Friday, April 30, 2010

Let them eat cake (and hug trees ...)

Michael O'Regan's Dail Sketch in the Irish Times April 30th 2010.

Yesterday the Government voted to adjourn the House until next Wednesday and dispense with the usual Tuesday sitting. This despite the fact that the Dáil returned last week after a two-week Easter break.

The pressing issues to be discussed, including the job losses at Quinn Insurance, were listed by Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and Labour leader Eamon Gilmore who wanted a Tuesday sitting.

Mary Coughlan sipped water and made no attempt to defend the Government’s proposal. Green Party Ministers were equally tongue-tied. The Government voted the proposal through.

Gilmore also accused the Government of breaking a promise to 300,000 low-income families whose costs for home heating oil would be increased this weekend by the carbon levy. “I know the Marie Antoinettes in the Green Party may say to low income families, ‘let them heat by alternative energy measures’,” he added. “They can hug trees to keep warm,” said Fine Gael’s Bernard Durkan.

Despite this, there will be no Tuesday sitting. As far as the Government is concerned, the Opposition and the public can eat cake when it comes to Dáil reform. The word is that the Government plans another week’s Dáil holiday in June, by which time, no doubt, it will be ready to limp into the July summer recess.

Toothless with bankers, ruthless with poor

Excellent article by Ailish Connelly in the Irish Times April 30th 2010 "Toothless with bankers, ruthless with poor".

HSE rationing of dental care for medical card holders is primitive penny-pinching that will harm a nation’s health

On April 28th, all dentists operating the Dental Treatment Services Scheme received a letter from the HSE to the effect that dental treatments to medical card holders are to be rationed. From April 29th. That is one day’s notice to all private dental practices in the State and to their patients.

“The HSE will provide emergency dental care to eligible patients with a focus on relief of pain and sepsis. Additional care will be considered in exceptional or high-risk cases.”

So that’s it then. With this letter the Government has reinforced its systematic dismantling of State involvement in the provision of dental care. Firstly, after the budget in December 2009, we had the severe haircut (I’m using banking parlance as it seems to be the only thing our Government understands at present) on PRSI provision of dental treatment, treatment that the public had already paid for via their pay-related insurance contributions.

And now adult medical card holders are to be severely restricted in their access to dental care. Medical card patients will be allowed one oral examination, two emergency fillings and emergency extractions only. Denture repairs and prosthetics will only be provided in emergency situations. The HSE has claimed in the past that as dental treatment is a demand-led service, it cannot afford to continue to supply treatment to everyone. The cost to the HSE is too high. That might be something to do with the chronic unemployment situation and the consequent number of people eligible for medical cards.

When I contacted the HSE yesterday, staff answering the phones were themselves taken aback at the speed and depth of the cutbacks. They had been informed of the development five minutes before and their managers were “in a meeting about the decision”. The cuts were effective from April 29th and any patients who had already started their treatment by close of business on April 28th would be covered under the old arrangements.

Meanwhile, what do those working in surgeries tell their patients? Is this a temporary arrangement? The girl in the HSE office didn’t know. She was expecting a deluge of calls as soon as word got above that radar.

So if you are unemployed or elderly or your business has gone wallop and you need teeth treated and can’t afford dentures, well, that’s just too bad. Unless you are in pain and it’s an emergency you won’t get free treatment. It seems dental care is to become a luxury; those who can afford it will have gleaming gnashers and the rest of the population can go to a painful, gummy, dental hell.

It’s a gobsmacking decision when considering the amount the HSE hopes to save; in and around €30 million. For such small beer, taken in the context of the jaw-dropping funds allocated to propping up bankrupt institutions, the Government seems perfectly willing to return Irish oral health to the Middle Ages. According to one dental surgeon, it is a basic, primitive decision that will reverse the overall health of the nation.

This is also being discussed in this thread over on

Minister Eamon Ryan proposes Heineken Cup, GAA matches and Cheltenham Cup as Free-to-Air for Irish viewers

The following press statement was issued by the Department od Comunications, Energy and Natural Resources on Dublin 30th April 2010

Communications Minister Eamon Ryan announced today the list of events he proposes to designate as of major importance to society, thus making them free-to-air for Irish television viewers.

The Audio Visual Media Services Directive and Broadcasting Act provides that EU member states may designate certain sporting and cultural events in order to make them available on free television.

The proposed additional events are:

Gaelic Games - Provincial Finals in the Senior Football and Hurling Championships

- All Ireland Championship Senior Football and Hurling Quarter finals and Semi finals

Rugby - Ireland’s games in the Six Nations Rugby Football Championship (move from deferred to live basis)

- European Rugby Cup (qualifiers - pre quarter final stages - quarter finals, semi finals and final when an Irish team is participating) live

Horse Racing - The Cheltenham Festival

Minister Ryan said, “These events are part of what we are as a nation and their enjoyment should be available to all. These special events should not be limited to those who have a subscription or pay-per-view service – they warrant the widest possible access for Irish people.”

Under legislation, the Minister must consult with the public, organisers of these events and broadcasters before bringing forward the requisite legislative changes.

Advertisements will appear in national newspapers next week, with the consultation process ending on June 4 2010. Thereafter, the list will go to the European Commission for final approval.


Note to editors:

The existing list of games:

Events available on a live basis

The Summer Olympics

The All-Ireland Senior Inter-County Football and Hurling Finals

Ireland's home and away qualifying games in the European Football Championship and the FIFA World Cup Tournaments

Ireland's games in the European Football Championship Finals Tournament and the FIFA World Cup Finals Tournament

The opening games, the semi-finals and final of the European Football Championship Finals and the FIFA World Cup Finals Tournament

Ireland's games in the Rugby World Cup Finals Tournament

The Irish Grand National and the Irish Derby

The Nations Cup at the Dublin Horse Show

Events available on a deferred basis

Each of Ireland's games in the Six Nations Rugby Football Championship is designated as an event of major importance to society for which the right of a qualifying broadcaster to provide coverage on a deferred basis on a free television service should be provided in the public interest.

An Irish Independent article by Aine Kerr on April 30th 2010 also talks about this.

The Murrough to get a complete facelift

Great to see the that Wicklow Town Council will take over the management of the contract to restore the Murrough to its former beauty. The appearance of the scenic area following works on the Wicklow Sewerage Scheme and Port Access Road has caused plenty of local criticism.

I saw Pat Kavanagh talking about this on the RTE News yesterday. I'm personally delighted for her. Pat deserves a lot of credit for all her hard work on this over the last months and years.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Another Image of the Sun from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory

I can't resist posting one more image of the Sun taken April 21st 2010 from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory ...

Images of the Sun from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory

This is our Sun as photographed on April 21st, 2010. The images were captured by NASA's new Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). It's one of the first humbling, terrifying, and beautiful images returned by the spacecraft.

SDO was launched in February 2010 in a five year mission to study the sun's magnetic field. Its image quality is ten times better that 1080p television, four times the resolution of the previous king of the Sun observers, the STEREO spacecraft.

This video footage is simply stunning and utterly breathtaking. Watching this the whole way through is not a bad way to spend 4 minutes of your life.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Nessa Childers 2004 Local Election Material 2004

Thanks to the Irish Election Literature blog for this one.

This is a ‘Sorry I missed you’ card from Nessa Childers when running for the Green Party in Blackrock in the 2004 Local Elections. Nessa Childers was elected. She is the daughter of former president of Ireland Erskine Childers. She resigned her council seat in August 2008 citing pressure of work as a psychoanalyst as her reason. Less than a year later she surfaced as the Labour European Parliament candidate for the East constituency. She was elected and is now a Labour MEP. "under construction"

According to Eamon Ryan "Broadband is an important tool for everybody in the 21st century".

