Citizen Journalism Ireland: Published articles on different topics 2009 year. Revised 2020. 10 headings 6,600 words Tranche (B)

No. 1

24th August 2009

Economic and Social history origins


Yes, there is recession, even depression, but at grass roots level and by forming communities we can halt the decay that is already so visible.

I was talking to someone who had been over around the Meath Street, Francis Street, Thomas Street, Dublin City area a.m. and all they could say, was that an area which has a rich (even if impoverished history) is visibly showing the signs of the recession. Shops are closing, money is scarce and this makes it a hunting ground for petty thieves, burglaries etc. This does not have to be the outcome. We have learnt too much from previous times in our City of Dublin.

Libraries and bookshops are great havens to look up and study the history of our country and our people. Most libraries provide computers at no charge and if the librarian is keen, well they will show you how to link up.

A random choice of book in a Dublin bookshop gave me great insight to a part of our history that has been wiped away. The book was written by Mary Daly on the population decline and an Independent Ireland 1920-1973. Previously in another book shop I had heard a man explain about the Congested Districts Board and how so many Irish people who worked towards the creation of the new independent Ireland had their works submerged by the new elites, which in 1920 of course, was Cumann Na Gaedheal, De Valera’s party only gained power in 1932.

What I find fascinating about history is the formation of patterns and more so the patterns that tend to repeat themselves, mainly because of the impact of economics and financial markets, the commodities market, even the price of gold or oil.

We are all alert to NAMA (and the NTMA that is in the process of being established. The offices have been chosen at Treasury Holdings near the old Bolands Mills site. The website is worth a look because it shows the structure of what NAMA/NTMA will be and how it will best implement buying back toxic debts from the many developers standing shame faced at present. They are not alone because the banks play a very strategic role in lending funds way above the asset values of the securities.

Back to history. I found out this interesting bit of history in the book mentioned above. It was about the Irish Land Commission There was a problem at the time of the formation of the State (not like now) with serious depopulation of our rural areas. The decline in population forced the Government to intervene. However, what we fail to recognise is that there was a body at work known as the Congested District Board whose function was to transfer land from the “Landlord class” to the occupying tenants. The British established the Congested Districts Board in 1903 whose function was to purchase large tracts of land in the western counties. The concept is not too far removed from that initiated by Bacon and associates and proposed establishment of NAMA. The problem that the Congested District Board encountered was that the quantity of land was always insufficient. At the onset of the 1st World War, the British ended the function of the Congested District Board.

Ireland, paved a path towards independence with the view of a group of nationalists that England’s misfortune, is Ireland’s opportunity….There was the Rising by a relatively small group of men and execution of the 1916 Leaders…..At the time of the 1st Dail in 1919 there was an urgent need to curb social unrest and land hunger was top priority. Land Courts were devised to determine priorities for land re-distribution and similar I suppose to NAMA; a Land National Bank financed the creation of 35 co-ops i.e. Land Societies (this did not in fact work out with a fall-out within a few years).

When the Government of the Free State came to power in 1923 it completely abolished the Congested District’s board and by consequence a lot of work done by others appointed since 1903. The aim was to reform the Land Commission. The need was to access land by small payments so that it could be re-distributed to the declining population in our rural locations. Farms were divided and sub-divided. By 1934, the government was again under pressure and had to give a further undertaking to create as many as 4,000 holdings. Again, the Land Commission was unable to meet this target.

Between 1931 and 1949 (Ireland had opted for Neutral position WW2), the number of agriculture holdings had fallen by 17,000 while the Land Commission had taken over 2,700 farms and subdivided them into as many as 12,000 holdings at avg 21 acres per holding.

This forms the foundation of our State and Independence. It concerned the movement of capital assets i.e. land from one minority group of people to a majority. It is a similar approach to that taken by President Mugabe in Zimbabwe. We witness the discontent that exists in that country. It is true to say that we in Ireland had a more favourable transition i.e. until now.

I suppose what I am trying to say is that we moved from individuals in one minority moving to the Irish Sweepstakes, Celtic Tiger, minority in less than 100 years. What have we learnt and how can we survive without embracing social unrest.

