Author Archives: Admin

"NO Castletown House

From top: Artist Richard Gorman; Castletown House

To celebrate the arrival of ‘CASA’ an exhibition by Italy-based Irish abstract artist Richard Gorman, at Castletown House, Celbridge, Co Kildare we have two (yes TWO) Office of Public Works (OPW) Family Heritage Cards to give away.

PLUS a free  lunch in the Castletown courtesy of the OPW team at Castletown.

Christina Mahon writes:

An OPW Family Heritage Card provides FREE admission for 2 Adults and 3 Children into fee paying state-managed sites  for one full year from the date of first use….

To enter, please complete this sentence:

‘Just give me the OPW Family Heritage Card as I desperately need to take my family (real or imagined) to…………………….[name of fee-paying, state managed site]’

Helpful list of sites here 

Lines MUST close Saturday morning 9.30am MIDDAY 6pm.

Castletown House

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This afternoon.

Flanagan’s,  O’Connell Street, Dublin 1

Sinead writes:

As a tribute to the Boss (playing Croke Park this evening) we’ve created a menu special: The Hungry Heart’ – deliciously tender Texas Beef Short Ribs served up with Smoked Beans & Bacon, Red Cabbage, Slaw and Sweet Potato Fries ‘Born To Rumis the featured cocktail. A rock and roll concoction of Rum, honey, apple and lime juice (€10) created specially by the Flanagan’s mixologist.Both served up with a free pair of Stars and Stripes sunglasses!!

Any excuse

Meanwhile…

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Bruce with staff from the Flyefit Gym on Baggot St, Dublin 2, where he dropped in for a workout last night.

Flyefit/Rollingnews

Meanwhile….

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Frank O’Dea writes:

We’ve no Bruce Springsteen portrait prints but we do have these…For quick sale . Discretion assured. Balla Bàn Art Gallery Westbury Mall Dublin…

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Brown mince, a banged up Mini and a dodgy mullet.

The author makes a gratitude list.

Frilly Keane writes:

I’ve noticed lately, that content beyond the ould’reliables like the Papers, Moynes, Crying Chairs and Leather Jacket Lad, that some themes or topics if you like, relight themselves again and again; The Housing Crisis, JobBridge, Alan Shatter, even a Republican Government got another spin. That’s not a whinge btw, there’s still plenty to be said.

Likewise “My Generation” which I’ve even gotten stuck inta meself on a go-around instalment, yet I’m still not done with it so I’ve gone and given it a new coat of paint for this week\s outing.

So where would My Generation be

Only for

Seat belts, NCT’s and Sat Nav?

Christ only knows since my first car had no seat belts at all and a choke pull that came off a Coke tin. It had vice grips on the steering column and lino samples to cover the holes on the floor.

It didn’t seem to matter then since that industrial rusty grey Mini started every time, it’s 4 gears would bring us to Killarney for under a fiver, and it didn’t get as much as a bob’s worth of insurance.

Eight years later, my next car came with a heavy on the sales pitch about it having seatbelts in the back seat, seriously, you’d swear I was getting all leather interiors and self-parking the way the lad selling it made such a big deal about the Optional Extra.

I’m still more comfortable with directions that require me to watch out for the school yard, the church, the grave yard, the pub, a local character’s house, so robotic instructions that give roads numbers and letters and can’t pronounce Mullingar just gives me ire.

But I couldn’t do without Google Maps and I wouldn’t dream of putting my arse into a car to Cork now that had no seatbelts or insurance. And it’s not just me. Nobody would.

Anyone remember Brown Mince? It was the only meat I ate for years until my late teens. It was on the shopping list one day and I was looking for some good book entries so I went to the butchers.

Brown Mince was the outcome of the butchers bucket, when I saw the lad put a shovel into the bin and empty it into the mincer … I’m getting queasy now thinking of what might have been in that bucket or what state it was in. Thank you Food regulators for Steak Mince, Turkey Mince, and Pork Mince.

An acquaintance of mine worked in a local Bakery back when who still tells the story of oven burns being treated with greaseproof paper and sellotape, if you needed plasters you had ta’ get your own, and then there’s the split head getting seen to with a wipe of the magic sponge/ wiping down cloth/ tea towel or the whatever was damp and came to hand.

I could mention a few work place accidental deaths while I’m at it, but you’ll know some anyway. So thank you for Workplace Safety training, and Compliance, and thank you for proper First Aid Standards and Infection Control Education.

