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Sober in Sandymount writes:

Tesco in Sandymountis  suspending sale of alcohol from 4 – 7.30pm (I think) tonight due to the football match. Heard all off-licenses have been asked to do the same by the guards in the Irishtown/Ringsend/Sandymount/Donnybrook areas. Is there a precedent for this?


(Sasko Lazarov/Photocall ireland)

90374415Dr Julien Mercille at the Banking Inquiry during the week

You may recall Dr Julien Mercille gave evidence at the Banking Inquiry last week.

Dr Mercille, a lecturer at UCD and  author of The Political Economy and Media Coverage of the European Economic Crisis: The Case of Ireland discussed media collusion in the boom and bust.

How did that go down?

Irish Independent?

“… Chasing red herrings and matters of no consequence remains a risk when competing politicians from different parties gather in conclave.”

“This week, they devoted some hours to considering the views of some obscure academic by the name of Julien Mercille. He has cast himself in the role of being some kind of messiah when it comes to the media, and its alleged involvement with spiralling house prices.”

“When it comes to the foibles of newspapers, in particular, Mr Mercille seems to be an expert on all those ”unknown unknowns” which challenge lesser mortals. Such is the way of self-appointed gurus. However, his arguments suffer from one overwhelming weakness – I cannot recall him predicting the crash either.”

Gerry O’Regan former Irish Independent editor

Irish Examiner?

“Finding out why was never going to be easy, but the inquiry got off to a pretty poor start on Wednesday. Before newspaper editors, including the Irish Examiner’s Tim Vaughan, the first witness was an academic chap, Julien Mercille.”

“Dr Mercille lectures in the department of geography in UCD and is the holder of a Phd on ‘the political economy’. He has written academic publications on matters such as the war on drugs, but he is not a media academic, and has never worked in the Irish media. He has penned a book based on the newspapers’ coverage of the property boom and bust.”

The thesis of his book is that the media is largely a tool of “the elites” and reflects their views at the cost of telling “the truth” or catering for “ordinary people”. It’s not clear whom exactly the elites are, but it’s safe to say Dr Mercille does not include among them highly-educated, well-paid and pensioned academics. Those souls are far more likely to be “ordinary people”, in search of “the truth”, whatever that is in a political context.”

“Dr Mercille’s thesis on the media derives as much from his political perspective as from any neutral examination of the function and performance of newspapers. His columns and media appearances suggest his politics chimes with that of the so-called far left, although Dr Mercille told the inquiry he would consider himself “progressive”, rather than left- or right-wing.”

“There’s nothing wrong with any of that. Diversity of opinion is a positive feature of public life. What is baffling is why an important Oireachtas inquiry, on a very tight schedule, found it useful to hear about the media from a man who could not be described as either a practitioner or an expert. Perhaps the politicians thought this passed for the ‘balance’ they habitually contend is lacking in coverage of their affairs.”

Michael Clifford, ‘Special Correspondent’ Irish Examiner

Sunday Independent:

Dr Mercille is a man of the hard left. In his hard-left worldview, capitalism is dominated by interconnected elites, who are in the minority, but because they wield all the power they are able to keep the majority poor and suppressed…..

Last year I was invited to debate the role of the media with Dr Mercille at a conference. In preparation for the event, I read his work carefully. His claims about the failings of the media during the bubble period are based on articles which appeared in this newspaper, the Irish Independent, the Irish Times, and episodes of RTE’s Prime Time. He claims that when this output is analysed it shows a highly unbalanced picture of cheerleading for the boom and only a tiny amount of time and space given to dissenters.

Interested in analysing his evidence, I contacted Dr Mercille and asked him to share the database he had collated. It turned out that he had not gathered the data in the normal way that any rigorous academic would do, so that the findings could be replicated, tested and built on. As such, it is not possible for anyone to know what was included in his study and – probably more importantly – what was not included.

The issue of what is not included in any study is important because it is the most common fault found in academic work.

As Dr Mercille’s evidence base is not available, it is impossible to assess the accuracy of his study, but there is reason to question it.”

Dan O’Brien, Sunday Independent.

