Tuesday, June 24, 2008

ESRI try to save face - Time for a Cull

On May 14th, the ESRI in their last report, told us all was rosy in the garden. http://paddythepig.blogspot.com/2008/05/esri-weather-forecast.html . They told us one of the inputs for their 'model' was 70 dollar per barrel oil price ; now they're predicting 100 dollar per barrel. Looks to PaddyThePig like they're making it up as they go along.

Now they've turned on their heels, and have admitted that the downturn that the dogs in the street knew about, is actually going to happen. A face-saving exercise, fuelled by the desire not to look ridiculous.

They should now recruit from the top brass of 'Irish Psychics Live', to restore their credibility.

FAS have an economist, who scratches his chin, and produces a quarterly report. ESRI throw out their 'predictions' every quarter. As do the the Central Bank, who are trying to find a way to pass the time.

The public service cull that will need to take place, to try to manage costs, should start with some of these star-gazers, especially those who have been proven to be guessers and chancers.

Oink Oink!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Gormley to abolish tax on Long Johns!

Minister for the Environment, John Gormley, in his latest push to reduce our carbon footprint, is to abolish VAT on thermal underwear. This is to encourage the population to return to the ancient practices of wearing woolly vests, bloomers, and especially long johns. It is hoped this measure will offset the effect of the spike in the price of coal, oil and gas, which are becoming unaffordable for many families and pensioners, and also the effect of the Minister's proposed carbon tax.

Oink Oink

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Enda Kenny - 'The Enforcer?

Enda Kenny, the Fine Gael leader, is being thrust into unfamiliar territory as he reacts to Biffo's intimidation in the Dail. Like the squeaky clean class captain standing up to the school bully, Kenny is putting his boxing gloves on, and is threatening all-out confrontation with the Bruiser from Clara.

Biffo won't be worried. He is well used to getting the knuckledusters out. Kenny, on the other hand, is wearing a pair of pink mittens knitted by his Mammy. In boxing parlance, this is a no-contest.

As Denis Healey, former UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, said of an attack from his Tory opponent Geoffrey Howe : "It was like being savaged by a dead sheep".

Nonetheless, Kenny feels he has to take a stand. Deep down, he knows the electorate think he's not up to the job, and he is ultra-determined to prove them wrong. That is is biggest problem. He looks like an eejit, as he desperately attempts to assert his authority. Any messing in the school disco, and Kenny will be in there like a shot, rolling up his shirtsleeves and protesting "I will not stand for this! I will have to ask you to step outside."

Biffo and the boys will be rolling in the aisles. Biffo is the bullyboy who fancies himself as the toughest guy in Ballygobananas. Stick a leather jacket on him, a blaring ghettoblaster on his shoulder, a fag in his gob, and give him a posse of adoring (and slightly fearful) hangers-on , and there you have it - our new Taoiseach. In fact, our new Government.

Oink Oink!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Will Biffo do the Fianna Fail Haka?

Fresh from his ordination as Head Bottlewasher of the Republic of Oirland, Mr Brian Cowen has got straight down to business, and has gone on a nationwide tour to promote the Lisbon treaty. He's doing his handshaking and baby-kissing show in venues all over Ireland, and is playing to packed houses. An audience of 'rural dwellers' packed in to hear him speak today in Mullinavat, County Kilkenny, and after delivering a precanned speech - http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/breaking/2008/0516/breaking47.htm
he then used the occasion to appeal to that unloved, underpriveleged, neglected section of Irish society - the farmers.

Irish farmers have been getting pretty angry of late. Fresh from the biggest boom in land prices in Irish history, and with the boom in agricultural commodities only building up a head of steam, farmers are still not happy. Instead they are going back to doing what they do best. Whinging and moaning.

The brunt of their anger this time is directed at the European Union's trade commissioner, Peter Mandelson, who heads the EU delegation in the World Trade Talks. The plight of Irish farmers is only one of many considerations that compete for attention in Mr Mandleson's mind ; this seems to upset the Irish farming lobby, who are used to shouting louder than anyone else, and getting their way. Remember, this is the same lobby who once threw a live sheep onto the desk of some poor sod in the Department of Agriculture. It's all a bit ironic really, considering farmers have milked the EU dry for years thanks to the EU's costliest charity - the Common Agricultural Policy.

