Paddy’s Day Junkets

So RTÉ have the list of visits junkets for St. Patricks Day. Because of cut backs, some Ministers have to visit two or even three places. Don’t you feel so sorry for them. This of course does not include Local Councillors heading off for it. Here is the full list.

Taoiseach (Brian Cowen) and Minister for Foreign Affairs (Micheal Martin) – New York and Washington D.C.

Minister for Finance (Brian Lenihan) – London

Minister for Agriculture and Food (Brendan Smith) – Munich, Berlin & Dusseldorf

Minister for Transport (Noel Dempsey) – Toronto

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Eamon Ryan) – San Francisco and New York

Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Éamon Ó Cuív) – Sydney, Brisbane & Melbourne

Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism (Martin Cullen) – Houston

Minister for Social and Family Affairs (Mary Hanafin) – Philadelphia and Atlanta

Attorney General (Paul Gallagher) – Seattle

Minister of State Pat Carey (Chief Whip, Defence, special responsibility for Active Citizenship) – Boston

Minister of State Barry Andrews (Health and Children) – Mumbai and New Delhi

Minister of State Trevor Sargent (Agriculture, Fisheries and Food) – Paris

Minister of State Jimmy Devins (Education and Science, Enterprise, Trade and Employment) – Chicago

Minister of State Peter Power (Foreign Affairs) – Birmingham

Minister of State John McGuinness (Enterprise, Trade and Employment) – Edinburgh and Glasgow

Minister of State Billy Kelleher (Enterprise, Trade and Employment) – Rome and Milan

I hope to find out what local reps are off for St. Patricks Day Junkets as well.

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Yet another budget!

Image via Wikipedia

So the PR early budget didnt work and it seams it is time we had a new budget. The current budget has only fully been in force for two months!!! If thats not FAIL I don’t know what is.

Fine Gael are calling for massive “overhaul” – read cuts – in the public sector and they have a point that there is a lot of waste that does need to be cut out at the top not the frontline where Nurses, Teachers, and Junior Doctors (among many more!!) seam to baring the brunt of the strategies used so far (1% “Lenihan Levy” and Pension Levy) These onviously arent working and the Government need to look at this carefully to avoid an all out strike in our public services.

In the same day we are told there will be new taxes (read new budget) and that we face a €20bn deficit, Mary Hanafin, Minister for Social and Family Affairs, axes the National Carers’ Strategy. Talk about trying to bury bad news. This actually goes against the Programme for Government which promises this exact strategy. I wonder how the Greens will react to that? Probably not at all.

These figures, cuts and the talk of more tax rises do not bode well for Fianna Fail and will probably see them suffer at the polls come June. Also these deficits will see us in trouble with the EU as we are supposed to be taking actions to curtail the deficit and the opposite is happening! Some hope we have of getting out of this recession first.

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New Element Discovered – Governmentium

Got this in an email and I had to post it.

Lawrence Livermore Laboratories has discovered the heaviest element yet known to science.

The new element, Governmentium (Gv), has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons, and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.

These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.

Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert; however, it can be detected, because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A tiny amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction that would normally take less than a second, to take from 4 days to 4 years to complete.

Governmentium has a normal half-life of 2- 6 years. It does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places.

In fact, Governmentium’s mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes.

This characteristic of morons promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as critical morass.

When catalysed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium, an element that radiates just as much energy as Governmentium since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons.

Very Funny!

Government set to recapitalise the banks

uploading image of Irish Govt buildings. My im...Image via WikipediaThe Government has finally decided to recapitalise the banks to the tune of €10 billion in a statement from the Department of Finance released tonight.

The Government has today decided on an approach to the recapitalisation of credit institutions. The Government’s objective is to ensure the long-term sustainability of the banking sector in Ireland and to underpin its contribution through the availability of credit to individuals and businesses in the real economy. This initiative will help to foster and encourage the flow of funds to the economy, and limit the impact of financial market difficulties on businesses and individuals.

