A Word On David Norris’s Book

I didn’t want to bring this up at first, because I thought all copies of A Kick Against The Pricks would end up pulped or remaindered by Christmas. Norris’s self-aggrandizing behavior, bitterness, and wishful thinking in relation to the sexuality of certain historical figures should have accomplished that better than any critic. I also simply wanted to leave the whole Presidential brouhaha of 2011 behind me. Yes, I am proud of playing a part in what many Irish people have told me was the most entertaining political spectacle ever seen in the country, though I may disagree on that point. That really hit home again when I visited Cork over the Christmas period. The final outcome may not have been ideal. Certainly, Gallagher was robbed of a victory only because Higgins was the media’s next favorite candidate. The effort to do good all seemed so futile.

Now, I am more convinced the country had a lucky escape.

One thing I respected Mr. Norris for at the height of the controversy was his condemnation of the nasty conspiracy theories that were floating about. He did this immediately after he made his exit on a Today FM interview, something which I told the people there I was most satisfied with. I made sure to mention to all journalists who asked that I thought he acted like a gentleman and I respected him for it. This was rarely reported of course, as the media would prefer a bitter conflict on matters like this. Norris made it clear he did not believe in the nonsense when he announced his re-entry to Ryan Tubridy (who referred to ‘dark forces’ rumored to be at work).

So, what a shame it was to open page 313 of A Kick Against The Pricks and see Norris blaming the whole affair on a conspiracy operating out of the Israeli embassy in Dublin. I don’t want to give this the dignity of a response, only to say that Norris provides no evidence for this point whatsoever.

My remaining respect for David Norris is gone entirely. He truly is a disgraceful tramp.

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Does Irish Aid fund IPSC lectures?

Irish Aid is Ireland’s official overseas development programme, part of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Since  December 6th last year the Irish Aid center (a government office) has been hosting various anti-Israel lectures, set to continue until February. Most of these lectures are given by members of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Trócaire. This includes Garry Walsh, Israel/Palestine Officer at Trócaire, who is also the former National Coordinator of the IPSC. Not one speaker could be described as friendly to Israel. Indeed, some of the lectures would seem to promote its destruction.

The Irish Aid webpage links directly to this Facebook page promoting the events. What is the extent of Irish Aid’s cooperation here? Are they just letting them use the venue? Irish Aid has given €116 million to the highly compromised charity Trócaire between 2007 and 2011. What else are they doing?

Sure and Begorrah, ‘Tis A Most Moving Tribute

One of the odder things you’ll find on YouTube: a tribute to the late Colonel Qaddaffi with an Irish twist.

Support for Israel in Ireland

I’m happy to hear that Dublin’s GPO Peace Rally in Support of Israel has been such a great success, and that over 100 may have attended.

Unfortunately, some in the media, including the Irish Independent, reported that they were ‘scuffles’ between attendees and the other crowd doing a small counter-demo. This is not true. There were a couple on the anti-Israel side hauled off for attacking Gardai (one threw an egg at a Garda). The pro-Israel side were peaceful and caused no difficulties. The differences between the people who make up the two movements are incredibly clear. Its a case of the civilised and reasonable against the savage, the Trot, the Islamist, and the Shinner.

Interestingly, there were quite a few boos from the enemy when Amhrán na bhFiann was sung at the rally. While I am not sure, this was quite possibly hard-line Republicans angry that their opponents would use such a song. Though I’ve heard some of Ireland’s ‘cultural enrichers’ participated in the booing also.

Savages… like this guy

And some normal, happy people.

 

Can Michael D. Higgins Make Up The Rules As He Goes Along?

The Irish President acts as a national figurehead: the representative of the Irish people, regardless of their political beliefs, religion, or ethnic background. Immediately after his election, however, Michael D. Higgins made it clear that there were some people he would not be representing. This was his October 2011 interview on the Morning Ireland radio program, where he blamed the heterodox Austrian School of Economics for influencing the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, and, bizarrely, claiming they caused credit to be too cheap during Ireland’s boom period.