NAMA/NTMA are faced with a challenge. The banks have built up a stock of toxic assets that are supposed backed by adequate securities by the developers who took out the loans in the first instance. Meantime, there has been a world financial crisis and the ripples have spread risk far and wide.  What we don’t know is will this turbulence cease soon or will we face a decade or more of depression? What we can do is remain alert to world market movements and Hope.  Meantime, it is up to us to become more forcused on anti-corruption, fraud, and seeking out those who have blatantly abused the power of trust over people and send them to prison.

Look to Exxon in the US.  Corruption is a most serious crime against the State. The time for change is upon us. UBS Switzerland in a landmark decision in the UK  and they have to reveal the details of as many as 5,000 account holders who are deemed to be evading tax.

Dale Carnegie ‘Look to the day For yesterday is but a dream and tomorrow is only a vision. Today well lived is a dream of happiness.

Michelle Clarke


No. 2

1st September 2009

Will the Lisbon Treaty foresake
our cultural standing in the Community?


‘Divorce in Ireland and a keen solicitor will advise you about the second bite of the cherry? Well what is the position of Irish citizens to the Lisbon Treaty, yes a replay of the referendum held last year when the vote of the Irish people was No.

I note with interest a letter written to Geraldine Kennedy, Irish Times, written by Anthony Couglan, Senior Lecturer Emeritus in Social Policy, TCD, who is also President of the Foundation for EU Democracy, Brussels and a director of the National Platform EU Research and Information Centre.

The word that catches my attention most is ‘Social Policy’.

If the Ireland of today was to be compared to the Rome of Nero’s era, it would be summed up as ‘Fiddlers! (Nero), while Dublin and its environs burns’. Too much corruption, I would suggest and a lack of sanctions by Tribunals, too fat from fees.

Mr. Coughlan, has given considerable time to the Lisbon Treaty and the forthcoming referendum. He refers to the Crotty case in 1987 on the Single European Act … from which the current referendum Act is derived.

Question to Editor, Irish Times from Mr. Coughlan

Last October, ‘on exactly the same Treaty as is being presented to them again in the 2nd October re-run’ – is there a scent of discrimination to No side advocates and media coverage?

If so, is this democratic?

Also:- What is the real truth about the Treaty and is Ireland the only representative to be voting on such an important Treaty and it what it entails. The question is: Is this a proposal to make 500 million Europeans into ‘real citizens of the legally new Federal-type European Union which the “Lisbon Constitution” would establish.

Mr. Coughlan raises 5 more points.

Question 1

‘Are people happy to be made real rather than symbolic citizens of a post-Lisbon Federal European Europe which for the first time would be constitutionally separate from and superior to its Member States, with a new EU Constitution, with the new EU’s Constitution having primacy over the Irish Constitution’

Personally, I would find this difficult to accept. The Peace Process 1998, the Unity of Ireland and the dream, the place of Ireland as a “Peacemaker” in the world, stand economically challenged. The experience of the Peace Process must have a worth versus the demograpic option assuaged by the Lisbon Treaty.

I agree with Mr. Coughlan. A citizen is a member of a State and in our case in Ireland, we are citizens of Ireland. Post Lisbon could change this.

Question 2

Could it possibly be in Ireland’s best interest that post Lisbon Union that European law-making ought to be based on population size? Do we realise that Germany’s vote would increase to 17%. Let us recall the significance of the decision of the Irish people in 1973 to join the EEC, France, Germany, Britain and Italy had 10 votes each and Ireland had 10 votes. The ratio was 3:1 Today the Big States have 29 votes each and Ireland has 7 – a ratio of 4:1

I ask why would we want to dilute our powers? Does life experience not count for something? We have become a training ground for many europeans who have come to Ireland to work, study and learn English since 1973. Surely this counts?

Question 3

Can it be in Ireland’s best interest to lose the right as to who would represent us in Europe?  More importantly the right to make that decision. We would lose out on an option to propose laws.

Question 4

‘Lisbon would abolish the national veto which we have at present in 30 policy areas by handing over to the EU the power to make laws binding on us with regard to public services, policing, crime, justice, the harmonisation of legal procedures, immigration, transport, tourism, sport, culture, public health?

This really is pertinent. What areas would we be left with so that our own policy machine, our system of the Rule of Law, the Separation of Powers would have precedent. We need to review our history from Independence to date and feel confident that an abrogation of such power is fully acceptable to the people of Ireland and this means the Island of Ireland.

