Saturday, February 26, 2011


Today’s General Election in our Republic will not produce any revolution but, there will be significant  changes in the type of representation making up the 31st Dáil Éireann. Against the odds, even a few years ago it would not have been thinkable, the Fianna Fáil party will be replaced by Fine Gael as the leading conservative force in Irish politics. It will be also the occasion of the election of the largest number of Left TD’s since the state was founded in 1921. Labour and other left are no longer “waiting” as described in DeValera’s dismissive phrase at that time. It is his party, Fianna Fáil, who must wait to get into government again, if ever. A Labour –Fine Gael coalition will be undoubtedly proposed but, it remains to be seen whether the party membership will support this. The opportunity arises now to confront the conservative forces in this country with the truth of their activities without the previous political scam of pretence that FG and FF were essentially different from each other.

The Fine Gael  leadership, buoyed up by public display of their arrogance in this election campaign, seek to effect a massive deception on the Irish people. Their so-called recovery “plan” is based on optimistic predictions for export growth and “green economy” developments  plus recipes for “competitiveness” not apparent in the current reality of the global financial crisis. Fine Gael proposes to invest €7bn in “infrastructure” to stimulate the economy but, has also committed itself to three more budgets of severe reductions in public spending easily offsetting their promised “investment” , never mind the €5bn interest bill on state debt for each of these years. The proposals for public financing are characterised by an absence of any intent to increase state revenues by rebalancing the taxation policy of the state towards obtaining increased revenue from accumulated wealth and assets but, instead placing the entire burden on earned incomes of both “middle class” and lower paid employees. Deficit reduction by restriction of demand will not work as has been proven by history. This one-sided operation makes the Fine Gael “Plan” about as tenable as morning mist on the Offaly bogs.

Those who think themselves as “middle class” in this country, and might be relying on Fine Gael to save their bank deposits, will soon realise that they are targets for impoverishment just like the rest further down the ladder. The 60% of farmers stated to be backing Fine Gael by the IFA will also find out that the main forces wanting to dismantle the CAP are led by Mr Kenny’s tea-party hosts in Berlin and Paris, Merkel and Sarkozy. The ideological feathers of the Fine Gael bird are definitely of the neo-liberal variety; the same damnable pseudo-religion which authored the global financial crisis. Fine Gael, openly boasting their associations with Merkel and the EPP, support the austerity hysteria being mounted by these parties across the EU being part of an agenda to abolish the very idea of a social state, undermine trade unions and workers’ rights, increase military spending and involve the EU in wars of resources across the globe.

Fine Gael proposes to abandon Ireland’s traditional neutrality in international conflicts, a concept dating back to Wolfe Tone in the 1790’s and not debated in this election due to deliberate media exclusion.  Fine Gael wants our state to join NATO, the largest criminal organisation in the world; having been responsible for the deaths of upwards of 5 million people in the past twelve years and the creation of more than 7 million refugees in continuing illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and military interventions elsewhere. NATO is also the only international organisation which advances a “first-strike” nuclear weapons policy recently confirmed by NATO leaders at their summit in Lisbon last November. Some contradiction here with public statements by Sean Barret that Fine Gael was “totally opposed” to nuclear weapons.

Fine Gael spokespeople are adept at the jargon of the Harvard Business School and other sources of the language of obfuscation. When they speak of “economy” and “debt” they leave out the proper, and objective, qualifiers ; “exploitation” and “slavery”. Economic exploitation and debt slavery are the foundations of the mode of production favoured by Fine Gael and its EU/NATO allies. This mode of production has arrived at a historic juncture where it is no longer capable of maintaining civilised life on this planet. Endless growth backed by endless consumerism are fantasies which will eventually collide with the reality of a finite Earth. This is the subject of the real debate missing from this election campaign and the general discourse of a capitalist world headed by a deluded and self-aggrandising elite. The Irish electorate need to watch very carefully a Fine Gael led government  that will determine their future and that of generations to come while at the same time being the local messenger boys of this elite.

Fine Gael’s connections with Wall Street: Sutherland and Regan:

The leading personage in this regard is Peter Sutherland; he is non-executive Chairman of Goldman Sachs International (a registered UK broker-dealer, a subsidiary of Goldman Sachs(USA).

At the 1973 Irish general election, he stood as a Fine Gael candidate in the Dublin North West constituency but, was not elected. In 1981, aged 34, he became the youngest Attorney General of Ireland. He served in the two Governments led by Garret FitzGerald.

