Sunday October 21 2007
It's official, the good times are over and we all have to tighten our belts.
We have been saying it for months, but last Thursday Finance Minister and Tanaiste Brian Cowen finally declared at his pre-Budget Estimates that the economy has "peaked", is now slowing down and that things have become very tight.
As he shifted uncomfortably in front of the cameras, he told us that 2007 represents a "turning point for the Irish economy".
We should not be overly worried but, baby, the party for now is over.
However, as the economy has ground to a halt, and the money dries up, we are asking, what do we have to show for a decade of unprecedented wealth?
A third-class road and rail network, hospitals which are killing healthy people who enter them, and primary children who either face going to school in a prefab or miles away from home are just some of the hallmarks of this Government's waste since it took power in 1997.
This week, the Sunday Independent conducted an in-depth investigation into the endemic waste of our taxes by Fianna Fail.
We can show that since FF took office a decade ago, more than €1bn of taxpayers' money has been wasted annually.
A list of failed projects, delayed works, bloated bureaucracy and poor management have all led to more than €10bn being squandered in the last 10 years.
Taxpayers' money has been squandered by every Government department including €100m on the abandoned Stadium Campus Ireland project, the €471m overrun on the Luas, the €150m overspend on the Port Tunnel, as well as almost a €1bn wasted on the Government's botched de-centralisation policy.
Figures obtained from the Department of Finance, opposition parties, the Central Statistics Office and the Central Bank, collated by the Sunday Independent, detail for the first time exactly how inefficient the Government has become during Bertie Ahern's tenure as Taoiseach.
The total Government spend has more than trebled from €15bn in 1997 to a projected €51bn next year, announced by Cowen during the week.
Opposition parties, hospital patient groups and leading economists have said that institutional waste during a time of plenty and the failure to deliver a first world infrastructure is endangering Ireland's competitiveness internationally.
One of the key areas is the health service. Its funding has increased from €3.2bn in 1997 to almost €13bn this year. Despite this massive injection since 1997, the Health Service Executive, which employs 70,000 people and 36,000 indirectly, is now closing wards and has introduced a freeze on new employees.
The closure of a 10-bed ward in Nenagh hospital is just one of a number of high-profile ward shutdowns in recent weeks. The Irish Patients Association has said cuts and ward closures currently being enforced by the HSE are unforgivable.
Steve McMahon of the Irish Patients Association said: "It is an organisation rife with institutionalised bureaucracy. When they formed the HSE in 2005 they should have introduced a redundancy package and cleared their ranks.
"At least 60 per cent of the cost of the HSE is staff, and there are too many managers in the system."
McMahon also said that with the slowdown in the economy, budgets will be cut and the ward closures that have occurred in recent weeks will become more common.
Another example of waste and bad management was the PPARS payroll system fiasco in 2005 which is currently "suspended until further notice". The cost for the failed system was at least €160m.
Added to this was the €1bn plus pay-out to nursing home patients and their families, who were wrongfully and unlawfully charged.
Analysis PAGE 30
Transport is another area that has seen endemic waste, over spending and bad management since 1997. Spending on transport has risen sharply from €151m in 1997 to €2.8bn this year.
Apart from the overspends and underestimation in the cost of the Port Tunnel and the two Luas lines that don't link up, and the chaos that is the M50, Ireland's road building projects since 1997 have collectively cost €3.2bn more than what was originally forecast, according to our figures.
Jimmy Quinn of the Irish Road Haulage Association said that the ambitious capital building projects have begun 10 years too late and up until recently were blighted by poor management lacking vision, which ultimately has led to the public paying over the odds.
He added: "The M50 has been a disaster and the lack of vision and forward planning by not building three lanes to begin with is and has been costing us dearly."
Quinn also highly objects to the use of tolling, particularly on the M50, describing them as a treble tax on his members who use the roads most often.
Dublin Airport is another example of poor management by the Government.
Successive Fianna Fail transport ministers have failed to anticipate the growth in numbers leading to years of suffering for passengers. Even the Pier D and the Terminal 2 developments, which are costing the exchequer €2bn, are likely to be operating a full capacity when they open.
