Monday, December 31, 2007

US primary predictions - Republicans

I think that the Republican race has changed very significantly in recent days or over the holiday period as people call it stateside. And I think it has happened as people come to the conclusion that Giuliani isn’t the guy when it comes to facing off against terrorism and that McCain fills that role much better.

Huckabee may well still win Iowa but my personal inclination is that it will be Romney and that win will serve to insulate Romney from too much damage from losing New Hampshire to McCain but Romney being involved in a close finish with McCain will allow McCain the airtime to get his experience and

So the race is now between Romney and McCain, I think Romney will win Iowa but either lose New Hampshire to McCain or that McCain will be so much closer to Romney than expected that he is the one to come out of New Hampshire with more Mo’. Huckabee should win South Carolina but his campaign could implode if he doesn't do as well as many have come to expect him to do in Iowa. A possible Howard Dean for the '08 Republicans? Probably not but it is possible.

Giuliani will still win Florida I suspect but not especially convincingly and Super-Duper (and what a mistake that has been for the states that wanted to play a role in deciding who is the nominee) Tuesday will see the departure of Thompson.

Ron Paul isn’t going to bother departing the race as his real aim is to shape the platform (manifesto) at the convention. The winner take all nature of the Republican primary should insulate the party against that but he could still have influence. Huckabee is in large part really running for the VeeP slot though and he could get it from McCain as a means to reassure the religious conservatives. Though I think Romney would have a better claim on the ticket given his likely performance but I wonder if he will view it too much as beneath him still Romney would put Mass in play and some other New England states.

US primary predictions - Democrats


I think Iowa won’t decide anything for certain for the Democrats other than confirming that all the big three could win the nomination. (Now how is that for a hostage to fortune?) Clinton is still the favourite at this point for Iowa and the nomination but so was Dean four years and just look at what that got him. What the democrats have learned from the 1988 election is that they have to pick someone who will reach outside their base and honestly Clinton doesn’t do that. The other odd thing about American politics is the boredom factor, people are to some extent bored with the coverage of Clinton and Obama, if Edwards can get come out of Iowa as the little candidate that could and if Obama wins New Hampshire and South Carolina then Clinton

If Edwards is over 20% in Iowa (before the divvying up of the remainder votes) he is still well at the races, if Hillary is under 30% then it proves she can be caught nationally and the post vote writing will be about how vulnerable she is looking and if Obama goes over 30% on the first count and wins then he is going to get the Big Mo’ into New Hampshire. However, I don’t think Obama will win Iowa because I think he lacks the organisation comparatively speaking of Clinton and Edwards in turns of getting people out to vote. And getting people to come out is the problem that did for Dean in the end.

My prediction for Iowa before the departure of the non-viable is

Clinton 27% Obama 26% Edwards 24% Richardson 6% Biden 4% Dodd 1% Kucinich 1%

After those under 15% are eliminated I think Edward wins and Clinton finishes 3rd.


People might well ask could Obama go on the ticket as VP if Oprah has come out for him. Clinton as nominee running against McCain/Huckabee would be Godsend to the Republicans as they don’t have to do anything much after that to motivate the religious conservatives to come out and vote, McCain/Huckabee against an Edwards/Obama ticket would look old and cranky.

Again Clinton will win Michigan but with Obama a very close 2nd and Edwards not a million miles away) he might be a few thousand miles off)

January 3, 2008 Iowa[7] caucus 29 10 6 45 11 56

Edwards to win, Obama 2nd

January 8, 2008 New Hampshire primary[8][9] 14 5 3 22 8 30

Obama to win, Clinton 2nd, Edwards get over 20%

January 15, 2008 Michigan primary 83 28 17 128 29 157 [0]

Again Clinton will win Michigan but with Obama a very close 2nd and Edwards not a million miles away) he might be a few thousand miles off)

January 19, 2008 Nevada caucus[10] 16 6 3 25 8 33

Clinton wins but Edwards out shades Obama for a distantish 2nd.

January 26, 2008 South Carolina primary[11] 29 10 6 45 9 54

Obama wins South Carolina, Edwards does better than expected but Clinton is a close 2nd to Obama.

January 29, 2008 Florida primary 121 40 24 185 25 210 [0]

I think that Obama has a lower ceiling in Florida than Edwards and if Clinton weakens Edwards might be the one to benefit most. I would still expect Clinton to win Florida.

US primary predictions

This time four years ago (ok it was about a month from now as the primaries were later in the year then) I watched John Kerry on Meet the Press and realised that he had made the necessary changes to his message ere: the War in Iraq to win the Democratic nomination and to win Iowa. At that time most people thought Dean had a lock on Iowa and while they thought Kerry could still come back they were all wondering how and where he would do it. That he would head off the challenge in Iowa was not considered by most people to be at all likely. I texted a few friends “to call” Iowa for Kerry and left it at that.

Given that my intuition or reasoning turned out to be correct I’ve chanced a few other predictions not all of them correct but it’s fun for me at least and no one gets hurt. So turning my attention to this year’s election race in the US I’ve had a gander at the line up of the two main parties (what? you don’t want me to look at the Libertarian race too?) and my predictions follow here for the Dems and the Reps.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Ah for feck's sake, it's worse this shower are getting not better. Read this account of a women's dealings with the HSE.

Note to the HSE- when you try and fix something it's an idea not to break loads of other things in the process.

Eoghan Harris has caniptions over Bertie and Mahon

It was one of those you had to be there moments with Eoghan Harris on last Sunday's (Dec 9th) Political Party with Ursula Halligan on TV3 (Jessica Fletcher's daughter) only thanks to the web you can be there now! I love the bit where she has to try and coak him into continuing. "we'll move on, we'll move on, do you want to move on?". I'm convinced she was on the verge of offering him a biccy if he was a good boy...

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Fine Gael and the Reform Treaty referendum - don't move a muscle

I'm not unsure myself about what my own view on the European Reform Treaty will be. However I do have a very certain view as to what Fine Gael as a party should do. I strongly believe that the government parties should be allowed the space to campaign for this treaty that they have negotiated on our behalf. I think that FG representatives should be able to agree the case for the treaty on the national airwaves if that as seems most likely is the party's position. The party can put up a few billboards and YFG should do one of those poster campaigns that they've proved so adept at.

However when it comes to the vast armory of the party organisation it should be kept in reserve. Just as we did not fall for the false battle of the citizenship referendum in 2004 we should avoid being dragged into the hard slog on this one. Not a canvasser, not a door knock should the local party organisations do. Nor should local representatives feel in any way obliged to do much more than a few pieces in support in the local newspaper.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The 2007 Fudget

The problem for me with is budget this the numbers. See the numbers can add up all they want but we can't have that much confidence that the numbers will actually pan out as presented.

The 0.9 deficit is completely dependent on spending actually being controlled at an 8% rise for current expenditure and tax revenue growing according to the prediction, and all that with BenchMarking 2 coming down the pike (as the yanks would say) along with a housing slump sitting in the sidecar.

24,000 new jobs is a massive drop from the existing figure, Cowen said 72,000 was the previous number I think. It's not about applying the brakes instead the hydraulics are seizing and the vehicle of the national economy is starting to drift across the road into oncoming traffic.

It sounds like a reasonable budget in many ways but there is the problem, who really believes that with benchmarking 2 coming that spending increases of 8% will be achievable without cutting existing services?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

My friend - Bertie.

Myself and a housemate used to drink in the Goose quite a bit and from time to time we'd encounter Bertie in there. Once I was even in the jacks just after he had gone in. Little did I know that this level of interaction makes me his friend, perhaps even a close friend. I'm a terrible person despite the closeness of our relationship, I haven't ever sent him a Christmas card and I completely snubbed his daughter's wedding. And not once did I offer to lend him money.

I'm a bad, bad person.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

We win the internet - Seanad reform to start with 3rd level seats.

According to reports in two of today's papers the IT and the Examiner ,

So next time we can vote too!

Fair dues to John Gormley, even if his election observers were somewhat uncover at the count he has pressed on with actual reform.