Question 5

This raises a most interesting view. It say’s – it will not be the end of the world if Lisbon is not voted in. If we vote No – interestingly it stands that the Czechs and the Polish will not ratify the Treaty.

This again is interesting. Is it not so that Ireland has been a second home to both the Czech and Polish citizens during the period of the Celtic Tiger. I must add this was greatly assisted by Ryanair and the initiative of Mr. Michael O’Leary for a no frills service to European destinations. It also could be the case that Germany may not have ratified the Treaty before the Irish vote.

Have you further views on this NO position. This is about the real nucleus of what we the Irish (members since 1973 albeit not the most populated country)?

Simplistically, imagine you are a board member of a large public company, and a merger or take-over is decided upon. Let us assume you are a director and your place is secured in the take over as director. What then if you were to be demoted to say management level with no real input. What if you had dedicated years of work, experience, capital etc. to the company taken over……..! (Imagine Ryanair) and Mr. O’Leary’s entrepreneurial abilities!

Michelle Clarke


Liveline, RTE

No. 3

3rd September 2009

Today September 2nd 2009, at approximately 2.15 p.m. RTE  Liveline, Damian O’Reilly, the presenter, could hardly contain his emotion, one could feel his voice trembling.

Across the Island of Ireland, young couples phoned in, viz a viz nannies, and mums, suffering from conditions such as alzheimers.  As one woman put it, ‘I stay in bed awake into the early hours wondering about my mum – is she okay in the bedroom next door – I don’t have any help from a nurse or a health board.  My children suffer the pain of watching their nanny stand before us with her pants down and excrement on her hands’.  This is the hidden reality of modern Ireland today and Sinn Fein are not in tune with the ordinary people on the ground.

Other stories covered the costs between euros 4,000 approx. per month to maintain loved ones in a nursing home and shortly with the cut backs the relief fund will no longer exist.  One woman in tears, on today’s Radio, said, in her own words, ‘I stood crying over my mother’s grave, her name was Catherine, I am glad she has died because now I will try and pay back the debt I am in, the funds paid being nursing home fees.  People say that a Nation is judged on how they treat their vulnerable and elderly, well Shame on Ireland, Shame on our Government, Shame on the Opposition, and above all Shame on the Medical Profession and others in the HSE who try to hide the growing numbers of people left to such horrid predicaments.

John O’Donoghue, FF, Leader of the House, now a disgraced TD, in anyone’s moral opinion could spend euros 562,000 on expenses for the last two years, on private jets, chauffeurs, limousines and top hotels.  It has now in the last 24 hours emerged that he went to a conference on poverty and his hotel costs per night was euros 1,100.  But tonight, I am putting the question to Sinn Fein who seem to be stuck in a quandary of no direction and above all no leadership and I am going to now outline why:-

A friend of mine phoned your office today.  He tried to highlight what was spoken about on RTE 1 and the pain of the people phoning in.  The reply he received from the secretary/assistant was cold, calculated and completely indifferent.  ‘I will pass on the message, Goodbye’.

Sinn Fein held a conference in Navan, Co. Meath, last month.  The Dogs in the Street know that there are problems – there is no interaction, there is no feedback and it took Martin Ferris’s daughter to scream ‘Stop – where are we going as a party?’.   Adams may know Northern politics but let us get real here.  There is a major difference between that and Southern life.  Tonight I ask the question – Why the Indifference?  I am a member of a group of people – 365,000 majority in Dublin (Disabilities).  If Mary Lou had got one tenth of their vote, she would be an MEP now but as always Sinn Fein don’t respond to letters or emails.  So Good Luck to you. 

Keep on going the way you are going Caoimhin and I predict if there was to be an election in the morning, your seats in Dail Eireann would be halved sadly.

Now all I ask is – Stop the Greed.  Stop Money, Money, Money.  People have asked me in cafes and hotels – anytime I try to access Sinn Fein, I need to sign up and in certain cases pay a fee.  Get back to the grassroots among the people and get a prescription of honest Common Sense.


