Author Archives: Anthony Sheridan

When reading I tend to scribble notes, underline and even, from time to time, express an opinion in response to the subject matter of the book.

I always keep at least two biros handy in case one runs out of ink and I’m suddenly left without the means to record my thoughts before they escape through my ears.

The other night one of my biros did run out of ‘fuel’ so it was quickly consigned to the wastepaper basket. But then, I stopped and looked at the abandoned pen and began to ponder its existence.

My first thought was that I had just casually and unthinkingly thrown away an amazing and perfectly operating machine just because it had run out of its once-off supply of fuel.

Given the rapidly dwindling resources available to us avaricious humans, I thought, wouldn’t it make much more sense to design the pen so that the fuel could be replenished thus extending the life of the machine by many years.

It is true that some biros are designed to take a refill but these are usually in the more expensive range. And, it’s fair to say, it wouldn’t make economic sense to manufacture refills for the ubiquitous BIC biros.

But the biro featured here (above), the one I threw away so casually comes under a category I would call – promotional. Trillions of them are manufactured every year and given away free to promote an endless list of causes and businesses.

Just look at it. It’s a superbly designed and, I would say, beautiful machine with simple parts. It’s easily disassembled with the capacity to refill.

It’s my favourite pen design – slim, metal, with good balance weight and comfortable to hold. I would keep this pen for a lifetime if refills were available.

And then my thoughts came back to us modern avaricious humans and I wondered.

Suppose this pen, fully fuelled up, was to slip into a worm hole and travel back in time to a human occupied cave of about 20,000 years ago.

It would cause a sensation, it would be revered as a gift from the gods or, even, a god in itself. The cave humans would use it to create cave art. They would probably draw the pen itself, such was its incredible design and power.

And when the pen ran out of its magic fluid they would mourn the loss of its lifeblood. But the pen would remain, would still be worshipped and be seen for what it is, an amazing machine unlike anything they had ever seen in nature.

The pen would be handed down to generation after generation with ever fantastic stories and myths surrounding its origin, power and destiny.

It would eventually be discovered by the descendants of the cave people – us.

And promptly consigned to the nearest wastepaper basket.

Anthony Sheridan is freelance journalists and blogs at PublicEnquiry.

Death of The Pen God (BackGardenPhilosophy)

Pic via Anthony

From top; Construction at the National Children’s Hospital; Tom Parlon, Director General of the Construction Industry Federation [CIF]; Anthony Sheridan

Tom Parlon, former politician and Director General of the Construction Industry Federation [CIF] has come out as a comedian.

It’s not clear if Parlon intends continuing with his job at the CIF but the quality of his comedy sketch on yesterday morning’s Today with Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One would surely indicate that he’s bound for global fame on the comedy circuit.

Basing his sketch on the Government’s open cheque book joke for contractors to build the National Children’s Hospital Parlon led with one of his oldest but most hilarious jokes.

This is the one about contractors, while struggling to make a few cents profit against all the odds, recklessly risking everything they possess in order to help out the national economy and those seeking to put a roof over their heads.

He continues with some brilliant one liners on why costs continue to rise into the stratosphere.

“It’s a busy, busy time for contractors.”

“There’s been some big accidents in China and elsewhere in the world.”

“Stuff is scarcer.”

“Contractors don’t get a penny more than they’re entitled to.”

[No, seriously, he did say ‘stuff is scarcer‘.]

And the new comic genius introduced a brand new type of joke – the one worder.

“Brexit,” snapped Tom and the audience fell about in stitches.

Before listeners could catch their breath with their laughing he followed up with some great new jokes.

The rising costs of the 2 billion hospital, said the budding comedian, can be compared to someone ordering a gear-change car and, when going to collect it, suddenly says:

‘Jesus, I want to change my mind and buy an automatic, only to discover that it will cost more.’

And, like all great comedians Parlon roped in a member of the audience to help him make his jokes even funnier.

After telling Sinn Féin health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly that a delay in the delivery of fireboards had added substantially to cost overruns she helpfully asked:

“Tom, what percentage of the 1.7 billion overrun is down to the delay in fireboards?”… the

Hilariously, Tom responded:

“Haven’t a clue.”

Poor old Sean O’Rourke finally realised he had been set up by his producers. This wasn’t a serious interview analysing the out of control billions for the National Children’s Hospital.

It was the launch pad for Tom Parlon’s new career.

