Author Archive

How did it come to this? (Caution, Rant ahead!)
April 8, 2010

Lo folks. Ive spent most of the last two days grinding my teeth over this unholy sh1tstorm that has blown over us. €75 Bn in loans to absolve the gambling debts of organizations representing the highest number of Sociopaths in the nation. And the majority of this is being poured into a Bank in is now almost synonymous with Celtic Tiger era excess and shady Political connections.

How the hell does a nations debt double? We did not come under attack from a hostile nation. We were not afflicted by a cataclysmic natural disaster. Yet here we are. No one has at the time of writing been identified by our courts as guilty. No one has gone to prison. Somehow, we lost a decade of progress, a generation once again considering their options abroad and the looming specter of mass Privatization just to pay the National heating bill.

How in FUCK did it get to this? Its not like Nama or the Bank recapitalizations crept up on us. They have been two years in the making on the back of a Worldwide recession, itself a further two years in the making. We have had plenty of notice. I started this thread to have a discussion on what exactly allowed our Government to make the debts of Privately owned, Privately funded and Privately run Financial Institutions at a stroke become our problem and our children’s problem

– Ignorance. To be clear, the word does not mean Stupid or daft. Its just plain unaware of whats going on. We do not have any meaningful subjects or even discussions on Politics or Economics at the Primary school level. By the time it reaches Secondary, and it may be different where you were, Civics was a very watered down National Discussion and Business subjects were things you had to apply to do. There is no way that these subjects were thought to us the same way English or Geography were. Too bad, as they have always had the most bearing on the way our Nation and World are run.

Is that Deliberate? Better to keep us uninformed and ignorant of what we see on the 6 o clock news every night? Or are we just thick? To be sure, its one hell of a complicated subject. I got an education myself since all this has blown up. Fractional reserve banking, the IMF, CDCs, subordinated debt….sounds very boring until you research the subject and realize, Holy Shit! this is exactly how the world has been run since I was born. Why am I only finding out about this now? Ive known people who have owed Thousands of euro to companies who charge APR at 22%. Ive had a sizable Credit card debt myself at one point, a reason why i would never demonize someone who has landed themselves in stupid debt. Its easy done if your not aware of the pitfalls.

No one, bar our parents maybe, ever kicked our backsides hard enough over the dangers over not knowing what we do with our money or what we do with our vote. Growing up in the 70/80s, I was constantly subjected to the dangers of eating before swimming. I never ever had an ad tell me of the perils of Hire Purchase.

Am I too Cynical or does that just suit certain agendas….?

– Respect of Authority. “You should Respect your Betters!” Martin Manseragh once told an FG senator who dared questions Bertie Aherns Finances. In our current political system, Representative Democracy, we vote for our Government and then let them off the leash for a period of 5 years where we cannot touch them. Whatever they decide, goes. A lot like living with your parents actually, where Mammy justified my early bedtime by saying “Because I said so.” Recent revelations about the Catholic Church have shown a side of this country that few of the younger generations can get their heads around. Women incarcerated in Labour camps for the crime of having a child outside of wedlock. And no one uttered a word of protest for generations. Now Thats power. Thats Authority.

I find this particularly disappointing. We revel in our history of Brian Boru, The Earls, Wolfe Tone and the United Irish, Daniel O Connell, Michael Davitt, Michael Collins, James Connolly et al. People who fought for our Freedom through Peace and Violence. And after 800 years, we pushed out our occupiers and allowed the home-grown variety to rules us in exactly the same way.

Does it continue to this day? We seem to take an awful lot for granted from our “Betters”. Election Manifestos are treated as Legal Contracts. We assume that Brians Cowen and Lenihan have our best interest at heart. Again, I have friends and neighbours who quote their assurances verbatim, as if no Politician has ever gone back on a commitment or bended the truth. Or told an outright lie, safe in the knowledge that they would not be challenged.

