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Villager – May 2015.

Border Fox

The Facebook site of ‘Dessie O’Hare Crafts’ fronted by ‘Dessie from Keady who attended St Patrick’s High School’ sells innocuous  republican memorabilia: glass Easter lilies and the like. But have no doubt it is the Border Fox gone retail. In October 1977, O’Hare and his IRA gang killed Margaret Ann Hearst, a female part-time member of the UDR, in front of her three-year-old daughter, in Armagh. In 1979 O’Hare was shot twice and arrested after a car chase through County Monaghan ended when O’Hare crashed his car through a herd of cattle into a farmer’s car, before coming to rest in a field. He broke both ankles in the crash but his companion in the car was not so lucky and died. In 1979 he led an Irish National Liberation Army offshoot gang which had intended to seize Austin Darragh, moneybags owner of the Institute of Clinical Pharmacology, in Dublin but Darragh had moved out three years before and it was occupied by unfortunate dentist, John O’Grady, his son-in-law. O’Grady was kidnapped and initially held in a Dublin basement before being moved to Cork, where he was held in a cargo container. After ransom demands were not met O’Hare cut off the little finger from each of O’Grady’s hands with a hammer and chisel and sent them to Carlow Cathedral (as you did in the 1970s). In a telephone call to the Gardaí O’Hare stated: “It’s just cost John two of his fingers. Now I’m going to chop him into bits and pieces and send fresh lumps of him every fucking day if I don’t get my money fast”. O’Hare became the most wanted man in Ireland with the Gardaí offering a £100,000 reward for information on his whereabouts. He surfaced in County Louth, where he allegedly fired shots into a takeaway during an altercation with his wife. In late November O’Hare was arrested and shot eight times during a fire-fight, in which his companion was killed. An Irish Army soldier was wounded in the affray.

He received a 40-year sentence but was finally released in 2006 and the PSNI has said it will not pursue him for the 30 cases of unsolved killings in which he was under suspicion. Through imprisonment he developed an identification with the plight of the disabled and participated in fund-raising events for them, though he says he has no regrets. Sure why would he?

Borderline Dog

A rat the size of a dog has been found swimming in a Tipperary Irish river – and now wants a good home.

Three-foot long Rodney, a coypu American swamp rat native only to South America, is three times the size of the average Irish rodent though around half the size of the average local politician. He’s now being cared for at the Kildare Animal Foundation Wildlife Unit which told RTé Radio One’s ‘John Murray Show’: “He’s not just an ordinary Irish rat, there’s no fear there’ll be an epidemic”. The search is now on to find a home for the furry creature with a spokesman adding: “He doesn’t have any fear in him so we think he must have been a pet”. He’s not then related to another rat, 24-inch long and native, which came to the attention of Dubliner homeowner Grace Walters last year after she heard loud scratching sounds coming from over her ceiling.

 

share-price down again
share-price down again

Borderline Dogmeat

McDonalds shares sagged after they recently announced a new Plan to replace the general tactic for the last decade of covering the plastic in stuff that looks like wood. But guess what: a leadership reorganisation won’t do it.  Investors (a surrogate for only slightly more interesting customers) believe it’s got too many items on its menu – 40 new ones, and it should use apps more. Sounds a bit like Village.

 

 

Straw man Iona-institutionalised

Villager is 100% behind Gay Marriage. But jaysus has the media and political coverage been biased towards the Yes vote. Villager particularly recoiled from the piece by the Irish Times’ increasingly unreadable Jennifer O’Connell who joins us photogenically from San Francisco whence she sparks rueful envy in the gut of bemired middle Ireland. “Gay Marriage causes abortion? Now I’ve heard it all”, blasted her headline in what was essentially ‘straw man’ argumentation. Because if the views of the minority of loonies on the Yes side were subjected to analysis in this way liberals would be incandescent. Nobody’s making these arguments Villager murmured heterosexually to himself. Then his attention was drawn to the Iona Institute’s David Quinn who recently made just this connection. He told a room of supporters that “if we lose the [gay marriage referendum] badly, I think they will have an abortion referendum in 2017. If we keep this close, or we manage to win, it’ll frighten them off an abortion referendum for years to come. So I think, actually, this is connected to protecting the 8th amendment of the constitution which is a pro-life amendment”.