My question is, can we afford this recapitalisation? Gerard O’Neill of Turbulence Ahead has an excellent post pointing out the fact that Ireland is one of a few countries facing the possibility of Sovereign Default. The others are Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK. Will this announcement make it worse?

The Government will use the National Pensions Reserve Fund to recapitalise the banks. This will be done through the purchase of “preference shares and/or ordinary shares and the State may where appropriate participate on an underwriting basis.” Excising shareholders “will be expected to have the right to subscribe for new capital on the same terms as the Government”

The question is will this do anything? In the UK there has been no easing of credit lines and that it is the point of this move as the statement says the “initiative will help to foster and encourage the flow of funds to the economy, and limit the impact of financial market difficulties on businesses and individuals”

I’m not so convinced.

The proof of the offering will be in the bank shares at close tomorrow. Especially Anglo Irish Bank who’s shares closed at 38c on Friday.

The scheme will come into operation next month following discussions and negotiations. I wonder will we see mergers?

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The 30th Anniversary of the 7th Amendment

Copies of the constitution are published by th...Image via WikipediaNext year sees the 30th Anniversary of the Seventh Amendment to the Irish Constitution. The Amendment was approved by referendum on 5 July 1979 and signed into law on the 3 August of the same year. A whopping 92.4% of the electorate voted for the amendment, yet to this day it remains inacted. The seventh amendment allowed for changes in the how the Seanad University Seats were filled and allowed for graduates of other institutions of higher education to vote for the Seanad.

The text of Article 18.4 of the Irish Constitution after the passing of the Seventh Amendment is as follows (new text is in bold):

1. The elected members of Seanad Éireann shall be elected as follows:

i. Three shall be elected by the National University of Ireland.
ii. Three shall be elected by the University of Dublin.
iii. Forty-three shall be elected from panels of candidates constituted as hereinafter provided.

2. Provision may be made by law for the election, on a franchise and in the manner to be provided by law, by one or more of the following institutions, namely:

i. the universities mentioned in subsection 1 of this section,
ii. any other institutions of higher education in the State, of so many members of Seanad Éireann as may be fixed by law in substitution for an equal number of the members to be elected pursuant to paragraphs i and ii of the said subsection 1.

A member or members of Seanad Éireann may be elected under this subsection by institutions grouped together or by a single institution.

3. Nothing in this Article shall be invoked to prohibit the dissolution by law of a university mentioned in subsection 1 of this section.

In its 30 years in the Constitution no Government has taken up on this amendment and passed a law to expand the franchise beyond TCD and the NUI Universities. Which is unusual.

The reason I blog about this is that I recently came across a Facebook group “Seanad Reform – After 30 years can we have our votes now?” calling for the franchise to be expanded. Will the current Government expand the vote to IT’s and UL? I doubt it, but I think it is something that should be looked at in terms of reform of the Seanad without having to have a referendum on it.

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"Government has finally woken up to the scale of the crisis facing the economy"

Via The Angry Hedgehog and Breakingnews.ie

So we are going to have an early budget. October 14th to be exact. Is Brian Lenihan going to take a different tack to Darling in the UK (BBC Link) and actually try to talk positive about the economy and by doing three things that Fine Gael have outlined that will help the economy?

– Cutting waste
– Cutting tax
– And promoting substantive reform across the public sector

In ists statement the Government finally admitted our over dependence on the Construction industry which has been long evident to economists and non-expert alike!

Domestically we are also faced with a contracting construction

sector which is suppressing economic growth rates and a rising cost base is

eroding Ireland’s competitiveness. In addition, the slowdown has resulted

in a rapid deterioration in the public finances and falling consumer

confidence.

Fine Gael TD and Party Spokesperson on Finance, Richard Bruton, was quick off the mark to criticise the Governments slow reaction to the budget crisis.