Friends First chief economist Jim Power says Ireland also needs a second airport -- and he believes the refusal of Mr Ahern and the Cabinet to look beyond the slow development of Dublin Airport has cost the country dearly.
"Away from the politics of north Dublin, Ireland should have a second international hub airport close to the midlands where there is plenty of room for future development.
"The airport should be properly integrated with adequate rail and bus links. If it was me I wouldn't build one out in Dublin," he said.
Meanwhile, the Department of Education, which has seen its annual budget rise from €2.9bn in 1997 to €8.3bn this year, has failed to drastically alter class sizes or ensure adequate facilities for children around the country.
The Government has also failed to meet the demand in Dublin satellite towns where parents have little or no option regarding schooling.
One example of this is Gorey, Co Wexford which has a population of 30,000 and one school with 1,700 pupils.
Officially, the average class size at primary level is 24 but numbers vary greatly between rural and urban areas.
In some areas class sizes are regularly over 30.
The National Parents Council described the Government's record on education and the provision of adequate buildings and resources as highly questionable.
In contrast to the €1bn waste mounted up by the FF Government annually, according to figures from the Department of Finance, a drop of one per cent in income tax would cost the exchequer about €800m every year.
Much of the spending splurge from public coffers has gone on increased staff numbers and wages.
Since 2002, the number of public sector employees has risen dramatically by 69,000 to 308,000. The total cost of the public sector pay bill for this year will be €17.5bn.
The problem will get worse as a second round of benchmarking is due to get under way next year, further adding to the cost to the taxpayer for running the country.
Benchmarking was introduced as an incentive to improve performance, but Fine Gael yesterday described its implantation as disastrous.
Mr Cowen admitted to the Sunday Independent that benchmarking had not been completely successful and the taxpayer had not gotten decent value for money.
It is a damning indictment of FF and the PDs that such a poor return for our investment has been made and we are still playing catch-up.
All the while, we have paid over the odds. Some have died as a result in our hospitals; thousands of hours have been wasted sitting in traffic and children have been denied their right to a decent education.
So well done Bertie, well done Brian, and well done Mary -- thanks for nothing.
- Daniel McConnell
THE man Fianna Fail did not even want to stand for the European Parliament elections has just been voted the top Irish MEP by a prestigious European think-tank.
Sean O Neachtain MEP was in the eye of a political storm in the lead-up to the 2004 European elections when he refused to stand aside to allow a "dream ticket" of junior ministers Jim McDaid and Frank Fahey to fly the Fianna Fail flag in the North West constituency.
With grassroots support among party members in the west solidly behind him, he won a nomination and captured the first of the three seats on offer in the North West (Connacht Ulster) race.
Now he has been singled out by the European League of Geneva (Euroleague) as Ireland's best member of the Europe Parliament for 2006.
The League was established to promote greater political and economic development within the EU.
It comprises former officials of international governmental organisations such as the United Nations, retired diplomats and lawyers who have worked extensively in international affairs.
Each year it selects the outstanding MEPs from member countries.
Among those selected alongside Sean O Neachtain are Josep Borrell (Spain), President of the Parliament 2004 to January 2007; Poul Rasmussen (Denmark), former Prime Minister; and Elmar Brok (Germany), Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee within the European Parliament.
Chairman of the League Nicolas Kaloy said the ffactors taken into account in deciding the best MEPs were overall work activity, contribution made to the MEP's country and dedication to the EU ideals.
Brian McDonald(Irish Independent)
SAINT BERTIE AND HIS FOLLOWERS ASSEMBLE FOR A SERMON.Beverly is excommunicated..(but remains in the soldiers "Gene Pool " -a kind of Limbo for unrepentant outcasts)
When he arrived in Mayo,a land of devout Christians,An Taoiseach was always deeply touched by the unwavering love and affection of his followers there,before the little disagreement with the Flynn Cowboys (and Girls) and the Shell Saga..
