Author Archives: Listrade


All I know is that I don’t know nothin’. And that’s fine.

There’s a certain peace and restfulness that comes from admitting that the more you learn and more you know, the more aware you are of just how much you don’t know.

Each bit of knowledge and education only opens up a whole other area of knowledge and information about which you are ignorant.

At this point you could insert one of numerous Richard Feynman quotes on learning, life and everything like, “Nobody ever figures out what life is all about, and it doesn’t matter. Explore the world. Nearly everything is really interesting if you go into it deeply enough.

He’s right, it doesn’t matter. It is much more interesting to have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned (Feynman again). Sorry seems to be the hardest word, but it isn’t as difficult a phrase as “I don’t know.”

All politics, all ideologies and all religions are all about easy answers. You can rest easy because we’ve done the difficult thinking for you and here are our answers. All we ask is your unconditional support and belief.

Except, it turns out that they don’t have the answers either.

The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act (PLDA) 2013 was supposed to be an answer. But what was the question? It wasn’t how do we protect unborn life and it wasn’t how do we protect the life of women after Savita Halappanavar.

The question was how we protect doctors when making a decision that might conflict with the Constitution. Doctors shouldn’t need the enactment of legislation in 2013 to help them make a judgement on what is best for the life of the patient. And yet they insisted they did.

But the Supreme Court insisted they didn’t.

In its decision on the X Case, the Supreme Court discussed at length the conditions that would permit abortion under the Constitution. For 22 years doctors had some clarity that where there was a real and imminent risk to the life of the mother, they could perform an abortion.

The death of Savita had nothing to do with lack of legislation and was all to do with doctors not wanting to make a decision.

The PLDA was bad law enacted in haste and yesterday we saw that doctors still won’t make a decision, even when the Supreme Court and the law says they can. Suicide is a risk to the life of the mother, PLDA allows for this and for an abortion.

Except if someone is suicidal and a genuine risk to themselves, then they should be committed to a mental institution. The former requires three medical opinions, the latter just one.

Oh, but not when you jump in a river and actually try and kill yourself. Then you’re grand. No risk there.

The problem with narratives is that when you have them, they become like a hammer and everything looks like a nail. It’s easy to read a lot into what the psychologist did in committing the girl to an institution. We’ll probably never know and so shouldn’t speculate.

But to repeat an old mantra, never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

The problem with narratives is that we can’t discuss abortion as we should. Not religion, not ideology, just ethics. Unfortunately, we’ve let ethics become synonymous with religion.

We’ve allowed a situation where one specific branch of one specific religion gets to be the dictator of ethics. We need a debate free from that. Unfortunately, no politician would be brave enough to have that discussion.

If you were to do a list of who has an abortion and why they have an abortion, the results of that list might be swayed by your views on abortions. Are the women old or young? Married or single? Is the abortion due to their health or the foetus’s?

Our only basis for answering this is to look to the statistics from those countries that do have legalised abortion. Great Britain (not UK as many in the UK have realised recently due to legislation not being enacted in Northern Ireland) is probably the best comparison.

Any legislation is likely to be the same where abortions require medical approval and a similar set up. From the statistics available, we know that in 2015 185,824 (3,451 from Ireland) abortions were performed.

· Based on 2015 births, approximately 20% of pregnancies were terminated in England and Wales.*

· 80% of abortions are performed in the first 9 weeks and 98% within the first 19 weeks (69% and 97% respectively for Irish women)

· 70% of women are in a relationship (65% for Irish women)

· 77% of women are white.

· 54% had been pregnant in the past through to delivery (47% Irish)

· 38% have had previous abortions (19% Irish)

· 98% have abortions on the grounds of Category C “risk to the physical or mental or mental health of the mother” (96% Irish)

· 86% of women are over 20 (52% aged 20-29, 34% 30+) (91% Irish, with 46% 20-29 and 45% over 30)

· 3% of abortions were for serious abnormalities or disabilities to the foetus (Category E) (4% Irish)

· 3 abortions (number, not percentage) were performed in emergency situations to save the mother’s life (due to mental or physical harm).

· 629 (0.3% of abortions) were because the foetus was diagnosed with downs syndrome (1.1% Irish)

*very rough approximation

How do we interpret this? I don’t know. Looking at the statistics above: it’s complicated. It isn’t, as Leo claims, like the lads popping off to Amsterdam.

This is mature, rational women, in a relationship, many who have seen a previous pregnancy through to birth.

