Tag Archives: Eamon Delaney

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From top: President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan; Ankara’s main square after a coup d’etat, September 12, 1980.

To wash our hands of the Turkish crisis would be a mistake.

Eamon Delaney writes:

Three years ago, I wrote about Turkish leader Erdogan and how his authoritarian tendencies were threatening not only Turkey but also the near east and the country’s application for EU membership.

‘Imperious Leader has gone too far with his strange edicts’ was the prescient headline.

Well, now we will find out just how far Erdogan will go.

The Turkish President has reacted furiously to the failed coup against him by dismissing and jailing tens of thousands of military personnel and officials. He is now moving on to the courts and the schools.

Of course, the strange edicts of Erdogan have led to this. But his proposals of three years ago (a partial ban on alcohol, and on the wearing of bright lipsticks by Turkish Air stewardesses!) are trifling compared to his attempts since then to consolidate powers in a revised Presidency.

Protests have come from secular activists, but also from followers of Fethullah Gulen, the mystic cleric, who has fallen out with Erdogan and alleges corruption by the Turkish regime. Turkey blames the elderly Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania, of fomenting the coup from afar and want the US to extradite him.

Basically, Erdogan cannot believe that anyone can disagree with him and wants to return the country to the strong man leadership of the country’s founder Ataturk or even the sultans of the Ottoman Empire. In fairness, he has won continuous elections and has presided over an amazing economic revival in Turkey.

On a recent visit, it took me two hours to get to the airport from central Istanbul such was the congestion of shiny new cars circling the Bosphorus.

But my jubilant taxi driver wouldn’t hear of any complaints and pointed to his AKP election stickers (Erdogan’s ruling party). This prosperity has provoked a new pride – but also new demands and challenges.

So, for the rest us, this crisis couldn’t be happening at a worse time. We rely on Turkey, a major NATO member, in the fight against ISIS and in dealing with war-torn Syria, as well as on coping with the refugee crisis, as shown by the financial deal it did with the EU.

Can the West control the situation and control Erdogan, and restrain his vengeance? It has to be done. Otherwise, we are in real trouble.

And it would endanger what has been created in Turkey itself, which is an amazing, vibrant culture and the ideal crossover between East and West, and between the Islamic world and a mainly Christian Europe.

Huge advances have been made in trade, art, fashion and culture and even in human rights, as well as in recognising the rights of the country’s Kurdish minority, although a guerrilla war continues with the Kurdish PKK terror group. Young Turks often ask me whether the Northern Ireland peace process offers an example of a way out.

Some would say that the crisis shows the damage that can be done by just one ruler, in the shape of Erdogan, or indeed Putin in Russia. But, like Putin, Erdogan remains very popular and has had to tend with a scheming and dangerous political landscape, and with dangerous neighbours.

For the West, and the EU in particular, the reaction should be to stay close to the situation and exert what influence it has as a restraint on a Turkey that still craves a European association. To wash our hands of the Turkish crisis, or to impose sanctions or isolation, would be a mistake.

The irony is that the recent coup in Turkey was done ostensibly to ‘protect democracy’.

In Turkey, the army has traditionally been a bulwark for secularisation. This was the legacy of the country’s founder Ataturk, who much to the delight of the West, kept Turkey in the Western camp. But he was a dictator too.

Indeed in 1980, after a period of political chaos, the army staged a coup and imposed order. And, on New Year’s Eve 1981, when martial law was lifted for the first time since, I was among the many young backpackers in Istanbul who joined in the celebrations! It was quite a party. The soldiers were cheered as heroes, who had rescued Turkey from instability and ‘backward’ Islam.

Turkey has come a long way since then. It has advanced economically but is has also become more Islamic in a moderate way which is probably a more accurate manifestation of society than Ataturk’s repressive secularism.

Erdogan’s wife is veiled, for example. But his Islam is a long way from the radicalised Islam of the ISIS or the Gulf States. Turkey is, as Irish travellers well testify, almost entirely Westernised.

However, the Turkish President is volatile. He has reacted furiously to social media, stormed off the stage at a Davos discussion on Israel and gave the go-ahead for the downing of a Russian jet.

The hope would be that his shrewdness and common sense would prevail and he would see that any further overreaction would endanger him, as well as Turkey and the region. However, on current evidence, that realisation clearly hasn’t come yet.

Now that the UK has left EU (what timing!) it is really left to the Germans to fashion a response. Germany has a huge Turkish community and should be familiar with the culture there, including the political landscape. Being sympathetic but firm should be the approach – and not letting Turkey slip way.

Otherwise, we are facing turmoil in the near East and an end to meaningful cooperation on refugees and jihadis – the last chance that a shaken Europe needs right now.

Eamon Delaney is an author, former diplomat and founder member of think tank Hibernia Forum.