Now if only I could get some movement on the issue of charges for disabled adults I could claim 100% victory.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Have I heard some of this before?

Interesting to look at what the BBC's man covering the Australian elections has to say about the themes of the election campaign.

"If you’re interested, here are the some possible themes to have emerged this time round.

• The obvious importance of green issues, and their impact, crucially, as vote-shifters. John Howard’s salutary policy announcement during the televised debate focussed on climate change. The all-important seat of Wentworth has almost become a referendum on green issues.

• Housing affordability. Targeting first-time buyers and possibly the parents who are still providing a roof over their heads, Kevin Rudd kicked off his campaign on this very issue.

• Broadband speed is looming larger as a political issue (which is not surprising in Australia, the land of the sluggish internet connection).

• Ditto the availability of hi-tech teaching materials to schoolchildren, like lap-tops (or the “tool box of the future”, as Kevin Rudd calls it).

• Water shortages have featured, but, in this drought-ridden country, not as much as you might have thought.

• This election has been less about big ideas than managerialism: essentially, who is most capable of running the economy, and, arguably, finding practical solutions to meet the challenge of climate change.

• Does Kevin Rudd’s fluency in Mandarin herald the day much later in this century, or perhaps the next, when it’s a much more common diplomatic language?

• This is not Australia’s first internet election but it is its first YouTube election. Is the reason we are seeing politicians ambushed so frequently now because within a few minutes the material can be uploaded onto the web? Political performance art is here to stay.

I am sure there are others, but I had better go. I missed the debate the other day between Treasurer Peter Costello and Labor’s deputy leader Julia Gillard, and I’m hoping to catch the re-run. Honest."

Friday, November 23, 2007

Why someone has to resign - Mary Harney

I'm only following on from the early coverage others have given this as I've been offline for a wee bit with work.

Anyone who would have worked in any work area that looks for problems or defects (such as the software industry or whatever) knows that you write them up and report them as soon as you find them, you don't store them up for weeks until you feel like letting them loose on those who have to deal with them. Yet the HSE do seem to take the view (and it is all the more peculiar when you consider it is actually real life and death issues in which timely intervention is of the essence that they are looking at) that they should wait until they've done with one thing before moving onto another. All that multitasking that we hear might be possible with so many people working in the HSE seems not to be possible. Are members of the HSE still covered by that old civil servant unsackability?

There was a glaring inconsistency yesterday between the comments of the HSE rep John O' Brien to the Dail Committee that surgical revision did not mean mammogram or ultrasound and the HSE local rep from PortLaoise that women being recalled would have new mammograms and ultrasounds as well as possible biopsies. There again that is the same man from PortLaoise who said they were waiting until they had enough of a cohort before starting, starting mind to contact the women concerned. And let's consider for a moment this whole "contacting business" which it appears involves writing to the women affected today (watch the man on RTe), does writing to them today mean those letters will be posted today? And even so is he aware that most places have no post over the weekend, and with the unreliability of the post many of those women will not get the all clear until Tuesday or even Wednesday next. I'll bet if they were cheques to builders for work done that the HSE would have couriered them to their homes. I also would question the value of tomorrow's special clinic which since it won't involve any tests will be working on the visual and consultation assessment of the doctors involved.

To add insult to injury not being contacted by the HSE today or tomorrow does not necessarily mean you are in the all clear as you could be part of the 170 that they haven't got to looking at yet. I wonder if they have been working a straight forward 9-5 on this issue or was any overtime approved in order to expedite their efforts?

The core problem for Mary Harney in all this is pretty simple, she is (just all our other ministers) more than happy to associate herself with any success stories that come out in health services say a reduction in deaths from heart disease for which she is not directly responsible (she isn't the one doing the actual work) for yet when any sort of downside presents itself she is magically immune from any sort responsibility as is everyone else in the HSE.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Light rail in Limerick

A possible alternative route for trams or light rail in Limerick as suggested by me!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Financial Crisis, what Crisis?

The sub prime markets turmoil explained, is it for idiots by idiots?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Show me the way to go home - by Dublin Bus

A strike or is it just a picket that no one will cross at Harristown over the changes in rostering involved in the new 4A and 128 services from Dublin Bus.

So ,what is it all about? Well, that is kind of hard to find out in any great detail. It seems some what digging about I've been able to do that Dublin Bus wants some of the drivers to clock in at Harristown but to actually start their shifts on the buses in Dublin city centre, which is not that much of a problem except that they must get into the city in 45 minutes and it will be their "ass in a sling" or at the very least their responsibility for any failure of the buses to keep to their timetables. So how does a person get from Harristown to the city centre in 45 minutes? Buses? Some chance. Basically, they will have to be clocking in at Harristown well in advance when of they need to simply to make sure they get into the city. So why one wonders have the requirement of having to go to Harristown at all?

Siptu tell us some things about the dispute but again not that much of the meat of the issue.

God help us it's not like the NBRU are trying to keep up to date with what is going on.

And Dublin Bus aren't giving much away other than telling folks what the impact is.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A firing offense?

HERE'S a man who can't be accused of talking down the property market: auctioneer Ken MacDonald (right) of Hooke & MacDonald has had his Blackrock bungalow on the market for 13 months . . . and he hasn't budged an inch on the 2.4m asking price, so he can't be accused of adding to the nearly 4% drop in house prices this year.

MacDonald put the 2,100 sq ft home up for auction with Sherry FitzGerald in October 2006 with an AMV of 2.4m, but evidently found no takers at the price. That didn't stop him listing it for sale by private treaty without a discount, though.

Everything the brochure says about the place appears to be true . . . it's charming, bright, attractive and generously proportioned . . . everything, that is, except the kicker: "Sure to be of instant appeal to a variety of discerning purchasers, from young families to those seeking to trade down alike". Leaving aside the visitor-from-Mars belief that a 2.4m house represents an opportunity to trade down, MacDonald and his enablers at Sherry Fitz have proven themselves to be way off on the "instant appeal" judgment.

Still, he's sticking to his story: "There's real confidence out there, " he told the Irish Independent last Thursday.

Judging by change of address documents he filed with the Companies Registration Office, MacDonald got tired of waiting for the market to produce a willing buyer for the Blackrock albatross and decamped to a new pad in Sandymount. Perhaps he doesn't need the money that badly, even in these leaner times for auctioneers.

(Thanks to astute commentators at thepropertypin. com and the anonymous blogger at arandomwalk. com for producing this story. )

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I am a member of the human race

And though I may disagree with you about many, many things I will defend your right to be a member with my life even if you might not do the same because though you may doubt it within you I will live again.

And here we are.

All Gods love us equally, and in their eyes we are all their greatest fear.

We will never die, never grow old and never have a secret never to be told.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The new provisional car movement

The last 48 hours have seen an unprecedented level of political outrage pouring out in the main from folks under 30 in Ireland, why?

Because the government announced it was going to enforce the law fully with regard to those on provisional licenses and also change the anomaly with regard to those on 2nd provisional license. Not a bad idea one would think except the same government has spent years turning a blind eye to the underlying problem with Irish driving behaviour and who is responsible for driver behaviour, well I would guess that would be drivers. The odd thing is this should not be in any way a party political issue in that there is no aspect of ideology unless we allow for the purist of the pure libertarians who would reckon that all and any regulation is wrong.

Should these people be unaccompanied on the roads? Of course not, but when you ask why are they on the road, ah well that is a question that no one wagging their figures about the problem appears interested in addressing. Those with licenses will tell you it is because they are lazy or stupid. Most people do not pass the test the first time, yet all those with licenses appear to acquire a common degree of self satisfaction that they have passed the test. Passing the test does not mean you are a good driver, you are merely competent. The truth is that too large a number of those with full licenses are bad drivers and at the heart of what the RSA is proposing to do is to change things so that people will no longer pass the test and somehow still be bad drivers with bad habits. In effect they are abandoning all hope of reaching the existing full license community and that is just plain wrong.

