Tag Archives: Tony Groves

From top: Leo Vardkar addresses the media; Tony Groves

Long before Rome was an empire, there was the regal period; a much disputed and historically vague time. It was in this age that the origin stories of Romulus and Remus were born, and it was here that the myth of Roman citizenry was cultivated.

The kings, seven of them, while individually interesting characters, are not as important in today’s context as is the methodology of their ascension.

Kingly succession was not hereditary and the Romans used complex legal procedures that involved the appointment of an Interrex (a ‘between king’), a popular vote for the new monarch and senatorial ratification. Only then could the Interrex be called the Rex (Latin for king).

Hundreds of years later, the Romans, wanting to project later priorities into the past, cultivated backstories of these Kings. It was said that of the seven, three were murdered, one was struck by a divine lightning bolt, one was exiled and only two died in their beds.

The message to the later Romans was clear, Rome has no King, Rome needs no King; a message heard and manipulated by the Caesars.

Much like the recent election of Leo Varadkar to Fine Gael Leader (and in contrast to the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour Leader) the popular vote of the Interrex counted for much less than the “senatorial ratification” votes.

Much like the ascension of Leo Varadkar to Taoiseach, dodgy deals were cut with powerful interests in order to gain the senatorial favour. While unlike in Rome, no assassinations were ordered, one can’t help think of Michael Lowry and his backing of Leo Varadkar.

Much like the new Tory Taoiseach wants us to focus on his backstory and not his conservative, neoliberal politics, the Interrex would also have a backstory cultivated to appeal to the plebeians.

Numa and Titus Tatius, were said to be the sons of a refugees, Servius Tullius was the son of a slave. The message here, much like that of the new Taoiseach, is unmistakable: Romans could come from anywhere; and those born low could rise to the top.

Yes, there is much to admire in the son of an Indian migrant rising to the top position in the country. There is some comfort in his sexuality not featuring as a topic, but for a brief idiotic moment in the Irish Independent. But, there’s more discouragement in our need to slap ourselves on the back for such ‘enlightenment’.

I would love to see Leo Varadkar succeed. He has made much noise about the death of Left/Right politics, if only to deflect from his Right Wing leanings, and if he was to govern as he says then perhaps he will find a new route. I will give him the benefit of the doubt, briefly.

Let’s see how serious he is about resolving his “unfinished business” in the Health Service. As a country we await him fixing the date for the Referendum on the Eighth Amendment.

As a two speed economy, we await the “substantial increases in capital spending” he has promised. Let’s see him address the housing crisis and impending property bubble, without bowing to vested interests.

Leo has put his name to an ambitious list of promises. But until he starts to deliver on his “Republic of Opportunity ” mantra and living up to the (demagoguery like) hype, he will remain the Interrex; an in between king.

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


From top: Pro life demonstration last Summer; Tony Groves

We need to talk about Abortion. Again and Again. Not only because a young girl, who was seeking a termination, was held in a psychiatric unit.

Not only because the Citizens Assembly (another vehicle from the Do Nothing Dáil) delivered recommendations that the Government are now referring to as a ‘guide’.

Not just because we had the Strike4Repeal, a walkout of workplaces and universities, take place on  March 8 and other methods of Repeal Activism go largely ignored in mainstream media.

Also not because I’m concerned that the new Taoiseach has drawn comparisons between women travelling for reproductive healthcare, to men travelling to Amsterdam on a Stag Party.

Nor is it because of the fact that any further delay to repeal is a violation of a woman’s rights.

No, I’m writing because of something Minister for Health Simon Harris said previously, that in the context of the latest outrage has been crystallized it in my mind.

After the UN Human Rights Committee’s found Ireland imposed “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” on Amanda Mellet, Mr Harris apologised saying:

“I am very sorry that this is how she was treated. Ireland’s history shows that it has been a cold and uncaring place for women and children. I felt the echoes of that when I read that UN view.”

I heard echoes as well. Echoes of a dark history.

When in January 2014 the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2003 was brought into force under former Health Minister and self-proclaimed conservative  (Taoiseach in Waiting) Leo Varadkar, it brought some truly terrible echoes from history ringing back.

