RTE, Land ‘exploitation’ and Social Housing.

It’s hard not to fall into the trap of merely repeating the machinations of RTE yesterday as they created a news story out criticisms of Unite trade union.  Unite complied with building regulations brought in by Labour vis a vis when social housing needs to be considered in redevelopments.

First off, no institution is above criticism and people have every right to ask questions about the choices unions and other organisations make about their assets.  That said, in social media post by Dave Gibney,  its clear that what was happening  was a push back within RTE against a broader movement of HomeSweetHome. I make little distinction between the story RTE ran and the front cover of the Sunday Mail story again seeking to smear the Home Sweet Home movement.

The Home Sweet Home movement that not only dominated media landscape in Ireland for almost 4 weeks, but did so on its own terms. What was striking was just how successfully Home Sweet Home shaped the narrative in its own terms.  And is wasn’t simply a narrative, this was a movement that spoke about law breaking through the lens of care. Of militant transgressions justified outside and beyond neoliberal logic.  And it met with widespread public support and massive levels of direct involvement.

 

 

Richard McAleavey yesterday wrote about how

“The thick strain of right-wing anti-establishment sentiment in Irish political life, tapped into by RTÉ’s reporting here, does not evaluate it at all. It merely barks ‘hypocrisy!’. According to these quarters, the ‘vested interests’, in which the trade unions are always made to figure heavily, have things all sown up, at the expense of the little man. The purpose of such sentiment is to sow disenchantment with trade unions and, consequently, with the defence of workers’ rights, including social rights such as the right to a home.”

You can and should read the full piece here.

So how do I write anything about RTE own involvement in land exploitation and its lack of material contribution to solving a housing crisis that moves beyond RTE’s own cries of hypocrisy.  Perhaps pointing  it out is enough  for now on my lunch break but id like to come back to this again.

 

The Irish government was informed last October 2016 that Dublin City Council passed a motion calling for RTE’s amassed land assets to be used for social housing.

The letter send to Minister Denis Naughton can be seen below. #

Dublin City Council RTE social housing

The Minister replied, essentially washing his hands of any state intervention saying RTE is a fully autonomous organisation.   His reply below here.

 

RTE social housing

In the letter Naughton states

RTE is an independent statutory corporation whose remit and obligations are set out in Section 114 of the Broadcasting Act 2009. Section 98 of the Act provides that the company shall be independent in the pursuance of these objects, subject to the requirements of the Act, and as such I, as Minister, have no function in the management of RTE’s day to day affairs, including matters relating to the management of land assets.

But he also states that RTE is looking to sell and exploit land up to 10 acres in ‘2016/17’  Ive yet to see any report about RTE selling land and how much of this is to be used for social housing.  I doubt we’ll be seeing one any time soon.

 

Trumps Press Release re Denis O Brien in full

To date, no Irish media reprinted any of the specific content within Donald Trump’s press release about Denis O Brien’s links to the Clinton Foundation,  and Clinton family.

What’s even more striking, no media outlet even offers a hyperlink in its own self censoring coverage to the actual press release itself.

dob

The press release is in full below.  As we can see, none of it is original content, or even amounts to any sort of political analysis. Its simply copy paste of pieces, mostly uncontested facts already written online. Much of it from within Ireland.

Irish media outlets might consider their choice not to link or include any specifics outlined within  ( eg O Briens donating to the Clinton Foundation whilst getting contracts from the US state department for mobile phone contract in Haiti) as pragmatic.

That I’m afraid is internalised logic, which any observer can see is  based on internalising a fear of O Brien’s power and justifying something politica as a business decision.  And that’s a much bigger news than any copy paste job Trumps team fires out.

Update: 12.49. Hattip to Marcus O’Cuilleanáin for this link

‘Upon legal advice, RTÉ will not be repeating the exact words used in the statement’ – 1:27mins

 

Here’s the presser in full.