Michelle Clarke



3rd September 2009

No. 4
Imagine The Mayor of London Boris Johnson is meeting
Charlie McCreevey

Well, it is the truth. Yes, there will be an exchange. Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, is campaigning against tighter financial regulations on hedge funds and private equity funds by the EU and certain directives. This will make for an interesting exchange. My hope is that those in NAMA, the Department of Finance here in Ireland, the Yes Votes, the No votes, will take time to listen to their exchange.

The world is about Finance and financial markets need to be monitored, sometimes cushioned, sometimes they need more regulation and in cases like over the last number of years, the pattern was governed by Globalisation and for this free flow of funds, the fact is de-regulation had to be engaged in.

What is important for the Irish people to realise is that ‘we don’t want to throw out the baby with the bath water’. We need to listen, to hear, and even piggy back on the experience of others.

Boris Johnson was the Daily Telegraph’s correspondent in Brussels from 1989 – 1994 and he was colourful in his reporting. Do you recall the headline ‘Threat to British pink sausages’. He kept the headlines going making people aware that the EU could become a massive super-state capable of smoothering Britain with copious directives of no relevance.

Remember the Institutions of the EU were also subject to fraud, nepotism and mismanagement. In fact, the Commission had to resign in 1999.

In Ireland, we like to blame and criticise but sometimes we need to accept that others know a little more than us and are ultimately acting in the best interests of the overall purpose.

We await the news from the meeting with Mr. McCreevy… Again….Lisbon II, will remove Ireland as an EC Commissioner in the top tier. Is this equitable based on the argument of demographics as distinct from our vast experience?

Michelle Clarke
No 5
3rd September 2009
Curb the Bureacracy is the first priority
before taking a 2nd vote on Lisbon

No to Lisbon

NO Again

The sentiment is high at present in Ireland. FF ratings are lower than ever and people are beginning to think, for the first time in a long time, about our country and where we stand in relation to the EU and the world in general.

They have told us that we are moving forward towards a ‘Knowledge Economy’ so let us embrace the notion and set up the necessary “think tanks” to secure our basic needs. We need to look to Broadband first, we need to look to the speed of broadband and the coverage we were promised and which now is an “if” and a “maybe”. Broadband is part of Ireland’s ‘Finery’ of the present, it is the marketing of our Knowledge economy, with a worldwide audience to be tapped into. It is the language of our young people but more importantly of our life-long learners. This is where we have arrived at in Ireland. We have moved to the new brigade of life-long learners and the time has come to promote it. We also need to take account of the input of people with disabilities to our Society. No longer can we stereotype people, we just have to listen to programmes on RTE like “Outside the Box” or “Mind Matters” to see how we have penetrated new sources of ideas and direction.

There is another group of people we need to note. If you read the EU literature you will find the group called the”Intergenerational” people. Yes, people are living longer, people are having children later in life but demographics have identified a problem of a sandwich group of people caught in the middle of both minding parents and minding children. Gerontology studies are now being carried out in the leading Universities worldwide and even here in Ireland (between Trinity College and St. James’s Hospital. All of this leads to a generative group of people staving off old age and promotion of greater activity between generations.

No Again…..We must look to the advantages also of EU membership and a lot of work has been done for socially excluded groups of people as above. However, this does not take away from ‘the gravy train mentality’ and the burdensome ineffective and wasteful bureaucracy that has built up at the EC over the last 40 years.

EU as with other bodies are highly focused on the word standardisation. Perhaps now, more than ever, after the hectic Celtic Tiger, we need to become more aware of those who wish to impose ‘standards’. We have a banking crisis but we also must acknowledge that inspite of deregulation we in Southern Ireland have benefited for nearly two decades from the incentivised banking that was part of the Tax break system. Ok I agree, that the problem is that rather than lessen the social divide, we may have deepened it but then the answer to this will only come from future research.

What we have is NOW and what we need to do is to embrace the knowledge economy and read books recently recommended by say Vincent Browne and others (e.g. The Spirit Level, or Putnam Bowling Alone). There are answers.

No 6

6th September, 2009

The Greens…Mary Harney PD…
Synergy and Connectivity and the proposed YES vote for the Lisbon Treaty


There is no harm in taking a quick skip and jump through this site before you finally decide to vote on the Lisbon Treaty. Yes, the Treaty, we the citizens of the State of Ireland, have already democratically voted No to.