I agree with Eamon. Broadband is indeed very important. It is also vital to have an informative, well designed website to inform people of Government strategy on Broadband, the NBS, etc etc. According to figures released to Fine Gael Senator Paschal Donohoe in response to a parliamentary question, the website received 67,694 unique visitors in 2009. So it is reasonable to assume people are interested in this topic and visiting the site looking for relevant information.

So what happens when you click on Well, nothing really. The website is "under construction".

Is this good enough for the national Govt broadband website? What message does this give about our much heralded "knowledge economy"?

You can decide for yourself ...

Northern Ireland Green Party Westminster Election Broadcast 2010

Very nice party political broadcast from the NI Green Party.

It will be very interesting to see if they are damaged by their association with the Irish Green Party. I have a feeling that the GPEW (Green Party of England and Wales) will increase their vote, and the NI Greens will have a reduced vote.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

John Gormley calls Bertie Ahern "Deceitful and Untrustworthy" (in 2002)

I remember this.

I remember seeing it as it was broadcast and being proud I was a member of the Green Party. I remember how much I believed politics in Ireland would change if only we had more people like John Gormley in power.

I am so ashamed I was fooled.

Now John Gormley supports Fianna Fail even more strongly than their own backbenchers do.

He seems to have forgotten everything he said less than ten years ago. How easily he sold all his beliefs and principles for power.

Dan Boyle ... "I don't believe any promises have been broken ..."

Dan Boyle has just tweeted the following ... "I don't believe any promises have been broken. Had to adjust some priorities but our beliefs and values are the same."

Hmmmmm ...

I'll remind Dan about this and this. You can judge for yourself whether or not Green Party promises have been broken.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Green Party is going native

This article "Green Party is Going Native" is worth revisiting. It's from TimesOnline of August 3rd, 2008 when the Green Party had been in power less that one year.

It's amazing how prophetic parts of the article are.

I've quoted some of the more interesting sections below.

"Green party senator Dan Boyle is the political equivalent of a gas-guzzling SUV. An ostentatious status-symbol, ludicrously over-equipped for the mundane functions he’s usually required to perform, he is cherished by the Green leadership for his ability to go “off-road” from the narrow track to which senior party members are confined by coalition government.

Boyle’s latest joyride was his call for the Standards In Public Office Commission (SIPO) to be given the powers to clean up Irish politics. Welcoming proposed changes to legislation governing politicians and political parties outlined in the watchdog’s sixth annual report, he stressed the urgent need for new rules to regulate funding for political parties.

Existing controls on political funding are worse than useless, creating a façade of regulation behind which politicians continue to allow private money to wield untold influence. Parties and candidates spent €11.08m in total on last year’s general election but, as the commission points out, less than €1.7m of this was declared as donations.

The unaccounted-for €10m proves that parties and politicians can raise huge sums but avoid declaring them by asking donors to break up their donations into multiple contributions beneath the reporting thresholds (€5,078.95 for a party, €634.87 for a candidate).

Urging immediate implementation of the report’s recommendations, Boyle condemned “business-funded political parties” and their resistance to reform. “Creating a democratic and transparent political system is a central Green party policy,” he declared.

Is it, indeed? The only problem with Boyle’s statement is that it’s entirely at odds with the behaviour of the Greens in government. After barely a year in power, the Greens have gone native and become a reliably craven alibi for Fianna Fail, the slipperiest of all the “business-funded political parties” and, not surprisingly, the most resistant to reform.

And still we wait for the ban on corporate donations. And we also wait for the promised political reform.

The article continues ... "In a laughable attempt to argue that the Greens in government are already advancing sweeping political reform, Boyle cited Gormley’s “postering” initiative. This is the wheeze whereby the environment minister is examining the “pollution and littering” caused by election posters. It’s as if a crusading cop who’d promised to bring order to the streets had decided to start by alphabetising police-station mugshots.

Ironically, nothing undermines confidence in the Greens’ capacity to clean up politics more comprehensively than Boyle himself. Not for the first time, the esteemed senator is evidently being deployed by the party leadership as an anointed keeper of the flame, licensed to say things in public which Green ministers are unable or unwilling to say.

This is an old and disreputable junior-coalition-partner trick, used most frequently by the Progressive Democrats during the days when the party still boasted a membership that exceeded single figures.
Boyle may be flattered to be seen by his party as a “people-carrier” but he should remember it’s the Greens themselves who insist that such lumbering dinosaurs are a luxury we can no longer afford.

I'm constantly amazed how prophetic some of the articles written about the Green Party over the last 2 or 3 years are.

Oh to be like Iceland ...

This from The State of The Nation Blog.

About 6 months ago the joke doing the rounds went something like this:

Q.What's the difference between Iceland and Ireland?

A. One letter and about 6 months!

We all laughed, at least until the British and American's started re-telling it. Then we got very offended, especially when the British press (predictably late) got a hold of it.

There was a hint of Paddywhackery about the way it played out in the British media, but if we wanted to make sure they had nothing to hang us on, we probably should have been paying attention for the past few years.

Six months on though the last laugh really is on us. Iceland has had it's banking inquiry, in public, and former Prime Ministers, Ministers for Finance, the country's Financial Regulator and the Chairman of the Central Bank have been named and shamed.

In Ireland?

The banking inquiry may or may not have started. We're not sure, because it's in private. Yep, that's right, private.

Any bankers in jail? No. Has the government been driven out of office like they were in Iceland? No. Are we on the road to recovery? Not a hope.

In Iceland thousands of protesters took to the streets and protested day and night until their government resigned. In Ireland no-one really protests (unless the Unions decide they should) and no politicians ever suffer.

Oh to be like Iceland...

Our Sun has it's Largest Eruption in 15 years

This picture is of the Sun on April 13th 2010, and shows its largest eruption in 15 years. According to NASA 126 Earths fit into that plasma 500,000-mile-long tongue.

The picture was taken by the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO).

Apparently if that eruption was pointed directly at the earth we would have been in a lot of trouble. Makes you think about how small and fragile we all are.

There is also video footage available.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Lenihan Apologises ... Cowen does not

From this article in the Irish Times April 16th, 2010.

Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan yesterday apologised for any role which he or the Government had in the lead up to the recession.

First of all I was a member of the party throughout that era and I’m certainly sorry for what happened . . . but in so far as I was a member of the governing party; as a Deputy supporting it or a Minister of State supporting it, I have to take responsibility,” he told George Hook on Newstalk radio.

“I apologise to the extent to which the Government played a part in this. But I don’t accept that the Government was the only party responsible,
” he said.

In contrast, our Taoiseach Brian Cowen refuses to apologise. He has repeatedly refused to accept any responsibility for the banking meltdown. He prefers to keep pointing to the international nature of the crisis.

"The idea that Ireland would've been immune to what has happened in relation to the fall of Lehman and the total meltdown of the international financial system, it's time we actually recognised that this country couldn't be immune from those developments."

Maybe Elton John was right after all. Sorry does indeed seem to be the hardest word ...

When will the Ban on Corporate Donations be Introduced?

So, when will the Ban on Corporate Donations be Introduced? You have been in Govt for well over 2 years now Minister Gormley. This proposed ban on corporate donations has been included in two PfG's.

So what are we waiting for?

Paul Gogarty recently said that the Green Party would ensure three key pieces of legislation were passed by the end of the year: a ban on corporate donations, creating a new Dublin mayor and the planning bill.

The junior coalition partners proclaim a commitment in the revised Programme for Government as evidence of John Gormley's intent to break "the link between big business and politics".

The agreement between FF and the Greens states: "We will put in place the legal mechanisms to restrict direct political donations to political parties or candidates to individual Irish citizens and residents only and facilitate a system where donations from private bodies, including businesses and corporations, can be made to a political fund which will be distributed to political parties in accordance with their electoral performance in the previous Dail election."

