Thursday, October 23, 2008


The Irish Parliament, Dáil Éireann, was under siege yesterday as thousands took to the streets of Dublin to protest against the Fianna Fáil /Green Party government’s scrooge budget which attempted to deprive the over 70’s of their up ‘til now free medical services card. Over 20,000 people jammed the streets in front of Leinster House to register their anger at the Government’s decision.

(Photo: Massive protest outside Leinster House, 22.10.08)

Despite a last-minute political climb-down on Tuesday night, to mollify back-bench rebels in the Fianna Fáil party, the angry crowd was in no mood for concessions and there were repeated demands from representatives of various organisations connected with the elderly that the status quo be maintained and no means test or income limits be applied. This uncompromising and militant stand by the pensioners shocked Government TD’s who thought they had defused the situation with their sleazy attempt to deceive the public that the majority of pensioners would retain their entitlements under the proposed revision of the scheme. Yet people have seen through this manoeuvre as a deliberate attempt to undermine the principle of universality of the existing scheme which would allow the Government to chip away at these entitlements over a period of years and Ireland’s pensioners were having none of it.

When, belatedly, Minister of State, Máire Hoctor, (FF, Meath) came out of the Parliament and tried to address the crowd she was greeted with derision by the vast assembly, called a liar and eventually was expelled from the platform. These scenes in Dublin yesterday were extremely shocking and unnerving for the long-time populist Fianna Fáil Party which has been in government in this Republic for more years than any other political party in the state, especially since many of the attendance declared themselves to be Fianna Fáil voters but vowed never to vote for the Party again whatever the outcome of the current issue. With local government and European elections due in Meitheamh/June 2009, party representatives are stunned by the political earthquake which has suddenly hit them due to the stupidity and arrogance of their own Government. It is also quite clear that the current regime has not a snowball’s chance in Hell of carrying a second referendum on the despised Lisbon Treaty, such is the mood for vengeance of the general population, not just the pensioners.

In scenes reminiscent of the fall of governments in Eastern Europe in 1989/90, no sooner had the pensioners finished their protest than 15,000 students from Universities and Colleges all over the country arrived at the gates to deliver their protest to government about the sneaking rise in so-called “registration” fees for University and College entrants proposed to be increased to €1500 next year. The students had marched through the streets of the capital which, along with the pensioners protest, had brought normal commercial activity in the City to a halt for most of the day. And it isn’t ended yet, next week the Teachers Unions will be outside the Dáil as a debate begins on a Labour Party motion rejecting the Government’s proposal to renege on its many electoral promises to reduce class sizes in public schools throughout the Republic. Tonight, in Clár Clainne Mhuiris/Claremorris, Co Mayo, the Farmers organisations are to begin a series of protest demonstrations on agricultural issues in the Budget which will culminate again in a mass demonstration outside Leinster House.

The Green Party section of the Government will now be under severe pressure over the next two weeks ahead of the introduction of the Social Welfare Bill whence the budget proposals will be legislated. Having promised to listen to the voice of the people they will have to decide whether to keep their word or hang on to office as a discredited and failed political entity. the Opposition, Labour, Fine Gael and Sinn Fein will give no quarter.

FearFeasa Mac Léinn

Áth Cliath/DUBLIN, 23 Deire Fomhair/October 2008.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


A clearly rattled Taoiseach, Brian ‘Biffo’ Cowen, made desperate attempts this morning to assuage rising public anger against his Government’s mean-spirited proposal to deprive senior citizens over 70 years of the automatic right to a free medical services card in the name of financial necessity, which was a lie from the beginning.
(Photo: the scene at St Andrews Church, Dublin today)
Facing public odium and a revolt by backbench TD’s, a resignation of one of them and the withdrawal of support from one of the independents formerly supporting the Government, modifications were announced to the original blanket withdrawal of cover with an increase of the income thresholds but retaining a means test for any new applicants in 2009. This cynical sleight-of-hand manoeuvre, clearly a political move to damp down the internal party revolt, which would still allow a future budget to withdraw these so-called concessions at a whim, was rejected by a crowded meeting organised by

Age Action Ireland today.

