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John Drennan – Yer man about the house

Opinions – In the Dáil

A box would have done it yer man extends the hand of sympathy across the continent to Silvio Berlusconi, Europe’s most cosmetically dynamic and artfully-coiffed premier on the occasion of the breaking of his expensive nose by a statuette in Milan.  At least he can always buy a new one.  Our fine-boned, budget-cutting ministers are said to be strengthening their security details and avoiding the vicinity of Irish Gift shops.  Come to think of it most of them look as though they’ve already had their noses broken.

Bertie: wrong man for sport tears It was bad enough that Ireland’s exit from Paris sparked memories of the bad old days of the 1980s when Paddy routinely ended up sitting on his arse swearing at some referee on some jinxed foreign shore after some dodgy referee has robbed another world cup out of our grasp.  Inevitably, the mood deteriorated even further when Bertie, the sports columnist, got into the act.  Still at least we did laugh when the adjunct professor noted that after the match he had wandered around on his own with, “so many emotions going on.  I was angry, sad, fed up and felt cheated”.  Outside of noting that the Bert certainly hasn’t lost the complex emotional range or the hard old neck we can console the former Taoiseach with the certain fact that he is not alone.  These days every time your image flashes up, Bertie, there are five million cheated Irish people who experience precisely the same emotions.

Auditing the budget The news that the price of a pint of porter would be reduced by twelve cents did raise one dusty cheer during the budget.  Sadly, even this did not erase the current high levels of cynicism within the house which was epitomised by the comment of one cruel soul that this would be thoroughly “audited by certain members of this cabinet”.

Just where we/they want them/us Few people would be clever enough to summarise the entire NAMA debacle in a sentence.  The feisty Kathleen Lynch came pretty close, however, when after yet another debacle she cheered our stumblebum of a Taoiseach on with a chuckle of, “Good man Brian we have the banks just where they want us now”.

Garret gets it wrong Interesting to see Garret Fitzgerald’s clarion call not to reduce social welfare in Ireland as: “It is hard to see how, in what I have recently shown to be the most under-taxed country in the developed world, the Government can justify taking €750 million from social welfare recipients”.  The most recent data on the size of the Irish tax burden are from Eurostat (2008) – and that’s before our recent budget! The definition of taxation employed by Eurostat incorporates all compulsory payments to central government (direct and indirect) alongside social security contributions (employee and employer) and the tax receipts of local authorities.
Of the EU-27 states, the highest tax revenue to national income ratios can be found in Scandinavia and France nd the lowest in Eastern Europe.  Overall, Ireland had the seventh lowest tax burden at 32.6 per cent, some 4.5 per cent below the EU average.  He knows Sir Garret has been around a long time but wonders how recent is recent.

Aosdána risks blow-out Yer man was fascinated to see broadcaster Theo Dorgan – former director of Poetry Ireland, comparing the catholic church to Soviet Russia: “The essential tension at the heart of the Soviet state was between communism as a moral and social proposition, on the one hand, and the apparatus of power on the other hand.  When this tension, this contradiction, became unbearable, in a number of senses, the whole thing blew apart”.  Dorgan is a member not just tof he Arts Council but also of our own cultural politbureau, Aosdána, so he should know a little about the Soviet way of dealing with things.  Could a similar contradiction ever blow our self-elected artistic élite apart?

‘Abby where it is So Martin Cullen thinks moving the Abbey to O’Connell St will be at half the cost of the move to George’s Dock initially so heartily-promoted by Ireland’s cultural altruist-in-chief, and last standing Haugheyite, Dermot Desmond.  Why not save nearly 100%? How about leaving it on Abbey St whose name it bears and which has the advantage of being where its illustrious history evolved? It’s not as if that part of town is so coming down with cultural institutions that it can afford to lose a world-class one.  A bit (actually a fair bit) of refacing, a rejigging of some props, a few licks of paint and the nearby posher Gate will be green with envy.  It also has the advantage of avoiding any possible symbolic linking of culture with er warfare.

Stop-go-garty.   For your man it was the first time he can remember actually understanding what Paul Gogarty was saying.