Further to Dr John Doherty’s letter, the difficulty of distinguishing the ironic from the literal in writing has long been recognised.

In the 17th century, the natural philosopher John Wilkins, who married Oliver Cromwell’s sister, proposed that irony should be marked with an inverted exclamation mark (¡).

In the 1960s, the French author Hervé Bazin suggested the Greek letter psi (appropriately pronounced sigh) should be used.

To substitute intonation in speech, Bazin put forward other punctuation marks to signify love, acclamation, certainty, doubt and authority. Since none of these have come into use, perhaps emojis could be used?

Blair Noonan,
Dublin 6.

No typeface for irony (Irish Times letters page)

Like Ice cream?

Like beer?

Will you be in Cork?

Read on.

Noel Finn writes:

Just wondering if ye would give our new Beer & Ice Cream Weekend a wee mention, we at the Franciscan Well [14B North Mall, Cork]  having a lot of fun messing with our beers at the minute, we’re making some nice cocktails and the like and now we’ve made some great ice creams from a few beers, made some syrups from others and combined the lot into a weekend of…. well, nom.


Franciscan Well Brewery (Facebook)


Yanis Varoufakis gets around, and much like the dreaded contagion of the financial crash, he’s rarely as advertised. When he appeared on the Russell Brand podcast (the day before the British General Election) he was a little downbeat; not at all positive about Corbyn’s chances.

Whereas, when he spoke at the DiEM 25 meeting in Dublin, he was the embodiment of positivity in Doc Martens. So much so that Vincent Browne told him to stop being so idealistic!

I guess the lesson is this: know your audience.

It is with this simple wisdom in mind that I read about last weekend’s Italian bank bailout. You see Italy has just pumped €5 billion into two banks that are not considered systemic to the Italian economy. The final bill (if any of these things can have a bill that doesn’t include the societal damage) is estimated to be in the region of €17 billion.

This burden, and it will be a heavy austere burden, will fall on the citizens of Italy and not the bondholders of Italian banks.

But the good news is that “Markets have rallied as a result”. The socialisation of private debt in order to protect market confidence, how very Irish of those Italians, hey?

A couple of weeks ago the Spanish had there own bailout bonanza. Santander, the private bank, raised €7 billion in a rights issue to bailout the Banco Popular. Santander then burned Banco Popular’s bondholders to the tune of €3.3 billion and completed the purchase for the symbolic amount of €1. No taxpayers money was involved in this Bailout/Bail-in.

So why did Italy opt to burn the citizenry and Spain the bondholders? The answer lies with Yanis Varoufakis and knowing your audience.

The Italians are less than 10 months away from a General Election, that’s just enough time for voters to not feel too much pain from the bailout and what would have been too little time for large investors and bondholders of the banks to forget their pain.

The two Italian Banks in question, Banca Popolare and Veneto Banca, have depositors and senior creditors who the Italian government do not want to upset.

So rather than use the EU’s bank-failure law, (the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive) they took “a very pragmatic decision… that shouldn’t affect investor confidence”. Gotta keep those investors confident, right?

So we have an a la carte menu in Europe now. I’d like one slice of a bailout, a large portion of a bail-in and can I get a good bank/bad bank diet coke to drink? Certainly, Sir. Could I interest you in some pragmatic pie for dessert?

Meanwhile, in Ireland we successfully sold just over a quarter of AIB, raising around €3 billion. Money, as the the best little country in the world to do as it is told, we are going to use (waste?) in paying down our debt. We are eating the Irish-Italian menu of toxicity. The one whose audience is for the bondholders, private investors and the European Commission, and not the citizens of the state.

When Spain breached the EU deficit rules the EU Commission sent them a fine of €2 billion. Spain promptly told the EU to go take a long walk on a short pier. The EU backed down and sent a symbolic fine of €0, citing “past fiscal efforts and the risk of a backlash” as their reasons for capitulation. The EU Commission knew its audience, it backed down.