Listen to the full sketch here, highly recommended.

Anthony Sheridan is freelance journalists and blogs at PublicEnquiry.

Rollingnews

From left: Paul Anthony McDermott SC; Mass Card

During a discussion on RTE Radio 1’s Today with Sean O’Rourke surrounding the controversial bail granted to a taxi driver accused of sexual assault Senior Counsel and lecturer in Law at UCD Paul Anthony McDermott was crystal clear:

“We have the concept of bail because of the presumption of innocence. Under our system nobody can decide you have committed a crime other than the jury. So, not the media, not the Gardai, not anyone. It is only a jury.

So we take the view that unless and until twelve members of the public decide you have committed a crime the system works on the basis that you didn’t commit it.

That is regarded as a constitutional right but even if we amended the constitution in the morning the European Convention on Human Rights to which Ireland is a party also requires a presumption of innocence.”

I’m sure Mr. McDermott will be greatly surprised to learn that his statement is incorrect.

The Irish state does not universally extend the presumption of innocence to its citizens.

There is one very specific crime that the State considers to be so heinous that those found guilty are not just liable to a prison sentence of ten years or a €300,000 fine but are also deprived of the presumption of innocence principle.

That crime is the selling of even one Mass card without the written permission of a Catholic bishop.

There are many who will find it difficult to believe that such a law could exist in a modern democratic republic; so here it is in black and white.

Charities Act 2009

99: [1] A person who sells a Mass card other than pursuant to an arrangement with a recognised person shall be guilty of an offence.

[2] In proceedings for an offence under this section it shall be presumed, until the contrary is proved on the balance of probabilities, that the sale of the Mass card to which the alleged offence relates was not done pursuant to an arrangement with a recognised person.

I am not a legal person so I am open to challenge on my interpretation of this law; which is:

A person who sells a Mass card without the permission of a Catholic bishop will be presumed guilty until he/she can prove the contrary.

The crux of the presumption of innocence principle is very straighforward:

It is not for the accused to establish his/her innocence. It is for the prosecution to prove the guilt of the accused.

Article 99 [1] turns this principle on its head.

Therefore; in Ireland:

The presumption of innocence that is implicit in Article 31.1 of the Irish Constitution does not apply to those accused of this crime.

The presumption of innocence under Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights does not apply to those accused of this crime.

The presumption of innocence under Article 11 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights does not apply to those accused of this crime.

To my knowledge nobody from the legal profession has challenged this draconian law so it is reasonable to assume that, for that profession, there is no difficulty.

It is, however, reasonable to expect members of the legal profession such as Mr. McDermott to include this exemption to the presumption of innocence principle when delivering an opinion on the issue.

Anthony Sheridan is freelance journalists and blogs at PublicEnquiry.

Rollingnews

From top: Irish Times’ Pat Leahy; Anthony Sheridan

The standard of political analysis within Irish journalism is disturbingly poor. There is one simple but very troubling reason for this.

Most journalists are loyal members of the establishment and as a consequence refuse to even acknowledge never mind actually write about the dark, underlying reality that lies at the heart of Irish politics.

The dark reality is that the three centrist parties, Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour, are not separate political parties struggling to attain power in order to implement policies for the greater good of Ireland and its people.

The dark reality is that these three parties constitute a corrupt political class that, for the most part, works to enrich itself and those who support its agendas.

The economic catastrophe and consequent extreme austerity inflicted on the people of Ireland by this ruling political class since 2008 has resulted in very serious damage to its credibility and as a consequence to its power.

Labour has been virtually wiped out by an angry electorate while Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have been so damaged they have been forced into a coalition of desperation where they are engaged in a life or death struggle for political dominance.

The establishment media plays a major role in propping up the power of this corrupt political class. Journalists do this by simply ignoring political corruption altogether or by retreating into a parallel reality.

A recent article by Irish Times journalist Pat Leahy provides us with a good example of how establishment journalists ‘analyse’ politics from within this parallel reality.

In the article Leahy is making the point that the Left in Irish politics is not serious about achieving its political goals. They prefer talking to doing, he says. He goes on:

If power is impossible without compromise and personal sacrifice, they prefer the empty dance of politics without the prospect of power.

This, of course, is a ridiculous conclusion. But such silly opinions are not unusual among journalists like Leahy because, while they must be able to see the rot in the political system, they are not, for whatever reason, prepared to expose it.