Image designed and courtesy of Eamonn Crudden

– September 28, 2016 –

FOLLOW THE MONEY: DENIS O’BRIEN – ANOTHER CORRUPT CLINTON FRIEND

DENIS O’BRIEN IS A BILLIONAIRE “CELL PHONE TYCOON” WITH CLOSE TIES TO THE CLINTONS AND ALSO ONE OF THE “MOST REVILED FIGURES” IN IRELAND

Denis O’Brien Is A “Cell Phone Tycoon” Who Owns Digicel, “A Mobile Phone Network Provider That Operates In Central America, The Caribbean, And The Pacific Islands.” “Cell phone tycoon Denis O’Brien runs and owns 94% of Digicel, a mobile phone network provider that operates in Central America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands. The company was supposed to hold its initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange in 2015 but pulled it in October due to “volatility” in the markets. In recent years, O’Brien has been on a deal-making binge in Ireland, snapping up distressed assets on the cheap and turning them around.” (“#219 Denis O’Brien,” Forbes, Accessed 4/26/16)

  • NOTE: As Of April 26, 2016, O’Brien Is Worth $6.1 Billion USD. (“#219 Denis O’Brien,” Forbes, Accessed 4/26/16)

O’Brien Also Founded The Esat Telecom Group PLC And Is The Chair Of The Clinton Global Initiative Haiti Action Network. “O’Brien also founded the Esat Telecom Group plc. He is a Director on the US Board of Concern Worldwide, a member of the UN Broadband Commission for Digital Development, and chair of the Clinton Global Initiative Haiti Action Network. In addition, he is Chairman and Co-Founder of Frontline, the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders. In 2000, he established The Iris O’Brien Foundation to identify and assist projects in Ireland and internationally which aim to alleviate disadvantaged communities.” (Clinton Foundation Website, Accessed 4/26/16)

O’Brien Is One Of The “Most Reviled” Figures In Ireland Over Revelations About His Business Affairs. “O’Brien is Ireland’s leading philanthropist – but now also one of the most reviled figures there. It is an extraordinary paradox that surrounds his business success – how he made his fortune and now how he is handling revelations about his banking and business affairs. For a man described by Clinton as changing the world more than anyone else for the betterment of the poor recent negative press provides a dizzying contrast.” (James O’Shea, “Clinton’s Close Friend Denis O’Brien Battles Massive Criticism In Ireland,” Irish Central, 6/8/15)

O’Brien Is A Major Clinton Foundation Supporter And Bill Clinton’s “Friend”

(Clinton Foundation Website, Accessed 4/26/16)

Denis J. O’Brien And Digicel Cumulatively Donated $10,000,001 To $25,000,000 To The Clinton Foundation. (“Contributor And Grantor Information,” Clinton Foundation Website, Accessed 4/26/16)

Bill Clinton And O’Brien Developed “A Close Working Relationship” During Their Work Together In Haiti. “Mr Clinton and Mr. O’Brien formed a close working relationship in Haiti where the former acted as UN special envoy, and where Digicel has become the country’s largest foreign investor ever – pumping $600 million (€443 million) into an economy devastated by the 2010 earthquake.”(Joe Humphreys, “Bill Clinton Visit Cements Close Working Relationship With Denis O’Brien,” The Irish Times, 10/10/13)

  • Chelsea Clinton Thanked O’Brien For His “Tireless Leadership” In Haiti. CHELSEA CLINTON: “And again, I want to thank Denis O’Brien for his tireless leadership, as well as also getting Ruth Messenger a chair – proving indeed that chivalry is alive and well. Without his sort of dogged commitment, I don’t think we would have had the success rate that he is so rightly proud of and that we are so rightly grateful to be part of. So, I want to welcome Adam to the stage to help lead the conversation, but I also would ask all of you to please give Denis who is far too humble a round of applause.” (Chelsea Clinton, Remarks At The 2015 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, New York, NY, 9/27/15)

In 2011 O’Brien Flew Bill Clinton To Ireland On His Private Jet So That Clinton Could Speak At The Global Irish Economic Forum. “In 2011, Mr Clinton flew to Ireland on Mr O’Brien’s private jet to attend the Global Irish Economic Forum in Dublin Castle, which was hosted by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.” (Joe Humphreys, “Bill Clinton Visit Cements Close Working Relationship With Denis O’Brien,” The Irish Times, 10/10/13)