Later on ,in the year of 2004, he went on a pilgrimage to the Wild West to bring the faithful back to the True Faith,(Fianna Fail) visiting Westport ,he climbed the mountain known as Croagh Patrick,which has been a place of pilgrimage since time immemorial,for penitents who travel from all parts of the Island of Ireland , to be shriven of their sins . A great sadness overcame Bert ,as he looked at the multitudes,who had followed him like sheep, clamoring and scrambling to be permitted to touch the hem of his pin stripe suit. Great graces(and jobs in state enterprises) were known to flow instantly to those wretches who momentarily got close enough to the great Prophet.There were Pharisees aplenty in the crowd, also numerous Publicans,and the odd Republican (Phil Flynn) present.
There he addressed his supporters who had followed him,in the company of Blessed Padraig and Holy Beverly Flynn (whose excommunication was announced at the gathering ) and made the following speech now known as ;-
" The New Fianna Testament" ,The Beatitudes, according to Saint Bertie.
Bertie led his followers ,wealthy farmers,despised tax collectors, building speculators,and rich merchants-up a high mountain,where they paused to rest. ,He addressed them in these words;
‘Look around you,my disciples…all this, I give to those of you who worship me.Verily I say unto you;-
"Blessed are the young people , who have been priced out of the home ownership market,by corruption,nepotism,stroke politics, and well connected builders and land speculators.
Blessed are those who labour without profit; who pay 70% of the price of motor fuel in government tax; who suffer the highest vehicle purchase taxes in Europe;the highest alcoholic drink taxes;the highest V.A.T.taxes; stealth taxes of every kind; new rubbish taxes;water taxes(pending);road toll taxes;private V.H.I.taxes;credit card taxes,… all this, after 42% income tax ,is first deducted at source.!
Blessed are those who walk in the countryside for recreation,and are hindered and persecuted;blocked by the barbed wire fences of landowners and farmers, who take vast sums of the common people’s taxes , throughout the E.U. Empire,-and give nothing back in return.
Blessed are the Anglers who wait all day by the lakeside –and catching nothing!
Their stocks are destroyed,their labours wasted.Patiently they endure agricultural pollution,nitrate poisoning,and legalized drift net fishing by rich men in the coastal estuaries.
Blessed are the poor. They do not have quotas or licenses,like the farmers,fishermen,and publicans; to sell their goods at high prices in the marketplace; they cannot lay waste fish stocks and the salmon, with impunity, in our seas and coastal estuaries.They cannot milk or breed cattle and produce food which only the rich can afford.They have no powerful lobby to protect them from the so called "Common Market" which milks the taxpayers of Europe to enrich the well organized few.
They are prevented from selling alcohol to the foolish crowds who flock to the drinking taverns nightly-this monopoly is the stranglehold of the corrupt politicians who also govern the nation, and their cunning cohorts countrywide.
Blessed are those who endure lawlessness, greed, and anarchy,all around them; those who are the victims of crime; scourged by illegal dumping; illegal quarrying, illegal developments and the widespread practice of diesel laundering fraud nation wide by criminal gangs.
Blessed are those communities where ribbon road development; one off housing; section 140 motions;- are commonplace in the councils.Where houses are quickly sold off, in the speculative frenzy of the times.
Cursed are the civil servants who are passed over for promotion,because of their refusal to obey my law .I shall scatter them ,and their families,and their descendents,across the land of Erin to occupy the new houses and offices built by my Elect;- Martin ‘Cu’Cullen,
Blessed are those who shun the local councils .Watch how they act,these councillors,- always full of their own importance; purporting to represent the common people while in reality rezoning lands for one another’s advantage; doing deals in dark corridors where money changes hands; profiting themselves at every opportunity; grasping and greedy -like pigs;travelling to foreign places and living in luxury hotels;ever feeding from the public trough and on the public purse, while devising new ways to tax the poor.
Blessed are those who suffer the injustice of elected leaders who have abused the trust placed upon them by the people.; Blessed are those who must evermore witness the spectacle of arrogant criminals-full of bluff and bluster-strutting defiantly before the Courts,and justifying themselves daily to the Sanhedrin Tribunal, while pompous lawyers fatten themselves from the public purse in Dublin Castle.