On one hand we seem to have a healthy distrust of all authority. So why do so many seem willing to take the word of a badly discredited crew? Do we elect our National lawmakers and Legislators based on their Local Politics ability? ( I know of one good friend of the family who had voted for a former PD TD for two elections in a row. They reported a large pothole outside their house. A week later, said TD arrives with the county engineer. Pothole is fixed and votes are assured for a decade. )

Maybe the way out of this mess lies in the realisation after 2010, no Authority can be trusted to do whats right for the people. We need to take a more active role in our own lives and our Communities. We can only save ourselves, not much will happen if we sit on our collective holes waiting for them to be rescued.

– Capitalism. I remember listening to the Ryan Tubridy show about a year ago. He had a few young folks on discussing life in the recession which might not have been as apocalyptic back then. he read out a text he got at the end of his show from someone in their fifties who recalled the Recession before this one and the one before that. I was struck by that. I had forgotten it until recently. I heard Bill Cullen air his views on the current situation and he used the word “Cyclical” to describe it. Then a couple of weeks later on Rte, I heard one of the Investors of Dragons Den say the exact same thing. Cyclical. What a word. It implies that whats happening right now is perfectly natural. Like the Seasons, Our rotation around the Sun and Hailey’s Comet. Bound to happen. Nothing anyone can do.

I call BS. The whole Boom-Bust cycle is completely artificial, the logical conclusion to Free Capitalism. Everyone chases the easy money rather than actually work for it. Things get inflated beyond proportion and eventually it collapses. This “Natural” occurrence has some unfortunate side effects such as mass unemployment, family breakups and people losing the Roof over their heads. It is of course completely Avoidable. But the prevailing mantra is Free-market economics. No rules or Regulations, just let em at it. The market will find its level, Invisible Hand, Trickle Down etc.

Too bad. We almost had a discussion on this. For a time, Capitalism was finally being discussed, not the side effects but the system itself. It seemed to die off though and once again Normal service has been resumed. Now we can only talk about fixing our problems within the context of the system that has brought it about.

Karl Marx commented that History repeats itself, first as Tragedy then as Farce. How many more of these “Natural” occurances will we go through before we finally shout stop? Have we resigned ourselves to “Shit Happens” and lets just deal with it and get on with. Does anyone seriously believe that this is the last time we will see this kind of Crash?

– Rank Corruption. Dodgy, this one. No direct proof exists of course. But stil….Anglo : Nationalization of a Bank with feck all branches around the country that dealt almost exclusively with major Property developers. Why do we own them? Whats ever happened to that Garda raid that no one seems to talk about now? How have You and I wound up the owner of a Bank that has just posted the largest loss in Irish Corporate History? Why is it that you and me are about to pour €18Bn into it?
– Apathy. Of the two marches against Nama that took place in Dublin last year, the second and larger one was officially reported at 5000. Thats 5000 people who made up their minds to spend a Sunny Saturday afternoon, 2 hours in total, making a statement that they did not want the National debt doubled simply to help out the most Powerful institutions in the land. The same number was attributed to a Pro-hunt rally In Waterford.

Do we really believe that its only worth fighting over small local issues? that the big ones that have the most influence over our lives are totally out of our control? I got a real sense of this during the run up to the second Lisbon referendum. I voted No as did so many I talked to. However, by the time the second vote came around, many had decided not to Vote at all. I cant blame them. Michael Martin, on the very Evening of the first Lisbon vote would not rule out a second attempt when directly questioned. A repeat of the Nice referendum.

Of course it just instaills a complete sense of powerless-ness in people. Who cares how they vote, they will be asked again until the right answer is given. Then you have conscientious TDs like Ned O Keefe who states “I’m a member of the Fianna Fáil party and I will vote with the party”. So there it is in Black and White. The wishes of the electorate be damned. Whatever the Brass decide, I shall follow. The party whip will make sure of that.

I was listening to Newstalk this morning, around 9am Tom Dunne comes on. He told us to stay tuned : he would have a financial expert on to tell us about the ramification of Tuesdays happenings. Very little coverage or Financial experts in recent weeks, even years while all of this was building up. Nobody seemed bothered to do anything about it while we had a chance. Its much better to rave about it now that its done. Then listen to some chart music.

So thats me. What say ye?

