Eamonn Kelly: Forget Them Not

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From top Regina Doherty and Josepha Madigan at the Fine Gael Ladies’ Luncheon last May; Eamonn kelly

The latest social services card cock-up has now quietened into a familiar waiting game as the minister goes to ground to wait it out.

Maybe the electorate will forget about it like they forgot about Josepha Madigan’s part in the Maria Bailey scandal.

And it’s a safe bet. Because the electorate do forget. They forget everything.

The electorate has electoral Alzheimer’s and the government knows it and if they just wait a week or two, the electorate will forget everything and no one will have to resign; there’ll be no accountability and the media outlets under government control can go to work on reinforcing the idea that there was nothing to remember anyway.

10,000 homeless? Oh yeah, I vaguely remember that. But wasn’t it all their own fault? Of course it was. How else would they be homeless?

Reacting to Fine Gael is like playing catch up. It’s similar, though not as severe, to the experience of American journalists with Trump. One outrage follows another and after a while it just seems easier to believe the lie. They’re working on all fronts. For instance, there is the insanely active area of stalling legislation.

This negative activity apparently has been keeping Fine Gael occupied over the last few years, devising ways to stop legislation without appearing to lose in the Dáil.

They do this by passing a bill to committee stage and then quietly smothering it there. This is how you end up with someone like Maria Bailey chairing committees on housing and ethics. The goals are not necessarily in the titles.

Then there’s the mining licenses. Mayo county council were sued for 2 million by a mining company when they refused a full license after an exploratory license was granted. The mining company acting like a jilted bride scorned by a broken promise.

Fine Gael, for reasons known only to themselves, then issue an exploratory license for mining in Connemara National Park and one of their TDs declares that this doesn’t necessarily mean that a full mining license will be granted.

However, given the Mayo experience, it would seem that they have put a mining company in a position to sue the state. Still, what’s another couple of million? It’s only public money. Plenty more where that came from.

The public services card. All illegal. 60 million down the drain. The taoiseach, I call him the automatic taoiseach because he became an automatic taoiseach once he was elected to the Fine Gael leadership. Otherwise he has no public mandate.

Anyway, his response to the services card debacle was to suggest looking at the legislation to see could it possibly be re-jigged to make the whole thing retrospectively legal.

A lawyer however pointed out that this wouldn’t work since the taoiseach’s remit doesn’t extend to re-jigging EU legislation. The only influence he has over that is in smothering it, particularly social justice legislation.

The fact that he would even think of changing the law to retrospectively forgive the political mistakes of his own ministers should tell you all you need to know about his priorities.

Remember the children’s hospital over-run? Oh yeah… Still it was nice and thoughtful of the taoiseach to try and build a children’s hospital…It must be them builders. Must be their fault. What can you do?

Remember the 170 million to JobPath for a 7% percent success rate? No. What was that? Are those the people who don’t get up early in the morning?

Remember the people dying on trolleys and the corpses in the corridors? That was all made up. Fake news.

Remember the tax breaks for the wealthy and the property market serving the landlords as people fell onto the streets or emigrated? Yeah well, people like emigrating. Irish people always emigrated.

Remember the UN report about the kids being psychologically damaged by homelessness? Oh yeah…kind of… But wasn’t it all their own fault? Shoulda bought houses. Mustn’t have worked hard enough. Mustn’t have got up early in the morning.

You will recall that with the Maria Bailey scandal the automatic taoiseach screened the whole thing off from public view – essentially privatised the problem – and then finally emerged to assert that there was no problem, no case to answer, no illegality whatsoever, nothing to be concerned about, nothing happening here, move on now it’s time for the Summer recess.

And it worked. Everyone forgot.

Even the National Campaign for the Arts, of which I’m a grassroots member, forgot; deciding in their pre-budget submission to thank both Regina Docherty and Josepha Madigan for the tweak in welfare laws that allows grassroots artists to try for a year to turn their art into a business before being dispatched to standard employment activation procedures.

Essentially, the National Campaign for the Arts agrees with Fine Gael that the arts must survive or die by the market; except, presumably, those middle-class funded institutions that the campaign arguably truly represents, who will avail of shrinking funding by being nice and complimentary towards the ministers they rub shoulders with.

