Featured

Kathy Sheridan: Afraid to speak truth to power?

 

 

By Anthony Sheridan

For ordinary Irish citizens, corruption is a dark, malignant everyday reality that causes endless loss and suffering. The political system, the financial sector, planning, property, you name it, corruption is rampant and routine among the top tiers of Irish society. The disease does immeasurable damage to the wealth, health and aspirations of ordinary people.

But in the warm, comfortable bubble where the establishment media happily coexist with the powerful and the corrupt, there is no such thing as corruption. Instead, there is a mysterious entity universally referred to as ‘culture’.

So, for example, there’s no corruption in our police force, our banks or our political system, just this inexplicable abstraction called ‘culture’.

And, apparently, all that’s needed to bring a halt to the massive damage caused by this mysterious ‘culture’ is the application of another magic word – ‘reform’.

So, basically, that’s all establishment journalists write or talk about, culture and reform and it’s off to the Dail bar for drinks – happy days.

But despite the availability of these magic, truth avoiding words, it can still be difficult for establishment journalists to write about corruption without actually using the dreaded ‘C’ word.

Take for example a recent article by Irish Times journalist Kathy Sheridan in which she reflects on the catastrophic economic crash of 2008 which occurred as a direct result of corruption in the political and financial sectors.

The corruption word does not, of course, make an appearance but, to her credit, the truth-avoiding ‘culture’ word only appears in the very last paragraph.

Instead, Ms. Sheridan falls back on another strategy commonly employed by those who are afraid of speaking truth to power. While ostensibly analysing the Irish economic catastrophe she focuses the bulk of her analysis on events in another country thus sparing the blushes of those who wield power in Ireland.

At the beginning of her article she accepts that the people are angry and have lost trust in the system. The bulk of the article is then filled with a long, meandering story about some American financial wizard before ending with a sermonising quote that’s probably meant, somehow, to bring  comfort to the countless victims of the rampant corruption here in Ireland.

It’s about trust, yes. It’s about culture, [oh, there’s that word] behaviour and accountability. But like almost everything that makes life bearable, it’s also about common decency.

Ah yes, common decency. Now if only establishment journalists like Ms Sheridan could bring themselves to speak truth to power, to actually use the ‘corruption’ word, to name those who peddle the disease of corruption to enrich themselves while destroying the lives of so many.

Then, I’m sure, life would be much more bearable for all of us.

Copy to:

Kathy Sheridan

Featured

Una Mullally: The youth of Ireland are on the march

 

By Anthony Sheridan

The revolution has begun. Varadkar and his cabal of gombeens are for the high jump. Their time is up as the youth of Ireland take to the streets and march on Dail Eireann to overthrow the old failed system and replace it with a bright new dawn for Irish democracy.

Sadly, there is no truth whatsoever to this fantasy view of what’s happening in Ireland today. The claim of a mass movement of young citizens on the move is nothing more than the meanderings of Irish Times columnist Una Mullally’s overly fertile imagination.

Here are some examples of Ms. Mullally’s fantasies:

Does the Government know it has a politicised generation on its hands?

A generational shift has occurred that both the political and media establishments have not yet truly grasped.

We are in newly charted territory, and young people are the cartographers.

Altruism, solidarity, and a sense of fairness seems to permeate this generation.

Their values are different from past generations, they do not put self-interest first says Mullally.

She then gives some examples of the great ‘injustices’ that motivates this ‘selfless’ youth revolutionary movement that is determined to overthrow Leo and his cabal of gombeens:

Very little development in Dublin is for young people.

New restaurants and bars are expensive and are aimed at 30 – and 40 -somethings.

Young people are watching their nightclubs being demolished for hotel developments.

Student housing built by international companies charging exorbitant rents is totally out of their reach.

Many young people have to live with their parents because they can’t afford the out-of-control rents in the city.

These examples do not sound like a national youth movement intent on overthrowing the old, failed political system but more like a demand for more nightclubs and cheaper drink.

Mullally does, of course, mention other more serious issues. The marriage equality campaign, legal abortion and the current housing campaign. She wrongly credits young people as the principal motivators in these movements.

The marriage equality and the Repeal campaigns were open door issues. Practically every political party and most of society were in favour of these reforms. It did not take any great courage or sacrifice to come out on the streets and demand reform for issues that were practically guaranteed to succeed and, more importantly, posed no threat to the interests of those who wield power in our country.

And while there is a noticeable increase in youth involvement around the housing scandal this is primarily down to the fact that the crisis is beginning to affect the interests of young people particularly students.

This was evident during the recent Take Back the Streets demonstration in Dublin. There was a large, very well organised student participation but the majority of placards were demanding housing and other benefits for students, there was nothing about challenging the corrupt political system that is responsible for the crisis.

Sadly, there is no history of organised political radicalism among the youth of Ireland. This lack of a revolutionary spirit among the young was clearly evident in the water charges campaign. This was a campaign that required real commitment, courage and stamina because it threatened the vital interests of the corrupt elite that have ruled and ruined our country for decades.

If the student unions or any other youth movement were on the streets for the anti-water charges campaign I didn’t see them. In fact, in my experience and observations the bulk of water warriors were made up of middle aged and elderly citizens many of them accompanied by children. Yes, of course, young people were involved but they did not, as Mullally claims, constitute the bulk of campaigners.

In common with all establishment journalists Ms. Mullally operates in a media bubble that has little understanding of the reality out on the streets.

If she ever manages to burst out of that bubble she will immediately realise that there is no revolutionary youth movement in Ireland and that political corruption is the sole reason for the housing catastrophe.

Copy to:

Una Mullally

 

 

Featured

Gombeen democracy v real democracy

 

 

By Anthony Sheridan

There has been a great deal of arrogant criticism in this country about the manner in which the British political system is dealing with the Brexit crisis.