Clearly, Leahy doesn’t realise that the three centrist parties are a political class masquerading as separate entities.

We witness his ignorance by his use of the term ‘go figure’ when describing how Fianna Fail and Fine Gael can operate on any point of the political spectrum without apparent scruple.

Political parties of integrity and principle do not do this. They avoid associating with parties of opposite ideologies altogether or lay down very strict conditions for any coalition deal.

A single ruling political class, particularly one infected with the disease of corruption, has no scruples about moving to any position on the politcal spectrum if it suits its purpose.

That’s why, for example, the Labour Party had no difficulties in collaborating with Fine Gael’s extreme right-wing austerity policies.

Leahy further demonstrates his ignorance of the political landscape by asking the following question:

What, exactly, is the difference between the Labour Party and the Social Democrats apart from the fact that they cannot get along together at a personal level?

The answer, of course, is that the Labour Party is a loyal member of the corrupt ruling class. The party sold out on its socialist principles and political integrity in 1992 when Dick Spring went into coalition with the criminal politician Haughey shortly after [accurately] describing Haughey and Fianna Fail as ‘a cancer on the body politic’.

The Social Democrats, on the other hand, represent the complete opposite of what Labour has become. The Social Democrats came into existence as a direct result of exposing corruption within the ruling class.

The party’s leadership know very well that they would be signing their political death warrant if they were to associate themselves with any of the parties that constitute the corrupt political class.

It is incredible and deeply disturbing that a journalist such as Leahy, who is considered an expert on political analysis, is not aware of this obvious political reality.

But, as I said at the beginning – the standard of political analysis within Irish journalism is very poor.

Anthony Sheridan is freelance journalists and blogs at PublicEnquiry.

Top Pic: Dalkey Book festival

From top: RTÉ’s Miriam O’Callaghan; Mary Lou McDonald and Arlene Foster in Derry for the funeral of murdered journalist Lyra McKee; Anthony Sheridan

Falling revenue coupled with a serious challenge from social media has in recent times prompted the establishment media to emphasise how important professional, objective and well researched journalism is to society [See here and here for examples].

Unfortunately, these claims of high quality journalism are more fake news than fact particularly when the establishment media is reporting on those who pose a threat to the interests of the ruling political centre made up of Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Labour.

Sinn Féin represents the greatest threat to this exclusive political club and for that reason is frequently targetted by establishment media.

RTÉ in particular has effectively abandoned all pretence of objectivity when it comes to interviewing Sinn Fein representatives.

A comparison between an RTE interview with DUP leader Arlene Foster and what can only be described as the interrogation of Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald on the day of the funeral of murdered journalist Lyra McKee clearly exposes the blatant bias of the national broadcaster.

Foster was interviewed on Morning Ireland in a carefully choreographed piece that portrayed her and her party, the DUP, in a largely positive light.

First we heard a short 37 second clip of Foster speaking earlier on BBC Radio Ulster in which she expressed her feelings during the funeral of murdered journalist Lyra McKee.

RTÉ reporter Tommie Gorman was then invited to respond and proceeded to give a glowing account of how the DUP was ready to engage in talks but [unfortunately] Sinn Fein was adopting a strategy of caution.

Arlene Foster was then respectfully and professionally interviewed by RTÉs Gavin Jennings without interruption or bullying but also without any serious challenge of her views.

She was allowed to promote the view that she and her party were very willing to sit down with Sinn Féin [if only they would cooperate] and sort out any issues they had.

Tommie Gorman was again invited to give his assessment of Foster’s views. He proceeded to give another glowing account of how the DUP was eager to get politics back on track in Northern Ireland and, again, concluded his analysis with a negative description of Sinn Fein’s election strategies North and South of the border.

Later on in the morning, and in stark contrast, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald was interrogated, bullied and insulted in a disgraceful display of bias by Miriam O’Callaghan/RTE on Today with Seán O’Rourke.

The interrogation was preceded by yet another clip of Arlene Foster speaking as if her only wish in life was to bring peace and harmony to the whole world.

In the fifteen minute interrogation that followed McDonald was agressively interrupted no less that 31 times. She got to answer just one question without a bullying intervention.

It was clear to any objective listener that O’Callaghan/RTE was not in the least bit interested in McDonald’s views but rather in trapping her into expressing a negative opinon on the question of resolving the political stalemate at Stormont.

