DAMIAN STACK writes in the "Sunday Independent", 3rd Sept, 2006)
"WHILE 'Fianna Fail' may mean 'Soldiers of Destiny' in English, a website styling itself soldiersofdestiny.org isn't exactly flattering to Ireland's largest political party. The website's proclaimed aim is to 'Remove Fianna Fail and to end stroke politics and incompetent administration.'
The satirical site contains features including 'Bertie's Dominatrix', 'Charlie's Real Legacy', 'Lies, statistics and Cowen', and 'The Office of Public Waste'. Alongside the humorous articles are cartoons lampooning senior Fianna Fail politicians - some are even depicted as Nazis plotting 'The final solution' to some of Ireland's problems.
The site is the brainchild of John McDermott, who dubs himself "untouchable" on Irish political chat site politics.ie. He runs the site from his home in Gran Canaria through a server in the United States in order to avoid Ireland's troublesome libel laws - thus making him "untouchable".
A Fianna Fail spokesperson declined to comment on the website or its content.
Speaking to the Sunday Independent McDermott jokes that his primary motivation, "Certainly isn't profit anyway, I don't make a penny from it. I suppose it's irritation with the governing party we have at present and annoyance at the way politics is run in this country. It's so bad now that everything is for sale for a few votes."
McDermott started the site two years ago after retiring to Spain.
"I was lucky I made a few good investments in the property boom and was able to get out, I sold everything I had," he says.
The site is primarily a hobby for McDermott: "I'd scan the papers on the web while I'm in Spain and if I saw something that interested me or was worth satirising I'd pick it out and do a little piece on it."
While his gripes are primarily with Fianna Fail he is "not so much an optimist as to think that everything would change if they were gotten rid of".
He says that the purpose of the site is to highlight some of the "stuff that goes on, that's forgotten about a week later. I said that if I can just itemise some of the goings-on and record it then a week before the election if somebody is really interested they can see what's really been going on."
The site has developed a cult following and in the last two months alone has received around 2,000 hits and McDermott occasionally receives positive feedback from fans.
Perhaps the most striking feature of the website are the cartoons.
"I'm not a cartoonist so I scan through a lot of cartoons," he admits. "Some would be relevant to the situation I'm looking for and then adjust them, if I'm truthful I must admit someone else came up with the spark."
In terms of satire, McDermott feels that his website provides an outlet that, by and large, the Irish media is unable to. However, he doesn't see the Irish media as all bad.
"I like the man himself - your back page man, Gene Kerrigan. That's what I'd be aiming for, Kerrigan lite - not quite as heavy"
"You may copy some animations if u wish from my site
They may fit in at times"
http://www.esatclear.ie/~masonmech/ (We took the Bush family one.!This is a nice site, very witty.Congrats.)
"Only for you the ordinary Joe Soap like me wouldn't know half what's going on.
Keep the show going."
"What is the Squire Cullen doing with the voting
Put a link in "Littleton after dark."
here it is: http://www.esatclear.ie/~masonmech/ (this is a great site if you want a laugh)
"Hello again John,
I have a confession to make...I have used some of your graphics on my site http://www.eirbiz.com
If it's a problem I will remove them.
I have done a little survey of councillors who, in 2006, don't have email addresses.
Can be seen at
My reason for doing this survey can be seen at http://www.eirbiz.com/kcc/index.html
If you have any ideas as to how I might be of greater assistance in getting the message out I would be glad to know what you have in mind.
I have some links on my site to your site. I was wondering how many hits your site is getting so that I can get a better perspective as to how my site is doing.
For Nov I got about 17,000 hits.
Obviously, hits and quality visitors are not the same thing.
Lucky you Paddy, send a few of them my way.!
Some readers comments:
Certain names keep cropping up in my investigations so far – Noel Dempsey, Frank Dunlop, Brindley Advertising, Loman Dempsey, Potterton Auctioneers, and names of present and retired council employees.
Other areas of particular interest to us is the relationship between the NRA and An Bord Planala." Viewers E-mail received 24/8/05
Sounds like you young guys would like to set up a rival Tribunal in Dublin Castle-good luck with it.! (ed)
"Well done great site,keep spreading the gospel !"
Received 7th Sept 2007
"Absolutely brilliant! If half of what you portray is fact, then there really is no hope in the long term for that country. I'm glad I left it 20 years ago!
Thanks again for a very entertaining morning!"
(Expat.Eindhoven Holland) received 8 Sept 2007
Thanks for that,theres more truth than you know out there-yet to be exposed.Nice to be appreciated, expat.
