Friday, July 31, 2015

Well. Here's a thing. I haven't written on this for yonks. But if it's alive. I will. Does anyone care? (Yes, Paddy, we do, we do. really!)

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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Not a Snowball's Chance in Hell

It snowed.
There might even have been a couple of inches of the stuff in Dublin.
And yes, it's been cold, though not in Malta where our Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey is currently sunning himself.
Anyway, it snowed and we had ice and fog and frost.
And yet another national crisis.
Following hot on the heels of the economic collapse (international problem, not our fault says the government) we had the floods (global warming, not our fault says the government) and now the big freeze (climate change, not our fault says the government).
Soon to come will be public service strikes (not our fault, blame the unions, the government will say) summer drought (see above) winter gales (see above) and half a million unemployed (see above).
I can say one thing for certain.
If I ever plan to have a piss-up in a brewery, I will not be asking any members of our current government to organise it.
I see snow on a rope in the back garden. I will not be asking any of them to kick it off.
Because they are inept. They have proven themselves unable to face any of the challenges thrown at them.
They prevaricate, they procrastinate, they delegate. But they don't actually do anything.
There is only one thing for it.
I'm off to build a snowman with Charlotte.
Note the word 'build.'
I wonder if there's a grant of any kind going?

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

How To Prevent Cycling Accidents

It's a worry, isn't it?
We hear, every day, of cyclists being involved in accidents of one sort or another on our roads and, indeed, our footpaths.
For years, people have been trying to figure out how to solve this problem.
Well, I had a eureka! moment.
All of a sudden, the solution came to me.
And it's this.
Simple, really.
If there are no cyclists out there, there will be no cyclists to knock down.
From a motorists point of view, there will be no cyclists to be knocked down.
I am referring, specifically, to those who completely ignore red lights.
I am referring, largley, to those who think that cycling and listening to music is a good idea.
I am referring, generally, to those who seem to believe that cycling on the footpath is their right.
I counted today. Fourteen times in less than half an hour cyclists sped past in front of me.
I tell a lie. Two of them almost sped into me. And it was THEY who gave ME daggers.
In that half an hour, I also spotted three cyclists riding merrily along footpaths.
Three quarters of all those I saw had earphones presumably blocking out all sound of other traffic, people roaring, car horns, police sirens and what not.
I saw one bicycle abandoned outside a shop in such a way as to present a hazard to all and sunday entering or leaving the premises.
As for cyclists at night, wearing dark clothing and carrying no illumination whatsoever, I don't have time or space to go there.
Anyway, I think my solution would solve the problem of cyclists and accidents.
It would also support public transport.
And it would mean the country's motorists and pedestrians were a lot less nervous as they went about their business.
And it would mean our 'Green' Ministers would have to think of some other wheeze for their next photoshoot.
Anyone fancy seeing them strapped to a windmill?

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

No Real ads from the Real IRA

I have noticed, around my neighbourhood, a few notices stuck on lamposts urging one and all to join the 32 County Sovereignty Movement.
Snappy name, that.
Anyway, it's a kind of mundane ad for a terrorist organisation. Dull. Unexciting.
And, frankly, not at all getting their point across.
I mean, what they do is support the Real IRA in every way they can.
So, really, shouldn't their ad look a bit more like this?



We will show you how to:

Plant bombs, run away, and set them off by remote control.
Chuck pipe bombs through the windows of houses
Fire guns from a safe distance – safe for you, that is!
Join gangs armed with baseball bats to attack individuals (no crowds, they might fight back!)
Ruin lives
Set Ireland back 100 years and
Allow you to tell your children you’re a killer.


Well, you’re our man.

Women are more or less welcome too as long as they're a bit of fun an, you know, willing.

So get a move on.

After all, it IS the year 1162

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Think I'll start again!

