Politics »

  • Compulsory smut replaces compulsory Irish

    October 31, 2008 @ 12:29 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    The furore over Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross and their sicko phone calls to venerable actor Andrew Sachs had a very positive side-effect in that it swept the recession aside for a few days as the main news item in the British media. Irish outlets seemed reluctant to take up the story: London is no longer the centre of our cultural universe and I guess that’s a good thing. (more…)

  • New realities

    October 30, 2008 @ 1:49 pm | by Harry McGee

    It’s 12.27pm. The debate on the Labour Party motion calling for a reverse in the cut-backs on educaton is coming to an end. The vote will be called in about three or four minutes, before I finish writing this entry.

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  • Smiling through the Recession

    October 29, 2008 @ 10:19 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    With a few hours to kill in Paris on my way home from covering the Taoiseach’s visit to Beijing, I did one of those “Things To Do Before You Die”*. I had an audience with one of the most beautiful women in the world.

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  • Last time that Fianna Fail was at 26 per cent

    October 28, 2008 @ 4:02 pm | by Harry McGee

    Ok, let’s throw in the large cartload of salt about opinion polls and accuracy. We’ll proceed on the basis that the latest gives a true and accurate picture of the voting intentions of the public as of now.

    And also note that even during Haughey’s worst periods when the party seemed to be tearing itself apart Fianna Fail never dropped so low in public opinion. (more…)

  • The Green Light

    @ 12:18 pm | by Harry McGee

    A scene from George Orwell’s 1984 that has stayed with me since I read the novel as a teenager is when Winston Smith asks a friend does he have any spare razor blade as he has been using his own one for months.

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  • Apocalypse Now?

    October 26, 2008 @ 10:41 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    At the end of a week in the most heavily-populated country in the world I am now heading back to one of the smallest. Meanwhile the front cover of the Economist has a representation of a wounded lion under the motto or headline, “Capitalism at bay”. These are indeed turbulent times. (more…)

  • Ironies of China

    October 25, 2008 @ 3:20 am | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    Was it Isaac Deutscher who wrote a book called The Ironies of History? There can be few greater ironies than the fact that two states established on avowed principles of Communism – China and Vietnam – are probably the most successful exponents of capitalism in the world today. (more…)

  • Where do we go from here?

    October 24, 2008 @ 12:41 pm | by Harry McGee

    Every morning this week the radio alarm has blared into life just as the business news goes out on RTE.

    And this morning, trying to remember what I heard all week through the bleary haze, it worked out as follows. (more…)

  • Yes We Can

    October 23, 2008 @ 5:28 am | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    It’s a time of great upheaval and nobody at this stage can predict what the world will be like when it all settles down. The only certainty is that nothing will ever be the same again. (more…)

  • How would Bertie have coped?

    October 22, 2008 @ 11:25 am | by Harry McGee

    Bertie Ahern broke his leg yesterday. It could have been worse: he could have ended up having his reputation shattered into smithereens like Brian Cowen did.

    The former Taoiseach’s mí-ádh brought him back to public attention and prompted questions about how he would have weathered this particular storm. Over the weekend, his brother Maurice made an intervention saying that the Anorak’s political smarts were such that he would never have allowed the medical card measure through in that form.

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  • Beating a hasty retreat

    October 21, 2008 @ 3:43 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    The Government climbdown on medical cards has one or two loopholes which may mean it is not as generous as it seems. Nevertheless it is a spectacular row-back from the original Budgetary position. (more…)

  • What a mess

    October 20, 2008 @ 5:54 pm | by Harry McGee

    When you are writing a news story there is always going to be hyperbole. But when it comes to over-the-top reporting, all newspapers are equal but some newspapers are more equal to others.

