Scandals aren’t what they use to be

Is it just me, or are Irish scandals getting more boring by the day.

Take the National Aquatic Centre caper– what was that all about? I know I should know but could you be bothered?

So European procurement procedures might have been broken. Everything might not have happened in the right order.

But it wasn’t a scam. It was just a mess. Yet it dominated the media for two weeks as if the entire cabinet had been found in bed with a sheep.

Is this the future? Are we doomed to boring politics and scandals.

Although I lived in Britain for a few years, I have always found Irish politics more interesting.

We argued about the fundamental things. About the right to life in the abortion debates. About contraceptives. About divorce. About homosexuality. We had the national question and a small war going on. We had the nuclear row. We argued about El Salvador and Nicaragua. We had Charlie and Garrett. It was all so elemental.

The British argued about interest rates. Ah, good night.

What about us – back to the weather?

As Well As That. . .

We need a new politics

What is wrong here is that ideology is dead. The only spark on the horizon is the anti-globalisation protests.

What a relief! The sight of young people out on the streets confronting the status quo is extremely heartening. Of course, the odd lunatic drags themselves along for a scrap but you’ll have that.

But the fact is that the protesters have the big institutions on the run – the IMF, the World Bank, the G8, and so on. All the disciples of free market economics, who go on insisting on privatisation and spending cuts even as the recipients of their wisdom are ground into the earth.

Let’s face it. Capitalism has the run of this planet. It is utterly rampant. If it is such a good economic system for the whole of humanity how come 40,000 people a day die of hunger? How come a billion people live on less than a dollar a day?

Almost every poor country in the world has been forced by western-backed economists to sell off state assets and adopt free-market economics.

But this is not how the west developed. The Irish State provided the backbone of development in this country. Education, roads, power, training, factories, telecommunications, transport – practically every resource was organised by the state.

But the poor countries are forced to sell off the family silver to gangsters, wealthy elites and western-based corporations.

Oh yes, we are doing well out of capitalism. But would we be doing so well if we weren’t robbing the poor of this world left, right and centre?

There must be a better way.

Celebrities are the opium of the people

I despise celebrity culture. I want to puke when I see Hello magazine. I despair that 150 years of education seems to have ended up in the tabloid newspapers.

(Yes, editor, I know that we are a tabloid paper but I am talking about the content not just the size. Please keep me on.)

It’s the sheer deluge of mind-numbing drivel and trivia based around the lives of the rich and famous that baffles me. I just don’t get it. Why do people want to know about Noel Gallagher or Posh Spice or what the Duchess of Leeds is wearing?


What’s it to them? Why does it matter? What difference does it make? Isn’t there something useful they could be thinking about?

I know, I know. Maybe I’m just a tight-arse.

The Flat Earth Society

Maybe I should lighten up.

A few years back there was a letter in the Irish Times purporting to come from the Flat Earth Society. I was the editor of 46A Magazine based in Dun Laoghaire and the letter was from somewhere in Glenageary.

“Jaysus”, I said to myself. “I’ll find the Flat-Earthers and interview the nutters for the magazine.”

I made exhaustive enquiries to The Irish Times (they weren’t much help, the miserable gits) but I couldn’t unearth, so to speak, the Flat-Earthers.

One night I was having a jar with a friend from the area and I mentioned my search to her. She nearly fell off the stool laughing.

“That was my brother and a couple of his mates taking the piss,” she said. “Did you believe there was a Flat Earth Society?”

What can you say?