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80st Birthday!! Ignore it or celebrate it?

80st Birthday!! Ignore it or celebrate it?

Imagine your granddad or grandma had their 80st Birthday today! What would you do? Would you ignore it or celebrate? Would you at least ring them? Buy them (or make them) a cake? Or get a Birthday Card for them?

Interestingly, this week as Ireland’s 80st birthday and it was duly IGNORED! :-O That’s odd isn’t it? Maybe we will have to wait another 20 years until it is worth celebrating? Or maybe what happened 80 years ago wasn’t …..hmmmm…. “juicy” enough to talk about it today?

On 29 December 1937, the Irish Free State became “Ireland” or “Eire” and the Irish constitution from 1922 was replaced by a brand new constitution. There was a referendum about that new constitution on 01 July 1937 and after a majority voted in favour of it, the new constitution came into effect on 29 December.

This means that formally, the Ireland we live in today was born on 29 December 1937 and consequently celebrates its 80st birthday this year. But who is celebrating?

If you want to find out what celebrations there are, you ring some family members, right? Well, I did that! On 29 December, I rang Dail Eireann, but they seemingly weren’t even aware of the birthday and the PR person had left already and won’t be back until next year. Then I rang the Fianna Fail Headquarter and they are all on holidays until 02 January. Then I tried to reach Fine Gael and they are also on holidays until 03 January. I also couldn’t find a newspaper that wrote about this birthday. :-O

So, I guess grandma/grandpa is just unlucky to have a birthday at the wrong time of the year!?

Or could this birthday “ignorance” have something to do with the fact that the current government is from Fine Gael and Fine Gael was the party that campaigned for a NO at the 1937 referendum? They were totally opposed to the new constitution, which was promoted by Fianna Fail??

Let’s ignore any possible reasons and wish: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Ireland! ;-)

Catholic Banana Republic – Part 956: The Dail Prayer

Catholic Banana Republic – Part 956: The Dail Prayer

It seems that there is no end of stories that show how entrenched Catholicism is in Irish politics (and parts of the society). Two weeks ago the scandal about the religious order that might own the new National Maternity Hospital and will probably enforce the catholic ethos for procedures that are carried out in the hospital, was in the media headlines. This week the Dail debate and vote about a daily prayer raised eye brows and baffled people.

As before, I want to point out that I am raised catholic, would still define a version of catholic inspired spirituality as my religion and go to mass without any feeling of guilt despite my total and complete objection to ANY influence of any church on the state.

Any kind of faith or belief should be a completely private matter and has absolutely no place in a political or state context. A state has to be neutral and should be at a home for followers of all or religions or none.

However, things are different in Ireland and the clocks are running a few hundred years behind, it seems. This week the Dail decided that they would stick to the daily (catholic) prayer and that they would force members of the Dail to stand up. In addition they added a 30 second silence to the prayer.

Apart from the fact that no religion-specific (catholic or otherwise) prayer has a place in a parliament in 2017, the chosen prayer is utterly clumsy and outright nonsensical. This is how it goes:

“Direct, we beseech Thee, O Lord, our actions by Thy holy inspirations and carry them on by Thy gracious assistance; that every word and work of ours may always begin from Thee, and by Thee be happily ended; through Christ Our Lord. Amen.”

Come on, who would talk in that language nowadays, can they not at least use modern language?

But even if it was a modern prayer, it has no place in a parliament. Give the members of the parliament another minute so that they can whisper their prayer to themselves in quiet or in a prayer room or similar. Once they have prayed for help (and boy do they need it!), then they can come in to the parliament.

Only in the Catholic Banana Republic called Ireland, 97 out of 133 members of the parliament would vote in favour of keeping a discriminating Catholic prayer.

…and by the way, stuff like this is NOT helping Christianity, instead it does exactly the opposite!

Irish Politics: After the election – What now?

Irish Politics: After the election – What now?

The election is over and the results are interesting. Obviously everybody can interpret the results differently based on their own preferences and therefore my interpretation can’t be completely neutral either. But this is what I see:

Fine Gael and Labour were punished severely for how they ran the country in the last 5 years. Labour largely lost their identity and differentiation in the last 5 years and this resulted in a wipeout in many constituencies. But if you think it is over for Fine Gael and Labour, you will be wrong. As we have seen with Fianna Fail, all that is needed is a government that does things in no better way and suddenly you can be back at the races. So if Fine Gael and Labour want to have a chance to win again next time, they should just let Fianna Fail run the country further into the ground.

Sinn Fein definitely is the biggest winner, but many think that they will win as long as they are not involved in a government as their promises don’t seem to be realisable. The rest is just the rest. Yes, some could get a king maker role in the search for a stable government but since most Independent and many others are more interested in their constituency than the country their election is in many cases counterproductive.

What now? The worst would be to have a new election very soon and luckily the politicians agree with that largely. A new election now would result in a possibly totally random result. Some voters could be shocked about the wins or losses of one or the other party and might change thei voting behaviour significantly, so the outcome is unpredictable and nobody who just got voted in would want that.