He was appointed to the European Commission in 1985 and had responsibility for competition policy and, later, also for education. He was the youngest ever European Commissioner and served in the first Delors Commission, where he played a crucial role in opening up competition across Europe, particularly the airline, telecoms, and energy sectors. Subsequently he was Director General of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (now the World Trade Organisation).  Mickey Kantor, the US Trade Secretary, credited him with being the “father of globalization” and said that without him there would have been no WTO. The Uruguay round of global trade talks, concluded in 1994 with Sutherland as chair of GATT, produced the biggest trade agreement in history and established the World Trade Organisation.
Until June 2009 he was non-executive chairman of BP. Sutherland was a director of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group until he was asked to leave the board when it had to be taken over by the UK government to avoid bankruptcy. He also formerly served on the board of ABB.
He is on the steering committee of the secretive Bilderberg Group  a chairman of the Trilateral Commission currently headed by David Rockefeller and vice chairman of the European Round Table of IndustrialistsHe is a member of the Comite d'Honneur of the Institute of European Affairs, and an Honorary President of the European Movement Ireland.On 5 December 2006, he was appointed as Consultor of the Extraordinary Section of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (a financial advisor to Vatican City).

Goldman Sachs(USA) has been accused of defrauding investors by America's financial regulator, The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The SEC alleges that Goldman failed to disclose conflicts of interest The claims concern Goldman's marketing of sub-prime mortgage investments just as the US housing market collapsed. Goldman rejected the SEC's allegations, saying that it would "vigorously" defend its reputation. News that the SEC was pressing civil fraud charges against Goldman and one of its London-based vice presidents, Fabrice Tourre, sent shares in the investment bank tumbling 12%.

The SEC states that Goldman failed to disclose "vital information" that one of its clients, Paulson & Co, helped choose which securities were packaged into the mortgage portfolio. These securities were sold to investors in 2007.  Goldman failed to disclose that Paulson, one of the world's largest hedge funds, had bet that the value of the securities would fall. The SEC stated: "Unbeknownst to investors, Paulson... which was posed to benefit if the [securities] defaulted, played a significant role in selecting which [securities] should make up the portfolio." "In sum, Goldman Sachs arranged a transaction at Paulson's request in which Paulson heavily influenced the selection of the portfolio to suit its economic interests," said the Commission.

The SEC alleges that investors in the mortgage securities, packaged into a vehicle called Abacus, lost more than $1bn (£650m) in the US housing collapse. Mr Tourre was the executive  principally behind the creation of Abacus, which agreed its deal with Paulson in April 2007, the SEC said. The Commission alleges that Mr Tourre knew the market in mortgage-backed securities was about to be hit well before this date. The SEC's court document quotes an email from Mr Tourre to a friend in January 2007

"More and more leverage in the system. Only potential survivor, the fabulous Fab[rice Tourre]... standing in the middle of all these complex, highly leveraged, exotic trades he created without necessarily understanding all of the implications of those monstrosities!!!"

Goldman Sachs has denied any wrongdoing, saying in a brief statement: "The SEC's charges are completely unfounded in law and fact and we will vigorously contest them and defend the firm and its reputation." The SEC indictment, it can be safely predicted, will result either in a white-wash of Goldman and its executives or, at the most, a financial slap on the wrist.

The SEC’s civil case lets senior Goldman executives off the hook. The sole individual named as defendant, alongside the bank, is a 31-year-old who was a junior trader in 2007. In 2007, Goldman CEO Blankfein, who is not named in the indictment, received, according to Reuters, $100 million in pay and stock. Paulson, exonerated by the SEC, pocketed $3.7 billion in 2007 and another $2 billion in 2008.The worst Goldman will suffer is a multi-million-dollar fine, a drop in the bucket compared to the financial giant’s profits.The Obama administration, loaded with executives from Goldman and other Wall Street firms, will do nothing to stop the banks and hedge funds from continuing their fleecing operations now and in the future, and none of those chiefly responsible will be held to account. Mr Paulson has not been charged.

Less well-known is Senator Eugene Regan:

Senator Eugene Regan is a Fine Gael senator. He is also a non-executive director at Goldman Sachs and a lawyer.

When Regan contested the general election in 2007, Garret FitzGerald - as Regan said himself -- made the "rare gesture" of endorsing his candidacy: so did Alan Dukes, now chairman of Anglo Irish Bank. Two former Fine Gael leaders, then, declaring for a relatively unknown politician. At the time Regan was a councillor in Dun Laoghaire. He was elected to that council in 2004. He personally spent €45,000 to help get himself elected to the council, four times the money that, on average, other candidates spent in his electoral area.

As a barrister, given the largesse available to those employed in the Four Goldmines, Regan could possibly afford to spend €45,000. In any event, three years later, he failed to convince voters of Dun Laoghaire to elect him to the Dail in 2007.His connections, however, helped get him elected to the Seanad shortly thereafter. His connections are  true-blue Fine Gael and law library. FitzGerald, Dukes and Sutherland.