An even bigger breach of Presidential protocol came in February of 2012. At a talk at the LSE, Higgins condemned the privatization of services, the day before the Irish government announced a round of privatization measures and the possibility of selling its shares in Aer Lingus. Here, he was very blunt: “[privatization] is the road back to autocracy, in which a hollowed-out state is bereft of anything meaningful to attract the support of the citizen – especially the marginalized  excluded from the mainstream of society”.

Now, in the course of two days, Michael D. Higgins has decided to involve himself in two important matters. On the 21st he called for an investigation into the death of Savita Halappanavar. The Irish government has declined to comment. While expressing remorse to victims of tragedy is common enough, Higgins is suggesting a particular course of action in response. I cannot recall Mary McAleese ever doing this, though as we all know she her lapses in conduct.

Today, Higgins has taken up his sword once more, to do battle against “right-wing economists” that supposedly  “have created a neo-liberal philosophy that seemingly cannot now be questioned and that leaves control in the hands of a faceless market”.

This is uncalled for, and Higgins should be reprimanded for it. Higgins is no longer a TD.  His new role is one that is supposed to be above politics and controversy; a republican equivalent of the Queen of England. It would be shocking for Queen Elizabeth II to express hardline left-wing views on economic policy (as well as right-wing ones for that matter). No President of Ireland had such disregard for protocol. Not even Mary Robinson.

Of course, Higgins does share an important trait with Robinson, in that they are both prominent members of the Irish left. Higgins in particular has far more loyalty to the teachings of Marx, Shaw, and the Webbs that he does to the Irish Constitution. These people have absolutely no respect for existing Irish institutions if they are deemed incompatible with the socialist state they wish to build.

If President Dana Rosemary Scallon were acting in this way, you can be sure it would be making the front pages.

Maybe one day there will be a conservative President who will promote his or her own political views as much Michael D. Higgins. That would not be  a good thing. But that person could always point to Higgins for precedent.

With the shadow that will always hang over his election ‘victory’, I would be a lot more careful.

Vincent Browne: Israel Is A Cancer

The Irish broadcaster Vincent Browne is a leftie. Of that there is no doubt. However, I am often impressed by the way he can give other Irish lefties a good grilling on his show, even if they are disproportionately represented on the panels in the first place. I’ve always been fond of Tonight with Vincent Browne. Its the only television program from Ireland that I bother to catch up with online.

On one subject, unfortunately, Browne lacks all objectivity. And it really shows. That subject is Israel:

Browne has talked about Israel in this way before, but never in so openly vicious a manner. Still, I doubt he will get into too much trouble for this. Demonizing an entire country as a ‘cancer’ (something that must be eliminated, of course) is language associated with hardcore bigots. Nazis have said it of the Slavic nations. Socialists said it of Kulaks. Islamists say it of Jews. An Israeli who says it about Arabs is likely to be labeled a Kahanist lunatic, and certainly isn’t going to be welcome among progressive circles. But from the aisles of organic food stores and the auditoriums of universities, the notion that Israel is a ‘cancer’ is almost taken for granted.

Nevertheless, this kind of talk has no place on a respectable current affairs program, even in Ireland. Its particularly unworthy of  Vincent Browne, who likes to give the odd lecture on media ethics. Browne’s words are an echo of the vilest propaganda produced by Islamic fundamentalist states. For this, Tonight with Vincent Browne has lost a fan.

The Incompetence of Ireland’s Office of Public Works

I was not surprised when I read that 37 pieces of art have recently disappeared from Leinster House under the careful watch of the OPW. A spokesman’s comment to the Irish Independent claiming that “given the size of the collection under the auspices of the OPW, it is impossible to know where everything is all of the time” merely made me roll my eyes and mutter “typical”.

I have long argued that the OPW is one of the most incompetent of all state bodies. Even the trendy-lefty Irish Times featured an editorial last year advocating privatization. The OPW simply do a terrible job of promoting and maintaining their assets, even those they graciously allow the public to access in the first place.

Take the example of a wonderful treasure like Camden Fort in Crosshaven, which has been sealed off from the public by the OPW for years and left to rot. Far too few people are aware that this  corner of Cork possesses one of the finest examples of a Coastal Artillery Fort in the world.