It was also clear that O’Callaghan/RTE were not interested in informing listeners that the DUP were responsible for the collapse of the Northern Ireland Assembly. That it was the DUP who initially accepted but then walked away from a compromise agreement with Sinn Fein in 2018.

In her efforts to trap McDonald, O’Callaghan didn’t bother too much with facts. For example, she claimed that in his sermon Fr. Magill was asking people to compromise when in fact he did no such thing.

McDonald, rightly, upbraied O’Callaghan for putting words into Fr. Magill’s mouth.

The moment of ‘victory’ for O’Callaghan/RTE came when McDonald said that Sinn Fein would not be capitulating to those [DUP] who wish to hold back progress in every form.

Triumphantly, O’Callaghan crowed:

“So am I hearing – ‘Sinn Fein says NO’?”

This was the whole point of the interrogation, to extract a negative soundbite from McDonald that would portray Sinn Fein as the party that was refusing to compromise on talks to restore the Assembly.

But there’s a bigger, more important reason for the constant attacks on Sinn Féin by the establishment media and that is the threat that Sinn Féin, as an outsider, poses to the power of the ruling centre of Irish politics.

For years now, in election after election, this ruling political elite, that has done so much damage to Ireland, has been losing the trust and consequently the votes of Irish citizens.

The weaker the political centre becomes the more strident and more blatant the attacks on all outsiders who pose a threat to its political power.

Over recent years RTÉ has drifted from a position of relative objective journalism to a point where many see the station as nothing more than an obedient mouthpiece for the ruling political class.

I would recommend listening to the O’Callaghan interrogation of McDonald to obtain a true sense of just how biased RTE has become.

Alternatively, take a quick scroll down the reproduced interrogation below which signposts every interruption by O’Callaghan.

Continue reading

From top:  Taoiseach  Leo Varadkar and British Prime Minister Theresa May MP at No. 10 Downing Street on Mr Varadkar’s first official engagement outside of Ireland after becoming Taoiseach in June, 2017: Anthony Sheridan

It is grotesquely hilarious to witness Irish journalists, commentators and politicians condemning the British political system over its handling of the Brexit crisis. Here, for example, is Irish establishment journalist Alison O’Connor:

‘Who are these people who have risen through the ranks of British politics who don’t know their history, their geography or their arse from their elbow?’

The suggestion here is that Irish politicians, unlike their British counterparts, do know their arse from their elbow. There are millions of Irish citizens with ruined lives who would beg to differ.

And here’s Michael McDowell ignorantly suggesting that British politicians should adopt the same dishonest, anti-democratic strategy favoured by the corrupt Irish ruling elite when the people don’t do as they’re told – hold a second referendum:

‘Obviously our government has to pay lip service to accepting the outcome of the first British referendum, but others in Ireland should, in a friendly and decent way, publicly encourage the people’s vote cause. It would be honourable and honest to do so – provided it was not done in a counterproductive way.’

This sly, manipulative, patronising and dishonest attitude to how politics should be done is the norm in our dysfunctional democracy and therefore the likes of McDowell, in his ignorance, thinks it’s the norm in real democracies.

There is no doubt that the whole Brexit episode is a complete disaster for the United Kingdom. There is no doubt that stupidity, extreme nationalism, selfish party politics and cowardly political leadership are the main ingredients that led to the catastrophe.

But there is one element of the crisis that no mainstream Irish politician could possibly recognise or understand – British democracy is alive.

British democracy is a living, breathing, dramatic, often toxic, always passionate, sometimes uplifting, sometimes disastrous, but most importantly, always, always alive to the awareness that democracy belongs to the people, that in the end it is the people, for better or worse, who will decide the fate of the nation.

Ireland, on the other hand, is a dead democracy and has been since independence. Irish democracy is a rotten corpse that goes nowhere.

It performs just one function – it feeds and fattens the political maggots of the main political parties that have been crawling all over its putrid body since independence.

The principal difference between so-called Irish democracy and that of genuine democracies is evident in how ordinary citizens interact with their political systems.

Citizens of functional democracies such as the UK, France and Germany are aware that ultimate power rests with them, with the people.

They are aware that elected representatives are servants of the people, servants of democracy. In other words, in functional democracies, power flows from the bottom up and when that power is abused there is accountability and consequences.

That’s why there’s a virtual revolution going on in France. That’s why British politicians are extremely wary of dismissing the will of the people as expressed in the Brexit referendum.