Last year, bear in mind the crisis that we are in throes of now, was just about to happen. Now individually, we are feeling the outcome, as jobs are lost, developers are in the commercial courts, banks are on the brink of nationalisation with the life buoy named NAMA as a safety net for both the Government and the Developers and of course the people of Ireland i.e. their best interests view.

The Greens have had their way with the light bulbs – the old version are on their way out and are being replaced by a poorer quality supposedly cheaper i.e. 5 euro approximately with a most definitely insufficient illumination by contrast to what people expect from their ‘lights’. Rumour has it that the Germans may reconsider the issue of bulbs….I wonder why? I would suggest it is to do with efficiency and effectiveness. Surely it is bad for ones eyes to work in poor light conditions.

The No vote. Has any noticed Iceland these days? It was one of the first countries to seriously hit the wall when the financial crisis started in the last 12 months. Icelandic investors had invested heavily in the British retail outlet market and they suffered. Their currency is not Euro as we all know so this left them even more exposed. Now, the EU have another country in sight for inclusion. It is a country that has maritime advantages with the potential of oil and ultimately aquaculture. It would be a good idea for those on the “No” side to the Lisbon Treaty to examine the Iceland approach to joining Europe and the why not aspect in particular. They are reviewing the offer to join the Euro……

Does anyone remember the Ansbacher accounts? This is about the investigative powers of the Revenue and the collection of hidden resources by individuals in Ireland in offshore accounts? We still await the decision of the Mahon Tribunal and if the truth pertains, further arrests for corrupt practices, can be expected. Large tranches of money have been paid back to the revenue, the details of which are there for all to see on the site. It is worth viewing.

I note there is an Amnesty concession now in the UK. We in Ireland have already gained handsomely in the 1990’s and in this decade from ‘Amnesties’.  In the UK the ‘net’ is closing in on wealthy investors who have not paid tax on their assets abroad (these could be in Ireland also). The financial advisers stress the effect this will have on countries that provide havens for such investors. In the UK, the New Disclosure Opportunity started on Tuesday 1st September so HM Revenue and Customs is on the prowl and offering the enticement of reduced penalties (something similar to what we did in the past but which we ought to take account when assessing the Lisbon vote).

Many havens exist for the wealthy e.g. Liechtenstein, Jersey, Guernsey, Switzerland, the Cayman Islands, Barbados. It is said that the UK legislation will put pressure on these tax havens as people in the UK with overseas accounts will feel pressurised to declare the funds via the Amnesty concessions.

Here is an opportunity for the Irish. Maybe we can put pressure on some of our “Tax choice exiles” to invest in their home country rather than fund money with low income in return in havens that really in no way benefit Ireland.

I would go so far as to say that the Amnesties proposed in the UK are also being pushed into play by the Germans, the French, the Italians and many other countries at present. If this is so then the balance sheets of countries may change in a most significant way and to the benefit of the EU. I ask does Ireland want to be in democratic deficit when this happens. I say no. Why? Because in the 1990’s we were ahead of the posse with amnesties and tribunals. If we proceed to conclude the Mahon Tribunal with haste, we too will alter our standing and will clearly be able to apply Transparency, Ethics, Accountability as the new Credo going forward in Europe. The Island of Ireland is interesting when you think two of the major currencies exist within its realms. The EU euro and the UK stg. The significance of this is simply trade. If I receive my pension from the UK and it is transferred to my Irish account, the transactions moves through Citibank so between charges, currency rates, I receive less than I would have last year… quite a considerable percentage!!!

No vote…this is worth considering.

Michelle Clarke


No 7


7th September 2009
Pete: Ask the Farmers!!! Ask the Germans!!!

Green Culture…..Europe is enveloping the Green Culture but Ireland???

The Village magazine September 2009 raises an issue that I believe needs considerably more attention.

Eco tourism is what Ireland ought to be looking towards. Yet if you look around our Capital City, you will witness Georgian Mansion after Georgian Mansion with ‘To Let’ signs up outside the main hall doors. Those hall doors that are to be found on postcards and holiday brochures. If there was a utility tax and it could be proved who actually owns the properties and the wealth factor, then we could have quite a viable bit of construction work for employees in Ireland. These Georgian Squares are neglected and why? Who owns these houses? We must at all times remind ourselves that Dublin was the second city of the British Colonial Empire, and these buildings are the remnants and most importantly our pivotal to our tourist industry.