Thankfully, since about 2010 a voluntary action group called Rescue Camden has been allowed to enter and clean up the site, and are trying hard to address this problem.

I tried to visit Camden Fort in 2007 for the excellent views of Cork Harbour as well as to see the underground tunnels there. The whole thing was surrounded by an ugly, menacing fence. My companions and I managed to persuade the ‘security’ (a little old lady) to let us in. Then she went away without telling us, locking the entrance behind her. The underground network turned out to be sealed off anyway. Thus, we were left trapped in this admittedly beautiful spot. A mysterious fisherman eventually came by but refused to say how he came in or out. He actually recommended we jump a trench (which would have easily killed us) if we wished to ‘escape’. When this proved unfeasible he produced the keys for the front gate and told us to keep quiet about it.

I wrote to the OPW after my ill-fated visit, despite the fact that I was not supposed to be there. With the millions that have been spent apparently securing the place, I thought they might be open to some friendly suggestions. The OPW did not respond.

Camden Fort would be an ideal location for a military museum. I’m told they have been promising one for decades. When I was there, I actually saw an old piano among the mess inside one of its collapsing buildings.

At least the public can actually walk in there now, and see how important and impressive Fort Camden is. Its a scenic location and a very impressive complex. Any country would be proud to have it.

But this is all typical of the OPW. They have refused to build proper paths to access many sites that would be of interest interest to tourists both foreign and domestic, as if they don’t want anybody to visit them. You have to cross fields to access numerous interesting sites, if you know of their existence in the first place. They don’t properly maintain many sites that are open to visitors, but could attract a lot more if managed properly. I’ve even been told that the OPW have destroyed valuable old records on subjects like Ireland’s Great Famine to make room for storage in their plush headquarters in St. Stephen’s Green.

I’d love to know what individual objects of art or otherwise the OPW has locked away in some warehouse. Not that the Lords of the OPW would ever tell us.

The headquarters of the OPW on St. Stephen’s Green. I’m fairly sure they keep this particular building in decent shape.

More on my least favorite charity, Trócaire

Must read articles:

1. Dr. Mark Dooley, Catholic philosopher, slams Trócaire in yesterday’s Irish Daily Mail. Dooley says that as the official overseas development agency of the Catholic Church, Trócaire has no business waging ideological battles, particularly in such a selective manner. He also says the Trocaire position is far away from that of most practicing Catholics he knows in Ireland, which is encouraging.

2. Why I Don’t Care for Trócaire (Irish Independent, March 2007). An excellent piece. Trócaire is something of a sacred cow in Irish society and deserves more skepticism.

3. Shedding Light on the Pay of Charity Chiefs (Irish Examiner, September 2011). Trócaire CEO Justin Kilcullen is noticeably overpaid. He gets €2.32 per €1,000 of Trócaire income, but the CEO of Concern gets only €0.78 per €1,000. Concern’s has an income of €167 million but Trocaire has only €63 million.

4. Garry Walsh isn’t the only IPSC figure at Trócaire. The idiot activist Eoin Murray is their Campaigns Coordinator. He is the former National Coordinator of the IPSC and writes for Electronic Intifada.

Trust The Irish State To Protect Your Children? How About Not Putting Them In A Brothel?

The Irish Government and all the major political parties claim to have they best interests of the nation’s children at heart. That’s why they are all backing the children’s rights amendment to the Constitution. So they say.

Three things immediately pop into my mind on this referendum.

Firstly, I find it funny that the government has no qualms about shouldering every child in this country with tens of thousands of euros worth of debt from the day they are born. I believe we need a constitutional referendum to prevent politicians screwing the next generation over in order to get votes much more than we need the new Article 42A.

Secondly, and in common with the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, I’m highly disturbed by the apparent exemption of state agencies from the requirement to consider the “voice of the child” when proceedings are taken against them.

Thirdly, why I can’t see why we supposedly need to enshrine the state’s role as protector of children if the Irish state can’t even stop children under its care ending up in brothels.