Irish Times:

Geraldine Kennedy: “I listened to Dr. Mercille with great interest yesterday. Without doubt he was the finest conspiracy theorist I have heard in a long time. I was disappointed that his material was not evidence based. He gave one fact in his submission which was that there 40,000 articles written in The Irish Times about economic policy and the property boom and only 78 about affordable housing. That is absolutely wrong. It is very easy to press a button and get “property bubble” without taking into account all the other formulations of expressing that same phenomenon. Between the years 2008 and 2013 the country was banjaxed, it was bankrupt. Unless we want it to be Greece, one had to try to bring the country out of the mire. I noted yesterday that he seemed to support Argentina and in something else I read about him he supported—–

Deputy Joe Higgins: “Does Ms Kennedy dispute the figures and the percentages that he outlined in terms of the support for…”

“No. I do not know but I would be surprised.”

Higgins: “But Ms Kennedy said that his contribution was not facts based and
now she says she does not know.”

Kennedy: “I do not know as I did not study that period because the terms of reference of the inquiry given to me were for 2002 to 2007. His figures were for 2008 to 2013 which is beyond my period as editor and I did not study that before coming in here. I will say that I believe, personally, and would probably have pursued the policy as editor, that there was very little option for Ireland unfortunately but to try to get its house back in order. It required great sacrifices by ordinary people.”

Higgins: “Yes. In other words, Ms Kennedy supports it. Did she support then the bailout of the financial markets rather than the people who were victims?”

Higgins: “How is that balanced journalism?”

Chairman: I am going to move on.

Former Irish Times editor Geraldine Kennedy at the banking inquiry.

Good times.

Media grilled as Bank Inquiry bearpit uses hindsight to predict past (Irish Independent)

Michael Clifford: We all had the economic blinkers on (Irish Examiner)

Media Played Little Role In Inflating The Proerty Bubble (Dan O’Brien,

Geraldine Kennedy, irish Times (banking Inquiry)

Previously: Mercille Live

For Those Who Shouted Stop, He Salutes You


Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan

The Green Party’s annual convention is taking place in Kilkenny this weekend {link below]

Green Party member David Gosling outlines why he has stuck with a party perceived as “at best a bit kooky and at worst deluded”.

And why you should TOO.

No wait, come back.

David writes:

I am a Green Party member since 2006. I like to think that my life to date has encompassed activities and experiences which allow me cast a critical eye on the world around me. I am 48, an ex-Army officer/Facilities Manager/small scale property developer/ex- e-commerce business owner/charity worker/full time MBA student and I am currently part of a small team readying a Built Environment – Carbon and Cost Reduction business for launch. I am married, with two small children, and I have lived and worked in London, Singapore, Western Sahara, Lebanon and a number of other countries.

I am not a natural Campaigner, nor Politician. I am interested in the efficient, effective and successful creation and running of organisations which see the world in a broad and holistic manner; in assisting societal, behavioral and personal change; en route to securing a positive future for our children and their descendants.

In advance of elections the only way for most people to judge political parties is to read election manifestos with a critical eye. This is where the spoken word is locked into written form; immutable for eternity; though not necessarily followed through when in Government. In 2007 I read all of the parties’ manifestos before the election and it was heavy going! The manifesto that made most sense was by the Greens.

The particular measure that sealed the deal for me was the proposal on Capital Gains Tax. I was in the property business at that time and had benefited from the low, 20%, rate prevailing. “Oh-oh” I thought, “this will be bad news for the likes of me”.

But it was nothing of the sort, the proposal was to increase CGT to 25%, in line with the lowest effective rate of taxation. Rationally, the Greens saw the inequality in those realising windfall profits paying less tax than those in low paying jobs. And many other proposals were rational, logical and progressive.

To a woman and a man Green representatives, and I don’t necessarily agree with all of them, are honest almost to the point, sometimes, of political naivety.

They reduced political donation limits, eschewed corporate donations and took necessary political action when it was right to do so; Trevor Sargent’s resignation, first as party leader and then as a Junior Minister displayed this. Accusing past and present Green representatives of being in it for themselves is, in a very loose comparison, like accusing Gandhi of being in it to become a celebrity.