Washing our hands of Turkey’s crisis would mean chaos in the Near East (Eamon Delaney)

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Irish Lorries boarding the car ferry at Rosslare heading for Cherbourg, France

 

Eamon Delaney of the free market think tank Hibernia Forum, writes:

The French Government intends to press on with their plans to enforce the French minimum wage law for transit workers, even for Irish workers from July1

Ireland has the second highest minimum wage in Europe (second only to Luxembourg).

However, when calculated on the basis of a 35 hour week, the French minimum wage equates to €9.61 per hour, against Ireland’s €9.15.

Irrespective of this fact, there is no justification in law for the French (or any other member state) to impose their domestic laws on transiting workers.

This is against the spirit and letter of the Single Market, and a blatant infringement upon the rights of free movement of people, goods and services. It is also only one of a number of creeping administrative measures on the continent that are reducing free movement.

It is not merely the minimum wage itself, but the imposition of more administrative burden on transit operators to demonstrate compliance. It slows everything down, and completely defeats the purpose of the Single Market.

In the case of the French Government., it also appears to be pandering to a trade union movement that is not interested in compromise in any case….[more at link below]

French minimum wage rule will hit Irish companies and should be postponed (Eamon Delaney, Hibernia Forum)

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Taoiseach Enda Kenny canvassing in Kilbaha, County Clare at the weeken with Caoimhe McNamara (left) and Lucy Keating

Moan, bitch, carp.

Cease all that bellyaching.

You don’t know you’re born.

Eamon Delaney writes:

Enda is right – we have among us a dominant chorus of whingers who see no merit in anything and who criticise any efforts being done to improve things. It is a prevailing feature of this election unlike any other contest I have seen.

…there is now a major note of whinging in the country, quite at odds with the usual positive portrait of the upbeat Irish. On the radio, and more especially on the night time TV shows, we hear a constant tirade of complaints.

Granted we have significant problems, in housing and health, for example, but you wouldn’t think we were the fastest growing economy in Europe! You wouldn’t think we had come back from the economic abyss and had put ourselves in a position that the Greeks and Spaniards could only envy

And along with the negativity is a growing and unchallenged sense of entitlement, of injury and demand, and the apparent need for the political parties to appease all of this. This is the new orthodoxy – the Government is to blame for everything.

The main thrust of the campaign is no longer about stabilising our recovery, and securing our fiscal future (with Brexit and global recession on the horizon) but about dishing out more state resources to our citizens. And such voices seem to be defining the entire election campaign with no-one brave enough (or reckless enough, like Enda) to question this swelling sense of victimhood.

When will Fianna Fail and Fine Gael properly stand up for the people who actually pay for everything, like they used to do: the people who are working and raising families and who just want to get themselves on? Forget the SMEs and quiet working people – it’s the squeaky wheel of the whingers which gets the oil. Who defends the taxpayers and those who are sceptical of an over-generous welfare culture?

Our entire political debate has now veered to the left, with much of the media, and a toxic social media, feeding this mentality of dependency and entitlement, but also of negativity and, indeed, whinging.

The actual truth is that the State already has to do too much, the established interests are too strong and our tax base has been too narrow. And the message that people should really be hearing is that the State is not your mommy, and you should try to pay your own way and take care of your own kids.

However, the main parties won’t say that – instead they appease the complainers, no matter how unreasonable. And they cynically target voters.

And so FG has done a complete turnaround on abolishing USC and dishing out the election goodies, all to appease a campaign where FG fears it is being seen as too harsh or miserly about public funding.  And if FG will raise the State pension, then FF will raise it more.

But it won’t do them much good. Long pent-up anger at austerity is now out of the bottle and in many ways, offering more State goodies only feeds the sense of entitlement and of whinging. The sad thing is that ordinary taxpayers have to pay for all this public spending.

The other sad effect is that a constant tirade of negativity and whinging is not good for the soul, or the individual.

It is the very opposite of what the self-help books advise us and the very antithesis of what our sporting and cultural heroes represent.

Eamon Delaney is founder of ‘frree market’ think thank Hibernia Forum . This column appears in today’s Irish Daily Mail [unavailable online]. Follow Eamon on Twitter: @eamondelaney10

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From top: UCD lecturer Julien Mercille, Irish Independent columnist Dan O’Brien and founder of Hibernia Forum Eamon Delaney

And that’s it.

You may recall the publication of the 456-page Banking Inquiry report during the week.

The report contained a chapter entitled The Property Sector, which included a section on Property Valuation which, in turn, contained a sub-section on Property Sector Relationships with the Media.

It was 1½ pages long.

And it concluded uncontroversially:

Revenue from the property sector was a significant source of income for some media outlets, accounting for as much as 14% or 17% of all revenue for some newspapers. Editors denied that editorial independence was affected by their advertising relationship with the property sector.”