"I Love your site how can I contribute some cartoons? We all need a good laugh."(Sept 2007) J.H.
"Four years ago, my husband & I were working together running a small business in Dublin city. My eldest son worked for us.I was friendly with a builder at the time(who has since passed away, RIP) and we persuaded him to sell us one of his houses at a small discount, to the then market price.
The problem was, our sons wages were insufficient to qualify him for a loan, and he was not in a position to make the repayments on his modest salary.We made him a gift of a goodly sum of money from our own retirement savings, and it was decided that he would let the house to enable him to meet the repayments.
The Building Society was very kind and told us that as he was employed by us, they would not probe too deeply into the details of his application, if we were to tell what our politicians in the Dail describe as "an untruth" about his wages.We also had to go guarantor for the loan of course.
The happy day of purchase arrived and he found some very nice tenants. The first time buyers grant of 3000 euros was denied him, because he could not afford to live there and he was put on the same footing as the speculators who are buying 40% of all new property at the present time.
According to recent newspaper reports he will shortly be approached to pay the stamp duty which ,as a first time buyer, he was permitted to avoid at the time,but only on the basis that he moved into the property himself.
One of my daughters has now been saving for three years to buy an apartment (a house is beyond her dreams).
she has a good job but her salary will never qualify her for sufficient of a loan.So she joined the long waiting list for an "affordable" apartment under the government scheme which never got off the ground until this election year arrived.
It still has not actually got off the ground, but there is a flurry of activity among our political masters, and some lotteries are beginning to take place among some local authorities,and perhaps 5% of those on the waiting lists will be lucky and offered a home.
All this largesse will no doubt attract enormous positive press coverage in the run up to next June.
Getting an affordable house is like applying for a job in the Civil Service or the Gardai. "Many are called but few are chosen"
The term affordable is itself a misnomer. What it really means in our case is that if she passes the lottery hurdle and we give her a gift of 60,000 Euros from our remaining retirement savings, she will come within the ambit of affording to buy (and live in) a property which is being offered to her at a 25% discount on the open market price.!
The thousands of parents who have gone before us,or will come after us, down this road, will have of stolen a march on the remaining families who do not have 60,000 euros in a sock under the mattress,or in a retirement savings fund, or do not even have a dozen loyal and trusty Manchester Martyrs/ friends or whatever, to rally around their children, with a helpful "Whiparound"
According to recent polls this government is becoming more popular by the day.if it is really the case they have certainly made some very shrewd moves,which I for one cannot fathom.Of course money is thrown at the farming community, out of a bottomless well, and huge wage increases are measured out to the public service employees.
The wealthies and grubbiest in the land pay little or no taxes. How my blood boils at the thought of them all landing in their helicopters in Ballybrit and laughing at the likes of us who are spending our life savings just to provide a roof over our childrens head.What makes me despair the more is the fact that , even if they were replaced in the morning by their opposite numbers in the Dail- nothing would change. The poor and the lowest waged will always pay the taxes, either directly or by stealth. while the rich grow richer by the day."
Mary Leetham, (Dublin 7) received 26/11/06
Catch 22, Mary ,as you say ,the poor always pay..
" This website may just save our country. Get them out of power in 2007! Since 1987 they have been in almost continuous power with the exception of 1994-1997, don't give them another 5! OUT OUT OUT "
Thanks,I only wish you were right. (ed.)
"Good site, but its too big, and too much detailed, especially for dial up citizens who do not benefit from broadband connections. Why don't you segregate the highlights and place links to the more detailed stuff, because it is impossible to remember even a small fraction of what is on the site, and I would love to be able to quote the facts to some of those wealthy morons who have made a fortune out of Fianna Fail. The future power of this country will lie with the Gardai, the Drug Barons, and the Travellers, because these are almost untouchable at the moment, but give it another few years for them to come into their own, and we will see how the Government handles them.