Before you start complaining and yelling “Godwins Law” at me, I’m not about to draw an equivalence between Ireland’s failure to provide free, safe and legal reproductive options and Nazi Germany’s genocidal purges.

Whether it was the law for the prevention of hereditary diseased offspring , or the involuntary euthanasia of Aktion T4, or the Eugenic based practice of compulsory sterilisations, the Nazi State unquestionably engaged in “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”.

But most startling, in an Irish context, is a little nugget. When an individual (with a disability, a mental disorder or a genetic flaw or was simply gay) was identified by the Nazis, a file would be prepared and sent to (and this is the chilling Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 part) three Doctors for sign off.

The three doctors, unknown to one another, would assess the individual and place a Red Mark in a box if the person was deemed unfit for life. It was a majority rule decision. If two doctors used the Red Pen, the person was done away with.

In Ireland a woman might have an abortion “where the threat to her life arises because of the risk of suicide. Three Doctors—a woman’s obstetrician and two psychiatrists—must agree that her life is at risk.”  Three Doctors must all agree.

Yes, I understand the very different circumstances. I acknowledge the aim of the States are ethically and morally very different. But when you imagine the pressure doctors were placed under back then, how the regime could punish dissent, you can’t help but imagine the pressure our doctors must be under today. They are caught between the 8th Amendment and the UN Human Rights Charter.

Ireland’s Medical Professionals need not be exposed to bad laws, the issues we are asking them to adjudicate on are too serious. Their jobs are hard enough and the physical and mental well-being of our mothers, sisters, wives and girlfriends is too important for any more political games of kick the can.

Echoes from the past can be learned from. Yet here we are today, writing our own history, and failing.

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


From top: Leo Varadkar and Paschal Donohoe offer cakes and coffee during the Fine Gael leadership election hustings last month; Tony Groves

Facilitator: “Kevin Doyle from the Irish Independent…”

Kevin Doyle: “Congratulations Mr Varadkar…”

Leo Varadkar: “Hi, Kev…”

Kevin Doyle: (talks over Leo) “… first off on Fianna Fáil…you’ve said some things that we probably couldn’t say as this is airing live…”

The above happened at Leo Varadkar’s first press conference as the elected leader of Fine Gael. The bonhomie, over familiarity and little inside jokiness off the relationship between politicians and the media charged with holding them to account, laid bare in a 15 second exchange.

A window into world of anonymous sources, party spokespersons and a source close to a source.

I know that I’m just a grouchy old man shaking his fist at a cloud, but even I know that this is the way of the world. Journalists are embedded, and in bed with those they are paid to cover.Kevin Doyle is just doing his job, Leo is just playing the game, and we, as consumers, are eating junk food journalism.

Fox News unashamedly uses the tagline “Fair and Balanced” and it used to bother me. Not so much anymore, I mean, some people go to the cinema to suspend reality and spend a few hours away from the travails of real life.

Is it really any wonder millions of Americans watch Fox; the American middle class has shrunk relentlessly over the last decade and Fox News acts as a comfort blanket of unrealities and an outlet for their outrage.

The BBC warned Jake Painter, the man behind the Liar, Liar song, not to go too heavy on the Tories before he went on screen. They’ve also refused to cover this speech by Jeremy Corbyn. I’ve found their election coverage, while not as biased as Sky News, more pro establishment than in previous campaigns.

And I understand it. The Beeb’s reluctance to upset the Tories stems from money. I mean, they depend on the licence fee and this Tory Government have threatened to cut their budget by hundreds of millions. No matter how well Jeremy Corbyn does, the BBC knows too well that he who pays the piper calls the tune.

Junk food journalism, in moderation, serves a purpose. It can be somewhat informing, it can build consensus and social cohesion. Unfortunately many of us aren’t discerning consumers. We eat our news at the same echo chamber restaurants every day. The only thing we like in moderation is any fair and balanced moderation.

I’m a glutton for news and my problem is overeating to the point where I’m able to hold opposing views at the same time.

