GDP figures controversy should not be a surprise
The recent controversy about the figures underlying gross domestic product (GDP) should not have been unexpected. It reminds me of a similar debate last year, when the yield from corporation tax (CT) soared.
There has been a direct, linear correlationship between the totals for GDP and CT going back four years, at the least.
Public service officials are at a disadvantage in defending their competence. They are not allowed to breach the rules of confidentiality. They cannot name the companies involved.
Nobel prizewinners should not insult us with the term ‘leprechaun economics’. They should have the wit to realise that the globalisation activities of a small number of big businesses and multinational corporations are trying to make fools of us all. What is real money? What is fiscal fiction?
The big question is whether the transactions that gave rise to the anomalies were once-off, or will they recur annually? Depending on the answer, we might see either negative growth, or a significant drop in growth next year.
I have no doubt that our civil servants will continue to keep their eye on the big picture. They need to be wary of the private sector, where creative accountancy procedures reduce the good name of Ireland to the level of a brass plate on the wall of an empty accommodation address.
Remembering heroic Hugh O’Neill
In the midst of our centenary celebrations for the 1916 Easter Rising, we seem to have forgotten one of our Irish heroes. This week, 400 years ago, Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone, died in Rome, at the age of 66. His funeral, in the church of San Pietro, in Montorio, was attended by cardinals and foreign ambassadors and local dignitaries. O’Neill died in penury and his large funeral was paid for by the king of Spain. This may explain why O’Neill’s slab was simply inscribed ‘D O M’. O’Neill was a formidable leader, a highly educated and cultured man, a cunning politician and a great military strategist. Even in death, like the 1981 hunger strikers in Long Kesh, he caused huge problems for the English establishment. As we celebrate the battle of Kinsale, we celebrate our great freedom fighters of 400 years ago.
Housing crisis has always been urgent
The long-awaited housing programme has been announced, but when can we expect houses to be available, be they full-tenancy, emergency, mobile or whatever? The housing crisis in east Cork is chronic. It is a daily headache and heartache trying to find accommodation for single people and families.
The suffering of those on the local authority housing lists is now immense and emergency investment is needed to provide homes for them.
The young who cannot afford to buy homes are distressed, because of the actions of those in the building industry who have, by sheer profiteering, put homes outside the reach of ordinary working people, on ordinary wages. The issue must be addressed.
In the private, rental sector, we are returning to the days described and condemned by James Connolly a century ago. Rack-renting has returned to Ireland and is alive and well and as ugly as ever. That should be tackled by the Government, through investment in urban renewal.
If these problems are allowed to continue, they will give rise to an even greater crisis than the one already developing.
The vested interests must be taken on and investment in people put first.
In conclusion, I hope there will be funding, in the new housing programme, for hostels to accommodate the homeless, who are increasing in number due to marital breakdown and other social issues. My thanks to Cork Simon, for its help in this regard.
Good luck to Housing Minister, Simon Coveney, TD, in his efforts to relieve so much pain, suffering, and hardship, which have been in our midst for far too long. Shame on successive governments for this neglect.
Bogs exempt from emissions targets
While Ireland faired well in the recent announcement of EU member-state targets for greenhouse gas emissions, with both agricultural soils and forestry now mandatory credits in the 2030 effort-sharing decision, one concession, with profound consequences for our country, was a major surprise.
The mandatory credits for emissions from agriculture and forestry will not automatically extend to bogs and wetlands.
This will allow Ireland to continue to extract peat from our bogs, without accounting for major environmental impact.
Research in Ireland has identified the possibility of cost-efficient emissions reductions via the rewetting of bogs to address the fact that wetland emissions from our degraded peatlands equal six million tonnes of CO2 per year — twice that of all peat combustion nationally.
Already, under the second period of the Kyoto Protocol, which runs to 2020, countries such as the UK, Iceland, and Belarus are rewetting their bogs to achieve cost-effective emissions reductions, with co-benefits for flood-management, water quality, and biodiversity.
Yet, Ireland will not be required to do so, allowing UK companies, in particular, to purchase peat extracted in Ireland through this loophole. In turn, we will be left with the environmental cost — which includes this lost opportunity to reduce our emissions.
Rewetting bogs is a very cost-effective means of cutting our emissions.
It is also critical to restoring the ability of our wetlands to attenuate flooding, which we all know, to our cost, is a growing problem.
There is little doubt that successful lobbying by Ireland has resulted in our environment (and our national welfare and economic interest), once again, being lost to short-term profit.
Information on Rising events
I am a lecturer in the School of History, University College Cork, with a research interest in the ‘revolutionary decade’ of modern Irish history (c1912-23). I am currently preparing a chronicle of the various national and local events that have been organised, this year, to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising. To this end, I would be keen to hear from those of your readers who have been involved in organising such events — of whatever type or size. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org, and I can also be contacted at the postal address below.
‘Til death do us part is way to her heart
Cormac O’Connell’s ‘Ballroom of Nodance’ nostalgia isn’t what really went on in these romantic spots back then. I have to hesitate in calling his column ‘the pure truth’ and to shed some further light on why his friend failed to get a second dance with the lady that he fancied.
Everything, in these circumstances, depended not upon whether one was drunk or sober, nor on the size of one’s hands or even whether women outnumbered men three to one.
I can reveal, here and now, that it depended entirely upon the exact words a man used to invite a woman out, and subsequently to gain access to her heart and hand. Only a very few knew what these exact words consisted of, with the possible exception of one or two Russian spies, but I did.
Consequently, I would like to share them with anybody who might be interested: ‘How would you like to be buried with my people?’ Upon these words everything depended, and, like the Memoria prayer, it was never known to fail any dude interested in doing business with the lady he fancied.
Dressing down won’t put me off Penneys
I am f*****g delighted that I bought nine shirts in Penneys, in Ballina, last Wednesday week.
After reading Saint Bob Geldof’s comment, I am thinking of going back and getting another dozen.
Local authorities must build houses
The report, ‘Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness’, is a bow to private developers.
Once again, we see, from this report, that the Government’s only attempt to resolve the housing crisis is to facilitate and incentivise the private sector.
It is a damming indictment of this plan that nowhere, in a 114-page document, does it tell us how many local authority houses we are going to get.
When I asked the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, at the Dail leader’s questions, how many local authority houses we would get, he admitted that he would not answer. That really says it all!
The reason he can’t tell us, and that it is not in the document, is because the real substance of the plan is to privatise public housing.
The plan proposes that more public land, grants, and tax incentives be given to private developers and vulture funds.
This is the strategy that has got us into the crisis we are now in — to continue this failed strategy is crazy.
What we need is to resource local authorities to directly build council houses — nothing else will resolve this desperate crisis.