Thursday, February 26, 2009

Green Candidate Vows To Take On The Rogue Bankers

At last we have a local election candidate brave enough, intelligent enough and with the ‘liathroidi’ to tackle the issue of the day – the rogue bankers.

Gary Fitzgerald, a Green Party member who is running in the local elections for Dublin city Council, has threatened to take a private criminal prosecution against rogue bankers.

He is doing this because of the depth of anger he is experiencing on the doorsteps since the banking crisis started to unfold.

Gary is planning on using a 19th century Act to initiate the prosecutions against the bankers.

Here’s the science bit - under the Indictable Offences Act 1849 every individual has the right to start a criminal prosecution.

All cases start in the District Court and if the alleged wrong is a serious offence then the District Court judge can issue a summons ordering the accused to appear in court.

It is then the responsibility of the individual taking the case to make out a prima facie case. At this point the DPP must continue with the case and can only stop the prosecution for ‘good reason’ and after the ‘fullest consideration’ according to a judgement of the Supreme Court.

He said his constituents are worried that Irish bank bosses, whose actions have contributed to the financial crisis, will retire with handsome rewards while the ordinary tax-payer picks up the tab.

"The GardaĆ­, the Director of Public Prosecutions and CAB have a broad range of powers to pursue bankers who have committed criminal offences, but if for some reason, that doesn't happen, I am prepared to exercise my rights as a private citizen and bring a private criminal prosecution."

And there is a precedent in this type of thing – the Mahon tribunal was originally instigated by two concerned citizens who felt the authorities had failed to prosecute breaches of criminal law.

Knock, Knock, Knocking on Gordon's Door

If you knock on enough doors, you will finally get the answer you want.

That much have been at the forefront of Senator Cecilia Keaveney’s mind when she decided to chance her arm and knock on the door of 10 Downing Street in London last week.

The Donegal Senator was in London attending a conference on combating anti-semitism when she took the diversion over to Downing Street.

Fortunately, Cecilia was met at the door by a smiling policeman and NOT Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Peter Power's Ice Cream

It’s a tough job being a Junior Minister these days.

Take Peter Power, for example.

While most of his colleagues where up to their proverbials in banking guff on Tuesday, Willie O’Dea’s second-in-command was – tasting ice cream!!

Power, in his role as Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, attended a special lunch at Iveagh House on Tuesday to celebrate all that is good about Fair Trade – and ice cream!

As part of the lunch, Power got a preview and taste of Ben & Jerry’s new Fair Trade ice cream Chocolate Macadamia.

Whoever said politics is boring is obviously not mixing in the right circles!

No Gold Star in Spelling

Our politicians are a well-educated bunch.

Over the past few months, many have been getting Irish classes but maybe it is time for some to get spelling lessons!

One politician (who shall remain nameless to spare his musical blushes) sent out a media release during the week about an upcoming national conference for politicians of a certain independent streak.

Not only did he manage to spell the surname of MEP Kathy Sinnott wrong (Synott), he also managed to make mincemeat out of MEP Marian Harkin’s name, calling her instead ‘Marin Marking’.

I think it is a case of ‘must try harder’!!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Poor Libertas Interns

If there is one thing guaranteed to bore the cotton socks off anyone at the moment, it is the mere mention of the Lisbon Treaty - but bear with me!

Workers rights was one of the main issues of contention last June when the Irish turned remarkably frosty towards anything European.

But Declan Ganley's anti-treaty group Libertas really are taking the biscuit when it comes to workers rights - it is looking for interns but is only prepared to pay them a misery €700 a month while they live in Brussels.

Ganley's Libertas is building a European army of interns ahead of this summer's European elections.

And as part of its plan for world domination, it will be taking on interns and full-time staff across Europe.

In their online advertisement they are looking to hire 'highly-qualified and talented students for a period of five months in Brussels'.

But let's look at this more closely. Considering the intern will work at least eight hours a day for five days a week, that gives a working week of 40 hours. With four weeks in a month, that gives the sum total of 160 hours a month.

With a pay packet of €700 a month, that gives an hourly rate of just €4.30 - far, far less than the Minimum Wage.

Students, be warned!

The Daily Stuff

America may have the Drudge Report but now Ireland has its own home-grown version -

The site is the brainchild of Niall Kelleher and it is a news and humour site loosely based on the Drudge model.

While all the news that you would expect to find on a news website is there, one of the best parts of the site are the photo cartoons.

No politician or banker is safe as this photo shows!

The Real Longford Leader

Longford political legend Albert Reynolds didn't get the nod for the Aras from his party all those years ago - but this week he was awarded Honourary Freedom of the Town of Longford.

The Council said they gave the local lad - who once described the 1997 Fianna Fail/PD coalition as a 'temporary little arrangement' - the honour in recognition for his contribution to the peace process in Northern Ireland. And they also wanted to salute his qualities of leadership, integrity, statemanship and commitment in doing so.

Our spies in Longford tell us that the Honourary Freedom of the Town of Longford has a long and distinguished list of recipients, which include former SDLP leader John Hume and former GAA Director General Liam Mulvihill.