Lets not forget the WikiLeaks revelations last year on this particular matter, which ought to be far better known. From the Irish Independent in June 2011:

Children have been going missing from State care and ending up working as sex slaves in brothels for at least three years, leaked US embassy cables reveal.

Health Service Executive (HSE) officials made the shocking admission during a private briefing of diplomats from the American Embassy in Dublin.

Details of the disclosure were contained in cables obtained by the Irish Independent through the whistle-blowing organisation WikiLeaks.

Cables reveal how foreign-born children who went missing from HSE care had been ending up in the sex trade as far back as 2008.

The disclosure was made to US diplomats conducting research for an annual report on people trafficking in Ireland.

According to one cable, the HSE said some foreign children who went missing from care had been retraced to brothels, restaurants and private households where they may have been used as domestic slaves.

The missing minors were found in various towns throughout the country.

Disturbingly, the unnamed HSE officials admitted statistics on the number of these children were not being maintained.

A February 2009 cable, detailing a HSE briefing, said gardai had located two minors – both missing from HSE care – in the sex industry during the previous year.

The cable, which gave a detailed assessment of Irish efforts to combat people trafficking, was forwarded to the office of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

According to the dispatch, HSE officials believed Chinese children were at greatest risk of being trafficked.

They also claimed traffickers bringing such children to Ireland were likely to be non-nationals who preyed on their compatriots.

When a child under the age of 17 arrives in Ireland without a parent or guardian, they are automatically placed in foster care or hostel facilities administered by the HSE.

However, each year dozens of children go missing from care. It is suspected many end up in the hands of the traffickers who arranged for them to come into the country in the first place.

According to the cable, gardai indicated trafficking gangs were increasingly targeting Ireland due to the ease with which children could escape from HSE facilities.

Briefings received by the embassy between 2006 and 2008 indicated there was no evidence at the time to substantiate suspicions children were being trafficked into the sex trade in Ireland.

However, for the past three years the HSE has acknowledged in briefings with American officials that trafficking of minors into the sex trade is happening.

The children’s rights referendum? Its just more government Kool-Aid. Maybe even a power grab.

The Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland and Jihadists

According to the Irish Times, dozens of young Muslims in Ireland have gone to Syria to assist the anti-Assad cause. This does not include medical or humanitarian volunteers. We are talking about people actually fighting. This largely unreported phenomenon also occurred in Libya. Few are aware that between five and ten Muslims who traveled from Ireland were killed in clashes with pro-Qaddafi forces. One of those involved in Syria is Mehdi al-Harati, a pro-Palestinian activist in Dublin who took part in the 2010 flotilla provocation. He founded the Tripoli Brigade, which was one of the first rebel units in the Libyan capital. Now, he leads a brigade in northern Syria.

Of particular interest here is the role of the Islamic Cultural centre of Ireland:

DR ALI SELIM , a theologian at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland, in Clonskeagh in Dublin, compares those who flocked to Libya last year and Syria today to the International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War. “They see it as a battle against injustice that transcends nationality,” he says. The prospect of “martyrdom” is also a strong motivation, he adds. “Many of them, before they leave here, say, ‘Make prayers for me; I want to be martyred,’ because they understand that, in Islam, martyrdom is the way to eternal life,” he says. “If they die as martyrs, they will be held in high esteem. If they survive and come back, they will also be held in high regard, because they have performed a very important duty.”

Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an influential Muslim Brotherhood-linked Egyptian religious scholar with strong connections to the cultural centre, recently called via Twitter for people to go to fight in Syria or send weapons there, describing such assistance as obligatory.

Is the ICCI an active recruiting ground for these fighters, or are they turning a blind eye? And what are the motivations of those going to Syria? Selim’s reference to injustice that “transcends nationality” and opportunities for “martyrdom” indicate a strong jihadist presence: men who dream of creating an Islamist state in Syria, or even pan-Islamists who dream of restoring the Caliphate.

The Irish “Anti-War” Movement has been silent about all this, which is no surprise given that its a communist front that takes takes sides in wars more than it opposes them.

The Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland, Clonskeagh, Dublin