The Chip pan? I suspect most of ye here never heard of them let alone seen one. Its only looking back now I realise how reckless and devious a hazard it is.

But one time we goofed and laughed at the tales of them catching fire in sweaty cramped bedsits with the two rings, and lads tossing them out onto the street, or when we shrugged off our Mammies for warning us not to touch them.

So yes, thank you for the Air Fryer. Thank you too for the Microwave, whether it was to sterilise bottles, reheat my coffee or bake a spud, my days are definitely for the better with this convenience my parents didn’t have and one I couldn’t be without.

Back in the day I had a beauty of a mullet, permed at the back and lacquer stiff, gel quaffed and rolled to the front. Since showers were unreliable in the miserable sense it got dipped under the kitchen tap every morning, now lemme tell ye, the smell of fags and the durt off that head of hair that would make ya gawk. I could actually see thick grey water flood down the sink on that first dousing before the shampoo.

Fair enough, that’s not an experience most of ye will recognise but I don’t think I was the only one that put on smelly clothes on their day 2 outing. So thank you for the smoking ban, and enforcing Fire Regulations.

Competition. Aer Lingus, ESB, Bord Gas, RTE, Pillar Banks and Building Societies, P & T. Supermarkets and Retailers from Furniture to Jeans:

They all had tits made out’ve us and our parents, and theirs etc, before us. Thank you for opening it all up. Transparency in commercial and public life, thank you too for that.

So what if it didn’t stop the related party nudge nudge transactions, the jobs for the boys, wives etc. At least now it can be disclosed and discussed without getting a warning off.

Thank you for giving me the peace of sending a child to school knowing their teacher wouldn’t be sending them home black n’blue.

Thank you for making ambition about accomplishment and achievement and not about putting someone’s nose out or keeping someone in their place.

Ambition is now as everyday as going on to 3rd level, and available to everyone, and not a personal diary entry that no one will ever know of so as to deny a too big for our boots snigger. It’s a while since I heard a “I remember ‘em when they didn’t have an arse in their pants bumming fags” kinda thing.

Thank you too for the Internet, the Wiffy, the Forums, the Online this that and t’other from banking, to shoe shopping. Thank you for the technology that allows me say I’m working even if I’m still in me jimmyjammers.

So where would we be? Lemme me tell ye.

Dangerous driving, eating and cooking hazardous waste, bitching amongst ourselves about that other crowd with all their “pull.” We’d be paying double digit interest rates, but still going cap in hand to the banks (imagine that!) We’d still have to make do with the news we were given and keep our traps shut about it.

That’s where. So thank you.

Frilly Keane’s column appears here every Friday. Follow Frilly on Twitter: @frillykeane

Pic: Bonhams

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From top: Patricia King, general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions this morning at the Labour Court; Luas commuters; Jimmy Dignam

As Siptu and Transdev meet at the Labour Court to resolve the Luas driver’s dispute a Workers’ Party activist sets out the case against Transdev.

Jimmy Dignam writes:

The LUAS strike is not about how big the pie is – it’s about agreeing the fairest way of sharing the spoils.

And Transdev’s behaviour shows that privatising our services means increasing spoils for corporations – at the expense of workers and the state.

Over the past twelve years, the Luas service has been a stunning success – not only for the commuters it serves, but also for its operator, multinational transport giant Transdev.

In 2013, the company’s EBITDA (Earnings before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization – a useful proxy for company profitability) were €1.54 million, while in 2014 they were €1.24 million.

In 2013 it paid a dividend of €1.68 million to its shareholders while its parent companies, Veolia and Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations, generated profits of €246 million and €1.8 billion, respectively, in 2014.

In addition, Irish profits are likely to rise significantly when the Red and Green lines are joined in 2017. And given that Transdev is reportedly considering bidding for bus routes when they are put out to tender later this year, they obviously still view Ireland as a lucrative transport market.

Transdev have succesfully manipulated the public mind into seeing them as a struggling company, burdened by unreasonable pay claims. But what we can be sure of is that the shareholders are getting their fair share – why not the workers?

So the current dispute is not about workers bringing an ailing company to its knees. Rather, it is about workers seeking to negotiate with a profitable company for an improvement in their terms and conditions. As one worker put it last week when interviewed by The Journal: “We’re looking for a fair slice of the company we’ve helped build”.

After years of listening to voices in the establishment decrying the plight of the private sector worker in comparison to their ‘overpaid’ public-sector counterpart, one might have expected the media to swing in behind the Luas workers in their struggle for better conditions.