The meeting, called for a city centre hotel, soon overflowed and was removed to St Andrew’s Church, Westland Row, close to the Dáil, where over 2,000 people turned up to denounce the Government’s actions in vigorous terms. Minister of State, John Moloney, who arrived to deliver the Government’s concessions was howled off the platform by an extremely angry gathering, and in unprecedented scenes, speaker after speaker denounced Cowen’s Scrooge Government and its arrogance amid mounting tension. Opposition leaders who arrived, Labour Leader Éamonn Gilmore and Fine Gael Leader, Enda Kenny, were cheered to the rafters. The clear mood of the meeting, reinforced by radio reports all morning, was that the Government concessions were “too little, too late”. Radio reports from all over the country indicate that Wednesday’s (22.10.08) demonstration outside Dáil Éireann will go ahead with increased determination to force a complete withdrawal by Biffo’s shambling government and a restoration of the status quo without any equivocation.

Minister of State, John Moloney, TD, is confronted by an angry pensioner at the Age Action Ireland protest meeting in Dublin today
despite the announcement of Government concessions on income thresholds and exclusion of existing over 70's medical card holders from the budget proposals.

FearFeasa Mac Léinn
Áth Cliath/DUBLIN, 21 Deire Fomhair/October

Monday, October 20, 2008




The Irish Government’s gamble on Bostonomics has turned out to be the biggest loser this country has ever had since the 19th Century Famine. Along with Piss-pot Harney and Blank-Cheque Bertie, Biffo Cowen sold out this country to foreign capital, mostly from the United States, for the sake of a few thousand temporary jobs now already being further “outsourced” to cheaper labour locations elsewhere in the world. As the whole US Neo-Con project of uncontrolled debt-marketing collapses around their ears, their willing lap-dogs here are left floundering in the mire of the biggest financial downturn since the infamous Crash of 1929.

Níl fágtha ag Brianaigh na nDrochscéil ach caoineadh agus cuimilt láimhe faoi laethe an “Tíogair Cheiltigh”. Iadsan agus a dhlúthcháirde an lucht olagóin anois, seachas na daoine gur chaith Bertie-an-tSeic-Ghlan an masla sin leo timpeall’s bliain ó shoin. Iadsan a bhí ag géimnigh ó cheann ceann na tíre gurbh iad slánaitheoirí na heacnamaíochta agus gurbh iad Laochra an Ré Órga a bPáirtí fhéin, Fianna Fáil, agus siad ag iarraigh ar mhuintir na hÉireann glachadh le Chonradh damanta Liosbóin mí an Mheithimh imithe thart. Anois, donas an donais atá le tairiscint acu don phobail igcoitinne sa bhuiséad mí-ámharach seo cé gurbh iad fhéin udair na ghéarchéime atá buailte linn. – The Bad News Brians have nothing left but misery moans and hand-wringing over the days of the “Celtic Tiger”. They and their cronies are the whiners now, not those people who were insulted by Blank-Cheque Bertie only a year ago. They are the ones who were bellowing up and down the country, last June, that they were the saviours of the economy and that Fianna Fáil was the Party of the Golden Age, when they were trying to convince the people to accept the damnable Lisbon Treaty. Now they have only the worst to offer to the public in their miserable budget although it was they who brought us to the financial crisis we are now in.

Not one regret, not one line of apology from the cheerleaders of market fetishism and privatisation who bulldozed on, relentless, with their insane policies of making the country dependent on foreign capital while asset stripping the public utilities and allowing a massive speculative property bubble to develop which made billionaires of their Construction Industry supporters to the detriment of everyone else. Ignoring all warnings from the more sober economic commentators, they tied the Irish economy to an inevitable collapse and now they want the rest of us to pay for it.


The landmine in Brian Lenihan’s hairshirt budget, the mean and low-down attack on the elderly by depriving the over-70’s of their free medical services card, shocked the nation and produced an unexpected reaction within Fianna Fáil. Not, we might add, based on altruistic motives or a genuine concern for social justice, but a sheer panic and primal fear of losing their seats in the forthcoming June, 2009, Local Government and European elections. As the backlash from the public descended on the FF local councillors and TD’s an unprecedented revolt began against the arrogant assumptions of their Government ministers and an undignified scramble for the airwaves to distance themselves from their Government’s Scrooge Budget ,as they tried to ingratiate themselves with an enraged public and provided the most cynical and hypocritical spectacle ever seen in Irish political life.

These are the same individuals who cheered on Blank-Cheque Bertie and Piss-pot Harney and Biffo Cowen as Finance Minister as they pushed through their now disgraced and discredited economic policies. Not one of the now vociferous backbench TD’s stood up in the Dáil to denounce this anti-social budget. Joe Behan, FF TD for Wicklow, headlined for his resignation from the party several days after the budget, cheered and applauded with the rest. Charlie O’Connor, TD for Dublin South West, who lick-arsed everything done by FF over their past ten years in government, was on RTÉ radio this morning pretending that the whole thing was a misunderstanding and would be sorted out by Biffo before he left on his official visit to China this week. “Auntie Mary”, Mary O’Rourke, the finance minister’s aunt, tried the same tack on TV on Sunday and again on radio today. If it was a “mistake” why didn’t they say so in the Dáil on Tuesday? Liars and hypocrites! It was only when they felt the heat of public anger in the days following the Budget that they began to discover that they had a social conscience.