But sure aren’t they all the same those politicians!

Well, no, they are not all the same: Haughey & Fitzgerald, Blair & Churchill, GW Bush & JFK, National Socialists (Nazis) & Indian Congress Party! But we are talking about Irish politicians here, about Irish political parties, about our specific political system. However, the answer remains: are Sinn Fein the same as Labour, is Enda Kenny the same as Eamon Ryan, is Willie O’Dea the same as Michael D Higgins? No.

Liverpool FC dominated in the 80s but fell from grace. Are they a waste of a team now? Did they make mistakes even during their reign? Are their current players useless? Similarly the Greens made mistakes, but in good faith.

Does the combination of trying to change elements of the system for the better, bad timing and ‘greenness’ while in their first government make them self-serving or cynical? See here for Green Party achievements in government.

The Greens are a serious political proposition; a proposition which encompasses moral, ethical and scientifically backed policies and the political will to push for change; a combination, if an honest comparison were to be undertaken, missing in virtually all other parties. Unfortunately, the reality is a perception, amongst a section of the public, that the Greens are at best a bit kooky and at worst deluded as to their importance in the political system.

This is an unfair categorisation because many rational blue, and white, collar voters see in the Greens echoes of their own concerns. Concerns about daily life, community life, national life and of course life globally.

Another, more difficult and immediate, concern to the Greens is the overhanging legacy of time in Government with Fianna Fail. The part played by the Greens in the inflated economy which led to the bursting of the property bubble, derailing the economic stability and progress of the country; the weakening, or at worst, destruction of our national sovereignty.

Let’s debunk the former concern and examine the latter. Rationally, and this is the key point, the Greens did not contribute to the raising of the country to its awful tipping point. How could they have? They entered government on 2006. By 2000 the Celtic Tiger; defined by rates of economic growth, not rates of house completions or BMW purchases, had stopped roaring and the property boom replaced it in the upward only drive to the top.

By late 2006 the residential property market had begun its decline. I know this because I put a house on the market in spring 2006 and rejected an offer assuming the autumn selling season would see it worth more. It sold for less than the spring offer!

The slide was on. So; the Greens in government with FF did not contribute ‘directly’ to the positive economic growth in the late 1990 ’s, but more crucially did not have any hand in the madness that was the property boom; in fact the Greens were one of the few political voices of restraint and caution during the boom.

Most rational Irish people know this; whether they expediently blame the Greens for some sort of “ah but they were in Government during the boom” or not. Far more crucial to our current reputation is the perception of our part in the bank guarantee scheme and NAMA.

Yes, the Greens were part of the Government which agreed to, created and implemented the measures; measures seen as necessary to stabilise the Banking Sector and thus the national economy and even, daily life on the island. Heavy stuff this! Yep, they were there, reading the analyses, at the table, in the room, at the helm when the bottom fell out of not only our economy, but out of our collective world.

Green ministers and TDs, after exhaustively challenging the inherent assumptions, agreed to the measures taken. Measures which morphed into policies and actions. Policies and actions deemed vital to stabilise the economy; but in reality to stabilise the country, and us as a people in our economic futures.

Policies and actions roundly criticised by opposition parties. Parties who, rather like the child who ‘hated’ his classmate’s sweets, only to eat them when the other left them on the table. Fine Gael/Labour in effect plagarised the necessary policies and actions of the Greens and their government partners.

For me, a supporter of the decision to enter government with Fianna Fail and of the implementation of NAMA, the Greens are facing a particularly interesting issue. In the lead up to the 2016 General Election they find themselves in a somewhat bizarre place at the center of the current political landscape. Not an ideological position, but one of perception.

With FF, FG Labour and Sinn Fein occupying the place of the known quantity; of larger numbers of Dail seats, of rigid structures and fixed positions as to how to govern the country. These parties are not to be trusted to do the right thing. Their histories are of doing the expedient & electorally appealing; give-away budgets, while ignoring the need for social funding etc.

