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Archive for March, 2007

Super-Rich Directors sit atop EBS Mess

The EBS board is in disarray. The society is a mess. The boss is on the defensive.

The Society’s AGM is on 16 April. At least one board member is due to be shafted. Ethna Tinney, according to the notice of meeting, is standing again. Most unusually, she is standingwithout the support of Ted’s board.

Government must Act to end State Torture and Violence in Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwean government was not democratically elected; Mr. Mugabe fiddled the vote in his favour and got the result he wanted. This is bad enough but the use of the regime to oppress the people of Zimbabwe makes it incumbent on us to raise our voices in strong protest. Loudspeaker diplomacy is useful sometimes to put external pressure on President Mugabe but it is now appropriate for the Government to support those African governments that oppose his regime.

In a special debate in the Seanad last night, I spoke of the need for the Government to take action against the regime, and to follow the suggestions of Amnesty International aimed at ending state torture and violence, and restoring Zimbabwean’s human rights. Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs Conor Lenihan later responded. Below are some highlights from the debate.

NI Agreement as much Reynold’s Creation as Anybody’s

Following yesterday’s historic agreement in Belfast, tribute must be paid to the Taoiseach for his incredible achievement. Further, we should not forget former Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds, one of the great unsung heroes of this agreement who took the issue by the scruff of the neck and had the nerve to do things other politicians did not.

It may be that he was not burdened by ideology, in the sense that many in all parties throughout this island are burdened. He had incredible courage and while his language of taking risks for peace was to some extent rhetorical, it was also true. Today, it is as much his creation as anybody’s.

Extremists Moderated; Moderates Marginalised

Tribute must be paid to people here and in Northern Ireland following the extraordinary agreement reached yesterday between the two largest parties. However, one of the sad results of yesterday’s agreement is that many of the moderates have been sidelined. Whereas the extremists may have been moderated, those who have been responsible for the process have found that their parties have been marginalised.

High Cost Base is a Major Problem for the Economy

The loss of jobs in the country is of great concern. Especially since nobody knows why it is happening. Two sides of the argument are put forward. Some state multi-nationals are leaving for eastern Europe because costs are lower there. The other side of the argument is that those jobs are being replaced quickly and we are being alarmist.

Everybody is agreed about one point on which there is no doubt and I speak as one who is not a great fan of trade unions. The cost base here is a major problem. It should be emphasised that it is not only the fault of staff or a matter of having a head count and laying people off to cut costs.

We should Lamb-aste these Ridiculous Planners!

A recent case highlighted in the press reached a new low in the area of planning. In County Wicklow a farmer objected to the erection of two new windows by a man in a house on the grounds the sheep might be looking in.

Some members of the Seanad thought that cows were the subject of the objection. It is possible cows had threatened to look in also but they were not included in the objection.

Mugabe’s Torture and Corruption must be Condemned at all Levels

I congratulate the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Dermot Ahern, who has already protested about the unrest and the deprivation of human rights in Zimbabwe. The situation is now becoming critical.

The opposition leader has been arrested and tortured while in detention and there has been at least one killing by the so-called police in Zimbabwe. As Ireland punches above its weight in foreign affairs, it can initiate a diplomatic offensive, both within and without the EU, to demonstrate to the world and to President Mugabe himself that he is a dictator whose respect for human rights is zero.

“This is an Election to Lose”

Moore McDowell is many things: he is a likeable but crusty old UCD lecturer; he is an intelligent Fine Gael supporter; he is an entertaining economist; he is bearded, but not a SIPTU leftie. So why did he tell Pat Kenny this week that this election is a battle to lose?

His message was clear: the next government will face economic problems on all fronts. Moore is currently a sane Irish voice of cautious heresy. As turmoil devastates the world’s stock markets, other more compromised commentators are urging complacency. Every collapse is greeted by the same chorus: it is a “correction”. Ireland’s entire financial services propaganda engine is in full throttle.

Trinity Business Alumni announce winner of Business Student of the Year

The Trinity Business Alumni in association with the Bank of Ireland announced the Business Student of the Year 2007 at a reception in the Printing House on Thursday last. The Bank of Ireland Gold Medal was presented by the Senior Lecturer to Ms Laura Gibson who was deemed to have distinguished herself academically whilst participating fully in University life.

40 Interruptions, 17 Interjections, and 1 Irritated Minister

Last Wednesday, my good friend Martin Cullen was charged with steering the Roads Bill through the Seanad. His speech was heard without interruption. However, when I stood up to speak on the Bill, the Minister seemed a touch irritable.

What followed were some unprecedented scenes as the Minister proceeded to interupt me no less than 40 times, forcing the acting chair to appeal for restraint to the aggitated Minister no less than 17 times! Here are some of his more colourful interjections: