This morning’s Irish Times

Off the plans, eh?

Garthicus writes:

More fuel to the fire, opening sentence of an Irish Times article about a penthouse :”The boom keeps getting boomier at Lansdowne Place, the Ballsbridge apartment scheme currently so hot it practically has its own microclimate.”

Ballsbridge penthouse goes on sale off the plans for whopping €7.5m (Irish Times)

From top: cycling in Copenhagen, Denmark; Dan Boyle

Maybe the Little Englanders are right and Brexit does represent an opportunity. For us not them.  With John Bull’s Island shamefully obsessed with a don’t darken our shores attitude to migrants (or just others in general), and with the man-child firmly ensconced in the Oval Office, maybe the real opportunity is ours in Ireland, to distangle our involvement with the Anglo American economic model.

It is only an economic model and a very poor one at that. A model that seeks to pump prime an economy for short term benefit and often to a very shallow extent. It is a model that we have convinced ourselves no longer needs to make things, just as long we can provide appropriate ‘services’.

There are other economic models, better economic models. Models that portray an economy, and its effective management, as a tool of a wider society, and doesn’t see society as an unfortunate adjunct that distracts from the more important entity of the economy.

The Anglo American model needs and encourages inequality to thrive. It’s mantra is low costs/high profits. It produces jobs but many of these jobs are low paying and have little security. It cares little for social protection and not at all for social infrastructure.

As the UK and the US indulge in their mutual insanity, if Ireland were now to take a different turn, it could be of real and lasting value.

If we need an obvious example on how Irish society has become tainted by the Anglo American model, our housing crisis is surely it. Since 2011 our government has stuck limpet like to a belief that you can’t buck the market; that the State should play no role in controlling housing supply or demand.

Perhaps we could begin to adopt a more humane philosophy that is as approximate to us. We should go Nordic.

The naysayers and the knee jerkers will have arguments at their ready. Ireland doesn’t have the oil or the gas reserves of Norway, they will say. That is true, but then neither do the five other Nordic countries.

We no longer have control over our monetary policy, as many Nordic still do, they will counter. That is also true although Finland is also a member of the Eurozone.

The main misgiving is that the Irish, unlike their Nordic counterparts, are less disposed towards paying high levels of personal taxation. This is to distort the effect of the various systems of taxation in these countries.

In Ireland our tax burden is disproportionately shared. In Nordic countries the principle of earn more pay more is not only more readily accepted, the transparency necessary to show how the social dividend is distributed is far more obvious.

The Nordic model is not perfect and is far from idyllic. But it better, so much better than the Anglo American model. In education, health care, crime prevention, immigration and integration, child care and care for the environment, we lag so far behind our Nordic cousins.

If we could marry the Swedish ability of establishing international companies from within its borders; the Norwegian commitment to re-investment; the Danish attachment to renewable energy; the Finnish standards of education; and the Icelandic stoicism to maximising its economy, how much better we could be.

Certainly better than relying on the arrogance and shamelessness of the Anglo American model. It’s time methinks to engage again in our Viking heritage.

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. His column appears here every Thursday. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle

A selection of British-grown ‘pulses’, dried legume seeds including lentils, chickpeas, beans and peas

We all know it’s high time to start
Eating food that is good for one’s heart
And beans with each meal
Will soon make you feel
Fantastic. (You may also fart.)

John Moynes

Pic: The Guardian

Minister for Communications Denis Naughten

This afternoon.

Minister for Communications Denis Naughten gave a statement to the Dáil following a report in The Irish Times this morning.

The report was based an affidavit to the High Court by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) – in which the ODCE has requested that two inspectors investigate certain matters an Independent News and Media.

It stated that, on November 11, 2016, Mr Naughten informed Eoghan Ó Neachtáin, of Heneghan PR which represented INM, that he planned to refer INM’s proposed takeover of Celtic Media Group to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI).

[Mr Ó Neachtáin was previously the press secretary to three Governments and three Taoisigh.]

This decision wasn’t made public until January 2017.

On December 6, 2017, Mr Naughten was asked questions about the proposed merger by both Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy and Sinn Féin’s Brian Stanley.

In response to Mr Stanley asking him about the proposed takeover and raising concerns about media plurality, Mr Naughten said:

I have not made my views known and I am not going to. I have a decision to make and I will make it in line with the legislation.”

To Ms Murphy, Mr Naughten told her he had not yet decided if he was going to refer the proposed takeover to the BAI.

Further to this…

Mr Naughten has confirmed a phone call did take place between him and Mr Ó Neachtáin on either November 10 or 11, 2016.

He said it was a mobile phone call and he took no note of it.

In addition, he didn’t tell his officials.

The Dáil has already heard that Mr Ó Neachtáin didn’t register the approach with the Lobbying Register.

But Mr Naughten has insisted he did not impart any new information to Mr Ó Neachtáin and that he told him he would be following the advice of his officials which he hadn’t received yet.

The minister also said that, during this call, Mr Ó Neachtáin informed the minister that the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission was after approving the proposed takeover by INM.

This decision by the CCPC was reported on November 11, 2016.

Mr Naughten has also told the Dáil he met former INM chairman Leslie Buckley at a DataSec summit in Dublin’s RDS organised by INMat which Mr Naughten spoke – on May 3, 2017, where they shared “small talk”.