Yet, the artificial, media-constructed divide between public and private sector workers has taken a 180 degree turn over the last number of months.

From the vilification of public sector workers at the height of the economic crisis we must now listen to denunciations of greedy private sector tram drivers holding the population to ransom. Nurses, doctors and teachers, once denounced, are now lauded in comparison – one suspects there is a more general anti-worker agenda at play here.

The divide and conquer tactics are transparent and almost farcical – we hear that a Junior Doctor is paid less than a Luas Driver – The Journal debunks this one showing that a Junior Doctor’s average starting pay (including average bonus and overtime) is greater than that of a Luas Driver in year 1 and by year 10 is almost two times greater.

When I joined them on the picket line last month I was struck by the conviction of the Luas workers’ beliefs.

They recounted the intense concentration required while driving through Smithfield at midnight, as drunk young people stumbled out onto the tracks – and how a seemingly small increase in unbroken driving time, as proposed by Transdev, would in fact go against best practice health and safety advice.

They also spoke passionately about how unfair it is that a worker is paid less in the private sector than the public sector for doing fundamentally the same work.

Luas Drivers wages are ‘significantly lower than those of Dart, Suburban or Irish Rail Mainline drivers’.

How is it that, for those at the top, we hear enormous public salaries justified by a need to compete with the private sector, but for the ordinary workers, it’s considered acceptable to earn less in a private company?

Meanwhile, LUAS workers accused of greed and self-interest rejected outright proposals from Transdev that new entrants would earn less in real terms than colleague who started five years ago. Its an admirable demonstration of solidarity with young, precarious workers.

The contrast between this solidarity, and the profit-hunger of Transdev is worth dwelling on.

Why is it we believe that a massive, profitable multinational company has the right to increase its profits indefinitely, while workers’ demands for a commensurate increase in wages is regarded as greed?

Transdev’s consistent profitability over successive years shows that the LUAS is one of the most profitable elements of our transport system.

But currently, as a state we lease the provision of this profitable service out to a private company to benefit from. It will always generate more revenue than an isolated bus route in rural west Cork – I imagine Transdev won’t be leasing that service provision from the state any time soon.

If Transdev are not willing to pay workers a decent wage to do a valuable job, then let us do them a favour; end the state’s contract with Transdev, and take LUAS provision into public ownership, a valuable asset we’d be happy to manage, pay workers a decent wage, and improve the financial sustainability of Ireland’s public transport system as a whole.

Jimmy Dignam is a member of UNITE’s Youth Committee and a Workers’ Party representative for Dublin Northwest Follow him on Twitter: @JimmyDignamWP

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From top: Enda Kenny unveiling his junior ministers last week: Dan Boyle

The Taoiseach has missed the opportunity to promote each of his party’s TDs to ministerial rank.

Dan Boyle writes:

Twenty seven of the fifty Fine Gael TDs in Dáil Éireann now hold ministerial rank. Its backbenchers now constitute a minority of its parliamentary party.

In the days of old politics some of these could be partially placated by being appointed to chair one of the many Oireachtas committees that existed.

Oireachtas committees are not as numerous as they once were. This though could change. What will certainly change is the chair of these committees being in the gift of the government of the day.It’s more likely the majority of these roles will be played by opposition TDs. In a more accountable system they all should be.

There are other baubles to appeal to the injured ego. Heading delegations to British Irish Parliamentary Assembly, to the OSCE, to the World Parliamentary Forum; gives potential for foreign travel to mitigate the slighted self importance of some.

The problem for Taoiseach is that he doesn’t seem to be all that interested in accountability. He does care a lot about managing his party. He now has twenty three TDs who are not seen to be that important ‘up in Dublin’.

He should have seen through the courage of his (slight) convictions. He has missed the opportunity of promoting each of his party’s TDs to ministerial rank.

Finding suitable titles might prove a challenge. He could start by resurrecting some of the department headings he has thought now longer necessary for a cabinet position. There are other templates in place that might also help.

The role of Minister of State has in the past been used to develop a cross departmental approach to specified, often minority, interest groups.This approach has been used for women, for older people and younger people and for people with disability.

There hasn’t always been a sensitivity in how these offices should be titled. At a time, pre-politics, when I was involved in youth work, I thought that having a Minister for State for Youth Affairs was only asking for trouble.

A brave Taoiseach would appoint a Minister for State with special responsibility for the Travelling Community.

Once, in the Rainbow Government of 94-97 Liz McManus as a Democratic Left Minister of State, played something of this role but it related mainly to accommodation.

