Posts Tagged ‘government

01
Dec
09

We should all be “examing our position”

I’ve been following the publication of the Dublin Archdiocese report from Asia. This may sound insensitive, but I find it somewhat refreshing the Irish media is discussing actual news (Christ, I was glad to be out of the country for the Thierry Henry affair).

As for the report itself, it’s of course horrifying. Much has been said about it by men and women more learned than I, so I’m not going to pretend I have some insight to the affair. However, I would like to express my alarm at my own reaction. The most shocking aspect for me is how unshocked I remain. It’s not that I don’t find the details revealed by the report disgusting, because I do, but I find that I’m as disgusted this week as I was last week, or last year, or the first time I heard the phrase “a few bad apples”.

I wasn’t even shocked when I read this on Twenty’s blog, and after thinking about it for a while I realised my indifference is informed by the same idiocy that lead 98FM to use that picture. Whereas the church’s omnipotence was once a constant presence in the back of the minds of Irish people, it has now simply been replaced by the abuses perpetrated by that church. We know it without acknowledging it. We tut to ourselves while reading our papers, thinking how awful the whole thing was. We moan that bishops should resign, but that’s not going to atone for our own complicities.

There’s a silver lining to 98FM’s horrifying insensitivity, in that highlights a general absence of the one response to the report that’s needed the most, a recognition that real people were affected and remain affected by this abuse. This is not an attack against anyone. As I say, I’m as guilty of this as anyone. The horror we think we feel today is largely just a self-serving excuse we dreamt up to tell ourselves it can never happen again, but is this really true? Have we really learned anything? As much as I hate hypothetical comparisons, I think this one is apt. Imagine if a private company with access to children were guilty of the cover-ups that the church is charged with. Would we be satisfied with weedy calls for CEOs to resign? The fuck we would. These people, these guardians of moral authority, are directly complicit in possibly the most heinous crime that can be visited on children. I normally wouldn’t support Twenty’s tabloid proclamations, but he’s right on this one. These people should be prosecuted. Resignation isn’t good enough.

Then again, prosecution isn’t good enough either. That’s not going to sooth our own conscience.

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28
Jan
09

Freedom of Information: Know your rights

Earlier in the week I sent an FOI request to the Department of Justice, and this morning I received a letter informing me that my request has been acknowledged and is being handling. So far so what, one might say, this is all pretty much above board. There is, however, one interesting anomaly. The letter contains one sentence, in dramatic bold print no less, that states, “Non reply by us is deemed to be a refusal.”

Now I generally don’t have a problem with people taking the piss occasionally. It is after all a particularly Irish trait to test the boundaries of what we can get away with. If this had been just a once-off I wouldn’t have felt the need to write this post. However, this is the second time they’ve tried this shit with me, so now I’m going public.

If ever a facet of the public administration system tries to fool you into believing they may refuse a freedom of information request without informing you why, I advise you to immediately e-mail the relevant FOI officer (as I’m going to do as soon as I’ve finished this post) and direct their attention to Section 8 (1), paragraph c of the Freedom of Information Act. This states:

Subject to the provisions of this Act, a head shall, as soon as may be, but not later than 4 weeks, after the receipt of a request under section 7 cause notice, in writing or in such other form as may be determined, of the decision and determination to be given to the requester concerned.

Basically, if your request is refused, they’re required to inform you why. Yet the FOI officer in the Department of Justice is under the impression that she can simply say, “fuck that,” and throw out requests without giving them a further thought. Of course this is symptomatic of the general contempt for freedom of information displayed by our civil servants, addicted as they are to the culture of secrecy granted to them by Charlie Haughey’s Official Secrets Act of 1963. These guys personally resent examination of how they do their jobs and see the Freedom of Information Act as something that should at most be pacified and preferably ignored completely.