Multiple helpings of the Indo, the Times, RTE, Sky News, Al Jazeera and Fox News, barely leaves enough room for my cognitive dissonance dessert. Still, I would like to see the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland show some teeth. I’d love to hear the Press Council comment on the quality of the commentariat.

There’s an old story, perhaps apocryphal, that I never get tired telling. It goes that in one of Lyndon B. Johnson’s early congressional campaigns he told an aide to spread a rumour about his opponent. “Leak to the press that the guy fucked a pig”, he reportedly ordered.

His aide, horrified, responded “Christ Lyndon, we can’t call the guy a pig fucker, it simply isn’t true”. Johnson, not to be overruled, shot back “Of course it ain’t true, but I want to make the son-of-a-bitch deny it”.

I often wonder in today’s modern media landscape that if you want to smear an opponent would an aide be necessary; couldn’t you just Whatsapp Kev at the Indo?

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

From top: Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar; Tony Groves

We’re on the countdown to the next General Election. Leo has won the battle of the blueshirts and hot takes are taking up all the space in your newsfeed.

The spectrum ranges from sycophantic to the sick about it. Scrub away the verbiage and the only relevant point is this; the Right has found their champion.

As false messiahs go, Leo is a marketing dream. The king is dead, long live the new shiny king. But I’m not too keen on discussing him anymore. I’m too busy pulling my hair out at the ineffectual response of the opposition.

As Fine Gael plot a route to victory, the opposition flounder about like a fish on ship’s deck. Our Social Justice crusaders remind me of the actual crusaders. More infighting than enemy fighting.

The impotent reaction got me thinking of the Fifth Crusade, around 1218ce, when Christian Armies had a plan to fight through Egypt, march on Cairo and then triumphantly on to Jerusalem.

The disjointed Crusader forces were resoundingly beaten at their first battle by the united Muslim Armies of Sultan al-Kamil.

Trapped and embarrassed, the “leaders” squabbled over the terms of surrender on offer from Cairo. Then, when all hope was gone, and the Christians were faced with ignominious retreat, a miracle happened. God will provide, you see.

Word reached the camp that a huge Christian army was speeding to their aid, crushing all in its path; a powerful and unbeatable military. So vast in numbers as to leave its identity in no doubt. For only one man could summon such a force, Prester John.

It was said that Prester John ruled over the largest, richest and most virtuous kingdom known to man. His was the closest thing to heaven on earth. Milk and honey flowed in his realm of mythical creatures and miracles.

The Crusaders were ebullient; they need only hold out a while longer and Prester John would crush the Saracens and restore the holy lands to Christendom. God is great.

How wrong they were! The army sweeping towards them, crushing all in it’s path was soon to form the largest land based empire ever seen. But it wasn’t the army of the Fantastical, Prester John. It was the army of Temujin.

The Mongols were coming and they cared not for the gods of Christian, Muslim, Leoliberal capitalists, or any other deity. The only cared for Tengri, the God of War. The rest really is history.

Back to today and we have no alliance of the Left, we have no Corbyn like Manifesto of Hope. We have smaller parties pointing fingers at smaller parties, rather than drawing up a genuine contract for change that can be presented to the public as an alternative to the “people who get up early” rhetoric.

It matters not a jot who the Prester John of the opposition is; for what it’s worth my preference would be for a Prester Jane. But we are on borrowed time. Leo holds the reigns and he will, quite Rightly, call a halt to proceedings when it’s most advantageous to him.

The Left need a simple unified document that makes a number of pledges on the key issues of Housing, Health, Education, Justice and Tackling Inequality.

They need to select a spokesperson that will stand on the podium and represent ALL of them on these non-negotiables.

This document needs to be pushed through every letterbox in the country, North and South. This needs to be our very own vision of a fairer society. A four page Manifesto of Hope that can be used to rebut the new face of old neoliberal politics.

This message needs to be all that they promote between now and whenever the election is called. Infighting and mudslinging must be put aside for the greater good. Parties of the Left and parties that purport to be of the Left must put the ideals of this document above the ideals of party.