If the Taoiseach was honest about the political intent behind Minister of State appointments he would give them more appropriate titles.

I would like to suggest a Minster of State with responsibility for Funeral Attendances. Located in the Department of the Taoiseach, this Minister of State could assist in the Chief Whip’s office to ensure that all the appropriate funerals are attended, without key votes being missed.

Don’t laugh. It will save some civil servant reading the death notices.

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle

Rollingnews

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From top: Glum globe; Luke Holland

GDP tells us how big an economy is.

But says nothing about what things going on inside all that economic activity.

Relentless overconsumption and environmental destruction to name just two.

Luke Holland writes:

There is certain cognitive dissonance hidden between the lines of both the Paris Climate Agreement and the new global development framework approved last year at the United Nations.

“Agenda 2030”, a set of 17 goals and targets approved at the United Nations in September, covers everything from ending hunger and poverty to reducing inequality and combatting environmental degradation, while the Paris Agreement promises to keep global warming within manageable limits.

These proposals are laudable in their scope and ambition, but there is a deliberate naivety in their insistence that all this can be done within the same old vision of endless growth that has caused most of our problems in the first place.

In effect, these documents promise to achieve the world’s social and environmental goals while also facilitating eternal economic growth; in so doing, they propose to bring about a global transformation without rocking the boat of relentless overconsumption.

Many of those who were involved in the negotiations accept that infinite growth in a world of finite resources is simply not possible, but discussion over alternative ways to measure economic success has remained in large part a subject for the margins.

Corporate domination of both sets of talks successfully ensured that perpetual growth remains the prime objective of economic planning, even as this model of exponential consumption carries us into the abyss of environmental disaster

Admittedly, breaking the habit of a lifetime is no easy task.

The relentless pursuit of growth has, for many decades, been the most fundamental goal of global economic policy. So widely accepted is the wisdom of this approach that to question it generally results in being branded, at best, an idealist.

But as the global capitalist system continues to stagger forward with multiple enmeshed crises besetting it on all sides, it is becoming more and more difficult to ignore the shortcomings of our most prized economic indicator.

The problems with GDP as a measure of economic health are well-known. Originally thought up by the US and British governments during the Great Depression, it provides a quantitative snapshot of economic output. By simply measuring all goods and services produced over a given time period, it tells us how big an economy is but doesn’t say anything about what’s going on inside all that economic activity.

As such, the production of cigarettes and firearms, for example, is deemed just as valuable as the provision of healthcare services, while clearing huge swathes of rainforest to make way for agro-industrial farms that fuel, rather than ameliorate, climate change is likewise recorded as worthwhile economic activity.

GDP also ignores the distribution of resources, so one individual making a billion dollars while a million starve is considered better than that same million making $999 each – the aggregate figure is all that counts. The myriad non-market services that an economy depends on, such as parenting and community-building, are likewise left out of the equation.

In recent years, the need for better ways to measure economic health has become increasingly urgent, and several governments and development agencies have set about designing alternative indicators. Perhaps the best known of these is the UN Development Program’s Human Development Index, which combines statistics on life expectancy, educational achievement, and per capita income to deliver a composite evaluation of economic development and human wellbeing.

Another measure that has been gaining ground is the Genuine Progress Indicator, which takes GDP as its base but makes deductions for social ills including inequality, crime and environmental degradation, along with additions for positives such as volunteer work and leisure time.

But none of these metrics have come anywhere close to dislodging – or even challenging – GDP when it comes to evaluating economic performance, and perhaps this is not surprising.

Alternative systems of measurement would go some way to shifting the goals and motivations of development efforts and, with this fact foremost in their minds, powerful elites with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo will do everything they can to prevent such changes. As the old saying goes, “we measure what we treasure, and treasure what we measure”.

Some are already arguing that infinite growth in a world of finite resources is, in fact, possible, and that it can be achieved without destroying the planet. As technology advances, they say, greater energy efficiency will rein in environmental degradation. But the pattern of recent decades shows that greater energy efficiency tends to lead to higher consumption, not less pollution.

They will also push the idea than an information-based economy will ‘decouple’ from resource use. But again, the pattern we have seen in recent years shows that, although economies are becoming less material intensive, economic growth more than outweighs the gains garnered through ‘decoupling’.

We may generate more wealth per unit of resources used, but we are still using more resources, and creating more waste, overall.

