Here are the first 10 reasons that spring to mind, without expending any great mental effort.  If I tried harder it would be a really long list.

  1. He puts the interests of Fianna Fáil before the national interest
  2. He lacks the ability to inspire
  3. He is fatally implicated in our financial mess, having been Minister for Finance during the years when the economy was destroyed
  4. Two words: Mary Coughlan
  5. He is too cautious when radical measures are needed (cabinet “reshuffle” being an example)
  6. Appalling judgement.  Example:  defending John O’Donoghue long past the point where it made sense
  7. Somebody who failed to see what was wrong with Willie O’Dea’s behaviour is not fit to be Taoiseach
  8. Last year’s threatened cave-in to the public service unions when he considered an unpaid leave proposal in lieu of a pay cut.
  9. And the actual (and incredibly damaging) cave-in to senior civil servants when he sanctioned the reversal of most of their pay cut.
  10. Drink.  I don’t know if he does drink as much as the rumour-mill would have it, but sometimes the perception is the reality.  It’s now too late to recover lost ground on this one: the damage is done.

ISME was right ……

23 March, 2010

I recently stumbled across a press release dated June 2006 from the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME).  I’m not always a fan of ISME’s intemperate style, but it has to be said that they called it right more often than not when the Government were destroying the economy over the past ten years.  When Ahern/Cowen were throwing taxpayers’ money around like confetti, and indulging the public sector with the “benchmarking” scam, and when IBEC were at best negligent (and arguably complicit) in leading the country to ruin, at least ISME were shouting warnings and invectives from the sidelines.

The press release, issued at very height of the Celtic Bubble, is sadly prescient.  The following is a flavour:

ISME, the Independent Business Organisation, described the details of the new social partnership agreement, ‘Towards 2016’, as a bad deal for small business, a bad deal for the economy a bad deal for democracy but a good deal for the Public Sector Unions and CORI. The Association warned that this ‘agreement at all costs’ would have serious repercussions for Irish competitiveness and the overall welfare of the State.

Attacking the proposals, particularly the pay element, ISME Chief Executive Mark Fielding outlined that pay increases of the magnitude of 4.5% annually, almost twice the EU average, are not feasible, will be  detrimental to competitiveness and will result in companies either downsizing, shedding jobs or closing down completely.

You can read it all here.

I see that the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Cardinal Seán Brady, who is facing calls to resign over revelations that he did not report complaints against a paedophile priest to police, has said that he will only step down if told to by the Pope.  He has also defended his role at a 1975 meeting where children abused by sex offender Father Brendan Smyth were asked to take a vow of silence.

I’m not sure where on the Pope’s agenda the possible resignation of Cardinal Brady sits.  Perhaps he has more pressing matters to attend to, and he isn’t bothering about dealing with members of his team who failed to deal appropriately with criminal priests engaged in child sex abuse.

Indeed, I’m sure we all take comfort from His Holiness instead taking time out to play a leading role in the battle against another major threat to human civilisation: full-body scanners. 

Read the rest of this entry »

Here we go again.   The placebo-pushers are on the move.  And unfortunately I read here that an Irish MEP is to the fore in promoting this nonsense:

“The third EU Homeopathy Day will be hosted by Marian Harkin MEP in the European Parliament on 23 March. Organised by the European associations of patients, practitioners, doctors and pharmacists of homeopathy and the European homeopathic and anthroposophic medicine industry association, the event will focus on the need to respect the choices and preferences of the 100 million users of homeopathy and anthroposophic medicine in Europe and to act on their request for the integration of homeopathy and complementary medicine into health care policy.”

It appears that the European Commission plans to launch a review of EU pharmaceutical laws, so the homeopathy quacks feel that it’s a good time to launch a lobbying push in Brussels.  They want  the EU to require all member states to provide access to their worthless products  from publicly-funded health systems.  That’s your taxes, dear reader, that will be used to promote products that have never been shown to have any beneficial effect, except possibly at the level of a placebo, other than in dodgy and biased tests. 

What next? Free witchcraft services for medical card holders? Read the rest of this entry »

I think that this is a great idea.  A competition to get people thinking about large projects or ideas that might “give life to new industry, revitalise or revolutionise an existing market, or even change the way we do business entirely.”

The website also tells us that

“It’s not about creating new products. It’s about creating something that will make a long term positive impact on the future of Ireland, its people, and its economy.

Your Country, Your Call is all about Ireland. It’s about helping to create sustainable employment and prosperity, whilst at the same time generating hope, confidence, and positive thinking.”