On The Same Trip, O’Brien Picked Up The Restaurant Tab For His “Mate” Clinton And 23 Others. “He has an honorary doctorate from UCD and is a mate of former US President, Bill Clinton. Indeed, he flew him to the recent Dublin Castle beano in his jet, and later paid the tab for a late-nighter in the Unicorn restaurant with Clinton, the strangely ever-present Séamus Heaney and 22 others.” (“Denis O’Brien: A Complicated Career And Dubious Ethics,” Village, 12/14/11)

President Clinton Named Denis O’Brien As A Clinton Global Citizen In 2012. “The Clinton Global Citizen Awards recognizes individuals from various sectors who demonstrate visionary leadership in addressing global challenges. Carlos Slim Helú, founder of Fundación Carlos Slim; Luis A. Moreno, president of Inter-American Development Bank; Denis O’Brien, chairman and founder of Digicel Group; Pepe Julian Onziema, programme director and advocacy officer of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG); The Right Reverend Christopher Senyonjo, executive director of St. Paul’s Reconciliation and Equality Centre; and Katie Stagliano, founder and chief executive gardener of Katie’s Krops, will accept awards this year.”( Press Release, “President Clinton to Honor Six Recipients at the Sixth Annual Clinton Global Citizen Awards,” The Clinton Foundation, 9/24/12)

In 2012, Clinton Rated O’Brien’s Ideas To Make Cash Transactions Available For The Poor Through Cell Phones As The Number One Idea Changing The World. “Former president Bill Clinton wrote in a September 2012 Time Magazine cover story that Irish businessman Denis O’Brien’s move to make cash transactions available for the poorest in the world via cell phones was the number one idea in changing the world. The Time cover story featuring Clinton holding a globe is entitled “5 Ideas that are changing the World” and O’Brien’s idea was rated tops.” (James O’Shea, “Clinton’s Close Friend Denis O’Brien Battles Massive Criticism In Ireland,” Irish Central, 6/8/15)

O’Brien, Described As A Friend, Was The Main Facilitator And Benefactor For Clinton’s Speech At A 2013 Gathering For The One Percent Difference Campaign. “Bill Clinton’s third speaking engagement in Ireland in as many years was facilitated largely by his friend and fellow philanthropist Denis O’Brien. The billionaire chairman of the Digicel telecoms group helped to cover the cost of the visit along with a number of other private donors. Opening his speech, Mr. Clinton thanked Mr O’Brien personally ‘for the invitation.’” (Joe Humphreys, “Bill Clinton Visit Cements Close Working Relationship With Denis O’Brien,” The Irish Times, 10/10/13)

O’Brien Is A “Fan” Of Hillary Clinton’s And Hosted A 2012 Dinner For Her While She Was Secretary Of State

According To A 2014 Interview, O’Brien Is A “Fan” Of Hillary Clinton’s. O’DOWD: “Speaking of politicians, you are a big fan of Hillary Clinton. Do you think she is going to run for the White House in 2016?” O’BRIEN: “I’d say she is going to see what the lay of the land is, like any clever politician, to see who’s there on the Democratic side. I think a year out from the primaries last time, not a lot of people had heard of Obama and never saw him as a serious candidate, so obviously she is waiting to see who’s there. And yes, I am a fan.” (Niall O’Dowd, “Exclusive: Denis O’Brien On Tony O’Reilly, Hillary, Ireland, And Making A Difference,” Irish Central, 9/27/14)

In 2012, O’Brien Hosted A Dinner For Hillary Clinton During Her Visit To Dublin. “There was lots of reminiscing the day before in Dublin too when about 12 of us old-time Hillary supporters sat with her in a Dublin restaurant at a dinner hosted by businessman Denis O’Brien. In the small private dinner setting just off Stephen’s Green in Dublin she made clear that the fire still burns. The affection for Ireland and the desire to serve again was very clear that night.” (Niall O’Dowd, “Hillary Clinton Book Recalls Role In Irish Peace Process,” Irish Central, 6/11/14)

O’Brien’s Company Received Funds Overseen By A Top Clinton Aide To Develop Mobile Services In Post-Earthquake Haiti