The convoluted language implies a ban on corporate donations and businesses only being allowed to display their appreciation for democracy by contributing to a fund to be distributed to all political parties.

When it will happen (despite the rumblings of Mr Gogarty) is another matter.

Heritage site protection urged

This from an article in the Irish IUndependent April 14th, 2010.

Conservationists have hit out at Green Party leader John Gormley over a shortlist of seven renowned sites put forward for world heritage status.

Campaigners from Save Newgrange and TaraWatch accused the Government of failing to protect Newgrange, which already has the coveted Unesco title and one of the latest nominees, Tara, the seat of the high kings of Ireland.

The controversial M3 is passing just under a mile from the ancient hill, while other contentious plans have been drawn up for the N2 Slane bypass only 1,600ft from the Newgrange-Bru na Boinne complex.

Vincent Salafia said: "We support the nomination of the Hill of Tara as a world heritage site, but only on condition that measures are taken to mitigate the damage caused by the M3.

"The proposal for the N2 Slane Bypass is in direct contravention of Unesco's instructions, to limit development 'in and around' the site. We are also going to demand that Ireland is forced to amend the National Monuments Act, since the current act does not give adequate protection for any world heritage site in Ireland."

The Government's "tentative" list includes Georgian Dublin, known as the Historic City of Dublin; extensive Stone Age settlements on the Ceide Fields in north-west Mayo; the Burren, Co Clare; the monastic city of Clonmacnoise; western stone forts including Dun Aonghusa in Aran; early medieval monastic sites Durrow, Glendalough, Inis Cealtra, Kells and Monasterboice and already nominated Clonmacnoise; and the royal sites such as Tara, Cashel, Dun Ailinne, Hill of Uisneach and the Rathcroghan complex.

Mr Gormley, who announced the shortlist, said: "Our heritage properties are our legacy, not just in Ireland but globally."

Ireland already has three Unesco sites - the Giant's Causeway in Co Antrim, listed in 1986; the Bru na Boinne-Newgrange complex, protected in 1993; and Skellig Michael off Co Kerry, included in 1996.

In the Government's nomination it states the royal sites, such as Tara, are "unique expressions of Irish society".

Save Newgrange and TaraWatch plan to make presentations to Unesco officials on the roadworks around the sites when the World Heritage Committee meets from July 25-August 3 in Brasilia.

An ex-Green Speaks Out

This post from Mar Tweedy over on is worth mentioning. It's an oldie, but it represents exactly how a lot of us ex-Greens are feeling.

The post was made in Dec 2009, and I would bet that things have got a lot worse since then and the Greens have lost even more support.

The post in full is reproduced below.

"I did support the Greens going into govt in 2007, was very disiullusioned in 2008 but prepared to hang on on a suck it for a bit longer and see but since NAMA and the cuts I'm completely gone and will not be voting Green again under the current strategy and leadership. I think they've set the green agenda back in Ireland for 5-10 years. It was a stereotype in the past that green politics is very middle-class but this Govt's policies have shown this to be the case - actually its not even middle-class who are also badly affected by policies. The Green party is supporting policies that chose to leave the rich relatively protected and annihilate poorer and more vulnerable people and communities. Not my politics and I'm suffering a bit of shame that my vote went to support this sh*te. Its sad that Gogarty is now repeating the Thatcherite mantra "there is no alternative" but the truth is this govt has a lot in common with Thatcher's politics."

A little belly-tickling, and the Greens were hooked ...

I was looking through some old material this morning and I came across this article in the Irish Independent by Gene Kerrigan. Please note the date of the article. That is correct. June 2007.

So why am I posting an article from June 2007? Well, it is an article that should be read again by everyone. The last 2 and 1/2 years have proven Kerrigan to be right about a lot of things.

Such as his prediction about the ban on corporate donations. He said FF would not allow such a ban but would give the Greens a few "goodies" instead ... like cycle to work schemes and lightbulbs. And lets not forget about the other "goodies" enjoyed by John Gormley and co like the pensions, the limos, etc etc etc.

Kerrigan has been right so far. It will be interesting to see if he is proven to be fully correct over the remaining life of this Government.

"It's no secret that this, more or less, is how the Greens were reeled in - being allowed attach themselves to things already in the Fianna Fail manifesto. Cheesed-off at being in Opposition (and even more desperate than the Labour Party), all they needed was to have their bellies tickled.

And Trevor Sargent, having pledged not to lead his party into coalition with Fianna Fail, did just that - finalising the deal with the Taoiseach and relentlessly applying his leadership

skills to convincing party members.

When the deal was done, aware that his credibility was at risk, he stepped down as leader, apparently to accept a junior ministry.

"They seem to like us," giggled John Gormley when negotiations faltered.

The Greens liked being treated as grown-ups. "They didn't need us," the Green mantra went, "but they wanted us." They seemed to believe they were loved for their little green selves, rather than being taken on board to serve as necessary pieces in a pliable coalition.

What's shocking about the Green collapse is not that they joined with Fianna Fail - they had every right to do so if they wanted to trade their votes for things that will benefit the citizenry. What's shocking is the price they accepted.

Any time they tried to touch anything that involves the relationship between Fianna Fail and its business sugar daddies, their hands were slapped away. "A ban on corporate donations" - the very thought. Forcing developers to finish estates and provide such social necessities as schools - out of their immense profits - pull the other one. The developers who hoard land and jack up house prices - a protected species.

Before the election, the Greens opposed the sustained (and ruthlessly denied) under-funding of the public health service. They denounced the "co-location" plan to subsidise the private health business at the cost of public resources. The Greens now label this, along with the other untouchable policies (steam-rolling Tara, etc), as "things we didn't get".

It goes beyond that. The Greens list the things they claim Fianna Fail "signed up to" in the programme for government. But the Greens too signed up to that programme - and that means committing themselves to supporting the implementation of those policies, including co-location and much, much more.

The PDs didn't have to make a formal deal - they know the Taoiseach and his Tanaiste are in lock-step with them.

Looking across at the Greens, and laying down the law, Mary Harney smiled and said, "I strongly believe in collective responsibility and loyalty in Government."

In short, welcome to the real world, kiddies - don't worry, you'll get some goodies, as long as you stay in line. On yer bike, Trevor.

Michael, Bev and the Green Hornets, in harness - it's going to be an interesting five years.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Dan Boyle - "Certain" the Bank Guarantee and Sept 29th 2008 will be included in the Bank Inquiry Terms of Reference

Dan Boyle has been chatting on FaceBook. He was taking some flack because it had been widely reported that the bank guarantee given by the two Brians on Sept 29th 2008 was not to be included in the bank inquiry terms of reference.

But apparently final terms of reference have yet to be decided! Iceland has already FINISHED its banking enquiry ... Ireland has yet to decide the terms of reference of our banking enquiry.

Dan is "certain" that the bank guarantee given by the two Brians on Sept 29th 2008 will be included.

Hmmmmmm. I doubt it, but lets give Dan the benefit of the doubt. If our banking enquiry ever manages to start we'll find out I suppose.

Click on the image for larger view.

The voters are "Knobheads" according to Green Mayor

Looks like Green Mayor Malcolm Noonan thinks those who oppose Kilkenny's one way system are "knobheads".

Click the image to view in larger size.

Update: This story has appeared in the Irish Independent.

The atricle says that Mr Noonan yesterday said he was "exhausted and frustrated" when he made his Facebook comment on Monday night, expressing disappointment that the council had "caved in" on the one-way system.

"I just signed it off 'knobheads'," he said.

