if people were passionate about it they would be out. But they are not they are passionate about crime, health and education. In a few weeks no one here will remember Martin Cullen’s speech but some solider who risked his/her life for the Iraqi people (whether you believe in the war or not that is what the solider personal believed) but one of them might remember and that is all that matters.

When is 2 Gardai =109 Gardai? When both men are right

Cross Posted on Irish Election First off I have to condemn Michael McDowell for comparing Richard Burton to Joseph Goebbels there is absolutely zero call for it. Coming out and comparing someone who is merely quoting real figures to a Nazi leader is beyond the norms of civilised public debate. Also the people compare Michael McDowell to a Nazi are equally as guilty. But what of the general charge that Richard Bruton is manipulating the figures. Well that is another question.

Firstly for my foreign readers. This whole scandal started when Deputy Leader of Fine Gael the main opposition party came out and said that only 2 new Gardai joined the force in 2005 while detection rates have decreased. He said “Minister’s Bluster Fails to Put Extra Garda Feet on the City Beat.” Then on the news on one on RTE radio. Michael McDowell claimed the figures are wrong, that Fine Gael are leading a con job on the media, that Fine Gael and Labour when they were last in power they ran down the number of Gardai and called him the Dr Goebbels of propaganda.

So what of the figures well the saying Lies Dahm lies and statistics comes to mind. You can get statistics to basically say anything you wish. Like survey questions it depends on the variables and limits that you take. For instance if you wanted to take the percentage of riots in Dublin per month. If you took just the last three months you would get 33% while if you took it for the year 2005 you would get 0% neither figure is wrong but neither does it tell the truth.

So here for you mathematical and number junkies is the figures of Gardai in Dublin I managed to locate.

Now March 2006 3794 From McDowells statement yesterday

31 December 2005 3,742 From Mr Bruton's Statement

31 March 2005 3,685. From Dail Debates

1 February 2005 3704

31 December 2004 3740 From Mr Bruton.

Now if you take the Garda Annual report the figure for Dublin in 2004 is 3,983. Which is totally out of kilter with the rest of the Garda statistics.

You can set any two arbitrary points and statistically year end is and you will get the desired result. Most recruits don’t join on December 31 they join around June. Without adding information on retirements suspensions statistic are useless. Now what these stats show just seems to show is that there is a lot of variable factors in the Garda figures that they can go up seasonally and down seasonally. For instance if I said between this time last year and now the Garda figure is up close to 109.

So I have to say McDowell’s case seems a lot stronger and does show that Richard Burton’s statistics were fairly tailored to his advantage to say the least. I mean people would be quiet happy with a 109 Garda presence and think McDowell is doing a good job but that is not what Richard wants now is it. So he took the figures from December to December that are more in Fine Gael's favour.

However what is interesting is Richard’s latest dabbling in the world of maths. He claims that in 1996 there was 336 people per Garda while now there is 337 people per Garda. This does show that considering that the population has grown so rapidly that in fact Garda numbers have increased also in this period to keep a close pace to the increase in population. However not close enough. There is still less Gardai per-person in 1996 then in 2005. But yet again it is based on end of year total which are not the best indicator of the Garda levels. Personally I would prefer comparing yearly averages.

But indeed it is a bad figure for the government, even though Garda numbers fell during the Fine Gael administration by larger amounts and the population rise due to immigration was impossible to see. This is not going to be remembered by the public they are getting more afraid. While crime is still low compared to some of our social model European friends it is still rising. Fine Gael might just have found the big issue Gerry O'Quigley said the opposition needed.

Blogs again in the Irish Times

Woohoo the blogs are again in the Irish Times this time an article about that I did much of the design for and also write on and an article about political blogs in general and what they can achieve. Now time to go add an article.

Monday, March 20, 2006

McDowell vs Bruton

If you want a good debate in Irish politics. You need one Michael McDowell. Here from RTE's news at one. I would be interested to here both sides to this. Statistics are always open to manipulation and would like to read the stats my self before commenting. But the radio exchanges are well worth a listen.