The most pathetic sight of the past week was the Green Party TD’s, who also all cheered and applauded Brian Lenihan last Tuesday, desperately trying to backtrack from a decision which their two Ministers in cabinet voted for and are collectively responsible for under the terms of the constitution, Bunreacht na hÉireann. The Green Party sold its soul to the Fianna Fáil demon and now must pay the price. The political situation for the Government is now precarious. Biffo Cowen, his leadership severely dented with the defeat of the Lisbon Treaty last June on which he gambled his personal integrity, is now faced not only with an unprecedented revolt within his own party but with the disarray of his Coalition allies, the Greens and the so-called “independents” supporting his Government who know they are goners in the next elections if they continue to support his budget. His authority as Taoiseach is diminished and his chances of support in the Dáil reduced which means the survival of the Government is now in question. His political judgement must also be under question in that he and Finance Minister Brian Lenihan failed to realise what they were doing in making this attack on the oldest citizens of our Republic.

They now face another unprecedented event as a mass protest of senior citizens gathers outside Dáil Éireann on Wednesday, Deire Fomhair
/October 22, 2008. Taxi drivers in Dublin have already offered free transport to all senior citizens to the protest and “Insomnia” Coffee Cafés have offered free tea or coffee to any senior citizen in their three shops adjacent to the Parliament buildings in Kildare Street. It’s looking more like the Fall of the Bastille for Biffo and his Aristocrats at Leinster House this week.

FearFeasa Mac Léinn

Áth Cliath/DUBLIN, 20 Deire Fomhair/October 2008.


Finian McGrath TD. Dublin North-Central


As this post was published it has been announced that Finian McGrath, TD for Dublin North-Central announced he was withdrawing his support from the Fianna Fáil/ Green Party Coalition.

This inevitably puts pressure on the other two government supporters, Michael Lowry (Tipperary North) and Jackie Healy-Rae (Kerry South) to follow suit. If they also defect from supporting the Coalition this leaves the Greens on an extremely sticky wicket as the only prop for the discredited Fianna Fáil budget. The question now is; have the Greens the nerve to defy public rage and continue to defend the Scrooge budget? Interesting times indeed!


Thursday, October 09, 2008




Last week’s turbulent events in the world of finance capital indicate not only the corruption and outright criminal conspiracy of many of the major players in the murky world of corporate finance but, a massive structural and political failure of the entire globalised system itself. These events mark the inevitable and ignominious end of the false doctrines of the Reagan-Thatcher era which have dominated business and commerce since the 1980’s.

The US banking scandal of unregulated credit issued to debtors on a wide scale who had little prospect of keeping up their payments now threatens a world-wide recession as investor confidence evaporates in a welter of bankruptcies, rumour-mongering and Government incompetence as Central Banks scramble to shore up wobbly financial institutions with deposit guarantees and direct bail-out with capital transfers of public funds. While guarantees for deposits of ordinary savers is immediately necessary, the decision to bail-out delinquent lending banks has to be questioned and the terms and conditions of these proposals made available for public scrutiny and strict accountability. The taxpayers must not be saddled with the bad debts of an arrogant and profligate gang of financial manipulators who have misused their position and virtual monopoly of control of credit to create massive payoffs to themselves for “inventing” the very instruments which have brought about the current crisis.

The problem was that the entire system was under-capitalised and over-leveraged. This means that the amount of capital assets which they were allowed to write credit on for loans was far too small to safely cover defaulting debtors. When Bear Stearns collapsed last year, it was levered at a ratio of 26 to 1. When Hedgie Carlyle Capital failed, it was levered at 32 to 1. When Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the US semi-state mortgage holders, were eventually brought under direct control of the US Treasury Department both organisations were levered at a disastrous 80 to 1, which means that they had only one dollar capital reserve for every $80 they had loaned out. This amounts to borderline criminal delinquency. Nevertheless, the US Treasury Secretary, Henry “Hank” Paulson, continued to pour public funds into these two institutions although they were technically insolvent. The illusion that these two were still functional was maintained largely by the amount of foreign investment by countries like China holding their dollar currency reserves in such Government backed institutions. This situation is unlikely to continue in the future. Foreign investors are also financing the US $700 Billon current account deficit. As foreign investors withdraw from US securities, interest rates will have to increase to attract foreign capital to the US making it even more difficult for mortgage debtors to pay back their loans.