 

 

Natalie Bennett
Natalie Bennett

Riddle me this, Enda

The Greens’ somewhat painful leader in Britain, New Zealander Natalie Bennett, highlights, by contrast, what effective communicators the leaders of Ireland’s Greens were during their last period in the sun. Most famous for having cascaded into a bundle of inarticulate sniffles on the airwaves earlier in the year, Bennett has recently said she is ‘open’ to considering polyamorous marriages. These used to be known as polygamous and were not regarded as progressive – though admittedly the model was patriarchal, and there is now a matriarchal variation. Speaking in a question-and-answer session with PinkNews, Ms Bennett was reacting to a reader who asked: “As someone living with his two boyfriends in a stable long-term relationship, I would like to know what your stance is on polyamory rights. Is there room for Green support on group civil partnerships or marriages?”. Lib Dem Parliamentary candidate Zoe O’Connell recently opened up about living in a polyamorous relationships with her partners. Natalie Bennett’s partner Jim Jepps came under scrutiny earlier this month for a blog about rape fantasies.

Villager just doesn’t know what the answer is to the reader’s question. Or even really what the question is, or should be.

Rushing to judgement

Following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia liberalised some of its anti-LGBT laws. Most notably, homosexual relationships, which had been decriminalised between 1917 and 1933 were again legally permitted after 1993. However, there are currently no laws prohibiting discrimination regarding gender identity or expression and recent laws could discriminate against transgender people. In recent years, Russian authorities have routinely denied permits for Pride parades, intimidated and arrested LGBT activists and condoned anti-LGBT statements by government officials. ILGA-Europe rates Russia  as the least protective of the 49 countries in Europe for LGBT. In June 2013, the Russian Duma passed a new law banning the “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships” to minors. Putin said gay people would not be harassed as long as they “leave children alone”. But then, unlike – so the editor asserts – in the Village, in Russia inequality is not much of a thing. Wealth inequality is perhaps the worst in the world. A report from Credit Suisse found that just 110 Russian citizens hold 35% of the nation’s household wealth. Of course its economy’s collapsing too, as oil prices fall and the currency tumbles in face of sanctions against its wars in Ukraine.

And it’s disastrous ecologically too: oil, gas and coal produce 90% of the country’s energy, they are also responsible for more than half of the federal government’s budget. Inevitably Putin has a view that “two or three degrees” of warming could be good for Russia because residents wouldn’t need to spend as much on fur coats. It reminds Villager of Ireland’s own macho environmental decision-maker Alan Kelly. Can it be long before the saviour of the Labour party goes shirtless hunting?

Ourselves

Sinn Féin has defended a leaflet it is distributing in North Belfast which describes the religious breakdown of a constituency for the Westminster elections. The leaflet, published by the party’s MLA, Gerry Kelly, contains figures from the 2011 census showing that there are now more Catholics than Protestants in North Belfast and urges people to ‘Make the Change, Make History’. It notes there is now “a majority of 1,305 nationalists” in the constituency, citing the 2011 figures, and urges voters to elect Kelly to “defend all citizens against austerity, sectarianism and the failed politics of the past”. Though not obviously against threats to their failed Unionism.

Memories of goldfish

Just a year since you and I were convulsed in righteous fury and six months since donors pledged $5.4bn towards Gaza’s recovery, many people are worse off and not a single one of the 19,000 destroyed homes has been rebuilt. 100,000 people are still homeless and many are living in makeshift camps or schools. Oxfam International claims that, at the current rate, rebuilding of Gaza’s housing, education, and health infrastructure “could take more than 100 years to complete”. The delay, as Oxfam notes, is due to the Israeli blockade, which is now in its eighth year; it is preventing the essential building materials from entering the strip. While 800,000 truckloads of construction material are needed, only 1,661 have been allowed in since last October’s international conference in Cairo. Under a mechanism agreed between Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the United Nations after the war, damaged homes are assessed by the UN and lists of supplies are provided to the Israeli military for clearance.