He said he can’t recall fully but he doesn’t believe Mr Buckley raised the matter of the proposed takeover.

It emerged in June 2017 that the acquisition would not be taking place.

Mr Naughten has also told the Dáil: “I didn’t wilfully, or any other way, mislead the Dáil.”

Mr Naughten said:

“I wish to confirm that I received a phonecall from Eoghan Ó Neachtáin, former press secretary to a number of governments, on either the 10th or the 11th of November, 2016, informing me that the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission was after approving the Independent News and Media acquisition of the Celtic News and Media Group.

This was in advance of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission communicating the decision to me.

“It was common knowledge that this was a very significant acquisition with a significant geographical impact. I expressed a purely personal view that the likely course of action would be a referral to a phase two assessment in accordance with the guidelines in light of the diversity and media plurality assessments required and in light of the scale of the proposed acquisition, its geographical concentration and the extent of the ownership of regional media by Independent News and Media at that point.

“According to the advice from the Office of the Attorney General, in the context of there being a decision by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, the legislation about such referrals to the BAI is clear, that referral is an option to me as minister when there is a planned media merger.

” If so, there is nothing wrong or inappropriate with me, as minister, saying to anyone, to the public, anyone or to the public if the plan for a media merger continues, I would take advice on sending it to the BAI.

“This is not inside information, but simply a reflection of the legislation itself.

“I had no inside information to give.

“It may have been preferable if the conversation had not taken place but it was by no means expressing a definitive view nor could I do so at that time.

“Nor did I state that the view expressed was a confidential one as the article (in The Irish Times) seems to assert. In fact, I clearly stated that I had made all pervious decisions, solely based on the advice provided to me by my officials and I reiterated that I would adhere to that approach in this case as well.

“There seems to be a misunderstanding about the nature of the media merger process. This is not a secret process.”

Earlier:  ‘I Take Exception, Yet Again, To Being Misled In This Dáil’

UPDATE:

A short by Hungarian animator David Dell’Edera. To wit:

An old fella shows up from nowhere and shakes up the neighbourhood.

curiousbrain

From top: Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy and People Before Profit TD Bríd Smyth in the Dáil this afternoon

This afternoon.

And further to reports that, in November 2016, the Minister for Communications Denis Naughten informed Eoghan Ó Neachtáin, of Heneghan PR which represented Independent News and Media, that he planned to refer INM’s proposed takeover of Celtic Media Group to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland…

Two months before it was publicly announced…

During Topical Issues – taken by the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan and ahead of Minister Naughten’s statement to the Dáil in relation to the matter which is now thought to take place around 4.30pm – Ms Murphy said the following:

“Minister, when I submitted the topical, I referred to the implications of recent and escalating developments regarding INM based on the ODCE investigation into the company.

“At the time, of course, I was referring to significant concerns regarding what can only be considered as a hacking of emails which potentially compromised huge numbers of journalists and their sources and the major implications for damage, such inaction poses the independence of media and the protection of journalism.

“But as of today, I cannot ignore the most obvious escalating development which is the involvement of the Minister for Communications Denis Naughten.

On the 6th of December 2016, he stood in this chamber and told me in response to a priority question, he had only commenced the phase one assessment on the 24th of November 2016, his officials had not yet made any decision and that he had 30 days to make a decision on three options  -one of which was  a potential referral to the BAI [Broadcasting Authority of Ireland].

He said, and I’m quoting, that he ‘hadn’t received a report from his officials yet’.

The director of corporate enforcement’s affidavit states that a month earlier on the afternoon of the 11th of November, he personally told representative from Heneghan PR that he would be referring the proposal, proposed merger, to the BAI, based on the advice of his officials.

“I note that Heneghan PR, headed by Nigel Heneghan, advisory to Leslie Buckley and spokesman for INM and also member of the compliance committee of the BAI.

So here was a PR firm employed by INM and with close ties to all the close protagonists in INM making a direct contact with a minister and being made privy to a decision which I, as a parliamentarian, weeks later, was told the decision had not been made yet.

“The repercussions for this, I believe, are stunning – not least in relation to the implications it has for the potential market manipulation and inside dealing but also for the questions it raises in regards to corporate governance and INM and the axis of power between major shareholders of INM and his department.”

Ms Murphy went on to say that Minister Naughten should recuse himself for any role in media regulation.

She added:

“I also take exception, yet again, to being misled in this Dáil when I ask a parliamentary question and I believe I was mislead in respect of those replies on the 6th of December.”

Later

Ms Smyth said:

“If the media was free, why does Ireland have a higher concentration of media ownership than most other countries with one key individual whose name can never be mentioned whether in a committee or in this chamber, owns Sunday Independent, Sunday World, Evening Herald, has a stake in the Daily Star, The Kerryman, the Drogheda Independent, the Wicklow People, the Exford People, the Waterford People, and many radio stations such as Newstalk, Today FM.

“That is power, that is control, and that is a very, very wealthy individual whose name cannot be mentioned in these chambers, who has strong links with the Irish state, so much so that every time a very important function happening like Davos, or the New York Stock Exchange, he appears with key members of this government.

“And that friendly relationship has helped him to secure influence and has continued to help it exist. That is what needs to be challenged.”

Follow the Dáil proceedings live here

Earlier: Denis Denis