Best of Luck,"
"this is the shit**t website iv ever had the misfortune to come accross in my life"
"you certainly have a way of putting everything into perspective. Also it proves Mary Harneys comments about irish voters having short memories when she made a oops -bubu -when she convicted Charlie Haughey in the media even before his oops- fallen through trial.If we all remembered like you maybe we would have a little more honesty and integrity in irish politics." (15 sept 06)
"very informative, "Thought provoking, I am very disheartened with all the corruption and dishonesty with certain political parties and certain groups in our country, however sadly not surprised" (18 sept 2006)
"This is great stuff. I've been listening to the snorters of destiny bullshitting on for the last umpteen years down my pub about how they saved the economy, united the country, restored the language, drained the Shannon etc. etc. etc. This site encapsulates the sordid truth and reality about these dysfunctional wide-boys...and yet they will get at least 35% of the vote next election!...what does that say about us?2
Keep up the good work. 27 sept 2006
"I love the site its great to see and read a counter to this governments spin and utter crap
keep up the good work and well done"
Dermot (Co Wicklow) 30-Sept 2006
"Excellent site - badly needed - vinnie - dublin" (2nd october 2006)
"This site is important. But is too messy. Clean it up and give it a conservative look and feel. The information is important and you make it look trivial or salacious by putting in the cartoons and putting too many pieces on the one page" (Limerick.3rd October)
October 22 2006:
Thank you for your informative web site, it is very depressing as a PAYE tax payer to see what is going on, it is a pity that the Labour Party cannot take the best parts of New Labour in the UK and create a credible alternative to the current government in Ireland. It is hard to support Labour when they align themselves with Fine Gael, which has so much in common with Fianna Fail, as can be seen at local council level. The greed of certain groups is also very frustrating to observe. Eddie Hobbs, Shane Ross, David Norris and Feargal Quinn as well as some others have also done a lot to highlight corruption. If such people were only in positions of government. I follow your web site with interest.
29th November 2006
"Have only recently come across your site. It's certainly a breath of fresh air and a welcome change for the mainstream Crosbie brothers and O'Reilly toilet paper press.
Ireland has come to a crossroads. We can either continue down the path of gombeen cronyism and phoney free-market capitalism (aka unbridled capitalism for the average joe and corporate socialism for the rich) and face the inevitable disaster when society implodes or we can take back the power and found a new movement for social and economic justice and revolution.
The gangsters of destiny have committed effective treason in selling out the Irish people (from whom the government's "authority" flows) by acting to further the interests of the corrupt uneducated shysters who make up Ireland's business "elite".
All other political parties are also beyond salvation.
We need to gather and form a new movement founded on the principles of justice, charity and prudence as stated in the preamble to our basic law (Bunreacht na hEireann).
This regime has to go whether one way or the other"
Well said,but what do we replace them with Cillian.?
IF DAVID Begg, the capo di capi of Ireland's trade union movement, chokes on his sandwiches this Wednesday, chances are that Brian Cowen has delivered a good budget. Sadly, however, Begg's afternoon tea is unlikely to be spoilt.
Instead of tackling the issues that threaten Ireland's continued economic progress, the Finance Minister will be playing to the galleries. Our money will be handed back to us in a variety of crowd-pleasing ways: more money for pensioners, for children, for the poor.
He may throw in a few tax cuts, he may fiddle with stamp duty for first-time buyers or provide more tax reliefs and he will certainly take more people out of the tax net by widening the tax bands.
He will talk prudence, tell us that our economy is safe only in his hands and warn us that the Opposition parties could destroy the good times. A large number of voters will actually believe him and the media will applaud his good sense.
For Cowen, it is almost too good to be true. He has more of our money than he knows what to do with, the opinion polls continue to show that Fianna Fail will be part of the next Government and the Opposition is dispirited and in some disarray.
The economy, too, ticks along nicely: growth this year and next will be stronger than expected, tax revenues are buoyant and there are, for the moment, no ominously dark clouds.
Which means that Cowen and Bertie Ahern, the Taoiseach, will take no tough decisions: their role, so they seem to think, is to ride the wave of prosperity, doling out money to keep the pleading interest groups content, but doing nothing to ensure that future prosperity is made more likely.
They have, indeed, so much money to spend that their greatest fear is that we will accuse them of profligacy. This year Cowen does not want the tabloids to call him Santa: he wants to be seen as a wise elder statesman, a prudent minister who will not risk the economy by buying our votes, while at the same time being generous enough to keep us sweet.
His budget, therefore, becomes an exercise in public relations, not economic management, and it will be a charade.
Brian Cowen is not a stupid man. He remains the hot favourite to replace Bertie Ahern as leader of Fianna Fail and Taoiseach when he steps down sometime after the next election, and he will be a central figure in next year's campaign. His bruising, bullying debating style makes him the Government's most effective media performer. Where others bluster, he bashes. And, like his counterpart in Britain, he has also mastered the art of staying silent.
Cowen does not offer a sound bite for every issue of the day and cannot be easily pigeonholed on the left, right or centre of Irish politics. There is no burning ideology, no political goal other than power, no sense of a man on a mission to change his world.