A delighted Albert was well pleased with the honour.

"It is with great pleasure that I'm bestowed the Honourary Freedom of the Town of Longford," he declared.

"I think most of us would agree that there was nothing inevitable about peace in Ireland and that we would still be immersed in violence were it not for strong political leadership on all sides."

"For this we can be thankful," he said.

Never a truer word said Albert!

The Year of the Uptons

The year ends in a '9' so the omens are good for young Labour Party buck Henry Upton, who is seeking election in the Crumlin-Kimmage area of Dublin for the local elections in June.

Henry's late father Pat was elected on his first attempt as a Senator back in 1989 before going on to serve as a TD for Dublin South Central.

His aunt Mary Upton was elected on her first attempt as a TD in 1999 - also for Dublin South Central.

Now in 2009, Henry is hoping to be elected as a councillor on his first attempt!

"Of course, I'm not relying on the number 9 to win this election for me, I am also putting in the work on the ground," he said.

"There are a lot of issues in this area that are of huge concern to local people, such as job losses, public transport and crime. I am already knocking on doors and talking to people and the response I am getting is very positive," he said.

Talking out both sides of their mouth

Only a few weeks ago, Fine Gael was demanding that the Government scrap some of its Junior Ministers, claiming it could save the Exchequer up to €15m a year.

Is this the same party whose members have on numerous occasions in the past called for new ministries to be created?

These include a Minister for Small Business (Phil Hogan) and a stand-alone senior Cabinet Minister for the Marine (Enda Kenny).

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cowen Google Doodle

Taoiseach Brian Cowen could soon become the face of Google on St Patrick’s Day - and it is all down to a young 18-year-old student from Cork.

The boss man may be spending our national holiday meeting and greeting the great and the good in American politics - including fellow Offaly man President Barack Obama - but all eyes will be on the homepage to see if he has won this particular election!

Aoife O’Leary is a student at the Mount Mercy College in Cork and she has entered her own Google Doodle in a special competition organised by internet search engine giants Google.

The task at hand for Irish students was to create a doodle around the idea of ‘My Ireland’ and describe what Ireland means to them.

According to Aoife, ‘My Ireland today is overshadowed by the doom and gloom of recession’.

“I wanted to bring a humourous aspect to this. I drew a charicature of our Taoiseach looking anxious. I included a cartoon of a tiger appearing sad with a duffle bad to represent the end of the Celtic Tiger,” Aoife said in her entry.

Hundreds of students across Ireland entered the competition and the final has been whittled down to just a few - including this great creation from Aoife.

So if you want to see Brian Cowen win at least one election this year and become the face of Google for one day only, get your skates on. Voting closes at midnight on February 16 next.

To vote, go to

Election Marathons

And they’re off!!!

Yes, the starter’s whistle has been blown and candidates across Ireland have begun the long race to the finishing post with the prize being membership of a county, town or borough council.

One such candidate is Labour’s Aodhan O Riordain - currently a member of Dublin City Council.

Tonight (Thurs), he will join forces with two political heavyweights to launch his campaign for this summer’s local elections when he will be running as a candidate in the Clontarf Ward.

Joining Aodhan at the starting line of the political marathon will be Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore and everyone’s favourite Star columnist Eamon Dunphy (OK, he is not a political heavyweight, but he can get fairly worked up about the state of the economy!)

It will be a day-long affair, kicking off with O Riordain and Gilmore meeting the staff and parents of pupils of Belgrove Junior Boys School in Clontarf.

Then it is on to join Dublin GAA selector Mickey Whelan to launch the Senior Citizens’ Forum Policy Document, a quick meet and greet on the streets of Marino and visits to Marino Boys Football Club and Craobh Chiarain GAA club in Donnycarney.

And then it’s off to Graingers pub in Marino for the real business of the day - the launch of Aodhan’s campaign by none other than Eamon Dunphy.

With Dunphy on board, it’s bound to be a memorable evening!

There's Something About Mary ...... O'Rourke

There really is something about Mary (O’Rourke, that is)!

Not only is she the Mammy of the Dail, she is one of the funniest, most honest and most carefree women you could ever hope to meet.

So it was no wonder that she gave such a revealing interview to a music magazine about her life. It was warts’n’all covering everything from gynecologists to sex and from sexism in Fianna Fail to refusing to venture back on the dating scene eight years after the death of her husband.

Mammy Mary has been in the wars in the past. Remember her infamous ‘working like blacks’ comment? Well she certainly has no regrets.

“There was nothing wrong with that now. They are all talking about Obama being black now as if it was white, you know? ‘They work like blacks!’ Of course they do! They were worked very hard,” she said.

But Mamma Mia - here she goes again, and this time it is Enda Kenny that is the subject of her musings.

“I think he’s a bit foolish. He might be politically clever, but I don’t think he’s intellectually clever,” she said.

Well if leading a party that gained 20 extra seats in the last general election as well as leading a party that is riding high in the opinion polls is not intellectually clever, Mammy Mary’s standards must be very high!