Further to this…

UCD lecturer and dreamboat ‘sheet columnist Dr Julien Mercille; chief economist at the Institute of International and European Affairs in Dublin, Irish Independent columnist and former economics editor at the Irish Times (2010 to 2013) Dan O’Brien; and former diplomat and founder of right-wing think tank Hibernia Forum Eamon Delaney spoke to Sarah Carey on Newstalk this morning’s Talking Points show.

Specifically, they discussed the media’s role in pumping up the boom, promising pillow soft landings and supporting austerity when their analysis proved faulty.

Grab a large tay.

Sarah Carey: “Julien Mercille, I’ll start with you because you laid out quite a coherent case against the media at the banking inquiry. Will you give us the elevator pitch on how it’s our fault?”

Julien Mercille: “Well, it’s against a certain type of media. I mean the case I make is that the media reflects the interests of its owners and that’s very, very easy to understand from other media. We don’t have a problem saying that the UCD student paper reflects the interests of the students, by and large, or a union paper reflects the union interests. It’s kind of obvious. But when we come to corporate media or State-owned media you say well that reflects the interests of the State, the Government or the corporate world, people sometimes say, ‘oh no, you’re a conspiracy theorist’ or something. And again it doesn’t mean that because it reflects the interests and views of the corporate world, it’s wrong. It can be right, it’s just a matter of saying it’s a certain interest and it’s a narrow range of interests that we see in the media. So, in relation to the housing bubble and the banking inquiry, the media was very much supporting the housing bubble.

There were some voices of dissent but we can name them very quickly because there’s probably only one or two people – David McWilliams is the most prominent one but everybody else was saying there either was no problem, there’s going to be a soft landing or what happens often is also they wouldn’t talk about it. So if you don’t talk about a big problem, a big bubble that’s growing and growing, that’s a kind of passive support so sometimes the media works more in that way. People don’t know there’s something important so they keep buying houses. And then there’s a problem and everybody says, ‘oh, we never saw it’. Whereas if you looked just across the sea, The Economist magazine had warned about the bubble in 2003. And not just a vague warning, a very precise warning saying house prices are overvalued by 40% I think and there were many housing bubbles at that time in the world so Ireland was not unique in that respect.”

Sarah Carey: “Are you saying that journalists were consciously bending to the will of what they thought their corporate bosses wanted or was it just something far more subtle in their neglect of the topic?”

Mercille: “Sometimes there were, at the banking inquiry again, we know that property industry called The Irish Times, for example, and said, ‘listen you better have good coverage because, you know, we’re not going to sponsor, we’re not going to advertise with you’,  so there were a few explicit threats like that. But mostly I don’t think journalists were, every day, like, ‘ok, I cannot talk about the housing bubble’. I think the media is like any institution. People who work in the media mostly internalise the rules and they come not to think about them so much. It’s such a fast-paced work anyway and you don’t sometimes have the time to think about it. It’s the same thing for any institution, whether it’s the military or academia.”

Carey: “So, Dan O’Brien, the media internalised the problem and therefore were incapable of seeing it clearly?”

Dan O’Brien: “Well, can I come back to the first, the specific issue of the bubble and the property thing and then there’s the broader charge that Julien makes about media organisations doing their corporate owners’ bidding and Julien says that media people do what the corporate and Government interests want. Now I would really suggest to Julien that he get out a bit more because if you talk to politicians, most politicians hate the media, particularly Government politicians. They say that the media doesn’t report their achievements, it only looks at trivial things, it looks at their fights, it tries to catch them out all the time. The notion that the media is supportive of a government, like politicians just would laugh at that proposition. That’s politicians. Corporate, like the amount of times I’ve talked to people in business who believe the media are full of left-wing, anti-business people. They think the media is anti-profit, anti-business.

Again, they would just laugh at the notion that the media is dominated by pro-business cheerleaders. So, you know, different people have different perspectives. Julian, from his perspective, believes that, you know, the media is all dominated and basically just does business and Government’s bidding, I just think that’s fantasy. OK, so let’s move on to the bubble. I have two hats – I have one as an economist, I have one as somebody who contributes to the media. As an economist, I think we’re the people who deserve blame for missing out on the bubble, OK? Journalists are generalists, they can’t be experts on everything, that’s one of the great difficulties of media. If the majority of the economics community either thought there wasn’t a bubble or, as Julian said, didn’t raise it enough and I was guilty of that. I didn’t, I wasn’t living here so, you know, I should have said more in hindsight about the risks and that the failing of the economics profession when the average journalist was looking at what was going on and saying, ‘well look, most economists, who know more about this stuff than I do, say there’s not a problem or the risk is relatively low, well then, what are we going to write everyday. Somebody’s talking about a risk, are we going to put this on the front page everyday? No.’ So I, in my view, there were some failings in the media around the bubble and there are things that could be changed but did the media contribute in any big way to the inflating of the bubble? No. It was the banks, it was the columnists’ intellectual failings…”