Two years ago Jeremy Corbyn was a fringe politician. Six months ago he was said to have killed the UK’s Labour Party. Today, while not likely to win, he’s dragged a right wing government back to the table to discuss social justice and given hope to millions.

Prester John was a myth. Genghis Khan was the reality. We’d all be better facing the reality now before our new leader builds up a head of steam.

I’m asking the opposition to put aside differences, focus on commonalities and offer the Irish equivalent of the Manifesto of Hope. I’m asking the opposition, are you a Genghis Khan, or are you a Genghis Can’t?

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


From top:  Leo Varadkar supporter from own constituency of Dublin West arrive at Drumcondra train station to cast their votes in the Fine Gael leadership election; Tony Groves

Frank Flannery was on the Eamon Dunphy Podcast eulogising Enda Kenny and the way he might look at you. And I couldn’t care less.

My mind conjures up a Terry Prone/Frank Flannery hybrid of clichés, sound-bites and smugness. A public relations spin doctor of titanic proportions. And I couldn’t care less.

Paul Williams is on the wireless telling me Garda HQ is called the Kremlin. His Co-Host, Shane Coleman is telling me the Charleton Inquiry is to start holding public hearings. I’d imagine Mr Williams may have felt a little chill at that. But I couldn’t care less.

Leo Varadkar, as part of his Opinion on Everything tour, says he “shares the public’s concern” regarding the Seán Fitzpatrick debacle. The Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement is admitting mistakes were made. Me, I couldn’t care less.

Both candidates for the Office of Taoiseach have said the Citizen’s Assembly is a “useful guide”, while stressing they think it goes too far. They’ve chosen the vehicle, driven it and then complained about the destination. And me, a white male of a certain age, can’t even feign to care.

On a lunchtime run I passed two tents on the Royal Canal. The “site” was clean, the people had their washing hanging out to dry and their rubbish bagged for binning. And I ran on by like I haven’t a care in the world.

You see, I’ve had enough of these PR platitudes, and departmental debacles, and obfuscating inquiries and plain old outrages.

It’s not so much the singular events; I’ve just had enough of people pretending these events aren’t in any way connected. I’m apathetic to the public’s apathy.

People, suffering from outrage fatigue, aren’t making the connection from the financial collapse, to the tents on the canals. People, too busy “getting up early”, can’t hear the story behind the soundbite. People, contented in the knowledge that an inquiry is underway, confuse this for progress.

They don’t see the linkage between 11 Gardai working on the Seán Fitzpatrick case and 30 on the Operation Mizen investigation into Irish Water protesters.

People distracted by Beauty Pageant Politics don’t notice they are travelling down a path of greed, social exclusion and the shrinking of the public sphere.

The left and the so called opposition are busy kicking tyres, instead of conjuring up a vision for a fairer economy, a more inclusive society and public services that work.

We produce enough food in this country to feed 50 Million people. We have an untapped availability of clean energy and the only insatiable demand we continue to feed is the black hole of legacy debt.

But I don’t hear that message anywhere. I do hear the Fluff of Frank Flannery, the Tao of Terry Prone and the deflections of Government.

Official Ireland adheres to the commandments of distraction, deflection and division.

If we don’t start addressing this deflection, calling out this ineptitude, then we will continue to go with the flow and we will be back in the same mess again. Property bubbles drifting in on the summer wind.

The drum of distraction is beaten incessantly on the airwaves and in the newspapers. The rhythmic sound of faux outrage is designed to give the impression of progress and we are humming along.

The drum we need to play the slow relentless beat of change; a hammer blow against inequality, a thump in the face of the “I’m All Right Jack” brigade. We need to tap the beat at the breakfast table, at the office desk, in the lunchroom and on the commute home.

Make it the backing track to our lives, a rhythm that pricks the ears of the apathetic. We need to see it’s all connected. It’s not public versus private. It’s not left versus right. It’s about those with and those without. And caring.