But comments in a recent speech by the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, highlighted the difference between a real democracy like the UK and a gombeen democracy like ours.

May was responding to those who are calling for a second referendum:

The latest plan is to hold a second referendum. They call it a ‘people’s vote’, but we had the people’s vote and the people chose to leave. A second referendum would be a politician’s vote, politician’s telling people, you got it wrong the first time so try again. Think for a moment what it would do for faith in our democracy if having asked the people of this country to take this decision politicians try to overturn it. Those of us who do respect the result, whichever side of the question we stood on two years ago need to come together now.

May is spot on in describing the idea of a second referendum as a ‘politician’s vote’. In our pretend democracy we’ve had two such ‘politician’s votes’ in recent years when the democratic will of the people wasn’t in line with the interests of the ruling elite so the result was thrown out and the people were forced to ‘try again’.

 

Featured

RTE news bias – Destroying credibility

 

By Anthony Sheridan

When RTE was a national broadcaster the station provided a reasonably balanced news output. In recent years, however, since the station began to serve government rather than citizens, news manipulation has taken precedence over factual reporting and professional analysis.

On yesterday’s Marian Finucane Show, for example, listeners were subjected to an intelligence insulting, extremely short, cartoon-like discussion on the disturbing events that occurred on North Frederick street during the week involving Gardai and housing protesters

Panelist: In fairness, Josephine Feehily and Drew Harris came out and said, no, that shouldn’t have happened.

Finucane: And yet and yet and yet..its tough on gardai. I thought it looked… I mean I was astonished at how it had come about.

Panelist: Look, there is an issue around social media , there’s no doubt about that, but look, we expect to see people in balaclava’s in the Basque country or dealing with the Real IRA or whatever. We don’t expect to see Gardai in balaclava’s policing genuine protests about housing.

I think the public were very, very upset about it and I’m thinking of something Theo Dorgan said once ‘I thought I was born into a republic’ and you see these private balaclava-clad guards arriving in a van.

But protesting has changed, I think the Gardai are very measured in the way they handle the physical and verbal abuse they get.

Then a panelist changed the subject by referring to a protest Finucane had participated in 48 years ago. Finucane, delighted at the diversion, went on to reminisce about another protest she attended in the last century – and that was it.

That was the sum total analysis of the disgraceful and disturbing events in North Frederick street where the Gardai behaved more like second-rate nightclub bouncers than a professional police force.

Clearly under pressure by her producer to keep discussion of this embarrassing Government/Gardai scandal to an absolute minimum Finucane, in a fluster, did as she was instructed.

Mmm…well…ah…I mean..we’ll move on very quickly. I think that deserves more conversation but I’m just watching my clock here and….

Watching her clock??? The discussion was taking place just half way through a two hour long show and this major public interest story gets a grand total of 1 minute 56 seconds coverage.

This is not news analysis, it’s blatant news manipulation. No doubt, Fine Gael and the Gardai are delighted with RTEs collaboration in this type of warped current affairs analysis.

But RTE cannot escape the fact that, day by day, its reputation as a professional and balanced current affairs outlet is reaching the same zero credibility rating as that of our police force.

Copy to:

Marian Finucane Show

RTE News and Current Affairs

Featured

Dan Boyle: Corruption…what corruption?

 

By Anthony Sheridan

I recently engaged in a twitter discussion with former Green Party TD Dan Boyle on the question of politican corruption. Incredibly, and somewhat depressingly, Mr. Boyle does not believe that political corruption is a major problem, he does not believe that political corruption is principally responsible for most of the damage and suffering inflicted on Irish citizens over the decades.

Indeed, despite years of direct political involvement Mr. Boyle claims he has no direct evidence of the disease.

I believe corruption exists but I have no specific evidence of it.

Here’s the verbatim account of our discussion.

 

Dan Boyle:  The significant whataboutery of many in Irish life, reacting negatively to the latest in horror homelessness stories, shows the horrible link that when becoming richer as an economy we seem to become poorer as a society.

Anthony Sheridan: Ah yes, once again it’s the royal ‘we’ that’s to blame. This avoids the brutal truth – the corrupt Centre of Irish politics is responsible

Dan Boyle:  We all exist in a society. You don’t isolate. Nothing ‘royal’ about it. Bigger picture exists despite personal animosity.

Anthony Sheridan:  You do isolate, you identify the guilty (in this case, corrupt politicians) and make them accountable. The ‘we’ generalisation is a cop out.

Dan Boyle:  To you it is. Choose isolation if you want. All it leads to is constant conflict and little, if any, progress.

Anthony Sheridan:  Your reply does not make sense. Focus on the brutal truth – our corrupt politicians are responsible.

Dan Boyle:  Your use of the phrase ‘corrupt politicians’ is meaningless. It’s a convenient catch all phrase that doesn’t forward debate in any way at all.

Anthony Sheridan:  Wow…that’s an incredible comment given the massive suffering, loss and even death as a direct result of political corruption. No wonder the Greens are in the waiting room of extinction.

Dan Boyle:  Of course there are politicians who are corrupt, but most politicians regardless of where they sit on the policy spectrum, are not. Pretending they are, and using politicians as a generic reason for all that is wrong in society, is just plain wrong.

Anthony Sheridan:  It is not just some corrupt politicians, the political system itself is rotten to the core. You are an insider and like all insiders you are blind to the rot all around you. The countless victims of political corruption do not have the luxury of ignoring the brutal reality.

Dan Boyle:  I’m not an insider but I am someone who has had experience of where and how the system falls down. You put this down to corruption, I put it down to competence. Where the system most falls down is where those in charge have no accountability mechanisms.

Anthony Sheridan:  You are an insider, It’s deeply disturbing how unaware establishment politicians are of the true nature of political corruption. I’m confident that in time the rotten system will be brought down and replaced with honest politics. We’ll have to agree to disagree until that day.

