Loose thread of the Week
“Deputy Pearse Doherty: To ask the Taoiseach if he will confirm the discussions he had at the recent Davos summit with respect to investment in Myanmar, Burma; the persons with whom he had discussions; the nature of these discussions; if he has committed to deliver any assistance to any party in respect of communications investment in Myanmar.
An Taoiseach: The opening up of Myanmar and prospects for development and investment there is an important global theme, which arose in various discussions in Davos. It is also part of the Government’s ongoing consideration of international opportunities for trade and investment for Ireland. Last year’s visit to Ireland by Aung San Suu Kyi was a signal of the important and positive reforms being made by the Myanmar government. These reforms should be welcomed as key building blocks to improved international relations.
I did not make any commitment to deliver assistance to any party in respect of communications investment in Myanmar.”[ends]
This week in the Dail, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny was questioned about the nugget unearthed in his rambling answers the previous week, that he had discussions at the recent Davos summit about investment in Myanmar (Burma) where Denis O’Brien just happens to be presently pressing his efforts to get a slice of what should be an immensely lucrative mobile phone market. This week, Enda was specifically asked with whom he had discussions, and his response signally omits any names, he merely refers to “various discussions”. There is a reference to that nice lady, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. There is no reference to Denis O’Brien.
Mystery of the Week
“The Irish Times’ has readership of 321,000 as figures climb 4%” – Irish Times headline 14th February, 2013
“Sales of The Irish Times fell 8.1 per cent in July-December 2012 compared with the same period in 2011. The newspaper’s print circulation is 88,356, a drop of 7,794 copies.” – from an Irish Times article 22nd February, 2013
According to the Irish-based Joint National Readership Survey, readership of newspapers – and in this sense “newspapers” means actual newspapers and excludes online or iPads or suchlike – the readership of the Irish Times in 2012 was up a modest-yet-respectable 4%, compared with 2011.
According to the British-based newspaper sales audit company, ABC, sales ofIrish Times newspapers were down 8%. So what’s happening? Apparently, each newspaper is being read by 13% more people. Or the independent ABC group has gotten its figures wrong. Or the JNRS survey is bollocks.
Where’s the Beef of the Week
There appears to be almost a news blackout in Ireland – do we have the British equivalent on K-Notices in this State – on the horse meat scandal. Food giant, Birds Eye became the latest international company to “discover” horse meat in its products – note, the discovery was not by any food agency but by the company itself. Birds Eye has withdrawn a range of processed beef foods including chili con carne, pies and Bolognese “purely as a precaution”. The company claims that there is no health risk. In the UK, the boss at Iceland frozen goods stores , Malcolm Walker dismissed our food testing, saying “well, that’s the Irish, isn’t it”. Yesterday, a Tipperary firm was found exporting horse meat to the Czech Republic labeled as “hovezi” or beef in Czech.
At least it is now clear that it isn’t just the furriners who have been flogging horsemeat, and we the mystery of Ireland’s missing horses might be closer to being solved.
But how long though before we accept that it isn’t just a “labeling” issue and that organized crime couldn’t give two hoots about using diseased, out-of-date horse meat stuffed to the gills with medicines like “bute” which are harmful to humans?
There should be a particularly heavy-handed response to the scandal in Ireland because it has damaged our world-leading reputation as a provider of foods, and particularly beef. And yet, our agriculture minister Simon Coveney blithely floats through the scandal, obsessively focused on maintaining consumer confidence at all costs.
A Man’s Home is his Castle of the Week
I wonder what property columnists did in medieval times – “Castle such-and-such boasts a top-notch dungeon for all your torturing needs as well as a couple of gravity dunnies”, perhaps – but these days, property columnists can get very bitchy indeed. Take NAMAed developer, Paul Neil and NAMA’s sale of his Quintin Castle in county Down. Fionala Meredith in the Irish Times admits that it has “an impressive elongated frontage” but goes on to say “but is just rooms deep”. It must have been very disappointing to Fionala to discover “when you walk through the heavy oak double doors and discover something more akin to a holiday rental home with pretensions. Cheap, ugly fittings, grandiose modern features and a series of lurid paint-jobs (the oxblood-red billiard room is positively sinister) distract and diminish the place.And whoever decided it was a grand idea to render the seaward side of the castle, slapping a layer of weatherproof cement on the beautiful original stones, will surely have horrified the ancient ghost of John de Courcy.”