Carey: “But what about property journalism specifically? I mean you know like that was, first of all, you had the revenues from property advertising, which were hugely significant. Julien pointed out that both INM and The Irish Times actually bought property websites and then you had the property porn, all those wonderful articles. You know no house ever had a flaw in it, the lovely advertorials, you know…”

O’Brien: “The notion that a journalist ceases, becomes a property editor for a newspaper and then puts aside the normal journalistic rigour and scrutiny and then writes, as you say, only positive stuff – you know, personally, I don’t think that’s the way to go. And, you know, that still happens. I don’t, you know, make decisions on how newspapers are run. Certainly, I don’t think that’s a good thing. But, you know, in terms of papers taking adverts for the sale of houses, now the last time I looked, selling a house was legal. If somebody comes to you and says, ‘I will pay to advertise to sell a product’, why would a company in an industry that’s in big trouble turn away those revenues? There’s nothing wrong with advertising if businesses want to advertise. Now when this issue of whether advertisers influenced editorial content, you know, I’ve read Julien’s work very closely – I don’t see evidence where he’s put that, where there’s definite evidence that advertisers actually influenced editorial content. I’m not saying it didn’t happen. I don’t know. But I certainly haven’t seen any convincing evidence from Julien’s work showing that advertisers influenced editorial content.”

Later

Carey: “So Julien, the problem here is just going back to that issue of confirmation bias in that we’re each seeing, you know, what we think is a bias in the media from a different perspective. So Dan’s question about evidence, you know, how much evidence were you actually able to compile on quantity of articles say not challenging the boom or challenging the boom or whatever?”

Mercille: “Well I have to say, before that, whenever you hear something from Dan O’Brien, you have to remember he has no credibility whatsoever, right? And I’ll tell you why.”

Carey: “Well I…”

Mercille: “I’ll tell you why, very clearly. From 2002, or something, until the bubble burst, he said himself, he didn’t see that. After that, 2008 until today, he was a cheerleader for austerity which doesn’t work – he doesn’t understand that. So 15 years of failure right there. So whenever he says something it has to be taken with a big grain of salt. Now his other, latest accusation – that in my work there’s no influence about advertisers – I don’t know what he’s reading, this is out there in the open. There’s good papers, interviewing journalists, saying, ‘we had pressures from the property sector telling us don’t do this, don’t write that’ and that’s fine.”

Carey: “Have you specific cases of that happening? Like you, do you know specific cases where journalists were explicitly told… now I’m…”

Mercille: “Yeah.”

Carey: “I’m very open to the idea of self-censorship and group think but in the case of specific examples…”

Mercille: “Of course there…”

O’Brien: “But so what? What difference…”

Mercille: “Look, she asked me the question, right?”

O’Brien: “Oh, sorry.”

Mercille: “There’s a paper published, I think it’s from DCU [sic], and they’ve interviewed journalists and they said exactly what I just said, ‘the property sector would tell us this and that’. Now the other thing that is important, it’s not, the media doesn’t work in a way that property people call every journalist and editors call every journalist, ‘hey don’t do this, don’t do that’ – people know what they have to do. So when the editors came in the banking inquiry and said, ‘I never felt any pressure from my owners’, I kind of believe them because they share the same values. They wouldn’t be in the position they are, if they didn’t share the same values. Now if the editors were really critical people, who were thinking for themselves and challenging the establishment, they would lose their job right away. So because they are there, of course they don’t feel any pressures from them, they’re as a team. So there’s a truth to that.”

Carey: “Ok, now what about Dan’s point though, that the overwhelming majority of the economics profession didn’t call the bubble. They were, there was a large buy into the idea of the soft landing.”

Mercille: “That’s true.”

Carey: “So, you can’t blame journalists…”

Mercille: “Yes, I can.”

Carey: “When they were being told, all round them. So, fine, you’re quoting one article from The Economist but I think even the IMF, you know, weren’t aware of all the risks. So, you know, what else were journalists to do?”

Mercille: “It’s interesting that I’m sitting here, and every time I go on the media, as the person on the panel who doesn’t like the media and journalists but actually I have much more respect for journalists than sometimes what Dan is saying. He’s saying that journalists just listen to economists and then they just copy what the economists said, it’s not their fault.”

O’Brien: “I never said that.”

Mercille: “You’re a journalist, right?”

Carey: “Yeah.”

Mercille: “The journalist should be robust. Just copying down what the economists? Journalists have to do more and be critical.”

Carey: “But they don’t. That’s the problem.”

