Your correspondent has covertly obtained secret guidelines issued to members of the Gardaí who are charged with enforcing speed limits on Irish roads.  When asked to comment on these shocking revelations, published here for the first time, the Garda Press Office declined to comment.

  1. Thou shalt not set up speed traps on country roads which are genuinely dangerous, for narrow or winding roads are far too dangerous for the safety of law enforcers, and in any event fewer people will be caught which verily is bad for business.
  2. Thou shalt always set up speed traps on wide, straight roads where motorists will be genuinely surprised at how low the limit is.
  3. Read the rest of this entry »
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Anybody who grew up witnessing the years of struggle against apartheid in South Africa, as I did, would surely have been impressed by the cumulative effect of international sanctions against the former regime there.  Institutionalised discrimination against people on grounds of skin colour was ultimately defeated and South Africa became a respectable member of the world community.

For many years now, a related question has been preying on my mind.  Why is there no equivalent international agitation against regimes that have institutionalised discrimination against people on grounds of their genderRead the rest of this entry »

Last November, The Irish Independent ran an article about the Rody Molloy flights controversy: “Cowen defends FAS chief in travel bill fury”  One of the points made was about possible tax consequences if an employer paid for a spouse to accompany an employee on a trip where the spouse’s presence was not necessary for business purposes.   “The Revenue Commissioners said benefit-in-kind tax could apply to flight tickets used by the spouse of a business person under some circumstances. But a spokesman said it would depend on whether the spouse was taking part in business activities — such as attending a conference.”

So where does this leave John O’Donoghue, whose wife seems to have been paid for (by you and me) to accompany him on most of his overseas junkets, even though he had his personal assistant along as well?  I have no doubt the Revenue Commissioners are onto this already…..

By the way, copies of all his Mr O’Donoghue’s expense claims are available on the web, courtesy of Gavin’s Blog.

You will also find details there of the Fianna Fáil connection of the limousine company he used for his jaunts to Cheltenham and other places, again at our (enormous) expense.

I’m looking at the photo today on page 7 of the Irish Times of the outsize red and yellow cards being brandished by campaign director Pat Cox and (Ireland for Europe chairwoman) Prof Brigid Laffan.  The caption says that they were at the Office of the Referendum Commission in Dublin yesterday to urge red and yellow penalty cards for those “who tell lies” about the Lisbon Treaty.

Am I alone in feeling patronised by this toytown approach to the Lisbon debate? My only surprise is that Mr Smug himself, our Minister for European Affairs, isn’t present to add his (considerable) weight.

This adds to my annoyance that Prof Laffan’s organisation, by virtue of its title, assumes that anybody who is against the Lisbon Treaty must be against Ireland’s full participation in the EU (I am assuming that when when they say “Ireland for Europe”, they mean the EU and not the geographical entity….).  This is emphatically not the case.

And while I’m at it, how come the Referendum Commission is allowing its offices to be used in this way by one particular side of the argument?

I had a drink recently with a friend who regards himself (not without reason) as an astute investor, and naturally I asked him for a view on which way stock markets were going to move.  I expected the normal analysis about markets going sideways, or being slightly overbought, or about to rebound and so on.  But what he hit me with was something altogether more surprising, and (if he’s right) alarming.  Read the rest of this entry »

All serious economists agree that Ireland needs an annual property tax on private residences, and not just because extra revenue needs to be raised to reduce our vast public spending deficit.  An annual property tax has merit in its own right, as an alternative to transaction based stamp duties or extra taxes on income.  Ireland is possibly unique in the developed world in not asking owners of private residences to make a realistic contribution to local services (other than bin charges).

The Commission on Taxation report, due within weeks, is almost certain to recommend a property tax.

So we can be confident therefore that the Government will do the right thing, and at the same time get rid of any lingering suspicions that Fianna Fáil will always jump to the  builders’ tune, by following through and implementing a sensible annual tax on residential property.  We can be confident also that FF will put aside any petty party political considerations and do the right thing in this country’s hour of need.

Not.

The front page of today’s Sunday Tribune has a heart-warming story that offers one reassurance that some old certainties remain, that in a crazy and generally unpredictable world there is still the occasional cast-iron verity: that Fianna Fáil will put party before country. Read the rest of this entry »

For a balanced and informative overview of the Irish banking crisis, I recommend “Resolving Ireland’s Banking Crisis” by Patrick Honahan in The Economic and Social Review, Vol. 40, No. 2, Summer, 2009, which is available online here.  

Described as a “Policy Paper”, it is written in a calm, dispassionate manner; however, if one deconstructs the understated and analytical prose, one is left in no doubt that we taxpayers are victims of a massive failure by our highly-paid regulators to do their job properly.  Read the rest of this entry »