Saturday, February 26, 2011

A New Dawn.............

I know the title of this blog is a cliche but it is the only almost correct phrase to describe what is happening in Irish politics today. We seem to be finally witnessing the end of Civil War politics. Fianna Fail have taken an awful drubbing - even the best of their people losing their seats ( and they're not 'all the same'). Each party has strong people and weak people, good ideas and bad ideas, ideas which are worth trying and ideas that should be scrapped. But I think for the first time - at least in my memory of General Elections - an extremely loud and very, very clear message has been sent to our politicians. Fuck us up boys and we'll send you packing and we don't need to chase yiz with guns or bribe yiz with money to do it. We just don't want to play with you anymore - and you can take your ball, we'll make our own one. It might be made of newspaper and string or a straw-stuffed pigs bladder but we'll make do and mend. So there.

I feel relieved that it is looking like a coalition between Left and Right. A balance, I think, that will deliver better politics and accountability and a measured response to our current difficulties. We're grown up now as a nation, we don't need promises of sweeties or money to make us do what politicians want us to do. And it's great. We are witnessing the birth of an adult Ireland born today, the austerity of the Nanny state went for the most part in the last twenty years and now that the heedlessness of the teenage years of the Celtic Tiger has passed we can truly move forward as a confident, intelligent nation.

Jemser reckons that FF and FG will merge into one party within the next ten years. He may well be right. Labour and the Socialist Party will form the Left. I'd imagine the Greens will also go over the next also, they have done their job - putting environmental concerns on the table. So, a mature caring society with a balanced thoughtful government. We can but hope.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Great White in Donegal....

I blogged a month ago about the shock closure of Gallagher's bakery in Ardara in Donegal and the blow it struck to the community - both in the village and in the wider Donegal South West community.

I just heard that local businessman Derek Gallagher today bought back the factory from IAWS - the international food group company he sold Gallaghers to four years ago. Big boys who put Gallaghers into liquidation. He hasn’t disclosed how much he paid for it nor should he - I hope he got a bloody bargain and managed to squeeze plenty of money from the feckers - because he said he will be re-opening the bakery end of the business. He may not be able to re-employ everyone but thinks there is a good chance he will be able to save between seventy and a hundred jobs.

It is an encouraging move on the part of Mr Gallagher and I’m sure there are many families and businesses in the Ardara area who are relieved with the news. Mr Gallagher’s family ran the business for twenty years before selling out to the bigger company although he stayed on as Managing Director.

I don't understand business big or small and I don't have the full facts. But I do understand the value of small tight-knit communities. They look after each other. Yes - Mr Gallagher will make profits but those profits only come after the local worker's wages are paid, the raw materials sourced locally are paid for and the utilities and machines paid for and maintained. Then he takes his cut and all of this trickles down to local businesses. In my last blog about the bakery I said I would recognise a voice calling halt to the march of profits before people. Mr Gallagher said that he had a social responsibility to save as many jobs as possible and provide futures for his children and his community - I like the sound of Mr Gallagher's voice.

Plus Gallagher's white sliced pan is the nicest sliced white (if that’s not an oxymoron) I have ever tasted. Donegal is another world. They do things different up there, they look after their own - they certainly make the best bread (they're good at the fish too!)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Election fatigue and the ghostly tiger......

OMG another fortnight of this wall-to-wall coverage of our political wannabes and I’ll be in severe distress.
‘Switch it off,’ you cry.
I can’t. It’s bloody everywhere. Newspapers, TV, radio, twitter, facebook, blogs that I normally devour for their witty intelligent comment. The journalists and political commentators are on highs, whipping themselves and presumably their audience into a fury. This is their gladiatorial arena with the politicians as bait and us - the baying masses, I assume - urging them all on.
Ok, hyperbole - but you get my drift. And for what?

In roughly a fortnight’s time we’ll make our ticks, the votes will be counted and another shower will be in to try and stay there for a full term. Will anything change? I don’t think so but I’m old and cynical. Having said that, fifty years ago a man I could not understand anyone trusting was voted in as a TD and stayed there for forty five years. I’m not particularly a political animal. But I am an animal. And my animal instincts made me wary, very very wary of this man, hackles up etcetera.I watched in despair as he held high office and actually led our government three times over a thirty year period. And surrounded himself with like-minded individuals. By your friends shall ye know them. It was, I think , this atmosphere that started back then that led finally to the spectacular rise and fall of our unregulated banking industry and the notion by those with wealth that this wealth could continue to self-generate without anything of substance behind it. Smoke and mirrors, smoke and mirrors.

So perhaps I’ve always been cycnical about politics. Mind you, it is beyond me why anybody wants to stand for public office so maybe my mindset is just incapable of understanding their mindset.

We're now a haunted nation. If the Tiger was just dead it might be ok- we could bury him, grieve a little and get on with our lives. Unfortunately he is now a ghostly tiger who will wander this land for generations. The developers washed their hands of their debts, the banks started to cry and passed it on to the Government because above all capitalism cannot be seen to fail. Why? I know it’s a simplistic question but perhaps it's one that needs asking. The Berlin Wall came down when communism was finally allowed to fail. If our banks failed and those who really owned the debt , German and British banks and bond holders or other even more globalised forces depending on which website you read - had to pick up the tab and reduce their share dividends to the already wealthy the world’s wall might collapse. But. Is that a bad thing? I think not.

Most of us would still get up each day, feed our kids, work, shop, play and the great cycle of birth, life, death would continue. It’s only the economy, stupid.

Yes, I’m cynical and jaded and no I don’t have any solutions. But at least I’m not behaving as if what happened to our lovely little country was nothing to do with me. If I hear one more outraged, unapologetic politician I might be forced to smack them. Hard. Except I don't believe in slapping naughty children.