Now farmers are livid that Ireland will lose it's veto at the talks. Well boo hoo. Pass me a Kleenex. Picture it. A deal about to be struck at the WTO ; it's a win win situation for everyone. More trade. More global growth. More employment. But the IFA aren't happy. Irish farmers throw a hissyfit. And oh shit, the deal is off. I don't think so!

For some reason, Mr Cowen feels he has to appease this lobby. Friday, he strutted the stage in Mullinavat like an evangelical preacher, as he pleaded to his congregation to stay at the heart of Europe rather than the periphery. No doubt spurred on by his 42% rating in the latest opinion poll, Mr Cowen has the gadge of a fella who got lucky the night before, and the night before that. I suppose, he is on honeymoon.

But he couldn't lose the Lisbon vote, could he? Probably not. To do so would be a case of 'snatching defeat from the jaws of victory' ; as of today, the number of Yes voters outnumbers the 'No' side by a factor of 2:1. But there is the odd cloud on the horizon. First is the wholehearted support of Enda Kenny et al : http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/breaking/2008/0516/breaking47.htm.
Second is the dodgy economy. Any of these accidents-in-waiting could damage the campaign if left unattended. It would be wise to muzzle Kenny, but unfortunately that's not within his powers. Let run amok, Mr Kenny might encourage people to vote no just for the heck of it. But at least Mr Cowen can take heart from the erratic campaigning of the motley crew of misfits that make up the No campaign.

Lisbon or not, the Fianna Fail show must go on. Voters can expect to see Cowen press the flesh. Nothing is more important than the Fianna Fail party. And if we're lucky, and the Lisbon treaty is ratified, we may see Cowen burst into a spontaneous version of the Fianna Fail victory dance. Expect the arms to be raised in triumph, and I'd be very surprised if we're not treated to the Fianna Fail haka - Biffo lifted shoulder high by an army of henchmen in tweed caps, howling like a pack of Bagles. And for the icing on the cake, we'll be treated to the Biffo thumbs up. Can't wait.

Still, it's weeks to polling day. There could be a few banana skins between now and then. Let's hope a few of them are put under Biffo, just to wind him up. Me, I'm tempted to vote No. Just to see how they would justify holding a second referendum if they lost. And a third. And a fourth. Have they no shame?

Oink Oink!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

ESRI Weather Forecast

Good evening.

Ireland's climate is about to turn tropical. The medium to long term outlook for Ireland is for a rise in temperatures leading to all-year-round summery conditions. We will be able to grow bananas and pineapples in our back gardens. We will be wearing our flip-flops and shorts to work in mid January. We will be making our Christmas dinner on the barbie.

The weather over the next while might be a little volatile. We may see the odd little shower or cloud, the odd cold spell, and maybe an occasional snowflake. But don't worry. These conditions will soon clear. The fundamentals of the Irish climate are sound. The Irish climate has a high resilience to negative external conditions. Our magic wand will fend off wet and cold fronts coming in from the Atlantic.

That's all for now. That's the weather forecast for Ireland. This is the ESRI reminding you to always be positive, no matter what the evidence is to the contrary.

Good evening.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Tullamore address

New Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, made a triumphant return to the Faithful County over the weekend. The Master of Ceremonies, quoting Abraham Lincoln, introduced Cowen to his flock as a leader 'by the people, of the people, and for the people' . The faithful hollered their approval, and hurled their peaked caps in the air. The wideboys dragged on their ciggies. Things were looking promising ; there was a sniff of a good session in the air. Every barman within a 10 mile radius were busy shining up their counter-fronts, and dickying up their toilets by putting fresh soap in the dispensers for the first time in yonks.

Thankfully, Cowen didn't ham it up too much by wearing his Offaly jersey, or anything like that. He was paraded through the town square in an open-top car. The local Fianna Fail hacks from Tullamore Town Council had their shirts pressed, and the hair combed, and lined up to greet the boss. One got a little carried away, and nearly hugged him. But that's as far as it went. Cowen was then escorted to the podium, where a roost of Fianna Fail TDs were waiting for him. Clearly, this rent-a-mob had been hauled in to make up the numbers .

Still, it was a big day for the boy from Clara, who'd gone up to the big shmoke and make it big. There's something in the rural Irish psyche that rejoices in the lad from the shticks, who goes up to Dublin and shows the jackeens who is the daddy.