In that, he is little different from Ahern. Politics is a game, and they are winners.
Winning, though, is made easier when the economy booms and you are awash with cash. No one wants the boom to bust, and no matter what the polls say about voters' priorities between now and the election, the key issue in the polling booths will be the economy.
Can the Opposition parties be trusted to preside over continued success?
What risks attach to throwing out this Government?
As their pen hovers over the candidates' names, voters tend to put aside the crises and scandals, the incompetence and the occasional whiff of corruption, and think instead about their own back pockets.
That is why this budget becomes so central to the election campaign. Cowen must maintain the illusion of good economic management that Charlie McCreevy, his predecessor, created for this Government and he must gently assuage people's guilt about their good fortune by looking after the lesswell-off.
The problem is, of course, that the perception of good economic management is just an illusion. While the private sector economy continues to improve at a rapid pace, the public sector - that part of our economy over which Cowen and Ahern have direct influence - threatens to drag it down.
Instead of reforming the public sector over the past nine years of government, they have bloated it. Taxpayers' money has been poured into it, but Ahern and Cowen
'The result is that we have a two-tier economy: a thriving private sector that creates wealth and jobs, and a lumbering public sector that soaks up cash, spends it inefficiently and increases the costs of doing business'
have deliberately avoided the reforms that would ensure that our money was not wasted.
The result is that we have a two-tier economy: a thriving private sector that creates wealth and jobs, and a lumbering public sector that soaks up cash, spends it inefficiently and increases the costs of doing business.
The failure to reform means that when there is an international downturn, Ireland will feel the full force because we have not chosen to put our own affairs in order. It is not an historic failure, but a continuing one.
When presented with a blueprint for the reform of the electricity supply industry this autumn, the Government ducked it and opted for monopoly and high prices rather than competition and lower prices.
Even when it does embark on reform, like breaking down regional health boards and creating the Health Service Executive, it does not have the courage to follow through and strip out the layers of redundant jobs.
So reform, Ahern style, creates duplication and extra costs rather than greater efficiencies, just as benchmarking, Ahern style, is a secretive process that increases public sector pay but extracts no measurableconcessions.
Cowen knows the truth, but he will ignore it. He knows that reform of an inefficient public sector is essential if Ireland is to enjoy the sustained economic success that he and his taoiseach talk about so glibly, yet he will not deliver that reform because he is not prepared to upset the David Beggs of this world.
Reform, inevitably, requires confrontation and Ahern's government does not do confrontation. It placates, it seeks consensus, it buys peace with our money, but it does not confront. The public sector unions hold the country to ransom, and Ahern pays it willingly.
That divide between public and private becomes ever more evident. Public sector employees enjoy high wages, secure jobs, plentiful holidays and, best of all, generous pension schemes. They are immune from economic downturns, and can look to a secure and prosperous future no matter what happens to the dollar, or the housing market or the US economy.
It is a divide that is now far more relevant than the old divisions of working class and middle class and one that will create more tensions and more hostilities. Private sector risk, private sector entrepreneurship and sheer hard work has created the economic boom that fills the Government's coffers, and that money is being showered on an inefficient public sector because the Government will not face down the trade unions and demand the reforms that would make our economy more competitive.
Cowen could do that, but he will not. He will instead claim credit for a boom that his inaction endangers, and will be hailed as prudent because he chooses not to give us back as much of our money as he could.
Prudence, though, is not just about hoarding money for a rainy day. Prudence requires the Government to curb its spending on capital projects, like roads, schools and hospitals, so that it does not exacerbate the capacity constraints in the construction industry and the rate of inflation. It requires the next round of benchmarking to be a genuine attempt to inject productivity and merit-based promotion into a public service that lacks both. It requires competition where lazy monopolies rule.
Above all, though, prudence requires the courage to confront and root out inefficiencies and the courage to demand that taxpayers' money is spent withdue care.
What Cowen will claim as prudence is in reality cowardice. His budget illusion will ignore the real issues and focus on the peripherals as he tries to convince us that he, and only he, can be trusted with our economic future.
David Begg can rest easy. There will be no shocks for him and his people on Wednesday and no reason to choke on his sandwiches. Cowen has enough money at his disposal to soothe all the noisiest lobby groups - the greys and the greens, the poverty industry and the rest - while holding enough back to maintain his illusory prudence.
It may well be enough to secure a third term in government, but it will fall a long way short of delivering the sustained economic prosperity that a courageous government could deliver.
Alan Ruddock (Irish Independent)