Why is it so bad? Well, we've got a cultural problem obeying the law when we think it isn't sensible. The fact is that in Ireland we have a poor standard of driving across the board. It has been poor for decades and by and large nothing by anyone has been done about it. Let us look at some of the reality of a moment or two: there is a tranche of people (something like over 200,000) from the mid 80s who got full licenses because they had been on the waiting list for a test for so long that they were on a third provisional, so the solution was to give them all full licenses not as a temporary measure but for good. They've never passed a test but all have full licenses; that is almost half the number of people on provisional but we don’t hear any calls for them to be made pass the test. Why well most of them would be in their late 40s, and according to some the fact that they have been driving for years now means they must be reasonable good, which is the sort of logic that leads some to believe that because they have been on provisional licenses for years that they shouldn’t need to do a test. Throw in those from about twenty years prior to that who never had to do a test because they simply had to but the license and we’ve got a number nearly as large as the number of provisional licenses driving around unaccompanied never having passed the test.

Those on provisional licenses make up 25% of all those on the roads but account for much less than that in roads deaths. Of course this is because not all of the 420,000 are on the road at all. And why are there 420,000 people with provisional licenses? Again let us be sensible about that figure of 420,000 provisional licenses many of them are held by people who are not driving at all, it could 50,000 it could be 100,000, who knows not the RSA. These people may have got them so they could learn to drive but found they didn't have time or the finances to afford driving lessons so they do not use them, but once you get one the clock is ticking.

The test does not make you a better driver it simply states that on a given day that you were sufficiently competent. No one is magically a better driver the day after the test than they were the day before, the really sad fact is that most are never again as good a driver as they were that day. If the problem we are addressing is evidently with the vast bulk those involved in accidents namely full licenser holders then the idea might have been to retest them all when they renew their licenses. Of course we couldn’t do that because the testing system is clogged to choking already.

The fact is that the majority of fully licensed drivers in Ireland never took much in the way of formal lessons. Everyone acknowledges that the system is flawed and is consistently producing bad drivers but instead of dealing with the problem of poor driver behaviour the RSA has ignored doing something that might cost money like ensuring proper standards in the instruction and tester of drivers. Learning to drive should be a serious business and lessons should be comprehensive. Another aspect that we need to look at is our attitude to when in your life you learn to drive, we allow for people to start while still children so we suggest that driving is something a child can do when it should be obvious to us all that while control of a car might be straightforward enough for a child that the decision and risk assessment isn’t. And driving lessons aren't something you should be treating like some of us treat confession something you do every once in a while when your mother gets on your back about it. You can't take a 2 hour lesson and then another set of lessons 2 months later. Also one hour lessons are a waste of time especially in built up places like Dublin as you spend 15 minutes driving the previous person home and the 15 minutes driving to the next person's place, not much time to get to one of the areas that schools use as practices areas (and why have we never thought to allocate some land to driving ranges in the sense of places that people learn the basics of moving a car about off the road system). The state has a view of who is learning to drive which appears to suggest they think the typical learner driver is on working and living at home with their parents with access to a car for lessons and a support network of friends and relations who can help out, the reality is probably more likely that the typical learner is just after starting work, living away from home and with friends living spread all over the city and not in a position to assist in the learning process. Throw in a 3 hour commute per day on public transport and I’m not clear where they will find the time to take lessons with sufficient frequency to get the confidence to drive.

The aims of the RSA report are laudable and we should be intending to achieve them, but you don't start by demanding that people take lessons without first making sure that lessons of a sufficiently quality are available. You don't demand that people take a test that isn't available to them or the quality of which is questionable. Surely it is part of the remit of the RSA to find out why we have such problems what the consequence are and how do we deal with the problems in order alleviate the problems.

And how is it that we can't cope with the numbers of people looking to take the test after all it is a roughly predictable number. Taking a rough figure from the leaving cert we probably have somewhere in the region of 70,000 people coming onto the driving scene each year. A test takes about 45 minutes which means each tester can get through 10 or so tests per day on average so 50 per week that means 20 testers would do a thousand per week, which is 52,000 and we have far more than 20 in the country. So why does the backlog exist? Because the state wasn’t bothered enough to tackle those involved in the testing process and then gave the same type of nod and wink to those on provisional licenses as Dempsey did yesterday that it wouldn’t matter if they drove. And some people think he is taking a lead on the issue?

Peition on the implementation of new driving restrictions

This petitions ask that the implement of a crackdown on those driving on provisional licenses be postponed until such time as the problems in testing and training of drivers is sorted out.

Update: I posted the petition on and then left it while I did some work and it has garnered over 600 signatures in just under 3 hours.

Monday, October 22, 2007

From my former life

A classic of the type and pretty much summed up the feeling of some at the time, major hat tip to Gabriela for finding it. That said feeling was muted by the offer price being 2.5 times the stock price at the time, and the frank that IBM turned out to be as much interested in becoming more like Lotus than simply buying the technology.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Too scared to take the stand

I was at the SOS rally in Limerick this weekend and for all that it was interesting to see what people had to say for themselves and who turned up it was also interesting for those that couldn't bring themselves to face the music. As expected the fearless defender of his political career Willie O'Dea stayed away but John Cregan (FF - Limerick West) tried to make the case for Fianna Fail and effectively took a bullet for the party by being booed off the stage. Oddly enough RTE appear to have chosen not to report the fact that Cregan was actually booed off the stage preferring to simply say the crowd was anger at times. Timmy Dooley TD (FF - Clare) on the other hand decided to sit it out in the crowd (I guess by doing so he can say he was at the event even though he wasn't quite brave enough to face the music by taking the stand with Cregan), dressed casually as you can see in th picture below he can't claim that he was perhaps intending to take the stand but was somehow delayed by traffic and found himself so late that he didn't want to disturb those on the stand it. Even the very young in attendance thought the guff from Cregan about reporting back to the Sun-Taoiseach with our "concerns" a bit of fairytale for this hour of the day.

Curiously the local mayors who spoke weren't referred to by their party membership in an effort to spare the blushes of the likes of Kevin Sheehan Cathaoirleachof Limerick County a FF stalwart. Sheehan in his speech managed to blame the people of Dublin, faceless bureaucrats and most bizarrely called for people to vote against the European Treaty referendum, I guess it's one way to get people to vent before the local elections in 2009. we couldn't have people holding the government responsible for running the country now could we? and he asked the Taoiseach great man that he is after bringing peace to the north to come to Limerick to broker talks to allow us all to live in harmony.

As the Claw noted at the end some local representatives "lacked the balls" to even show their face and and someone else stated that we have no need Saturday night fighters who come Monday morning are more Minnie mouse than Mighty Mouse.

More pics here

Friday, October 12, 2007

Best election program ever!

I caught this on the beeb during the week part of their Why Democracy season and it shows up so many aspects of Democracy that it is scary.

I think it is one of the instance classic documentaries that come along every few years and is perhaps the best political program I've ever seen bar none!

Ok the West Wing is still class but this is just so brilliant.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Heroes - top of the flying man to y'all.

I've been looking at the 2nd series of Heroes (don''t ask how, but I promise to watch it when it is on big telly if that's ok with the advertisers).

It is proving interesting viewing but I have major bone to pick with the producers, if you're going to have Irish characters it might an idea to source some Irish actors or at the very least people who can do an passable Irish accent. In this day and age I would have thought they might have been able to score an Irish actor or six to play the parts.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Just the facts, Ma'am, just the Facts. Lies and the Irish Health Service

We are told that people are on waiting within an average of 2-5 months. Now you'd have to admit that is a pretty broad average even by the standards we tend to see in the health sector. A real average would be something like 3 months 17 days and not something that is more than 150% the size of the shortest time period involved.

We are also told that reducing staff numbers will have no impact on patient care, yet we are contrastingly regularly informed that increasing staff numbers is only undertaken if it will result in an improvement in patient care.

We are also told that of the 40,000 on waiting lists that 12,000 are waiting over 6 months.