They are 98% of 185,824 who have weighed up the pregnancy and its consequences and a doctor has agreed an abortion is necessary. Over 180,000 individuals like the population of County Limerick.

There is no single group mind behind their decisions. The only common feature is they live in a state that allows them to make that decision in consultation with a doctor.

In Ireland, we’ve legislated for the three abortions that were medical emergencies. But someone had to die before we even did that. We haven’t addressed the issue of suicide risk, but then we haven’t addressed the issue of suicide risk in general.

Under the PLDP, it isn’t enough to be diagnosed with cancer; it needs two doctors to confirm the cancer. With mental health, we want three doctors to confirm your state of mind before anyone will make a decision.

Twenty two years after the Supreme Court said it was permissible without legislation, that suicide risk was a risk to life, that you can take the threat of suicide at face value, you do not have to wait until they are pressing a knife to their wrists.

One doctor can do that. One doctor can believe the woman and act. The constitution does not prohibit that. Doctors did not need to wait 22 years, we didn’t need legislation. Doctors didn’t need to lobby our legislators so that it required three doctor’s opinions.

You can make of the statistics above whatever you want. You can use them to support pro-life or pro-choice. But they are what they are.

All I know is that I know nothin’. It’s complicated. Life is complicated. Somehow, we’ve managed to make complicated the bits that aren’t complicated when it comes to permissible abortions under the constitution..What hope do we have with the bigger issue of abortion in general?

The only thing I can say for sure is that it’s time to listen to those who have had experience here. Not those who want to insert an ideology into other people’s decisions.

There are over 180,000 of them in Britain, over 3000 in Ireland. Maybe listen to them, not me.

Listrade can be found on Twitter @listrade  where he mainly steals jokes from Keith Chegwin.

Yesterday: Tony Groves on The Three Doctors



I’d like to thank you all for nothin’ at all.

By you I mean you generally. Not you, them. I don’t know exactly who they are, but it isn’t you and we can all agree they’re the problem and why we’re doomed.

It’s now clear that Fine Gael think that they are the hard left.

It’s not enough to be left, you have to be hard. We’ve ditched ‘far’ as a tag. The far right are now Alt.Like some emerging music scene, kinda pleasant and revolutionary, you crazy kids.

The left are hard. An unmoveable force hell-bent on giving stuff away for free.

We’ve ditched the ‘far’ because it implies a distant, small fractional wing. People aren’t scared of small groups of extremists.

It’s easy to pretend that this is a new thing, but it isn’t. Politicians have always led us down a path of division. There has always been a them that we must fear or hate.

It doesn’t matter if it is terrorists, immigrants, travellers, social welfare claimants, feminists, literal Nazis, alt right, neoliberals, bankers or elites.

It is a them, someone else. I don’t need to provide an answer or a solution. I can give you a bogeyperson of non-specific gender identity to be scared of. It’s better than trying to stand over bad policy.

Both political sides have always created a them and then pointed to the extreme idiots to prove the point. On the left we use the rich capitalists as our them. Tax dodgers, party donors, sometimes criminals.

We don’t use the lower-middle class right wing voters as our them or the working classes that vote for right wing leaning parties. Instead we label them as “lacking formal qualifications”.

You know, stupid. But we can’t say stupid, so we pretend that a generation that never had the opportunity to go to college to get a degree in golf course management is stupid. It’s even better if we can call them racist.

The change has been in who they are. It’s no longer a small group of extremists or elitists; it’s become anyone who disagrees with you. Think that promising to build 2000 social houses and then questioning the government’s record when it only builds 650 is reasonable? Then get your application in to become a member of the Hard Left.

Oh you also think that the government shouldn’t provide State Aid to corporations, like…umm…EU Law says they shouldn’t? You’re Hard and a Bolshevik. See it’s not welfare when it’s in the name of the Free Market and its rich people accepting the aid. It’s only scrounging when poor people do it.

OK, some were always prone to painting everyone who showed dissent to their opinions as being a them, but they were mocked for it, like Rick in The Young Ones. Now everyone is something and usually something negative and we stopped laughing at the people who did it.

The Brexit campaign was one of fear, lies and overt xenophobia (a term we use when we don’t want to say racist). But not all votes for Brexit were because people were against immigration or because they were racist.