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  • Pulling up the drawbridge

    October 18, 2008 @ 12:05 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    The real tragedy with certain elements of the Budget is that they represent the restoration of  “means-test economics” and threaten to bring a halt to a decade or so of social advancement in this State. With the introduction of free fees, medical cards for everyone over 70 and other measures there was an unaccustomed whiff of egalitarianism about this self-styled Republic. (more…)

  • The Silver Revolution

    October 17, 2008 @ 11:37 am | by Harry McGee

    RTE broadcast a documentary in the past few weeks about Ireland’s student ‘revolutionaries’ of the late 1960s. Once they finished university, three of the four (Ruairi Quinn, Una Claffey and Kevin Myers)  began a journey that is all too familiar in the west… from left wing to centre (and to the right in once case) and from outsiders to pillars of the establishment. Anyone who flicked through at the CVs of the New Labour frontbench during Tony Blair’s first two terms would have discovered a rag bag of communists, hard-left student politics leaders, Marxists and Trotskyite (Jack Straw, John Reid, David Blunkett etc) who had back-flipped totally.

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  • Year of the Grey Rebellion

    October 16, 2008 @ 11:12 am | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    The words of The Who’s My Generation, “Hope I die before I get old”, come to mind when considering the fiasco over medical cards for the over-70s. Quite a few who are now edging towards that age-group would have thoughtlessly rocked and bopped to Pete Townshend’s stark lyrics back in the mid-1960s (he’s still alive at a sprightly 63). (more…)

  • You might not know this…

    October 15, 2008 @ 1:18 pm | by Harry McGee

    Brian Lenihan’s most difficult moments after delivering the Budget didn’t come anywhere in the vicinity of Leinster House.  The set-speech format is so engrained there that no amount of huffing or puffing from the far side of the House is going to hurt him. (more…)

  • Budget evokes shadow of Ernest Blythe

    @ 12:17 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    Ernest Blythe was a minister after the foundation of the Irish Free State in early 1920s who incurred undying criticism when he cut the old age pension from ten shillings (50 pence/$0.68) down to nine shillings (45 pence/$0.61)) per week. He was a bitter opponent of the anti-Treaty side in the Civil War and their political descendants in Fianna Fáil. As such, and although he had many sides to his personality, he is not someone with whose name the main party in the current government would wish to be associated. (more…)

  • Do you feel our pain?

    October 14, 2008 @ 10:43 pm | by Harry McGee

    Where do we begin? Do we begin today and make a call on if Brian Lenihan’s Budget debut was good or bad? Do we ask if he went far enough? Or if he went too far?

    Or do we begin in July when somebody down in the hull discovered that the boat was leaking? Cap’n Cowen and First Mate Lenihan went down and investigated the damage, decided that they would have to throw some of the valubale ballast overboard to keep the ship afloat? Or in the months since then when leaks have sprung all over the place making the ship of State list to almost the horizontal? (more…)

  • From Celtic Tiger to Hibernian Hangover

    @ 10:07 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    Can we call this the Madonna Budget? I’m thinking of the scene in the film version of Evita where she sings, “Screw the middle classes! I will never accept them.” Everyone expected there would be pain but the main criticism at this stage seems to be that it is disproportionately targetted at the middle layers of society, what John Bruton once got heavily slated for categorising as “the coping classes”. (more…)

  • People who are not what they seem

    @ 11:27 am | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    It’s sad to read that Czech novelist Milan Kundera stands accused of being a police informer in his younger days and was allegedly responsible for sending another young man (an agent of the US) to prison for 22 years. Although documentation has been produced to back up the charge, Kundera emphatically denies it (click here for more information). (more…)

  • Reflections on the blogosphere

    October 12, 2008 @ 7:06 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    The story goes that a Fleet Street reporter was once asked, “What about ethics?” Somewhat nonplussed he replied: “It’s near Sussex.” The moral of the yarn is that ethically-correct behaviour cannot always be expected from journalists. (more…)