Survival in Ireland, no matter what your game is, depends entirely on being accepted at some level by the exploitative elite, represented in all their cronyism by the two major parties.

As Gene Kerrigan put it, another week another scandal and the same strategy of waiting and doing nothing until the electorate forget, as they always do.

Kerrigan said that Fine Gael had contempt for the public and wondered must Fine Gael call personally to every door in the country and punch the occupants in the face for them to get the message.

But you can hardly blame Fine Gael. They know by now, from stalling and smothering legislation; from concealing and waiting, that the best way to lead a people with Electoral Alzheimer’s is to do as little as possible policy wise, working private angles to divvy public monies to favoured clients while targeting politically inconsequential scapegoats for the sleepy public to gnaw on.

Contempt works! The public forgets everything. How could you respect them?

They get exactly what they ask for.

Eamonn Kelly is a freelance Writer and Playwright.

Top pic via Josepha Madigan

51 thoughts on “Eamonn Kelly: Forget Them Not

  1. Joe Small

    Eamonn plays free and loose with a few facts above. I’ll just pick one – “The public services card. All illegal. 60 million down the drain.” Not true. The DEASP continues to use them fully legally and pensioners and people will disabilities are using them as travel passes every day. its is some very specific uses of the card that have been found not to have a legislative basis. The DPC isn’t the High Court – she doesn’t decide something is illegal.
    But what let some grey get in the way of a black and white view of the world?

    1. Bodger

      The PSC wasn’t about pensioners and bus passes or even the social welfare (all were working). It was about getting us all to have a card and getting our data. It has failed.

      1. Cian

        PSC was about pensions and social welfare payments. although it grew from there.

        “getting our data?”
        You need to provide your data to any department to get a particular service. So they are going to get your data anyway.

        The PSC helps to streamline this, so you don’t have to keep providing the same data to different departments.

        1. martco

          it’s a big data project @Cian

          big data

          there’s a difference, it’s a very large difference & I’m gonna speculate a little here & say that a clever fella like you knows that very well. stop with being disingenuous, it doesn’t suit you.

          1. GiggidyGoo

            Richard Brutons favourite phrase when he was Minister of ‘ 20 Jobs over five years announcements’. Big Data.

          2. Cian

            with all due respect martco, 3.2 million records in 8 years is not ‘big data’.
            Each of the Irish banks would get 3.2 million records in a week; the phone companies in a day, google & facebook in minutes.

            The type data they have is no different from what passport office has (photo, name, age, address, PPN, proof of address, and more: birth cert, wedding cert). But passport have children too (albeit not all adults). Welfare have everyone – they assign PPS numbers to everyone.

            In terms of transactional data – that is very light: most people have very little interaction with government services on a frequent basis. Passport – once every 10 years; Drivers license – maybe a bit more with learner permits… but then every 10 years.

            Perhaps, just perhaps, the various departments are trying to make it easier and quicker to deal with them?

          3. martco

            ah ok @Cian
            look don’t worry, you’ll have me & plenty like me who know a bit about the subjectmatter looking out for you & others like ya & future generations. Even if you don’t see it. Happy to do it, happy to man the trenches. I’m not entirely sure if you understand the concept completely but there’s plenty in that boat. I’ve had a lot of interesting convos over the years in the field, the ones with lads directly involved in architecting these constructs are usually the most illuminating of all. it’s almost religious to some. and amongst the fodder well there is certainly a generational factor involved, this acceptance & innate trust many seem to have in tech to do the right thing & lead the way to a better life. thats blx. you may thank me some day ;)

          4. Cian

            Martco, I’d prefer you to respond to my points that that condensending rubbish.

            The PSC is acting as an identification broker service. It’s not a single database of all of everyone’s information. Each department, in fact each section, keeps their own database with the information that is relevant to them. So your driving licence details (what types and expiry dates) remain with NDLS. None of those detailed are on PSC. The only thing that PSC will have is a record that “on x date NDLS contacted PSC for a successful identification of martco”.