News At One: Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Michael McDowell hits back at Fine Gael comments that he is not doing enough to fight crime

News At One: Richard Bruton TD, Deputy Leader Fine Gael and party spokesman, responds to Minister McDowell's comments

Update: 17:40. I am looking into the stats and will write longer about this later but first things first. As of the end of 2005 the figure was 3,742 in Dublin. In February 2005 the figure was 3704. Which is an increase of 38. So if Richard Bruton's figure of 3740 is correct then that means there was a loss of 36 between Janurary and February 2005. This may be due to retirements taking place in Janurary and new recruits joining in March. I will do more digging. Update 1755: Also crime rates are dropping while detection is falling.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Change in Belarus

There are stirrings of an Orange revolution in Belarus. Excellent blog coverage here. I could write some comment on it but the above is far better then anything I could do.

Labour, Consistency in a party gone mad?

Ah it is always refreshing to see a party that is consistent in its policy. It really is a breath of fresh air in a country where people say what gets them elected not what they believe in Take the Labour party for instance. On Patrick’s day Michael D came out and said that “Taoiseach must obtain commitment from Bush on undocumented Irish”. Basically what they want to stop the American government imposing strict border and immigration controls. (I hope all of you can see where this is going).

They ask of the American government that “There would be no cap on these visas and applicants would receive work and travel authorisation.” This coming from the party that wants to put in place restrictive work permits on foreign nationals that are already allowed in this country. I can just see what Michael D would say if one of the main leaders in America lets say Condoleezza Rice for someone on the other side of the political fence came out and said that there was “4 million Irish you know” some how I doubt the word “unfortunate” would appear any where in his statement. Consistency eh?.

Does anyone not see the irony that the Irish anti-immigrant party and lets face that is what they are coming wants to dictate to a foreign government that they should be more pro-immigrant. Are the American workers not equally in danger of “displacement” and a “race to the bottom”? Or is it not the case that most of these immigrants are of benefit of the economy and the Labour party see this in America. Yet they do not see it in Ireland.

They may once have been the liberal socialist party of Irish politics but now that title falls to the sometimes loony but utterly sincere Greens. Hopefully all you liberal socialists out there will realise that and not vote for anti-immigrants.

One of the many things from Labour especially Labour Youth (In fairness most of them still have their idealism) like to trumpet is that the other party just say what will get them elected. Which is quiet true in many cases. However the thing is they are doing the exact same thing except they are going for much primal instincts of the voters then the rests “Vote for me and I’ll fix the road” type of voter promises. Where before under Ruari Quinn where they said this is what we stand for and we will not go into government without our policies being implemented. They stood for integrity and ideals both great assets. Now they don’t stand for anything other then vote getting and hypocrisy.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

A theory to disregard about zero corporation tax.

I was toying with putting this in the top 6 things I would like to see the government do. But I didn’t. I first got the idea for this from wulbreon(retired). So here is my idea based on zero knowledge of economics for a cut in if not elimination of corporation tax.

The US economy is in trouble with its massive deficit many analysts are predicting a major devaluation of the dollar. With China signalling that it is thinking of changing it reserve currency away from the Dollar. It is not looking good for the green back. The consequences to Ireland would be dire. Ireland’s economy is built on American companies. With a deprecation of the dollar the profits these companies are making here would decline meaning that many of these companies would repatriate much of their profits and jobs back home. It is possible that this could result in unemployment jumping to around 7-10% and wages falling. This coupled with personal debt is not that creamy.

My thinking is that if Ireland’s tax policy made it irresistible for companies to set up base here. Then they might well stay and it might encourage other companies to invest in Ireland. This would create a shortage of workers. Thus creating a high demand for workers increased wages and even a halting of a race to the bottom.

10% of the work force moved jobs in 2005 so if companies need to attract and keep workers in this high demand country they will need to offer benefits such as free health insurance for them and there families. This would help cut the amount of money that the government would need to put into the health service. And would in fact be a kind of stealth corporation tax anyway. It would also give patients more control over their health care. By having to deal with less people out of the public health budget the people in jobs that don’t have health care and the unemployed could in fact get better health care as they would have more money per head spent on them.

While my logic is probably poor, flawed, missing factors like immigrants and down right evil I think this idea merits discussion.

So I open the floor to you. What do you think?

Guess What !!!