BrendanGalway  2.4.2010

Our New Forum – Politicalworld.org
February 16, 2010

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C Flower

What is Money ?
February 16, 2010

 Besides being the root of all evil, according to some we should ask ourselves what is money.   One of the most common answers is that money is a medium of exchange.   It allows for anything to be traded because everyone put a value on money.   No matter what your product was you were willing to exchange it for money,  knowing that the seller of whatever product you needed to buy in turn would gladly exchange it for the money you had to give to him.  

The important thing was that everyone placed value on whatever was used as money. Gold and silver in modern times but rice, shells, large stones for example were once used. The Indians believed wampum beads had value so they were willing to sell land, pelts and goods for a few beads.   That sounds crazy but is in fact less crazy than a 10 euro note. The money itself had an intrinsic value. The bead itself or an ounce of gold was worth a value. It took an equal amount of effort to get the ounce of gold out of the ground as it did to produce the product it would buy.   The value of the gold did not fluctuate much and neither did the value of the product.   It was a pretty good unit of measurement. Things began to go astray when the bankers entered the picture.   They began as simple metal smiths.   They coined the metal into coins.   They of course kept some metal on hand to work with.  They offered to hold the excess metal of others in safe keeping.   In time they issued a receipt for the gold which was acceptable to trade as it could be exchanged for the gold at any time.   The hidden secret was that as long as the gold was not withdrawn then who was to say the bankers were not issueing more receipts than there was gold in the vault.   As they had the use of the gold they could lend it at interest and make money on other peoples money.   It was a great moneymaker.  

The bankers hit the jackpot in 1694 when they convinced the King of England to allow them to set up the Bank of England.   In exchange for them lending the King money they were allowed a monopoly and given the right to issue the currency.   The King would borrow as much as he liked.   The interest paid the bankers was gravy and the debt was never intended to be paid back but to continually rise.   The King passed the Legal Tender Laws and created a demand for the new currency because taxes had to be paid in the new notes.   Eventually the peg with the gold was broken entirely so the central bank could just print as much as they liked.   The money no longer had intrinsic value and was a fiat currency.   To nobody’s surprise they have printed trillions since then.   

Now the question is  “Why should the bankers be allowed to print money when by doing so it decreases the value of money already in existence?”   Everybody is getting robbed.   When the Bank of England expands the money supply by 200 billion it means that most are worse off by 200 billion and a few have gained 200 billion.   The unit of measurement called the pound has been reduced in size.   It is dishonest plain and simple and is theft. It has allowed the government to spend money not honestly gained in taxes. The result is a hidden tax called inflation.   If inflation is 10% you are paying 10% tax and most do not even realise it.  

Any society must have a currency which does not lose value.   The supply must be kept constant. It is not necessary to back a currency by gold, necessarily.   As long as the state issues the currency directly and keeps the supply constant that is fine. The issuing of the money must be taken away from the bankers.   This calls for a balanced budget and not state borrowing.   It also calls for the fractional reserve banking practices to be outlawed.   It is called a sound money policy and inflation would be a thing of the past.  

One step toward a just society.

Youngdan   16. 02. 2010

Reginald's Tower Waterford - The First Mint in Ireland

A Question of Time
February 13, 2010

The north was buzzing (or more accurately humming) during the week with the prospect of the BBC’s Question Time being broadcast from Belfast.   It reminded me of the 1970s when my father would tell us to ‘wheesht’ when The Nolan Sisters were shaking their booty.   Not that it was their shiny, clinging spandex that prompted him to call for hush, just the mere fact that they were Irish.   If ever this parochial attitude in the north was to be exposed then it was the ill placed pride that half a dozen of our finest minds would be held up to ridicule on a, ahem, ‘national’ stage.

We weren’t to be disappointed, the absence of spandex aside, when the panel was announced and later updated to include the new SDLP Supremo, Margaret Ritchie. In the finest of northern traditions, the first task was the sectarian headcount. Okay, let’s see,

Trimble, Wilson, Allister – Unionist.

Woodward – British

Kelly – Republican

Ritchie – We’ll hold off on that for a while yet.

Damn it, round one to the prods.   Bet Dimpledbottom will give them first word too.

Question 1. Could the panel please take this query regarding the ill-treatment of terrorist suspects in Cuba and bring it round to a bickering match about local issue in less than two sentences? Unqualified success by all concerned.