So what would a post-GDP economic system look like? The British philosopher John Stuart Mill believed that economic growth should eventually give way to a steady state economy, in which both capital and population levels remained constant. As societies matured, he predicted, individual greed would ebb away as cooperative enterprise became more and more the norm.

“It is scarcely necessary to remark that a stationary condition of capital and population implies no stationary state of human improvement,”

There would be as much scope as ever for all kinds of mental culture, and moral and social progress; as much room for improving the art of living and much more likelihood of its being improved, when minds cease to be engrossed by the art of getting on.”

Is this a utopian proposal? Perhaps, but there can be little doubt that our current pursuit of endless growth is no longer feasible. As the environmental crisis has intensified, more and more economists and environmental experts have been forced to state the unthinkable; that we are going to have to consume less. And the key issue here is that we are going to consume less.

The only question is whether we reduce our consumption in a controlled way or, alternatively, lurch forward into an environmental collapse which will in turn force this reduction upon us.

As John Maynard Keynes once said, “the difficulty lies not in the new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones”.

Luke Holland is an independent human rights and development consultant. He is the author of the Center for Economic and Social Rights briefing ‘Mauled by the Celtic Tiger: human rights in Ireland’s economic meltdown’.

Top pic: Adobe (rights agreed)

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From top: Directors, actors, producers at the launch of the Bord Scannán Na hÉireann/Irish Film Board (IFB) 2016 Production Catalogue; Anne Marie McNally

Take a bow.

Ireland is bottom of the European league for Investment in Culture and the Arts.

Anne Marie McNally writes:

It’s us. We sing, we dance, we make music, we count some of the greatest literary giants among our current and past heritage and we have stage & screen actors who are the envy of the world. That’s before we talk about directors, producers, casts, crews, and a whole plethora of people involved in creating and fostering the arts in this country.

Each one equally important & the need for us to support and nourish these talents is surely a no-brainer. You would think wouldn’t you? You’d be wrong.

Last Week Enda unveiled his latest instalment in the long-running saga ‘distorted democracy’ by announcing his 18 -count ’em-18 Junior Ministers.

A Government with just 59 seats now has 33 ministerial posts. But try as you might, you cannot find a Minister with responsibility for Arts among that 33.

From Government ranks there are shouts about the millions that have been pumped into the Arts recently. What they’re not clarifying is that the vast majority of that funding was specifically for State commemoration events related to the 1916 anniversary. It was not sustainable targeted investment in the arts.

We are bottom of the European League for Government Investment in Culture and the Arts. According to the National Campaign for the Arts , data from the Council of Europe shows that in 2012 Ireland spent just 0.11% of GDP on the Arts and Culture, compared to a European average of 0.6% of GDP.

It’s hasn’t gotten any better, in any form of real sense, since 2012.

The Arts directly employ approximately 21,000 people and that doesn’t count the many volunteers or unemployed artists across the country striving away at their passion and trying to bring joy into people’s lives through a kaleidoscope of creative endeavours.

During the recent 1916 commemorations the outpouring of pride and sheer awe that followed the hour long celebration of our culture on RTÉ, ‘Centenary’, was indicative of how important our creative side is to us.

Twitter went into overdrive and every demographic roundly commended the project as stunning. It was followed closely by Laochra in Croke park. A similar spectacle that showcased the strength of our music, dance, and theatrical efforts.

It’s just such a pity that the State’s interest was fleeting and only preoccupied with this specific window of time. Imagine if the same effort and funding was directed towards the Arts in a consistent and sustainable fashion?

Imagine the talent that would be nurtured and fostered and how the strength of our artistic output could continue to wow both the domestic and the international crowds.

The Campaign for the Arts estimates that for every €1 invested by the Arts Council, more than €0.70 returns directly to the exchequer in taxes.

For a net cost of €0.30, Arts Council investment generates €2.50 in turnover, more than an 8-fold return on investment. Any decent financial brain would see the merits in those returns.

But the economics of this, while hugely important, should not be the sole driving factor.

We are talking about the very fabric of our society-the je n’sais quoi that makes diaspora around the globe feel connected to home, makes third and fourth generation emigrants identify with Ireland and makes us here at home proud of our immense talents and our cultural identity.

Those artists who create this magic are not an infinite resource, they are most assuredly finite and if Government policy continues to disrespect and undermine the arts then we will watch helplessly as our vibrant artistic community withers away and our reputation for world class artistry goes with it.

Anne Marie McNally is a founding member of the Social Democrats. Follow Anne Marie on Twitter: @amomcnally