Blessed are those citizens of the new Europe who now find it difficult to gain employment,while companies imports and exploit cheap labour,under government licence,from far corners of the world .
Blessed are the victims of penalty points for minor infringements,and ludicrously low speed limits;-while the same drunken and hypocritical TD,s/ public representatives nightly traverse our highways and fill the car parks of public drinking places with almost total impunity.
Blessed are the new unemployed,as the plague of inflation traverses the land and multinational companies strike camp, and fade into the night.
But cursed are those who have sent their wealth to foreign lands (Speculators,The "Beast of Kinsealy" etc.etc.) and falsely colluded with rich bankers there, to avoid the irish tax collectors.
They shall wish they had never been born.! their souls shall never taste the sweet balm of true Paradise. They will thirst eternally, in the hereafter, for the life giving water of My redemption, which their filthy lucre cannot buy in the hellish Islands of the Bahamas where they have constructed their false Gods.
Happy are those who have no connection with; and who have never voted for; and who have never profited by;- the corruption,the wasteful spending,or the pre-election largesse of the Soldiers of Destiny.
Blessed are those who cherish their ancestral burial grounds,and all traces of irish history and heritage;-though it shall be laid waste,in My generation.
A false Cu-Cullen has arisen, in the South, and created an army of mechanized monsters which will enrich the farmers and landowners of Royal Meath immeasurably,but he will desolate the land, and destroy the graves of our ancestors which lie in the path of his infernal bulldozers.
The people will wring their hands in anguish as they languish daily in their useless chariots, and pay extortionate fuel and toll taxes to Cullen's clownish comrades countrywide.
This must come to pass and Ancient Tara itself will be laid waste.
But I tell you truly,you need not despair. Now is your hour of darkness.Now is your time of suffering.The Soldiers Of Destiny will sift you like wheat,(with your own money).
All this you will suffer for my sake.
In the end it may be Labour and Fine Gael that betray you....
But your reward will be great in Heaven." This is the Word of Saint Bertie and his anointed one, Holy Cow-an!.
A PRESS RELEASE(FROM PARADISE).
THE SECOND COMING;
.Let all citizens and bin tax campaigners be happy that the Soldiers of Destiny triumphed in the election fray.!
The Promises of Saint Bertie (-recalled):
"The coming months and years will see many miracles" (Mirages-Ed), said Saint Bertie, when he addressed the thousands of idiots who followed him to the Mount of Madness.
"Now is a time for great rejoicing across the land. Prodigal sons and daughters will be greeted with open arms."
"Closed Hospital wards will re-open. (St Mary Hearney to perform wonders ) Not one occupied hospital trolley to be found anywhere across the land..Employment schemes formerly abandoned will re-surface.Privatization plans will be shelved. The tax bands which hurt the poor, and are rarely updated, will be adjusted a pinch-to show the great generosity and goodness of My Disciples of Destiny."
Wheelie bins will not be molested…if at all possible,by the Soldiers.
‘Yes, believe my friends, this will be the only good Party in town for many months to come’!
Said Saint Bart
"In short no lobby group,union, club,or social grouping which represents a few thousand votes,or more, will be offended or disappointed.
Lottery and exchequer funds will be prized open and disbursed to the clamoring masses,in a short frenetic feeding frenzy.
Even the Vincent De Paul Society may find some crumbs under Lazarus’s table." he declared to rapturous applause.
As a shoal of sharks smell blood from a weakened victim, so will the farmers and the public sector unions sense their (The Destiny Soldiers) weakness, and demand to be sated before the Bertie Boat battens down the hatches happily (re-elected) and disappears across the Lake of Galilee, into the golden sunset… for another five long suffering bloody years.!
(until the Next Coming?)
Pretenders to the True Faith will be mocked and scorned in The Leinster House Temple daily for five more years.Character assassination will replace debate.The fragmented fractious and useless bunch of overpaid idiots who pretend to be "in opposition" to the Destiny soldiers will be scattered in great disarray.All this will come to pass, before the next election.