The Government has finally woken up to the scale of the crisis facing the economy. This week’s Exchequer figures and the unprecedented rise in the live register has prompted a belated response from Fianna Fáil. But the Government has squandered valuable time and sabotaged Ireland’s ability to weather the economic downturn.

Even still, we will wait a further six weeks before we see any concrete proposals. The fear remains that this announcement is about filling a publicity cycle and is not based on a clear strategy. It remains to be seen whether this crisis Budget is about tax increases for families and businesses in the short-term and cuts in frontline services early next January.

We can only hope that the Government has a clear plan of action to rescue the economy, and is not hoping for a flash of inspiration between now and the Budget. Without a definite strategy, Fianna Fáil is likely to foist emergency tax measures on the public come October. Many of these will be stealth taxes which will hit the vulnerable members of society the hardest.

Fianna Fáil only has itself to blame for this debacle. Fine Gael has been warning for years that the Government’s over-reliance on a debt-fuelled housing boom was unsustainable. Time and again I highlighted the risks inherent in Brian Cowen’s economic strategy. As far back as 2005, the IMF and OECD issued stern warnings about the dangers that Brian Cowen’s Budgets would overheat the property market and expose the economy to recession. They were comprehensively ignored.

So an early budget is a novel approach and alot better approach then a stamp duty holiday which is the route been taking by the UK which is a tried and failed method highted by Guido.

I wonder what intiatives they will come up with?

Will the Government act on Article 8 of the ECHR?

Lydia Foy has won her case in the high court which ruled that the state is in breach of Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

Article 8 states the following

1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.
2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

Now will the Government Act? Under the programme for Government there is no planned Gender Recognition Act. We must also remember, that the Irish Government is not the quickest at remedying the law when it comes to the ECHR. How long did it take to implement the Norris Judgement?

I would love to see the Government bring in an act on this and I will be bringing it up at UCC YFG this week and will try and submit it for Conference.

Government Announces New Plan for Care of the Elderly

Via RTÉ

Its about time they did this but I have huge reservations to this part of the Plan

The plan provides for the State to recoup some of the cost of care from older people after their death, when their home is sold.

What if it is left to a member of the family, I know they have to pay inheritance tax etc, but how can they put another tax on it, I suppose it will be another Stealth Tax, they’ll tax ya despit you being dead!

I like this part of the plan though

The distinction between a public and private nursing home bed is to end.

But basically will pay more if you can!

Government Leaving Down Cork

Within the last 12 months the Government has held one cabinet meeting in Cork City after which the Taoiseach announced that the ‘Government was committed to Cork’. The question is; is the Government really committed to Cork?

At the last general election the Government promised that there would be extra Gardaí on the streets. The Government has yet to follow through with this promise as more and more Gardaí get caught to do more paper work as the ‘PULSE’ computer system is not working correctly.

The Government also promised that the new airport terminal at Cork Airport would have air bridges. The Government have now reneged on this promised and have said that the new terminal ‘may’ have two air bridges. In addition to this the government promised that Cork Airport would not shoulder the debt of the construction of the new terminal when it becomes a separate corporate identity. The Government have now said the new Cork Airport Authority may have to bear part of the debt incurred in the construction of the new terminal.

Then there is the Incinerator in Cork Harbour. The majority of the residents in area are opposed to the construction of the incinerator but the Government is determined to push through with this project despite mass objections. The people of Cork are worried of the possible affects on the health of people in the area due to the emissions from the incinerator.

The there is the Cork University Hospital extension which was left idle for two years. Why? Because the Department of Health refused to pay for the extra staff needed to operate the new facility.

Do these promises and projects show that the current government is committed to Cork? No. What these show are Government promises changed to ‘maybes’ and the pushing through of projects that the people of the area are opposed to. Is this what you do when a Government is committed to an area? The answer No, the people of Cork will very shortly have a chance to show how upset they are with the Government as it is believed that a General Election is due in the next 12 months.