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Another Day, Nothing Changes… June 8, 2007

Posted by jbwan in General, Politics.
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So, here we are Summer in Ireland after a general election. Voting for change, shaking up the cabinet, so on so forth. Well none of it has happened, it’s the same old Ireland and the more I think about it the more I want to move to Provence and enjoy life with a community that still holds traditional values. Now that Fianna Fail are back at the helm and the election is over we’re starting to see the cracks opening publicly, in the press. I’ve been saying for ages, along with many others, that inflation was getting dangerous and now we hear that inflation is rising. Wow! There was no such thought in Bertie’s mind previously when he agreed to nurses demands prior to the election – me wonders… We also hear that controversial lands in Dublin may be set for rezoning. Well we wouldn’t have wanted to upset the D4 residents before an election now, would we? Stock markets are falling, interest rates are still climbing and the ordinary Irishman in the private sector is suddenly not that comfortable any more. Meanwhile five days of talks with the Green Party have still failed to produce a government with Fianna Fail. I wonder who’s failing to agree there? Remember, people of Ireland, this was your choice…

Note: Links used above are from the Irish Times 08-07-2007 and may require login to view the content

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Blank Canvassers May 10, 2007

Posted by jbwan in Politics.
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I have political fever: We’re in full election mode at the moment and the more I experience of this mobile carnival, the more I have come to the realisation that I need to get involved in the next round of council elections. For years people have been egging me on to consider running, sometimes in jest but mostly due to my strong opinions on what is wrong with the current blend of politics.

Politicians these days just don’t put in the effort anymore. They seem to think that they’ll always have a certain percentage of the votes and they’re happy with this. Some don’t even bother canvassing for themselves but send armies of minions to do their bidding. In turn these canvassers don’t appear to believe in their undertaking and become nothing more than political leaflet distributors. They rarely if ever knock at a door, it’s really more of a drive-by canvassing event. This general election will see some folk elected as TDs and maybe it’s just me but if I was going for a job interview worth EUR 100,000 then I’d put in a little work and get to know the company before blankly proclaiming that I should have the position. Why do our politicians think differently?

Well, party politics and sheepish Irish voters have a lot to do with it. Certain areas are strongholds for certain parties and sure it’s just a matter of allowing a candidate to run and the people will pick them because of the party badge – no thought required! Ask yourself a question, if all politicians were independent who would you vote for? How would you pick your preferences? Are you just a party voter or has your first choice actually done something for your area? Suddenly voting becomes a lot more difficult for so many people. The blank faces of anonymous canvassers should be replaced with the face of the candidates running for election. Talking to and representing the people is what politics is supposed to be all about. Sadly many politicians think that they are above this and don’t even need to try other than making sure we see their faces on posters 3 weeks prior to an election.

In Waterford, our ex-Mayor Seamus Ryan is keeping an eye on things from Labour’s perspective in his blog A view from the Left. Seamus is maintaining this blog despite not running for election and his fellow Labour candidate Brian O’Shea doesn’t appear to have any presence at all. This is a prime example of electoral candidates not wanting to invest the time and effort into reaching the community. I picked the Labour party because Seamus’ blog is a good read and is worthy of a link, not because Labour is unique in ignoring the community, the same is true of pretty much all the parties. So far this campaign, I have had leaflets for every candidate dropped into my letterbox, once I had a knock on the door from a candidate’s wife and not once has a real candidate shown up to ask for my vote. That is exactly why none of them will get my vote; what’s the point if they aren’t interested in me anyway?

PDs in Turmoil! May 6, 2007

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Just watching a political special on RTE at the moment with respect to the demand by Mr McDowell that the Taoiseach should make a full statement regarding his “finances” that have dominated the news recently. The opinions coming from various PD representatives around the country is completely disjointed and shows that the party is simply incoherent on this issue, so close to the election. It appears that the party is afraid of losing preference votes on polling day. All this really stinks as when the Manchester payments issue first opened back in September 2006, at the same time that Mr McDowell was given the Táinaiste position, he seemed to fizzle off the issue rather quickly. Now however, he drops a massive 12% in an opinion poll before the election and he starts to demand answers that the public want. And he accuses the others of playing auction politics?