Mercille: “Well, yeah, that’s why… I mean I respect the profession a bit more when I say they should. I don’t say they’re journalists, it’s not their fault. No, you have an obligation to research. Of course, the economics profession is also very pro-establishment, so it’s no wonder that they didn’t see the housing bubble. Now Dean Baker, who is one of the best economists in the world, in 2002, wrote a very good paper about the US housing bubble, warned about it very clearly, not vague speculations. Dean Baker writes papers with Paul Krugman, he’s not a backwater economist…”

Carey: “I’ll come to Dan now on that….”

Later

Carey: “So Dan, do you want to respond…”

O’Brien: “Look, I don’t, I don’t feel the need to defend myself. Whatever, but…”

Mercille: “Maybe you can’t defend yourself, Dan. That’s why.”

O’Brien: “I will actually, Julien. I actually worked at The Economist that you talked so glowingly about from 1998 to 2010. Some of the reports that you…”

Mercille: “You should have read the articles then that warned you about the bubble.”

O’Brien: “I was involved in the survey of Ireland, as it happens, that you’ve cited and you don’t quite seem to understand. The bottom line is, I did warn about risks, I came on TV here. I said, in 2006, I said, ‘don’t buy a house unless your income is guaranteed’. I said, ‘there’s a real risk, there’s too much debt’. I didn’t live here, I was asked, I was back and I was asked to go on a Prime Time show, exactly 10 years ago, so I did warn of risks. And, in terms of the post-crisis, I’ve been living here since 2010, I have taken a view that there was a need for fiscal consolidation. The economy is now growing again, it’s recovering. You say austerity doesn’t work, I don’t put it like austerity works, it doesn’t work, we had no choice in terms of bringing our budget back into balance and that was my view. So that’s you know, just, whatever in terms of [inaudible]..”

Later

Carey: “Eamon Delaney, obviously there’s a lot of concern in Ireland around media ownership and cross media ownership. But I’ve often wondered, as well, about cross media employment, you know, where you have journalists, like you and I who are, say, working for Newstalk and maybe writing for the Independent or maybe writing for the Sunday Business Post or writing for the Sunday Times occasionally – that how are journalists supposed to call out each other if they’re worried that the paper that they might be criticising or the broadcasting organisation that they might be criticising might be a future employer that they might need?”

Eamon Delaney: “I think that’s just something to navigate individually. You see, I don’t…”

Carey: “But do people navigate it individually by holding back?”

Delaney: “Like common sense, I think yeah.

Carey: “Define that?”

Delaney: “Well I think that, look, you know, I would be critical of some journalists who’ve written for Independent newspapers, over the years, but I wouldn’t do it in a way that was disloyal to the paper. I mean I’m actually one of those people who believes, you know, if I worked in a restaurant as a waiter, I wouldn’t badmouth the chef. You know? I don’t get this kind of phenomenon that we had a few years ago of a certain Sunday paper attacking the main owner of the paper, the main owner of this radio station as well – I thought it was insane. If I was employing someone, I’d want them to be kind of loyal to the owner and to the general ethos. But I do think, and it does happen, that journalists do disagree greatly even though they work with the same organisation – Patsy McGarry and John Waters used to have great scraps, they were both employed by the Irish Times, I think it’s just something you navigate and it’s a matter of common sense, you know?”

Carey: “Dan what about you? Or sorry, Julien, you want to come in on that…”

Mercille: “I think it’s very interesting what Eamon said. I mean, you’ve said very clearly what I’ve been saying for ever. You said, I’m expecting to be loyal to my owner. I mean this is very, very, very obedient. I mean…”

Delaney: “They’re employing you, I mean…”

Mercille: “It’s very obedient, a real journalist would say, ‘this guy hired me to find out the truth’, whatever it is.”

Delaney: “He can do that as well.”

Mercille: “Well you just said ‘I would be expecting that someone would be loyal to me and I’m always loyal to my owner’. I mean this is very, very revealing. People ask me for examples all the time, that’s it, there’s just one right there…and unconsciously you said it.”

Delaney: “Yeah, and I’ll say it again, I do think one should be loyal to one’s employer.”

Mercille: “Well again, that’s an ethos of journalism in Ireland: we should be loyal to our employer. What is that?”

Delaney: “Julien, you’re one of these people that thinks journalists are paid for by…the media needs…”

Mercille: “What is that? This is the best quote since I got to Ireland. And he repeats it, you know, he’s very proud of it.”

Carey: “Julien, to be fair, maybe to Eamon, I mean in the last four months you’ve written for the Independent, Sunday Business Post…”

Delaney: “Everybody, yeah.”

Carey: “The Daily Mail, yeah, you’re writing for everyone…”

Delaney: “Yeah.”

Carey: “So even taking into account the loyalty of the owner, which you did say, my point is that by writing for each one of them, you know, does that mean you can’t criticise each of them for failures?”

Delaney: “But I do, but I’m careful. I don’t, you know, yeah, I’m not gonna…”

Mercille: “So you criticise on the things that are not too important but you remain loyal.”