Proof of this came in 2003 when the Government disgracefully amended the original act. The same fuckers who as opposition in 1997 claimed the act was too weak and ineffectual did their utmost make it weaker. Let me say, however, that I don’t have a problem with many of the changes made. Introducing a €15 charge to eliminate nuisance requests was entirely justified. And as for increasing the protection period for cabinet documents from five to ten years, few would deny (at least in private) that 5 years was ridiculously short. The problem is that they didn’t stop there. They greatly expanded what was deemed to be a cabinet document, which in effect changed the meaning of the word “Government”. There are other examples too numerous to mention here. So let us merely look at Bertie Ahern’s defence of the amendments in the Dáil when he claimed:

Later today, I am dealing with Northern Ireland matters on the Good Friday Agreement, which was negotiated five years ago. If the papers were available about the same issues being negotiated today, there would be major difficulties. It is not possible to reduce the period to five years when one is dealing with the same people, process and issues.

Fair point, until you realise the original act contained this little tidbit:

A head may refuse to grant a request under section 7 in relation to a record if, in the opinion of the head, access to it could reasonably be expected to affect adversely-
(a) the security of the State
(b) the defence of the State
(c) the international relations of the State, or
(d) matters relating to Northern Ireland

But this is all water under the bridge. Having already undermined the act, one might expect them to at least comply with the bitty remains they left behind, but apparenty not. Well, the last time I got such a letter I sent them an e-mail demanding to be notified in writing if my request is denied. As it happens, my request was denied (for reasons I accept were justified, or at least legal), and sure enough, I got a very detailed letter explaining why. This is the lesson I’m trying to impart with this here fable. These fuckers will only get away with this shit if we let them.

10
Jan
09

Economists need to shut the fuck up

They’re at it again. Today’s Irish Times has a piece about how economists are predicting 10% jobless rates by the middle of the year. Fás economist Brian McCormick went even further, saying we’ll reach 12% by the end of 2009. He warned, “the immediate future for the jobs market depended on the impact of a weak sterling and the credit crunch on the retail sector, as well as the way in which migration trends respond to the changes in the economic environment,” which pulls the simultaneous trick of sounding suitably dire and blaming the immigrants for it. The Indo has a similar piece, which states, “Some economists secretly admitted that their official estimates could be conservative and jobless queues may reach levels not seen since the 1980s.” It’s enough to wonder why we bother getting out of bed.

Well, you know what? Fuck them! The one thing I’ve learn from this whole recession is that there’s nothing quite so useless as an economist. These are the swaggering dickheads who failed to see the recession coming, and let the government get away with wasting money on services that don’t work, giving tax breaks to the country’s super-rich, criminally inflating the housing market, and generally take us all of a fantastic voyage on the good ship “Celtic Tiger”, which sunk like a stone after the first strike of an ice-cube (explained here better than I ever could). If these economists advised banks to invest their (our) money in an online casino they’d have been laughed out of a job. This, on reflection, would have been a far safer option. At least online gambling doesn’t create massive – and quite unmistakable – market bubbles. Ok, there were some economists warning of a possible crisis, but the ease with which these few voices of sanity were ignored largely proves my point that all economists useless. Remember when Bertie suggested that people warning of an economic slowdown should kill themselves and be done with it? I’d love to know what the miserable tit-bag makes of that comment now.

So, now that we’re in the middle of a slump that these knobjockeys helped lead us to, they’re trying to make us feel worse by convincing us there’s no way out of it anytime soon. Well, they can shove their predictions up their holes, because it seems to me that their only talent is to tell us what’s currently happening, like a weatherman who operates by looking out the window and saying, “bit cloudy, might rain.” It also seems to me that reinforcing a constant message that “your job isn’t safe” will undermine consumer confidence further and make the whole thing worse. For all we know (and when I say “we” I’m including economists) the economy might turn around in a month’s time and we’ll wonder what the fuss was about.

Ok, that’s probably not going to happen. All the same, there’s not much use in worrying about it too much, which is what these dicksplashes seem to want, and they don’t expect to be questioned on this because they’re economists and that means they’re experts and know what they’re talking about. The media has given these cunts a free ride for their failures, but there’ll be none of that here. I’m not going to feel bad because they want me to (angry, maybe, but not bad).