Lisbon II. The Treaty. How many people will come out and vote. I believe the average in Europe is circa 58%, yes a declining number of people voting each time. This Treaty holds all kinds of questions that need to be answered.

The media bite in the Village is titled DECadence. It suggests that one imagine the frugal man and ‘unstoppable recycler, composter, and light-extinguisher’. This man reads George Monbiot. In the meantime, we note that our own ENFO Library and source of all environmental information has been first on the Government hit list to be closed down – to which I can only as where are the Green’s in respect of such a dramatic cut back.

Ireland apparently has carbon emissions that stand at 16.7 tonnes per person per year while the EU average is 11 and Sweden’s are down at 7.4. Apparently, according to Friends of the Earth, Dublin is showing that we are way behind the EU legislation passed in 2002. This states that every building over 1,000 square meters has to display an energy performance certificate – yes, the Display Energy Certififcate or DEC. This Directive was to be put into effect by January 2009. Where are we? We are talking about the Lisbon Treaty and yet the enforcement of a directive such a this seems so far down the priority list. I am wondering has An Bord Snip reviewed it but then maybe NAMA will be more creative in its thinking. NAMA has become the marketer of toxic debts but we all must coax them to promote where possible making what is toxic non toxic and saleable and in this comply with the EU directives.  It is suggested that there are over 5,000 buildings and the savings projected amount to some Euros80 m. The Friends of the Earth have gone further in that they suggest that many of our public buildings show very poor energy ratings.

There appears to be a bureaucratic nightmare in property. We see lots for sale, to rent, left vacant, under utilised but do we ever ask the question how effective the system is.  Go to the estate agents, their web screens, their integration of advertising, yet houses are not being let out. Then we have the added charges like 200 euro tax landlords, the supply demand equilibrium theory swayed in favour of the tenant and now the landlord has to improve the standard of the property and the costs, okay the interest rates are low but then what about the negative equity. If your house is vacant for several months (as most are), you have to pay high fees for reconnection of ESB, then add the EU BER directive and all other costs.

I reckon if the Govt keep adding taxes to the property owners, we will find ourselves in cash flow problems and in turn will lead to massive underutilisation of property space and in turn dereliction. There is an excellent site with photos on a Citizen Journalism site – the focus is mainly derelict properties, the product of earlier recessions. We need to learn from experience. It may be a good idea for the Irish people to ‘twin’ themselves with say ‘Sweden’ as we share a Viking history and other factors. Sweden, as far as I am aware did not joint the Eurozone so has a tailored membership of the EU.

Michelle Clarke


No. 8

10th September, 2009

The Greens and Banking Culture


Green Culture is in the news again today. The Greens have made a statement that impacts on NAMA. The decision is to remove directors with settlement packages (no doubt) from the Boards of certain banks. They purport that the banking culture has changed. Tomorrow’s news will reveal the fine details of this ‘management culture’ exercise.

The Hiring and Firing game perhaps should have taken place earlier on but it didn’t and one ought to ask the question is it such a wise decision now? This Green culture sponsored ultimatum is likely to result in the departure of 10 Bank of Ireland directors and 8 from Allied Irish Bank, as well as personnel from other institutions. There is a motive for the Greens. Dramatic change will enhance their position and will assist their members in making the decision to vote in favour of NAMA legislation. The meeting is on Saturday. This could be referred to as short-terminism and perhaps even rash.

I wonder where the Green banking culture stands in relation anti-corruption. Have the Greens got a view on the Mahon Tribunal and the lack of definite time span that has allowed it to just flow with no decision in the year 2009, almost 10 years since inception?

Surely, we need the review and we need to weed out any corrupt influences therein. We also need to stop the large payments to the legal profession for services rendered on time allocation and exceptionally high rate. After all, the state has asked landlords to reduce rents via people who receive rent allowance.

Meanwhile, Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy is taking a strong look at corrupt practices via his anti-fraud team. It was announced today Gardai are preparing to interview a list of key figures in Anglo Irish bank loans and deposits scandal. There is an established Fraud Bureau with assigned detectives as well as investigators from the ODCE (Director for Corporate Enforcement). There are 20 officers employed at the Garda Fraud Bureau to speed up the process. How wise?