Your favorite Blog called the Dossing Times is in the 0.1% percentile of the worlds top blogs according to technorati. Woohoo must be a lot of crap out there ;). Anyway thanks for all the links and readership.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Bertie on Fox

Bertie on Foxnews.

Top 6 Friday Reasons the Top 6 Friday is late.

6. The Dossing Times staff drinkaton was on yesterday.

5. It was in Cork sans computer access.

4. There was a lot of Murphy's involved.

3. There was a parade with dustmen on the main road back backing up traffic.

2. I was not in the scouts so I had none prepared.

1. I'm tired and going to sleep. Normal political analysis will resume later.

Beannachtam na Feile Padraig

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

North Tipperary in 2007 election.

If corruption in Irish politics did not exist. Enda Kenny would not be the leader of Fine Gael. Instead they would have a leader with more organisation skills and not such a wooden persona. They would have one Michael Lowry and not the Mike Lowry Will Smith portrayed in the Bad Boys films. Even though he did not complete his Leaving Certificate he still was a superb organiser. He is from the South of the constituency near Holycross outside Thurles. One of his main achievements was to help the Tipperary GAA county board clear its massive debts. This was done with Feile a massive all-weekend concert in Thurles. The “trip to tipp” will be always be remembered foundly by many of a certain generation. Alas for Michael and for Fine Gael he was corrupt and didn’t pay his tax and was kicked out of the Fine Gael party. However that does not dent his standing in North Tipp. The many schemes he helped setup like the Tipperary Institute Dunnes Stores Thurles ;) and the drainage scheme of flood prone the Mulchair river. Were of really benefit to the local community. He was elected on the first count in the 2002 election with 10,400 votes.

The other big political player in North Tipp is former Minister Michael Smith. Based in Roscrea the Former Minister for Defence amongst other things. He was dropped from the Cabinet in 2004 as he was reaching retirement age and Bertie wanted to spruce the place up. Always been a solid government performer is finest hour of the last Dail was the clearing up of the Army deftness claims. After winning the Fianna Fail selection committee at the beginning of March he stated that if re-elected he would be interested in the job of Ceann Comhairle. He was elected on the 4th count with 8,526 1st preferences.

The other seating TD in the area is Maire Hoctor the only new Fianna Fail female elected to the Dail in 2002. When she took over the retired Michael Kennedy’s seat. She is based in Nenagh in the East of the Constituency. She was elected on the 3rd count with 8,949 votes.

Noel Coonan is the Fine Gael candidate and came fourth in the election with 6,108. And is currently a senator for Fine Gael. And is a member of the Cultural and Educational Panel

Kathleen O’Meara of Labour came fifth in the election in 2002 and is also a senator and sits on the agricultural panel. She was an RTE journalist. She is a triplet, and the identical twin of journalist, Aileen O'Meara. In 2005 she was involved in a controversy of using facilities of Dáil Éireann to hold meetings to promote Landmark Education. The Landmark Education is an organisation which the French Government has described as 'Cult like' and has been said by some people to brain wash people. Others dispute this. 2007 will be her third attempt at a seat. She got 5,537 votes last time.

The PD’s ran a candidate Bill Dwan in 2002 but are unlikely to do again.

Sinn Fein will probably run Cllr Seamie Morris of Nenagh who topped the poll in the Nenagh town council elections. He is most known for being against the councils plans to replace a plague on a town water spout that read "Erected by local contribution to commemorate the unparalleled benevolence of the English nation to the poor of Ireland at a season of extreme distress A.D 1822."

On a search of the Dail Database for speakers asking questions or making statements. since Mr Smith was no longer minister and thus not in the records for government business until June 2005 where the search engine stops for some reason. Michael Lowry appears 257 times, Maire Hoctor 10 times and Michael Smith 12 times This is basically the reason why Michael Lowery continually tops the poll in North Tipp and will do again. He is the hardest worker.

So that leaves the next 2 seats. In the last election Maire Hoctor came second. However since then her star has fallen in the recent Fianna Fail nomination she just piped Former Mayor of North Tipperary, John Hogan thanks to transfers from Michael Smith. Considering she has much of the East of the constituency to herself which constitutes about half of the Fianna Fail cumman seems to show that she is not very popular. This I think will result in Michael Smith taking the second seat fairly comfortably by taking the lions share of the Fianna Fail vote.

