Thursday, 26 May 2011

Letter to Enda

A LETTER TO THE TAOISEACH - by a mystery author, as e-mailed to me.
 Dear Mr. Kenny,
Herewith, a few suggestions for fixing Ireland's economy.
Instead of giving billions of Euro to banks that will squander the money on lavish parties and unearned bonuses, implement the following – you can call it the Patriotic Retirement Plan:
There are about 400,000 people over 50 in the work force.  Pay them €1 million each severance pay/redundancy for early retirement with the following stipulations:
1) They MUST retire – 400,000 job openings, unemployment fixed
2) They MUST buy a new car – 400,000 cars ordered, motor industry fixed
3) They MUST either buy a house or pay off their mortgage – housing crisis fixed, banks back in clover (most of those mortgages are probably tracker).
4) They MUST send their kids to school/college/university - crime rate fixed
5) They MUST buy €100 WORTH of alcohol/tobacco a week - and there's your money back in duty/tax etc.
6) Instead of farting around with the carbon emissions trading scheme (pardon the pun) that makes us pay for the major polluters, tell the greedy bastards to reduce their pollution emissions by 75% within 5 years or we shut them down.
It can't get any easier than that!
P.S. If more money is needed, have all members of Dail pay back their falsely claimed expenses and second home allowances.
Also, while we’re in the mood:
 Let's put the pensioners in jail and the criminals in a nursing home.  This way the pensioners would
·         have access to showers, hobbies and walks
·         receive unlimited free prescriptions, dental and medical treatment, wheel chairs etc and they'd receive money instead of paying it out
·    would have constant video monitoring, so they could be helped instantly, if they fell, or needed assistance
·         bedding would be washed twice a week, and all clothing would be ironed and returned to them
·         a guard would check on them every 20 minutes and bring their meals and snacks to their cell.
·         They would have family visits in a suite built for that purpose.
·         They would have access to a library, weight room, spiritual counseling, pool and education.
·         Simple clothing, shoes, slippers, PJ's and legal aid would be free, on request.
·         Private, secure rooms for all, with an exercise outdoor yard, with gardens.
·         Each senior could have a PC a TV radio and daily phone calls.
·     There would be a board of directors to hear complaints, and the guards would have a code of conduct that would be strictly adhered to.
The criminals would get the Nursing Home, would get cold food, be left all alone and unsupervised, lights off at 8pm, and showers once a week, live in a tiny room and for all this luxury pay €600.00 per week and have no hope of ever getting out – THINK about this
And there’s more:
Is it just me or does anyone else find it amazing that during the ‘mad cow’ epidemic the UK the government could track a single cow, born in Appleby almost three years ago, right to the stall where she slept in the county of Cumbria?  And, they even tracked her calves to their stalls. And yet, they are unable to locate 125,000 illegal immigrants wandering around the country.  Maybe we should give each of them a cow.
The real reason that we can't have the Ten Commandments posted in a courthouse or the Dáil, is this  - you cannot post 'Thou Shalt Not Steal', 'Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery' and 'Thou Shall Not Lie' in a building full of lawyers, judges and politicians; it creates a hostile work environment.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Is Feidir Linn

TWITTER: @ballyhea14
May 25th 2011
It’s half-time, you're in the dressing-room with the rest of your battered and bruised teammates, your little parish team is ten goals behind and fighting for its championship life against a team of All-Stars, when one of the highest-profile managers in the game sticks his head in the door – ‘IS FEIDIR LINN!’, he shouts, ‘Yes we can!’
Yes we can alight, I'm thinking, yes we can – in my arris we can.  Perhaps if one of your own star players, Timmy Geithner, ‘guesting’ for them, hadn't slam-dunked us very early on in the game (he’s the US Treasury Secretary, and according to Professor Morgan Kelly’s recent well-publicised Irish Times article, Timmy was the man who vetoed an IMF plan at a G7 summit to force the bondholders into a two-thirds haircut on €30bn – would have saved us €20bn), perhaps if you could use some of your muscle to persuade the ECB referee and his officials to at least give us a fair break, then yes, we can still turn this mess around. 
A catchy slogan, a pat on the back, a bit of roaring and shouting at half-time – those days are gone.  Leinster turned their fortunes around in the Heineken Cup final with a lot of cold analysis of what was going wrong, of what had got them into the situation where they were 22-6 behind at the break; the coaching staff came to their conclusions, made the decisions on what needed to be done, explained it to the players; only then was the catch-cry introduced, the Jonny Sexton speech – yes we can, is feidir linn.
Any independent cold-blooded analysis of our situation will state that the only way we can turn this situation around is for the existing bondholders to take a serious haircut, and for the previous ECB-decreed payouts to be assumed by them, and that should happen NOW.  The private debt is what’s killing us; we should not pay another cent to the bondholders, not another cent taken from our Pension Fund - our last few bob - and we should be working like hell to cut ourselves loose from the billions already paid out, on the insistence of the ECB.  Then, yes yes yes, we damned well can.  Otherwise, we’re just damned.
Diarmuid O'Flynn.

