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Villager – November 2014

 

 Roy Keane, Bono, Michael Fitzmaurice, the Le Pens, Morgan Kelly etc 

Meaningful surnames
So Jared Payne’s an injury doubt for upcoming rugby internationals, while Ireland’s second try-scorer against South Africa is pretty-boy Tommy Bowe.


Keane to defend himself
Roy in Portmarnock book fracas…zzzzzzzzz.


Globalism and tax breaks
Bono and the IDA want to change the World. Villager wonders what people who want to keep it the same look like.


The People’s Peter Mathews
Michael Fitzmaurice is beginning to make quite an impression in the Dáil.

 


Marine Le Pen
Marine Le Pen

Multinational Back

The French Front National’s Marine and her dad Jean-Marie Le Pen seem to have fallen out, after his dog ate her cat on the family compound outside Paris over the summer. A few months ago she said his suggestion that Patrick Bruel, a Jewish singer, should be “put in an oven” was a “serious political mistake”. Villager certainly would not demur. Now she wants to change the national front’s name but he says “only bankrupt parties change their names”. Ok then, how about just change the policies?


 

 

 

Trust not Front
The Chairman of the English National Trust, Sir Simon Jenkins, a former editor of The Times, has attacked David Cameron, who once said he’d no more put the countryside at risk

Simon Jenkins
Simon Jenkins

than his own family,  for abandoning Tory election pledges including by calling for a £15bn “100-roads revolution” by the end of the decade. Jenkins accused former Tory planning minister, Nic Boles – whose father, Jack, counter-intuitively was head of the National Trust 1975-1983, of being effectively a recruiting officer for UKIP which apparently is understanding about the countryside.  Such language would never be heard in Ireland’s National Trust, not since the never-knighted editor here – then An Taisce chairman – called Eamon O’Cuív a gobshite, in 2001.


 

 

 

 

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subterranean blues

Morgangst
Villager doesn’t really do heroes. Gandhi maybe or Mandela. In Ireland we’ve em Adi Roche and Morgan Kelly. Anyway, the ECB has gently done the bank tests and only PTSB is in trouble. Where does this leave Professor Morgan Kelly? As recently as March he specifically reckoned the ECB was “gonna do” a “trial run” on Ireland.. It didn’t and won’t.  Stress tests would do for a large swathe of our SMEs which were surviving on “bank forbearance”: a “ticking time bomb”. “The ECB has basically kept pumping that sweet, sweet credit into our veins and we haven’t had the real crisis yet” but “we are going to see a big  chunk of the Irish economy wiped out in one go”, he predicted. As with Karl Marx you shouldn’t get in the business of predictions if you’re not prepared to take responsibility if they prove false. Morgan’s prediction is simply inaccurate. Village checked out the video of his subterranean lecture to a bunch of spotty UCD economists, and it’s all there. Never mind that he says Ok a lot, presumptuously, and does an irritating reverse praying gesture with waving hands. Villager has therefore downgraded him to McWilliams. It’s the clock/recession comes around once every 24 hours/business cycle syndrome. When that happens Kelly and McWilliams will be right. Better than most economists, but not great; and not heroic.


Gurdgangst
Still, like McWilliams, Kelly’s always been floppily cuddlable. On the other hand, Villager’s frankly always been a little scared of Constantin Gurdgiev.  Is there no end to the misery, Constantin? He seems to claim property prices are not rising when everyone else claims the opposite. Yet a cursory look at myhome.ie shows the prices of most properties does seem to be falling.  Is there something we’re not being told? Note to editor: ditch desperate, ill-thought-out plan for Village Property supplement.