          5. martco

            sorry @Cian. I didn’t intend to be condescending (it’s very difficult for someone like me who is at a certain age & has practical heavy background in systems for 30+ years not to come across all “now listen here sonny Jim”…)
            As regards what you’ve written there I don’t buy it. I never fundamentally will. Because longer term I know of very few constructs like this that terminate at the intended design goal (in fact even with this specific project you already have ample proof of feature creep). If the entity is performing well there’s always growth & revision – but improvement in this scenario depends on your viewpoint. It’s simple evolution. no matter who the initial project sponsors are or their stated goals. you choose to trust your government of the day & even perhaps large corporations to use complex data mining to make a better world. I’m sure Dominic Cummings believes he’s making the world a better place…perhaps it will but for whom? and even at that he’s just a point in time. your current government is just a point in time. what will this look like in 10 years time? that’s what I ask. I’d rather not have a futile battle to control Japanese Knotweed, better to eliminate it from the start imo. I’m on the losing side no doubt but I’ll keep working to resist it all the same.

          6. Cian

            @martco.
            I don’t agree.

            Without PSC each department has a copy of all my data relevant to their service (i.e when my driver licence expires) PLUS identification data (they have a copy of my passport plus proof-of-address) this is all linked by my PPSN. Multiple that by all the departments (each store my PPSN so they could cross-reference) and you can have the horrible big-brother scenario you mention without PSC exiting.

            Introduce PSC and what happens? the ‘Big-Brother’ risk remains the same. But what we gain is that each system now no longer needs to store all my identification details. My ‘proof-of-address’ exists once – rather than multiple times. I don’t have to keep showing my passport to access public services.

            At the moment I’ve provided proof-of-address to multiple departments – and since it always needs to be less than 3 months old, each department got a different piece. Also, with the advent of electronic billing the stuff I get on paper tends to be the important (private) stuff. I’m was less concerned sharing my Eir phonebill than my AIB mortgage statement.

            PSC means I need to provide less personal data. PSC makes my data safer. PSC makes accessing services easier.

            It is just a pity that they didn’t get the legislation done properly before they rolled it past DSP.

          7. :-Joe

            @Martco… I’m with you on this.. Agree 100%…

            It’s not just the stuff of conspiracy theory that sometimes is actually conspiracy fact and legacy standrd bahaviour of various security services turning more and more digital, there is active social engineering involved in many of these data projects.

            It is a fact that since Obama’s multi award winning digital marketing and advertising election campaign coup over the traditional methods of piles of cash, lies and doorstepping en masse for votes etc. that politics has turned digital almost overnight for most people and it’s not by accident.

            So much abuse of personal data has been going on for decades that most people actually think the weaponisation of political propaganda against western states and their voters by the like’s of Cambridge Analytica is some kind of unicorn-like rare one time only first occurance by an evil tory corporate elite.

            The war on conceptual ideas and the public consciousness is in full flow as usual and it has never been more sophisticated and widespread, It is no accident that journalism is in decline, politics no longer functions in any meaningful way and human rights law and the power of intitutions that serve and protect the average citizen are being eroded to a skeleton of what should be.

            The elites of corporate globalisation with the help of the fake-politician’s and governments that serve their interests first are re-establishing and re-asserting their power and influence over the next generations(those who will be working three part time precarious jobs to earn a decent living wage on average) and it can and will only be done digitally and primarily through access to all the few but necessary key points of information from your personal data.

            After gurgle, fakederp etc. everyone from corporate big business to average political agenda wants in on the sordid gamification of the public’s mind…. they no longer need your approval, they just need your attention, your eyeballs for a few mins here and there…

            People, wake up and stop voting for the F-f/g coalition of globalised corporate greed. environmental destruction for another doller hypocrasy and anti-democracy.

            Vote independant or try anything else….
            ..even SF for all you brainwashed, dumb and tribalised XXXX-‘shirts!

            :-J

    2. eoin

      The DPC does in fact get to decide what is legal, that’s her job in fact. If you’re unhappy, you can go to the High Court for a challenge, but that doesn’t negate the role she has in upholding the law on privacy and data protection.

  2. Blinky

    “the media outlets under government control can go to work on reinforcing the idea that there was nothing to remember anyway.”

    The same media outlets that were reporting concerns about the card for years, and led with the DPC’s findings last week ever since?

    Gemma-level critical analysis there.

    1. millie vanilly strikes again

      An astounding rebuttal from a first time commenter.

      I do like fresh blood.