Dan Boyle:  I’m not an insider I hold no public office. I believe corruption exists but I have no specific evidence of it. Laws need to be strengthened and greater resources given to help prosecute more. Corruption needs to be eliminated but lack of competence is the real problem.

Anthony Sheridan:  Your admission that you have no specific evidence of corruption defies belief. The disease of corruption is obvious and rampant throughout the political and administrative system. You live in a bubble of denial Mr. Boyle, a fact that does enormous damage to the Irish people.

Dan Boyle:  I speak honestly on the basis of my experience. If specific evidence was made available to me I would have acted on it. If such evidence is available to you, I would encourage you to have it acted on. Most failures in Irish politics are as a result of cock ups not conspiracies.

Anthony Sheridan:  I am genuinely astonished at your apparent ignorance of the rampant corruption within the political/administrative sectors. Clearly, you pay little attention to news and current affairs. Such ignorance is a guarantee that the guilty will continue to thrive.

Dan Boyle:  Again not what I’m saying. Convictions depend on evidence of sufficient quality. Corruption exists. It is notoriously hard to prove. But I’ll repeat lack of competence is the greater cause of maladministration in Irish public services.

Anthony Sheridan:  We’re going around in circles now. Just to finish, it is deeply disturbing and bodes ill for the future of our country if your ignorance and naivety are common [and I suspect that is the case] within the body politic. Thank you for engaging in the discussion.

Dan Boyle:  You can call me ignorant as much as you like. You have no greater information or experience on this than anyone else has. Your shock and scorn is immaterial.

Anthony Sheridan:  It’s not about me, it’s about ridding our country of the disease of political corruption, clearly there’s a long road ahead.

Copy to:

Dan Boyle

 

Featured

Tuam – time to uncover the truth

 

By Anthony Sheridan

This short letter in the Irish Times, signed by 97 writers and artists, is the most powerful comment I have so far witnessed in response to the horror of Tuam.

Minister Katherine Zappone, the woman who will make the final decision on what is to be done, should have this letter enlarged, framed and placed on her desk to remind her that there is just one decision that leads to justice.

Any other decision will lead to cover-up and more suffering for those involved.

 

Tuam – time to uncover the truth

Sir,

We the undersigned writers and artists appeal to the Government to use the full force of its purse and power to undertake a complete excavation, identification where possible, and dignified reburial of the victims of Tuam. We further appeal for the Government to undertake an active and authentic attempt to identify the many missing individuals who will have been illegally adopted at home and abroad.

In light of significant, possibly criminal, failings at Tuam – of which the lack of burial records for 796 infants and children, the missing bodies of women, the verified existence of “significant quantities” of human remains, and the ongoing testimony of survivors are ample evidence – mere memorialisation is inadequate. Systematic exhumation is necessary to uncover the truth. The Government must use any and all resources (including, as necessary, resources of the Bon Secours Order) to complete a full excavation and identification of all remains on the site as has been consistently requested by Catherine Corless, survivors, and family members of those who lived in the Home. – Yours, etc,

MARY O’DONNELL,

DR AILBHE DARCY,

KIMBERLY

CAMPANELLO,

AIDEEN BARRY,

CARMEL BENSON,

MELONY BETHALA,

DR DYLAN BRENNAN,

MAIRÉAD BYRNE,

FIÓNA BOLGER,

JUNE CALDWELL,

MARY ROSE

CALLAGHAN,

ANNA CAREY,

EILEEN CASEY,

PAUL CASEY,

SARAH CLANCY,

JANE CLARKE,

PATRICK CHAPMAN,

BRÍD CONNOLLY,

SUSAN CONNOLLY,

JUNE CONSIDINE,

BRIGID CORCORAN,

MARION COX,

ENDA COYLE-GREENE,

CATHERINE

ANN CULLEN,

MADELEINE D’ARCY,

MARTINA DEVLIN,

MOYRA DONALDSON,

THEO DORGAN,

CATHERINE DUNNE,

ANNE ENRIGHT,

ATTRACTA FAHY,

TANYA FARRELLY,

ELAINE FEENEY,

KIT FRYATT,

MIA GALLAGHER,

ANTHONY GLAVIN,

SINÉAD GLEESON,

SHAUNA GILLIGAN,

JACKIE GORMAN,

DYLAN COBURN GRAY,

SARAH MARIA GRIFFIN,

VONA GROARKE,

MARY GUCKIAN,

MAURICE HARMON,

JACK HARTE,

JOANNE HAYDEN,

CLAIRE HENNESSY,

RITA ANN HIGGINS,

ELEANOR HOOKER,

VICTORIA KENNEFICK,

ANATOLY

KUDRYAVITSKY,

DAVE LORDAN,

AIFRIC MAC AODHA,

CATHERINE PHIL

MacCARTHY,

JOHN MacKENNA,

NUALA MACKLIN,

ALICE MAHER,

CHRISTODOULOS

MAKRIS,

OANA SANZIANA

MARIAN,

EMER MARTIN,

JOHN McAULIFFE,

FELICITY McCARTAN,

FLISH McCARTHY,

MOLLY McCLOSKEY,

MARIA McMANUS,

DECLAN MEADE,

PAULA MEEHAN,

LIA MILLS,

SINÉAD MORRISSEY,

PAUL MULDOON,

HELENA MULKERNS,

ANNE MULHALL,

SONYA MULLIGAN,

CHRISTINE MURRAY,

UNA NI CHEALLAIGH,

ANNEMARIE

NÍ CHURREÁIN,

NUALA NI CHONCHUIR,

DOIREANN NÍ GHRÍOFA,

EILEEN

NÍ SHUILLEABHÁIN,

LIZ NUGENT,

JEAN O’BRIEN,

MARGARET O’DONNELL,

JOHN O’DONOVAN,

NESSA O’MAHONY,

GERALDINE O’REILLY,

Dr ROBYN ROWLAND AO,

KARL PARKINSON,

JUSTIN QUINN,

CONNIE ROBERTS,

ANNETTE SKADE,

KELLY E. SULLIVAN,

ANNE TANNAM,

SUSAN TOMASELLI,

JESSICA TRAYNOR,

SAMANTHA WALTON,

DAVID WHEATLEY,

ADAM WYETH.