DAILY DEVOTIONAL EXERCISES
A prayer that never fails.....
Any person who devoutely recites the Beatitudes daily for seven weeks,and sends seven copies to seven different people,and leaves seven copies in their local parish church(of any denomination)will receive a positive response to any petition.Please address a copy,also, to Blessed Bertie c/o Leinster House.
This prayer has never been known to fail.
*.Recently a G.A.A.club(in an endangered constituency) recieved a cheque for 40 million Euros,in the post, after their members assembled for a mass prayer meeting.
*Another farmer discovered that a new road was coming through his field,and received a cheque for 500,000 Euros compensation from the N.R.A.
*A third person sold his bog to the state and got 1 million Euros from Brussels on condition that he would not kill any butterflies,Flora,or Fauna for 10 years.
*A fourth lucky landowner in Wicklow was offered 2 million Euros to cease molesting hill walkers who were wandering on his barren mountain.
A fifth individual,-a poor struggling farmer until now-had his land rezoned for a Golf Course,and 50 luxury holiday homes ,beside the Lakes of Killarney,by local councillors.He later sold them off to wealthy ,retired Yanks,and bought three office blocks in Prague with the money.He is currently building office blocks in Connemara and Waterford to house the homeless Dublin Civil Servants,as a philanthropic gesture,to his local Fianna Fail Cumann.
(These are real testimonials of the efficacy of this prayer.(membership of the I.F.A.,or the Fianna Fail Party,is however necessary to ensure results like these)
The new Pope announces the beatification of "An Taoiseach",while Beverley Flynn throws her garter into the political arena.
Dissension from within the ranks of the various Fianna Fail factions around the country is a dangerous weakness. Class Act Beverley Flynn ,Queen of the offshore bonds is currently rallying her ‘cowboys’ in Mayo, after vigorously resisting moves to expel her from the ranks of the ‘Soldiers of Destiny’.
"I ain’t leavin either ‘she said defiantly, in a press conference on the porch of the Flynn Ranch last year’-you ain’t pushin me out Bertie, just try it…make my day! I’ll blow you all the way home to Hell."
This prophecy has now been partly accomplished. The Mayo "soldiers" have defected en mass and been expelled from the ranks.! Fianna Fail are reeling in disarray due to the rebellious Barons there, whose sworn allegiance is to the " First Lady" of offshore bank bonds.!
Many of the rustics,and gossipmongers around Mayo say the cursed banks were the real troublemakers.They put too much temptation in good folks way…offerin to hide farmers and businessmens money from the Revenue hunters. Besides, taxes were too high on ordinary folk,- the government was takin too much from Dublin,s P.A.Y.E. Jackeens,and salaried folk.
‘Beverley was only doing her job’.Some say. This argument claims that Beverley was blameless and scapegoated to save the "Destiny Soldiers", asses!
Sure, the banks were culpable too. Even now as they lick their light wounds from the non-resident account scandals etc, they are busy lending too much money to our young people ,and making their contribution to the endless housing price spiral,-all in the name of the god of Mammon.!
Who complains about that.? Not this government. Not the builders and speculators party, " Fianna Fail".! Not even the muffled civil servants in the Central Bank,-nobody.!
Other townsfolk in Strokestown( county Mayo) say Beverley’s argument is spurious.She was a ‘ hired gun’ who got caught salting away her old mans ill gotten loot, and tries to blame the banks, pleading innocent because her bosses(the crooked bankers) made her do it!.
She was only doing her job sure –but she was breakin’ the law and ought to have known better.Some believe she deserves to be strung up,and her old man alongside her. "Don,t do the crime if you cant do the time," the ordinary decent criminals are saying. This applies to high salaried Euro-comissioners also.
The fact that she and her family were elected to represent the decent citizens of this Island,in Europe and in the Dail,( as well as the all- too- numerous ,off-shore bank account holders,in Mayo and elsewhere,) appears to be an irrelevent issue.