The Kilkenny mayor denied he was referring to objectors to the scheme or to his council counterparts when he wrote his post, which has since been taken down from the Facebook site.

"It was a derogatory, off-the-cuff comment," he insisted.

"I don't even know who I was referring to. I was probably referring to us as a collective."

He apologised "unreservedly" for any offence caused and admitted that the remark was "not respectful" to the office of mayor, but said that he had not had any complaints about the post.

The Warmer Homes Scheme: Gormley & Ryan blow €100m on white elephant

In February 2009 Richard Tol on warned they were pushing a white elephant. Tol describes the national insulation programme as "... a decidedly second best way of reducing emissions, creating jobs, or reducing povery."

The results are in, and even the SEAI themselves admit it is a failure. Richard Tol again on says "I was wrong. I previously argued that subsidies for home insulation are an expensive way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The SEAI has now release a post-hoc assessment of the Warmer Homes Scheme. The executive summary puts a brave face on, but if you have a look at the detailed results, you soon discover that the Warmer Homes Scheme seems to have had no noticeable effect on fuel use (and hence emissions), poverty, comfort, or health. Most results are insignificant, a few are significant with the right sign, and a few significant with the wrong sign.

One of the striking results is that the control group (without subsidies) have put in about as much insulation as the intervention group (with subsidies).

So we have yet another Green scheme that seems to have been all bluster and spin with absolutely no effect whatsoever. Another failed Green scheme to add to the ever growing list of failed Green schemes.

This is also being discussed on this thread over on

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Electric cars (part 3)

I thought this post from the discussion on electric cars thread over on deserved a blog post all of its own.

The post in full is reproduced in full below. There are certainly a number of talking points here ...

"I firmly believe that CO2 reduction is important for the future, but I also believe in honest accounting and real solutions rather than specious sham Greenwashing, using green issues for the next era of gombeenism. We can’t afford to get this wrong. I am also an Engineer.

The average C02 per kw/h of electricity produced in Ireland is a tad under 600 g, but for the sake of easy math lets be generous and call it 500 g per kw/h (produced).

Green Party members allege that e cars are zero emissions. If challenged they claim that 500 g per kw/h multiplied by the kw/h per kilometer driven leads to a net energy saving anyway, for example Deirdre De Burca and her electric van that is “40%” more efficient than Diesel. They also then say “sure we will have 40% wind by 2020”. Greenpeace and others disagree. This kind of carbon accounting reminds me of Anglo Irish Bank and the cozy developers. Sure enough, the most excited organization reporting the ecar news was the construction industry federation – all those charging points and infrastructure – yippee! And all those fast charging stations that blow off energy in heat – profitable. Can we have a little technical competence please? Is that too much to ask?

“The most costly of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true. It is the chief occupation of mankind.”
H.L. Mencken

"Nothing is more common on earth than to deceive and be deceived." ~ Johann G. Seume, 1763-1810, German Theologist.

The facts:

In an Alternating Current Electrical Grid, the transmission and distribution of energy over any distance at all is very inefficient because of issues such as impedance matching (google it), emf and heat losses etc. For every kw/h produced, over 75% of the energy is lost by the time it reaches the consumer. It is therefore very important to keep a distinction between figures relating to production, and figures relating to consumption. The fact that this is glossed over leads to very specious errors such as in the preceding paragraph. In order to consume 1 kw/h of electricity, 4 kw/h of electricity must be produced. On average, to produce 1 kw/h of electricity costs 500g, but to consume 1 kw/h of electricity costs 2000g!

These are on-average baseline figures before considering smart metering for windfarms etc, which we will get to in a moment. Sticking with the average baseline, the carbon emissions of an electric car are not what Eamon Ryan thinks they are, they are that figure multiplied by at least a factor of four. This means that even the Opel Ampera would cause more carbon related damage than V8 petrol Range Rovers, both here and in Germany. That is before considering that the car itself is not 100% efficient.

Now, Windfarms and smart metering: Windfarm electricity producers tend not to be located close to where the electricity is to be consumed. How does it get there? Yes, you’ve guessed it – an electric transmission and distribution grid. It has further to travel on average. The point is that 40% of production will translate to less than 10% of consumption on average (as happened in Central Europe). The argument that Smart Metering will connect the cars to be recharged only at night, when main load is gone, will not permit total charging of the electric fleet by wind, wind will only make a small contribution with the rest being produced conventionally to fill in. The electric car is still, even in this scenario, in the Range Rover league of carbon emissions.

The cars only appear to be green. How Irish – "If I can't see it, it's not happening."

I am not saying wind is a bad thing, I am not against wind or wave. The electricity grid is a woefully wastefull thing, and anything we can do to lessen it’s environmental impact should be done, but don’t substitute high efficiency diesel engines such as fiat/opel 1.3 multijet/cdti with much less efficient grid electricity! Use wind to substitute inefficiently powered fixed installations. 40% product and they think they will have wind to export…my Harris!

Smart Metering? I would settle for a smart minister!

Seriously though, a number of forums such as the ideas campaign showed people wanted this (be careful what you wish for). I believe Ryan and co know this won’t work, but simply give the (non-technical) public what they want, whether it is good for them or not, in order to build votes. Worthy of C.J.H and Mara!

These cars have the longest and biggest tailpipe in the world – made of concrete and wire. Then of course there is the environmental impact of making an electric vehicle, the fact that for every electric vehicle sold, the Euro super-credits systems enables 2.3 guzzlers to be produced by that manufacturer etc (Prius sold initially as a loss to enable Lexus/Landcruiser under CAFE for example). What a sham.

According to the following link, on top of purchase price, you have to rent the batteries!
The environmental damage of the batteries will not be included in figures. - The electric vehicle, a global strategy

On the other hand: Lets build another boom by pretending at the emperors new clothes.
So what if it is a lie?
But, can we really afford this?

We should no more jump on any technology merely because it is labeled "green" anymore than investors should have jumped on any stock labeled "tech" in the 1990s.
Houses never go down etc.

BTW, Anyone know where I can get a grant to trade my electric car in for a more efficient V8 Range Rover?

Let the ignorant attacks on this post by the looney section of the greens commence! Hopefully rational greens will engage in proper analysis

Monday, April 12, 2010

Electric Cars (part 2)

This is BMW ActiveE Electric Car as premiered at the 2010 Detroit Auto Show. This car delivers 125 kW/170 hp and provides maximum torque of 250 Nm / 184 lb-ft. It accelerates the vehicle in less than 9 seconds from zero to 100 km/h (0-60 mph in approx. 8.5 seconds). More here.

I have no info on price yet, but I can actually see a lot of these on Irish roads over the next few years.

Electric Cars

The following was announced today by the Government ...

- Government announces 5,000 Euro incentive for electric vehicles

- ESB to roll out 3,500 charge points and 30 fast charge points

- Renault-Nissan Alliance to provide Ireland with supply of electric cars

DUBLIN (April 12, 2010), The Irish Government, the ESB and the Renault-Nissan Alliance today announced a comprehensive partnership to position Ireland as a European leader in electric transport.

Today’s Definitive Agreement includes the development of a nationwide electric car charging infrastructure by ESB, the supply of electric cars by the Renault-Nissan Alliance from 2011, as well as Government policies and incentives that will support the widespread adoption of such vehicles.

Those who purchase electric cars can avail of the 5,000 Euro grant, which the Irish Government announced today. Irish buyers of electric vehicles will be exempt from Vehicle Registration Tax.

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan described today’s announcement as on-the-ground delivery of Government policy. “The Programme for Government announced our intention to transform the Irish energy and transport sectors. We have made great strides in renewable energy, energy efficiency and now we begin the electrification of our transport fleet.