  3. Medium Sized C

    No Taoiseach has ever had a mandate to be Taoiseach.
    That is not how it works.

    This is not a democratic dictatorship, it is a representative democracy.
    If people vote for members of a party they are delegating the responsibility to decide a cabinet to that party.
    We do not have ministerial elections.

      1. V

        Ah here EK

        I’m torn, I’m trying to be nice since other contributors- not you in fairness, took exception to my comments before

        But how could I possibly let you off this
        The public forgets everything. How could you respect them?

        They get exactly what they ask for.

        How dare anyone blame us, the voter, the taxpayer, the Citizens?
        (I’d rather not use the public makes me feel lightweight, like I’m unequal to an elected politican)

        We -royal We btw
        Can only vote for and work with who is in front of us
        We voted for change many times in this country, ie. Independents, PBP
        it is hardly our fault that we have had to return to the main Parties for any stability or sense or representation.

        We are not afraid of change, ie Repeal / Marriage Equality
        We are not afraid of bad news or of the truth

        We need to be more attractive to better candidates to make them enter professional politics

        Don’t ever blame the Irish Voter
        The Irish Voter gets out and selects from a pool of candidates
        If you don’t like it
        Be the change
        But don’t ever disrespect the Irish Voter
        Not in front of me anyway

        And here; Survival in Ireland, no matter what your game is, depends entirely on being accepted at some level by the exploitative elite, represented in all their cronyism by the two major parties
        How bloody dare you.
        And I’m prepared to bet I’m not the only one around here disgusted and insulted by that.

        based on your own words there EK, would you agree with this gaudy and spiteful assertion
        “Your plays aren’t getting 100k plus grants, production and touring supports, and optioned by HBO, Spielberg and Jackson because Fianna Fail and Fine Gael Cronyistas decided not to accept Eamonn Kelly”

        I’ll let Broadsheet and the Internet test that out

        I’m hungover today

        1. EK

          V, copping out of an argument by admitting to have been drunk last night is probably the most honest thing you’ve said. As for you laying claim to being part of social change, you did so on the shoulders of others. My generation was out in the 80s and since, but unfortunately our force was decimated by emigration. You reaped the eventual reward of victory in an aspect of social progress for work that began in the 1950s. But there is more work to be done. Like getting Irish people to admit that there is class prejudice in the structures and institutions, and also by getting Irish people to admit that the culture has quite a serious problem with drink; a problem that is often used as an excuse to evade responsibility.

          1. V

            I don’t cop out of any argument, I never hide

            And if it makes you feel virtuous snubbing my hangover (note my post was on the 22nd August the day after the 21st lads) I’m happy to oblige

            Thank you for your shoulders Eamonn, only for ya bhoy
            and thank you for probably giving me a good 10 years there and sending me back to my late thirties early forties.

            getting Irish people to admit that there is class prejudice in the structures and institutions
            You conveniently missed including Sexism and the whole suite of Equality deniers, which oddly enough isn’t class exclusive. Fair enough if you didn’t know this already.

            Anyway, moving on, can you point to where someone denied class prejudice please Eamonn? Just because I make it a mission to not to tolerate it or let it hold me back, along with the blatant misogyny I have been a victim of for most of my professional career, does not make you a warrior or whatever Social Justice saints are calling themselves lately.

            getting Irish people to admit that the culture has quite a serious problem with drink; a problem that is often used as an excuse to evade responsibility.
            Just who do you think you are? If your righteousness was anymore condescending you could be easily mistaken for that other Eamonn
            (Casey)

            “You reaped the eventual reward of victory in an aspect of social progress for work that began in the 1950s.
            wow, I had no idea.

    1. Janet, I ate my avatar

      I’m starting to think there’s a real opening for personal shopper in Dublin

      1. Lilly

        You said it Janet. The problem is they have no idea they need help. That yellow! Jeebus, Mary and Josepha.

  4. phil

    When they got away with the Bank Guarantee (yes I know it was FF/G) , the political class must have calculated that they could get away with anything , they haven’t been wrong yet …

    1. V

      I’d be of a different view

      I would say that Irish Banks knew they could hold Ministerial level Politicans to ransom
      And they knew the Central Bank at the time was all the cover they needed.

