Attempted Handbagging of the Week
“He’s popular with women of a certain age” Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar on Matt Cooper’s Today FM radio programme, responding to actor Gabriel Byrne’s assessment of The Gathering 2013. Minister Varadkar is pictured below – left! That’s his photograph on his Department’s website – we paid €393.25 for that photograph by the way.
Have people not got better things to be doing of the Week
Yesterday the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) issued its periodic report of complaints received by the public in respect of television and radio broadcasts. Five complaints involving programmes broadcast since June 2012 attracted complaints and four of these related to the “Psychic Readings Live” programme on TV3 where on-air fortune- tellers respond to members of the public who call in on premium telephone lines. One complaint was :
Questions from callers such as: ‘….is my life going in a certain direction?’ “Can I keep my home?”, “will [I] marry my partner, or not” and “Will I have more children?” In each case, the complainant states that they psychic replied with a definitive ‘yes’ response and it was not evident that the views offered were the opinion of the presenter.
Reminds me of “Phoenix Nights” where a fortune teller offers to answer two questions for a fiver, and when the punter asks if that isn’t very expensive, the response is, “it is luv, and what’s your second question”
So, apparently TV3 fortune-tellers respond to questions as follows
“Is my life going in a certain direction” Yes!
“will [I] marry my partner, or not” Yes!
What the BAI hasn’t done this week is produce a re-assessment following developments at Independent News and Media where the BAI expressed itself satisfied in July 2012 that “Mr. O’Brien does not control IN&M. Rather he has a substantial interest in the Company, as that term is defined in the Policy. In this regard, the Authority was not obliged to review Mr. O’Brien’s interests in the context of an undue amount of communications media “ Since July 2012 there have been further developments including the appointment of a Denis O’Brien ally to the role of chairman at IN&M, and at the end of August 2012, the BAI wrote to Denis O’Brien’s Communicorp giving it 60 days to advise of changes in the nature of control at IN&M – those 60 days expired a fortnight ago, and we’re still awaiting a re-assessment from the BAI.
Volte-Face of the Week
It took less than 10 days for the Irish judiciary to do a 180-degree turn on whether or not the Government had unlawfully spent public money in promoting one side over another in the Childrens Referendum which is being held today. The contrast in the decisions is striking.
“I regard the defendant’s television, radio and print media advertisements as particularly inoffensive. These ads could not be interpreted as swaying voters in any way other than encouraging voters to vote. All three advertisements contain the words “The Children’s Referendum on Saturday November 10th will give the people of Ireland the opportunity to decide about the place of Children in our Constitution” and “It’s all about them… but it’s up to you!”. There is no objective construction of these sound bites to interpret them as advocating a Yes vote…Having considered all of the evidence and legal arguments put before me, I am satisfied that the campaign run by the defendants contains material which is neutral, balanced and has the primary aim of informing the public about the forthcoming referendum. I do not find that the defendant’s campaign can be said to plainly favour a particular outcome so that it is unconstitutional or wrongful. I therefore refuse the various reliefs as sought by the plaintiff.” High Court judgment in Childrens Referendum challenge 1st November 2012
“The Court has concluded that it is clear that there are extensive passages in the booklet and on the website which do not conform to the McKenna principles. This material includes a misstatement, now admitted to be such, as to the effect of the Referendum.” Supreme Court judgment on appeal in Childrens Referendum challenge 8th November 2012
Polling stations are open until 10pm today. The betting is that the “Yes” side will win. And the betting on here is that the result will be challenged in the courts following the Supreme Court decision. For what little it’s worth, the position on here is to support a “Yes” vote and in the interests of balance, here’s the only “No” poster I have seen in the country.
Economic Outlook of the Week
During the week, the European Commission published its Autumn 2012 forecast for EU27 countries and we weren’t very surprised to find out that our prospects – shown above – have deteriorated with the 2012 outlook for real GDP trimmed from 0.5% to 0.4% but 2013 was downgraded from 1.9% to 1.1% and debt:GDP in 2013 is now forecast to be 122.5% compared with 120.2% previously. Forecasts come and go, but it was a sober reminder that we are not out of the woods yet. This was the previous forecast from the European Commission for Spring 2012.
Image of the Week
Actor and former Culture Ambassador Gabriel Byrne’s fresh and countercultural take on The Gathering 2013, accusing it of being a shamelessly-commercial sham aimed at fleecing Burberry-clad Yanks whilst at the same time, Ireland “didn’t a shit” about the Disapora including the plight of those Irish working illegally in Ireland. His words struck an authentic chord with some, and inspired the brilliant Japlandic who produced not one, but two images of the week
(Graphics above produced by Japlandic.com, contact here)
Irony of the Week
On Thursday this week, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny was in Berlin to accept a statuette from a German media association after being named “European of the Year 2012”. The optics just look all wrong in the context of an uncertain bank debt deal, and Germany now presenting us with a new hoop to jump through where we have to demonstrate our uniqueness. But when you consider that Thursday was also the day when the utterly bust and zombified Anglo, or IBRC, paid €24m to bondholders, some or a majority of which commonly believed to have been paid to German banks. €24m will buy you a lot of kitschy statuettes. Or home help hours.
Press Office of the Week
Fianna Fail spokesperson Michael McGrath seemed to get 100% of the credit in the mainstream media for exposing pay levels at IBRC during the week. And well done to him for setting down two parliamentary questions on the matter. Just a little odd that the Sinn Fein finance spokesperson’s questions which were similar though more numerous, more detailed and more expansive, were completely ignored despite the fact that they were released before Deputy McGrath’s – there was a blogpost on here at 7pm on Wednesday, two hours before RTE first carried the story on IBRC “renumeration”. Strange that, but well done to the Fiann Fail press office.
Table of the Week
Despite the Supreme Court decision yesterday which held that the Government had “wrongly” used funds to influence a “Yes” outcome at today’s Childrens Referendum, it seems the Referendum is going ahead unaffected by the judgment. So, for those of you visiting polling stations and count centres today, you might be interested in how much all these people hanging around looking official are getting for the day. A response to a parliamentary question this week revealed that in 2011, the pay rates for those involved in the General Election 2011 were paid €22-35 per hour and those involved received between €262-557 for their efforts.
And how do you get yourself in on this gravy train? Apparently it comes down to the local returning officer to employ appropriate people but for this Referendum today, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin instructed returning officers to employ unemployed people “where practicable” and given there are 434,000 on the Live Register, it should be very “practicable” to employ an unemployed person.