The hubris of our leading politicians will land us in trouble yet

Brendan Ogle UniteMarch 29th: Hubris, ‘excessive pride or self-confidence’, is defining the current leadership of the state. It is increasingly manifest in the actions of the Taoiseach and Tánaiste and it is now not only apparent domestically, but on the international stage too.

Three weeks ago I wrote about the Strategic Development Unit (SDU) and how, within weeks of becoming Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar had set in train plans for a new government media outfit that would cost €5m of taxpayer’s money. The SDU ended up pushing a Fine Gael agenda, Fine Gael election candidates, and paying regional newspapers to present government ad’s (call them propaganda if you wish) as news copy. Only a Taoiseach imbued with large dollops of hubris could have thought he’d get away with it. But yesterday it was announced that now that these activities have been exposed to public scrutiny the unit is to be abolished, and not a minute too soon. Continue reading “The hubris of our leading politicians will land us in trouble yet”

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Citizens on all sides poorly served in Brexit talks to date

Brendan Ogle UniteI suppose I better write something about Brexit. In fact, in the months to come we are all going to have to focus a lot on Brexit and this blog will return to the issue on many occasions. But I have been somewhat reluctant to write on it to date.

My reluctance does not stem from any lack of interest in the matter, still less from any lack of appreciation of the massive ramifications of current Brexit ‘negotiations’. No. My reluctance here stems from two things. One is the sheer breadth of the issues and conversations that need to not only happen, but to manifest themselves in a whole series of trade agreements, customs arrangements and treaties. And the second is that, in having that discussion, it is necessary to do so in a way which may seem critical of the parties involved for, to date,  the ‘debate’ at a political level has been somewhat surreal.

Let’s begin today by looking at the main positions of the protagonists so far. They appear to be, in no particular order, the European Union, the Government of Britain and Northern Ireland, the elected representatives of the people of Northern Ireland, and the government in the Republic of Ireland. The reality however is that this issue will have lasting and profound effects on the people, the citizens, of Ireland, Britain and the European Union. So how well are those people being served in the process to date?

Continue reading “Citizens on all sides poorly served in Brexit talks to date”

Another line crossed in the misuse of media by Government

Brendan Ogle UniteI’m going to say something good about the Irish media here, so note the time and date because it doesn’t happen often.

Insofar as the media has a propensity to become a participant in political affairs here, as opposed to simply reporting and commentating on them, recent developments around the government’s Strategic Communications Unit (SCU) give cause for even more concern than usual. But it also has to be said that the assiduous work in exposing the manipulation of media for political advantage by some journalists warrants acknowledgment and gratitude from those of us who worry constantly about the state of media in Ireland. In particular, the work of Hugh O’Connell in, and of, the Sunday Business Post has been really important for the democratic process in recent weeks. Others such as the Sunday Time’s Justine McCarthy also deserve special mention.

Before looking at the SDU and how your taxes are being used by the Taoiseach and Fine Gael to advance the cause of the Taoiseach and Fine Gael, it is important to look at this issue in a wider context.

Continue reading “Another line crossed in the misuse of media by Government”

Do we want a real alternative, or just more of the same?

Brendan Ogle UniteThere is a legitimate debate taking place within what might loosely be called ‘the Irish left’ at the moment. It takes place within campaigns, within trade unions, in communities, online, in homes, and anywhere that concerned citizens meet.

The need for this debate is evident to all who take part in it. There is no argument or disagreement that the housing emergency is a policy-created disaster enabling profiteering and greed to feast upon human misery and suffering. There is no argument that, while headline job figures are spun positively, the precarious nature of work and the race to the bottom in terms of pay and conditions have created real and potentially lifelong ‘in work poverty’, and the current labour market is often debilitating to workers and their expectations of a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. There is no argument that public services like health and education have not recovered from the years of austerity. There is massive personal debt. Deprivation, particularly among children, is among the highest in Europe. We tax middle and lower income earners, we have average consumption taxes, but we are a tax haven for the richest and the greediest. We have a broken media completely controlled by the neoliberal ideology and refusing to engage in an honest debate on these issues. And yes, like much else, that ideology and its followers will still try to privatise our human right to water, our recent victory being just a temporary success that must be built on if we are not to lose in the end.

Continue reading “Do we want a real alternative, or just more of the same?”