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

From top: Simon Coveney (left) and Leo Varadkar (right) during The Fine Gael leadership debate at the Red Cow Hotel in Dublin last week; Tony Groves

“There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”

When the Taoiseach-in-waiting Leo Varadkar quoted Robert Kennedy last week, rather than feel inspired, I felt the chill of fear run down my spine. I remembered another quote, that of T.E Lawrence:

“All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.”

Lawrence knew it was men who imagined themselves visionaries who were the biggest threat to their fellow man. Leo is desperate to put on the shoes of the dreamers of the day. And he will try act out his dreams, much to the peril of the poor and underprivileged.

Much of the offensive things he says have a kernel of truth and the ring of modern common sense. But, I’d argue, there is nothing more dangerous to progress than modern common sense. We are in an age where things that only 10 years ago would have been deemed racist are now common sense.

The “logic” of Trump, Brexit and both the Far Right and Regressive Left has crystallised around beliefs that are, at their core, divisive. All the soundbites, that previously would have been morally inappropriate, are now deemed fine as long as passed off under the “appealing to their base” category.

Leo, I’ll be the first to admit, is far from the worst purveyor of the Us vs Them narrative. I saw a PBP/AAA poster recently calling for ‘Repeal, Resist & Revolt’. As an alliteration it’s fine, as a campaign slogan it’s dipping its toes into incitement. Hardly a message that refutes the claims of those who call AAA/PBP/Solidarity the “hard left”.

Common sense says “Welfare Cheats Cheat Us All‘. Common sense says we should all support equality of opportunity. Common sense says we need to limit the number of immigrants into the country. Common sense says issues are complex.

The reality is that only 11 gardaí worked with the ODCE on the Seán Fitzpatrick trial, but an estimated 30 gardaí worked on Operation Mizen into Irish Water protesters.

The reality is that the only system offering equality of opportunity is that of the Lotto; yiz buy yer ticket, yiz takes yer chances.

The reality says immigration is a net benefit to the host country. Reality says complex issues often have simple solutions.

When Galileo was tried as a heretic for claiming the Earth rotated around the Sun, he was given a choice; abjure, curse and detest his opinions, or death. So he did what any sane person would do. He publicly recanted his beliefs. The story goes that upon finishing his proclamation he mumbled under his breath the rebellious phrase “And yet it moves”.

Modern common sense is rooted in bias, in fear and in greed. It is a poison that has taken root in political and economic discourse. It gives licence to extreme elements on both sides to abjure, curse and detest the other side.

It’s the reason false lines like ‘those who pay for nothing‘ have near permanent residency in mainstream op-eds. It’s the reason those on the opposite side of the argument see conspiracy in every element of government, instead of opportunity.

Galileo knew common sense was nonsense. Much of what passes off today as common sense, playing to the base and political discourse is rooted in old beliefs and disproven nonsense.

The extreme elements on both sides must be dragged out into the light. The dangerous rhetoric and grandstanding must be called out for what it is and not explained away.

The so called centrists who think common sense means “the centre must hold” must be reminded of Galileo’s codicil “and yet it moves”.

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: Rollingnews

From top: Two cows; Tony Groves

Irish Socialism: You have 2 cows. They don’t get along. They each claim their milk is the best in the country. But neither of them has ever produced any milk.

Irish Capitalism:
You have 2 cows. You eat both. You ask the EU to lend you 2 more cows. You again eat both. The EU calls you to ask why you’ve not fulfilled your milk quota. You stall them and ask the IMF for 2 more cows. Once again you eat both. The EU and the IMF then come to Dublin looking for their milk. You’re out shopping at a Bulgarian Property Expo.

Irish Libertarianism: You have 2 cows. You demand that everyone else be issued with 2 cows. But only after you’ve sold 1 cow, bought a bull, increased your herd and gotten a government contract to supply cows.

Fine Gael:
You have 2 cows. You sell 1 cow and force the other cow to produce the milk of 4 cows. Later, you commission an inquiry into the cow’s death.

Fianna Fáil
: You have 2 cows. You kill them. You get 2 more cows and promise this time it will be better. You kill them, again.

