An English Tory with the damning name of Chris Pincher has been accused of making unwanted advances including by way of an unwanted neck massage, to an athlete, while wearing a bathrobe. The victim, a former Olympic rower, who divulged the disputed details is appropriately called Alex Story. Similarly rapacious, the former British pensions secretary, Stephen Crabb, was referred to the Conservatives’ unpleasant sounding ‘disciplinary panel’ after admitting he sent suggestive text messages to a teenager.
If you Vote for Monkeys…
When the Independent Alliance was forming, it should have worked out its policy on comprising delegations to tin-pot dictators.
Fair play to Paddy McKillen jr for his voluptuous rejuvenation of the art deco Stella Cinema in Rathmines. Through his company, Press-up, he has also restored and reopened the former Dollard Printing Works, next to the Clarence Hotel on Dublin’s Wellington Quay, as high-ceilinged restaurants and bars. It’s not so long since his Dad – collaborating with Bono and the Edge – got permission to demolish the whole lot, including the Clarence Hotel and Dollard building (except for the front wall), for a new spaceship-style hotel.
Oh no, Bono
For some reason Bono seems to spend all day trying to pay less and less tax. He is the poster boy for raw global capitalism, though be leavens his image by his passion for charity (not to be confused with justice). The increasingly bigassed rock-constellation bought a shopping centre, not in Paradise but in Lithuania, which has paid no tax despite having made profits. The company was later transferred to zero-company-tax Guernsey. In a statement, the U2 frontman said he would be “extremely distressed if even as a passive minority investor…anything less than exemplary was done with my name anywhere near it”. Some years he outlined his approach to these things “It’s just some smart people we have working for us trying to be sensible about the way we’re taxed.”
Meanwhile Lithuania’s tax authorities have said they are preparing to examine the details of the business over concerns that it avoided profit tax. They commenced “an inspection on taxpayers based on the evaluation of risk of tax breaches. Taxpayers having offshore transactions more often score higher points of risk”, they said.
Bono did not apparently contrive artificial structures to avoid paying tax as did, for example, some of the stars of the execrable ‘Mrs Brown’s Boys’. However, experts in Lithuania have suggested the underlying company incorporated for the purchase of the property may have broken local rules to reduce its tax bill.
More fundamentally Bono’s adventurous, and greedy, tax roving serves to boost ultra-low tax jurisdictions and elaborate structures for cheating tax. And it is these things which are so harmful, not only to ordinary people in developed countries but also to the developing world. When plutocrats like Bono “shop around” different countries for the best tax deal they fan the flames of tax competition, putting ever more pressure on countries around the world to cut their tax rates.
Avoiding Tax, Responsibility and Villager’s Attention
One of the ‘Mrs Brown’s Boys’ chaps caught up in the offshore shiftiness painted a picture of himself so inept that he had to google what tax avoidance was. Topping that, Villager had to google what ‘Mrs Brown’s Boys’ was.
If You’re Looking for Murderous Cover-Up Look No Further
Northern Ireland High Court Judge Seamus Treacy has said he will compel the PSNI’s Chief Constable to complete an investigation into the activities of the one-time so-called Glenanne Gang, based at a County Armagh farm, which has been linked to up to 120 murders almost all of whom were “upwardly mobile” Catholic civilians with no links to Irish republican paramilitaries, including those of 33 people in the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings and of Miami Showband in 1975. The gang included members of the UVF, RUC and UDR.
A report into its alleged activities by the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) is 80% complete but unpublished.
Earlier this year, a judge ruled that the PSNI had breached the human rights of the victims’ families and it had frustrated “any possibility of an effective investigation”.
Dunnes Stores cashier Mary Manning knew little about apartheid when, at the age of twenty-one, she refused to register the sale of two Outspan South African grapefruits under a directive from her union. In her memoir, ‘Striking Back – The Untold Story of an Anti-Apartheid Striker (Collins Press), Manning recounts how, on 19 July 1984, she was suspended and nine of her co-workers walked out in support. She said, “We all assumed we would shortly return to work but instead we were on that picket line for 2 years and 9 months”. The searing account of the strikers’ struggle against apartheid and the Irish Establishment will be launched on Friday 24 November at 6.30pm in the Gutter Bookshop, Temple Bar, as part of the inaugural Festival of Politics, by Joe Higgins, Socialist Party activist and former TD and MEP.