We need to take account of the Green Banking Culture but we also need to alert ourselves to the speedy deliverance of evidence of fraud and corruption. Enforcement as happened through the auspices of the CAB is the order of the Day surely. I would like a Green to speak out on this.

Michelle Clarke


No. 9

September 11th, 2009


Greens Symbiosis and the need to look to the NO to Lisbon side too


Some further pointers for people considering the No vote to Lisbon Treaty. This is extracted from correspondence from Mr. Anthony Coughlan, Senior Lecturer Emeritus in Social Policy, Trinity College, Dublin and President, Foundation for EU Democracy, Brussels, and Director, the National Platform EU Research and Information Centre, Dublin.

Mr. Couglan approaches the Lisbon II Treaty in a more separtist way. He clearly feels that the Treaty would transfer more competences to the post-Lisbon EU. He further holds that these competences that are being transferred are more than ever before as in the case of the 1986 Single European Act, the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, the 1998 Amsterdam Treaty or the 2001 Nice Treaty.

Mr. Coughlan is of the view that the Lisbon II Treaty would transfer power to Brussels and that Ireland would no longer be able to use their national veto, this power to veto would in fact be abolished. This would in effect mean that in excess of 30 areas of new superanational law-making (including important areas such as Crime, Justice and Policing, would become the responsibility of ‘Brussels’. Other areas would likewise be covered by ‘Brussels’. How will this apply to say the Island of Ireland given that the UK opted to remain out of the Euro, as did certain other European countries.

Mr. Coughlan also asks why is the Lisbon II Treaty not referred to as a Constitution? Another valid point worth considering is that National Parliaments are given no new ‘power’ of any kind under Lisbon. They would in fact lose their present powers to legislate in as many as 30 different areas, and this would transfer to the people who would elect them, who would also lose their right to decide in those specific areas also.

Another point to be considered by the Greens is the comments made in the Irish Times by the Swedish Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, the current holder of the EU presidency (article 5th September). Mr. Reinfeldt, stated that “If it is a No, then we keep on with the Nice Treaty”. He further elaborated by saying

“There is a deep respect for the political processes and democracies. We have had ‘NO’ referendums in other countries as well. It is important to see very time that the EU has a openness to listen. This will not affect the possibility of Ireland to have influence”

Wise words, I would think and words worth consideration before the vote to Lisbon Treaty on October 2nd 2009.

Sweden has encountered a similar economic crisis to the one we are facing at the moment. NAMA is about to be created as an entity. The decision of the High Court has been passed in relation to Developer Mr. Carroll. We can learn from Sweden surely.

Michelle Clarke
No. 10
18th September, 2009
Lisbon Vote NO.

The Power of Peace

Did anyone hear Mr. Coughlan, from Trinity College Dublin, on the radio the other morning and his learned argument for the NO Vote to Lisbon.

Swift, I read your posting and was interested in your comments so I now have access to Mr. Coughlan’s emails on why Ireland ought to Vote NO to Lisbon, and in particular when we voted NO last year. Yes, the EC President from Sweden makes an interesting point about the Nice Treaty.

Ireland has a unique experience which manifests itself in its formation as the Island of Ireland, post Peace Process (Good Friday Agreement 1998). We must not forget the significance of the Belfast Agreement, the forging ahead by members of States who collectively wanted to bring about Peace in the Island of Ireland. We can all surely recall the significance of the meeting of ‘Two Giants’, the Reverend Ian Paisley, on one side, and our own Taoiseach, Mr. Bertie Ahern, and the significant exchange of token gifts. The Revd. Ian Paisley gave a ‘Musket’ and now therein lies a mystery.

Mr. Coughlan’s email is of interest today so I will pass on some relevant points:-

Mr. Coughlan suggests that there is a ‘Power-Grab’ by the Big States, for control of the EU. Just imagine, the EU would halve the voting rights of Ireland from 2% to 0.9% while Germany would have a vote of 16%. Meantime, the voting rights of France, Britain and Italy would increase from 8% to 12%. Is this acceptable to citizens of Ireland who joined the EEC as far back as 1973.