 

 

 

Featured

Why the establishment media is silent on O Cuiv’s rebellion

 

By Anthony Sheridan

Sinn Fein’s decision to field a candidate to challenge the current President has wrecked the cosy arrangement between Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour to keep their man in the office.

But consider what would have happened if the following scenario had evolved. Imagine if Sinn Fein had decided to support the conservative centre and then, dramatically, a leading member of the party broke ranks and attempted to force the leadership to change its decision by putting himself forward as an independent candidate.

Here’s exactly what would have happened:

There would have been an immediate wall to wall, seven days a week attack on the party by the establishment media led by the government broadcaster, RTE.

Sinn Fein members from Mary Lou McDonald down to local councillors would be relentlessly paraded, harassed and questioned across the establishment media for reactions and explanations.

So here’s my question:

Why is the establishment media completely silent on the dramatic decision by Éamon Ó Cuív to challenge his party’s presidential election strategy by putting himself forward as an independent candidate which, by extension, constitutes a direct and very serious challenge to Michael Martin’s leadership?

Here’s the answer:

The establishment media does not serve the interests of Ireland or its people. Their loyalty lies entirely with the ruling political class made up of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour.

The undemocratic attempt by these three parties to keep their man in the Park received strong and widespread support from the establishment media. Across radio, television and print the people were arrogantly told that they would not be getting an election, that it would be too expensive, that it would distract from Brexit and sure wasn’t ‘Michael’ doing a great job anyway.

But Sinn Fein’s strategy put a stop to all that patronising, insulting guff. Now, the establishment media has just one aim – to protect the interests of the corrupt centre of Irish politics by preventing a powerful outside force such as Sinn Fein from occupying what the ruling political class have always considered to be their personal fiefdom in the Phoenix Park.

To that end, the Irish people are about to witness the biggest, most ruthless anti-Sinn Fein propaganda campaign ever mounted by the establishment media. The campaign will, as always, be led by the cheerleader of the establishment media – the government broadcaster, RTE.

Copy to:

Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour Party, Sinn Fein

RTE/Media

Éamon Ó Cuív

Featured

Citizenship status has been removed from the Irish people

 

 

By Anthony Sheridan

The people of Ireland should know that Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and the Labour Party have removed the status of citizenship from them and replaced it with the inferior status of ‘customer’.

The process was initiated in 1997 and has been refined and expanded upon ever since. Ministers and civil servants no longer address citizens as citizens but as customers.

For example, during a recent interview on RTEs Today with Sean O’Rourke  [July 2 – 2nd report] the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty referred to old age pensioners as ‘customers’.

Thinking that this may have been a ministerial slip of the tongue I had a look at Ms. Doherty’s department website and found that the status of citizenship had indeed been removed and substituted with the lesser title of ‘customer’ [See below for example].

A quick search across other departments confirmed that this is official policy. Here for example is an extract from the Department of the Taoiseach:

Our Commitment to our Customers

The Department of the Taoiseach is committed to providing a professional, efficient and courteous service to all our customers…We will treat all our customers equally and make every effort to ensure that the services we provide reflect your needs and expectations.

This is a deeply disturbing development as it strikes at the very core of the democratic relationship between citizen and state. It strongly implies that ministers and state officials have taken ownership of the power, wealth and resources of the state. That they, and not the citizenry are – The State.

It implies that [now former] citizens are mere ‘customers’ that must comply with laid down conditions if they wish to ‘do business’ with the new owners of the state.

This quote, taken from the Dept. of Public Expenditure and Reform, makes it crystal clear that it is the department that is the provider of goods and services and the citizen is the customer:

Deliver quality services with courtesy, sensitivity and the minimum delay, fostering a climate of mutual respect between provider and customer.

The development further implies that ministers and civil servants no longer see themselves as (civil/public) servants, elected and employed to serve people and country but rather as wielders of state power over and superior to the power of the people.

I spoke about the issue with a senior official in the Dept. of the Taoiseach who was genuinely surprised that I thought the matter was of any importance.

Here’s why I believe the issue is of crucial importance:

Democracy literally means ‘rule by the people’. Not by politicians or civil servants but by the citizenry. In representative democracies certain elected citizens are temporarily appointed to govern on behalf of the people. They are granted state power by the people to govern on behalf of the people but the possession of that power does not raise their status above that of any other citizen. It does not create a relationship whereby the politician is master and the citizen is a customer.

Similarly, many citizens are employed to serve the State on behalf of the people across a wide range of government departments but no individual civil servant possesses a status or a power above that of any other citizen, they remain servants to the democracy of the people.

This policy of downgrading the sacrosanct status of citizenship by replacing it with the inferior and cheap status of ‘customer’ is obnoxious to the very meaning of democracy.

Customer means:

A person who buys goods or services from a shop or business.

In the world of trade this is a perfectly legitimate definition. An individual becomes a customer when they decide to purchase goods or services from the owner of a business.

In a functional democracy citizens do not purchase goods or services from politicians or state officials operating under the illusion that they own these goods and services. Citizens avail of goods and services that they (the citizens) have provided for the greater good of all the people. It is the function of politicians and officials to serve the people by organising and dispensing these goods and services according to need. They do so as fellow and equal citizens, not as overseers doing business with customers.

Citizenship means:

The status of a person recognised under the custom or law as being a legal member of a sovereign state or belonging to a nation.

It’s unlikely that this removal of the status of citizenship is a deliberate conspiracy to weaken democracy but that is exactly what it will do.  Once a concept is accepted by an authority it quickly becomes the norm.