In 2011, O’Brien’s Company Digicel Was Awarded a $2.5 Million Award From Funds Overseen By A Top Clinton Aide To Develop Mobile Services In Haiti. “Irish billionaire Denis O’Brien, who heads a mobile-phone network provider called Digicel, won a $2.5 million award in 2011 from a program run by the State Department’s U.S. Agency for International Development to offer mobile money services in post-earthquake Haiti. The firm won subsequent awards. Funds for the awards were provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, while USAID administered the program, with a top Clinton aide directly overseeing earthquake aid.” (James V. Grimaldi, Rebecca Ballhaus, And Peter Nicholas, “Gifts To Hillary Clinton’s Family Charity Are Scrutinized In Wake Of Book,” The Wall Street Journal, 4/22/15)

O’BRIEN FACES CONTINUED INVESTIGATIONS INTO HIS QUID PRO QUO DEALINGS WITH IRISH POLITICIANS

An Irish Tribunal Determined That O’Brien Received Significant Aid From Michael Lowry, The Irish Communications Minister, In Obtaining A Valuable Telecom License

The Irish Moriarty Tribunal Concluded “Beyond Doubt” That O’Brien Had Received Substantial Help In Obtaining A Lucrative Mobile License From Then Communications Minister Michael Lowry. “The Moriarty tribunal’s second and final report has found that Michael Lowry assisted Denis O’Brien in his bid to secure a mobile phone contract for Esat Digifone. It concluded it is ‘beyond doubt’ that then minister for transport, energy and communications Mr Lowry gave ‘substantive information to Denis O’Brien, of significant value and assistance to him in securing the [mobile] licence.’ It said Mr Lowry and Mr O’Brien had at least two meetings during the bid process at which the former minister ‘imparted substantive information to Mr O’Brien of significant value and assistance to him in securing the licence.’” (“Moriarty Says Lowry Helped O’Brien Win Mobile Licence,” The Irish Times, 3/22/11)

O’Brien Transferred A Substantial Amount Of Money To Lowry And His Party Around The Time His Firm Was Seeking A Mobile License

O’Brien Gave Lowry’s Political Party A €50,000 Donation The Year The Contract Was Granted. “The minister was then a member of the Fine Gael party, which was also offered a donation amounting to €50,000 (£43,400) from O’Brien in the year the contract was granted. The-then prime minister, John Bruton, later sent the money back.” (Henry MacDonald, “Former Irish Minister Michael Lowry Accused Of Collusion Over Telecoms Bid,” The Guardian, 3/22/11)

  • The Moriarty Tribunal Found That The Payment Was Made “On Behalf Of Esat Digifone At The Instigation And Promotion Of Denis O’Brien.” “It said this payment was ‘made in a manner which, having regard to its false and misleading documentation, the initial payment to an offshore Jersey account, and the eventual delays and misrepresented form of transmission to Fine Gael, was secretive, utterly lacking in transparency and designed to conceal the fact of such payment by or on behalf of the donors.’ ‘The tribunal has found that the payment, although not one ever intended for Mr Lowry personally, was nonetheless one that technically falls within its terms of reference and was a payment to Fine Gael, on behalf of Esat Digifone at the instigation and promotion of Denis O’Brien.” (“Moriarty Says Lowry Helped O’Brien Win Mobile Licence,” The Irish Times, 3/22/11)

The Moriarty Tribunal Concluded That O’Brien Transferred €150,000 To Lowry In Several Secret Transactions. “‘Clandestine’ money transactions took place between O’Brien and Lowry in return for the minister’s support, according to Mr. Justice Moriarty, the tribunal’s chairman. The report said that at one stage, while Lowry was communications minister, he received a sum amounting to €150,000 from O’Brien.” (Henry MacDonald, “Former Irish Minister Michael Lowry Accused Of Collusion Over Telecoms Bid,” The Guardian, 3/22/11)

Over The Course Of Four Years, O’Brien Would Provide An Additional £720,000 In Payments And Loan Support To Lowry. “Within four years of this first encounter, O’Brien had, the tribunal tells us, donated almost IR£1m in ‘clandestine circumstances’ to Lowry through loan support and payments. These came in three separate instalments; the first happened to occur less than seven weeks after the mobile phone licence had been granted. It included IR£147,000, Stg£300,000 and a ‘benefit equivalent to a payment’, in the form of loan support, of Stg£420,000.”(Elaine Byrne,“So Who’s Afraid Of Denis O’Brien? Enda Kenny Is,” Sunday Independent, 10/16/11)