For years, leaving the EU and the dangers of the EU (a capitalist, free market stalwart) has been a big issue on the left. Not the hard or far left, just the left. The left that isn’t moderate and didn’t go willingly with Blair. The New Statesman made the left case back in 2015, a year before the referendum.

Now, you’re just a bigot if you support or even offer the slightest hint of being pro-Brexit, even if you’ve opposed the EU on left-based principles for decades.

The swing towards the bigotedthem is so significant that we celebrate Macron’s election as progressive, just because he defeated Le Pen. Even though we lament Varadkar’s election, despite being Macron’s political doppelganger. And we do so without a sense of irony or hypocrisy.

You don’t need a them if you have good policy or an actual injustice. You only need to create one when your argument doesn’t work. Where facts or logic don’t back up your view to the full extent, you need to create a shadowy cabal that is behind the opposition or nefariously supporting the injustice.

It isn’t enough that you overheard one guy being a arsehole, it has to be an example of why the patriarchy are evil. If I countered that with examples of role reversal…well, I’d be part of the same evil patriarchy.

And rightly so. It isn’t enough that you failed on your own promises to build social houses, you have to say criticism of the failure is down to the Hard Left.

There is one thing that unites all humans and it is that we’re predominantly stupid creatures. But in a nice way. It isn’t our fault that we are driven by pattern recognition and confirmation bias. They kept us safe and allowed us to evolve to what we are. It’s still a weakness in our judgement though.

No one is the popular fictional character driven only by logic and reason. We like to think we are and like to think it’s everyone else who is led by their more primitive instincts, but we are all apes looking for tigers in the Savana, jumping at shadows.

That’s why we need to create a them because most times facts, logic and reason only work when it is something we agree with. Facts that are against our views are dismissed as being something the shadowy them would say. We use the counter argument, no matter how reasonable, to prove our proposition of a them.

When links are posted to counter an argument, it’d be fascinating to see what the google search was to get those links. Was it a simple “evidence of X” and then the individual reviewed all the facts or was it “why X is wrong” and then posting the first counter argument we come across?

But using evidence does work, eventually, sort of. Policy on climate change became more effective when the NGOs and advocates moved away from their Fossil Fuel Industry bogeyman to evidence. Eventually, the weight of evidence was in the favour of action.

For any doubters out there, you don’t convince emerging industrial countries that rely on cheap fuel to action unless there is convincing evidence hand-in-hand with suitable alternatives. Does it really matter if the science is a bit off if India is self-sufficient in renewable energy?

Try it. Try looking in a non-partisan way at arguments or a discussion point; see how many rely on an intangible them. Take out the them and then see how the argument stacks up.

Sometimes you’ll be surprised and the argument still has weight. Sometimes, you’ll see it for the irrational rambling it is. Elections, referendums, debates, discussions, we’re swamped with imaginary groups that probably don’t exist beyond a few very small ineffectual people.

It’s a pity that they will never see how they are misleading them.

Now considered a Content Creator due to a few contributions to this site, Listrade is looking to expand his empire of condescension into new markets and sponsorships areas due to the poor quality of tea in the Broadsheet offices. He is planning on launching his Youtube channel, “Badly in need of an editor”, at some point when he gets around to it. 


You can tell Derek Mooney’s column on Monday on Brexit was a good piece because there were no overly negative comments. Not even the usual abusive ones about Derek. He summed up much of what I was thinking about how Brexit is being entered.

Brexit will probably be bad. Not because the principle of a Brexit is a disaster, but because of how this Brexit came about.

The nature of the Brexit campaign was xenophobic, untruthful and incompetent. The only reasonable explanation is that this was a deliberate tactic so that the result would be remain.

A Larry Beinhart conspiracy in the real world, except devised by idiots. Now those idiots are running the negotiations. It doesn’t bode well.

The West Wing and House of Cards have given an unreal expectation of what happens in the corridors of power. All give far too much credit to cunning and scheming politicians.

Principled public servants and devious lobbyists. A lot more sex and less murder than the real world. The political world is far more Yes Minister written by P.G. Wodehouse than Dobbs or Sorkin.

The art of negotiation is well documented. Experts will sell you books and courses on the subject for decent fee. If you didn’t get onto the Oxford PPE course, you can at least feign status with some good buzz phrases. At least nod at them when you hear them like on holiday when you recognise one of the French words the waiter said.

It was disappointing when you got a policy change through without a bit of a fight and negotiation. When the relevant person accepted their mistake and changed it, you were always left a bit flat.