Since the temporary ceasefire, violence against civilians has continued, with more than 400 incidents of Israeli fire into Gaza and four rockets fired from Gaza into Israel. The Left-wing group Breaking the Silence has just accused the Israeli Defence Forces of indiscriminate fire at Palestinians during the war, a practice which it said was contrary to the army’s past policy of minimal force, for example in the 2008 Gaza conflict. To support its claims the group compiled testimonies from 60 Israeli soldiers who fought Hamas during Operation Protective Edge.

Iarfhlaith O' Neill: retired
Iarfhlaith O’ Neill: retired

Self-serve

Walter Hobbs, a consultant who was brought in by IBRC to assess Denis O’Brien’s lowish bid for Siteserv, is managing director of ACT which owns stakes in  startup companies Swrve [sic], Firecomms and Biosensia. So does a company called Atlantic Bridge. One of its major investors is Denis O’Brien.

Meanwhile Alan Dukes quietly raised an important issue which the lugubrious body politic has not properly registered. It is not clear if the proposed inquiry with KPMG bods supervised by  retired judge Iarfhlaith O’Neill into transactions involving IBRC in capital losses of at least €10m comprehends that the loss be measured against the original face value of the loan or against the written down value of the loan after the bank’s provision for impaired loans. In general Villager is very worried for poor Davy and KPMG that they haven’t realised the consequences of conflicts of interest but sure KPMG will get to the bottom of them.

Davious

Davy is Ireland’s biggest stockbroker. It was founded in 1926 on Dublin’s Westmoreland Street and moved in the 1980s to the former Hibernian Hotel site on Dawson. Having, as you might wish, been multiply bought and sold, it now is owned by staff and management. In addition to having a finger in every significant pie in tiny Ireland it has an invidious history.

The Planning Tribunal established that, throughout the 1980s and 1990s, it was making payments to the corrupt politician Liam Lawlor.

In 1992, Davy made a political donation of £5,000 to Bertie Ahern, which holed up in his personal account at Irish Life & Permanent.

The next year the firm was the subject of an Irish Stock Exchange inquiry over the abortive placement of the government’s stake in Greencore plc, the recently privatised former Irish Sugar Company. The then Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds for once let loose: “you employ professional people to do the job…it was not done in a professional manner”. The managing partner, Brian Davy, resigned.

In 1999 then CEO Kyran McLaughlin too resigned after his wife revealed documentation in his name indicating how to set up an impossible trust in Liechtenstein and a “Note to John Furze” (the man who ran the Ansbacher deposits in the Cayman Islands), to the Moriarty Tribunal. He later rejoined the board. Why not?

In a high-profile 2005 insider dealer case, the chief executive of Fyffes plc whose shares were the subject of the illicit trading said that he was “set up” by Davy, which acted as broker to both Fyffes and DCC, and misled by a presentation to investors by Davy on behalf of his company. He also told the High Court he believed there was an arrangement between Davy and the party found responsible by the courts of insider dealing for the purpose of selling the shares they held in his company.

During the boom Davy was criticised for continually writing glowing reports about its largest client and former owner, Bank of Ireland. In February 2008 with the price at €9.59 it wrote: “A low risk balance sheet and cheap valuation provide a safe place to hide…This is a low risk bank”. 13 months later the price was €0.12.

 

Sunny
Sunny

Lucinda: Timmins and now Drennan

The Sindo’s laconic John Drennan, who did a stint as curmudgeon in Village some years ago, though he turned out to be disappointingly sunny, has joined Renua as advisor. Given his fetish for Creighton in his columns it’s not surprising; though he also seemed to lionise Eamon Ryan, another hearty middle-class icon, without ever uttering a Green sentiment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brownstonewalling

Villager has just been sent a standard letter for forwarding to the city authorities. It starts: “The City has just released a citywide rezoning proposal which would lift hard-fought-for neighborhood zoning protections and height limits for new development – by as much as 20 to 30%! The proposal would change the rules for ‘contextual’ zoning districts throughout the city – zoning districts which communities frequently fought hard to secure, to limit the height of new development and keep it in character with the surrounding neighborhood”. It could be Dublin, which  is going through the same process, but it’s actually Manhattan! •