It's been a bit hectic around here this year.
Can't remember a week when I didn't have to see a doctor though I am remarkably well.
Charlotte is three and a half now and kind of full time.
Work is pretty time consuming too.
And of course, in my spare time, I edited Fearless and Bold, the coffee-table style book published to mark the 150th anniversary of Blackrock College. ( if you want to order it!)
But I think I'll revive this.
Next week.
We'll get going again.
See you then.

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Monday, January 5, 2009

Bankers and Politicians Are Recession Proof

There are bonuses and pay rises being dished out at Anglo Irish Bank.
Life goes on as normal for the bosses at AIB and Bank of Ireland.
Our TDs, the ones to whom we pay vast sums in salaries and allowances, are still on their Christmas break, and are still not putting their heads above the parapet when it comes to making a sacrifice or to lead by example in our current economic crisis.
In other words, those who caused our problems, and those we pay to solve our problems, are breezing through this recession without a care in the world.

And it is all our fault.
Because it is we, the people of Ireland, who took our eyes off the ball.
It is we who allowed TDs to accumulate allowances and salaries and nixers (like junior ministries and committee chairmanships) over the years.
It is we who failed to question each greedy move they made to fill their own bank accounts with our money.
And it is we who failed to tackle our banks, to question they way they do business.
To make them accountable.
Now, we have the appalling vista of the highly-paid dopes we elected to the Dáil giving bags of our money to the even more highly paid dopes who have managed to run the country's banking business into the ground.
How much of the €1bn we are giving to Anglo Irish Bank will go in bonuses and pay rises to the clearly inept management of the bank?
We are unlikely to be told.
How much does Anglo Irish owe to AIB and Bank of Ireland?
We don't know and, by not telling the truth about the situation, all three banks are, effectively lying about it.
Those who run our banks have proven their inability to do the job.
A child could run a bank during good times.
But it takes brains and skill to run a bank when times are tough.
Times are tough. And it is clear that those, still left in charge of our banks by the government, have neither the brains nor the skill to do the job.
They certainly have the nerve and the wit to look after themselves and each other.
Much like our politicians.
They have demonstrated an utter inability to deal with the current crisis.
But, thanks to their large salaries, the are all but immune from the economic mess we're in.
So don't be expecting miracle solutions.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen says it will take four or five years.
Of course it will.
And if I was in his job with its massive salary and endless perks, I wouldn't be that worried either.
Politicians and bankers are recession proof.
It's the rest of us who will suffer.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What Is TRULY Valuable

What is the most valuable thing you own?
I suppose, a few months ago, most of us, in Ireland anyway, would have said, our homes.
For reasons which weren't quite clear to us, houses we bought four or five years ago - ordinary, small, terraced, Edwardian houses - doubled in value. Or more.
For some, talk of the value of their homes became a reason for hosting dinner parties, increasingly lavish dinner parties washed down with expensive wine which may, or may not, have been worth what was paid for it.

Our cars - mine is an exception - were or are valuable too. Many who made money bought cars which could not be driven, legally, at even half the speeds of which they were capable. Sports cars stuck in traffic jams.
Now, though, we've all begun to think.
For a start there are now 100,000 fewer people working. By the end of 2009, that figure will be 200,000. By this time next year, there will be more than 300,000 people in Ireland without work. Many of them will be the husbands of wives without work and the wives of husbands without work. Many will have bought their homes not long ago and watch them halve in value.
Suddenly, we realise that where we live is just bricks and mortar - and something for the bank to manipulate to make profit.
And cars are just for getting from A to B.
Suddenly, we realise that these things have no real value. A cost, yes. A value or a worth, no.
Because the most valuable things I have - and I own neither - are my family and my friends.
Spike Milligan once said: A Friend in need is a pain in the neck.
He probably wasn't wrong.
But in the tough year or years that lie ahead, family and friends will become increasingly important and valuable for us all.
And it won't necessarily be in a material sense. This recession will hit everybody bar those who got us into it - greedy bankers and inept politicians.
Family and friends will become valuable because, if you're lucky, they'll be there.
They'll listen. They'll support. They'll talk. They'll love.
And you won't get that from a house or a car.
You won't get anything back from your 'valuable assets'.
Family and friends are extraordinary things - if you have them.
And if you don't I can only pray that, at least, you find friendship somewhere.
The older I get, the more I come to appreciate how lucky I was with the parents I had and with the siblings I have.
I realise how lucky I am with my friends, some of whom have been friends for almost all my life.
And do you know what?
Times aren't easy and haven't been, what with bone marrow transplants, losing a good job because of my health and now a recession which will make it tough for all.
But the value of having a wonderful family and good friends, well, that's multiplied by a factor of 100 a times like this.
And the great thing is, it never, thank God, ever falls victim to the vagaries of economics or politics.
It just keeps on rising.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Why I Love Christmas