So then we come down to the last seat. This is going to be some scrap between Maire Hoctor Noel Coonan and Kathleen O’Meara. I think Sinn Fein will take some votes but will not be in the final shake up. Maire easily out polled the other 2 last time around but as I said her star is falling. One incident that damaged her was the fallout of the Hanley Report in it was a call to shut Nenagh A+E. At a meeting where both FF TD’s attended Maire Hoctor speaking first towed the party line and stood by the report. Then Michael Smith stood up and denounce the report. Which the audience loved and put Deputy Hoctor in some hot water. While it might not in dear people to Mr Smith it certainly did damage to Deputy Hoctor. If the electorates general shift away from Fianna Fail maintains its self and Kathleen O’Meara and Seamie Morris attack here female, Nenagh and republican bases I will stick my neck out and say she will lose her seat. Fianna Fail may yet regret not finding a south of the constituency candidate a place where Michael Lowry alone exists and includes the large town of Thurles.

So then it brings it down to 2 Noel Coonan of Fine Gael and Kathleen O’Meara of Labour. Historically there has always been a strong Fine Gael and Labour vote in Tipperary. Both candidates are quiet strong and will take alternative coalition votes of each other. Which may help Marie Hoctor slip in through the middle. Kathleen O’Meara’s controversy with the Landmark education may come back to haunt her. In the last general election Noel Coonan polled just under 600 more first preferences then her. While Michael Lowry gets a large personal vote much of it does come from traditional Fine Gael supporters. If he can attached some of those votes and second preferences he will be in a very strong position. It will all come down to the transfers. Kathleen O’Meara should be able to get much of the transfers from Nenagh based Sinn Fein and Maire Hoctor while Coonan might get Roscrea transfers from Michael Smith. This is going to be incredibly tight but I think Maire Hoctor’s loss could well be Kathleen O’Meara’s gain and see Labour take the seat.

Michael Lowery is still very loyal to Fine Gael. He still wants the rejoin the party. During the hung dail in 1997 when Michael Lowery could have used his Dail vote to put Bertie in power for some concessions he threw his weight behind the doomed Fine Gael coalition and again in 2002 he voted Fine Gael. So on the grand scheme of things North Tipperary in my opinion will return. Two for the coalition one for Fianna Fail.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

It is spelt with an e god dahm it.

Interesting article in the Canadian paper. Skip the green beer. Try Irish whisky. It is a reviewer of Irish Whiskeys by a connoisseur however the reviewer seems to forget Irish whiskey is spelt with an "e". Shocking. Personnelly I like Jameson 12 year old. All drinkers of JD and coke better stop or else .............................. :)

Monday, March 13, 2006

George Clooney blogs

I Am a Liberal. There, I Said It! George Clooney writes on the Huffington Post. Very Profound comments as well. Like
Hey, count me in! Fucking right on, George.
Update in the same blog. GEORGE CLOONEY: I AM A CELEBRITY! THERE, I SAID IT! by Greg Gutfeld.

Update: In fact he does not blog. Oh I don't think clooney is happy. Hat tip Peter

Time for happy dance, think-tank agrees with me.

Some time ago I disagreed with Richard Waghourne when he said. I don't have a problem with inequality, either of income or of opportunity, though I believe people are far better off in a free society rather than a planned society in any case.

My argument was that the country need equal opportunity of education. As as a Knowledge economy we need the best of the best not the best of the rich. I have no problem with people going to private schools but they shouldn't get an educational advantage over poorer people who have to stay in the public sector. Anyway.

The Lisbon Council agrees with me. ( The Lisbon Council is according to the BBC part of the OECD although I can find no link to the OECD on their website Although they do host each other for talks.) Their Conclusions

  • creating a system of sustainable and high-quality educational institutions with the freedom to respond to demand
  • developing higher education systems to improve access, quality and equality
  • encouraging public and private funding
  • ensuring universities are governed by a wider range of stakeholders than the academic community.
(emphasis mine) They also call for investment in the early stages of education. Another belief of mine. So I will now go do the I'm the man happy dance.