All I can say is that somebody in the current government must really have annoyed somebody in the media in the last few weeks. The turnaround, against the current government parties, in the news and printed media is astounding. The current controversy is both welcome as it puts pressure on the Taoiseach to answer questions that need to be answered and unwelcome as it distracts people from the real election issues (highlighted as a valid point by Enda Kenny of Fine Gael and Mary Lou McDonald of Sinn Féin).

In other political news, John Deasy’s wife called to my door yesterday, canvassing for her husband. Simple sentiment John, if you want my vote get off your backside and come yourself, the electorate ain’t paying you to ignore us! In all your days as a politician in Waterford I’ve never once seen you canvassing in person, for your popularity. If you want Enda’s job then at least let people know who you are. Nobody wants an aloof representative.

Thoughts in my head today May 4, 2007

Posted by jbwan in General, Politics, Technology.
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Wondering why the national safety council still refuses to show somebody other than a young male driver in a road accident commercial. It’s a little disproportionate at this stage. Also still concerned as to why adverts are continually sponsored by vested interests such as AXA and Hibernian?

Wondering why Noel Brett (Road Safety Authority CEO) says things like:

“We are asking parents to discuss the new anti-speeding TV ad with their teenagers / young adults so that they understand the consequences of speeding and other forms of dangerous driving. If parents are loaning a vehicle this weekend we ask them to be aware of the circumstances. For example who is driving and are they responsible? What and where is the event they are travelling to? Will there be alcohol consumed? Be firm, refusing to loan the vehicle could save a life.”

“We are also appealing to women: mothers, sisters, girlfriends to get the safety message across to their men to slow down and expect the unexpected. Young Irish men are particularly vulnerable with car crashes being their number one killer. 17 to 24 year old males account for over 1 in 5 driver deaths (22%) yet this age group represent just 6% of the population”

Showing that he simply doesn’t care about highlighting accidents other than young male accidents even though he openly admits that they only account for 20% of driver deaths. Sounds to me like we have 4 times the problem elsewhere?

Wondering if Bertie will “bullet dodge” his way out of this payments scandal? Hard questioning yesterday from Vincent Browne and concern from the Mahon tribunal are adding pressure. It died down before but let’s hope it doesn’t fizzle out this time.

Wondering why some people are raising their eyes at Sinn Féin’s suggestion to make the GPO area in Dublin an historic area prior to the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising, when so many other sites of uprising and rebellion across the world are embraced as national treasures and attract tourists. Why are so many Irish people, so ashamed of their country’s history when they have so much in common with many nations?

Wondering what the future holds for Ireland in terms of housing. So many apartments. So much skyline disappearing. So many areas of the country on a knife edge with respect to adequate employment. I have my fears.

Wondering if I should run for election the next time there’s a local election. Naturally I’d be an independent as I don’t like party politics but my attitude is way different to other independents. Is the county/country ready for somebody who gives a damn? Somebody who’s willing to pick up litter to serve the community on days of quiet council matters? There’s no glitz and glamour with me, I just do things.

Wondering when I’ll reach my first 20km run in my marathon training. Comfortable at 13km now but really need to push it more.

Wondering if I’ll finish my working life, reach retirement, in computing. For so many years I have seen the wheel reinvented now, that the lustre is beginning to fade. I never want to turn my back on technology but perhaps I could serve it better through teaching and observation?