Delaney: “No I do criticise on things that are important…”

Mercille: “But that’s what you said, you have to remain loyal…”

Delaney: “No I’m loyal, I don’t believe in attacking the owner of the newspaper…”

Mercille: “You don’t believe in attacking the owner of the newspaper?”

Delaney: “Absolutely not.”

Mercille: “Ok, but that’s very obedient, you’ll get a job anywhere in journalism.”

Delaney: “If I was employed as a diplomat I wouldn’t sit down and start writing tracts against the minister…”

Mercille: “A diplomat is also, they’re also parrots, they’re also parrots, they talk for the government and get fired, they get fired if they don’t say the government line. That’s the PR industry.”

Delaney: “I can honestly tell you, on a personal level, I do have strong principles, on many things..”

Mercille: “Loyalty is one…”

Delaney: “Well, no, if I could just finish, there has never been an issue where I was writing for someone or I was avoiding something that I felt, never…”

Carey: “Right.”

Mercille: “Because you’ve internalised the principle so much that you don’t even feel the principle of attacking…”

Delaney: “You see this is like, you’re now telling me, this is like psychiatry like, I’m not internalising, you’re gonna tell me that I’m subconsciously self-censoring myself…”

Mercille: “No people can hear it very clearly.”

Delaney: “No, no..”

Carey: “Well Julien, if Eamon is saying that’s he never had a moment where he thought he wanted to criticise someone…”

Delaney: “Or a thing…”

Carey: “…but held back and didn’t out of fear of the consequences, is that what you’re saying, Eamon?”

Delaney: “Yeah, I’ve never, never…now I may have the same views as the owners of papers in that way we differ, you know, duly, we do differ, in the same way as someone say you were happy writing for the Irish government, yeah because I shared most of their views and still do, as a state. But I’ve never been stopped. I have been told I can’t write about something – interestingly one was to do with trade unions in which a paper, let’s not say what it was, was friendly to this particular trade union movement. So there you go that’s censorship from the left and a few other things to do with a few individuals and libel but not on any issues.”

Listen back in full here

FROM BOOM TO BUST: A post-Celtic Tiger analysis of the norms, values and roles of Irishfinancial journalists (Declan Fahy, Mark O’Brien,Valerio Poti, Dublin Institute of Technology)

Previously: For Those Who Shouted Stop He Salutes You

No Regrets

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Risk averse?

Unfireable?

Often ‘demotivated’?

But enough about Karl.

Why is the public sector so unhappy?

Writer, broadcaster and former civil servant Eamon Delaney writes

Public sector workers took pay cuts and endured hardship like the rest of us. But let’s keep things in perspective. The first pay cut was actually a pension levy, a contribution to the sort of rock-solid pensions that private sector workers could only dream of.

And under the Croke Park and Haddington Road agreements, public sector workers endured pay cuts which were nothing like what was happening in the private sector, where people were facing huge cuts and job losses.

The lack of job losses is the key bit. [Tanaiste] Joan Burton claims that Ireland was unique among the bailout EU countries in that there were no strikes. But why would there be, with the Croke Park deal ensuring absolute job security?

By contrast, even the left wing Greeks have had to fire Civil Servants which Greece could not afford. But nothing like that happened here. Instead, tens of thousands of private sector workers lost their jobs and emigrated. Always remember that: the people who could balance out this debate have emigrated and are gone – in their thousands.

And yet despite these advantages, the public unions have been clamouring for the immediate reversal of the pay cuts they have had to endure. And they want this done ahead of tax cuts for the wider public.

Where is the sense of community solidarity, given that it is the working poor who have had to pay more in taxes to pay for precisely these public sector advantages? There is a double injustice here.

But the trade unions are in world of illusion. They act as if we never had the crazy policy of benchmarking, where unsustainable pay rises were given to civil servants in every boom time year. Imagine if we did that reverse, when we went into a crisis?

The language is one of entitlement. The trade union leaders say things such as that the pay cuts were monies ‘borrowed’ by the Government and now they want them back.

They also talk about the ‘extra productivity’ they had to endure and ‘increased efficiency’, as if these weren’t good things always to be welcomed..

Joan Burton speaks of the ‘huge changes’ in work practice. But most people I know who work in the public service, or deal with it, see no huge change. Burton’s first example, incidentally, was of ‘IT changes’, as if it was the 1980s again!

No wonder that under the performance review carried out last November (under the Haddington Road agreement) only an incredible 0.75% of public sector workers received a score of less than 3/5 or 60% ! It’s hardly credible.

All of this shows a fundamental misunderstanding of work itself. The unions talk of achieving ‘efficiencies’ and ‘productivity’, just as they talk about how hard many public sector workers have had to work in recent years, as if this was such an onerous demand.