On the left we find the ‘Garage/Start Up’ parties; a scrappy insurgency of loosely affiliated socialists, water protestors, austerity protestors and other independents and interest groups. Bizarrely these; ‘socialist’ leaning parties/groups do not believe in high levels of taxation, or in government; cornerstones of Socialism globally. The Greens are neither bound by history, precedent or by radical yet incoherent positions, perspectives or policies.


Kilkenny Convention livestream here


Neil writes:

Did PWC have anything to do with Irish Water or DO’B/Siteserv deal? Do they know something the rest of us don’t? It seems to think water will be deducted at source if their on-line tax calculator is anything to go by… it was not present a few weeks ago.

PWC Tax Calculator


Let’s see.

in 2011, PricewaterhouseCoopers and McCann Fitzgerald were tasked with carrying out a report on the setting up of Irish Water.

In April 2012, former Environment Minister Phil Hogan spoke about the decision to award the Irish Water tender to Bord Gáis, rather than Bord na Móna, saying “the outside assessors, PricewaterhouseCoopers, had made the decision based on a long list of criteria”.

In January 2014, it was revealed that former Environment Minister Phil Hogan’s department paid €179,584 paid to PricewaterhouseCoopers for “consultancy services” on the establishment of Irish Water.

And in a statement issued earlier this month, Siteserv stated:

“The transaction to acquire Siteserc PLC (in liquidation) by [Denis O'Brien's] Millington in 2012 was conducted entirely in full compliance with best corporate practice and best corporate governance standards as already publicly stated by the Directors of Siteserv PLC (in liquidation). The sale process on behalf of Siteserv PLC (in liquidation) was assisted by KPMG Corporate Finance and Davy Corporate Finance overseen by a sub-committee of the Board of the company and was subject to and EGM of the company’s shareholders. IBRC had a representative on the sub-committee and was advised by PwC Corporate Finance.


You may recall former CEO of Bord Gáis John Mullins stepped down from his role in December 2012, and later replaced by Michael McNicholas.

Mr Mullins was appointed as non-executive chairman of Heneghan PR earlier this month.

Heneghan PR – which does  PR for Siteserv – is headed by Nigel Heneghan, advisor to Leslie Buckley, spokesman for INM and, most recently, a member of the compliance committee of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, a position he was appointed to by the Government, without any public recruitment process.

Good times..

Previously: Contains Impurities

Denis O’Brien, Fine Gael And The Water Meter Deal

000a53de-642Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 19.00.13

Graham Dwyer (top) and a statement released by his solicitors this evening

Graham Dwyer closed his eyes and shook his head slightly when verdict was delivered.

Sentencing and victim impact statements will be dealt with on 20 April.

The sentence for murder is mandatory life in prison.

Dwyer guilty of murdering Elaine O’Hara (RTE News)

Statement pic via Conor Gallagher

(H/T: Kevin Whitty, Spaghetti Hoop)

1 2 3

 Students from Colaiste na hInse, Laytown at Tayto Park yesterday

In the company of fellow crisp lovers?

Dream no more.

Joanne at Tayto Park writes:

Yesterday Tayto Park, Ashbourne [Co Meath] was delighted to open its doors for its fifth season. First year students from Colaiste na hInse, Laytown ditched the books and were the first to run through the doors of Tayto Park for an adrenaline filled morning.

With seven new heart-racing attractions for 2015, this promises to be a year like no other in Tayto Park! From the fast paced Air Race and Sky Tower to the Dinosaurs Alive Exhibition and the eye-popping 5D cinema, there is lots to keep kids, both big and small occupied for hours.

Not to mention The Cú Chulainn Coaster, Europe’s largest wooden rollercoaster, opening in Tayto Park this Summer. Other new attractions include an antique-style steam train track around Tayto Park and the Honey Pot Roundabout, perfect for little ones wanting to dip their toes into something adventurous.

We have four free passes (yes TWO family tickets) to Tayto Park giveaway to two crisp-park loving Broadsheet readers. To enter just complete this sentence:

‘I demand the Tayto Park free passes considering the week I’ve had______________’

Lines MUST close at 4.15pm MIDNIGHT

Tayto Park