Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin
The genius of the Good Friday Agreement, supplemented by the St Andrews Agreement, is that it addresses all of the essential relationships and elements required, not only to bring the conflict to an end, but also to build sustainable, permanent peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland and on these islands.
It provides us with a forward looking, future oriented agenda and the necessary framework to achieve it.
The consolidation of our peace requires that all of the elements be respected and implemented. The story of the last ten years has been, to coin a phrase “much done, more to do”.
by the Children’s Rights Alliance
On the day of the Lisbon Treaty referendum vote, the Children’s Rights Alliance has its sights set on another referendum. Today, the Alliance publishes a letter sent to members of the Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children, reminding them of their obligation, in two weeks time (16 October), to deliver a final report that will recommend a referendum to strengthen children’s rights in the Constitution.
The Alliance was prompted to write to the Committee after a public session on 23 September 2009 in which Committee members acknowledged that they had reached an impasse in their work.
Does anybody remember what happened on St. Patrick’s Day in 1985? Ireland’s largest bank at the time, AIB, disclosed the failure of its subsidiary, Insurance Corporation of Ireland, known as ICI at the time. That was probably the worst and the biggest financial difficulty the State had ever seen, along with that from two years previously, the failure of the PMPA with liabilities of approximately £223 million.
During that time, commentators pointed to the various potential warning signs that were available in advance. Regarding ICI, for example, it was remarked that for several years ICI’s reserves against future claims represented a much lower ratio to claims paid than the industry average—–
I hope I will have a chance to finish my contribution because it is important.
by Socialist Party councillor, Mick Barry
Ireland’s political and business establishment are calling for a YES vote in the Lisbon Treaty on the grounds that it will be good for jobs and the economy. The irony is that these are precisely the people whose greed and mismanagement have pushed unemployment towards the 500,000-mark and have driven the economy onto the rocks.
Now they are attempting to use the fear engendered by their economic mismanagement to further their pro-big business and anti-worker agenda. Rather than being “good for jobs” Lisbon would severely hamstring any European government that made job creation central to its agenda.
A government which chose to prioritise job creation through state initiatives such as major public works programmes would most likely have to borrow heavily to do so. However, a protocol attached to Lisbon for the future fixes a maximum allowable Budget deficit of 3 per cent of GDP and borrowing of 60 per cent of GDP.
By Ciarán Lynch TD
“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.” Groucho Marx
Politics is a serious business. But at this time of year we are in what the media call “the silly season.” The silly season begins each year in late July and ends in early September. This is the time when the Dáil goes into recess and much of what might be described as “Official Ireland” slows down or goes on holiday. At this time of year journalists find stories hard to come by with the result that great prominence is given to stories that under normal circumstances would hardly merit a few column inches.
Not so this summer! This summer, the stories are about the growing numbers of the unemployed, the failed banking system and the toxic liabilities that have become public liabilities as a result of the burst property bubble. We have to consider the details of the An Bord Snip report and the threat of a possible serious outbreak of swine flu spreading across the country. No, the media has not been short of something to write about over the past few weeks.
And if that weren’t bad enough the leisurely activity of taking a walk around The Lough means witnessing the distress of scores of swans dying from an outbreak of botulism.
But a sense of humour is as important in politics as in any other job. It is important to be able to see the funny side of things and not to take yourself too seriously. “W” is a comedy about the awful years of the Bush administration. The world is desperately trying to cope with the dire consequences of that period but the film gives a very funny take on the bizarre escapades of George W and his cronies. If only it weren’t true!
I’m a big Groucho Marx fan. A few years ago my sister gave me a box set of Marx Bros films. Given that Groucho was able to see the funny side of the Great Depression in the 1930s I settled down to watch “A Night in Casablanca” hoping for inspiration.
There is absolutely no point in trying to explain the plot of a Marx Bros film. It is all about chaos and anarchy and that appeals to my subversive sense of humour. Take Groucho’s proposal to introduce cost-cutting measures in the Hotel he was managing. He told the staff when a customer orders a 3-minute egg for breakfast it is to be cooked for 2 minutes. If the order is for a 2-minute egg is it to be cooked for 1 minute and if he orders a 1-minute egg bring the chicken to the table and tell the customer to figure it out himself.
Do you see any parallel with NAMA? Fantasy economics? The customer (us) will be presented with about €90 billion worth of debt owed by the developers when the Dáil returns in September. We will be asked to pay about €60 billion knowing that its real market value is about €30 billion. It is too outlandish plot even for the Marx Brothers. So much for the silly season ending in September!
Ciarán Lynch TD represents the Constituency of Cork South Central and is the Labour Party Spokesperson on Housing and Local Government
by Kathy Sinnott
School building in Ireland, is an unnecessarily torturous process whether it is the building of a new school or the extending, repairing or renovating of an existing one. The slow bureaucratic stages from first application to the Minister for Education to the official opening by his or her distant successor, means that thousands of children spend their education in inadequate, sometimes even dangerous, environments.
Last week, I received a response from the current Minister for Education, Batt O’Keefe about one of the schools that I have been supporting in their building application. His response really worried me. He indicated that in the current economic crisis the long school building process would be even longer.
May I take the opportunity to reply to the minister publicly as the overcrowded situation that children face again in September in primary schools like Passage West, Ballygarvan, Rathcormac, in special units like Midleton and in secondary schools like Kinsale are a matter of public concern.
Minister, these and other schools like them have experienced nothing but delay for many years, if by more delay you mean that they should no longer expect to get the buildings they need then please say so in plain language.
And if you are not able to provide the nation’s children with appropriate school buildings then will you at least step aside, lift your policy restrictions so that these communities can provide school buildings for themselves.
The cost to the taxpayer of a completed school building under the present system is incredibly high. Add to that the cost of a decade or more of renting prefabs while waiting to build and an even higher level of cost emerges. Now that money is scare, we should be spending what we have in the most cost effective manner and that means making the system of school building much more efficient and flexible.
by Cllr Ted Tynan, Cork Workers Party
I was listening to Neil Prendeville on the Opinion Line programme on 96FM Radio last Friday (July 17th) in relation to the so-called An Bord Snip Nua and felt it was time to talk about Ireland’s natural resources.In the major parties in Ireland there would only seem to be difference in the level of the cuts they would accept and even the Labour Party now accept cuts in public service numbers. Eamon Gilmore even said that the slashing of 17,000 jobs was “doable”.
The Workers’ Party does not share this view and we believe that there is an alternative. There is a consensus among the Irish political elite, big business and economists (who are invariably right wing) that the unrestrained market economy is a sacred cow which cannot be challenged and while it can go wrong sometimes it is effectively infallible. I disagree. Even within countries that hold by the market economy system there are different ways of doing things.
For one moment just consider the two words Public Service – what is so wrong about it?
That its executives and terms of references are dictated by Fianna Fáil and previously Fine Gael governments may be one problem.
That it is top heavy with bureaucracy (appointed by the same parties) may be another.
The fact that it is constantly stopped from competing with the private sector by rules which favour private enterprise is certainly a problem. But why throw out the baby with the bathwater? Isn’t essential that we have a public service?