Sunday, 22 May 2011


TWITTER:         @ballyhea14
FACEBOOK PAGE:   Ballyhea bondholder bailout protest
May 23rd 2011
I hate running, absolutely hate running, and a few weeks off 57, after decades of abuse on various hurling/rugby fields and even more various construction sites, the body is in poor repair, the joints badly rusted, bits falling off here and there.  But I said I’d do it, I will do it, hand-deliver the anti-bondholder-bailout petition to the Dáil, on foot from Ballyhea to Dublin, running from town to town but with a protest march down every main street along the way, culminating in Dublin on the Friday morning.
07.00  Ballyhea/Charleville            5.5            08.00
08.15  Charleville/Banogue             8.8            09.45
10.00  Banogue/Croom                   3.1            10.30
10.45  Croom/Patrickswell              6.7            12.00
12.15  Patrickswell/Limerick           6.6            13.30
14.00  Limerick/Birdhill               12.3           16.00
16.15  Birdhill/Nenagh                 12.5           18.15
08.00  Nenagh/Toomevara                7.3            09.30
09.45  Toomevara/Moneygall             4.1            10.30
10.45  Moneygall/Dunkerrin             3.2            11.30
11.45  Dunkerrin/Roscrea               5.5            12.45
13.00  Roscrea/Borris-in-Ossory        7.4            14.30
14.45  Borris-in-Ossory/Mountrath      8.5            16.15
16.30  Mountrath/Portlaoise            8.4            18.00
08.00  Portlaoise/Ballybrittas         9.0            09.30
09.45  Ballybrittas/Monasterevin       3.9            10.30
10.45  Monasterevin/Kildare            6.6            12.00
12.30  Kildare/Newbridge               5.6            13.30
13.45  Newbridge/Naas                  6.7            15.00
15.15  Naas/Rathcoole                  10.4           17.15
17.30  Rathcoole/Dublin                10.3           19.16
12.00  Parnell Square/Kildare Street   1.3            13.00
                                       152.8 miles total  
Diarmuid O'Flynn.

Ballyhea protest - our 12th march

TWITTER:        @ballyhea14
May 22nd 2011
And then the rains came down.  Storm clouds over the parish all morning, high winds, heavy rain, and yet, just after 10am and just before we were to meet – as usual – at around 10.15 in the church car-park, a break in the weahter that lasted just long enough for our little protest march to follow its usual route up to the speed-limit sign and back.  And then, yes…
Almost three full months we’ve been marching now, 12 weeks, and we wonder – are we making any impression?  Why is it that even as the protests in Spain are – finally – making headlines here, this long-running protest by one community against the ECB-decreed bondholder bailout, our attempts to spread that protest nation-wide, are ignored?
Next Sunday we go on tour, headed for Thurles and the Cork/Tipp Munster senior hurling championship opener; 12 noon, meet in the car-park around the corner from Lar Corbett’s/Coppingers (the road to Semple Square from the square), then once around the square, and off we go to the match.  Please, join us.  If you're with a GAA club in either county, pass this around, share it, march with us.
Diarmuid O'Flynn.

