Finance Minister Michael Noonan has been described as the glue that has kept this country together for the past five or six years.
But it was the overly tolerant Irish people who were the glue, when they were trampled on by a government that did not stand up for our interests in Europe, but caved in at the first hurdle when we were saddled with a banking debt that was not ours.
In light of a recent RTÉ documentary and its revelations about vulture fund companies, this praise for Minister Noonan should be considered misplaced.
These vulture funds have been allowed to buy up vast amounts of Irish property portfolios, including 90,000 distressed mortgages at knockdown prices, to the tune of €200bn, without regulation. This has resulted in widespread devastation and uncertainty for so many people, in terms of evictions, pending evictions, exorbitantly increased rents, increased property prices and the evasion of €500m in tax, due to a tax loophole.
Minister Noonan had been made aware in 2011, by the Central Bank, that it had the potential to happen, but he failed in his responsibility to take appropriate action, despite warnings from across the political spectrum.
This situation is outrageous, especially when the Irish people were forced to take such a financial battering over the past eight years, via vastly reduced incomes, increased taxes, unemployment, and emigration, yet these vulture funds were, and still are, allowed to run riot on the people of this country, by taking advantage of the lack of regulation, thanks to Minister Noonan’s inaction.
In defending the vulture fund business, Minister Noonan sarcastically described vultures as necessary for ecology, as they pick up dead carcasses. He was intimating that people who now find themselves at their mercy are easy prey and that it does not matter what happens to them at the hand of those vultures.
This attitude is cruel and callous. There is a human cost. It is our families and businesses who are the carcasses of Minister Noonan’s depiction.
It is deplorable that Minister Noonan failed to halt what was happening. His inaction shows his priorities were not the Irish people.
Our own people are allowed by our government to be evicted by foreign entities, with accommodation put beyond their reach.
For his attitude and for allowing all of this to happen without regulation or a tax pay-back, Minister Noonan should resign or be dismissed by Mr Kenny, to restore some credibility to what is left of a broken political system. The Northern assembly collapsed due to a flawed renewable energy scheme that will cost the tax-payer there far less than what these vultures were allowed to evade.
If Fianna Fail have any credibility, they should withdraw support for this cold and uncaring government. Otherwise, they may as well join up with Fine Gael and form a single party. But Fianna Fail helped create the situation, so will do nothing. In any case, accountability is not in the vocabulary of most of our self-serving politicians.
Let me begin by apologising for growing old. I am a septuagenarian and, therefore, a possible danger to humanity. Successive ministers for health, and their senior HSE officials, repeatedly blame their own incompetence on ‘bed-blocking’ old people, who allegedly refuse to leave hospital and go home to die in convenient obscurity. Ministers for transport, union officials, and radio talk-show phone-callers all line up to accuse old people of contributing to the bankruptcy of Bus Eireann, because of their free travel pass.
Iarnrod Eireann is also in financial trouble, because elderly people, who cannot afford cars, need rail travel, as they live in forgotten and neglected towns like Roscrea or Nenagh, way outside the Pale encompassed by the M50.
We ‘elderlies’ are insulted on a daily basis by media ads.
Hearing-aid providers bombard us with ads, telling us that we should spend thousands of euro on hearing aids, whether we need them or not.
An insulting HSE type ad tells us, probably without a shred of evidence, that we elderly are more likely to get food poisoning, because we are too stupid to wash our hands.
A so-called fair deal wants to take our homes to pay for the healthcare that we need. I could go on, proposing euthanasia for all over-60s, but will finish, instead, with a quote from Father Ted: “feck off”.
The North used to be a ‘red knuckle’ sort of place. Maybe it still is. The North is in want of sound leadership. It is entering ‘Brexit’; in effect, so is the South. Hopefully, we, here, have sound leadership, for what is going to be a white-knuckle journey.
In the pitch and roll, ‘white knuckle’ is preferable to a red-knuckle upheaval. We could have been diving for pearls. Whilst the Brexit process accelerates, the North, which mostly wanted, electorally, to stay in the European Union, will be in election mode.
Those of us who value the solid-legal aspect of the EU and the ideals of European nations together, avoiding warfare between neighbours and having a general increase in the sharing of wealth, feel a sense of dismay that this could end. Others, externally, have vested interests in not having an EU.
Small nations may feel grievance about bigger EU states’s influence. Presumably, such anxieties would be preferred to what would obtain in the absence of a union of European states.
Northern MLAs and candidates should be mindful of what will happen when Britain leaves the European Union. Ship-building will not return to Belfast.
A European Union state had been emergent in the North, but was predicated on accord. Without the EU, that accord becomes harder in a Brexit world.
A room for prayer and reflection is being installed in the Dáil. Will this be replacing the present Dáil bar?
When I read that US whistleblower, Chelsea Manning’s prison sentence of 35 years had been commuted by former US president, Barack Obama, (she will be released in May) it made my day.
Not least, because the sentence was disproportionate to the crime.
It sounds like a lot of information, 700,000 documents, but much of the content was known, or even in the public domain.
Ms Manning had no idea of the relevance of the information.
She was having, at the time, her own personal crisis and what she was saying, metaphorically, was: ‘ if you don’t listen to me, then you’ll listen to this’.
Bigger things were going down in the intelligence community.
The correspondence between the NSA, GCHQ and Mossad’s Unit 8200 cyber control was working, effectively, to bring Iran to the negotiating table, regarding its developing nuclear programme, by utilising the so-called ‘stuxnet’ worm. Obama knows this.
That is why Ms Manning’s data was not pay-dirt, but the dregs you get in any cyber trawl.
Nevertheless, she did commit a crime.
What is despicable is how she was pounced on.
Ms Manning now, in all probability, owes her life to President Obama, because the torture she has had to endure in military prison surely could not have continued.
I now hope that the LBGT community, here, invite Chelsea Manning, after her release, to Ireland.
Has the White House gone from Obama to Nobama?
Judging by the number of protests that take place regularly in the great democracies, for instance the USA, UK and here, I am beginning to suspect that votes have very little to do with what people actually want — or get.