Cowen then got up to speak, and didn't disappoint. Whatever about the substance, Cowen does at least inject passion into his speeches. He's a bit like an All-Ireland winning captain, about to receive Sam Maguire. Thankfully, on this occasion, he didn't scratch his balls, or shout so loud as to blow a speaker in the PA system.

'It's time for Government to realise that it doesn't just represent the country, but that it also represents the people', he hollered. And quoting Sean Lemass, he added, 'All national progress can only be predicated on an upsurge of patriotism'. Cowen seems big on the patriotism thing ; unlike Bertie, he will bellow out the words to 'Amhran na bhFian' at Lansdowne Road and Croke Park. Whether or not he'll sing 'Ireland's Call' will be interesting to see.

Actually, it was more the singing that caught PaddyThePig's (and the audience's) attention on the night. Politics is all well and good. But there were pints to be drank, and punters were more interested in getting the shindig underway. Cowen obliged by leading the crowd in a sing-song, culminating in a rousing version of 'My Way'. This is something Bertie would never have done, even if he could sing.

Not since Offaly won Liam McCarthy back in 1998, had the county seen such celebrations. The last time Offaly people got this emotional was during that year's All Ireland Hurling Campaign. Things threatened to boil over at one stage, when Offaly supporters staged an impromptu sit-in on the Croke Park pitch, after referee Jimmy Cooney blew the whistle two minutes early in the All Ireland semi-final. The hang sanger brigade simply weren't having it. They refused to leave the ground, and demanded a replay. They got their way. It just goes to show ; you should never ever upset a Biffo.

Oink Oink!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Biffo's Cabinet - Yawn!

All the radio stations were running live coverage from Dail Eireann of Brian Cowen introducing his new Cabinet. Fintan The Toole was sticking his oar in with the hapless Enda Kenny, and was baying for Mary Harney's blood on the Matt Cooper show.

I was tempted to switch channels. Fintan's whining voice was a bit much to take ; it resembled a violin being played off key. And Kenny's attempt to scupper Harney's reappointment was looking like a vain attempt to be noticed, and appear leaderlike. Enda Kenny is a student of the Steve Staunton school of management. Unfortunately, he has an knack of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, leaving everyone shaking their heads wondering "What is he on about?" Maybe one day, he will make one final attempt to assert his authority, and tell us "I am the gaffer. The buck stops with me".

Back in the Dail Chamber, no sooner had Cowen started proposing his Ministers, than Kenny and his sidekick Eamon Gilmore, were on their feet lodging objections. Not enough time was being allocated in the Dail to discuss the appointments, they claimed. Kenny pointed out that in previous administrations, it was common practice to debate Ministerial appointments for up to four days. Four days? Perish the thought. Bless me Father for I have sinned, what's my penance? Son, Three Hail Marys, and Four Days of Enda Kenny.

Eventually the news seeped through. But amidst all the shenanigans, PaddyThePig had lost interest. Michael Martin or Brian Lenihan? Mary Coughlan or Mary Hanafin? Tweedle Dum or Tweedle Dee?

Still, Michael Martin looked cock-a-hoop at being given Foreign Affairs. On Prime Time, Michael made his debut appearance in his new role. He was speaking from Belfast where he was hobnobbing at the American Investment Conference, dolled up in his new monkey suit and dickie-bow. The Star Spangled Banner limply flew behind him.

Brian Lenihan, a barrister by trade, was on morning radio, being touted as a 'safe pair of hands' in the tricky Finance role. He stoutly defended Brian Cowen's dithering on residential property stamp duty during his reign in Finance, and firmly stood up for his new boss. Moore McDowell, economic commentator, said that as a highly successful barrister, Lenihan would be able to 'get to the core of the matter', despite having no economic background.

So is Brian Lenihan the guy who will be able to say "No" to vested interests during difficult economic times? As a litmus test, he was asked 'Will you be introducing a property tax in Ireland?'. In a Freudian slip, Lenihan showed that, where he comes from, the wind clearly blows in opposite directions at the same time. 'No', he insisted, 'We have no plans to do this'. But then added, 'But if there a demand for such a measure from the public, we would consider it'.

Oink Oink!