Lies, Dahm Lies and Shinners

Isn’t it disgraceful the way the media is after Sinn Fein. It truly is shocking. I mean Slab Murphy is totally innocent of any crime. As they say he leads a life of a small farmer who left school at 14 and earned a precarious living raising cattle on a smallholding straddling the border with a small oil business. As he said himself "I make a living from farming". And then the witch-hunt began the governments came out with all this black propaganda. All of it lies. They raid his house and find some innocent stuff.

They are now trying to suggest that the million in currency and cheques came from nefarious dealings. This is just a blatant lie we all know that CAP is such a great source of money and all farmers are rolling in money. Also they are trying to make out the hard drives and laptops that were found in bales of hay were some how part of intelligence gathering and criminal records. Come on anyone knows that farm accounts are very complex and require gigabytes of storage. Also ask any IT consultant about where best to store hard drives and they will tell you bales of hay.

So now if any of you are not familiar with my views then I will tell you the above 2 paragraphs were sarcastic. Now I know what you are saying “duh That was bloody obvious”. Yet when Sinn Fein come out with such thing there is an increasing amount of people that believe them. After the raid and some of the details about the finds Gerry Adams said “Tom Murphy is not a criminal, he is a good republican”. So basically is he saying what happened is what I said above. That a farmer keeping a million quid in cash and cheques and laptops and hard drives in a barn is utterly legitimate.

Now beyond the probably reason for what he said. Just in case you are wondering. I believe that Slab was head of the most notorious Provisional IRA “divisions” the South Armagh “division”. There has been a lot of rumours that the South Armagh IRA were not as enthusiastic about Sinn Fein’s move towards peace. The one person that brought the hardliners in was Slab. Now there is more rumours that they are not happy with the Messers Adams and McGuinness direction and especially the decommissioning . As Gerry said of slab “He is also, very importantly, a key supporter of the Sinn Fein peace strategy and has been for a very long time” So the last thing that Sinn Fein want is to isolate a key supporter, split the IRA and a result in a return to violence. Which would scupper Sinn Fein’s chances to gain more seats in the next election in the south.

So Gerry Adams plays the Sinners favourite poor little republican card. While giving us a glance at their trump card the Big bad Michael McDowell card. So as to forward the cause of Sinn Fein. Now the thing that bugs me is that people accept the playing of these cards. If Fianna Fail or Fine Gael had a key supporter involved in such nefarious dealings would there be a stronger backlash against FF/FG then there is against Sinn Fein. Of course they would even though Sinn Fein are lining up for the government they are able to lie, refute the truth and still make people believe they are being demonised.

So we have a choice we either treat Sinn Fein like a true potential party and expect the honesty we expect from every other. Or we treat them as a party that is still connected with a criminal organisation that we encourage to abandon crime but do not elect them to power.

Slab' raid is trouble for Sinn Fein a good article from the Sunday Times. Similar Dossing posts Why Sinn Fein get treated better by the media then any other party

Update: 19:00 Former Sinn Fein Vice President Phil Flynn has accused Minister for Justice Michael McDowell of trying to criminalise him with "a concerted media campaign". I guess he thinks the McDowell card joined with the media is against us card is the one to play. For any of you that have ever watched the kids TV show Yu Gi Oh I think that is what is called polymerisation but I am open to correction by any Yu Gi Oh fans.

Milosevic Fan Club Irish Branch

Just found this site via Indymedia Watch. It is the International Committee to Defend Slobodan Milosevic -- Ireland. It says
Statement on the Death of Slobodan Milosevic

The International Committee For the Defence of Slobodan Milosevic condemns the deliberate refusal of the fascist Hague tribunal to honour all civilized codes of decency and law which have resulted in the death of President Slobodan Milosevic in their hands today, March 11, 2006.

Their actions are tantamount to the murder of a man who stood as a symbol of resistance to the New World Order and a symbol of and fighter for the independence and soverereignty of the peoples of Yugoslavia and for social justice in the world. This was his only crime.

We demand that there be an international, independent enquiry into the circumstances and cause of his death and that his family, his party and his supporters be party to that enquiry.

We also demand the right of his wife and family to attend his funeral without fear of persecution, arrest or any other impediment to their right to honour their beloved husband, comrade and father.