Sinn Féin: You have 2 cows. You’d like to grow your herd, but nobody will sell you a bull.

The Social Democrats:
You have 2 cows. You used to have 3.

The Labour Party: You have 2 cows. You gave them to Fine Gael in 2011. 5 years later you asked for them back. They don’t respond to your request. You ask the public for 2 new cows. They don’t respond to your request.

AAA/PBP: You have 2 cows. You give them to the party and then demand the government give you 2 more.

The Green Party:
You have 2 cows. You love them.

Leoliberalism: You have 2 cows. They are very attractive but their milk is conservative and bland.

Simon Coveney: You have 2 cows. You sell 3 of them to Greencore. You then execute a debt for equity swap, ensuring you the rights to 4 cows.
You then sell the milking rights of 5 cows via an intermediary to a Holding Company based in Luxembourg, who then issue you a deed for 6 cows.
Your annual report says you own 7 cows, with the option of 2 more.
Meanwhile, your 2 cows are living in emergency accommodation.

Gerry Adams: You have 2 cows. No one buys your milk. But that’s not the substantive issue…

Catherine Murphy: You have 2 cows. If it wasn’t for Dáil privilege no one would have known how they’d been treated.

Brendan Howlin: You have 2 cows. You decreased their feed and demand they produce more milk. One dies and the other emigrates and is forced to work as horse. You blame Socialism.

Paul Murphy: You have 2 cows. You organise a sit down protest, block all the roads and demand you get 3 cows over a megaphone.

Micheal Martin:
You have 2 cows. You eat 1 and milk the other. You then throw the milk away, because Paul Murphy got elected on a promise to be lactose intolerant.

Enda Kenny:
You have 2 cows. 42 years later you discover 1 of them is a donkey.

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

Top pic: Joe Fox via Saatchi Gallery

From top: Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan (pointing) and EU Chief Negotiator on Brexit Michel Barnier (second left) visit the the border between County Monaghan and South Armagh, Northern Ireland; Tony Groves

Saddam Hussein once said “politics is when you say you are going to do one thing while intending to do another. Then you do neither what you said, nor what you intended”.

I think Saddam would be proud of the political machinations of Brexit.

Given the duplicitousness of current political events, I’m not sure this Brexit thing is going to be all that bad for Ireland. Even casual observers can see a border wall (just on the edge of the horizon) as a boon for struggling developers.

Tom Parlon’s Construction Industry Federation, can claim the checkpoints are housing units and Simon Coveney will add them to the thousands of phantom homes he’s conjured from the ether.

If Irish planning efficiency has taught us anything, it’s that we can get at least 15 construction tenders, 20 obscenely expensive architectural designs and a decade or more out of the planning process? Someone alert the Consultants!

We could have petrol stations running kid’s colouring competitions; draw your own border checkpoint. The winning entry could be brought to life by Dermot Bannon, in a cacophony of crayon and concrete; the entire block tastefully rimmed with barbed wire. I’m sure some minor celebrity could cut the ribbon in exchange for dual citizenship of both jurisdictions?

The War of Words between Theresa May and Jean Claude Juncker, rather than something Ireland should worry about, is a boon to Irish diplomacy. Nobody stands to benefit more from speaking out of both sides of their mouth than the Irish Government.

Who else can have claimed, not once but twice, that Ireland is to be treated as a “special case” by the European Union, while actually achieving no special deals?

Theresa May is claiming that the EU is trying to interfere in the British election. Juncker is claiming that English will no longer be spoken in the EU. Both are on a diplomatic war footing.

Ireland, meanwhile, is to remain (pun intended) neutral. And by neutral I mean turn off the lights and hope they both think we aren’t home until this all blows over.

Theresa May has laid out a plan, which is a plan to look at all available plans. She wants to explore all the options available while availing of none. Well slap me in the face with a retired judge, this is a job for Ireland Inc.

Sure isn’t Ireland Inc. the best country in the world for making world class plans, to be world class in something or other, by some far off future date?

We have panels of experts whose entire expertise is in delivering plans on the best way to hold a press conference, where plans will be unveiled to deliver new plans by 2020. Fail to plan, plan to fail, plan for your plans to fail, blame Brexit. Come on Ireland, we can do this!

