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Ireland’s Leading Men

I’ve often said that writing letters to the paper is the lowest form of political expression, other than voting for Sinn Fein.  Writing ironic letters to the paper brings letter writing one step closer to the bottom.

Ireland is getting a new Taoiseach, chosen from two candidates within the Fine Gael party. They were lionized by the press coverage, particularly the ultimate winner – Leo Varadkar.

Let’s say my view is less glowing.



The FG leadership election is finished and we’ll shortly have a new Taoiseach. It’s time to celebrate the uniquely high level of the two candidates.

Leo Varadkar, a lifelong politician, really cut his teeth in fixing Ireland’s broken Health System and brought us from the bottom of the international health league tables to a point where the Irish health system is the subject of both domestic and international admiration. No-one in long queues for orthopedic surgery or old people in pain on trolleys in corridors any more thanks to Leo. And not for Leo a strategy of merely surviving his time in Health. No, he focused on real change and achievement irrespective of any personal political risk. If he has the same positive attitude as Taoiseach we can expect a transformed nation.

And as for Simon, though he won’t immediately be Taoiseach his time as Minister with responsibility for Housing has seen Ireland finally eliminate the scourges of homelessness and high house prices, and has seen policy recommendations from as far back as the 1970’s finally implemented to the benefit of the whole nation rather than just a handful of landowners and developers. His ability in driving real change and not just in releasing aspirational soundbites in time for the 9 o’clock news marks him out as a man that Leo can depend on to held further transform Ireland.

We’re so lucky to have such inspirational leaders to depend on.


Hugh Sheehy

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Housing, again, still.

Dublin is now in the grip of a housing crisis. A rental crisis. A homelessness crisis. A price increase crisis.

The government is again (still) saying that they’re taking steps to alleviate the problem. But they’re not really.

High house prices suit the banks. High house prices suit existing house owners. High house prices get people from the last bubble out of negative equity. High house prices and rents suit landlords (of which there are many in the Dail). High house prices enrich land owners. etc., etc., etc., etc.

Again, Ireland is a barely built up country. Dublin is a small city with lots of empty land, lots of empty housing, lots of low density housing, and surrounded by fields. There’s no excuse for expensive housing and homelessness. None.

So listen for the lies, because everything presented as an excuse is a lie.



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A new low

While the potential consequences of Brexit rumble around unknowable and the thumpings of Trump scare the world, Irish politics has shown it can still compete with the worst. And can still beat them all.


Often I wonder why people continue to vote for the main parties that have run Ireland for decades. The recent scandal, still to be fully uncovered, magnifies that puzzlement into a state of total gobsmacked “I’ll never get it” disbelief.

But…what’s the scandal? It is, frankly, hard to believe this story and it’s even harder to see any way that it doesn’t indicate an immorality in the whole Irish governing system that requires not just a clean-out, but actual prosecution.

Several years ago an Irish police office, after much frustration, blew the whistle on how Irish police were abusing their powers by forgiving traffic offences from the police IT system.

A fairly petty abuse of power, really. One that any senior Police manager should have quickly sorted out. But the whistleblower was swiftly sidelined, nearly fired, and thoroughly made to feel that he should have kept his mouth shut. More to the point, his accusations were really not taken up with any enthusiasm by any of the (few) people in Irish politics who might have done so. The whistleblower, apparently a persistent type, suffered years of abuse and mistreatment but stuck to his story. And nothing really changed and no-one really dug into why.

Why? Well, it turns out that the Irish child protection agency put a note in his file that he’d been accused of child abuse. “Digital rape”, to be specific. Of an 8yr old. No police investigation followed since – after all – there was no actual crime to investigate and an investigation would have to have evidence, processes, courts and all. But the accusation ran around Irish political and journalistic circles for years. So support for the whistleblower was, shall we say, thin on the ground. Tie your political career to a child abuser? Not likely, eh?

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Nicole van der Wolf Jewellery

One of the nice things about Dublin is that there’s a huge international influence that just wasn’t there a couple of decades ago. And – mostly – that international influence has blended nicely in to the local scene.

Every now and then you see something really interesting. Nicole van der Wolf’s jewellery is one of those things.

Go have a look here.


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Donald J Trump as POTUS

I guess this is worth saying, for the record.

Just ‘cos he’ll be President of the United States of America, I owe Donald Trump no more respect or deference than I did before. Which is less than zero.

And it is sad but true that the office of President of the United States of America – a great and honorable position in a great and honorable republic – is demeaned and disgraced by the fact that Donald Trump will hold that office.

And while he holds it, the office deserves no more respect or deference than required by maintenance of public order…and maybe not even that much. It depends on what the holder does.

While the phrase “Salute the rank, not the man” is a nice general rule, there are exceptions. This is one.  Of course the same is true in lots of countries. Here, for instance. very much not as much as in the USA, but still true.

And even if Donald Trump doesn’t do the things he promised, it’s the things he said that forever damn him.


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The parable of the frozen oranges – and more

Just to have a link to point to for David Van Der Klauw’s submission, complete with the parable of the frozen oranges.


It’s worth the read.  It demolishes the vast majority of myths and excuses on why housing is expensive. And it reminds us of why there’s a market in things….which is to supply those things to people as efficiently as possible. So when you hear people blaming house prices on “the market” you can be reasonably confident that it’s not actually “the market”‘s fault…more likely there’s collusion and price fixing (even if that’s implicit and not explicit) between govt and the existing landowners and developers.


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Boris the buffoon, or Fianna Fail f**kwits?

There is much amusement in Ireland – albeit slightly nervous amusement – at the spectacle currently playing out in British politics.

A referendum that the winners didn’t want to win. A new PM and a surprising Foreign Secretary. Boris the buffoon is now one of the most senior members of the British Government and will be facing off against Britain’s allies and adversaries in a critical period. It’s funny and scary in equal measure.

Yet the amusement in Ireland obscures a truth that is scary without the funny side. Fianna Fail, perennial economy and life wreckers, are back at the top of the popularity stakes in Ireland.


Photo from linked Irish Times article.

Anyone looking east with amusement needs to concentrate on the idiocy closer to home.

Stockholm syndrome has nothing on what the Irish electorate seems to be able to do. Falling in love with your kidnapper is easier to understand than falling in love with this mob.



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