To the people of Yugoslavia we offer our profound sympathies. Yet, though he is no longer with us in body, his ceaseless courage, his determination to show the world the truth about the aggression by the western powers against Yugoslavia, his spirit of resistance to the new fascism, and his constant belief in the strength and spirit of the people, will forever light the darkness into which the world has descended.

We salute him and will forever thank and honour him.

Christopher Black Chair, Legal Committee and Vice-Chair ICDSM 255-744-666-972

I have written about Milosevic, Serbs and lessons about the World. Already. I think my Serbian friends who the above Christopher Black wishes to extend his sympathies too. Are far from sad now. Mr Black should be apologizing for using their suffering for his own Anti-West soapbox. And be glad that he lives in a country that unlike Serbia under Milosevic allows him to write such crap.

Blog Awards in the Irish Times again

King-size kudos for web author 'Twenty Major' Have a read of it all the winners get a mention. Also mentioned is the coverage of the Dublin riots.
Many of the first reports and images of the Dublin riots of last month appeared on blogs.
While I am grasping at straws here I will say that includes me. So go me mentioned in the Irish Times. :)

Update: Suzyhas the article

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Milosevic, Serbs and lessons about the World.

During my time in Barcelona I was friends with some people from the former Yugoslavia . Some from Serbia some from Macedonia some from Bosnia and I believe i talked to a guy from Slovenia but I was drunk at the time. They all got on well with each other in fact they were quiet close. They often tried speaking in their own languages to as they were sometimes similar. Anyway I got on best with the Serbs. We rarely talked about politics mainly about drink and "chicas". But when we did I found there take on life very different.

One of them was telling me about the time under Milosevic and during the NATO bombings that made me realise how lucky we really are. He told me of the joke people use to say. A man goes up to the shop keeper and sees that the shop keeper is writing the price of apples on a sign the prices is 10 Dinara he asks the shop keepers how much are the apples the shop keeper says 100 Dinara the man says grand so here is the 1000 Dinaras for the apples. During the war Serbia suffered record inflation. Prices increased so fast they could increase during a commerce transaction. He told me he had a note that had 15 zeros on it. Inflation at the time was 5 quadrillion per cent. (15 zeros). Daily inflation was 100%. Those figures just seem impossible to comprehend and dwarf Weimar Germany.

Another story was during the NATO air strikes. He used to live near the centre of the city near some major buildings. So his parents sent him of to his grandparents in the suburbs far away from anything resembling a military target for safety. So one day he was on I think it was the roof of the tower of flats watching the US airplanes fly over head. Like any teenage boy big planes were fascinating. Anyway his grandmother after much giving out finally gets him to come inside. Five minutes later a cluster bomb hit the side of the building while it didn’t do a lot of damage to the building itself where he had been standing 5 minutes previously was destroyed. NATO claimed that only 20 of the 23,000 precision guided bombs went astray. I guess that flat complex was one of the twenty.

On Milsovic the war and Kosovo. They saw it as a war where the people had been manipulated by the powers that be. Sure they wanted their independence but the way it was achieved the genocide was shameful. The story that the government spun them at the start of Kosovo was that the ethnic Albanians were massacring the Serbs living in Kosovo and that the country had to protect them. While there was a very small truth to it, it had been totally blown out of proportion to further the aims of Milosevic and his cronies. None of them liked Milosevic while they respected his intelligence they deplored the man. They disliked the tribunal in the Hague for the ease that Milosevic had in manipulating it. They wanted justice and were not sure it could be deliver. But now that Milsovic is gone I have to wonder are they glad he is dead or did they want him to see justice. They had a great hope for their country, that it could rise again, join the EU and become a prosporus nation again they were willing to work for it. All the Yugoslavians were except the person from Bosnia. Who saw little future for Bosnia.