That’s why the official I spoke to at the Dept. of the Taoiseach was so puzzled by my concerns. She has already accepted those who deal with her department are not citizens but customers and therefore should be dealt with as such.

Similarly with Minister Doherty. She obviously feels totally at ease in referring to citizens as customers. But by so doing she is over-turning the centuries long democratic principle that politicians and state officials are servants to the people and not, as the term ‘customer’ suggests, masters over the citizenry.

But even more crucially the Minister has lost sight of the most important democratic principle of all – that citizens ARE the state and therefore can never be customers to it.

Copy to:

Minister Doherty

Official at Dept. of Taoiseach

All political parties

Media

 

 

From the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection website:

The Department of Social Protection delivers an extensive range of services nationwide, to a wide and diverse group of customers including families, jobseekers, people in employment, people with illnesses and disabilities, carers, older people and employers. These schemes and services are delivered locally through a national network
of Intreo Centres and Branch Offices and from centralised offices countrywide.

 

 

From the Dept. of Public Expenditure and Reform

Foreword by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform

Mr. Brendan Howlin, T.D.

On 17th November, I launched the Government’s Public Service Reform Plan.

This Plan sets out our strategy to radically reform how we deliver public services in the years ahead. One of the key themes of the Plan is placing Customer Service at the core of everything we do. An important commitment in this regard is to continue to drive the Customer Charter initiative in the Public Service, particularly with regard to consultation with customers, identification of service targets and channels, and reporting annually on progress.

The Customer Charter Initiative gives customers a clear and unambiguous statement of the level of service they can expect. It also provides a framework that allows us, as public servants, to measure and improve the quality of services provided and to report on this publicly.

Our interactions with customers, whether this is with the general public or businesses, set the basis for how we are perceived. We all know that Ireland is currently in a challenging position economically, but we must also bear in mind that we have an increasingly complex and diverse customer base with growing customer expectations.

The Customer Charter process allows organisations to engage with their customers to design their services better and to become more flexible and responsive to the needs of services users. While the Charter process has been successful, we must continue to aim higher and to further strengthen and deepen the customer service improvement process. The Customer Charters and Action Plans being prepared for 2012-2014 should build on past successes and learn from previous challenges.

These practical guidelines for Public Service organisations for the preparation of Customer Charters were first published in 2003, and revised in 2008. I am now pleased to introduce the third iteration of these Guidelines, which have been revised and updated in light of the Programme for Government, the Public Service Reform Plan and the evolving nature of service delivery generally. These Guidelines also cover Customer Action Plans, which should be used as the vehicle for achieving the objectives set out in Charters.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Quality Customer Service Officers’ Network, who have been central to the Charter process over the past decade, for their work in the preparation of these Guidelines and for their continuing commitment to the implementation of Quality Customer Service in the Irish Public Service.

Brendan Howlin, T.D.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform

January, 2012

 

Featured

Tuam babies: Minister Zappone to opt for cover-up?

 

 

By Anthony Sheridan

Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone will shortly make a recommendation to Government on what is to be done about the remains of the hundreds of children dumped in a septic tank in Tuam by the Catholic Church.

She has two choices:

She can recommend a full forensic excavation of the site along with DNA analysis or she can recommend the erection of a memorial to the victims

The first option will mean the State accepting responsibility for its part in the horror and by so doing force the Catholic Church to admit its crimes against humanity. In a sentence, this option will deliver justice and closure to the victims and survivors of the horror.

The second option is to leave the remains where they were discarded, place a memorial over the site and walk away. In a sentence, this option will inflict another injustice on the victims and protect the guilty politicians and clergy from being made accountable.

We don’t have to wait for Minister Zappone’s decision, we already know she will opt for the second option – why?

Because Minister Zappone operates within a corrupt political/administrative system that will instruct her to opt for cover-up rather than justice.

She may, of course, possess the courage to challenge state power and be willing to suffer the personal and career consequences that would inevitably follow.

Unfortunately for the people of Ireland, courage among politicians is as rare as justice for the State’s many victims.

Copy to:

Minister Zappone

 

Featured

Michael Clifford and the dark evils of Social Media

 

 

By Anthony Sheridan

Irish Examiner journalist Michael Clifford is probably correct in his suggestion that the two politicians who objected to the gender imbalance at this year’s MacGill Summer School were jumping on a bandwagon.

But, as an old school establishment journalist, Clifford just couldn’t resist jumping on his own bandwagon – to rant about the dark evils of Social Media.

Much of Clifford’s article is tongue in cheek lightness but his core message is the same at that of all establishment journalists:

Social media bad – establishment media good.

His own words make the point:

But the row over gender balance at the Glenties gabfest this week is unsettling for different reasons. The unfolding of the row is a salutary example of how narratives are formed in public discourse today.

Twitter began to tremble with rage.

Once outrage travels across cyberspace these days, there’s no calling it back. One of Twitter’s functions is to feast on righteous indignation.

Once social media gets in on the act, reason is completely dwarfed by inflated — and often manufactured — emotion.

And there are prevailing orthodoxies, which must be adhered to rigidly in every facet of public life or the trolls will descend like vultures.

Establishment journalists such as Clifford just cannot accept the reality that social media provides ordinary people, for the first time in history, with the means to directly challenge state and media power without having to first go through a filter of censorship and approval.

Copy to:

Michael Clifford

 

Featured

RTE presenter accidentally tells the truth

 

By Anthony Sheridan

Sinn Fein held their Ard Fheis last weekend amid an increasingly tense pre election atmosphere.   And because Sinn Fein poses the greatest threat to the corrupt centre of politics, the Government broadcaster RTE, was put on full propaganda alert to badmouth the party.

However, not all of the station’s presenters were paying full attention as the following hilarious incident demonstrates.