Wondering why I feel the need to write blog posts of my brain dumps. 🙂

Recoil! May 3, 2007

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And the biggest backflip the world has seen since Mary Lou Retton won gold at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, Fianna Fail are now going to reform stamp duty when they publish their party manifesto today. I can only imagine that Brian Cowen must feel like somebody has given him a kick in the finance cabinet. So there you have it: Fianna Fail’s policies and “next steps” for the country are so good and unique that they wait until 3 weeks before the election to steal everyone else’s. Makes you think about what they’ve been doing for the last while, doesn’t it? source: Irish Times

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e-Voting Concerns Again May 2, 2007

Posted by jbwan in Politics, Technology.
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More e-voting concerns – opposite side of the Irish Sea this time. More suspicions of security loopholes and other such but the departments are holding firm that the machines will be okay. When will people learn that the public just won’t trust something they know nothing about and can’t see the workings of. There’s just something about paper trails that will always be with us. source: The Register

Bullet Dodging May 1, 2007

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While I collected my thoughts yesterday on the revelations of Sunday (election date for 24th of May, Celia Larkin supposedly receiving GBP 30K from Michael Wall) the rage I already feel for this government has just gotten unbearable. To make matters worse the announcement that the Mahon tribunal would not continue until after the election at the same time that Bertie was coming under increased pressure regarding payments to both himself and also now his ex-partner; this is completely unacceptable. Over the last number of years we have watched while some politicians curl up and die because of controversy. In the UK, rumour of wrongdoing is enough to end a political career. However, for some reason Bertie “the bullet dodger” Ahern seems to always be unscathed after any challenge. Is it because he satisfactorily answers the accusation? No, it’s because people just seem to give up or forget about it. Here we have an election in 3 weeks and a Taoiseach with a chance of re-election who should be answering questions regarding possible corruption but the state tribunal is refusing to put him in that position until after the election. Do the people not deserve a real picture of the man they might be voting for? I’m not saying that he’s guilty but for once I’d really like to see him go through the full inquiry and answer questions in a meaningful manner that would satisfy the public. How can anyone have faith in the democratic process if this is the product?

The State of Us April 30, 2007

Posted by jbwan in Humour, Politics.
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Last evening I got a chance to watch “The State of Us” on RTE television. When I first heard about this programme I was a bit sceptical that it would never equal Bull Island. However, having watched it I can say that it is truly brilliant! It’s risky enough to be good and contains some very direct references to political controversy, etc. There was an on-going sketch in last nights episode that payed homage to the Martin Cullen consultant scandal and I have to say that it had me in stitches. That was good but when Gay Byrne turns up on a Harley there are more fun and games to be had. The Pat Kenny impressionist has him down to a fine line. Not sure if this is a weekly show or how many episodes there will be but it’s well worth tuning into if you get the chance.

Alternative Government? April 27, 2007

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The results of the latest MRBI poll are out and it makes interesting reading. Support for Fianna Fáil is down and support for Fine Gael is up, in fact the swing is so much that if Labour, Fine Gael and the Greens get together then they are currently 10 points ahead of the government parties in terms of popularity. Perhaps this will make them wake up. All the main figures of the government have lost popularity but especially so, Michael McD who dropped a massive 12 points to 32 percent. Can’t say that I’m surprised about that. With this swing in the popularity stakes I wonder has the general public all but had it with the current set of government TDs. Is it as Labour say, “Time for a change”? Perhaps it’s time for Today FM to bring out another lovable, cuddly Bertie sketch so that his popularity will rise again? I think that all the young people of this country should remember how the Taoiseach regarded them with respect to choosing the election day and make a concerted effort to get off work or be at home so that they can respond in kind. I’m not saying who you should vote for but for God’s sake, get some self-respect and don’t vote for somebody who constantly ignores your needs! source: Irish Times

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Your County Needs You! April 26, 2007

Posted by jbwan in General, Humour, Politics.
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Many thanks to Wellboy from UpTheDeise for alerting me to this. The Monopoly crew are looking for votes on what counties should make it onto the new all-Ireland monopoly board. However, only 22 of the 32 counties will be allowed so vote now or your county will be forever, forgotten. Naturally I’m voting for Waterford and so should you. No other county offers so much in terms of beach, sea, river, mountain, city and countryside. It’s deserving of the purple tab on the Monopoly board. Vote now! source: Monopoly.ie

UPDATE: Striking this post until Hasbro Ireland make the voting process completely transparent rather than making it a blind vote for the last week of the campaign.