So then the only other option is to build a government. The two parties are struggling against it, but in my opinion Fianna Fail and Fine Gael should definitely form a Grand Coalition. They have well over 50% of the seats and the voters did want to have them in that position. Micheal Martin’s suggestion of a comprehensive reform of the Dail and the system is a very good idea and the two big parties could work that out together. It doesn’t really matter to the country or the people who is Taoiseach, but I can understand why to the parties this looks differently. A Grand Coalition can be good for the country, but it also can be detrimental to the junior partner in such a coalition. They might get punished in the next election even further.

Sinn Fein might get away again of not having to take any leadership role, but they won’t get away forever. There wanting to stay in the opposition is well justified and makes sense from their point. In control they would have to put promises into reality and that can be very very difficult….and once you screw up, your meteoric rise might not continue.

So there is a LOT of strategising going on. More than is good for Ireland. But ti shouldn’t really surprise us that the parties, like the Independents, more think about their own bacon than about what is good for the country.

By the way, if no government is found, that’s no problem. The Irish constitution has considered that as a possibility: The old government will continue until a new government is found. There will never be a gap. Minority governments are also a possibility. Yes, more negotiation will be required. But essential laws have even in the past been agreed by the big parties, so they could still continue with that. And non essential laws are just that: Non essential! The budget is many moons away and even a need to negotiate a budget that would be acceptable by all might not be automatically a bad thing.

Are we in a mess? Not at all! There is no panic or worry about the future of the country. I hope they will all talk to all parties and see what makes sense and what can be done and at some stage in the next few months, we will probably have a new government again. Patience!! :-)

Fianna Fail vs Fine Gael – No real difference, but big enemies!

Fianna Fail vs Fine Gael – No real difference, but big enemies!

The election is over and at the time of writing this, the polling stations are just about to close so I have no idea yet, what the outcome of the election will be. BUT, we all have certain expectations and these expectations are usually influenced by the media reporting in the last few days and weeks.

Most commentators expect the outcome to be a “hung” Dail. Hanging in this case is nothing bad or negative and it is a strong word for the situation that means nothing else that not one party or one previous coalition has a clear majority. Big deal! Just find new alliances and form a new coalition. Yes, that’s what most would think, but in Ireland things work a little different, because for some odd reason the two parties that ALWAYS have been the biggest parties in the Dail, really don’t get on with each other.

Substantial difference of opinion? Different ideologies? Not at all! And that is the oddest thing about it! Fianna Fail and Fine Gael really have largely the same opinions about society, economy, justice and nearly all other areas of politics. Yes, there are some differences, but they are really quite small and sometimes you feel they disagree just to pretend that they have separate identities.

So, why do two parties that have the same opinions not work together? Looking at this situation from the outside (or as a foreigner) really doesn’t show any reason for their opposition to each other. But if you ask that question in Ireland, most informed people will have an immediate answer and they will tell you that it goes back to the Irish Civil War.

WHAT? So, the separation of these near-twins goes back more than 90 years and they still haven’t realised (or are struggling with the realisation) that they are more alike than different? Any coalition, Fianna Fail with the Greens in the previous Dail and Fine Gael with Labour in the just finishing Dail period HAS to be much more of a challenge than a coalition between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael. Do they not realise that?

Seemingly they don’t! And so it could happen that if there will indeed be a “hung” Dail we will have sooner a re-election than a cooperation between these two oh so similar parties.

(BTW: I am no suggesting that either of them or a coalition of the two is the best solution for Ireland. They both have not convinced in their periods of governing the country and with that in mind, putting two bad apples together wouldn’t create a yummy peach, it just would probably cause a bigger rotten fruit. The above article is more a reflection on the astonishing fact that they feel they can’t work together, 90 years after their disagreement. Imagine if that idiotic stubbornness was still in place in Northern Ireland! They would still kill each other!)

Stay away from Independents!

Stay away from Independents!

I am a foreigner and therefore – so I have been told occasionally – I have no clue. Keep that in mind when you read this opinion piece. :-)

Today, I am appealing to you NOT to vote for any independent politicians in the next General Election. If you want your voice to be heard, you have to decide for one of the parties, despite the fact that it is quite difficult. A vote for an Independent is a wasted vote, because at best, your Independent TD will never be more than a solo-runner that will have no significant impact and influence. At worst, however, he/she is a mad nutcase that is only interested in his/her own private agenda.

Why are Independents unreliable? Because you don’t know what they are thinking, who or what influences them and because they are a loose cannon. Look at Mick Wallace for example. The people that voted for him have to be aware that he will NEVER be at a position of influence in the Dail (and that is probably a very good thing for the rest of us!), but you also don’t know how he will vote on an issue that will come up in 2 years time and – different to parties – he won’t have to discuss his opinion or his voting behaviour with anybody.

Or take Michael Lowry, a seriously dodgy character who I wouldn’t trust to look after just EUR 50 of my own money. Can he be trusted to partake in running the country?

So what do you get by voting for an Independent? Nothing! Your representative has no influence or impact, might be a mad-cap looney and the only thing you achieve is to protest against the parties. Yes, that at times is a good feeling, BUT keep in mind that it will take many long years until you have the opportunity again to vote. Protest is a short term emotional decision, but in two years time you are still stuck with the nutcase that you voted just to protest against the parties.

So vote for the person that you would trust to look after your own hard earned EUR 5000 and vote for the party that is most aligned with your values and believes!!

Having read all that, I just want to remind you that – as a foreigner – I am not meant to have any clue about what I am talking about, but what if I did have a point!? ;-)

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