I am one of those who genuinely wishes it was Christmas every day.
Notwithstanding the downside - greed, rudeness, drunkenness, puke on every footpath and the inevitable disappointing tv output - it’s a wonderful time.
And it’s wonderful not just because of children, though they really do add a special dimension.
I loved Christmas long before Charlotte arrived. I just love it infinitely more now that she’s here and, well, kind of aware what’s going on.

I love Christmas because some, not all, people are nicer to each other than they normally are.
I love Christmas because, even if the actual television out put is lousy, I can choose to watch some of my favourite movies like It’s a Wonderful Life and Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Hard Day’s Night.
I love Christmas because I like buying presents.
I love Christmas because I like receiving presents.
I love Christmas because - especially now that I’m in a kind of isolation (seven months on from the bone marrow transplant, I’m not allowed into pubs or restaurants or crowded places) it’s good to see friends when they call around.
I love Christmas because I love the decorations and my wife Connie is the brilliant at it.
I love Christmas because there’s loads of rugby on.
I love Christmas in Ireland when it’s mild, which it is, which means we can go for a nice walk on Stephen’s Day.
I love Christmas because, in Ireland, we still choose to call it Christmas and not ‘Holiday.’ We do so because we are not afraid to do so.
I love Christmas because it reminds me of the joy of friends and family who are no longer with us. It’s wonderful to remember them at a happy time.
I love Christmas because of what it is, a celebration of the birth of Christ whose message is one of love and joy and peace.
I love Christmas because even the likes of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, those professional atheists, can’t ignore it.
I love Christmas because it reminds us of the gift we have been given by God, the gift of his Son, of life, of opportunity.
This is my 55th Christmas.
And I regard each one as special.
This one in particular is special.
It is special because I will spend it, in relatively good health with my wife Connie and our beautiful daughter Charlotte in our home in Dublin.
We are all facing into a tough year.
But we will, with God’s help, survive and come out strong when this man-made, greed-driven recession ends.
Have a happy Christmas.
And even if you don’t share my faith in God, remember that the message of Christ is for everyone, not just those who believe.
Be nice to one another.
And peace to all.

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Wrong In Every Way Possible

WRONG: Sean Fitzpatrick

An Irish banker, who has overseen the value of his company slump by 90 per cent, hid a loan of €87 million in a rival financial institution every year for eight years.
And, he says, he did nothing wrong.
Now, whether or not what he did broke the law or not - and if it didn’t then it is the law is sadly lacking - he certainly did something wrong.
Morally wrong.
Ethically wrong.
In fact, what he did was wrong in almost every way imaginable.