In Ireland, the complete opposite is the case.

Unique among Western democracies, Irish citizens, for the most part, see power as residing in their elected representatives and government officials. They see power as coming from the top down and are forever grateful when the powerful throw them a few crumbs from the table.

There are historical reasons for this mindset that are too complex to go into at this time. Sufficient to say that this attitude, that the citizen is powerless and dependent on favours doled out by public representatives, has morphed into a system of political gangsterism that has destroyed the lives, wealth and hopes of millions of Irish citizens over the decades turning Ireland into a virtual banana republic.

History is the key to understanding how all this came about.

Prior to the English civil war of 1642 Parliament had very little power. At the time the divine right of kings to rule was absolute. But that all changed when King Charles I attempted to force Parliament to do his bidding.

When Parliament refused the king entered the House of Commons [the House of the People] with 400 soldiers and attempted to arrest five members. Charles Lenthall, the Speaker of the House, displaying great courage, told the king that he stood by [the people’s] Parliament and not the monarchy.

Not only did the king lose the ensuing civil war, he also lost his head when he refused to accept that power resided in the people and not in his person. The English monarchy never regained absolute power and the English people, to this day, are very aware that they are the real power of the land.

Just the other day, nearly 400 years after people power first challenged royal power, the current Speaker of the House, John Bercow, told those who sought to abuse the people’s parliament, to take a hike.

The evolution of Irish ‘democracy’ could not be more different.

When independence was achieved in 1922 power was usurped by an extremely conservative political class that created a fake democratic system based on parish pump politics and gombeenism.

Hughe swathes of power and influence were handed over to the Catholic Church that led directly to a holocaust of abuse and criminality that continues to this day.

Ireland has never had a functional democracy. Instead we have a political ruling class made up principally of Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and the near extinct Labour Party.

This is why there has never been a Right/Left wing political divide in Ireland as there is in almost all functional democracies. You cannot have such democratic balance in a country where there is, effectively, just one ruling class [party] masquerading as three political parties.

In Ireland we have a political system that is nothing more than a diseased corpse where the stench of corruption, lies, secrecy, cynical political manipulation and outright state criminality daily chokes the lungs of any hope of a genuine democracy emerging into the light of day.

Yes, British democracy is in crisis. Yes, total catastrophe is a distinct possibility, even the possibility of revolution. But that has happened before, it has happened in many countries over many centuries.

But the very fact that such chaos exists is testament that British democracy is a living, breathing entity where the people are fully engaged and ultimately supreme.

Only in countries like Ireland do we witness politicians and their toadying supporters in mainstream media say:

‘Look at the chaos that reigns in the UK in comparison to our stable political system here in Ireland.’

They little realise that apart from the stench and rot a [political] corpse is always stable.

Anthony Sheridan is freelance journalists and blogs at PublicEnquiry.

Rollingnews

From top: A demonstration on North Frederick Street following the forced removal of housing activists from a vacant property on the street last week; Marian Finucane; Anthony Sheridan.

When RTÉ was a national broadcaster the station provided a reasonably balanced news output. In recent years, however, since the station began to serve government rather than citizens, news manipulation has taken precedence over factual reporting and professional analysis.

On yesterday’s Marian Finucane Show on RTÉ Radio One, for example, listeners were subjected to an intelligence insulting, extremely short, cartoon-like discussion on the disturbing events that occurred on North Frederick street during the week involving Gardai and housing protesters:

Panelist: “In fairness, Josephine Feehily and Drew Harris came out and said, no, that shouldn’t have happened.”

Marian Finucane: “And yet and yet and yet..its tough on gardai. I thought it looked… I mean I was astonished at how it had come about.”

Panelist: “Look, there is an issue around social media , there’s no doubt about that, but look, we expect to see people in balaclavas in the Basque country or dealing with the Real IRA or whatever. We don’t expect to see gardai in balaclavas policing genuine protests about housing.”

Another panelist: “I think the public were very, very upset about it and I’m thinking of something Theo Dorgan said once ‘I thought I was born into a republic’ and you see these private balaclava-clad guards arriving in a van. But protesting has changed, I think the gardai are very measured in the way they handle the physical and verbal abuse they get.”

Then another panelist changed the subject by referring to a protest Ms Finucane had participated in 48 years ago. Ms Finucane, seemingly delighted at the diversion, went on to reminisce about another protest she attended in the last century – and that was it.