Brendan O’Conner, standing in for Marian Finucane, had just launched the standard RTE attack on Sinn Fein when one of the panelist’s, Norah Casey, strayed from the propaganda line and began to speak in high praise of Mary lou McDonald’s inspiring leadership.

O’Connor, probably dreaming about his Sunday dinner, initially didn’t seem to notice that the discussion was drifting away from the Government propaganda line. But the monitoring producer did notice and must have screamed something like the following into O’Connor’s earpiece:

Brendan, for fuck sake, wake up. That woman is praising McDonald and Sinn Fein, put a stop to it.

Confused and flustered, O’Connor struggled to get the propaganda line back on course:

Ok…eh…but now, given that this is..eh extraordinarily…for the first time, turning into a kind of love-in of Sinn Fein.

Can Mary Lou be a feminist icon given the quite recent history of Sinn Fein/IRA and the treatment of women and everything. Are people going to forget that quickly?

Laughing, Casey teased O’Connor over his confusion:

I knew I’d wake you up Brendan

While this was an amusing little incident it is noteworthy that O’Connor, in his confusion, accidentally spoke the truth:

Extraordinarily and for the first time [my emphasis] this is turning into a love-in for Sinn Fein.

And, as listeners know very well by now, it is only by accident that Sinn Fein and other anti-establishment parties will ever get a fair hearing from RTE.

Copy to:

RTE/Brendan O’Connor

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Orwell’s 1984 arrives in 2018 Ireland

 

 

By Anthony Sheridan

 

Here are some quotes I’ve taken from Wikipedia’s description of the George Orwell dystopian novel ‘1984′.

An environment of omnipresent government surveillance and public manipulation. A government invented language that replaces English. A system enforced by a privileged, elite Inner Party that persecutes individualism and independent thinking.

The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. It is not interested in the good of others; it is interested solely in power.

It is in no way an exaggeration to say that the above description is fast becoming a reality in Ireland today.

A corrupt political elite made up of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour masquerading as democratic politicians as they manipulate power for their own benefit while attacking those who would challenge their privileged position.

We only have to observe the ruthless and often illegal tactics employed by the State during the water war. The manipulation of information by the Government’s Strategic Communications Unit and the unlimited funds available to elite schools while the schools of the poor fall into disrepair, to see just how close ‘1984’ resembles the Ireland of 2018.

 

 

Those who may consider this a bit over the top might consider the following headline:

Bin lorry cameras are on hunt for thousands of homeowners who break rubbish rules

Here we have private companies monitoring and imposing punishment on citizens who fail to obey instructions. Initially, the Government information machine attempted to persuade citizens that these instructions, to separate refuse into different categories, was for the benefit of the environment.

To a degree this is true but it is also true that encouraging people to separate refuse saves the collection companies an absolute fortune in having to do it themselves.

But now the days of encouraging are over, now the Government has handed over power to private companies to monitor and punish citizens who fail to do as instructed. Education (of the masses) is also a priority for the companies as this comment makes clear:

Clearly a huge challenge lies ahead and education is needed.

The state tyranny described in Orwell’s ‘1984‘ is controlled by a mysterious leader known as Big Brother. All citizens are required to give unquestioning loyalty and respect to the great leader.

Winston Smith, the rebel who challenges state power in the story, is eventually defeated and brainwashed into a feeling of intense love for Big Brother.

The Irish ‘Winston Smith’ is none other than former rebel Bono who recently sent messages of intense love to his hero Varadkar.

Dear Leo,  I am utterly proud to call you my Taoiseach. I look forward to lots of plotting and planning. Yours with respect, Bono.

 

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Elaine Byrne: Not speaking full truth to power

 

 

 

By Anthony Sheridan

Corruption expert Elaine Byrne and two or her colleagues, Hugh O’Connell and Barry J Whyte, recently wrote an extensive piece on the failings of the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO).

Similar articles on the issue of poor or non-existent state regulation have been penned by a long line of journalists in a long line of newspapers over a timescale of many decades.

They all have one thing in common – they fail, for various reasons, to speak the full truth.

So here’s the full truth in just four sentences:

One:       Those who wield power are responsible for enacting and enforcing anti-corruption laws that are critical to the proper functioning of a state.

Two:     When those in power fail in their duty to confront corruption, the state and its people suffer.

Three:   Ireland and its people have suffered enormously from the disease of corruption over the decades as a direct result of this failure.

Four:     The people who are directly and indisputably responsible for this failure are the three mainstream political parties – Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the Labour Party.

These four points should form the basis for every single article written by Irish journalists when they are addressing the issue of political and state corruption.

Unfortunately, Irish journalists have a very poor record of speaking truth to power. Instead, we get articles like that written by Ms. Byrne that pulls punches all over the place out of fear, ignorance or support for those who corruptly wield power.

For example, Ms. Byrne speaks of ‘governance failures’, ‘mistakes’, ‘shortcomings’ and ‘blunders

Here’s the truth: Those who wield power strip all regulatory authorities of power in a deliberate strategy that is specifically designed to protect the corrupt. The evidence for this truth is overwhelming and indisputable.

Ms. Byrne also uses the royal ‘we’ instead of precisely identifying those who facilitate political and state corruption. For example, she tells us that:

We excel at the disease of implementation deficit.

Here’s the truth: The ‘we’ Ms. Byrne speaks of consists of the three mainstream political parties who have wielded power since independence. The evidence for this truth is overwhelming and indisputable.

Ms. Byrne also writes about the ‘national addiction to reports’. There is no national addiction to reports. Irish citizens are fed up to their back teeth with reports and reports on reports that result in zero accountability.

Here’s the truth: The establishment of reports, reviews and tribunals is a strategy specifically designed by those who wield power to protect the corrupt.