We are told that 6,000 fail to turn up for their procedures and that this is entirely their own fault. Now, I've had personal experience of this circumstance of not being able to make an appointment as my father who is in his 70s was consistently only informed late on the day before that he was to be in Cork city at a hospital early the following morning for a procedure that he has to under go on a regular but not too frequent basis. Traveling to Cork for this procedure means a journey that he has to undertake by public transport, and public transport is something he can't access at a sufficiently early hour to be in Cork for 10am. Cork can't provide him with a bed overnight prior to the procedure and yet keeps scheduling the procedure for early in the morning. There is no political ideology at work here between public and private it is down to competence and work practices. It has been repeatedly pointed out to the people Why not schedule appointments for those closest to the hospital early in the day and those from further away for later on allowing them to travel there any back? It has been repeatedly raised with the folks on the front line who have we believe passed it on to the administration people yet it never seems to affect his appointment times.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

They are watching us - from a distance

What did I do? I noticed when doing the usual old trawl through my stats that I had a visit from a genuinely interesting place in the form of the Sergeant at Arms of the United States Senate. All are more than welcome to visit and contribute, just don't be expecting me to stop watching The Daily show, cos I won't God damn it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Did you know that there are 202,000,000 matches for URuGuAY in google but 365,000,000 for Ireland? And the difference can't be all down to entries for Stephen Ireland's bebo page.

Like the turning of the leaves and the resurgent urge to finally turn the gas on in the evenings RTe visits us with portents of economic doom and despair - David McWilliams is back on our screens. At least Dickens had the decency to leave the morose stuff until Christmas when we could get drunk and vent at the relations about our lot in life. Dear old Dave is at us before we've lost our fake tans.

This time out he is telling us about what he terms "The generation game" whereby the property market has enriched the old at the expense of the young and allowed us all to think that the Celtic Kitty is still purring along nicely when it is in fact the burrowing and munching of a teeming bellyful maggots that is creating the low hum. now, I don't fundamentally disagree with the lad but did he actually have to go to China to find out there are loads of people there, that it's dirt cheap compared to here and that oh man but are some of the ladies tasty - ok I was noticing that last bit all on my own. Won't someone think of the planet? One thing that doesn't get mentioned too much is if the lads on the factory floor in the middle kingdom screw up you can't sue them worth a damn.

In terms of the rest of the presentation, I have to wonder what the bright spark in the development in Ongar was thinking when they thought it a good idea to be letting David and pals sneer about their apartment development. And I thought that there must be something more behind the fact that the Uruguayan collapse than just that they couldn't make cows as cheaply anymore and the "do you feel Irish" comment to Conrad O'Neill that mets the ear. We might find out next week, at least it fits in more naturally to the RTe comedy profile for Monday nights than Prosperity.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Bertie Ahern "Liar in Chief" - Sue me.

So it turns out that Bertie has being lying all along in the lead up to the tribunal, he told everyone who would listen and many who preferred to have the chance not to that he had fully cooperated with the tribunal, that he was eager to get into it and have his day in court so to speak. As we have seen over the last 2 days that is emphatically not the case, he has dragged his feet on every occasion, he asked that the tribunal only look at his accounts from 89-92 when they were in fact dormant as a consequence of his separation and his lawyers asked on his behalf that only amounts over 30,000 should be examined. That would hardly constitution full and fair disclosure if he were in the business of selling houses.

It is worth noting that when you consider all the months and months it apparently took Bertie and pals to unearth all those tedious details about his bank accounts that right from the "get go" (as our American cousins would say) he and his lawyers were adamant that the threshold should be 30K. How did they come to pick this monetary sum unless they in fact knew that he made it a habit to deal only in the amounts less than this figure.

So let me be quite plain about this Bertie Ahern, Taoiseach of Ireland, has lied and he has lied about his lying. It's time for the truth. If Bertie can prove otherwise let him sue me.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Ripoff Art.E

The recent coverage of the proposed new statue / scuplture by Antony Gormley has missed a basic fact, it's not new at all. It is one he did earlier and in Ireland too. I should say I rather like the Angel of the North, or the "what the fuck is that?" as it was known for the first few months of its life.

Look at this forlorn lad, head downcast, hands by his side. He is known locally as the Rusty Man and is set in the plaza of UL.

and then look at the proposed chap standing in the Liffey

It's the exact same frigging dude, down to the stance and the hands in the pockets about to mooch a fag look. A moppy looking student type is all well and good hanging around the plaza in UL but standing next to the quays in Dublin peering down the blouses of our tourists?

The strange thing is that yet again something that is meant to be about the docklands as a new area bringing together the north and south of the city ends up turning his rather ample arse to the northside. Now what we should really get is something like this spanning the river!

Come on you know you'd like it. And those things do look like cool sabres or should that be sabers? Hmm....

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Why Aer Lingus is right

Aer Lingus are dead right to pull out of Shannon on a commercial basis, they have a finite amount of resources in particular slots into Heathrow and it is their responsibility to their shareholders that they seek to maximise the profit that can be derive from those resources.

So within those boundaries the Aer Lingus management have been consistent with what one would expect a public company. Those boundaries of course were set by the previous owners who in the unique environment of a privatisation had a chance to lay down some markers to shape the company's business into the future and indeed by retaining a significant share holding suggested, publicly at least, that they would continue to be active shareholders. Much along the lines of ethical shareholding whereby people use their portfolio to patronise certain types of business over others. The term "Golden Share" was pointedly used by the government over the course of the company being floated. I'm not sure for whom this share is now Golden, it sure ain''t the customers in the West and Mid-West, unless we're to look to the world of adult entertainment for inspiration.

Fact is that it isn't the decision that Aer Lingus has made that should be the focus of people's ire but instead the manner of the privatisation of the airline along with the Heathrow slots which has placed Aer Lingus in this situation. Yet, who has been asking the hard questions along those lines?

We're had RTe favouring the local FF apparatus in terms of coverage, yet never asking them what they personally had proposed or contributed during the Dail debates on the privatisation of the airline to ensure that the management couldn't make this type of decision. We've had no legal opinion produced by the government that demonstrates why some means to retain control of the Heathrow slots in the state's hands while floating the rest of the company.

The people of the Mid-West voted for FF in overwhelming numbers despite no significant inward investment into the region over the past number of years. And why are they treated so poorly you might wonder? Basically my view is if you continuously turn the other cheek you end up black and blue. I hate to use the analogy as it may suggest to some that I'm making light of a very serious social issue but much of the Irish electoral population behaves like an abused spouse, making excuses for why they are mistreated, continually turning blind eye to every indiscretion and persisting with a steadfast belief in every half arsed reason for why it happened this time and how next time will be different, and accepting that the other lot would be worse. Or so they are told.

As Fintan O'Toole has pointed out people get what they vote for; the fact that they don't bother to pay that much attention isn't really the politicians fault. In a democracy it is the voters who are ultimately the ones pulling the strings.

It isn't that people are thick just that they think they have more money than sense. What's the betting that we see an ex-FFer running as an independent in the Mid-West come the next general election on a platform of returning Aer Lingus to Shannon and the neglect of the region? And that we'll see the promise of one route into Heathrow in time for the 2009 locals.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Finally a minister speaks out!

Look at the latest wheeze from the government that can't bring itself to comment on the pull out of Aer Lingus from Shannon.

Mary Hanafin, minister for Education, wants to split maths! into business maths and science maths (the suggestion that we might have two Irish exams for the leaving has previously left the minister aghast at the concept).

Quoting from the article “The Minister said there are students who are very good at science and students who are very good at business. “Why do they both have to do the same maths paper when you can have a little twist on it that can make it more accessible?” ”

Yep that’s the answer to all our problems because 2+2 doesn’t necessary add up to 4 in the business world. Indeed it could be special type of maths where you can get a formula where £30,000 could really be $45,000, or Ir£28,000 4 shillings and sixpence or whatever the lodgement was.

There is a serious problem in Ireland with the teaching of maths and science but this approach is all about indulging a mindset that say "hard" Maths for weirdos not normal people who get to get sexy jobs and get rich. What next - maths for girls?