But surely all employees should work hard, not just as a goal for their employers, but for themselves and for their sense of fulfilment and well-being, which itself increases productivity

I have worked in both sectors. I worked in a Government Department with outstanding and hardworking people but also with slackers and clock-watchers, who put great effort in dodging work and evading responsibility. And they were always the most miserable of workers and the most unfulfilled, spending time bitching about management and fellow workers. I also worked in a publishing company, full of driven, hardworking sales people.

They had no security, no fall-backs and no time to waste on coffee breaks and mandatory sick days.. But they were invariably content -ambitious, and full of adrenaline and drive. They relished challenges as well as risks. And they usually felt that the greater the risk, the bigger the reward which is why they would not begrudge those risk takers who made lots of money.

Gulp.

Why do our politicians indulge a sense of entitlement in the public sector? (Eamon Delaney, The Irish Daily Mail – unavailable online)

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[Michael Martin addressing the Fianna Fail Easter 1916 commemoration in the Garden of Remembrance, Dublin on Sunday]

The return of the old names.

Make it stop.

Eamon Delaney writes:

…Perhaps the people around them sing a different song: but they seem painfully unaware of the impact that those great Fianna Fail names have on voters elsewhere. Barry Cowen TD might say ‘I am not my brother’s keeper’ but the fact is that every time he appears on TV talking about the water charges, he is a living, breathing reminder of the worst Taoiseach in our history!

Likewise, Anita Lenihan, who is being considered for the Dublin seat vacated by her late brother, Brian. She may be a brilliant talent: but it is surely too early to be considering the introduction of another Lenihan, and a further association with the old regime. It may sound harsh, but politics is all about image and perception. The same goes for Sean Haughey. Apart from your tarnished name, what do have to offer that’s actually new and different? Why not give someone else a chance?

…The difficulty, of course is that the likes of Hanafin and O’Donoghue could always say ‘well, look at Willie O’Dea and Eamon O’Cuiv. Why shouldn’t I come back, when they are in the parliamentary party?’ They feel to see that, in national terms, Dev Og and Slick Willie could well be the very thing that’s holding the party back.

Equally, however, the wannabe returnees could say ‘look at the party leader himself, Michael Martin.He was there, at Bertie’s side, when the gleaming city of the boom was crumbling to dust. He campaigned vigorously for him in 2007, even when it was clear that Ahern and the truth were on different planets. He was a senior Cabinet member as Brian Cowen pushed us inexorably on the path of self-destruction: yet he wants credit for having bailed out at the last minute.

How can Martin tell his former Cabinet colleagues that the old FF figures are discredited – but then stay in the top job himself? And this is the really awkward one. For the reality is that it perhaps it is Martin himself who is holding the party back. Honourable and hardworking as he is, he is still, after three cathartic years, associated with ‘that time.’ And the party has now woken up to the fact that maybe its Martin who is keeping them from growing beyond 22%.

FIGHT!

Fianna Fail Can’t Recover Until It gets Rid of its Zombies (Eamon Delaney)

(Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland)

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[Volunteers at a Kibbutz in Dafna, northern Israel, 1980, top, and Eamon Delaney, above, with Israelis on military duty in 2012, “which included dressing as Arabs for ‘riot-training’]

Following the death of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, ‘kibbutznik’ Eamon Delaney recalls when helping Israel was a liberal cause.

I was living in a kibbutz in northern Israel in 1982 when Ariel Sharon as defence minister, ordered the ambitious and reckless invasion of Lebanon.

The kibbutz system, familiar to many Irish volunteers over the decades, was a left wing commune network, loosely associated with the establishment Labour party which had ruled Israel since its creation in 1948.

However, in 1977, the right wing Likud party came to power and in 1981, Likud was re-elected with Sharon as Defence Minister. The kibbutzniks were getting used to a Likud government but the prospect of Sharon as Defence Minister filled them with dread. They saw him as hot headed, glory hunting (he’d already had a controversial army career) and prone to needless confrontation with the surrounding Arabs.

The big question in 1982 was would Israel invade Lebanon so as to drive the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) away from Israel’s northern borders, where it was firing rockets, just like Hamas had been doing recently from Gaza. And as with Gaza, the Israel philosophy is to strike back disproportionately to deter further attacks.

But, with Sharon, it seemed to be even more than that, and the kibbutz members were convinced that he was looking for any pretext to invade Lebanon and rearrange its political landscape.And so it would be. We woke up one morning and saw a line of Israeli armour and vehicles streaming northwards, and the fisherman that I worked with in the fish ponds were gone – called up for military duty overnight.

Sharon promised he would only go 40km into Lebanon to drive the PLO north and carve out a safety zone in south Lebanon. But, giddy with apparent early success, he went all the way to Beirut, encircled the PLO and attacked the city with relentless airstrikes that appalled the world.  Most infamously, he allowed Israel’s Lebanese allies, the Christian Phalange, to enter the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Chatilla, knowing full well they were sworn enemies from the Lebanese civil war.