So that’s great – positive thinking and creativity being harnessed. 

But hang on a minute.

That we are holding a competition to come up with ideas to save the country is a complete indictment of the useless time-servers we have in Government at the moment.  It’s their job to come up with good ideas to improve the lives of Irish citizens.  That’s what we pay them for.   Brian Cowen and his Government are the ones who are supposed to be “generating hope, confidence, and positive thinking”. 

Oh, God.  Not only are they useless, they are also completely without shame.  And we are so used to this state of affairs, and our expectations of our politicians are so low, that we almost fail to notice the new and additional disgrace involved in what is otherwise a worthy project.

Below is a selection of  film clichés which (in various forms) have been published elsewhere, usually under the title “THINGS YOU WOULD NEVER KNOW WITHOUT THE MOVIES”.  The list is usually longer, but these are my favourites.  One I haven’t seen elsewhere, but bugs me every time I see it, it the habit people have (in films at least) of ordering food in a restaurant and only eating a mouthful or two before some plot device requires them to get up and depart rapidly.  I hate to see good food go to waste, as my weighing scales testify.

  • All grocery shopping bags contain at least one loaf  of French bread and a stick of celery.
  • The ventilation system of any building is the perfect hiding place. No-one will ever think of looking for you in there and you can travel to any other part of the building you want without difficulty.
  • You’re very likely to survive any battle in any war – unless you make the mistake of showing someone a picture of your sweetheart back home.
  • If your town is threatened by an imminent natural disaster or killer beast, the mayor’s first concern will be the tourist trade or his forthcoming art exhibition.
  • The Eiffel Tower can be seen from any window in Paris.
  • If a large pane of glass is visible, someone will be thrown through it before long.
  • The Chief of Police is always black. Read the rest of this entry »

Not in any particular order, here are the things that annoy me most about flying with Ryanair. A complete list would be too long for me to write and for you to read.  Yes, I know it’s been done before ad nauseum, and it doesn’t seem to make any difference to the way they run the airline, but just let me do it anyway;  I feel it may be therapeutic for me to unburden my bottled up frustration by writing about it.

Inability to pre-book seats. Every other airline seems to be able to offer the possibility of assigned seat numbers. If you are travelling with another person, there is the sweat about whether you will be able to sit together. Yes I know you can pay for priority boarding, but this doesn’t work in places where you are delivered to the airplane by bus.

That infernal queue to board. The cattle-like queuing you see at every Ryanair departure counter from about 30 minutes before boarding actually starts is a pain for everybody. Why can’t they call people to board based on the sequence number printed on the boarding card, or based on a ticket collected at time of arrival at the gate? Not difficult for Ryanair, but I suppose treating passengers with a bit of dignity might ultimately cause a bit of inconvenience to the airline if the pesky passengers get the idea that they matter in some small way. Treat them like s**t and they won’t talk back.

The baggage weight limit.  For an item of checked baggage, 15kg is ridiculous and seems designed to annoy passengers – an allowance of 20kg should be the minimum, or at least 18kg. Ryanair’s policy leads to people maximising the 10kg limit on carry-on baggage, and adds to stress levels on boarding, with passengers chasing inadequate overhead locker space. This is one of the causes of the cattle-like queuing referred to above. And the thing is, 15kg is a totally arbitrary limit. What’s the difference in cost for the airline between carrying a 90kg man with a 15kg suitcase, and an 85kg man with a 20kg suitcase? They don’t charge for passengers by weight.

Read the rest of this entry »

Warning: stupidity ahead

2 March, 2010

Here’s another instalment in an occasional series of shocking spelling or grammar in public signage or the media. This photo was taken recently at the entrance to a public car park near Christchurch in Dublin.

What’s funny (and depressing at the same time) is that a large corporation drafted, manufactured and issued an important sign that was by definition intended for public consumption, and failed to correct a blatant spelling mistake.

There must have been dozens of people who interacted with the wording of the sign between the time of its initial drafting and the date on which it was erected. It is positively bizarre that nobody intervened to correct the howler.

If I were an executive in the car parking company involved, I would have made sure it never saw the light of day. This would apply even if I was of the view that spelling didn’t really matter as along as the meaning is clear; for I would know that there are many people out there who believe that spelling does matter, and why should I annoy even a minority (if it is a minority) of customers?

Indeed why even run the risk that a few people will assume that such carelessness is indicative of a wider carelessness in the management of the car park, and therefore avoid it in favour of a car park where there is a slightly better chance their car won’t be damaged or stolen?