Newsbrands journalism awards are a misnomer, as well as a smugfest. For a start, they’re not for news brands or journalists but for newspaper journalists. At a recent drawnout gala event in the Mansion House that a bitter Villager avoided, they judged seven Irish Times journalists awardworthy. No-one else got more than three. The newspaper of reference’s dominance reflects the mutual loathings of newspaper rivals, manifest in nihilistic voting strategies, more than any particular respect for the mediocre Irish Times. Encapsulating the second-rate standards, the Best Headline of the Year went to the Irish Daily Star for the banner, ‘Quarter Pounder with Sleaze’, for a cover about a 44-year-old man who exposed himself to a teenager working in McDonald’s. Village’s best ever headline, over a story about distortions of the reality of fish farming, was ‘Lice, damned lies, and statistics’. Not that Newsbrands noticed. The editor says Village isn’t even a brand.
The event was sponsored by the larcenous National Lottery and chaired by climate denier Matt Dempsey, of the Farmers Journal.
Impatience at the Patent Office
Accusations of autocratic power, breach of the rule of law, and suppression of the staff union are circulating in the normally serene Munichbased European Patent Office (EPO), which employs 7000 people and decides whether a company is to be granted a monopoly on its inventions in as many as 38 European countries. The organisation is plagued by controversy including complaints from European judges and from its staff who have declared their lack of confidence in its President, Frenchman Benoît Battistelli, who – according to his critics – is behaving like an autocrat by employing former French colleagues in key positions and by introducing new strike regulations which weaken the EPO’s staff union, SUEPO. The EPO has a budget of around €2 billion and is the second largest European organisation after the European Union (EU). The EPO is not part of the EU. No EPO employees want to be quoted by name because they are afraid of being punished, they told Villager. It is also not possible to obtain comments from SUEPO, but the Staff Union has issued a number of communiqués in which it states that the conflict is not about employment conditions, but about the lack of fundamental rights for employees at the EPO.
€1m of Rotten Apples
Jackie Lavin’s High Court action against her partner Bill Cullen and one of his companies over an alleged failure to complete a €1m deal for the sale of Killegy House in Co Kerry to the businesswoman has been resolved. That’s great. You’d wonder how things are at home.
Germany’s Green party has agreed to compromise on key environmental issues in talks between parties hoping to form a coalition government by the end of the year.
The party has backed down on its insistence on a ban on combustion engines by 2030 and the closing down of the 20 most polluting coal-fired power plants in Germany by 2020. The retreat to compromise was welcomed by the other negotiating parties led by the pro-business liberal Free Democratic party (FDP) as paving the way for official negotiations to begin.
The FDP’s leader, Christian Lindner, said he would prefer to see more development aid pumped into climate protection instead.
The Greens’ parliamentary leader, Anton Hofreiter, hopes the other parties will support the Greens’ proposal to make it easier for families of refugees in Germany to join them.
Villager was taken aback by the latest review of the Stardust disaster which tragically took the lives of 48 young people on Valentine’s night, 1981. It is not just that retired judge, Pat McCartan, dismissed as “rambling, argumentative, disorganised and at times incoherent” the submission made to him on behalf of the relatives of the victims and survivors by their voluntary researcher, Geraldine Foy.
Nor that he said she had “no medical, engineering or other scientific qualification that would make her an expert and allow her to give a professional view on matters relevant to the cause, spread or impact of the Stardust fire”. No, the problem is that the remarks disguise the fact that many so-called professional lawyers, valuers, insurance experts and a former Supreme Court judge got it wrong when the first inquiry into the Stardust disaster concluded that the fire was started maliciously on the ground floor.
That misleading and inaccurate finding was annulled by the Oireachtas several years ago. So much for those experts.
What is unfortunate about Judge McCartan’s summary is the dismissal of evidence, which has been upheld by fire and other specialists, and published long before Foy’s submission to his review, that points to the fire starting in an upstairs room below the roof space where a large volume of inflammable cooking oils, polishes and other combustibles was stored. The room also had a recent history of electrical faults. This is the most likely reason that witnesses saw the fire on the roof from outside the nightclub before incendiary balls came down on top of the young revellers in the Stardust. Most of the exit doors were chained, preventing escape.
The Red Tops in Britain have been convulsed by spasms of excitement about the so-called Westminster ‘Dirty Dossier’ for a number of weeks.
The dossier – a computer generated spreadsheet – contains the name of 40 Tory MPs including six serving Cabinet ministers, allegedly guilty of all sorts of weird sexploits. Its first victim was now-resigned Michael Fallon, former Minister for Defence. Breathless journalists have informed their readers how one veteran Tory backbencher was accused of being “perpetually intoxicated and very inappropriate with women”. A prominent female MP has – shock horror – had extramarital sex with young male researchers. Other MPs have used prostitutes. Another allegedly asked a researcher to clean his kitchen in his underwear following a boozy night at the House of Commons.