Question 2. Could the panel please have a bickering match about local issues with the added delight of a Unionist feud? Pretty good again.

And so it went on, with the host well warned and trigger happy with reprimands for what he must have known was inevitable.

Question 3. Could the panel discuss the chronic financial state of the Greek economy whilst simultaneously exposing their lack of economic understanding and also criticize the Republic of Ireland, not for their financial management but because they are the Republic of Ireland? No problem.

So how did the individuals perform on the night? From left to right (not politically but directionally).

Jim Allister: Poor Jim got shafted. The loony lefty/pro Republican BBC packed the audience with a cross section of voters and did not allow a cabal of noisy protestors to cheer his every word. He performed his usual selection of face pulling between questions and sang his rhetoric like a track from an old Willie McCrea CD.   No one was interested; least of all Dimbles who chastised Jim’s every effort to turn the discussion off topic.

David Trimble: His mental illness has clearly not improved, not even the gelling down of his erratic hair was enough to conceal that the man lives in a dream world. Davey tried his age old routine of starting off placidly, ‘look at me, I’m not bonkers, I’m much too thoughtful and relaxed for that’. A little to relaxed as he walked into a man trap from Dimbles about MP expenses.   He took a compliment about winning the Nobel Peace Prize seriously and at that point disappeared into his own legend, never to recover.

Shaun Woodward: Honest broker, like all Englishmen.   Shaun pre-empted every reply with a nod to one of the others referring to how correct they had been (Allister aside) and dodged his own expenses barb with greater finesse and style (ignored it) that Trimble could muster.

Gerry Kelly: Man of the Match, not every Question Time guest has to fence questions about being guilty of blowing up The Old Bailey and shooting a Prison Officer in the face. Gerry eased through the badgering and allowed only a little irk to enter his tone as he tailed off an attack on Allister to rousing applause from the audience.

Margaret Ritchie: Margaret has been to a class. ‘How to win favours with the audience by incessantly congratulating them and the voting public in general’. Populist wouldn’t cover it, Ritchie had the viewers saying, ‘well said, good on you’. Unfortunately, minutes later, they were also asking, ‘What did she say anyway?’

Sammy Wilson: Strangely subdued. That’s a description of his performance not how I’d like to see him. Sammy wasn’t going to lower himself to Allister’s level regardless of how small a drop that it would have required. Most interestingly was his announcement in retaliation to ‘Double-Jobbing’ jibes that he had just this week resigned from Belfast City Council. Turns out, he didn’t actually get around to resigning that particular post until the following day; maybe someone else will notice this anomaly.

Dimples: David was too eager to jump in like the strict headmaster revealing his game plan early on but it resulted in him having a sneer at Kelly when he had simply misheard what Gerry had said.

The Studio Audience: Well the taigs all clapped for the taigs and the prods, well they clapped for the taigs too. Strange enough behaviour and behaviour which deserves a mention. Everyone, including myself was all set for the collective embarrassment of sectarian clapping competitions but even the individuals in the audience behaved with a surprising amount of moderation.

Jim Allister was the sole man on the outside in this debate and well he knew it. Whether that translates as a less than dramatic effect when it comes to Stormont or Westminster elections remains to be seen.

Oh, and the funny question at the end? Nah, let’s quit while we’re ahead.

Still, those Nolan Sisters eh?

5intheface    13. 2. 2010

Moving from Tok! to Politicalworld.org February 2010 – Join Us in the New Forum
February 11, 2010

Politicalworld.org is open for discussion of National and International politics and economics –  Hurry over there now……………………….

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C Flower

🙂

Bertie Stares at Empty Box
February 8, 2010

Had the ‘pleasure’ of attending the Ireland Italy rugby game in Croke Park at the weekend…..
Wont talk about the match….
Instead 3 observations…

Maybe half the corporate boxes were taken. Not one corporate box in the Davin Stand was occupied and there were a few vacant positions in the Hogan and Cusack too. Hardly bodes well for ‘supposed sales’ of Corporate boxes in the new Aviva. If the rugby cant fill half the boxes for a six nations game, hardly bodes well for the FAI sales?