There’s so much more positives to this Hard Brexit outcome. I mean, due to machinations of Banking, a financial passport is required to carry out complex financial schemes, such as rate fixing or insider trading.

Luckily our Central Bank is very experienced in looking the other way. It’s no wonder the City of London’s banks have identified Dublin as the brass plate, post-Brexit destination of choice.

I hardly think the Shadow Banking Sector, already the fourth biggest in the world and eight times the size of the Irish economy, need fear any constraints on rampant profiteering from Ireland Inc. Sure aren’t they “too big to fail.”

Enterprise Ireland could tempt more of these businesses with the tagline (once I get my royalty fee):

Ireland: Come for the Hard Brexit. Stay for the Soft Regulation

Besides, even if the banks and financial arms of the Multinational Companies don’t want to move here physically, we have brave volunteers across the country willing to allow them set up shop for little more than the price of a Brass Plate.

Sure isn’t there a house in Glasnevin, that has 124 “companies” operating from it. 124 companies in a small 3 bed house.

We are screaming blue murder about a housing crisis, yet one small suburban house accommodates 124 companies. Airbnb must be dying to get a look inside those doors.

The EU is talking about stretching the Brexit divorce out for years. They’ve warned the UK that the trade deal between the EU and Canada took nearly a decade to negotiate. Bloody EU amateurs, sure didn’t we have the Moriarty Tribunal start in 1997 and isn’t it still waiting to be acted upon?

Yes folks, Hard Brexit is going to be okey-dokey. With a little bit of creative thinking, we won’t have to do any more thinking. With a little bit of forward planning, we won’t have to make any more plans.

Because this is Ireland Inc. An open economy, and if Britain is getting into the business of becoming a closed economy, then Ireland Inc. is open to that as well.

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


Tony Groves

We are an emotional species. Certain things catch the zeitgeist, and certain things fade into obscurity. When we read that Stephen Fry was under investigation for blasphemy we entered a collective secular outrage. The irony that the investigation was dropped due to a lack of outrage wasn’t, I hope, lost on us all.

This website was the target of a popular outrage for publishing a link to a video. The scorn poured forth was enough to get Broadsheet to remove the link. For my part, I did not view the video. I had read pieces by the woman in question and can only say I found her pieces beautifully written and brutally honest.

People who knew her were, and continue to be, rightly upset. I understand the outrage and find myself in agreement with much of it. Yet I am uncomfortable with the decision to remove the link. Let me explain my reasons.

Ray Rice was a Super Bowl winning running back with the Baltimore Ravens. He is the team’s second all-time leading rusher behind Jamal Lewis, and is also second in rushing attempts and touchdowns, and third in combined touchdowns. All this is to say, Ray Rice was very, very good at football.

But Ray Rice is also a perpetrator of domestic violence. In February 2014, he assaulted his wife (then fiancee) in a casino elevator he was arrested and charged with aggravated-assault. The incident was a scandal. The video, released by TMZ, showed him dragging his unconscious partner from the elevator. The NFL waited until July to act. Ray Rice was suspended for 2 games.

I’ll say that again, 2 Games.

The criminal charges were dropped after Rice agreed to undergo court supervised counseling.

I’ll say that again, the charges were dropped.

The Baltimore Ravens accepted the punishment and said they were satisfied Rice was getting help and that he was “part of the Ravens family”.

I’ll say that again, part of the Ravens family.

Then in September, TMZ released the video from inside the elevator. The video shows Rice punching his fiancee in the face. It is a sickening blow delivered by a terrifyingly powerful man. The video went viral and the outrage, belatedly, exploded.

Ray Rice had his contract terminated by the Baltimore Ravens. The owner of the team made a public apology. The NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell also apologised and changed the entire league’s Domestic Abuse Policy. The NFL even appointed a former FBI Director to investigate the debacle.

As saddenning as it is to admit it, it was the video that jarred people into outrage. It was the video that drove everyone to demand a change in policy and an end to tokenism. It was the video.

