Today’s Irish Independent

‘Walking down the street this morning, passing all the election posters, I thought about all of the mediocre men who have been elected to Leinster House over the years and how the most mediocre of all those men got elected because he was born a man (and his dad was probably a TD before him).

Female candidates have to work twice as hard to convince the electorate that they’re really as worthy as that man who has coasted along on his male privilege his whole life. They deserve a chance from all of us….

…If I meet a candidate who seems competent, hard-working and her politics somewhat align with mine, and she’s a woman, she is getting my vote next month.

Women cannot just be sidelined, arguing for change from our kitchens, we need to be allowed to thrive and fulfil our true potential in the political world too. Now, it’s women’s turn…’

Lorraine Courtney: ‘Give your vote to a woman – it’s the only way to break the tyranny of mediocre men’ (

Leo Varadkar, then Minister for Social protection, launching the ‘Welfare Cheats Cheat Us All’ campaign, April 17, 2017

Via Village magazine [more at link below]:

[Leo Varadkar’s] nastiest single initiative came just before he stood for the leadership of his party, with the fractious ‘Welfare Cheats Cheat Us All’ campaign.

But it positioned Varadkar where he wanted to be.

Imagine being in the prime of your life and at the top of your career and deciding what you want to do is target the most disadvantaged in society, those most discriminated against in the most tangible ways, economically and socially.

Imagine feeling that you want to spell out a message that the most scandalous misappropriations are by the welfare classes not the bankster classes.

Imagine being Minister for Social Protection, representing the classes that have nothing to get up for in the morning and running a campaign that promotes those who get up early in the morning.

…His commitment to equality seems tentative. His commitment to divisiveness, if anything, stronger.

What constitutes robustness when standing up to the clowns in Fianna Fáil accelerates into meanness when deployed against the vulnerable and the impoverished in society.

He recently wrote in the Irish Independent:

“We have allowed society to be divided into one group of people who pay for everything but get little in return due to means-tests, and another who believe they should be entitled to everything for free and that someone else should pay for it”.

The gratuitousness of the divisiveness derives from the simple fact there is no such second group. While he later claimed he intends to unite it, this is cynical rhetoric, for the beef is in the divisiveness.

….Varadkar melds neoliberalism and anodyne blandness. But the glue he deploys is the most interesting thing about the man, for the glue is the glue of nastiness.

Go Easier On The Nastiness (Village)


Last night.

Prime Time on RTÉ One.

Kellie Dempsey leaves Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty speechless.

Kellie and her boyfriend Glenn Doyle moved for cheaper rent to Navan while commuting to Dublin.

She had earlier described their daily travel schedule:

They leave home by 7am, drive together for 20 minutes to the station, where Kellie takes the train into the city.

She has a further 20-minute walk to get to her office in Merrion Square. After dropping Kellie, Glenn drives to Sandyford, south Dublin.

Their round trip is three hours, on a good day.

Commuting For  A Living (Louise Byrne, RTE)

A construction site in Dublin in 2017

Journalist Oonagh Smyth, of RTÉ Investigates, reports:

“Information released to RTÉ Investigates under Freedom of Information indicates that development land, with the potential to provide an estimated 18,500 to 20,700 homes on 359 vacant sites across the country, is simply lying idle.

“In the Dublin City Council area there are an estimated 4,714 housing units that remain unbuilt on sites with development potential.”

…A total of €882,495 in fines was levied by the local authorities last year – 3% of the site values in 2018 – with €640,950 of this levied by Dublin City Council (DCC). Of this, €463,500 was paid by DCC to itself because three of the sites levied were owed by the council.

There was also €1.7m in fines left unpaid across the 22 local authorities attempting to implement the Vacant Site Levy (VSL).


In Sinn Féin candidate Eoin Ó Broin’s book Home…

He writes (on page 225)…

“There is also a need to revisit the issue of taxation of land, no matter how political contentious the issue may be. The current vacant site tax is widely seen as ineffective and is urgently in need of review.

The low number of sites on Local Authority vacant sites registers and the low level of the tax applied – just 3 per cent from 2019 – are clear evidence that it is not designed to do what is required, disincentivise land hoarding and speculative investment.

“In addition to strengthening the powers and ability of councils to place all vacant sites on their register, the tax must be increased to a level that is genuinely punitive.

“Independent Deputy Mick Wallace introduced the Urban Regeneration and Housing (Amendment) Bill 2018 to achieve exactly this objective, hiking the vacant site level to 25 per cent.

“The Bill was opposed by both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.”

FOI documents reveal 359 vacant development sites lying idle (Oonagh Smyth, RTÉ)

Previously: The Big Bang Theory (April, 2018)

President of the European Commission  Ursula von der Leyen (left) and President of the European Council Charles Michel sign the UK Withdrawal Agreement watched by Michel Barnier, European Commission’s Head of Task Force for Relations with the United Kingdom

This morning.

Brussels, Belgium.

Via  Daily Telegraph:

In a somewhat low-key ceremony, Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, and Charles Michel, President of the European Council, signed the WAB

After signing the agreement, Mr Michel said that “things will inevitably change but our friendship will remain”.

“We start a new chapter as partners and allies,” he said.

The treaty will now be taken to London for signing by Boris Johnson before it is returned to Brussels, where MEPs will vote on the deal this Wednesday.

Brexit latest news: Boris Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill signed by European Commission (Telegrasph)