"Peter Sutherland personally canvassed for Eugene in the local elections of 2004," Regan says on his website, showing the close relationship between the two. During his career, Regan served in the cabinet of Sutherland when Sutherland was EU Commissioner for Social Affairs and Competition. Regan is non-executive director of Goldman Sachs (Dublin and Luxembourg). In fact, he is a non-executive director of 27 separate Goldman Sachs funds, as well as retaining interest in a number of asset management companies, one of which is based in the Cayman Islands. Regan has indicated he is not contesting the next Seanad Elections; other prospects in mind if Enda Kenny becomes Taoiseach next week?

FearFeasa Mac Léinn
Áth Cliath/DUBLIN, 25 Feabhra, February, 2011.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Cowen gambles 
stability for
Party advantage 
and falls flat on face; 
replaced by Martin as 
Greens quit Government;

General election on
for February 25th

Shell-shocked FF 
desert Biffo in droves 
as FF Party 
morale crumbles;

At the end of a tumultuous three weeks in Irish politics, Taoiseach Brian (Biffo) Cowen has been replaced as Fianna Fáil Leader by Micheál Martin and suffered the collapse of his Government as coalition Green Party partners withdrew from Government and a General Election has been called for February 25th.  

The rot started the week after the Dáil resumed following the Christmas break in early January with revelations in the “Sunday Independent” of a previously undisclosed meeting between Biffo and former high-flying banker, Seanie Fitzpatrick, of disgraced and insolvent Anglo-Irish Bank in July of 2008 a few weeks before the Irish Government brought in its controversial blanket guarantee claimed necessary to prevent total collapse of the Irish banking system when the Anglo-Irish insolvency became public knowledge.

Under pressure to provide details of the encounter, which took place at Druid’s Glen golf course near Foxrock in salubrious South Dublin suburbia, Biffo, in a Dáil statement, tried to minimise the event as a quiet golf outing in a social setting which had nothing to do with bank troubles or Government business of any kind. But, faraor, this cosy description was blown wide open by a cruise missile from Sinn Féin leader in the Dáil, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, when he asked Biffo to list the other attendees at the gathering at which the Taoiseach was present. This, after an hour of bluff and bluster by Biffo claiming the Opposition were trying to hang him out to dry over what was a mere social occasion, proved his undoing when he had to reveal that also part of the cosy social gathering were Alan Gray, a board member of the Irish Central Bank, the institution which is the state regulator of banking in Ireland and Gerry McCann, a former director of the then seriously insolvent Anglo-Irish outfit!

People watching the live broadcast of the proceedings on television could see the shock-wave rippling across the Government benches,  with jaws dropping and sharp intakes of breath. Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin reinforced his attack by revealing that he had been present at the same venue at a wedding reception when Biffo and Co. arrived and had seen the other supporting characters when he approached the Taoiseach to invite him to meet the Bridal party as a courtesy. Following this embarrassing debacle which unleashed a whole new round of questions from media and Opposition putting Biffo’s leadership into question again and starting a roller-coaster ride to resignation a few days later.

Events followed in rapid succession. A number of clapped out FF ministers had signalled they would not be contesting the coming election. Cowen saw an opportunity to update his tired Cabinet by bringing in young bloods from the junior ranks of the government. He proposed a confidence motion in himself to see off rising dissidence in the parliamentary party which he won and then, when the Green Party expressed unease at the appointment of any new ministers he re-allocated the portfolios  to the remaining Fianna Fáil ministers. Green Party ex ministers, in high dudgeon, claimed they had not agreed to this proposal and that Biffo was on a solo run. Further consternation on the FF backbenches as the, 48 hours previously, motion of confidence which Cowen had won from them began to dissipate like the early morning mist in the sunrise on the Offaly bogs.

Limerick sewer-rat, Willie O’Dea, sacked as Defence Minister last year as a result of a court perjury scandal(see ‘Brat on a Hot Tin Roof’ in our 2010 articles) emerged to rubbish Cowen’s leadership publicly and plump for dissident Foreign Minister, Micháel Martin, and dismayed coalition partners, the Green Party, who had wrestled with their consciences behind closed doors for a whole day, came into daylight again to announce they were resigning from the Government. Biffo’s goose was plucked, stuffed and cooked all in one go. Seeing the writing on the wall, Biffo resigned the Party leadership. Ex Foreign Minister, Micheal Martin, won the contest a few days later and replaced Cowen as FF Leader. The whole thing a farce, not unlike a mutiny on the Titanic, replacing the Captain as the Iceberg had already holed the Ship of State and the rump Government was forced to accept an ignominious bailout of the State’s indebtedness by the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Fianna Fáil, the dominant party in Irish politics since 1932, when they first entered Government, now riven by factions and despised by a fiercely angered public because of the financial collapse, forced into a general election with only 14% in the polls, down from 42% in the last election in 2007 now facing the most devastating meltdown of a political party in Ireland since the demise of the Irish Party at Westminister at the 1918 General Election which led to Irish independence in 1922.