      And they’re still at it. Brian Hayes was a master stroke for the banks. They no longer have a Central Bank they can cuckold and run rings around. But don’t underestimate how conniving and manipulative the Irish Banking Lobby are.

  5. V

    Ah here EK

    I’m torn, I’m trying to be nice since other contributors- not you in fairness, took exception to my comments before

    But how could I possibly let you off this
    The public forgets everything. How could you respect them?

    They get exactly what they ask for.

    How dare anyone blame us, the voter, the taxpayer, the Citizens?
    (I’d rather not use the public makes me feel lightweight, like I’m unequal to an elected politican)

    We -royal We btw
    Can only vote for and work with who is in front of us
    We voted for change many times in this country, ie. Independents, PBP whatever you’re having yourself.
    it is hardly our fault that we have had to return to the main Parties for any stability or sense or representation.

    We are not afraid of change, ie Repeal / Marriage Equality
    We are not afraid of bad news or of the truth

    We need to be more attractive to better candidates to make them enter professional politics

    Don’t ever blame the Irish Voter
    The Irish Voter gets out and selects from a pool of candidates
    If you don’t like it
    Be the change
    But don’t ever disrespect the Irish Voter by blaming them for the outcomes of our Democracy
    Not in front of me anyway

    And here; Survival in Ireland, no matter what your game is, depends entirely on being accepted at some level by the exploitative elite, represented in all their cronyism by the two major parties
    How bloody dare you.
    And I’m prepared to bet I’m not the only one around here disgusted and insulted by that.

    based on your own words there EK, would you agree with this gaudy and spiteful assertion
    “If you were accepted by Fianna Fail and Fine Gael Cronyistas, your plays would be getting 100k plus grants, production and touring supports, and optioned by HBO, Spielberg and Jackson.”

    I’ll let Broadsheet and the Internet test that out for reality

    1. b

      +1

      the implication that if you have done well for yourself or even as low a bar as ‘survival’ you must be on the make or cosied up to some ill defined elites is the worst form of reverse snobbery and insulting to a large amount of people

      1. B9Com From No

        It’s nearly accurate though in some respects
        Especially to people who don’t really have to or care to work for a living
        You can see how attractive the idea is

        Well said V btw

      2. EK

        b, the idea of an exploitative elite and the function of clientelism and cronyism in Ireland is well documented by academics and social scientists. Just because you don’t know about it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. The concept is one known as “life chances”. For instance, the taoiseach, who hails from a privileged background, revealed an ignorance of this concept when he advised first time house-buyers to borrow the money form their parents. Here he assumed that all parents are wealthy. This is often the case with people who are fortunate in life chances. They tend to think that they did it all on their own merit and genuinely don’t see that they started out with an advantage. They then think that people not doing so well due to disadvantage, or fewer life chances, must be “lazy”, and from this a class division forms with mutual misunderstanding on both sides. To regard criticism of such a situation as hate speech or dangerous, is to miss the point that the idea is to bring clarity and understanding to the misunderstanding in the interest of social progress and equality.

        1. V

          Again Eamonn
          You are making assumptions ie. Just because you don’t know about it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. that are reactionary and quite frankly, impolite.

          B nor I nor others deny the cronyism and jobs for the boys protocols that run this country. Nobody.
          I, I won’t speak for anyone else here, I look for a way to achieve what I want or need, and figure it out. Even if its a waiting game. Irish Women are good at that.

          And you’ll find, if you paid a bit more attention, that no one points out Conflict of Interests, Jobs-For-Boys, Zero accountability, Decision by Self Interest, whatever you’re having yourself around here more than I do – Vanessa Foran/ Frilly Keane.

          Assuming you are referring to the Weber concept of “Life Chances” – absolutely there was a correlation between success and ones start as they’d say (socioeconomic landing lads), in the 1900s when he studied, tested and proved his theory.
          Post WW1, The Great Depression, WW2, GI Bill, baby Boom, the Internet of everything, self publishing, even here in Ireland, Free Education, EEC, Equality Legislation & Tax Equalisation and reformation, – have all demonstrated that it has competition.
          Adele, JK Rowling, Roy Keane, even C McGregor. All prove the someone needs to go back and update Max Weber’s theory. Oh Hang on – Someone did; Charles Handy (and he’s a Paddy.)

