November 18, 2010 § Leave a comment
Meet the new government of Ireland
18 November 2010
This means also that the “team” consisting of experts from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund that landed in Dublin today can now be called the de facto government of the Irish Republic, with powers to oversee Ireland’s mad austerity and budget plans. In a depressingly limpid turn of phrase from the delightful people over at the EUobserver, said team will “maintain a degree of authority over the elected government of Ireland.”
Seeing as they now hold a degree of authority over the government of Ireland, it would only be normal, think you, that we get acquainted. You know, whether they got their Leaving Cert, favourite cheese, star signs. However, according to deliciously named EU spokesman Amadeu Tardio, “These people do not do press conferences. They do not need to speak to the press.” Amadeu’s thoughts have been echoed as if from one and the same brain by an ECB spokespeep – “These people do not need to have a public profile… People do not need to know who these inspectors are,” she outputted.
So essentially, this new non-elected de facto government of the Irish Republic is also a secret one. And if a secret government in a democratic society is not strange enough, then what about Amadeu’s declaration that he doesn’t know how many they are. “There will be more than two but fewer than 10 people going,” he said.
I would like to offer some serious advice to Amadeu, which he could then pass onto “team”. Given that the supervisors will not be suffering themselves from any austerity budgets – this is not Commish, ECB or IMF practice – as they oversee the next round of €15 billion cuts in the next four years (proportionally over twice the size of slasher Osborne’s UK cuts), they should all go out for a nice meal now and then in that lovely restaurant called L’Ecrivain on Baggot Street. But careful!, Amadeu, if the lads have a hankering for a starter of Jerusalem Artichoke Rissotto followed by a Wild Wicklow Venison with a caramelised pear for only €59 a pop, I’d be worried about the reservation.
“Good afternoon, L’Ecrivain restaurant?”
“Hallo, I’d like to make a reservation for dinner.”
“For how many people?”
“There will be more than two but fewer than 10 people going.”
“I said a table for more than two but fewer than ten.”
“I’m afraid I can’t make a reservation for that.”
(Muttering in the background)
“Ok, aha, well, let’s say a table for, eh, 10, but nothing could be further than certain.”
“Can I have a name, please?”
“People do not need to know who they are.”
“These people do not need to have a public profile.”
You would surely agree, Signore Tardio, that while in the public affairs of a nation it’s apparently no longer necessary to say who you are and how many you will be, this kind of carry-on won’t get you a table at L’Ecrivain.
November 16, 2010 § Leave a comment
Back then, Ireland’s colonial masters massively restructured the national economy, effectively turning the Irish countryside into one big pasture upon which livestock for export could feed. Right now, members of the European Commission sit at Merrion Square overseeing cuts to the Irish economy worth €15 billion over the next four years. If this were a country the size of the UK, George Osborne’s tastefully appellated “Spending Review” would be axing €207 billion instead of a mere €91 billion. Cleverly, the Irish government anticipates that such a society, with bits of its legs and arms amputated, won’t need much of population to live in it. That’s why it’s dropped a big hint that 40,000 will need to emigrate in order to maintain the unemployment level at its current 13.8 per cent. 13.8%? Hohoho.
By 1866, the result of the economic convulsions was “1,032,694 Irishmen replaced by 996,877 head of cattle, sheep and pigs.” 144 years later, the Irish government officialeses the medium term outlook for the exporting sector as “reasonably favourable given the adjustment in competitiveness”. But “the additional employment-content of growth will be limited to some degree by the export-led nature of the recovery.”
Translated into English, this means that while there won’t be much of an influx of new pigs, there will be, by some mystery process, a scenario where exports are “favourable” but “employment-content” won’t have, well, any content. In other words, a diminished country that works for diminished wages, on diminished expectations, but to the wealth of the country, not the slightest damage. Back in the days of the USSR, factories turned out saucepans with four-inch thick bases or shoes with the heel where the toe should be in order to satisfy the numbers of tons to be churned out according to the master plan laid out by Moscow, in kilos and not utility. In the stunted new world coming into being, “growth” is any quantity that a bureaucrat notes on a report, regardless of whether anything cooks or not.