Brainy 8-year-old Lisa Simpson is delighted until she attends the girls' math class. "How do numbers make you feel?" the teacher begins. "What does a plus sign smell like? Is the number 7 odd or just different?" Aghast, Lisa poses as a boy to attend the ghettolike boys' school, where real maths is being taught.

Or perhaps we will split Art at Leaving Cert into Art and Art for the tasteless.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The prancing of political geldings

Over the last week or so since the decision of Aer Lingus management to pull out of the Shannon Heathrow, we've witnessed the energetic prancing of political geldings, figures of local and national prominence, minister junior and senior and TDs new and old all giving it loads in front of the cameras and at public meetings but no sign that they will do anything in the Dail when it resumes. I think a vote of no confidence in Dempsey is certainly in order, and I would question the resolve of some of the mid-West TDs to exercise some basic follow through on this issue.

Good examples of the prancing ponies are Tony Killeen telling us that Aer Lingus will be feeling the pressure on the PR side of things - FYI they're pulling out Tony what does it matter to them what people down here think if they are no longer doing business here, Niall Collins telling us on PrimeTime that we should be stepping back. I haven't been too wildly impressed with the contributions of Pat Breen of FG either, taking almost all his time on PrimeTime before getting to the nub of the issue which is the connection to a hub which is what Heathrow is, this is not about getting to London, it is about getting to Heathrow.

This is what Minister Cullen (sure don't we miss him now!) had to say in 2005 about ensuring Irish consumers would have access to Heathrow post the government reducing its stake. So what were the options explored and why were they not proceeded with? Was someone misled here was it the minister or the public?

I'm surprised no one has made this comparison of journeys, say your intention is to get a flight in Heathrow on to some other location say for example Tokyo (I hear it is a bit of a backwater place that is transforming itself into an up and coming place of international business), you leave Castletroy to be in Shannon at least 1 hour before the flight which only takes under an one hour but you can allow about one hour to get from from Terminal 1 to your gate in another Terminal in Heathrow. Because in the current situiation with Aer Lingus doing a code share your luggage makes its own way across the airport, and you (the person travelling) are already checked through.So you arrive at the gate in good time and calm and collected all only 3 hours or so after you left the house.

In the new situation if you fly with RyanAir you will have to wait around and collect you luggage before moving off to the next Terminal but in this case you will be crossing London instead of justr crossing an airport with 3 train journeys from Stansted into Liverpool St, then the tube then the train from Paddington out to Heathrow. None of those changes is for the faint-hearted. I guess Dempsey is so used to have someone else carry his luggage for him that he doesn't remember what travel is like for the little people. And how long would you need to allow for you to cross from Gatwick/Stansted to Heathrow 3 hours allowance wouldn't be crazy (2 hours would be cutting it very fine indeed) and remember you have to be at the check-in desk 2 hours before departure as unlike the existing model you aren't already checked through. So you would be presenting yourself at the gate 7 hours after you left the door of house. Some time difference there I'm sure you will agree.

I would suggest that local business should sponsor a trip by two people accompanied by the press, with video capability to demonstrate the different paths they will have to take to get to a flight going from Heathrow to Tokyo. They would be two very different journeys I reckon and a good example of why telling people that they can still get to London is patronising.

I do know from talking to some folks at the college in UL that one big problem would be that staff use Heathrow as a location for meetings with people from other European universities. As it is a hub it is much easier to a few people to fly there and have the meeting and fly home without ever leaving the airport than to be flying to another location and staying overnight some place.

For students in UL, Euramus in particular I can foresee quite a lot of problem with access and this must move UL down the pecking order for choice locations. And speaking more internationally it will be a problem for those coming from Asia particularly China which is viewed a as a huge stragegic opportunity for Ireland.

I would also think that the decentralisation of the Overseas development staff from the Department of Foreign Affairs must now be seriously at risk. You can hardly move the staff to a place that doesn't have direct access to one of the major airline hubs.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

More on Puck ar buizer

I wrote this to Madam in response to a letter from Dr. Mick Loftus in last Saturday's Irish Times
Madam, -

As a proud son of Puck, I challenge Dr. Loftus to produce evidence
that supports his outrageous implication in his letter of July 28th
that Killorglin has a disproportion rate of homicides, road traffic
deaths, rapes and suicides as a consequence of hosting Puck Fair.

As a former coroner I would have expected Dr. Loftus to base his
argument on the particular facts of the case rather than producing a
generalised rant impugning the reputation of the town I grew up in.
Dr. Loftus’ failure to wait until he had read the facts before
forming his opinion is exemplified by his misquoting of Judge
O’Connor as saying he had “walked the streets of
Caherciveen at 2.30am and observed no thuggery” when the judge
had explicitly referred to Killorglin in the report of July 20th.

The Gardai are not Killorglin Gardai as Dr. Loftus states but rather
the district authorities for the region as Killorglin, in contrast to
Caherciveen, is serviced by a mere “Green Man” for the
much of the time. The concerns of the Gardai appear more directed at
operational and budgetary concerns regarding overtime than any real
concerns about a higher rate of crime during the festival. Had it
been otherwise they would have produced the statistics in court to
back up their argument. As they did not, it is not.

Puck Fair in contrast to many other summer festivals is a working
fair. Considerable entertainment is laid on in the open air; yet the
nature of the Irish summer means much of the craic and ceol is
naturally to be found indoors. I would contend that if the
arrangement agreed 31 years ago which saw the introduction of 3am
closing at Puck is to be revisited at all then a return to the
original situation whereby pubs could open continuously for the full
3 days should be given consideration. What is needed in addressing
alcohol abuse is not the simplistic abstention versus overindulgence
argument that Dr. Loftus is espousing but a renewal of the practice
of social drinking; where drinking is not the purpose of the
socialisation but something that merely accompanies it.

I would ask the good Dr. to apologise to the people of Killorglin and
I would urge people to come to Puck and enjoy the craic; with or
without a drink but always with a smile.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Would you ever Puck off?

I read this piece (more below) in the Irish Times last week and wondered if the Supt might not be right and perhaps the 3am closing time for the 3 nights of Puck should be revisited. Yeah revisited and returned to the original format by which there was not closing of the pubs in Killorglin at all for 3 whole days!

Anne Lucey in Cahersiveen

An attempt by gardaí to have the traditional 3am pub hours extension for Puck Fair in Killorglin reduced by one hour was refused by Cahersiveen District Court yesterday.

The court was told it took "a considerable" Garda presence in Killorglin to prevent drink-related, late-night public order incidents during the fair.

Supt Michael O'Donovan said he was objecting to the traditional application by vintners for exemption orders to 3am. He said the 3am opening was unique to Puck Fair, was in place for 31 years and it was time to look at it. His application was to reduce it by an hour in line with other fairs and festivals in the county and in the country. The judge refused the application.

Street entertainment finished at 11pm during Puck Fair, the superintendent said. "Nothing beyond that time other than to consume alcohol takes place. There should be something other than the consumption of alcohol, particularly in the current climate. Consuming alcohol between 11pm and 3am without entertainment surely has to be looked at," he argued.

12 gardaí and two sergeants were drafted into Killorglin from outside the district to work at night, alongside the Cahersiveen district gardaí, he told Judge James O'Connor.

Domestic violence incidents also arose during the fair. The application for a series of exemptions, including early morning openings, was made by Killorglin publican Paul Kingston on behalf of some 22 publicans in Cromane and Killorglin.

Solicitor for the vintners, Tim O'Shea, said music sessions took place in most pubs. Extra policing was required not because of any alcohol problem but because of the sheer numbers of people in the town.

Declan Mangan, chairman of Puck Fair, told the court the fair was an excellent well run festival, worth up to €10 million to Killorglin, Killarney and mid-Kerry.

"Drink is only part of the festival," Mr Mangan said.

Publican Declan Falvey said a substantial number of pubs depended on the festival for vital income. Up to 400 extra people were employed by publicans because of the fair.