That was the sum total analysis of the disgraceful and disturbing events in North Frederick Street where the gardai behaved more like second-rate nightclub bouncers than a professional police force.

Possibly under pressure by her producer to keep discussion of this embarrassing Government/gardai scandal to an absolute minimum, Finucane, in a fluster, did as she was instructed.

“Mmm…well…ah…I mean..we’ll move on very quickly. I think that deserves more conversation but I’m just watching my clock here and…”

Watching her clock? The discussion was taking place just half way through a two-hour long show and this major public interest story gets a grand total of 1 minute 56 seconds coverage.

This is not news analysis, it’s blatant news manipulation. No doubt, Fine Gael and the gardai are delighted with RTÉ’s collaboration in this type of warped current affairs analysis.

But RTÉ cannot escape the fact that, day by day, its reputation as a professional and balanced current affairs outlet is reaching the same zero credibility rating as that of our police force.

RTÉ news bias – Destroying credibility (Anthony Sheridan, Public Inquiry)

Meanwhile…

Hmm.

Previously: Garda Sources Say

Meanwhile…

There you go now.

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald (left) and President Michael D Higgins

Anthony Sheridan writes:

Sinn Féin’s decision to field a candidate to challenge the current President has wrecked the cosy arrangement between Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour to keep their man in the office. But consider what would have happened if the following scenario had evolved.

Imagine if Sinn Féin had decided to support the conservative centre and then, dramatically, a leading member of the party broke ranks and attempted to force the leadership to change its decision by putting himself forward as an independent candidate.

Here’s exactly what would have happened:

There would have been an immediate wall to wall, seven days a week attack on the party by the establishment media led by the government broadcaster,

RTÉ. Sinn Féin members from Mary Lou McDonald down to local councillors would be relentlessly paraded, harassed and questioned across the establishment media for reactions and explanations.

So here’s my question.

Why is the establishment media completely silent on the dramatic decision by Éamon Ó Cuív to challenge his party’s presidential election strategy by putting himself forward as an independent candidate which, by extension, constitutes a direct and very serious challenge to Michael Martin’s leadership?

Here’s the answer.

The establishment media does not serve the interests of Ireland or its people. Their loyalty lies entirely with the ruling political class made up of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour.

The undemocratic attempt by these three parties to keep their man in the Park received strong and widespread support from the establishment media.

Across radio, television and print the people were arrogantly told that they would not be getting an election, that it would be too expensive, that it would distract from Brexit and sure wasn’t ‘Michael’ doing a great job anyway.

But Sinn Féin’s strategy put a stop to all that patronising, insulting guff.

Now, the establishment media has just one aim – to protect the interests of the corrupt centre of Irish politics by preventing a powerful outside force such as Sinn Féin from occupying what the ruling political class have always considered to be their personal fiefdom in the Phoenix Park.

To that end, the Irish people are about to witness the biggest, most ruthless anti-Sinn Féin propaganda campaign ever mounted by the establishment media.

The campaign will, as always, be led by the cheerleader of the establishment media – the government broadcaster, RTÉ.

Why the establishment media is silent on O Cuiv’s rebellion (Anthony Sheridan, Public Enquiry)

Previously: Anthony Sheridan: Citizens Are Not ‘Customers’ Of The State

Rollingnews

At your service: Minister for Employment Affairs & Social Protection Regina Doherty and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

The people of Ireland should know that Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Labour Party have removed the status of citizenship from them and replaced it with the inferior status of ‘customer’.

The process was initiated in 1997 and has been refined and expanded upon ever since. Ministers and civil servants no longer address citizens as citizens but as customers.

For example, during a recent interview on RTÉ Radio 1’s ‘Today with Sean O’Rourke’, the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty referred to old age pensioners as ‘customers’.

Thinking that this may have been a ministerial slip of the tongue I had a look at Ms. Doherty’s department website and found that the status of citizenship had indeed been removed and substituted with the lesser title of ‘customer’

A quick search across other departments confirmed that this is official policy. Here for example is an extract from the Department of the Taoiseach:

Our Commitment to our Customers

The Department of the Taoiseach is committed to providing a professional, efficient and courteous service to all our customers…We will treat all our customers equally and make every effort to ensure that the services we provide reflect your needs and expectations.

This is a deeply disturbing development as it strikes at the very core of the democratic relationship between citizen and state.