November 5, 2010 § Leave a comment
All this is supposed to be the work of the “Conspiracy in the Cells of Fire”, a Greek group that likes to send bombs to government buildings and which obviously wants its name to sound like the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. While Harry Potter and the Conspiracy in the Cells of Fire must be fantasists to think they can “personally” address bombs to world leaders, they are nevertheless linked to Harry Potter and the Sect of Revolutionaries. The Sect of Revolutionaries this year bumped off a journalist investigating corruption amongst the Greek elite. Which is exactly what anarchist groups do, don’t they? – killing journalists investigating, well, corruption amongst the Greek elite… While it’s hard to keep track of what is fantasy and reality, one thing we can be sure about after these fantasy bomb attacks, like last week’s “trial-run” bombs sent to a gay Chicago synagogue from Yemen (just who opens surprise parcels from Yemen?) is another plethora of ridiculous security rules in airports around Europe. Thanks to a complicit press, this is when fantasy unfortunately becomes reality.
October 8, 2010 § Leave a comment
Frontex anyone? What sounds like a brand of prophylactic actually is one – an EU body charged, among other chores, with keeping illegals out of Europe. Of French inspiration, a crunch of Frontières Exterières (ie External Borders), Frontex, in its own words, provides “particular added value (my italics) to the national border management systems of the Member States.”
In the UK, not even the richest sources on EU news, which spring, ironically enough, from the Eurosceptic press – The Telegraph etc – bother much about Frontex. And you could have easily overlooked a 3 October article from Le Monde reporting that on 28 September (i.e. nearly a week after the event) a Frontex chartered plane flew out of Warsaw to repatriate fifty-six Georgian citizens arrested in Poland, France, Austria and Germany. Frontex heads enthused that the Lithuanian Boeing 737 going for €100,000 was “the cheapest” on the market. Gil Arias Fernandez, vice-director, chirped that European capitals would no longer have to “carry the burden”, such is the “embarrassment, and even public disapproval”. You could tell he was really happy about this. After all, this was the first time the Warsaw based org became a de facto airline for foreign undesirables.
Human rights organisations have been watching Frontex for a few years though, and have commented on its rapidly expanding powers, its increased militarisation, its lack of transparency, and the absence of independent monitoring and democratic accountability of its power. For instance, since 2006, Frontex has overseen the extension of Europe’s external borders by using Spanish navy ships and helicopters to harbour hunt the Senegalese coast for boat refugees seeking passage to the Canary Islands. Like the best prophylatics, Frontex has remarkable stretch.
And as the Fernandez remarks imply, with their utter lack of self-consciousness, the “added value” for democratically elected governments is obvious. After all, when a state expels migrants, messy stuff happens like media coverage, open debate, and eventually an electorate holding it to account. Frontex’s calling card is that it takes the naughtiness out of the political issue that is immigration and turns it into a technical process that goes underneath the media radar. How about that?
September 29, 2010 § Leave a comment
29 September 2010 |Gerry Feehily
You really have to hand it to Charlie McCreevy, ex-European Commissioner. There he was, leaving his office at the Commish on a bitter cold February morn this year, no doubt with a couple of plastic bags full of personal effects, and gloomily contemplating what life might be from without the glass walls of Berlaymount. No doubt, as Europe sank into crisis, he did worry about the rent and whether there’d be a rasher on his plate for breakfast, but no, the Commish is generous. It set up a system of “transitional” payments to help former Commissioners like Charles McCreevy “ease into life after Brussels” which according to the Financial Times Deutschland amounts to a squiddly €135K per year, which is exactly how much my shoes cost.
La vita post-Brussels isn’t easy though, even if, as the Irish Examiner once noted, McCreevy also receives a Commish pension of €51,068 per year on top of his Irish ministerial pension of €70,710 on top of his pension as a Kildare North TD of €52,213. This brings his total annual pension to a laughable €173,000, which is what I paid for my dinner last night. The only conclusion you can sensibly draw from this is that life after Brussels is the biggest shock a man can have in this world, enough to turn him into a jibbering, unintelligible wreck. And I understand. That he continues to claim his “ease into life” payments.