The Irish Government’s target is for 10% of Ireland’s vehicles to be electric by 2020. Today’s Agreement with Nissan-Renault will see 2,000 cars on Irish roads by 2011. This keeps us firmly on track to achieve, if not exceed, our goals.

Those purchasing an electric vehicle will be grant aided by the Government to the tune of 5,000 Euro and exempt from VRT. The ESB will provide the charging infrastructure in the homes of the new owners of electric cars.

Irish motorists can look forward to the cash, cars and charging points that will make the electric car the smart choice for the Irish motorist.”

Under the agreement, ESB will roll out 3,500 charge points nationwide by December 2011. The rollout has already begun in Dublin and charging points will also be installed in Cork, Galway, Waterford and Limerick. ESB also plans to install 30 fast charge points across Ireland by the end of 2011, with nine expected to be set up by the end of this year.

ESB Chief Executive Padraig McManus described today’s announcement “as another important milestone on the road to develop an emissions-free transport system.”

“ESB is currently rolling out a nationwide infrastructure to support the widespread use of electric cars. Ireland will be one of the first countries in the world to have a nationwide electric charging network which will offer opportunities for enterprise and job creation, as well as the obvious environmental benefits of ultimately having a decarbonised transport fleet” he said.

Nissan will supply its all-electric, five-seater LEAF hatchback to Ireland in early 2011 while Renault will launch its light commercial electric vehicle, Kangoo Z.E., later in the year. By the end of 2011, Renault will also supply 100 pre-production Fluence Z.E.s for a pilot project in Ireland. Fluence Z.E., an electric sedan for both private and professional use, will go on sale in Ireland in 2012.

All three vehicles will be fitted with the latest generation of lithium-ion batteries produced by Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC), a joint venture between Nissan, NEC and NEC Tonkin.

Philippe Klein, executive vice president of planning and control at Renault SAS, said: “The Renault-Nissan Alliance’s commitment to the global mass marketing of electric vehicles requires the close cooperation of many partners around the world. . Thanks to Ireland’s determination to be a leader in electric mobility transport, the necessary conditions - including incentives and infrastructure – are being put in place in this country to allow for the successful adoption of electric vehicles in the near future."

Pierre Loing, vice president of product strategy and planning of Nissan International SA and head of the company’s zero emission business unit in Europe, said: “Renault and Nissan look forward to providing Irish customers with affordable, all-electric vehicles that are built to the same high standards in terms of performance, roominess, comfort and quality that customers expect from both brands.”

ESB is designing an infrastructure that will ensure open access to all car manufacturers and all energy suppliers. Trials and pilots will be conducted by ESB to test the infrastructure and collect the data necessary to examine driving trends, usage patterns as well as the new electric car lifestyle experience.

Today’s Definitive Agreement follows a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the three parties last April to study the promotion of electric vehicles in Ireland.

“Nissan Ireland is delighted to be part of such an historic occasion for the motor industry in Ireland and Europe. We look forward to delivering a new and emission-free driving experience to Irish customers with Nissan’s electric vehicles starting with LEAF in early 2011,” said Gerard O’Toole, chairman of Nissan Ireland.

Eric Basset, managing director of Renault Ireland, said: “Due to its relatively small size, Ireland is ideally suited for the introduction of electric vehicles and as a pilot for the rest of Europe, As the population of Ireland is predominantly centered around the major urban areas of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford, and with the average vehicle covering approximately 75 km per day, electric vehicles are ideally suited to address the every day needs of both private and business use.”

Renault and Nissan are among the leaders in development of pure electric vehicles and together have announced global production capacity of 500,000 units per year. To date, the Alliance has entered into more than 50 partnerships worldwide with countries, cities, organisations and other key stakeholders to prepare the markets and infrastructure for the successful adoption of electric vehicles around the world.

This is also being discussed on here.

Interesting Observations from the Green Party Annual Convention 2010

A very interesting discussion on the Green Party and membership numbers is developing over on This thread is definitely worth reading as it provides a facinating insight from Murra who attended the Green Party Annual Convention 2010 in Waterford.

This post from Murra is worth reproducing in full... "Even though I am still a Green and very much involved in the Green Movement, I couldn't support the Irish Green Party after the NAMA fiasco of October 10 convention. There's no point in saying that you can change the party from within, because you can't. The NEC are in a strategic position there to allow, or in the case of Motion B at the NAMA convention - to disallow motions to go on the agenda. They didn't want the members to be given this choice, so they wouldn't allow it. Is that not manipulation of the members?

Because of the NAMA/Anglo Great State Robbery, there is no point whatsoever in talking about PfG's - they are defunct - everything is gone, every promise, every hope, every reform ever imagined.

I could list you off a number of things where the GP have let us down:

Tara - remember the argument that it would cost €200m to buy us out of the contract with Eurolink, and that if we spent that money, it would be €200m less for our PS? How come we can now hand over multiples in billions and its ok?

Shannon - never heard of ONE inspection, have you? Who knows whats coming through Shannon?

Croneyism - appointment to State Boards - I thought the GP were going to be open and transparent?

Banking Inquiry - Open and transparent? Sure.

Secret Rotation Deals? More openess and transparency?

Hare Coursing - why didn't they push for that, instead of pushing for jobs for themselves?

EPI index down 10 places - i.e. we were 10 places higher when we had Dick Roche ffs!

Where are the Electoral, Tax and Dail reforms? Where's the GMO Legislation?
Where is the ratification of Aahrus? Where's the National Transport Strategy?

And my latest bear-bug is Mary White telling us that the National Pensions Framework is good for women....!!! Good for women with Ministerial pensions after 2.5 years maybe - not so good for a 68 year old cleaner or manual labourer!

The GP will stand over this Govt's decision to TAKE our money out of our wages and HAND IT OVER to private pension companies to invest as they see fit. If they lose it all, then it's just our tough luck. The GP have already stood over this Govt's decision to take our hard earned National Pensions Reserve and give it to a dead, corrupt bank.

That, in a nutshell, is the opinion of this disaffected Green."

So is this one... "I was at the GP convention in Waterford. It looked to me like there was only half the number there that would normally be at convention. We had to be rounded up to the front seats to make it look full. I only recognised about 10% of the people there - I don't know where the rest came from. Loads of Young Greens, and what I call 'careerist' greens - those involved in green tech and energy who have a vested interest in their own 'green' careers.

In answer to the OP, I think you will find a lot of the GP members who have left the party involved in the Transition Town movement and probably Climate Camp, and other such 'Green' organisations

And finally, this one... "I went to the convention to assess the mood and feelings of the members. If you were there you will have to agree that the numbers were very low - maybe 250 people? As I said, I only recognised 10% of those present. The only 'jubilance' and increase I saw was amongst the Young Greens, bless their naivety. The mood was very sombre and tetchy - the security around the place was suffocating - barriers outside the hotel to keep the protesters far away, symbolic of the disconnect between the GP and the public.

Where were the dissenting voices amongst the members in any of the debates? Gone. All gone. All have left the party to stew in its own faecal matter. Who was elected to the NEC who will speak for the dissenters? Nobody. Who's on the NEC this year? Gormleys Yes men and women.

The GP/CG are no longer recognisable as a Green Party either amongst the electorate or within the International Green Movement. They should give up the title 'Green Party', its misleading and deceptive

In fairness to Eoinmn he/she is engaging in the devate and providind answers to (most of) the questions put to him/her. Well done for that Eoin ... I genuinely admire your strenght of conviction.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

"Building A Green Economy" by Paul Krugman

Brilliant article by Paul Krugman in the NY Times April 5th, 2010 "Building a Green Economy".

Anyone interested in Green Politics and the Green movement in general should read this article.