Judge O'Connor said no statistics had been produced to the court by gardaí. He himself had been to the fair "once or twice" for the whole of the three days. Last year walking the street at about 2.30am "I saw no thuggery", the judge said.

The State was benefiting from the revenue from drinks sales and taxes from the extra employment. It would not be fair to deprive pubs of a "vital hour".

It was totally wrong to say there was no entertainment.People made their own and this including "belting out" songs such as Barr na Sráide, the judge remarked.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Thanks to everyone

I'm immensely gratified that nearly 400 people gave me a vote, the vast majority of whom I have never had the chance to meet. I really appreciate it. The fight goes on, but I think I will take a bit of break from the politicking for a while.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

All over bar the shouting

and God knows there will be plenty enough of that.

I would like to thank everyone that voted for me, and those who couldn't vote but who were hugely helpful throughout the process. It has been a long old road since last September but it hasn't been that lonely a journey.

I got some opportunities to raise the issue of the residential charges in the public consciousness and while it may not yet have borne fruit it is something I will persist with. The money been collected is neither needed nor does the logic of applying it to the disabled as if they were the same as the elderly hold up.

I do feel I've been successful to a degree because the issue of extending the franchise has been something that most candidates haven't felt they could ignore. Now that is by no means solely down to my presence in the race (guess I'm showing my main failing as a politician by not claiming complete credit for something I had a mostly tangential involvement with) but even if my being around was responsible for just one or two extra nudges in the right direction then I say it was worthwhile having someone impacted by the ongoing failure to act on this issue in the race.

As to the possible results well, at this stage it ranges from very hard to nigh on impossible to say what the likely outcome might be. We could yet be surprised that the presence of so many entrants will mean a great deal of the valid poll will have just voted their top 2/3 and left it at that. Or maybe that the vote will be incredibly evenly scattered amongst the various candidates or perhaps that the incumbents are abandoned by their electorate and 3 completely new people are installed. I reckon at the absolute limit we might get two new members of the Seanad from the NUI panel but much more likely is that the status quo will remain the same. A pity after all the huffing and puffing from all the little piggies but I guess in this case the 3 little pigs have houses built of the same material - ongoing national press coverage.

I'll have to give Naoise a shout at some point during the day to find out about when it is considered prudent and polite to ask for a recount. After all, his experience in the 2004 battle for Clontarf has to be worth something.

Again, a big thank you to everyone that voted for me, those who just considered it and those for whom the idea of voting for me gave them nightmares. Remember, I could be back.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Seanad Vote for sale on ebay

I was sent on a link by someone to the Sale of a Seanad Vote on

Even more peculiar is that I can't report this to ebay without registering with which frankly I'm not interested in doing. They look for my phone number if I were to register yet they have no listing themselves in Ireland. I've taken screenshots so Mr dermotthegreat, you can't just remove it and skulk away. And I've mailed a few people in the 4th estate but the newspapers would be put to bed by now.

I recognise that for a great portion of people the Seanad and all who sail in it are something of a joke, but the right to vote is a pretty basic idea that I would expect every citizen to have some respect for. I'm genuinely disgusted.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

If you're voting for me, you might think about voting for these folks too.

I'm in no position to ordering people about the place with regard to who they should be voting for. Below and above are the people that through the course of the campaign have impressed and for whom I'd be voting in no particular order if I had a vote.
Valerie Bresnihan - I believe her reform intents are more genuine. And she has a rounded agenda.

Paddy Healy - as someone from DIT whose colleagues and student is more directly impacted by the issues around the franchise I believe he would more of a effort. I don't agree with him re: benchmarking though.

Martina Lowe - someone with a disability who is also working in the area someone with a different perspective who would be able to articulate it. No shrinking violet and no token either.

Brendan Price - in the words of aul Sammy Beckett someone who is willing to get in there "kicking against the pricks".

Liam Crowley - I know he's FF but what harm someone from Puck in the Seanad?

John Kennedy - ah sure true enough he's a member of Young Fine Gael but of the rest he's the least worst.

Those would be

Just missing the cut

Linda O'Shea Farren - capable but I'm not sure what she is all about

The trio of incumbents, able gents but why no action on voting rights over the last 15 years? Where's the Bill you could have introduced?

Friday, July 13, 2007

In the absence of conflict people talk about process

I find it curious that in a large field that so many of the candidates talk about the state of the register as if that was the be all and end all of why they decided to run. As if they had no policies or other issues that they had wanted to talk about.

Those of us in the race, and the sadder (note you're just more sad than we are) anoraks not involved in any campaigns yet who are actually paying attention, know that it is just not true. Quite a few of the candidates have sincerely held and interesting topics that they wanted to raise. Yet why are most of the articles in the press about the process?

Part of the problem is that this paucity of opportunity for real debate amongst the candidates actually leads to the lack of interest on the part of the public. After all a candidate can talk and talk all they want but it is the contest of a debate that really engages the public. Or put more simply people will stop to watch a fight. If only the was some media outlet that was willing to take a punt on this.

Yet it looks likely that the last week will see yet more focus on the process and in particular the register. The presence of dead people on the NUI register is a comparatively straightforward problem to resolve. People have to be registered as dead (not by themselves naturally) and surely this can be electronically conveyed to those compiling the various registers on a regular enough basis. Of course if Bob Romson has moved house and then dead without telling anyone then it is not necessary going to be that easy to remove him from the register.

A single register compiled by the electoral commission via data returned from the local authorities would seem to be the simplest way to go. All and any changes to this register should be done using the norms of source control common in the software industry whereby comments are entered for all changes and a track kept of who made the changes. Now you there - stop laughing at the back - this is what should be the norm in the software industry yet as we all know often the comments are "bug fixed", it isn't that hard to tell those entering the changes that if the reasons included in their comments to justify the change can't be substantiated that they will be fired for not doing their job. That might increase compliance.

For those living in Ireland it shouldn't be that hard to have a box on the regular general election registration form to allow someone to indicate that they are NUI graduates and thereafter for the NUI to seek proof of this. In essence we simply merge the registers.

It is deeply ironic that someone who is a member of the main party in government for the last ten years and is their candidate for one of the panels is complaining about dead people being on the register when the normal general election register can't ensure that dead people are removed in a timely fashion.

Why is Sean O'Connor a hue and cry about this? Because he knows the press want to write about the process in order to regurgitate their articles from the last election talking about what a waste the Seanad is. In order to distract from the more substantive issues that might otherwise have gotten an airing during the course of the campaign. There is less than a week left and you bet the only stories you will see will be about the register and who has appeared on what website.

Since that it all the press willing to report then I'm going to join them briefly. Isn't registered post is an odd way to distribute ballots papers for these in employment? Though the suggrstion again from Sean O'Connor that we use SMS for voting and couriers for delivering the paper ballots makes me wonder if he knows that couriers cost more than An Post and they too require you to be home to sign for your package.

The old system was probably fine as a system of sending out the ballots back when most graduates were menfolk who worked 9-5 while the woman of the house worked at home and the postman (and it was a man) was happy enough to let her sign for the ballot. These days most graduates male and female are working long enough hours that the postal system could have replaced the postman with a post cougar and it would decades before any of them noticed, Many post offices do not open at weekends to allow people to collect their registered post. In fact it might be considered a minor miracle that the turnout is as high as it is. Given that anyone can sign the validation slip won't it make it easier if the ballots were just sent in regular post and then you had to drop in somewhere with ID over the course of the 4/5 weeks like a post office or Garda station to cast the ballot and then drop it into the post?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Campaign clip

Rather basic Youtube effort from moi.

You can link by copying the link below

Honestly, it is a bit slapped together.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Other media pieces

That article that was in the Irish Examiner on June 30th last.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

National Executive Council

I believe that like any party or large organisation Fine Gael needs to be in a constant state of renewal and reinvigoration in order to ensure that we're not faced with a sudden gap in experience.