Bad enough to be in NAMA, worse to have your castle practically repossessed but now this…
New political party of the Week
“People for Profit”
Last weekend, an impressive “counter” summit was organized by a range of left wing parties in Dublin to discuss issues of the day. It was “counter” to the series of EU summits being hosted by Ireland during our six-month presidency. Poor Richard Boyd Barrett, the socialist TD for Dun Laoghaire who was formerly to the fore of “People before Profit” was labeled in the schedule as belonging to what must be a new party “People for Profit”. Now was this a genuine mistake, or is Richard no longer considered Left enough?
Media Winner of the Week
The Independent group of newspapers was reported this week to be introducing a new grandly-titled “charter” which would put a stop to being beastly to certain individuals. Whilst many might have suspected that the new clause in the “charter” – shown here
“Sustained or repeated adversarial editorial material concerning individuals or organisations will only be maintained on the basis of justification in the public interest with the written approval of the managing editor”
– might have been for the benefit of a certain person against whom adverse findings were made in the Moriarty Tribunal, the more likely explanation must surely be the change in stance of the newspaper group towards Sinn Fein. Under the new “charter” we won’t be hearing any negative stories about Gerry and his Teddy and his tweets – shure, what public interest justification would there be in that? And nothing about his operations, his cottage, his mortgage or his family.
Economist of the Week
“Our politically contrived links with the economic wasteland which is the Republic of Ireland is one of the primary reasons why we are lagging behind the UK.” Jim Allister in statement this week.
This was the week when unemployment in Northern Ireland edged up by 0.2% to 7.8%, still a considerable ways off the 14.6% that scourges us on this side of the Border. This was also the week when the Northern Ireland residential property crash was confirmed as the world’s worst (probably).
And who ya gonna blame?
Well, Jim Allister – pictured above – the leading light in Traditional Unionist Voice and sole TUV member of the 108 seat Stormont Assembly, blames us.
Christian name of the Week
Remember Mike Aynsley, the Aussie former CEO of Anglo/IBRC?
He oftentimes signs his name as AMR Aynsley.
And during the week, whilst sifting through company documents, I found out what “AMR” stands for
Arthur Michael Royal Aynsley
Yes, Royal Aynsley!
How on earth did we fail to discover this previously, and now that he has been set free after getting the boot from IBRC, will we ever be able to use it.
Old media death rattle of the Week
This was the week we learned that old media newspaper sales declined by nearly 10% in 2012. As for new media, now we’re the “blog fog”, says the Irish Times editor Kevin O’Sullivan – actually he said it almost a year ago when the Irish Times introduced a new format – a new format in which there was not a screed of evidence that one extra cent had been sunk into improving the quality of the underlying news, comment or analysis but I only came across the term “blog fog” in this month’s edition of “Village” where journalist Gerard Cunningham reviews the state of the Irish Times.
So at the risk of being accused of displaying esprit de l’escalier, here’s the responding sum-up of the old print media – “Press mess”. They don’t know what their business model is – the Independent’s was supposed to maximize audience for advertisers but now their current stories won’t even be thrown up in a Google search. The Irish Times transferred their outstanding financial journalist Simon Carswell to the United States, AFTER the re-election of Barack Obama and there is atrocious non-Paper of Record coverage of a key phase in the Irish banking crisis where we’re flogging off expensively-bought assets. The Sunday Business Post gets lighter and lighter each week, and you can generally catch many of the stories on here, on CoStar or Property Week before you’ll read them in the Post. The Daily Business Post is actually quite good but what is it for? Journalists contributing their work to a free platform without advertising. The UK papers are doing better but is anyone fooled by their core of UK news with a few local Irish snippets tacked on as an afterthought around the edges. “Press mess” indeed.
Sorry of the Week
“It would be easy to explain away all that happened and all we did with those great moral and social salves of “the culture back then”, “the order of the day” and “the terrible times that were in it”By any standards it was a cruel, pitiless Ireland distinctly lacking in a quality of mercy That much is clear, both from the pages of the report, and from the stories of the women I met As I sat with these women as they told their stories it was clear that while every woman’s story was different each of them shared a particular experience of a particular Ireland that was judgmental, intolerant, petty and prim” An Taoiseach Enda Kenny fighting back tears in the Dail as he apologized to the victims of the Magdalen laundries. An expert report to examine recompense for the victims has been commissioned from retired High Court judge, John Quirke and his terms of reference are here.
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