Statler and Waldorf
In a blur of redundant silver-fox smoothness Frank Flannery and Bill O’Herlihy, two compromised former public Fine Gael elders, are to front a weekly iTunes podcast, paid for by Heatley Tector, cricket and rugger-buggering instore music and advertising mogul. Flannery, who was once president of the Union of Students in Ireland and shared rooms with Pat Rabbitte (just imagine the fights over who finished off  the sliced pan) received payments of €351,000 from Rehab over six years.  He was forced to resign from its board and as a Fine Gael trustee earlier this year after it was revealed that the charity paid him to lobby the Government, and that he was hanging around foxily in the portals of the Dáil to do so. He also used invoices from a dissolved company, Laragh Consulting Ltd, when being paid by Rehab for such services.
O’Herlihy is a former investigative reporter turned sports broadcaster and Fine Gael handler, and is now chairman of the Irish Film Board. O’Herlihy has marshalled his reputation as a soccer sweet heart to lobby for some dodgy clients over the years. He worked on behalf of the tobacco industry in opposition to plain cigarette packaging, on the grounds that plain packages would make smugglers’ lives easier. In 2004, the Sunday Independent reported that O’Herlihy had lobbied on behalf of an Irish company, Bula Resources, to lift sanctions on Iraq. He also lobbied disingenuously in the early 1990s on behalf of Monarch Properties, subsequently found to have made corrupt payments after he’d moved on, for the rezoning of Cherrywood in South County Dublin. O’Herlihy told the Mahon tribunal that Richard Lynn, the project manager for the rezoning, explained to him that the way the system worked was that one picked a lead councillor in each of the political parties and then discussed the matter with them. An estimate of the amount of money needed to buy votes was made and the money was then provided to the lead councillor who did everything after that. O’Herlihy wouldn’t do that so Monarch replaced him with Frank (Dunlop not Flannery).
So Villager waited up and podcast it, these exciting ‘Flannery Files’. Cue sub-Pat-Kenny-Show Mahler’s portentous Symphony No 6 in A minor, then it’s O’Herlihy, drole honest broker, introducing the great man who promises to be forthright. Forthright.  “The whole objective is to be just that: totally objective, very calm and unemotional”.  Okay. “I was never a Fine Gael hack”. Okay maybe. Then we get Frank’s hard-earned insights. “So many of the government’s problems are due to lack of planning, lack of communication, of  direct and unfiltered consultation: turbines, Corrib, Water. The Water Company was seen in New Era [guess whether Frank was involved with that] as a way of giving clean water – cost only, not revenue earning”. He comes back three times to communications under the loose direction of O’Herlihy who can be heard intermittently clucking and assenting in the background, and above all presuming that Frank knows what’s going on in the Party that ejected him and despises him now. “It should have been a fixed charge”, though “go ahead with meters”. Why Frank, how Frank? No Frank. This is no fun. Villager just couldn’t go any further.  He uncast the pod and reached for the wireless.


Stranger still
Turned out you couldn’t really believe in the Change. In a new book, ‘the Stranger’, Chuck Todd, host of ‘Meet the Press’, on NBC, unravels “the promise versus the reality of Obama”. His strategic verdict is that “Obama’s struggles came from his focus on ends to the exclusion of productive means”. Problems include what critics see as the President’s passive leadership and lack of managerial experience; his disdain for, but inability to change, politics as usual in Washington; and his reluctance to reach out to Congress and members of both parties to compromise and bargain constructively.
Todd writes that “income inequality is worse than ever,” that the Middle East could well be “more unstable when Obama leaves office than when he took it”, and that while he “wanted to soar above partisanship”, his tenure in office will likely “be remembered as a nadir of partisan relations”.
Hillary Clinton felt that Obama’s White House, “tended to micromanage American diplomacy to an extent unprecedented in previous administrations”. Todd concludes that “Obama’s arrogance got the better of him”, that he was “all telescope and zero microscope”. Worst of all, for Villager, he’s purged an entire generation of hope in idealism.


Less lonesome tonight
Cuts to welfare for lone parents who take up work, due in January, will not now go ahead, with a saving of €8m in 2015. The policy reversal will benefit 28,000 of the poorest households with children.  Currently, anyone receiving the one-parent family payment who takes up employment can earn up to €90 a week and keep their full welfare entitlement. It had been announced that this “income disregard” would fall to €60 a week by 2016.