I’m not condoning Broadsheet’s publishing of the link. I’m certainly not condemning people for feeling it was the wrong thing to do. I am asking whether, in the age of 140 characters and 4 second vines, if we need to open our eyes to horrible truths sometimes, no matter how uncomfortable and upsetting they are?

I’m asking does a over-sanitising of events allow culprits slip away relatively unpunished? I don’t know. I know I’m outraged that a good woman is dead. I’m outraged that a rare diamond will no longer shine.

Again, I did not watch the video. I feel I don’t need to in order to know a despicable thing occurred. I’d love to harness the outrage. I’d love to aim it towards a government that has slashed the Mental Health Budget. I’d love for all of us disgusted by these events to email our local TD and tell him we are outraged about the state of our Mental Health Support Services, I know I am.

But that’s not how outrage works. In order for outrage to work effectively it needs a zeitgeist. Outrage needs a focus and a goal. But sometimes outrage needs a video.

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

Yesterday: Disgusting


From top: Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney; Tony Groves

There are more than a few banker clichés that I grew up with. I’m sure many of them are not unique to the banking fraternity, but they were certainly retold at every conference I attended. Lately, they’ve started reappearing, and I’m not sure how I feel about it.

The first tale told is that the director driving a BMW is displaying ambition, whereas the director driving a Mercedes is displaying achievement. As infantile as this is, there are many who give this consideration when purchasing their cars. I’m a BMW guy, SAD!

As I heard this regurgitated again recently, I remembered another boast of the Mercedes man. Many moons ago, as a young subordinate, I was “privileged” to drive to one of these conferencess with one of these directors, sitting inside one of these brand new Mercedes.

Stepping inside it back then was like stepping inside an Apple Store long before the advent of the iPhone. I must have looked impressed, because the director told me that if I look at the features of the car (and there were many) that I’d see them in about ten years time on a Ford Mondeo. Technology, much like neoliberal economics, is a trickle-down process.

The same can be said for Irish Politics. When Tony Blair swept to power in 1997, he became the first Tory leader of the British Labour Party. He ran on a promise that “things can only get better” and aimed his message at what he identified as “Mondeo Man”. Blair cleverly rebranded this move away from social democratic values to free market economic ones as “New Labour“.

The party replaced promises of delivering equality for the libertarian myth of equality of opportunity. They moved away from the idea of government delivering social justice, to a free market that would improve economic efficiency.

They spoke of hand ups, not handouts. In essence they Out Toried the Tories. And Mondeo Man loved it. Under the New Tory Labour things did indeed, for a while, get better.

Without rehashing the disaster that became the “free market” financial crisis and the other lingering global aftershocks, we know now that the New Labour “third way” was used to build an economy based on Rent Seekers and very little innovation. Many historians are now pointing to the New Labour phenomenon as the birthplace of the Brexit phenomenon.

Much as Mercedes features take years to filter down into the less salubrious car manufacturers, so to does political ideology. Particularly here in Ireland. Leo Varadkar has said he is not Right Wing, but had he been born in Britain he’d have been a Tory. Simon Coveney is Fine Gael royalty.

Both men advocate that the free market will improve economic efficiency and therefore provide equality of opportunity down the line. This is despite all the recent economic data running contrary to this.

The Budget Projections for 2017 said that unemployment would fall to 7%, it’s down to 6.2%. Yet Income Tax is a few hundred million below expectations. The government are said to be perplexed.

Fine Gael are demanding that the Revenue Commissioners investigate this and get back to them, post-haste. But in truth there is no mystery. The income tax levels are behind because the real economy is growing on lower paid workers and the Gig Economy.

It’s important that we realise that New Politics is old New Labour. It’s crucial that we see that our candidates for Taoiseach are economically Tory Blairites. Only then can we have a honest conversation about the type of society we want to build.

Do we want to a fairer society, where everybody is afforded access to social justice, or do we want a country where a few drive new Mercedes and the rest sputter along in a 20 year old Ford Mondeo, that will never pass an NCT?

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz

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