Drink, the queues for the bars in Croke Park were crazy, if you had gone out at the half time whistle for a pint, it would have been well into the second half before you got served. Then as you walked into your section you’d discover that you weren’t allowed bring alcoholic beverages into your seat. There was some amount of half drunk and barely drunk pints at the entrance to the section. I hope the Aviva will be better equipped Bar wise.

A little tip….
Buy yourself a cup of tea and a pint. empty the tea (or even drink it!) and fill the cup with your pint (or what remains of it) and walk in without a bother. Or even better still get yourself some cups and lids at the Spar before you go in!

The most exciting thing about the second half was the rumour that a certain ex Taoiseach, and Croke Park regular found himself relegated from the Ard Comhairle and all the great and the good. Instead he looked lost as he sat in the section beside and even had the indignity of having to buy his own programme!

Electionlit  8.2.2010

Same Difference? – Bertie Ahern and Gerry Adams
February 8, 2010

Bertie Ahern was one of the most popular Taoisigh in Ireland, winning three Election victories, and was the second longest-serving Taoiseach in Ireland.   Reigning Ireland at the height of the Celtic Tiger, and a massive property boom in Ireland, he cemented the trust of the people who agreed with him, when he blasted those who warned the boom could not last,  as ‘begrudgers’. When Bertie told the people the “Boom was getting Boomier” they believed him.  And while some may have been aghast at his suicide comment they did not argue that those who criticized him or were predicting a massive bust, were “sitting on the sidelines cribbing and moaning

Bertie’s longevity was further enabled by the loyalty of his party members who refused to question Bertie, no matter what he said or did, and from the public who were mindlessly devoted to him. They believed he was just like them, the guy next door who liked a pint and watched the football. Bertie the “Teflon Taoiseach”, seemed immune from the financial allegations against him.  We all know that Teflon have great non stick pans, until you start using steel cooking utensils on them.

And so it was with Bertie in the end, death by a thousand steel spatulas.  As the financial allegations against Bertie Ahern continued he claimed “I have done no wrong and have wronged no one“, but the spatulas kept scrapping away at the Teflon until he resigned in May 2008.

So can similarities be drawn between Bertie Ahern and Gerry Adams?

There is no doubting Gerry’s popularity especially in West Belfast where he has consistently been reelected as MP since 1983 until today, apart from one fall from grace, when he lost his seat to the SDLP in 1991, regaining it again in 1997.  He is harsh on his critics, accusing them, as does Bertie, of being begrudgers.  Gerry goes further to label them also as dissidents, or of having a political axe to grind.  The recent allegations of child abuse by Sinn Fein members, not least Adam’s brother Liam, and the subsequent allegations of the covering up of child abuse, have been met with a stony-faced denial that he has done anything wrong, much as Bertie claimed, followed by counter-accusations that “political opponents have also very cynically sought to exploit this personal family trauma in a most offensive way.

Gerry Adams told UTV’s Insight program that he believed his niece, when she told him how her father had abused her since she was four years old. Yet Aine claimed in the same program that she felt that Liam was turning into the victim, and that Gerry had said ‘It was hard to know, who stole the apples from the cart”.   Who could forget Bertie Ahern imploring people not to “upset the apple tart” ?

Gerry’s followers and Party Members are all too willing to trust him; their mindless devotion to him won’t allow them to question the glaring inconsistencies in his timelines regarding his actions towards Liam after the child abuse disclosure was made by his niece. Not unlike Bertie’s followers who refused to believe the financial allegations against him, no matter how thick and fast they were coming in.

When Bertie Ahern reassured the people that the “boom was getting boomier” despite all evidence to the contrary, his followers did not question him, and those that did where “begrudgers

Gerry Adams’ followers similarly believe what Gerry tells them.  When he stated “The time has long passed for the transfer of powers on policing and justice. There can be no preconditions to that. Not on the Parades Commission; not on marches; not on equality and partnership government”   http://leargas.blogspot.com/2010/01/game-is-up-but-its-not-over.html.  His followers agreed: yet when Sinn Fein  come out of the negotiations with the scrapping of the Parades commission,  not to worry, this has already been packaged up and sold as a victory for Sinn Fein and the people or Party Members do not question him.