The party has come a considerable distance since 2002 but it must retain as its immediate aim revisiting the levels of support enjoyed in the early 80s. In order to do that we must understand that the world and Ireland is markedly different to the late 1970s and early 1980s. People believe less in hierarchy, top down management and more in personal involvement in decision making. That is not nor should it be seen as a problem of us, it is in fact an opening for a party and people that believe in self reliance and personal initiative. Only when those who can provide for themselves do so can we ensure that the necessary resources exist to assist those that need help whether that help is great or small.

I believe that the greatest strength of the party lies, as it always has, in the membership. I would wish to see greater use made of the expertise of the members. We have many members whose professional experience covers many areas such as the spheres of education, medicine, engineering, accounting, and law amongst others. These are people who could assist for example in the assessment of policy to see if the assumptions made are correct and could also lend more formally towards the direction of the party. There is also the expertise that one develops from one's life experience and understanding of one's locality that can inform and shape policies so that they are appropriate, targeted and focused on getting results and not on simply being seen to do 'something'.

That is in large party why I'm standing for the national executive. I genuinely believe, though I recognise it is not very fashionable to say so, that some members really are interested in politics! We should never shy away from an open discussion of ideas. We must become our own strongest proving ground. We must foster a climate of openness and encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to join the party.

I would not wish to be elected simply for the sake of it.

The 2009 Ard Fheis is taking place over the course of April 3rd and 4th in the Citywest Hotel in Dublin. The elections for the Executive Council will be held on the afternoon of the Saturday between 1 and 4 pm. There are three places for the Dublin region to be filled.

In seeking election I am not running against anyone but rather am seeking to stand for Fine Gael, to serve the party to the best of my ability. I have not contested the elections for Executive Council before. I have consistently sought to contribute to the work of the party at all levels, whether as an ordinary member, prospective public representative, branch or constituency officer or as a founding member of the Executive Council IT committee.

My involvement in Fine Gael goes back to my membership of Young Fine Gael growing up in Kerry in the very early 1980s. They were trying times; much as we are faced with today. I am passionate about politics and Fine Gael, I always have been. As a Fine Gael member I have held a number of positions at branch and constituency level, secretary, branch organizer/PRO, constituency policy officer. I always had the privilege of being a candidate in Artane, an election where FG outpolled FF. I’m a straight talker, and will not shirk from debating in any forum for the party.

I may be known to some of you but I’m sure not to all. I hope that I will have the chance to change that. I have appreciated the opportunity to meet with people at local election conventions and to talk to the members and listen to their concerns. I believe that we can make greater use of the expertise of the membership in the scrutinising of policy and in developing our message. I believe that the changes in communications and information technology make possible a new political environment wherein Fine Gael can excel. But we can only excel if we make it a priority to be be open and confident in our message. We must never shy away from engaging with people though their opinions may differ from ours. This is after all at it's most basic a contest of ideas.

Beyond politics, I’ve worked as technical project manager and academic researcher in the IT sector and because of my background I am able to bring a methodical, results orientated approach to the work of the Fine Gael organisation. I believe that internal elections such as this offer an opportunity for our party to renew itself from within. I would appreciate your support in the form of your No.1 vote, or next available preference at the Ard Fheis.

Again my thanks for your time in reading this, and my thanks for your vote.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

I'm not me, I'm someone else and he's gone with me too.

First he was a socialist and look how well that worked out for Joe Higgins now he is an independent. Guess BA wants to get rid of all of them too. Pictured in the various broadsheets today are two of the top 3rd level candidates, well top of the class in standing next the people while maintain they aren't supportive of them at all, at all. At least Sean O'Connor can bring himself to admit being a member of FF while Dr. Hillery deems anything more than admitting to just being that way inclined when it comes to FF as been much too revealing.

With independents like these who needs parties! I'm reminded of that line from Blackadder goes Forth, now how does it go? Ah yes.

Look, I'm as British as Queen Victoria.

Edmund: So your father's German, you're half German, and you married a German?

Friday, June 29, 2007

Recent media

Most of the line up all had a go on the Tonight with Vincent Browne show on Wednesday night. Truth be told it was a bit of a mess of a show (or a frakking zoo to be more accurate about it) which to be fair wasn't entirely Vincent's fault. I can't help think that most members of the public listening to it wouldn't be inclined to vote for any of us for villege ratcatcher.

Prior to that I was out at RTe for Q & A on Monday and got to ask a question, The Blair Years, a missed opportunity or a master class in modern politics?. I would like to say I was fabulous but I'm too honest for that.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Clear breach of data protection act as Tanaiste seeks to interfere in Seanad election.

Dan Sullivan, an NUI Seanad panel candidate, has lodged a formal complaint with the Data protection office after it was revealed in the Irish Times that the Minister for Finance, Brian Cowen, had circulated a letter within FF giving electronic access to the NUI panel register containing the personal educational details of over 100,000 graduates of the NUI.

Dan a UL graduate originally from Killorglin, Co. Kerry, seeking to highlight the failure to extend the franchise to those outside TCD and NUI and is also campaigning to oppose the HSE’s introduction of residential charges for disabled adults attempting to live independently. His campaign information is available at

Only now that the main government party fears they might lose their majority in the Seanad are they falling over their own legislation in order to reach out to NUI graduates.

“It is remarkable that Fianna is now so concerned about making contact with graduates when it could have put in place measures such as allowing the revenue to send registration forms to graduates based on the PPS/RSI numbers that the colleges have on record.” said Dan. “The government has had plenty of opportunities to fix the register but it is only now that they are fighting for their own political lives that they can be bothered to do anything. “

It is also suggested by minister Cowen that the register be retained by local Fianna Fail members of use in constituency business perhaps including targeted mails shots to graduates when the next local elections come. The government really appear to think that the personal records of Irish citizens are theirs to do with as they wish in order for them to win office. Allowing people to have copies of a confidential document to peruse at their leisure and for their own enjoyment is act of gross misconduct

The NUI itself has not made the register available in this manner online because of concerns about secure access. The NUI should seek to recover the files in the possession of Fianna Fail and if possible access their histories to see if they can ascertain whose copy of the register it is and action must be taken to sanction that those involved. If I had circulated the register in this fashion I would be subject to sanction.

It is a clear breach of the documented understanding under which NUI Seanad panel candidates were allowed to purchase copies of the register for a fee of €149. It would seem that in addition to a breach of data protection legislation that Fianna Fail may also have infringed on the copyright of the documents involved. “Fianna Fail passing around for free what others candidates had to pay for in order to cover the cost of maintaining the registers is pretty rich in my view “, said Dan.

It is even more peculiar that someone would have passed these documents on to a marketing company who it was reported in the Sunday Times sought €5,000 as a “modest” sum for updating and maintaining the register. A feat that could be done for no cost if the data held by the colleges was reconciled with that held by the revenue. It is also unclear what future use the marketing company will put the register to. The findings of the analysis of the register carried out by a direct marketing company would imply that the government should have thought about addressing the real issues with the register rather than mere titillation over people from the early 1900s being on the register.

This matter is made all the more serious as the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner is part of the department of finance, and the letter has been sent by the Minister for Finance. It would seem when the rules are hard or inconvenient the first reaction of the government is to ignore them.

While one of the FF candidates, Sean O’Connor has spent his time and connections with the press making great play of the presence of people who are most likely dead on the register, there has been comparatively little attention given to the decreasing numbers of graduates being added to the register year on year despite the considerable increase in those graduating. In recent years the increase in numbers on the register is around one thousand per year for the entire NUI, yet UCD alone is graduating four times that number each year.

Many candidates are operating with limited finances and have to account for all donations and services rendered to us. Distributing work such as tracking down graduates would be something we would have to pay for, yet Fianna Fail are farming it out to their membership to the benefit of their selected candidates while make no record of the donation of such work.

It would seem appropriate that the lead FF candidates Dr. John Hillery and Sean O’Connor who were intended to be the prime beneficiaries of this intrusion into people’s person record should now consider withdrawing from the Seanad races for TCD and NUI.