But hang on. Post-traumatic stress disorder ex-Commissioner McCreevy in a tribute to human survival against the toughest odds of colossal salaries and tasty emoluments has overcome the shock and already sits on the board of NBNK Investments, a group that is creating a new high street bank in England and planning to swallow AIB, Ireland’s largest bank. In addition to such achievements, Courage McCreevy has started working on the board of Ryanair for that incredibly irritating master of bug-eyed grimaces Michael O’Leary. Perhaps Ryanair, which as you may know are EU-subsidy scavengers supreme, are only paying McCreevy five pounds like a Ryanair flight and expecting him to top up the rest with his uncomfortable EU pension? No, they had to cough up an annual €47K. For me, that’s just enough to cover my tips to the servants.
For Irish people, Charlie “Sacrifice” McCreevy is the man from the fertile, horse-famed county of Kildare who, back in the days of internal jousts in the ruling party Fianna Fail gave great moral lessons to our Bandit King, the late Taoiseach Charlie Haughey. Haughey loved robbing the plain folk of Ireland blind, but McCreevy was there warning us that the man who wooed the Irish nation with his unscrupulous piratical ahar! was not to be trusted. Charles “Soaraway” McCreevy, the moral fibre supremo, was there to show us that there was another way, a higher one, a Ryanair one.
September 24, 2010 § Leave a comment
Very recently, I ran into a copy of London’s ultra-glam Plastique, a “Bi-Annual Luxury Fashion and Culture Magazine”. Plastique is so stratospherically glam that its website just leads you to three photos of a woman who looks like she’s been on the skag since her sex change but is too rich to care. You can click on absolutely nothing else. On the Info section of its Facebook page, however, Plastique’s mission in capitals is “Let the Truth be Told”, and after a few minutes of leafing through smurm inducing glossy pages of androgynous seven foot long models and socialites either in semi-porn scenarios or partying mode, which are sort of the same thing in a Plastique world, (i.e. people looking like drool is about to fall out of their mouths, but their eyes say “Not Now”) interspersed with an Alain Badiou interview, it struck me that a certain truth had been told.
Let the Truth be Told came to me again after seeing a poster for some new stratospheric super smurm luxury brand in Paris’ Place de Republique which depicted the dishevelled, lubber-lipped, owl-eyed kids of Mick Jagger, whose names I’ve completely forgotten, in partying mode ( i.e. about to start drooling). And the truth is that in a certain parallel society, this is the Roaring Twenties, or the Belle Epoque. This is strange, because if you read the papers, you’d think there was crisis going on.
Now this can mean either one of two things, that the Roaring Twenties was a myth: that a certain section of society roared, while the majority squeaked. And if the insouciance of the twenties is a lie, then the terrible thing is that the lie endures, while the historical reality is forgotten. On the other hand if the Nouveau Belle Epoque/Twenties images of Plastique in any way reflects a mood, a trend, then it follows that there is no crisis at all.
This is where Mick Jagger’s children come in, since they are proof that a new age of dynasties is thriving. Traditional aristocracies have faded, but the children of new money from the media and the arts become global brands through droit du sang. This is even more flagrant in societies like France, where majority of film stars and directors are the children of, well, film stars and directors, who when they’re fed up with acting, make an album or something, which then goes platinum.
All this, then, to this blogger, at least, suggests that we are in a period of social regression. Nevertheless, I would like to insist again, that there is no crisis. There is only which side of the money you’re on. On a more personal note, I would like to propose that neither was there ever a boom, a tiger, in countries like, say, Ireland. The roads, the trains, local councils are still rubbish and always have been. The one stretch of motorway between Navan and Dublin still doesn’t have a petrol station. Not one. The towers of Finglas still contained poor people, junkies still shuffled on our Champs Elysées – O’Connell Street – while we crowed about growth and how Germany could learn lessons from us. But this also means that talk of Ireland defaulting in the future is all fiction too. If we are living in caste-bound societies, static as the Egypt of the Pharoahs, then there is nothing to look forward to nor regret. Buy a copy of Plastique, the Magazine of Luxury and Culture, and you’ll soon understand what I’m getting at.