Perhaps the most salacious of all is a video featuring a Tory backbencher engaged in an “extreme sex act with no less than three men”. This is code for ‘golden shower’ the activity Donald Trump was reported to have enjoyed with incontinent tarts in Moscow a few years ago. Villager regards such open-mindedness as a surprising tribute to the Tory Party ‘s avoidance of the internatinal isolationism to which we were told it would be consigned by Brexit.
Who compiled the Dirty Dossier? According to one report it was produced by “Tory aides disgruntled about their treatment” but this doesn’t cut Villager’s mustard. The spreadsheet is too comprehensive and contains out of date information that a recently disgruntled aide would hardly bother to include e.g. the fact that Amber Rudd has enjoyed a relationship with another MP. Ms Rudd, now Home Secretary, divorced prodigious journalist, the late AA Gill, as long ago as 1995; and her relationship with the MP in question (if it is still a thing) is perfectly respectable.
Village suspects that Katie Perrior has let the cat out of the bag. Perrior was Theresa May’s Head of Communications until quite recently. According to Katie, information like this was “deployed by whips to enforce party discipline”. Villager is familiar with the old Tory “Dirt Book” which was described in last month’s Village. It was created by Ted Heath when he was Tory Chief Whip to blackmail his colleagues. It was exploited during the Suez Crisis. One of his successors, William Whitelaw, continued the practice. He told the BBC in 1995: “The Dirt Book is just a little book where you write down various things you know or hear about people that may or may not be true. I think you could make a very good guess what sorts of things it contains.”
Tim Fortescue MP, who occupied the post of whip, 1970-73, when Heath was PM, made it abundantly clear what the book contained when he gave an interview to the BBC in 1995: “Anyone with any sense, who was in trouble, would come to the whips and tell them the truth, and say, ‘Now I’m in a jam. Can you help?’ It might be debt, it might be…a scandal involving small boys, or any kind of scandal in which…a member seemed likely to be mixed up. They’d come and ask if we could help, and if we could, we did”.
Fortescue explained that “scandalous stories” were of great assistance to whips. ‘When you are trying to persuade a member to vote the way he didn’t want to vote on a controversial issue – which is part of your job – it is possible to suggest that perhaps it would not be in his interest if people knew something or other – very mildly”.
Has nothing changed in the intervening decades? Well yes actually. No one on the spreadsheet is alleged to have abused “small boys”. Since Village seems to have recreated itself solely as a vehicle for theories about international paedophilia-rings, Villager assumes this magazine would not, therefore, be interested.
Spaceyed Out in Dublin
Much of the film, ‘Ordinary Decent Criminal’, a comedy-thriller, was shot just off Avoca Avenue in the leafy suburbs of Blackrock, South County Dublin, back in 1998. Kevin Spacey, then almost 40, had star billing. His character, Michael Lynch, was loosely based on Martin ‘The General’ Cahill.
The movie became a straight-to-video flop in the US in 2000 and hardly dented the market elsewhere, least of all in Ireland where Spacey’s Irish accent was derided. Spacey was the only person to make any money out of it as his fee gobbled up much of the budget.
Those who were present have exclusively told Villager that when filming began in Dublin, Spacey set his sights on some of the young men – basically any male half his age with a pulse – for downtime entertainment. He pestered one crew member so relentlessly, the poor boy had to threaten to report him to the producer if he didn’t back off. When another young man – a technical assistant – resisted his incessant drooling entreaties, his boss actually threatened to knock Spacey’s lights out if he didn’t keep his hands to himself. That did the trick, and he went off to drop his hand elsewhere.
Then suddenly one day, Spacey began to behave himself, leading to speculation that he had found greener pastures. During this less tense phase of the shoot, he spent a lot of his leisure time in a blacked-out jeep generating even more gossip and speculation about what was going on behind the smokey windows.
Suffice it to say none of the old crew are raising an eyebrow now at the reports emanating from the growing number of younger men who worked with Spacey at the Old Vic or on the set of ‘House of Cards’, all of whom were subjected to drunken fumblings and often far worse.
Spacey was provided with a house while he was in Dublin where he lived with his dog. When the filming was over and he was about to fly out of Dublin Airport, he told some of the crew that he had left a few things behind him to which they were welcome. When they visited the house, they discovered abandoned clothes, items of jewellery and even some cash, but also an unexpected splattering of dog turds in various stages of decay spewed across the floors.
Certain mysterious young males – none of them actors from the movie – were spotted visiting and leaving the house at irregular hours. History does not record what became of the dog droppings.