          Most of the High Achievers I know, well the ones I like to hang out with, aren’t the beneficiaries of the Bank of Mum & Dad
          which btw we already did here on Broadsheet (and BS.tv) over a year and a half ago.
          here https://www.broadsheet.ie/2018/01/26/keeping-mum-dad/

          And here’s something from two years ago that’s not a million miles off the points either
          https://www.broadsheet.ie/2017/08/04/too-posh-to-push-left/

    2. Qwerty123

      +1, blaming the voter is wrong, we should be looking at PRSTV system for national elections.

      No valid alternative is and always will be a problem here unless people decide differently.

  6. EK

    V, I blamed the public, not the voter. The public who don’t vote and are content to take it out on the scapegoats given them by Fine Gael. As for cronyism and clientelism, it’s well known that this is the way Ireland operates. I’m not saying anything new here. And if anyone doesn’t think that Ireland, particularly in the arts, is not mostly a middle-class game, well then they are obviously middle-class and regard themselves as “normal”. Interesting that V jumped so quickly from art to money, equating the two as essentially equal. That right there is the problem, and it’s a middle-class problem, propped up by comfortable middle-class politics that won’t say boo to power in case it interferes with their comfortable middle-class apolitical careers in the miserably funded arts scene that they never question. By the way V, the political starving out of the arts scene is not the artist’s or writer’s failure. It is the failure of the middle-classes to properly defend the culture beyond their own narrow self-interest. Cronyism is all they know.

    1. Steph Pinker

      Well said, Eamonn; regardless of whether we want to accept it or not, there are social stratifications in this country which became very evident in the context of the water protests because it affected most homes – which included those of middle class people.

      Where are those middle class protesters now regarding the deadly deficiencies of the HSE, the rental-homeless crises, immigration, broadband, the childrens’ hospital etc…

      … answers on the back of a postage stamp, please – preferably paid with taxpayers’ money, of course!

    2. V

      Thanks for being more explicit EK
      However I won’t be witness to any attempt to bring class in to any discussion, so I’ll drop off this thread now; only to add a quote from Selina Meyer (Veep)

      Man Up

      Get to know the context – last season of Veep btw

      1. EK

        V, I don’t know what veep is. As for a discussion of class, you make it sound like it’s beneath you. I know that people believe there is no class stratification in Ireland. It’s a convenient fiction. As for the man up comment. I don’t know what that means either. If you have something to say, be clear, I don’t have time to be untangling poorly expressed ideas and sly put-downs.

        1. V

          Nothing is beneath me; well maybe Meath

          poorly expressed ideas and sly put-downs
          fair enough, you are – and so is anyone else, entitled to say that about me
          but since it is bloody clear you haven’t given anything I have ever put my name or Frilly Keane to as much as a click, your own put-downs stink of a bitter begrudgery that totally betrays your ethos, or maybe that is what you really meant by convenient fiction

          Veep btw, is a work of comic and satirical genius, with a female lead
          I can see now why such a work of art was never in your own favs’list

          All the best with everything Eamonn
          I won’t bother a column of yours again
          V

    1. :-Joe

      You must be extremely sensitive and at least somewhat mildly deluded and ignorant of reality to label that as hate…

      Sensitive or embarrassed, defensive and lashing out from a point of denial maybe….

      It’s never too late to change in favour of what is right…

      :-J

    2. EK

      Peter Dempsey, where is the hate in what I write? I don’t write hate. I write for clarity of ideas. It’s okay if you don’t like some of them, that’s what debate is. But to characterize opinions you disagree with as “hate” is just lazy thinking.

  7. postmanpat

    Speaking of Maria Bailey, I was in the Dean the other week. I had a swing off the infamous swings. And I’m telling you there’s absolutely no way you could accidently fall even if your arms were full and not holding the ropes.

  8. :-Joe

    @Eamonn Kelly..

    Another great article/opinion piece and also a fun read..

    Looking forward to the next one..

    :-J

  9. B9 Com From No

    @V I put up several comments here yesterday politely disagreeing with EK’s response to you and tone and style of response, I have almost lost my interest in this site now and will look forward to catching up with you on a more inclusive forum

    1. V

      Ah shur they might turn up
      mine seem to appear in twin locations

      and look if you set up somewhere let us know

Comments are closed.