So, she is likely to top the poll in Mayo come election time, same way as Michael Lowry did when he was caught fiddling the books down in Tipperary.
Is there an honest citizen-or politician-or voter- in the length and breath of holy Ireland, folks wonder ? Is there no respect for law and order.?
If the rest of the rebel Soldiers of Destiny countrywide, ditch Bertie ,and make Lady Beverley the new ‘Boss of Bosses’ (Capo de tutti Capi) in Leinster House, we will have some honest clarification of the present in-fighting among the Fianna Fail gangs in the badlands of Mayo and elswhere’
I therefore propose Beverley be elected the the first fearless, female "Taoiseach" .A woman,s time has come.We had a President-why not a feisty firebrand for Taoiseach. Who better to inherit the mantle of the legendary Charles J. Haughey- and in his own lifetime!
Beverley has my number one anytime. Sure love to see ‘Wanted for Taoiseach’ posters of her, on all the lampposts up and down the State, Calamity Jane style.Buckskins,stetson hat, and packing a pistol under each garter.
What a gal.! Calamity Beverley strikes again! The deadwood stagecoach is a-comin over the hills towards Leinster House.What spirit. She never comes out with her hands up, only- in true Flynn tradition - with both guns blazin’. She learned all those tricks from her ould fella.!
Mighty Mayo. Such women are dangerous.
The next Taoiseach aside, let all citizens and bin tax campaigners in Dublin ,Cork, and elsewhere,be happy that the Soldiers of Destiny are returning to the election fray already,with great gusto.
THE POPE INTERVIENES;IN SUPPORT OF BLESSED BERTIE:
The new Pope has appealed to the Irish people to repent,and announced that our beloved Taoiseach-long recognized as possessing the odour of sanctity about his person- is to be called " Blessed Bertie." The first step in his almost certain canonization has taken place.The next 12 months will see many miracles from the newly beatified "Blessed Bertie".Even walking on water.!
And now ,a special reading from the new Fianna Fail Testament on the topic "decentralization":
"Once upon a time a great leader, king, and stroker, named Bertie,ordained a series of enormous banquets throughout the land of Ireland, to enrich his cronies; publicans, builders and businessmen.
Thousands of the highest civil servants from every department in the state were invited.When the banquet was ready he sent a servant (McCreevy) to tell the guests "everything is ready,please come".One guest after another started making excuses,as to why they could not come.The master of the house became very angry and said " Go to every street and alleyway in town,and bring in every unemployed wretch or lowly civil servant you can find,and bring them here " he exclaimed."Dress them in the finest garments,make a new home for them in our marginal constituencies,and remunerate them handsomely with the refuse taxes"!
When the servant returned he said,"master I have done what you told me,but many will not come, making various excuses, and there is still room for more people"
The Master, Bertie replied," Continue to search the highways,the byeways,and the alleyways until my house is full. Not one of the guests I originally invited will ever taste of my delights"
And so those civil servants who displeased the great Lord Bertie, remained in the Valley of Idleness,within the citadel of Dublin, for the remainder of their lives, where they suffered such torments that they wished that they had never been born and not even their index linked salaries and huge pensions could appease their sufferings.
This is the word of the Lord Bertie.
The last gospel according to St Lukes, Drumcondra:
And the farmers, the civil service, and the public sector unions were bought with the peoples taxes..
And the great Lord Bertram Ahern triumphed over all his enemies.
And he died of old age ,peacefully in his bed.
And his passing was mourned by every stroker in the land.
And he was laid to rest alongside Haughey, the Father of corruption.
And though both graves were lavishly adorned with headstones extolling their cunning , achievements, and longevity, they are no more.
Forgotten now, their resting place is untended -even by their own flesh and blood.
The evil that their vaunted ambition inflicted on the people, in their own lifetime lives after them.
Their ambition and their power died with them. They drew all their strenght from vanity. They lied to the people, they enriched themselves, and they cheated, the poor, the sick, and the homeless.
Already, they are dust.
Dust blowing in the wind. Haughey, Lawlor, and Ahern.