So, as Mary and Joe soap make their case before an empowered judge the politically protected corrupt casually perjure themselves in front of a disempowered judge at a tribunal. The evidence for this truth is overwhelming and indisputable.

To her credit Ms. Byrne is one of the very few commentators who have come even close to speaking truth to power.

Here’s how she wrote about a speech she made at the McGill Summer School in July 2012. She was speaking to an audience that would have included many of those responsible for protecting the corrupt.

Official Ireland is predominantly male, predominantly over 50 and predominantly people who earn over €100,000. For the most part, it includes the speakers at this MacGill summer school and those that attend it.

That didn’t go down too well. That part of my speech was greeted with an audible murmur of disapproval (my emphasis) at MacGill in Donegal last week.

Yet every single inquiry into public life that we have had in this country over the past 15 years has come down to one singular thing, the operation of power by Official Ireland. The political tribunals, the church scandals, the police inquiries, the hospital failures and the banking crisis were ultimately about the abuse of power.

She ended her article with this:

These mostly male, middle-aged decision makers are responsible for the (economic) collapse in the first place because they never shouted stop.

This is an example of what I mentioned at the beginning of this article – a failure to speak the full truth to power.

Here’s what needs to be said to the powers that protect the corrupt:

The three mainstream political parties of this country, Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the Labour Party are directly responsible for infecting the political and administrative systems of our country with the disease of corruption.

The evidence for this is overwhelming and indisputable. These are the parties that have wielded power since independence. These are the parties that have consistently and intentionally failed, power swop after power swop, to challenge the disease of corruption.

These are the parties that must be permanently removed from power if the people of Ireland are ever to enjoy the benefits of living in a functional democracy free of rampant political corruption.

Copy to:

Elaine Byrne

 

 

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Israel/Ireland: Corruption comparison

 

 

 

 

By Anthony Sheridan

The ongoing corruption scandal involving the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu provides a stark comparison with just how corrupt Ireland’s political/state system is.

Here’s a brief list of some of the charges against Netanyahu:

Receiving expensive gifts from wealthy businessmen in exchange for favours.

Striking an illicit deal with a newspaper in exchange for favourable political coverage.

His wife, Sara, is also under investigation accused of using government money to pay for private chefs at family events and electrical work in the family home.

In Ireland, this kind of corruption is casually accepted as part and parcel of normal political activity.

For example, it has just been revealed that the Government’s Strategic Communications Unit (SCU) paid out €1.5 million of taxpayers’ money to favoured newspapers to publish propaganda articles in favour of Fine Gael.

Or, to put it another way: The Government struck an illicit deal with newspapers in exchange for favourable political coverage.

The response to this corrupt act in Ireland was to appoint a senior government official to review the actions of senior government officials.

The response in Israel saw the police directly investigating the chief suspect, the Prime Minister. As a result of that investigation they have recommended that he be charged in a court of law. This is the norm in functional democracies.

Here are some more stark comparisons between how things are done in a functional democracy such as Israel and a corrupt state such as Ireland.

In Israel the police are independent of the political system and are therefore free to investigate political corruption.

In Ireland the police are, effectively, a branch of the political system and therefore do not investigate political corruption.

In Israel there is a specialised anti-corruption police unit.

In Ireland there is no such unit.

In Israel, all crime, including political corruption, is dealt with through police investigation and the courts.

In Ireland, there are two separate systems for dealing with crime. One for ordinary citizens that involves police, courts and punishment and another made up of tribunals, commissions and committees deliberately, and very successfully, designed to ensure there is no accountability or punishment for those with power and influence.

In Israel regulatory agencies such as the Central Bank or corporate enforcement operate independently of the political system.

In Ireland all regulatory agencies are subject to political control and influence.

In Israel the media use the word ‘corruption’ when writing and speaking about corruption.

In Ireland the word ‘corruption’ is never used by establishment media. Instead, the fuzzy word ‘culture’ is used.

So, for example, there’s no such thing as police corruption in Ireland but rather a ‘culture’ that provides journalists and politicians with a safe area in which to endlessly discuss reform of the ‘culture’ while completely ignoring the brutal reality right in front of their eyes.

In Israel, Prime Ministers and former Prime Ministers can face prison when found guilty of corruption.

In Ireland the notion that a Prime Minister or former Prime Minister would be the subject of a police investigation never mind actually do jail time is so ludicrous as to border on the insane.

 

 

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Irish cowboy town and fake regulatory agencies

 

 

 

 

Elaine Byrne is, once again, writing about scandal and regulatory failure in today’s Sunday Business Post (Sub reqd). This time it’s about the failure of the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) to do its job regulating the political system. I hope to respond to her article in the next day or so.

In the meantime, I’m republishing this article (with some minor editing) I wrote in April 2015 outlining how all regulatory bodies in Ireland are, in reality, fake.

 

 

Irish cowboy town and fake regulatory agencies

2 April 2015

It’s not often a minister for justice makes me laugh but the latest comment on police reform from Frances Fitzgerald had me in stitches.

Making excuses for her complete failure to establish a police authority the minister said that, in the meantime:

“A kind of shadow board would be set up.”

Ok, let me first state an absolute fact. This government will not set up a police authority. The next government; if it is spawned from the same corrupt political/administrative culture, will not set up a police authority.

The reason is simple; the establishment of a genuinely independent police authority would end the corrupt nexus between the body politic and the police force. That corrupt nexus has served the interests of politicians, their friends in the Golden Circle and senior police officers since the foundation of the state; it will remain firmly in place for so long as that culture exists.

What we will see is the establishment of a fake police authority, an authority that from the outside looks and acts as if it’s the real thing but, in reality, is a fraud.

The setting up of fake regulatory agencies is the single greatest achievement of our corrupt political system. These fake authorities are so successful that they have not only fooled ordinary citizens, they have fooled the media, the international community and even many of the politicians who established them in the first place.

The system can best be understood by comparing it to those fake Hollywood wild west towns built to make cowboy movies.