They had a phobia about talking religion. They would almost curl up in a ball at the thought of talking about it. I had lived in Belfast for a while so I thought I had an idea what fear the mentioning religion could have been. But this was totally different. The mere thought of talking about it (I was wondering the difference between Orthodoxy and Catholicism for purely academic reasons and was shocked at the response) sent one of the guys into a small panic. One of the guys in our group who lived with the Serbs a Mexican convinced him that this was just a normal question and nothing else. So he explained it and I promptly changed the subject never to mention the r word again. The Serb guy was also sharing the flat with a Muslim from Tunisia who had an intolerance of any religion that was not Islam and had different views on the place of women. This serious really annoyed the rest of the flat mates and they sometimes jokingly refer to him as “terrorist”. ( There was another Muslim from Tunisia that they got on very well with. He used to tell me he thought Slipknot was very beautiful). Looking back now I never realised the power keg of a situation that was.

I don’t think we in the west know just how divisive religion can be. Even us who have had 30 years of semi-religious terrorism don’t know. But an attack on their religion is an attack on themselves. Maybe this is why we didn’t understand the Danish cartoons thing. To us an attack on a religion is at most a slap on the face to others it is a stab at the heart. Now I am not saying we should abide by their laws. But maybe we should have a bit more cop on when dealing with people who take religion more seriously then we do.

Blog Awards.

Suzy has the blog Awards winners. I wonder what twenties speach was like. I can imagine lines like. "I would like the people who came up with the words fuck shit cunt and berk." Congrats all.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Blogs in the Irish Times

Backseat Driver Jon ihle writes about Blogs in the Irish Times. Sarah Carey has the article.

Sarah Carey is on the Last Word talking about blogs

Top 6 Friday Conspiracy Theories

After watching the video about 9/11 I thought I would do a top 6 Conspiracies. Anyone care to add their own favorite.

6. Aliens are amongst us from Roswell New Mexico to Finner Camp in Donegal. Aliens are amongst us. The only major questions is why if they are intelligent life do they appear in rural American and not Washington D.C. They are being kept in jars in Donegal. It was on Nationwide a few years ago. Might explain Ian Paisley and why he was used as a model for the Vogons in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

5. Elvis is still alive. The king is alive and talking on CB radio's through out the mid-west of America.

4. The Moon landing was faked. This was parodied in none of the Bond Films. Possibly Diamonds are forever.

3. 9/11 was a plot by George W Bush.

2. The Irish conspiracy for World Domination. We control America and one day the world. Oh crap better keep it quiet. To all my American readers. Top of the Morning to you and shamrocks and Guinness

1. John F Kennedy , The granddaddy of all theories. The grassy knoll, back and to the left, the magic bullet theory, Kevin Costner, Mafia, Anti-Castro pigeons seen saying coo coo in Dallas. It has it all.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Blog on the radio

Hey Blogs are on the Dave Fanning Show. By the way don't forget the awards on Saturday.

In other stuff East European and Russias influence is interesting to me and have detailed it over the Ukraine Gas crisis.

Russian Gas Influence Part 2 – European Union and Us

Russian Gas Influence Part 1 - Ukraine But here is an interesting article from Orange Ukraine. About how Ukraine is using its influence against Russias wishes.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

9/11 the new Grassy Knoll?

If you thought that JFK was the biggest conspiracy theory think again there is a 9/11 conspiracy now. All though about 95% of it can be easily debunked there is some less easily debunkable stuff. However if you like your conspiracy theories you'll enjoy this. Some people may find this offensive.

Crime and murder in Ireland

The object of a prison sentence is two-fold. First it is to act as a deterrent the sentence should be of sufficient length as deter anyone from committing the crime. Secondly the length of time that a person is locked up is deemed to be the length of time taken to rehabilitate the prisoner. The function is not to punish. For what is the use of punishing it is not going to reverse the crime. All a sentence can hope to achieve is stop it from happening again whether it be by the convicted or another person. All this is persuming that the Gardai are detecting crime and catching criminals which is another subject I will return to later.

However looking at the Donna Cleary case are these being correctly applied. Just for any of my foreign readers. Basically what happened was seemingly 3 men were refused entrance to a 40th birthday party. The arrived back some time later and fired 5 shots into the window of the house killing Donna Cleary. Some people have been arrested for the murder. One of them Dwane Foster the chief suspect and a known armed robber died in custody 2 nights ago of natural cause. Foul play on the part of the Gardaí is not suspected.