Cork City Council Motion of no Confidence in the FF/Green Government

Cllr Pat Kavanagh has told me about a motion of no confidence to be submitted to Cork City Council. Pat has informed me that she will be keeping an eye (as will I) on this motion with a view to presenting a similar motion to Wicklow Town Council.

Apparently three left-wing city councillors have submitted a motion to Cork City Council calling on the council to declare no confidence in the Government in the light of the Anglo Irish Bank bailout.

It is understood that left wing councillors are submitting similar motions to other councils around the country in the next few weeks.

The motion, signed by Cllrs Mick Barry (Socialist Party), Ted Tynan
(Workers Party) and Chris O'Leary (Independent) reads: "Council deplores the decision of the Government to bail out Anglo Irish Bank to the tune of a further 8.3Bn euro with the declared possibility of a further 10Bn+ euro bailout. In the light of these events, Cork City Council declares that it has no confidence in this Government".

The motion is due to come before the Council on April 12.

The longest journey begins with the smallest step. Lets hope this small step will lead to bigger and better things.

A new Green/Social Ecology/Social Justice Federation

I thought these words of wisdom from Cllr Pat Kavanagh (Independent Green - Wicklow Town Council) deserved a blog post all of their own.

Pat commented on one of my posts below as follows ... "The time for you, me, and everyone in the country to get up off our collective arses is now. The Green Party/Comhaontas Glas might be in trouble, but the International Green Movement is key to the future. You don't need to be a member of the GP to promote this agenda. It starts locally, it's organic, and it grows. Everybody can play their part, big or small.

Anybody who is interested in joining a discussion forum with disaffected and Ex-Greens with a view to establishing a Green/Social Ecology/Social Justice Federation can contact me at

Kind regards,

Cllr Pat Kavanagh
Independent Green

Pat is 100% correct. The time for hand wringing and analysis of "what-if's" is long gone. I am convinced that the answer to Ireland's woes starts with adoption of a "true Green" agenda. The Irish Green Party has failed us, but there is a broader Green church we can all aspire to. This starts with individual, local action. Pat is correct ... these small local acorns can grow into something much bigger.

And a new Green/Social Ecology/Social Justice Federation might be the way to start.

Email Pat Kavanagh at and lets see what we can achieve together.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Going back to my Green roots ...

Lately I've been thinking a lot about the mess this country now finds itself in. I've also been wondering if there is a way out of the mess. Again and again I have found myself going back to my Green roots. I simply cant get away from the thought that Green policies and Green thinking would be a great way for this country to start off on the road to recovery. If only we could have even some of what the Green's promised before entering Govt in 2007 the country would be a better place. I'm not even talking about anything that costs money ... I know there is none of that around these days. If only we could start with some of the clean politics (an end to gombeenism, my friends?) once espoused by the Greens that would be great.

Unfortunately I don't have much hope that this start will ever be made. The Green Party have totally capitulated to Fianna Fail. The following article from the Irish Independent, Jan 24th 2010 "From tree-hugging party of protest to a party of paralysis" highlights what is wrong with the Green Party. From the article ... "Remote from their own support base, and desperate to cling on to office in the hope that the Government may run the full term, Gormley and Ryan know all too well that their prospects of being returned are virtually nil.

Some political leaders, when faced with such a scenario, adopt a "nothing left to lose" mentality. But rather than them leaving it "all out on the field", as the old saying goes,[U] the Greens appear paralysed by ineptitude, lacking any coherent strategy and struggling to keep their heads above water [/U]-- as shown by last Friday's opinion poll, which saw the party's support drop to 3 per cent.

Shafted by FF on the M3 at Tara within days of taking office; having to stomach the bank bail-out and Nama; crippling the motor trade through the abortive tax changes in 2008; the ridiculous insistence that the issue of college fees be dropped, and the continuing disaster of broadband -- these are but a few of the Green policy lowlights.

They also are left looking like losers after insisting on flying the kite too high with regard to the banking inquiry. When they could have easily claimed the credit for the thing happening in the first place, we are left with the impression that they once again failed to get what they were looking for, and have been left to lick their wounds.

They have also cried wolf once too often.

Time and time again we have had the scenario of Senator Dan Boyle, a man who lost his Dail seat in 2007 and had to be appointed to the Seanad, repeatedly speaking out against the Government, despite his two party colleagues occupying senior ministries, only to be told he is representing the Green Party but not the Green Party in Government. Too many times have the Greens themselves given the impression that they were thinking of walking out on Fianna Fail, only for egg to be left on their faces.

This opinion piece will probably be dismissed as rhetoric by Green supporters. But to dismiss this would be wrong. The piece above is accurate and represents the reality of what the Green Party have become.

An example of what the Green Party in Govt have become is how they handled the appointment of Colm Doherty as AIB Group Managing Director earlier this year. At the time AIB had said that there were no suitable candidates applying for the job. However, an RTE foi request showed this claim to be untrue "AIB had shortlist of five for CEO's job". The RTE piece claims that "RTÉ News has seen correspondence that shows AIB Chairman Dan O'Connor told the Department of Finance that a shortlist of five potential chief executives had been drawn up, four of which were external candidates. He also said that one banker from Australia was flying in for two days of interviews while two London-based candidates would be interviewed there. One final candidate, described by Dan O'Connor as 'very strong', was flying in from the US".

Hmmmmmm. So the claim that there were no suitably qualified candidates from outside AIB seems to have been untrue then.

Dan Boyle was against the appointment of an AIB insider. This article from the Tribune "Doherty chances of AIB job hit by political impasse" states that "The AIB succession race has run into a political impasse after coalition partner Green Party this weekend threatened to veto the appointment of any insider to head up Ireland's largest bank. The appointment of an internal candidate would send out the wrong signals," Dan Boyle, the party's finance spokesman, told the Sunday Tribune. "It would be a wrong decision to go for an insider," he said."

Fair enough. I agree with Dan Boyle. Colm Doherts appointment would be a "wrong decision". In fact, Dan felt so strongly about this that he said that the Green Party "would veto an internal appointment" in AIB.

But they didn't veto anything.

And Colm Doherty was appointed without a word.

And that is why I despair. And why the start of clean Green policies will probably never happen.

An Open Letter to John Gormley from Charlie Williams of the Donegal Greens

Open letter to
Mr John Gormley
Party Leader of Comhaontas Glas
Minister for Environment
Dáil Éireann
Dublin 2

A chara,

About two months ago I wrote a letter to you in which I explained the precarious situation in terms of recycling here in Donegal. The vast majority of the people of Inishowen is very unhappy with the charges on goods returned to the recycling facilities introduced this year. Recycling in this county now costs the consumer the same price as waste just ending up on landfill.

The county management ignores the will of the majority of the people and does not hesitate to colour and tell lies about the waste and recycling management in Donegal. I explained you all that. But despite promises of your secretaries to reply me soon, I have not received any answer from you.

Our waste management does not seem to interest our Minister for Environment.

You also seem not to care that Moville (Inishowen) plans a sewage pipe, which would be releasing untreated waste water directly into the Foyle River, where the tide will drag the slops as far as to the City of Derry.

The disastrous planning situation in Donegal does not seem to interest you. You have never shown any support for our Green town councillors in Letterkenny, where it was only about implementing already existing planning regulations.

Donegal has been left alone with their problems by the leadership of Comhaontas Glas.

Nevertheless, when it came to the disassociation of the Donegal Greens from Comhaontas Glas, you found your time to write two e-mails and two letters to our members within one week, quoting this disassociation would have been not valid, again ignoring the will of the majority of our members. Not to mention a letter with your personal invitation for a Christmas Dáil Dinner, which we received in November.

You could hardly demonstrate us more ignorance!

In national politics, you arranged that Comhaontas Glas is now the only party in Ireland where the members voted in favour for the National Assets Management Agency (NAMA), if we can believe the National Executive Committee of that party.