By the end of the year there will also be the transfer of powers from London to Belfast to deal with the issue of parades. Key to this is agreeing a framework that provides for local solutions. Sounds good doesn’t it?  But Gerry Adams previously stated that “They (The DUP) want the scrapping of the Parades Commission and progress on the ground – in other words marches through Catholic areas.”

For those who dare to question why Sinn Fein gave in to this precondition, or might be worried about possible outcomes of the scrapping of the Parades Commission, Gerry Adams has the answer   “No one should feel nervous about any of this” http://leargas.blogspot.com/2010/02/better-late-than-never.html Wasn’t he the one that was telling us previous to this, that the scrapping of the Parades Commission would equate to marches through Catholic Areas?

Woe to anyone who would criticize Sinn Feins negotiation skills or wonder why they conceded to the DUP, rather than call an early election where the faithful followers believe Sinn Fein would become the Largest Party in Northern Ireland.  “Of course, there will be some who will rail against it. The naysayers and begrudgers will study the detail of the agreement seeking points of criticism. But they are the minority. The vast majority of people in the north and on this island want this process to work. Public opinion in recent weeks has overwhelmingly favoured a deal” said Gerry Adams in his most recent blog.

The failure of Sinn Fein to ‘go nuclear’ as promised, if preconditions on Parading where insisted upon by the DUP, could be an indicator that they have no appetite for an election at this stage.  Gerry should keep watch for those steel spatula’s, but it is my guess that much like Bertie who was gone before the extent of the toxicity of the Irish Banks became known and the cosy relationships between Bank Manager, property developers and  Fianna Fail was exposed, he will be  gone before the  full extent of the failure of the Good Friday Agreement is realised by the masses.

Two Party Leaders who would like to be remembered by the History books for their contribution to the Peace Process, are in real danger of being remembered instead for personal allegations against them.  It remains to be seen if Gerry Adams will suffer a similar fate to Bertie Ahern.

Mutley    8. 2. 2010

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February 5, 2010

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The Politics of Sexual Abuse
February 5, 2010

WorldbyStorm has written over at the Cedar Lounge Revolution under the heading “As the Dust Settles” about the propriety of discussing or not discussing Gerry Adams’ actions (and inactions) in relation to abuse of his niece.

http://cedarlounge.wordpress.com/2010/02/04/as-the-dust-settles/

WbS’s first comment is that this may go to trial, and a future trial should not be prejudiced.  This is a good point and one that should always be born in mind.  There is a lot more though.  He goes on to ask if the matter should be discussed at all in a political blog, if it is not a political issue.  He suggests that it would only have become political if there had been a backlash against Sinn Fein in the polls.  WbS then says that Sinn Fein’s moves towards left alliances don’t necessarily give the left a right to ask questions on this.   Then, he asks – is the personal indistinguishable from the political ?  And finally, are Sinn Fein and Adams one and the same thing ?

Primarily it begs the question is this a political matter at this point in time? There have been no resignations or protests within SF over this matter. There has been, bar one or two peripheral interjections, no serious political attacks on Adams or SF by their opponents. There have been no attempts that one can tell from reading the media by the governments or by Nationalists, Republicans or non-aligned people generally to protest. There is no evidence that this has altered in the immediate past – or during the current talks – the policy positions of either SF or other parties North or South. And if it were to hang heavily upon those involved in the talks the bizarre events surrounding other politicians would – one presumes – cancel out their effect. In other words, what then particularly is the political issue as it stands at the moment that can be pointed at that relates to this? And if there is none so far evident then what are the political ramifications?

Plenty of reasons there to settle the dust – indeed a reflex to encourage this particular dust to settle seems to have occurred throughout the body politic and much of the general public.  The reasons for this are worth a separate examination on another occasion.

I certainly wouldn’t want to prejudice a trial, but WorldbyStorm’s other arguments don’t convince me.   This is far from the first time that there have been allegations of sexual abuse in parties of the left, internationally and not the first discussion of the subject.   The exposure of sexual abuse in the Church has raised conciousness  that institutionalised abuse is a social and political phenomenon, not just a personal flaw.