A massacre ensured over two days, while Israel army stood back, claiming ignorance. The Israelis didn’t perpetrate it, but they seem to connived at it and, to this day, Sharon has been personally blamed, including in European countries where indictments had been made against him. Worse still, the Israelis got bogged down in Lebanon and overstayed their ‘welcome,’ giving rise to a new and ruthless resistance movement against Israel– Hezbollah. Continue reading

 

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[Eamon Delaney with his son Ciaran and a Modigliani]

Fine Gael Minister Frances Fitzgerald’s proposal to split the current standard State maternity benefit of 26 weeks between both partners is welcome, writes Eamon Delaney.

Sometimes it’s as if nothing has changed. When did you last read an article or survey asking if men are ‘helping out with the housework’? Or posing a question in relation to a father’s ‘involvement’ in the lives of his children? Not very long ago, I’d guess. Like the father was some kind of fire brigade service, only needed in emergencies, rather than a full time presence, doing every bit as much as the mother does. For this, surely, is what most parenting actually amounts to in the modern era: a 50/50 split between two partners. Indeed, any man not fully sharing the housework nowadays should be shown the door.

….I would be a good example of this family ‘work set-up. I work from home as a freelance writer, while my wife has two separate job assignments, in film and social media, that require her to leave the house for two or three days a week. If I have to go to a radio or TV station, she can be at home. We have two children, a five-year-old who has started school and a three-year-old still at home, so we see a lot of the kids, which is fantastic and, far from disturbing our work, it benefits both our parenting lives and our work lives.

When the kids were born, there is no doubt that both of us could have done with parental leave had we been in full-time jobs. Most of the follow-up demands of parenthood are suffered (if that is the word) equally, by both parents – sleep deprivation, general disruption and full-on child maintenance.”

…Currently, some 23,000 women take maternity leave every year at a cost of €300 million to the State. But the reality is that many women do not feel that they need the full amount of leave and are, in fact, anxious to get back to work. Many feel indeed that such a long period of leave can also act as an inducement to stay away from the workplace altogether, reinforcing that old fashioned concept of atending to ‘motherly duties.’”

“…But Minister Fitzgerald’s proposal would have a wider societal significance since it would challenge the idea of the mother as principal child-raiser, which is quite simply now an outdated idea, plainly unfair, and still holding women back. Some employers discriminate against women in job interviews because of fears that six months of maternity leave will at some stage become a reality. So the Minister’s proposal has an obvious benefit – employers would view prospective workers equally, irrespective of gender, as male and female workers would get equal access to leave.”

Need it be said….FIGHT!

Giving maternity leave to both parents would empower both and recognise reality (Eamon Delaney)

corruption

The World Corruption Perception index 2013 published yesterday.

Ireland scored a surprising respectable corruption perception rating of 72.

However…

Eamon Delaney writes:

What makes makes Italian style corruption almost unnecessary for those seeking gravy In Ireland. And this… what you might call an institutional corruption, and an embedded, ingrained sense of entitlement and reward for the ruling elites which is disproportionate, unfair and unwarranted, but which still goes on.
Basically, the system is fixed in a way that gives such rewards for those at the very top, or even half way up the public ladder, that there is no need for palms to be greased and money siphoned off.
Worse still, this money, and juicy extras, is being given regardless of where it is being taken from. It is also a culture of entitlement which prevails into a time of severe recession with major cutbacks in public spending elsewhere.
And so we have the bosses of certain charities get top –ups from money that might otherwise go to treat sick and disabled children. And so we have former Ministers getting pensions that run into hundreds of thousands of euro, regardless of what pressure this puts on the public purse, during a time of recession. And yet, like former Taoiseach John Bruton – who is on a very large multiple pension, and a big salary – they preach austerity to the rest of us.
And so senior public servants are immune from the pay cuts that are meted out to lower grade public servants, simply because they are senior public servants and presumably run the system and can run rings around any politicians who try to change it.
And so we have been paying the heads of quangos and boards far in excess of what they are being paid in other European countries, purely because this is what we do, and the system ensures it and there’s nothing the public can do to change it. And so we have the Government blithely breaking their own pay cap for the salaries of advisers. Most disgracefully in the case of the charity bosses, (and some hospital bosses), many of the top ups were not known to the public, but were quietly taken in all conscience by the recipients as being a customary reward for being part of the system.

Is this embedded sense of entitlement and reward for the ruling elites really much different to the more slippery corruption in Bulgaria or Greece? Do you really think the Swedes or the Danes would tolerate such extra gravy-taking when their economy was on its knees and the public finances were banjaxed?

 

Not corrupt, just special privileges for the insider elites (Eamon Delaney)