NAMA is extraordinarily in contradiction to Green basic principles, which favours a balanced and sustainable system of production and utilisation of resources. A system that balances the rate of natural resource consumption with the rate of natural resource production and a system that keeps account of TRUE profits and costs. Green task is to transform into reality our vision that we believe will ensure the continued viability of life on this planet. NAMA just sells out the future of our children!

Also determined in the Green Principles is that "All political, social and economic decisions should be taken at the lowest effective level."

The leadership of Comhaontas Glas was not shy to start a nation wide campaign in favour for the Lisbon Treaty which was based on fear and lies. Lisbon not only opens the door for undermining our workers' rights, it also weakens Ireland's people say and position in Europe and much more.

The rape-seed programme, originally introduced by the European Greens, has been ignored and abandoned by the leadership of Comhaontas Glas. Colzaoil used as energy source will now be imported from states where ecologically important rainforest is cut down to plant the canola.

The problem with Shannon Airport has been ignored by the leadership of Comhaontas Glas. This is in contradiction to our Article 2.3.4 "The need for world peace and justice overrides national and commercial interests".

Ignoring the problems of the Corrib Gas Pipe Line in Mayo when we have Green Party Ministers, the Minister for the Environment and the Minister for Energy, directly responsible for this situation, who are supporting the interests of the multinational company Shell instead of supporting the good and the will of the people in our country!

At the last Comhaontas Glas convention the members had to vote for or against a Programme for Government before they even got that paper to read.

The Comhaontas Glas representatives in the Dáil Éireann now vote in favour for the government's budget 2010, which charges the most vulnerable of our society for an economic downturn caused by the most rich. A budget that not only is extremely unsocial, it actually hampers economical recovery and does not include stimulation and/or investments for future sustainable jobs, what our country needed so urgently.

I can only conclude that the leadership of Comhaontas Glas has abandoned every single one of our Green Principles for the sake of power.

Sustainable politics have lost for a couple of more months being in government with Fianna Fáil!

Not only have they betrayed our Green Statutes and Principles. They obviously seem not to care about the people of Ireland who indeed have lost faith in the Comhaontas Glas. And it also seems that they don't care that those disastrous policies have put the most massive damage in our young history to the Green Movement as such in this country.

Therefore I couldn't see any other way than the Donegal Greens disassociate from Comhaontas Glas to ensure that, at least in Donegal, these Green Principles are NOT and under NO CIRCUMSTANCES any more negotiable!

Is mise,

Charlie Williams

Member of the Donegal Greens Policy Council

62 Ard Colgan
Co. Donegal

Earn a lot, get a 3% pay cut ... earn a little, get a 5% pay cut

From the Irish Independent April 7th, 2010, "Elite civil servants: We deserve a pay rise", by Michael Brennan Political Correspondent.

Before the budget last December Brian Lenihan said that the pay of senior public servants was "too high" and there needed to be a "downward revision". The special body on higher-level pay recommended an 8pc cut to the salaries of assistant secretaries and other senior public officials (even after it took account of the scrapped bonus scheme they once enjoyed, which delivered annual payments of around €15,000 each).

So what happened?

Cleaners in government departments have taken a 5pc pay cut, the 150 assistant secretaries at the top of the civil service had their basic salaries reduced by just 3pc (from a maximum of €150,000 to €146,000).

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Bailout has turned us from citizens into serfs

Excellent article "Bailout has turned us from citizens into serfs" from Fintan O'Toole in The Irish Times April 6, 2010.

"Every year until at least 2021, we will be putting €500 million more into Anglo and Nationwide than into the Department of the Environment’s capital budget. (At least John Gormley will be able to say that the Government is spending unprecedented sums on sewage systems.)

The social and economic costs of this are devastating, especially when you think of what else we could do with the money. For the annual €2 billion we’re putting into Anglo and Nationwide, we could almost double what the State spends on mental health services and disability services.

We could almost quadruple spending on children and families. Two years of this money could build a national high-speed broadband network, putting people to work in the process and greatly improving our economic competitiveness.

Fintan is right. The Banks, Fianna Fail and the Green Party should be ashamed of themselves for what they have done to us and our children and grandchildren.

Budget 2010 Revisited - abolition of the PRSI scheme for dental and optical services

I heard Eamon Keane talking about the abolition of the PRSI scheme for dental and optical services on Newstalk earlier today and I was reminded how the poorest in society are being made suffer (yet again) under this Government.

The FF/Green Government announced that from January 1st, 2010 treatment available under the optical and dental treatment benefit schemes will be limited. These schemes had previously provided a number of different types of optical and dental treatment including: Dental examination, Diagnosis, Scaling & Polishing (including mild gum treatment). These treatments were available under the PRSI scheme and were thus not free.

Both the optical and dental schemes have played a highly significant role in improving the health of ordinary people nationwide. They have ensured that the optical and dental well-being of people has improved greatly over the past two decades.

Lets have a closer look at the optical scheme. Approximately 200,000 people benefited from the scheme on an annual basis at a cost of just €15 million to the Exchequer. Consequently, no major saving is involved in abolishing it. It is a minor and unnecessary saving in the grand scheme of things, when one considers the type of savings that were being found in the most recent budgets, and the amount of money being put into the banks. Similarly, with regard to the dental scheme, it is estimated that in 2008, 400,000 patients presented under the PRSI scheme for approximately 1.5 million dental treatments at an estimated cost of approximately €100 million. Consequently, in the grand scheme of things, the savings achieved are extremely small when compared with the benefit that was derived from the operation of such schemes.

So the poorest in society suffer yet again under this Government. Are these minuscule savings really worth sacrificing the health of the nation for?

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Brilliant article from Gene Kerrigan in today's Sunday Independent.

The full article is reproduced below. I really dont need to comment on this one. Gene says it better than I ever could, and as per usual he gets it 100% correct ...

"If Wayne Rooney recovers sufficiently from his injury to play for Tottenham Hotspur in the World Cup in South America, how many tries do you reckon he’ll score in the first innings?

The question occurred to me last week while considering the thought processes of such major political figures as Eamon Ryan, Finian McGrath and Ned O’Keeffe. Not to mention RTE and the trade union bosses.

The bank bailout is a gargantuan issue, affecting generations. Even those of us used to political monkey business are taken aback by the ease with which the Government gets away with obvious claptrap as an excuse for diverting tens of billions in public money to private use.

Billions are being pumped into Anglo Irish, the banking arm of Fianna Fail’s builder wing. It started at €4bn and it’s heading to €22bn, with an assurance that it will rise further — be it €40bn or €80bn, whatever Alan Dukes and the other successors to Seanie FitzPatrick demand.

(As usual, when discussing matters of higher economics, this columnist should make it clear that he lacks training in the finer points of debtequity swaps. Unlike such geniuses as Brian Cowen and Alan Dukes, I’m forever mixing up my LTEV with my LTV ratios. In short, I don’t know much about economics, but I know when my throat is being cut.)

Eamon Ryan, Minister for Making Meaningless Noises, is an important figure in the current crisis.

Whether it’s the bank bailout or the right of Willie O’Dea to blackguard political opponents, Eamon steps up to argue the case.

As he explains how wonderful his Government is, Eamon usually tilts his head to one side and puts on his patronising halfsmile.

He knows we’re frightened and suspicious — but he forgives us, the little people. And he’ll explain the world to us if we’ll just shut our goddamn mouths and do as we’re goddamn told.

Last weekend, academic economists got their knickers in knots when Eamon explained how we would probably “have to leave the euro” without the bank bailout. “It’s not easy, it’s not palatable, but that’s the choice you’re faced with.” When asked about alternatives to Nama, he bullied: “Do you think we should leave the euro?”