It strongly implies that ministers and state officials have taken ownership of the power, wealth and resources of the state. That they, and not the citizenry are – The State.

It implies that [now former] citizens are mere ‘customers’ that must comply with laid down conditions if they wish to ‘do business’ with the new owners of the state.

This quote, taken from the Dept. of Public Expenditure and Reform, makes it crystal clear that it is the department that is the provider of goods and services and the citizen is the customer:

Deliver quality services with courtesy, sensitivity and the minimum delay, fostering a climate of mutual respect between provider and customer.

The development further implies that ministers and civil servants no longer see themselves as (civil/public) servants, elected and employed to serve people and country but rather as wielders of state power over and superior to the power of the people.

I spoke about the issue with a senior official in the Dept. of the Taoiseach who was genuinely surprised that I thought the matter was of any importance.

Here’s why I believe the issue is of crucial importance:

Democracy literally means ‘rule by the people’. Not by politicians or civil servants but by the citizenry. In representative democracies certain elected citizens are temporarily appointed to govern on behalf of the people.

They are granted state power by the people to govern on behalf of the people but the possession of that power does not raise their status above that of any other citizen.

It does not create a relationship whereby the politician is master and the citizen is a customer.

Similarly, many citizens are employed to serve the State on behalf of the people across a wide range of government departments but no individual civil servant possesses a status or a power above that of any other citizen, they remain servants to the democracy of the people.

This policy of downgrading the sacrosanct status of citizenship by replacing it with the inferior and cheap status of ‘customer’ is obnoxious to the very meaning of democracy.

Customer means:

A person who buys goods or services from a shop or business.

In the world of trade this is a perfectly legitimate definition. An individual becomes a customer when they decide to purchase goods or services from the owner of a business.

In a functional democracy citizens do not purchase goods or services from politicians or state officials operating under the illusion that they own these goods and services.

Citizens avail of goods and services that they (the citizens) have provided for the greater good of all the people.

It is the function of politicians and officials to serve the people by organising and dispensing these goods and services according to need.

They do so as fellow and equal citizens, not as overseers doing business with customers.

Citizenship means:

A person recognised under the custom or law as being a legal member of a sovereign state or belonging to a nation.

It’s unlikely that this removal of the status of citizenship is a deliberate conspiracy to weaken democracy but that is exactly what it will do. Once a concept is accepted by an authority it quickly becomes the norm.

That’s why the official I spoke to at the Dept. of the Taoiseach was so puzzled by my concerns.

She has already accepted those who deal with her department are not citizens but customers and therefore should be dealt with as such.

Similarly with Minister Doherty. She obviously feels totally at ease in referring to citizens as customers. But by so doing she is over-turning the centuries long democratic principle that politicians and state officials are servants to the people and not, as the term ‘customer’ suggests, masters over the citizenry.

But even more crucially the Minister has lost sight of the most important democratic principle of all – that citizens ARE the state and therefore can never be customers to it.

Citizenship Status Has Been Removed From The irish People (Anthony Sheridan, Public Enquiry)

Leah Farrell/Rollingnews

Nothing less than radical reform will do.

Caution: Some salty language.

Anthony Sheridan writes:

And so the usual avalanche of meaningless, naïve and uninformed analysis is upon us in response to the latest scandal – the sacking of yet another Garda Commissioner.

Yes, she was sacked, there are many ways to sack a person without actually seeming to do so.

So for those who wish to bypass all the utter bullshit that will be spewed out over the coming weeks in response to this latest episode of police/political corruption – here’s the stripped down truth.

Our police force is an irredeemably corrupt organisation. It will never be reformed from the inside because to do so would mean having to retire, fire and prosecute hundreds if not thousands of police officers.

Real reform would also mean establishing a truly independent police force that would see the severing of the corrupt nexus between the force and the corrupt political system principally made up of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour.

A politically independent police force would mean corrupt politicians would find themselves under regular investigation for their criminal activities.

A politically independent police force would see, for the first time in our history, bankers, property developers, members of the legal profession, civil servants, so-called regulators, judges and even police officers regularly facing justice before the courts.

A politically independent police force will never become a reality until the corrupt political system is first removed from power.

All other talk/analysis surrounding this issue should be treated for what it is – utter bullshit.

Garda corruption: the stripped down truth (Anthony Sheridfasn, Public Inquiry)

Rollingnews

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