Some people on Today Fm’s Last Word were calling for the death penalty to be brought back in over this crime. Firstly the Death Penalty is wrong. Taking another’s life whether by the state are by a citizen is wrong. But what of the deterrent factor. The only country in the Western World that still murders people (lets call it what it is not execution. Execute has connotations of completing a task not committing mortal sin) America also has the highest murder rate. The deterrent certainly is not working there. Also if the second function in the first paragraph is implemented then it is not going to save any other lives.

But what is happing to our country. Are we full filling the two critea for prison sentences.

The Green party wants to introduce a gun amnesty where people could hand there guns into the local Garda station and not suffer any consequences. This has been quiet successful in places. In Ottawa Canada they ran quiet a successful one where 506 firearms were handed in. So it sounds like a good idea but one of the key quotes from the police chief of Ottawa Vince Bevan. Was that “Our intent was to increase community safety, by reducing the potential of unwanted firearms getting into the hands of those who may use them to carry out criminal acts,” See that is the difference with a gun amnesty in Canada and one in Ireland. In Canada guns are quiet common in Ireland they are all ready in the hands of those who may use them to carry out criminal acts. A gun amnesty is going to do little to curb the rise of gun crime. (But Mr O' Dea might hand his in so it might have some merit :) )

The other day Bertie said that some murders were out on the streets after 7 years. 7 years. While this may indeed solve the second critea and these people are reformed. It does not send out the right message to criminals. The deterrent needs to deter 7 years for murder is certainly no going to do that. If someone thinks they will get 7 years they might be willing to murder. In fact the need for a deterrent over rides the need to rehabilitate. If someone commits the most heinous of crimes and takes a life then they have to lose their liberty for life. As Bertie said life means life. So how do murders get back on the streets.

Enda Kenny suggested in the Dail Debate that it was the Minister who lets murders out. “The sentence for murder in this country is automatically a life sentence and life means life. The reason Malcolm McArthur is still in jail is because the Minister refused to let him out".

But there is no such thing as a mandatory life sentence in Ireland. It is up to the courts to decide the length of the sentence. In a speech at the PD conference in 2004 Michael McDowell declared. That he had

“ended the expectation that life-sentences for murder frequently meant release after 7 to 10 years”

Which is quiet true we don’t expect 7 year life sentences we are shocked by them when they are handed down. So who is to blame, is it the courts or is it the minister.

The responsibility for setting sentences is the judiciaries. So when a weak sentence is handed out it is because of the courts decisions. Tom O’ Malley argued in the Irish Times (subs regd) that the courts are not lenient that if the general public had been in the position to be the judge knowing the full extent of the cases they would give similar judgements. He also argues that in what it is not the sentences that are the deterrent but the likelihood of getting caught and having the sentence applied. While getting the judiciary to hand out tougher sentences may curb crime some what and be welcomed. Unless the law is enforced then it is a useless.

McDowell is bringing in a mandatory sentence for gun possession which is a good thing. But if the Gardai are not catching the criminals it is a useless. Crime in this country is a lot less then in our neighbours. In Ireland there is 25 crimes per 1000 in England and Wales that is 113 per 1000,Scotland 86 per 1000 and Northern Ireland 69 per 1000. So we are doing something right. Crime is caused by many things much of it is social deprivation. Yet every persons favourite model of social inclusion Sweden has a higher crime rate (based on 2001 figures) and homicide rate( based on 2004 figures Swedish (Irish here)). It also has a lower imprisonment per crime and lower police per person ratios then Ireland.(based on 2001 figures). I think the Swedish figures show that Irelands stronger law enforcement decreases crime. But crime is rising. So we have to deal with it. This has to be dealt on a number of levels. Ranging from measures to lessen the effects of social depravation but more inportantly more Gardai and tough sentencing. Basically as there is so many factors in this it is hard to proportion blame. Crime in Ireland is low. But rising prosperity gives rise to more crime. So we need to act. We need more Gardai on the beat and of tough sentencing.

We have to options either we put our hands in the air, resigner our selves to the fact that there is no more we can do or  we reform our system in such a way that truly deters people from commiting murder. Which ever path we chose it will not bring back Donna but hopefully it will lead us to a place where life is not so cheap.

Update 10 March : From Limerick Blogger. A third of all gun crime in Ireland is in Limerick. Limerick City has just under 2% of the population