Time for a laugh

There is so much depressing news doing the rounds at the moment, here is a little bit of light relief to keep the spirits up!

Gordon Brown, Barack Obama and Brian Cowen all die on the same day. Being important people, they are brought to see God when they arrive in Heaven.

Gordon Brown asked God: “Britain faces many challenges - racism, the economy and war. How long until these problems are sorted?”

God replies: “20 years”. Gordon starts to cry as he will not get any credit when the troubles are solved.

Barack Obama asked: “America is in a lot of trouble with the occupation of Iraq, the credit crunch and unemployment. How long until these problems are solved?”

God says: “50 years”. Obama starts crying as he realises his grandchildren will still face the same problems.

Brian Cowen approaches and asks: “Ireland is in trouble with job losses, the banking crisis, a fall in popularity of the Government, a property crash, disappearing pension reserves as well as the economy. How long until these are sorted?”

God starts to cry!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Doing it their way!

The Frank Sinatra-style of running the country isn’t just one adopted by Taoiseach Brian Cowen - it seems that the rest of the Government is at it as well.

A special working group is being set up to look at possible ways of reforming the way Dail business is carried out - a review that is long overdue considering that of the three days the Dail sits, two are in effect half days.

While politicians on all side of the house are keen on the idea of Dail reform, some are feeling that they are being left out in the cold in the process.

One such is Labour’s Emmet Stagg who is concerned that the review group is made up only of the Fianna Fail and Green Whips - the powers that be seem to have forgotten that there are other parties in the political wasteground that is Ireland.

“I’m very surprised at the Government move given that a cross-party committee had been considering a number of changes to Dail procedures and had achieved a significant degree of consensus, taking on board suggestions by all parties, including Fianna Fail,” he said.

“In find it ominous that this is now apparently all to be set aside in favour of a partisan approach by the Government.”

And it seems that the Government might be planning on suiting itself in the matter, much to the disquiet to the good Deputy Stagg.

“I am particularly concerned that the Government may be planning to target Leaders’ Questions with a view to restricting the ability of opposition leaders to question the Taoiseach on matters of current interest.

“I accept that there are many areas of Dail procedure that are outdated and ill-suited to the needs of a modern democracy and that TDs on all sides of the House find them unsatisfactory and frustrating.”

“We accept that any reforms have to involve a degree of ‘give and take’ and that there cannot be changes that give an advantage only to the opposition or only to the Government,” he said.

Narky Sarky

Staying on the ‘my way or the highway’ style of leadership adopted by Fuhrer Brian Cowen, let’s hope he doesn’t take a leaf out of Nicolas Sarkozy’s book!!

The ‘small but perfectly formed’ French President likes to have happy faces and attitudes around him at all times so when a person - be it a complete stranger - boos or hisses during a public appearance, well you can expect the merde to hit the fan.

Last week, the Short Fella sacked two senior officials in Normandy. Their crime?? Failing to shield him from angry boos!!!

It is not the first time that the little French man displayed his autocratic streak.

Last year, he fired the Corsican police chief after nationalists protestors invaded the garden of his friend, actor Christian Clavier.

What a drag!

When it comes to global diplomacy, being forewarned is to be forearmed.

So you would think that when a visiting foreign politician is coming to town, you would do your homework and know a few facts about the politician in question.

But not in the case of Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Moualem it seems.

He was one of the many top dignitaries that Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin met with during a visit to the Middle East this week.

Just a brief recap - Micheal Martin not only is the man responsible to banning biscuits from the cabinet table in favour of fruit, he is also the man credited with introducing the smoking ban not just in Ireland but across Europe!

So you can imagine the surprise on the faces of Minister Martin and his top-level officials when - in the middle of the meeting - Mr Al-Moualem took a cigarette out of his pocket and without a care in the world, lit it up and proceeded to puff away.

As Micheal Martin is the perfect model of diplomacy, he didn’t say a world - he was in Syria after all, which certainly hasn’t followed Ireland’s lead in introducing a smoking ban!!!

Tweety Pie

Politicians will claim to have many friends and fans throughout the world but young buck Senator Paschal Donohue really does take the biscuit!

The young Dub pup has taken to bragging on his website that Barack Obama is ‘following’ him!!

Now just in case you think Barack has turned into a stalker or that poor Paschal is having some temporary paranoia - he means the new US President is following him on Twitter.

Twitter, for the uninitiated, is an internet version of constant text messaging commentary. As if email, text messaging, blogging and the like were not enough - our politicians have taken to this hugely annoying form of self-publicity.

If you Twitter, you are actually tweeting, according to my Twitter expert! That make young Donohue the Tweeter-in-Chief or Tweety Bird of Leinster House.

And just so that everyone knows about the Obama stalking of young Donohue, he has proudly displayed it on his website for all to see.

“Twitter really is powerful,” Tweety Bird Donoghue writes.

“Just received an email from it (Twitter) to say that Barack Obama is ‘following’ me. Thought he had better things to do - global credit crunch, two wars and so on.”

That’s gratitude for ya!!