Yes, it reads weird but I've sent this out as press release to one or two people and will send it more widely tomorrow morning. However you, dear readers, get it first.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

My nominators and supporters

I noticed that Shane Ross who running for the TCD panel has made big play of who his nominators are. Amongst them are Willie Walsh, David McWilliams and Sarah Carey.

My nominators and assenters are not quite as well known I suppose, but I think they are quite broadly representative of NUI graduates and regular Irish people generally. They might not be quite the council of ten perhaps rule by the great and the good is something that democracy was designed to avoid.

I would like to acknowledge Professor Don Barry, President of UL who offered to sign up as a nominator. However, I had at that point taken a number of birds in the hand as it were and my list was completed.

I'm not going to name them as I'm the one putting my head in the public eye not them:

My start half were from Killorglin in one way,shape or form

1) I had three cousins in the one family who are NUI graduates but it turned out none of them were on the register thankfully one of their wives was. She is a teacher. From Killorglin

2) Then there was a friend of hers from Killorglin who is also a teacher.

3) The daughter of a former work colleague of my father's, also a teacher. From Killorglin.

4) The brother of a mate from Killorglin who working for a company involved in construction.

5) A mate from school in Killorglin who is a partner in a law firm in Dublin.

6) A work colleague at UL and someone I did some teaching for.

7) A political acquaintance who is probably much better known than I'm ever likely to be. Originally from Meath now living in Dublin.

8) A colleague at UL from Tipperary.

9) A colleague at UL from Carlow.

10) A former housemate and a fellow engineer who is from Westmeath.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

I must be doing something right

Interesting to see yet more pieces in the national papers on Saturday on the issue of Seanad Reform this time in the Independent from my fellow Kerryman and then from a TCD candidate in the Irish Times. And also on the cover of the Irish edition of the Sunday Times. Yet the mainstream press appears solid in its steely resolve not to allow some upstart who went to UL be the spokesperson for an issue that affects them directly.

After all who do we think we are? Instead why not give an NUI graduate or TCD graduate a platform to say how they feel our pain and hope that we will go away. Well, I won't, the issue won't and we won't. It is an issue that is straightforward to fix and long past time to fix it. And I suspect everyone knows it.

Not that this issue alone would be sufficient to get anyone elected. However, it would seem that at least some of the candidates are twigging that there is a constituency out there who recognise the urgent need to reform the Seanad and are eager to elect someone who is hungry to get cracking on the work involved. Combine this with the growing possibility of the government lacking a working majority in the Seanad and you get a concerted effort from them not to allow someone from outside the government parties get a seat.

Indeed, I had another NUI candidate call me today to emphasis their personal commitment to extending rights to those of us outside the NUI or TCD. I reckon that as more folks are seeing that there is merit in the points I've been making, the more it will start to everyone's agenda.

Misquoting Gandhi, I think we're possibly in the third phase.

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then some fight you while others join you, then you win.”

Monday, June 18, 2007

Recycling old promises for Seanad

Interesting how any number of people are claiming how interested they are in Seanad Reform now that we have an election but they were remarkably silent

Take Joe O'Toole who said in 1997 while campaigning for election that "On the canvass, however, he has discovered the depth of resentment among graduates of universities other than the NUI or Trinity who are not entitled to a Seanad vote. "I agree. Why on earth should votes be restricted to these two universities, one established by a queen and the other by a cardinal. If elected I intend proposing changes.""

Doing something would have made sense even his own perspective of looking to protect his seat as primary teaching graduates of Mary Immaculate and St. Patrtick's Drumcondra can no longer vote. Sadly no action has been taken.

Seanad finances

The Independent News and Media folks have updated their site in recent weeks, and as a consequence appear to have upgraded their search engine too which is quite a good thing. For reasons of naked self interest I had a looksee at what turned up from the archives when I typed in “Seanad” and came across a very interesting article about campaign funding for the NUI Seanad race in 2002. I have to say that the €8,867 that Bernadine received in 2002 would have paid for a hell lot of advertising and printing in today’s prices not to mind how much it bought back then. Interesting that she was in effect getting every ASTI member to cough up for her campaign while suggesting she was putting herself on their behalf.

Another more recent article throws up the issue of money and financial backing again but in different context. Ms. Susan Philips says "...But the university Senators - and there are six in total, three from the NUI and three from Trinity - should ideally be absolutely free from pressure groups, party politics or financial obligations.'"

It might be just that I’m coming from a PAYE background with my dad as a council worker in Kerry but I would have thought the salary of a Seanad member (running at €62,000 for a newbie though many more are apparently on much higher sums) should be more than enough to keep them free from "financial obligations" yet it would appear from her comments that Ms. Philips believes that being terribly, terribly rich is not alone a good thing in politics but that when it comes to the Seanad it is darn nearly a requirement. I suppose it is easy for someone who has the financial clout of Ballyfree Farm behind them to say this.

I’ve paid for my campaign out of my own funds. I’ll post the amounts I've outlaid at the end of the campaign (don’t want people stealing in on my bargains now, do I) and in large part the SSIA has met the bills.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Jim McDaid for Ceann Comhairle

I have a suspicion that the alternative and the independents might pull a fast one to keep FF/Pd government on their toes.

How? By nominating Jim McDaid as Ceann Comhairle. He is none too pleased with the support he got from the FF organisation and it would secure his seat and he could claim that it allows FF to hold 2 there next time out. It would actually suit FF locally in Donegal as they would hold two seats time out. and it would suit McDaid as he would enjoy at least 2 more terms of office and as a dapper dressing gent he may well like the perks of office.

Doing so would strengthen the position of the independents by increasing the FF dependency on them. And I think SF would be inclined to support him in the short/medium term as they must reckon a seat in DNE is off the cards for the moment. They will concentrate on DSW for the time being.

FG+Lab+Grn (77) + SF (4) + Gregory and McGrath (2) = 83 and Jim would either vote for himself or simply abstain.

Friday, June 01, 2007


So what do I mean when I say "Reforms to ensure consistency in sentencing and the delivery of real justice."?

I suppose I believe that the balance of the criminal justice system prioritises crimes against property over those against the person. How often do you hear about armed robber getting a suspended sentence? And I think we need to look are refocusing sentencing so that custodial sentences are for those who are violent and a danger to society.

We should explore non-custodial options for non-violent offenders who aren’t a danger to society.

I'm not suggesting that politicians hand down sentences, far from it. I would not like to see the minister for justice or anyone else interfering in court proceedings.

I would suggest the DPP is staffed by professionals and that they should be able to ask for a sentence appropriate to the seriousness of the particular offence compared to the sentencing norms that would be established by reviewing previous sentences. And that is reflective of the nature of the crime committed. However, if you wanted to know what the average sentence for assault was in 1995 there is no point in asking the department of justice as no one had been tracking some ploddingly trivialities like who got how long for doing what. So the department does not know what the norms are because they’re not tracking sentence.

Victims of crime should be consulted and advised of the progress of the case though they should be able to opt out of this if they so choose but we should not have cases where someone is released back into the community without the victims being aware of it. This happens all too often and for victims of sexual crimes seeing their assailant back in their home town without warning is just unacceptable.

if you wanted to know what the average sentence for assault was in 1995 there is no point in asking the department of justice as no one had been tracking some ploddingly trivialities like who got what for doing what.

The aim of the criminal justice system is meant to be summed up in the terms Punishment, Protection of society, and Rehabilitation. Prison on its own makes us as a society feel good but the question remains does it do any good.

It seems odd that whenever alternatives to prison are suggested people lose the plot; whether it is ankle bracelets, curfews, or random testing for drugs. We seem to have both on the left and the right of the political debate a belief that it is prison or nothing. As free citizens we have many rights including the right to liberty which could be curbed in the case of those convicted of non violent offences. Why for example should we not prevent someone from consuming of alcohol if they are convicted of an alcohol related crime?

In combination with this, we need to realise that if we are prepared to spend X millions on prison then we need to commit to similar expenditure on prevention and that means educational opportunities and family supports. Justice is more than just building prisons and introducing new laws. It is about the application of the law.