Walking down the main street everything looks real so long as nobody actually believes there’s anything of substance behind the facades.

So, for example, when a citizen opens the door marked ‘Financial Regulator’ they find themselves in a wilderness populated by drifting tumbleweeds, each one with a tag reading – secrecy laws forbids the answering of any questions.

When the door marked ‘Standards in Public Office’ is opened citizens are met by an official endlessly chanting – Political accountability? No, never heard of it. We just dig holes in the sand and fill them in again.

When the Troika arrived they already knew there was something odd about the way things were done in this town so they opened more doors than usual.

Inside the austere and impressive door to the legal system, for example, they found mountains of stolen loot surrounded by hundreds of partying solicitors and barristers. Clear out this den of iniquity they instructed the government, we’ll be back to check on it.

When they returned a year later they failed to notice that what appeared to be a reformed legal system was actually an act performed by actors hired for the day from a nearby spaghetti western movie set. The drunken solicitors and barristers were still partying just over the hill.

Down at the end of the town there’s a brand new, freshly painted building with the title, Charity Regulator. Inside there’s a large office with an impressive array of filing cabinets, computers, desks and stern looking officials.

On closer inspection however, the files are just blank paper, the desks and computers are made of balsa wood and the officials are shop mannequins.

So what, at first glance, looks like a real regulator turns out to be nothing more than the usual cynical exercise in deception. Because this is a new regulator, no citizen has yet been damaged by its fraudulent front but, in time, thousands will inevitably suffer heavy financial loss and perhaps worse.

Irish citizens have lost faith in the State and its administrators. They know that almost all state agencies are steadfastly loyal to the corrupt political system that created them and exercises control over their activities.

The long-suffering people of Ireland are waiting for somebody to lead them in knocking down all the buildings in Irish cowboy town.

Copy to:

Frances Fitzgerald

 

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Elaine Byrne: Failing to join up the dots on state corruption

 

 

 

By Anthony Sheridan

State corruption is rampant in Ireland and does enormous damage to the country and its people. The disease of corruption originated from and still thrives within the political system. In 1979, with the coming to power of the criminal politician Haughey, the disease became malignant and spread to most areas of governance and then to the private sector.

Ireland is not, and never has been, governed by a political party or a coalition of parties. It is ruled by a corrupt political class who simply take turns in plundering the state.

That corrupt political class is made up of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour (now nearly extinct) with willing support, when unavoidable, from smaller parties such as the Progressive Democrats (now extinct), the Green Party and currently the Independent Alliance.

The disturbingly low standard of Irish journalism is one of the major contributing factors in not just allowing political corruption to exist but to flourish without any serious challenge.

The great majority of journalists are either willing participants, state captured, in denial or are simply ignorant of the brutal reality regarding the extent and source of state corruption in Ireland.

Corruption expert Elaine Byrne appears to be one of those who are completely ignorant of the source of corruption.

Writing recently [Sub. required] about the ineffectiveness of the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) Ms. Byrne finished her article with this question:

Does the Government actually want the GSOC to do its job?

That a person whose job it is to analyse corruption and who has been writing and commentating on corruption for many years has to even ask this question is a disturbing indication of the abject failure of Irish journalism to even acknowledge the disease of state corruption never mind actually expose those responsible.

To answer Ms. Byrne’s question – no, the Government does not want the GSOC to do its job. That’s why the Commission is chronically underfunded and understaffed. The strategy of underfunding regulatory agencies is just one of a long list of well established tactics utilised by parties of the ruling political class to prevent any threat to their power.

Ms. Byrne goes on to ask another question the answer to which is right in front of her eyes should she ever choose to open them.

Why was it necessary for a tribunal and all its costs to be deployed when GSOC should have done the job?

This question relates to the political decision to instruct the Disclosures Tribunal to investigate a matter surrounding allegations made by Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe, allegations that should have been properly dealt with by GSOC.

The answer to Ms. Byrnes question is:  The ruling political class enacted laws that strips tribunals of any power to bring to account those found guilty of corruption. This guarantees that any corruption exposed during the course of a tribunal is merely recorded in the final report and deposited on a government shelf to gather dust.

This deliberate strategy provides the ruling political class with a powerful tool with which to permanently sidetrack any scandal that may pose a threat to their power. The strategy has been immensely successful in protecting the corrupt and the Disclosures Tribunal will be no different.

Commentators and journalists like Ms. Byrne spend much of their time and energy analysing the never-ending stream of corruption that inflicts so much damage on Ireland and its people but, for a number of reasons, are incapable of joining up the dots that are lying all over the corrupt political landscape.

Here is a list of just some of those dots that may be of some help to puzzled commentators such as Ms. Byrne.

Tribunals have just one function – to protect the corrupt.

Dail Committees (all of which are deliberately powerless) have just one function – to endlessly jump up and down in futile anger while the corrupt walk free.

So called state regulatory bodies such as GSOC, Central Bank, SIPO, An Garda Siochana, Charities Regulator to name just some are all deliberately underfunded, understaffed, willing participants in corrupt practices or act out of justified fear of state reprisal if they enforce the law.

Laws are frequently written with the deliberate intention of protecting the corrupt. For example, laws governing the operation of GSOC are drafted in such a manner as to make it almost impossible to properly investigate complaints. (I’ll be writing about this particular scandal soon).

Irish journalists are constantly writing and talking about corruption scandal after corruption scandal but studiously avoid joining up the dots – why?

Because when the dots are joined up they point straight at those responsible for infecting our country with the disease of corruption – the corrupt political class made up of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour.

And therein lies one of the greatest barriers to eradicating the disease of political corruption that has inflicted so much suffering on the Irish people – the total loyalty and support afforded to the corrupt centre of Irish politics by a disturbingly large percentage of journalists.

Copy to:

Elaine Byrne