What has struck me forcibly about the public, press and politicians’ reactions to the Adams predicament is precisely the absence of discussion of the politics of sex abuse in Ireland.  Could sexual abuse in the Republican movement mean something different to sexual abuse the Church, where it was patently part of the means of social control and exploitation of the working class ?  Working class boys, girls and young women were made into unpaid slaves, objects for personal gratification and a source of income to sustain a layer of religious whose role was to support social hierarchies.  The Church became an extension to the State, with Gardai returning escaped young people back to these work camps.

Sexual abuse is exploitation that takes place in situations where there is inequality and uncontrolled power.  There have been instances of abuse of women party members or family members in the past in parties of the left and it appears, republican parties, going back at least to the 1970s.  Advantage was cynically taken of devotion and loyalty of the victimised families.  But this betrayal of loyalty not only hurts the individual but it also hurts the party.

A pattern of abuse or cover up of abuse by leading figures of any progressive party, should it occur, would be highly symptomatic that the politics or the organisation had become sick, or that there was infiltration and abuse was used as a weapon to demoralise, or both.  It is divisive within an organisation, destructive of morale and leaves the party wide open to blackmail or public exposure.

A party founded to obtain social justice and equality, if it had not been corrupted and politically derailed, would not tolerate abuse.    There has been no trial as yet, nor is there any sign of one.   The dust may or not be settling.  Both a trial and a lot more discussion of the politics of sexual abuse might help to sweep it away.

Cactusflower   5.2.2010

Our Bagels are much Better
January 22, 2010

Twenty two years ago, at the ripe old age of seventeen, I visited Boston for a summer. I had just finished my leaving cert and was ready for a big adventure. I can remember being stunned by almost everything there, from the height of the buildings to the size of the bags of crisps! The accent seemed so pronounced; the culture seemed so different. There was an atmosphere of “anything is possible” about the place.

South Boston or Southie as it is affectionately known to its residents was heaving with Irish people at the time and it was here that I landed. I remember stopping in amazement and staring when I saw a republican mural on a gable end of a building there. All over Boston there were Irish pubs, Irish shops, Irish bakeries and plenty of Irish Illegals, myself included.

I spent a few months there, doing all sorts of jobs and learning a lot about life.  I interacted with black people for the first time in my life, I ate bagels for the first time and I saw an eight-lane motorway for the first time.   I ate sub sandwiches all the time, never ceasing to be amazed at how many fillings you could get into one sandwich. I sniggered to myself when I heard people say things like “awesome” and “oh my God”.  I wondered at the size of the supermarkets, and my jaw dropped the first time I saw an old couple walking hand in hand, something I had genuinely never seen before.

After some time, waitressing and other illegal-friendly work ground me down and I went home to Ireland to try to secure a green card. As it turned out, this didn’t happen. I got distracted instead by London.

I returned to Boston this Christmas time, with my fourteen year old daughter in tow. How things have changed. And how our culture has changed! Nothing seemed different in America this time. My daughter was telling Bostonians that the bagels in Ireland are much better.  She knew the popular culture there backwards, having been exposed to it so much more than we would have.  Nothing seemed alien to her at all. She has been brought up in such a different country to what we were brought up in. We now have the motorways, the gigantic shopping centres, the sub sandwiches with multiple fillings and even the old people holding hands.

We went for a visit to my old haunt of South Boston. The mural is still there, albeit dishevelled, and  some of the pubs are still there. I went up to Dorchester and the bakery is still going strong. While waiting at the counter my daughter overheard some old men in the corner talking. She turned to me excitedly and told me that they were speaking in Irish. Being a keen Gaelgoir herself, she persuaded me to stay for a coffee so she could soak up this little corner of Connemara that had been displaced to a bakery shop corner.  This was role reversal in its highest order. Here was a young Irish girl from the West of Ireland finding something in America so quaint that she wanted to prolong it. Again, I say it, how things have changed!

The only moment that I got a hint of my daughter getting a sense of the wonder I felt when I first landed in America was when I took her up to New York and up the Empire State Building. Upon seeing the view from the top she exclaimed –

“Oh….my…God! That’s awesome, Mammy”.

Floatingingalway    22.1.2010