Presently, “double majority” is the system in operation. This is a simple majority of the 27 EU States (14 or more), as long as between them, there is a weighted majority of 255 out of the total 345 votes, this is the outcome.

Why Change?

It is worth reviewing why the Big States have 4 times the voting WEIGHT of Ireland. Then ask the question about the Big Four EU States having half the voting power on the EU Council of Ministers under the POST-LISBON voting rules, ‘as compared with one third of the weighted votes they have at present.

This is worth noting…given the NAMA revelations of just yesterday.

The new Lisbon based voting system: This would make it much easier for Germany, France and Brussels Commission to impose sanctions on Ireland, ‘up to and including limitless fines, under the rules of the Eurozone if we fail to get our 12% of GDP budget deficit down to the 3% target level for Eurozone, according to whatever time-limit they should decide’.

I would suggest this is of priority concern presently in the face of our financial and economic crisis presently. This is a real abrogation of Power that could equate to times of yore when Ireland’s economic dependence rested on Britain and tarriffs applied as a penalty factor during WWII.

The difference is that our Central Banks powers will be further curbed and we must remember that agreeing to opt for the EURO in the 1990’s meant a forfeiture of control by Central Bank Ireland to ECB.

We need to realise also that Sterling remains in existence and Sterling applies to the North of Ireland where the Euro applies to the South. Regulation and de-regulation and globalisation need further explanation in the media market place than presently available.

Do we really want to lose the right to decide who will be Ireland’s Commissioner? Ireland has a unique status in the world. We have the US connection but we also have connections with the African continents, with South America, the Asian continents through our Catholic Church and missionaries. We also speak the English language and this surely is an advantage that makes us competitive as distinct from a focus on demographics yes ‘headcounts’. We are supposedly moving upwards to an Knowledge Economy status.

Where are the 12 Musketeers… make the Island of Ireland stand tall amidst the Big 4?

Finally. Do we really want to give the EU the Constitutional form of STATE?
Do we really want to be regionalised? Is it part of the Irish psyche yet!!

Michelle Clarke

Writing has proved very important.  2017 BreastCheck screening found a lump.  While going through treatment “Sledgehammer to catch the fly” as Professor Crown sums it up, I wrote my book  Fortune Favours the Brave.


About michelleclarke2015

Life event that changes all: Horse riding accident in Zimbabwe in 1993, a fractured skull et al including bipolar anxiety, chronic fatigue …. co-morbidities (Nietzche 'He who has the reason why can deal with any how' details my health history from 1993 to date). 17th 2017 August operation for breast cancer (no indications just an appointment came from BreastCheck through the Post). Trinity College Dublin Business Economics and Social Studies (but no degree) 1997-2003; UCD 1997/1998 night classes) essays, projects, writings. Trinity Horizon Programme 1997/98 (Centre for Women Studies Trinity College Dublin/St. Patrick's Foundation (Professor McKeon) EU Horizon funded: research study of 15 women (I was one of this group and it became the cornerstone of my journey to now 2017) over 9 mth period diagnosed with depression and their reintegration into society, with special emphasis on work, arts, further education; Notes from time at Trinity Horizon Project 1997/98; Articles written for 2003/2004; St Patricks Foundation monthly lecture notes for a specific period in time; Selection of Poetry including poems written by people I know; Quotations 1998-2017; other writings mainly with theme of social justice under the heading Citizen Journalism Ireland. Letters written to friends about life in Zimbabwe; Family history including Michael Comyn KC, my grandfather, my grandmother's family, the O'Donnellan ffrench Blake-Forsters; Moral wrong: An acrimonious divorce but the real injustice was the Catholic Church granting an annulment – you can read it and make your own judgment, I have mine. Topics I have written about include annual Brain Awareness week, Mashonaland Irish Associataion in Zimbabwe, Suicide (a life sentence to those left behind); Nostalgia: Tara Hill, Co. Meath.
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1 Response to Citizen Journalism Ireland: Published articles on different topics 2009 year. Revised 2020. 10 headings 6,600 words Tranche (B)

  1. Pingback: Citizen Journalism Ireland: Published articles on different topics 2009 year. Revised 2020. 10 headings 6,600 words Tranche (B) | canisgallicus

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