The shameless vote for the  homeless
A budget of more than €771 million to run Dublin city in 2015 has finally been agreed by Dublin city councillors by 35 votes to 27, averting the appointment of a commissioner to run the city – as opposed to John Tierney or Owen Keegan running it. Sinn Féin voted in favour of the council’s annual budget for the first time ever, following amendments the party agreed with Labour, the Greens  and some Independents with which it has divided up such power as there is on the Council.
The cut in business rates was  0.5 per cent, not a proposed 1%, liberating an additional €1.7 million to run the city, and allowing appointment of a cycling officer and funding for 1916 commemorative events. Almost €60 million will go to homeless services next year, an increase of €7 million over 2014.


Raising Hackles
A heavy ‘Dear Colleague’ letter arrived in the inboxes of polonecked members of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland on 11 November, from the President Robin Mandal. “Let me state there is no basis to any allegations of corruption or fraud in the organisation, it fulminated.  Eoin O’Cofaigh, an unusually mild-mannered and honourable ex-President of the RIAI, has complained about the payment of €500,  000 to Bluebloc digital, a company 50% owned by Odran Graby, son of veteran RIAI Chief Executive John Graby.  Cognoscenti remember Graby senior for his early oeuvre such as ‘Scotch House’ on Burgh Quay (1974), a neo-Georgian confection of luminous hideousness. “None of us want a Rehab, a Positive Action, a DSCPA situation”, Ó Cofaigh wrote to the board before resigning.  Ó’ Cofaigh’s firm designed such mediocrities as the gym for Muckross school in Donnybrook and the lecture theatre for Wesley College. He has been the most prominent member of an RIAI “reform group” campaigning against an amendment to Building Control Regulations, which make it mandatory on architects to certify that new buildings comply. Another former President, Joan O’Connor, said she too was resigning because the council had “failed in its responsibilities” to ensure that the institute was “solvent, well-run and delivering the outcomes for which it is set up; and repeated requests” from individual council members for “essential financial information” about the institute’s affairs  had been met by “hostile questioning of the motives of the authors”, she alleged. President Robin Mandal said Ms O’Connor’s claims were “ utter nonsense” and that the institute had €2.9 million in the bank. The RIAI has said Bluebloc was first appointed in the 1990s when O’Cofaigh was president, and said there’d been no direct involvement between John Graby and the company over the last four years. As with the Law Society it’s not at all clear how much Graby is paid though the President said it has been benchmarked with comparable bodies and found to be in the lower range. Isn’t that what they said in Rehab?


Gore adds solar salvation to list of his inventions
The amount of solar power generated in the US is 139, 000 % more now than a decade now. Germany now generates 37 percent of its daily electricity from wind and solar. Indeed, one day this year, they generated 74 percent of the nation’s electricity. What’s more, Germany’s two largest coal-burning utilities have lost 56 percent of their value over the past four years. According to the Swiss bank UBS, nine out of 10 European coal and gas plants are now losing money. According to Al Gore, “We are witnessing the beginning of a massive shift to a new energy-distribution model – from the “central station” utility-grid model that goes back to the 1880s to a “widely distributed” model with rooftop solar cells, on-site and grid battery storage, and microgrids. And he told Rolling Stone magazine he believes solar will save us from catastrophic climate change.


Undeclared organs?
Villager would be worried about getting sewn up again in some of the country’s most idiotically posh hospitals. For Larry Goodman (yes, indeed) is the majority shareholder in the spiffing Blackrock Clinic and, through  private equity vehicle CapVest, a significant shareholder in Mater Private, as well as in the Hermitage and Galway Clinics. He is best known as founder and chairmen of ABP Food Group. A couple of years ago an ABP factory in Tipperary was found to have supplied the meat that was made into fresh beef bolognese sauce for Asda. The supermarket found it contained a good 5% horse. ABP’s Scottish factory also supplied beef meatballs to Waitrose that the retailer found had up to 30% undeclared pork. At home in 1991. the beef tribunal established that Anglo-Irish Beef Processors (AIBP) – one of Goodman’s previous meat processing companies – had been caught by customs officials making fraudulent claims for EU subsidies. Customs officers decided to thaw out the meat to check it more thoroughly and found that 15% of the beef was cheap trimmings. AIBP blamed a subcontractor at the time. Now that nice Denis O’Brien owns the Beacon Hospital in South Dublin’s Sandyford.  You’d have no fear what you might find in the gap left by your appendix over there.