  • ‘Show me the money — not!’ says Enda Kenny

    October 10, 2008 @ 9:09 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    The big political story of the day turned out to be Enda Kenny’s surprise announcement that he had asked for his TD’s salary of €106,581 to be cut by five per cent. This is all over the news media  but at time of writing it is unclear whether he can in fact cut his own pay (or indeed if anyone else can). The mandarins themselves could not give me a clear substantive answer on this. (more…)

  • Breaking News on the Banking Crisis

    @ 3:22 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    This just in:

    The Nigerian Government has warned its citizens that if they get any emails from Irish banks, promising government-backed deposit security, it’s a *scam! (more…)

  • Thou Shalt Not Kill

    October 9, 2008 @ 8:40 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    A fellow I went to school with was on the first plane on 9/11. We had not met for many years, since we were both students — him at Trinity and me at University College Dublin. But I had known him quite well at the Christian Brothers’ Secondary School in Synge Street, Dublin. (more…)

  • Newsflash: Country in a State of Chassis

    October 8, 2008 @ 10:00 am | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    While I would not necessarily agree with Vincent Browne, in his Irish Times column today, that the Oireachtas debate on the Bank bail-out Bill should have been a long-drawn-out affair, as took place in the US Congress, there is a good deal of truth in his more general assertion that Dáil Éireann is a fairly toothless body nowadays: the legislative branch of Government has been pretty well sidelined by the executive branch (Cabinet). (more…)

  • Credit crunch?

    October 7, 2008 @ 11:34 pm | by Harry McGee

    Over the years a lot of people have vied to be identified as being the one who coined ‘the Celtic Tiger’.

    I’ll tell ya one thing for nothing: that was a cliche as soon as it was uttered for the first time.

    There’s been no soup-kitchen like queue forming to claim the glory for ‘credit crunch’. (more…)

  • Prince of Darkness returns to spin for Dour Scot

    October 6, 2008 @ 10:30 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    So the Prince of Darkness is back. I’m not sure if the word “stroke” has the same resonance in British politics as it does here in Ireland but Gordon Brown pulled the stroke of the year in restoring his old political enemy Peter Mandelson to the British Cabinet. (more…)

  • Simplistic solutions to the economic crisis

    October 4, 2008 @ 12:42 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    It was one of the strangest weeks in Irish political or economic history. Taking an historical perspective on the crisis: once upon a time we built protectionist walls to preserve us from the vicissitudes of the world market. It was also intended to build up native industry. (more…)

  • Cowen oration better value than Palin-Biden debate

    October 3, 2008 @ 12:34 pm | by Deaglán de Bréadún

    RTE very kindly repeated the vice-presidential debate at 8.30 this morning for the benefit of Irish political nerds who still like to get a  night’s sleep. A friend of  mine in the US texted me earlier, just when the debate was over. That was about 3.30 a.m. Irish time. “What do  you think? Who won?” my friend asked. (more…)

  • Bird and Fortune’s tasty take on the subprime crisis

    October 2, 2008 @ 4:07 pm | by Harry McGee

    Thanks to colleague Hugh Linehan for pointing us to this: John Bird and John Fortune’s hilarious two-hander explaining the sub-prime crisis. It was commissioned specifically for The South Bank Show.

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  • Night shift

    @ 10:52 am | by Harry McGee

    This was one of those rare moments. A nationala crisis. Emergency legislation. The house sitting all night in order to railroad it through.

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  • Should we be worried? Does anybody really know?

    October 1, 2008 @ 11:32 pm | by Harry McGee

    The Government has now added non-Irish banks into the scheme, though it seems the rider about a “case-by-case” basis may just confine it to Ulster Bank, and possibly to NIB.

    The excluded banks lobbied ferociously today and from mid afternoon it was clear that Ulster Bank was confident that it would be included. (more…)

  • Paul Newman, political activist

    @ 11:36 am | by Deaglán de Bréadún

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    The extent of the coverage given to Paul Newman’s death was a little surprising. A major star in the past, he was not a name on the lips of young moviegoers today. But like all good actors, he had a strong sense of timing and this showed, even in his departure. (more…)


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