Friday, March 25, 2016

1916-2016: Does anyone actually know what this is?

The filamentous achenes of the
dandelion puff ball
Ah, 'tis upon us. A terrible ugly thing is born. We don't even know what it is. It's just, well, it's a thing. I mean, we couldn't do nothing about it. We couldn't really make it about identity, because the nordies would have got uppity about it. We couldn't just make it about commemoration, because that's morbid and we don't do poppies. We couldn't make it a celebration because, well, you know, the shooting and all that.

It wasn't even a military victory, but a military defeat. It didn't result in independence, just a perpetuated dominion that manifested itself in a face saving drift towards non-dependence in 1949, preceded by a long sequence of guerrilla actions, a civil war, and economic emergencies (including a sovereign debt default) that were both unseemly and undignified.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Michael Collins Revisionism

Frances Fitzgerald, Minister for Justice,
Equality and Law Reform.
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald today addressed the annual Beal na mBláth commemoration in West Cork, a celebration of the life of Michael Collins, at the place where he was killed during the Civil War. Instead of honouring the man, or making a statement of vision, or progress, Minister Fitzgerald chose instead a thinly veiled attack on Sinn Féin and the parties of protest, in anticipation of the coming general election. It was grubby, disrespectful and low, reminiscent of the excesses of her predecessors Shatter and McDowell. What is it about the portfolio that makes its ministers so dislikeable?

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Tort of False Imprisonment

Tánaiste Joan Burton changes cars before being evacuated
from the protests in Dublin.
Several activists are reportedly about to be charged with false imprisonment for the protest in which Tánaiste Joan Burton was trapped in her car for over two hours, including TD Paul Murphy. Mr Murphy's objections are substantially that there was an element of 'political policing' in the process - particularly in the arrests, and 'dawn raids' on the activists who had been involved. He claims that charges would have not be brought were it not for a sense that they had offended the establishment, and in the exercise of discretion, it had been decided that the application of the law would come down firmly on the accused.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Tools for a New Ireland

The challenges Ireland faces in the modern world are new and daunting. Technology and the Internet have created conditions within which Ireland is competing with Singapore, threatened by ISIS, and selling to China.  Multi-national corporations that are based on technology and the Internet are both threats and opportunities, yet they operate at a level that is completely alien to the state administration functions that we operate today.

This is not to say that the current administrative functions are remaining idle. There are pockets of capability, projects underway, and champions of innovation across the public sector that are all attempting to bridge the gap between legacy service delivery, and the changing environment within which we operate. What we need to do is to recognise and harness those islands of capability, amplify them, and extend them across the public service.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

On Russia: A Response to Luke 'Ming' Flanagan

Not a joking matter.
MEP Luke Flanagan voted against the recent resolution in the European Parliament censuring Russia for its violations of Human Rights, breaches of International Law, and destabilisation of its neighbours. In speaking against the motion, he cited the Nice Treaty re-run as an example of the EU's disregard for National Sovereignty, as he saw it. The EU has no right, in his view, to lecture anyone on sovereignty.

First of all, this was not a vote on sovereignty, save insofar as it had been denied the people of Eastern Ukraine. It was a vote of censure, an expression of sentiment in foreign relations. If Mr Flanagan is of a view that the EU has given up any entitlement it may have claimed to have a view on foreign government behaviour, then he is in effect denying it any strategic position at all. Furthermore, if he really believed in his position, he would have abstained; for in voting no he was effectively making a counter claim, and therefore expressing a judgement on Russia.

What he instead chose to do was to court publicity. Brussels is a long way from home for a Roscommon politician. It's hard to get noticed. Try telling that to the dead and the disappeared of Putin's Russia, to the bereaved thousands of families in Ukraine, to the threatened of the Baltics. Luke Flanagan has a position of extraordinary responsibility. It's time he grew up and did his job.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Nationalism in Ireland in 2015

A debate has begun in Ireland on how the country should celebrate Easter 2016, one hundred years after the Easter Rising.  Thus far it has taken the shape of an external-relativist debate, particularly in relation to the UK; and a peace-violence debate, and whether violent uprising should be celebrated, especially given the question about what it actually achieved.  The official launch video in November was almost universally panned for seeking to look to the future (with the British Queen's visit seemingly the starting point) and almost completely ignoring the Rising itself, and the proclamation of independence.  I have some sympathy with the designers of the video; if we look deep enough into the dark past of history, there is some danger that the country may fall back into it.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Undue Control of Media in Ireland

Denis O'Brien (left) and Alex White: What are
the Media Mergers Guidelines really all about?
Communications Minister Alex White has published the department's 'Media Mergers Guidelines' an initiated a consultation therein.  Much public attention has shifted to Mr Denis O'Brien, whose empire has recently extended to include the top two non-RTE national radio stations as well as a significant (though according to the courts non-controlling) stake in Independent News and Media.  It has been suggested that perhaps Mr O'Brien's acquisition of Today FM in particular would not have passed a new 'undue control' test that the department proposes to introduce. Whatever the wrongs and the rights of it, it remains unlikely that the BAI would ever seek retrospective enforcement, and force a breakup of the O'Brien empire; for one thing, such a process would outlast any Chairman so brazen as to initiate it, so one is bound to wonder what the point would be.