Thursday, 19 May 2011


May 19th 2011
Just back after a few days in France with my brother Paddy and his partner Pilar, both grieving the loss of their baby daughter last week; gave me time to take stock of my own situation, my obsession for the past six months and more with the bondholder bailout protest, the time and energy devoted to it, and I considered the old Jesuit philosophy – God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
I’ve made a few daunting decisions over the years: Emigrate to London before my 17th birthday, June 1970 (flee to England, more like, from the wrath of my oul' fella, knowing full well that in the days before ‘free’ education, I hadn’t got anything near the Leaving Cert results needed for the expected university scholarship); join the Irish Army in 1972, risk losing three years for the opportunity of getting into the Ordnance Survey; emigrate to New York in 1984 when the bottom fell out of the construction industry here; leave wife and kids to go back to New York in 1994 on my own for a couple of years when things still hadn’t picked up here and the savings from the first stint in the States were almost gone; switch careers in 1998 from construction to journalism, just when construction was taking off again.
All those decisions, however, were personal, affected only myself and my family; this bondholder protest is bigger than any of them, affects this entire nation now and for at least one generation to come.  To protest, to fight, wasn’t a decision at all really, it was in my nature.  I’ve never allowed myself to be bullied, have shipped some serious punishment over the years in standing up to individuals and groups bigger and stronger than myself.  In my nature also, however, is intelligence, and so, the Jesuit thinking.
I’ve done everything I can think of to do over the past several months to try and bring this issue to the people; letters to every media outlet print/radio/TV that I can access, mails likewise; texts to all my contacts, to my friends, to acquaintances; phonecalls, meetings, house-to-house pamphleting, and all the while reading – so much reading! – to try and inform myself of what was happening.  Set up a blog, a Twitter account (me, a bloody tweeter, @ballyhea14), a Facebook page (Ballyhea says no to bondholder bailout), an online petition (, hours and hours of every day devoted to the protest, everything else bar my job taking a back seat.  But, I have a wife, I have kids, I have family, I have a life.  Everything I’ve done so far has failed miserably to spread this protest, to galvanise people into standing up for themselves.  Two more rolls of the dice and if that doesn’t work, that’s it, then I take a back seat myself.  We will continue to march every week in Ballyhea but I'll leave it to someone with a lot more clout, a lot more eloquence and a lot more energy to take up the cause nationally.
First, May 29th, Ballyhea Bondholder Bailout Protest march goes on tour, to Thurles for the Cork/Tipp Munster championship match, 12 noon, once around the famous square; then, two days later, Tuesday May 31st, start the run/walk from Ballyhea to the Dáil (town to town, via Limerick city, c. 150 miles on foot, going to be painful) to deliver whatever names we have on the petition, which looks to scrap the deal of November last, or to at least hold a referendum on the terms of that deal.
So, sheeple or people?  €35bn of bonds still to be fought for, do we continue to bow to the demands of the ECB or do we march?  Lord knows we’ve bleated – and are still bleating - to the heavens high but we’re also still being shepherded along by Frankfurt and its barking dogs, our own government ministers.  Penned in, do we wait to see where they’re going to herd us next, or do we move?  Sheeple or people, people?
Diarmuid O'Flynn.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Bitter searching of the heart

From bitter searching of the heart

Leonard Cohen sings from his new album "Dear Heather".
Words by Frank Scott (1899-1985)
Music by Leonard Cohen
From bitter searching of the heart,
Quickened with passion and with pain
We rise to play a greater part.
This is the faith from which we start:
Men shall know commonwealth again
From bitter searching of the heart.
We loved the easy and the smart,
But now, with keener hand and brain,
We rise to play a greater part.

The lesser loyalties depart,
And neither race nor creed remain
From bitter searching of the heart.

Not steering by the venal chart
That tricked the mass for private gain,
We rise to play a greater part.
Reshaping narrow law and art
Whose symbols are the millions slain,
From bitter searching of the heart
We rise to play a greater part.

Friday, 13 May 2011

300 men and three men

May 13th 2011
In all its uglier guises I hate nationalism.  Benign nationalism is fine, e.g. beating England at anything (so long as we can enjoy each other’s good company – over a few pints maybe – before, during and after), the surge of national pride felt when someone like Katie Taylor steps on to the podium to receive another gold medal.  But chest-beating nationalism, as in ‘the best little nation in the world,’ or ‘the most hospitable nation in the world,’ or the wittiest or the wisest or whatever you're having yourself – must have been away when all those particular competitions were held.  As for the tattooed, in-your-face, aggressive nationalism – keep it, and welcome to it.
There are occasions, however, when we have to stand up as a nation, times of national crisis; now is one of those occasions.
In November 2010, when the ECB demanded of our government that as a condition of getting the much-needed funds to keep the country running in the face of a massive budget deficit, they would also have to assume the massive bank/bondholder debt, it represented an attack on this country.  No shots fired, no bombs dropped, no blood spilt, but an attack nevertheless, a potentially lethal attack at that.
To coincide with the 95th anniversary of the execution of James Connolly there was a protest in Kildare Street on Thursday evening last outside the Dáil against that bondholder bailout deal, small in number, and I couldn't help but wonder – how many of those inside those gates today would do as Connolly did then, put themselves in the line of fire for the sake of their country’s freedom and independence?  Successive governments have failed us, so on this, we must stand for ourselves.
The opening lines of the opening verse of that song, A Nation Once Again, has always resonated with me: ‘When boyhood’s fire was in my blood, I read of ancient freemen; of Greece and Rome who bravely stood, 300 men and three men.’  The 300 we all know about now, Leonidas and his Spartans - the power of modern media; of Horatius and his two companions who held the bridge over the Tiber, saved Rome from the army of Clusium, less is known.  Both, however, were instances of a few standing against overwhelming odds, a delaying action.  Well, only a few are standing now against the actions of the ECB; in Ballyhea, in Fermoy, in Dublin on Thursday last, in a few other areas around the country.  Until such time as this nation awakens to what has been done to it, until it rallies to its own cause, we will stay standing, and we will stay fighting.  We must.
Then out spake brave Horatius,
          The Captain of the Gate:
     "To every man upon this earth
          Death cometh soon or late.
     And how can man die better
          Than facing fearful odds,
     For the ashes of his fathers,
          And the temples of his gods.”
Diarmuid O'Flynn.