Secretary Paulson’s “solution” to the immediate crisis and threatened meltdown of major financial institutions in the United States, the $700 Billion “bail-out” of Wall Street was initially rejected by the House of Representatives last Monday week mainly by two opposing factions; the neo-con Republican conservatives to whom state intervention of any kind is anathema, and Democrats who questioned the favouritism being shown to Wall St and the delinquent banking sector to the detriment of the ordinary worker and home owner facing eviction. An estimated 6 million home-owners in the US will default on their mortgages this year. The legislation was taken out of the HoR and re-introduced in modified form in the Senate with massive pressure being mounted against the “dissidents” to make them change their votes in the second round. Never mind that this manoeuvre was likely unconstitutional as money bills require to be introduced and passed by the HoR before going to the Senate.

The “Emergency Economic Stabilization Act 2008" was passed by the Senate and then returned to the HoR which passed it on Friday last despite continued opposition. A close inspection of the connections between certain politicians and Wall St. is revealing; individuals working for Wall Street finance, insurance and real estate companies and the companies’ political action committees have contributed more than $47 million to the campaigns of Senator Obama (three of main five sources) and Senator McCain (main five sources), both of whom voted for the bailout.

Wall Street has contributed more than $1.1 billion dollars to congressional candidates since 2002. Nine of the top ten House recipients of Wall Street slush, who each received an average of $1.5 million, are on the financial oversight and taxation committees.The bipartisan Congressional "leaders" most responsible for pushing the bail-out through Congress, Senators Dodd and Gregg and Representatives Frank and Blunt have accepted almost $20 million from Wall Street sources during the last 20 years. Dodd recently received $6 million in contributions during his presidential primary campaign, and Frank has collected $720,000 this year. Other key politicians also have been well compensated this year; Congressman Kanjorski received $755,000 and Congressman Bachus banked $704,000.

Secretary Paulson, who came from Goldman Sachs, where he collected $575 Million by cashing out his Goldman Sachs stock before becoming the Secretary of Treasury (not having to pay any taxes on the sale). Paulson also collected more than $53 million in cash bonuses during his last two years at Goldman Sachs for “innovations” such as a new line of "Mortgage Backed Securities." Gambling more than a trillion dollars on high risk subprime second mortgages, Paulson smartly converted them into AAA-rated "secure" investments by purchasing guarantees from the American International Group of mortgage insurers.AIG, conveniently, was just bailed out two weeks ago by Secretary Paulson for $85 billion of borrowed money that taxpayers will have to repay with interest, avoiding massive losses by Goldman Sachs, which was holding more than $20 billion in otherwise dud second mortgages. Is it surprising, therefore, that Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman’s current CEO, was present with Paulson when the decision was made to bailout AIG?


The EESA is an attempt to stabilise the financial markets but without any adverse affect on the power elite which caused the crisis by their insatiable greed and predatory business methods, the politicians, the supposed “elected representatives of the people” groveling in support. There is nothing in these “plans” for an actual change of policy in Washington. Last Tuesday night’s Presidential “debate” between Obama and McCain showed both peddling the same claptrap about America’s destiny as world policeman and solver of all problems. Both declared hostility to Russia and claimed “punishment” would be necessary for “bad behaviour” by Russia. I mean, the colossal arrogance of it! Who gave them the right to judge other's behaviour and apply “punishments”. Who is to judge THEIR behaviour? Both declared unconditional support for Zionist Israel and both declared they would attack Iran in defence of Israel regardless of any UN Security Council decisions.

Neither proposed any significant elements of control over the workings of finance capital in the long term but, competed on minor palliatives of income tax reliefs which would not reduce the huge burden of debt with which the US population now lives. In an objective review, Obama was the more composed and clear-headed of the two with apparently workable suggestions on the crisis but McCain bumbled and stumbled all over the venue (which supposedly is his favourite location type) with an incoherent rant and overt hostility to his opponent. The audience seemed comatose and bored out of their minds with the whole performance. Undoubtedly, though, McCain's fate was sealed with this lack-lustre outing. Wall St wants someone calm and collected in the White House right now who will provide the political support to keep the whole system together. Senator Obama fills this role perfectly.

FearFeasa Mac Léinn

Áth Cliath/DUBLIN, 09 Deire Fomhair/October 2008.