Now, leaving the euro would be a massive step — involving setting up a whole new currency. It would be so drastic as to make almost any other course seem safer.

(Besides, is there any combination of the current parties you’d trust to attempt such a gigantic and dangerous project?) Ipso facto — accept the goddamn bank bailout, as arranged by your betters, and shut the hell up.

What troubled the academic economists was that Eamon’s view of the bailout (“accept it or leave the euro”) didn’t make sense. “Without foundation,” said Karl Whelan of UCD. “The consistent evidence that senior ministers do not understand the banking situation is extremely worrying.”

Brian Lucey of TCD: “Either extremely misleading politics, or a deep, dangerous misunderstanding of almost everything.”

When Eamon Ryan explains how we must accept the bailout or leave the euro, it makes as much sense as wondering aloud if Trapattoni will guide Wayne Rooney’s cue to make a 147 break in the upcoming Euro Handball Steeplechase.

When an issue is of huge importance, yet is so technical as to be next to incomprehensible to the lay person, a Government minister using such bullying tactics is contemptible. But it fits into the “say anything” culture of this Government. Frighten the punters with comparisons to Iceland.

Shut down discussion by claiming it’s the only game in town, while your media cheerleaders parrot, “There is no alternative.” Throw around unsubstantiated figures until puzzled journalists habitually report those figures as fact.

Mislead, mislead, mislead. Here’s Brian Lenihan: “I am firmly of the view that Ireland cannot contemplate a default.”

Memo to Mr Lenihan: Hard to believe, I know, but Anglo is not Ireland. Again: “We can’t go around repudiating our debts.” No one wants the State to repudiate our debts, but these are not “our debts”. They are the debts of private entities — banks, builder investors — who engaged in massive gambling games, and lost.

Memo to RTE reporters: stop referring to “our banks”. They are not our banks, they belong to private outfits. Even nationalised Anglo is not “our bank” — it’s run by a private coterie of highly paid managers who will do whatever benefits the bank, regardless of its effects on the citizens.

And, by the way, bank economists and stockbrokers are not independent analysts. Politicians? Fine Gael is so brazenly opportunist, maddened by the smell of impending power, constantly searching for the killer soundbite, that its frenetic efforts are woefully unconvincing.

And here’s Ned O’Keeffe, Fianna Fail backbencher, on the bailout: “It could create a bigger mess for us than we’ve ever seen in our life” and might destroy Irish banking. But Ned backs it, anyway. Why? “I’m a member of Fianna Fail and I will vote with the party.”

Government supporter Finian McGrath used familiar rhetorical tricks to explain his vote for Nama. “It’s the only game in town” — a discredited device used to shut off discussion. “Keeping [Anglo Irish] open costs less” — an unsubstantiated claim by bankers with a vested interest.

Full disclosure: I gave Finian my No 1 preference at the last election. He is a passionate radical — and clearly out of his depth in dealing with the sleight of hand of those using public money to solve private capital’s problems.

Anyone doubt that the twin “recapitalisation” and Namafication of Anglo is a transfer of wealth from citizens to wealthy cretins who’ve screwed up their businesses? Well, read the comment of Moody’s, the international ratings agency: “Ireland has put in place an ingenious mechanism.”

Moody’s is one of the agencies paid by banks and hedge funds to certify that they’re credit-worthy.

Moody’s happily certified all the lunatic financial gambles that broke the international banking system — and were handsomely paid for it.

Moody’s applauds whatever helps wealthy gamblers — therefore it cheerfully endorses the “ingenious mechanism” that pulls the gamblers’ chestnuts out of the fire, at the expense of our children’s futures.

They see a government long conditioned to genuflecting to banks and builders — overwhelmingly committed to protecting the interests of investors, not the citizenry. And they say, “Good work, lads.”

Meanwhile, the fiscal problems must similarly be solved at the expense of the skulls. With great ballyhoo, public service trade union leaders have won a “revolutionary” deal — productivity concessions and service cuts in return for — well, something or other on the never-never.

The media portray the typical trade union boss as a bumpkin version of Che Guevara. In truth, many of them come from the trade union wing of Fianna Fail — most of them love being allowed sit at the top table.

The purpose of the deal on offer is to get them back to that coveted place.

On every front, using threats and promises, a brazen class war has been unleashed against leaderless citizens. And it’s all working well, so far.

Anyway, to more serious matters. When swinging his hurley in the away match against the Pittsburgh Steelers, do you reckon Damian Duff will find the going too soft at Punchestown?

Over to you, Eamon.

So, where exactly are the "ends of the earth"?

The "ends of the earth" indeed! That's where they would be pursued to ... the very ends of the earth.

That is exactly what Brian Lenihan said. That Anglo Irish Bank would pursue former directors with loans to the "ends of the earth".

So we can all rest easily then. Phew!!!

However, as usual, the reality is almost the exact opposite of the rhetoric. According to Emmet Oliver in the Irish Independent Anglo Irish Bank is prepared to write off €109m in loans after former directors, including Sean FitzPatrick, failed to repay the bank. At the end of 2009 the bank had €155.2m in loans outstanding to directors and former directors, but after taking an "impairment" on these loans, there was €46.3m outstanding.

The largest director's loans were held at the end of 2009 by former chairman Sean FitzPatrick, at €88.7m. According to the accounts, the bank had to make a provision of €67.9m because the loans are not expected to be repaid. One of these provisions came to €40.2m, although the report simply said this loan was to fund "a number of investments". The second largest number of loans outstanding were to Lar Bradshaw, who made a number of investments with Mr FitzPatrick. According to the report Mr Bradshaw had €28.5m of loans outstanding with the bank, with provisions of €21.9m covering most of these loans. The provision is taken based on the likelihood repayment will not be made. Gary McGann had large sums in loans from the bank, amounting to €10.6m at the end of 2009. The report does not include any provision for McGann's loans not being repaid. Willie McAteer, a former director who was recently arrested and questioned, had €8.5m of loans outstanding. The bank took a major provision on McAteer's loan of €7.6m. The former chief executive David Drumm was also advanced large loans. According to the report he had €8.3m of loans at the end of 2009, with the bank forced to take provisions of €6.7m on these. Mr Drumm is in dispute with the bank over loans and bonuses he claims are owed to him.

So it looks like the "ends of the earth" are a lot closer than we previously thought. In fact, they are not very far away at all ... just more meaningless words from Minister Lenihan's ... just more broken promises. Just more theft of our money by the wealthy supported by the Greens and Fianna Fail.

As usual the rhetoric means nothing.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

John Gormley election poster 2007

From the excellent Irish Election Literature blog.

How many of these promises did you keep John?

Underfunding and Cutbacks at University Hospital Galway may hit end-of-life cancer patients

This report from the Irish Times March 30th 2010.

It is reported that patients with advanced cancer in the west of Ireland could be denied critical end-of-life treatment as a result of the underfunding of cancer drugs at University College Hospital Galway (UCHG). The hospital has not yet received the €12 million in funding and 30 extra staff promised as part of its designation as a national cancer centre. Apparently the hospital is facing a €22 million budget deficit this year and is required by the HSE to make cuts to address this deficit. The article reports that one of the major contributory factors to this budgetary situation is the fact that UCHG has not yet received €12 million for cancer drugs, since the hospital was designated a cancer centre.

It is also reported that the hospital was struggling to cope without 30 promised cancer posts which have yet to be filled, and that the hospital had been forced to cut back on vital services in order to try to address the crippling deficit. These cutbacks include a €3 million cut to aggressive cancer treatment for end-of-life patients, a €1 million cut to orthopaedics procedures, a 50 per cent cut to gynaecological services and a €1 million cut to the provision of prosthetics.