Embarrister
It is understood that more than 70 lawyers, half of them barristers, applied for the ten recent vacancies on the High Court, suggesting recent Constitutionally-sanctioned cuts in pay have not been terminal. But entertainingly only one barrister, Robert Haughton, was appointed. And nine judges  – seven men and two women – have been appointed to the Court of Appeal, though whether it alleviates case backlogs will largely depend on its case management, including how much it reins in the grounds of appeal and how much it restricts oral arguments. It already has 258 cases to be getting on with.

 


Keane and Eager
The enthusiastic rise to ascendancy of former partners in once firey Dublin criminal solicitors’ practice Garrett Sheehan is near complete. Sheehan himself has been promoted from the High Court to the Court of Appeal. And senior partner Bobby Eager has gone to the High Court.  David Keane went on to a career as a barrister and then the High Court last year. Firebrand Peter Mullan left in the last year to the gamekeepery position of Chief Prosecutor in the DPP’s office.


Circuit complete
Judges Mary Faherty and Alan Mahon who presided over the planning tribunal have also been elevated.  Faherty, a UN Appeals Tribunal judge and former Chairwoman of the Employment Appeals Tribunal has gone from the Circuit Court to the High Court. Mahon miscalculated his income or his allowances and underpaid his taxes by some £16,000 in the late 1980s…and had the sort of mind that took 15 years and up to €300m to deal with an ‘urgent’ examination of corruption in one county.  He’s gone from the Circuit to the Appeal Court. Together Mahon and Faherty ran a tribunal which failed to nail anyone who wasn’t already destroyed, anyone who mattered (least of all Bertie Ahern), which relied almost whimsically on Frank Dunlop and didn’t even resolve much of the evidence put to it.  A tribunal which made progressive recommendations on the planning system all of which have been ignored – and the weight of whose conclusions failed to generate a single subsequent conviction (apart from of its chief witness, Dunlop).


Name and address or I’ll…
Margaret Heneghan too rises to the High Court on the retirement of Judge Daniel Herbert in mid-November. A former member of the Legal Aid Board, she has served occasionally on the Special Criminal Court. As a feisty Circuit Court beak in 2011 she awarded retired Garda Sergeant James Gill €33,000 for a defamation case that he took against prominent Shell to Sea campaigner,  Pat – the Chief – O’Donnell. Mr Gill claimed that Mr O’Donnell falsely accused him at a protest at Bellanaboy in 2006, while other protesters and gardaí were in the area, of stealing diesel and smuggling tyres across the border. O’Donnell denied making the comments to Gill but the Judge believed Gill and made the award.
James Gill is the Garda Sergeant who made the infamous recorded comment “Give me your name and address or I’ll rape you” about protestor Jerrie-Ann  Sullivan, leading to the following challenging exchange in court:
Barrister Leo Mulrooney to ex-Sergeant James Gill: “Complete the now well-known phrase “’Give me your name and address or I’ll..’”
“Ex-Sgt James Gill: “I don’t understand the question”
Barrister Leo Mulrooney:“Do you know what I’m referring to when I say those words?”
Ex-Sgt James Gill: “No”
”
Leo Mulrooney: – “‘Give me your name and address or …”?
Judge Heneghan interrupts: “He said ‘No’.  Next question”.
The Fine Gael/Labour coalition has made almost 70 judicial appointments since 2011 without reform of the appointments process. •