Archive for March 17th, 2013

It’s SO unfair of the Week


It seems most of us weren’t very impressed with the handwringing of the Independent TD Luke “Ming” Flanagan, who seemed to be suggesting that in one of the instances of his quashed penalty points, that he was enticed into writing a begging letter to the Gardai, all at the behest of a Garda sergeant. But records provided on here this week show that waaaay back in 1822 another Luke Flanagan , also from  county Roscommon was sentenced to transportation to Australia for the serious crime of “highway robbery” Seems like 1822 Luke Flanagan also found the whole thing unfair “Convict states that they were prosecuted out if revenge”

Video of the Week

The “Current Affairs” part of “RTE News and Current Affairs” goes from bad to irrelevant. Here, Al Jazeera (!) carries a short special report on the sale of forestry rights at Coillte – “This is the only country in the developed world that is selling its forestry rights. It’s not even that the country is going to get rich out of it. Selling off the harvesting rights here for 80 years will net this country the equivalent of three weeks loan interest on the national debt. Ministers here won’t talk to us about this”

Image of the Week


The BBC Spotlight special aired on 5th March 2013 might become best remembered for its coverage of Ossory Meats, the company that has finally be closed down by the Department of Agriculture but the programme makers themselves seem very proud in having discovered “Chrissie” the horse whose passport suggests she is dead. “Chrissie” points to the conspiracy of having passports switched so that unhealthy horses are slaughtered with clean passports. You can still see the 40-minute BBC Spotlight programme in three parts on Youtube here. In addition to imparting hard news, it had some art to it, the above still is taken from the programme and shows a horse in silhouette peeping through a broken window. It seems the ghost of horses have returned and we are finally getting some truth on part of the chain in the horse meat scandal.

Despite the publication of the report by the Department of Agriculture during the week, we are still waiting to find out what communication it had received which alerted it to problems with passports. An insider claimed to the BBC that he had been told by the Department of Agriculture that “the mess would clean itself”. Did that exchange take place and when.

New Take on St Patrick of the Week


Belfast has been through a lot in the past year, especially after the flegs troubles, but there is an opportunity this weekend for the city to let its hair down for a four day party which kicked off yesterday. For the first time, Belfast City Council has organized four days of events which have the potential to put a smile on everyone’s face, with free concerns, parades and entertainment. Belfast colleges have however closed for the weekend, following drunken scenes of unruly students making a nuisance of themselves last year. Colleges have warned students this year to behave themselves, lest they face sanctions when the colleges open next week. There’s a new US organization “Sober © St Patrick’s Day” which is promoting an alcohol-free alternative to the drinking fest that sometimes gets carried away. Apparently they’ve trade-marked the name. Which is ambitious.


Newspaper of the Week


We learned during the week that it costs 20c an issue to print, seemingly. That’s just for the paper and applying the ink. There’s distribution afterwards and there is everything from journalism to ad sales beforehand.

There is widespread consensus that the Sunday Business Post published a corker of an edition last Sunday, the first since it entered examinership. This week, the examinership was confirmed, meaning the newspaper has just three months to find a solution to its financial difficulties. It seems that eight potential buyers have emerged, and these presumably include the four widely reported last weekend: Landmark, the company which has already taken over the rump of what was Thomas Crosbie Holdings, a consortium involving activist and entrepreneur Declan Ganley, John Moulton, the UK turnaround specialist whose company Better Capital is understood to be bidding and Setanta TV’s Michael O’Rourke. The identity of the four others hasn’t been published yet.

The newspaper hasn’t made an operating profit since 2007, so it is high time for financial intervention. The brand is good, the journalism is good though in recent months it has had a threadbare look to it.  The news that the company has 76 employees and 120 contributors will surprise some who will see this as obese. The Sunday Tribune, which was admittedly a lesser publication, employed 44 before its demise in February 2011 though at that stage it was lifting stories from the UK’s Property Week with gay abandon, if not abundant accreditation.


SMART Objective of the Week


I believe that the Central Bank believes that the announcements this week on the mortgage crisis represent a step-change in approach to what president Clinton has called the number one economic challenge facing this country – something he said in October 2011, since then the problem has gotten 50% worse.

But the announcements this week still look flaky and the objectives don’t look very SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timebound. Who precisely will decide if a proposed solution is “sustainable”? There was no reference to disposable income or assets in the context of “sustainable” solutions. The view remains on here that the single greatest improvement will be the enactment of a proper bankruptcy regime which at least gives to the borrower the ultimate trigger of declaring themselves bankrupt. Until we have that, we are tinkering at the edges. We are still waiting on justice minister Alan Shatter to introduce the Personal Insolvency Act 2012, at present it is an Act signed by the President but whose provisions are mostly inactive.

Chutzpah of the Week

The Mercer expert report on banking pay and perks, which has been in the works since last June 2012 and which has cost €120,000 to produce, was finally published this week. It showed that our friends in the banking sector have seen their salaries growing nicely since the onset of the financial crisis, though the cutting of bonuses was also starkly observed.


We saw that salaries in Irish banks were towards the top end of the scale with few salaries at the bottom compared with European banks. We also saw that in 2012, pay increases tended to be at the top end of the scale of increases across Europe. With 290,000 public sector employees now facing pay cuts, these increases will not be well-received.


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