This is the guy who said, before the budget, that we should all feel some pain because of the economic situation, a situation his bank, and the world’s banks, created.
Now, he’s all sorry.
Sorry, that is, that he has been caught in his subterfuge, sorry his deceit has been uncovered. sorry he’s been rumbled.
But will it make any difference to him?
Not a jot.
Will he suffer?
Not a bit of it.
Will he now know what it’s like to be poor?
Not a snowball’s chance in hell.
Because these people, people like Sean Fitzpatrick, don’t inhabit the same planet as the rest of us.
They life on planet greed. They are - still - disciples of the “Greed is Good’ God of Gordon Gecko.
We all were, to a degree.
We were paying €3 or more for a coffee on the way into work in the morning. And we didn’t think it too much.
We were paying €5 for a pint and not complaining.
We were jumping taxis for trips of less than a kilometre, paying for movie channels and never watching them, buying gadgets we didn’t need and never used, buying ‘labels’ to wear at exorbitant prices when equivalent clothes cost less than half the price, we were buying ‘exotic’ foodstuffs and learning to like them, we were buying wine by the price - because we assumed that if it was expensive it was good.
On that subject, a man I know who works in the wine department of a supermarket, told me that they often price lousy wine, wine they know won’t shift at €5.99, at between €10 and €15 because people who know nothing about wine buy in that range assuming what they’re buying is ok.
Anyway, we fuelled bastards like Fitzpatrick by pandering to our own egos.
Crap artists sold for sums vastly above what they were worth, because people paid what galleries asked.
We paid €100 or more to see gigs in lousy venues.
We bought cars with gizmos we didn’t need.
We bought pricey furniture because we wanted to show off.
We wasted our money.
And now, it’s all over.
I, like many others, have to take a pay cut.
But I have a job.
Which makes me lucky.
Sean Fitzpatrick currently doesn’t have a job.
But he still has money. More money that you and I would have if we won the lottery.
Won it twice a week for a month.
Because that’s how unfair it all is.
That’s the way of it.
The bad guys win.
And we pay the price.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Sad Naked Greed of Ireland's Legislators

The entire world is in trouble.
And it is generally agreed, that, well, greed is what has caused the problems for us all.
We - I - have pointed the finger at bankers. And they are, without any doubt, guilty.
But here in Ireland, there is another group which is as greedy. Another group that appears to be in utter and total denial. Another group which seems to believe that it should make no sacrifice whatever in the current climate. Another group that says one thing and does another.
And that is the group of people made up of our elected representatives.

We have 166 TDs, Members of Parliament, men and women elected almost two years ago to represent us in the legislature.
They receive, on average salaries of more than €100,000 a year. Some earn considerably more having been elected a long time ago.
On top of that, they receive an allowance for actually turning up every day.
This size of this historic payment depends on how far it is they live from Dublin. More than 25k - and you can be sure hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens live considerably further away than that - and they pick up around €150. Tax free. Every day.
And incredibly, if they live closer, they receive a payment of a bit more than half that to COMPENSATE them for not living further away. Can you believe it?
They receive tax free allowances for their phones.
They can mail 21,000 items a year, free. They often use this allowance to send Christmas cards to constituents they don’t even know.
They also receive financial help to run their constituency offices - offices that exist largely as part of their re-election campaigns.
Many TDs use state money - our money - to pay members of the families to do this work.
And they receive travelling expenses.
And they receive general, unvouched expenses. That is to say, that unlike the rest of us, they do not have to provide receipts. They just claim the money. Tax free.
Some claim up to €80,000 a year - tax free (I don’t mind saying that again) and on top of salaries of €100,000 or more.
How many TDs have suggested that, as tens of thousands of people lose their jobs. as tens of thousands of others are forced to take pay cuts, as families lose their homes, as people struggle to keep their heads about water, that they, our public representatives, should look at cutting some of what they get?
Not one.
Not a single one.
We do not have one TD, one public representative who thinks that what they are getting is, in the current situation, a bit much, a tiny bit inequitable, a wee bit unfair.
We do not have one TD, socialist, Christian or otherwise, who thinks they should give up one red cent of what they get, paid for by us.
We do not have one decent person, one with a conscience, one with the tiniest bit of moral fibre which would nudge them in the way of saying: This is wrong.
They live in their own world of short days, long holidays and, compared with the rest of us, wealth.
And it is desperately, terribly sad that it is so.

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