Here in Ireland, we run in fear of the EU Commission and its possible fines. Irish Water, paying down debt and our budgetary gymnastics around the Fiscal Deficit are all examples of our Government working for the EU audience, rather than us.

In fact, the only time we stood up to the EU Commission was in the interests of Apple’s taxation acrobatics.

We have a new leader who doesn’t speak power to truth, he’d rather discuss pop culture. He has a grand vision, with himself at the head of it. His backbone in facing down Fianna Fáail and brazening out the Máire Whelan stroke goes missing when he’s representing you and I.

When he’s playing to his favoured audience he becomes Hugh Grant, or some other narcissist . What hope do we have of avoiding the property bubble floating along Sir John Rogerson’s Quay?

Yanis Varoufakis has a vision for a European Constitution that puts the citizens ahead of the markets. Yanis, I’d imagine, sees what has happened in Italy as the opposite of his vision; a missed opportunity to show how Europe can act as a protector of people and not markets. DiEM 25 has many great solutions, but so did Italy last Friday.

The EU had an opportunity to help Italy, the Italian government had a choice between market confidence or their people’s well-being. Both parties chose to opt for the Irish Stew. Me, I’d love some Spanish tapas. Luckily for me, they serve them in the Gravedigger’s.

Tony Groves is a full-time financial consultant and part-time commentator. With over 18 years experience in the financial industry and a keen interest in politics, history and “being ornery”, he has published one book and writes regularly at Trickstersworld

Pic: Getty

This morning.

On Newstalk FM.

Paul Williams broadcast a pre-recorded interview with the former former president of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) (above) after the OCI claimed the ticketing scandal, and Mr Hickey’s arrest, has cost the OCI €1.5million to date (top).

In the interview, Mr Hickey outlines what €763,000 of that €1.5million has been spent on, while he’s scathing of how the Minister for Sport Shane Ross and the Irish Government handled, or didn’t handle, his arrest.

In addition, Mr Hickey admits that he has tried to block the publication of the Government’s report into the controversy – by Justice Carroll Moran – which was given to Mr Ross on June 12. Mr Ross has given the report to the Attorney General and is awaiting his advice in regards to publishing it.

Mr Hickey said:

“I saw a draft of the report and my legal team have advised Judge Moran and the minister and the attorney general that this report should not be published until after the court case is heard in Rio. Because anything coming out of it could prejudice my fair trial but even worse still any media reports can also be used by the prosecutor in Brazil against me in the case.”

From the interview…

“I would like to, first of all, say to you Paul that I cannot go into the actual court case in Rio because the case is still in front of the courts so we’re forbidden to go into detail on that but I would be very happy to answer what you said there. The impression has been given that, in the media, that I was the cause of a spend of €1.5million by the OCI [Olympic Council of Ireland].

“Now I can categorically tell you that is not the case because I have been able to check figures and what I’m aware of is as follows, how that €1.5million is made up: the Olympic Council of Ireland got legal advice from Arthur Cox and Co solicitors, which cost them €400,000; they embarked on the Grant Thornton report which cost €214,000; they employed a technology company Espion which was nearly €40,000; they engaged with the Communications Clinic which was €80,000; and the report from Deloitte’s which was €18,000; and Wilson Hartnell, WHPR, €11,000. And that’s the bulk [€763,000] of that €1.5million.”

“Now I can tell you that my legal costs today in Brazil amount to €280,000 and there is an insurance policy in place, that I put in place, over 15 years ago. It’s called directors and officers’ liability and it’s particularly for the something like what happened to me.

“The cover on that policy is €1million, that’s the cap on it so my fees have been taken out of that €1million.

“And can I say, in addition to that, before I left Dublin on the plane for Rio, I left the OCI in a very clean state of health. There was €3million surplus in the bank and a property out in Howth that’s valued at €3million.

“Now I’d like to just emphasise that I am totally innocent of all these charges and I will be proven innocent and my legal team in Brazil are working flat out.”

Listen back to the interview in full here

Previously: How Much?