They weren’t doing it right. We’re supposed to do the dance of banging desks, slamming doors and letting me say at least once “I have a mandate from my members!”

A good prolonged negotiation was a soap opera you could pitch back as a David and Goliath. Sell like it’s a lost cause and you’re the only one standing up and speaking the truth.

Members want you to be having meetings and shouting. They don’t want resolution with a courteous email and phone call.

You never went into a negotiation (in Ireland or Europe) with the idea of compromise or of listening to the other side. This was your opportunity to show everyone how wrong they are.

How if they listened to you and your “facts” they would have no choice but to concede on every point. Your preparation was to have your argument laid out with “facts” and attacks on the other side’s “facts”.“You call that a source?” “You’ve misrepresented those results.” “You made a spelling mistake; it means your entire argument is void.” You had no intention of actually listening to the other side or to reason.

Sounds familiar?

Of course, the real negotiations happened outside the grandstanding of the formal room. Over coffee or a pint you could throw off the shackles of your mandate; agree it was all crap and that both had a point.

Unfortunately, we could never admit that formally and the cod-negotiation continued. “Here comes a regular, am I the only one who feels the shame?”Nah. We had mandates remember?

Except we didn’t.

Members are like voters. They preferred for us to do the hard work and tell them how to think. At least that’s what we thought. We’d analyse the policy, find something inflammatory and send out a biased overview. Anger-up their blood and there was our mandate. The more we found, the more we justified out existence.

The members we spoke about were like the constituents politicians speak of. The man with two pints Enda spoke of. The British Brexit voters Theresa speaks of. The 28 Member States Michel Barnier speaks of. All figments of our imaginations. Traits and opinions we make up and condensed into a mythical person or group.

The people and the Member States exist of course, but what they think or would think is complex, diverse and a bit more rational than we’d like. So we created their opinions for them. Manipulated genuine and easily corrected mistakes to fit into whatever Key Action Point we’d promised to deliver on that year.

We should worry about how the UK will enter these negotiations. They sold Brexit on a promise of getting rid of foreigners and a lie about British Sovereignty.

But we should also worry that the EU won’t care too much about little old Ireland. Heck, there’s even a chance that what’s bad for Ireland in this will benefit Central Europe. The greater good being those large states losing out to Ireland.

The EU has already created its own strawman to fight the UK strawman. There’s a reason it took so long to negotiate an EU deal with Canada. It had nothing to do with complexity. It was 28 Member States who still consider themselves as 28 individual Member States.

One nation would object to an aspect of the deal that would impact their particular interest. Britain only has to negotiate on the terms of British interest. It will no longer have to take account of what will upset the other 27 states.

There is no central EU-mind. It isn’t just Britain who is parochial, each member state is. We’re still European by politics and geography rather than culture and mind. European when it suits, like in golf. We’d still stab the others in the back if it were in our interests, like in Eurovision.

Because of the UK’s stance on negotiations, the EU has created its own aggression. The diplomatic and greater good is for a soft exit. The outcome is more than likely to be a hard exit for no other reason than spite.

Any impact on Ireland, positive or negative will be accidental. Our interests are handy soundbites, but they will not impact the outcome. The EU cannot allow exiting to be easy or soft, no matter what the consequence.

Like most negotiation, there is nothing to negotiate. This isn’t a peace negotiation, this is pure fictional politicking. Compromise is a fallacy, sometimes one side is right and the other wrong. Compromise implies equal validity to opinions.

Political compromise is rarely true compromise. More often than not it is giving a few things to one side and a few things to the other side. See the 20 years of Social Partnership and National Agreements. Both sides could stand like Chamberlain waving their pieces of paper. The common good forgotten in the need for both to show that they didn’t lose.

Negotiation is about how both sides come out without looking weak or incompetent. It is rarely about fixing the problem. Ireland will have to take a hit to prevent wider chaos in the EU.

Michel Barnier’s brief will be that the greater good is making sure the Union remains. Making sure that no other state gets notions of leaving. Make it as hard and painful for Britain as possible. If Ireland is collateral damage, it’s a price worth paying.

We’ve spent a year laughing at Brexit, now a UK win in the deal might be the best result for Ireland.

No problems there then.

Three years ago Listrade asked himself “are we the baddies?” after 10 years working for a lobbying group and now works in PR and Communications for the Bilderberg Group. He is widely credited for leading the group away from its New World Order manifesto and into investing in Pizza restaurants.