O’Brien Tried To “Spoof” A Company Executive Into Releasing Funds For A Payment To Lowry That O’Brien Wanted To Make. “Some time afterwards Mr. O’Brien told Esat executive Barry Moloney that he’d tried to make a payment to Mr. Lowry but the payment had ‘got stuck’ with an intermediary. Mr. O’Brien later told his Esat colleagues that this was a spoof designed to get Mr. Moloney to release some funds Mr. O’Brien wanted released.” (Colm Keena, “Next Moriarty Report Focus On O’Brien, Lowry,” The Irish Times, 1/8/07)

O’Brien’s Company At The Time Was Seeking A Mobile Phone License, Which Was Later Sold Off To British Telecom. “At the time O’Brien’s Esat Digifone conglomerate was trying to gain a mobile phone licence which had been put out to public tender in 1995. O’Brien later sold that licence to British Telecom, netting his business hundreds of millions of euros.” (Henry MacDonald, “Former Irish Minister Michael Lowry Accused Of Collusion Over Telecoms Bid,” The Guardian, 3/22/11)

The Moriarty Tribunal Described O’Brien’s Transactions Were “Demonstrably Referable To The Acts And Conduct Of Mr. Lowry.” “The final Moriarty tribunal report was published in March 2011. It found Mr Lowry ‘secured the winning’ of the State’s second mobile phone licence competition for Mr O’Brien’s consortium, Esat Digifone. It also found Mr O’Brien made payments to, and supported a loan to, Mr Lowry and that the transactions were ‘demonstrably referable to the acts and conduct of Mr Lowry.’ The two men have said the tribunal was wrong in its findings.” (Colm Keena, “Cab Seeks To Question Denis O’Brien On Tribunal Findings,” The Irish Times, 1/9/16)

The Irish Criminal Assets Bureau Continues To Investigate O’Brien After Gathering “Further Material” Regarding His Telecom Bid

The Irish Criminal Assets Bureau Will Be Interviewing O’Brien Over The Moriarty Tribunal’s Findings After Gathering “Further Material” About The Matter. “The Criminal Assets Bureau will look to interview businessman Denis O’Brien about the findings of the Moriarty tribunal report after it has gathered further material, according to a source with knowledge of the matter. While a number of relevant witnesses have already been interviewed, an interview with Mr O’Brien has yet to take place but will be sought, according to the source.” (Colm Keena, “Cab Seeks To Question Denis O’Brien On Tribunal Findings,” The Irish Times, 1/9/16)

  • NOTE: The Criminal Assets Bureau Is “The Agency That Identifies Money Gained Through Serious Crime.” “Denis O’Brien, Ireland’s largest media owner, is being investigated by the country’s Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB), the agency that identifies money gained through serious crime.” (Roy Greenslade, “Denis O’Brien Under Investigation By Ireland’s Criminal Assets Bureau,” The Guardian, 1/11/16)

O’BRIEN’S PURCHASE OF A DEBT-RIDDLED COMPANY COST IRISH TAXPAYERS €110 MILLION

In 2012, O’Brien Purchased A Company Whose Debt, Caused By “His Endless Buying And Selling Of Property” Was Partially Offset By Irish State Funds. “In 2012 O’Brien acquired for €45.4 million, Siteserv, a construction company that was buying up numerous other property companies during Ireland’s short lived economic boom. At the time of purchase, O’Brien owed IBRC, the state owned-bank, hundreds of millions of euros. Siteserv, like many companies who went bankrupt during this financial apocalypse in Ireland, pace 2008, were previously allowed to run riot on a never ending spending spree, supported by Anglo Irish Bank. By purchasing Siteserv, another company riddled with Anglo Irish Bank-fuelled debt, O’Brien was effectively buying from the state an asset riddled with debt–much of which he helped create through his endless buying and selling of property.(J.P. O’Malley, “Why Is The Irish Government Scared of Billionaire Denis O’Brien?,” The Daily Beast, 6/12/15)

“The Sale Of The Company To O’Brien Therefore Cost The Irish Taxpayer €110 Million.” “The sale of Siteserv to O’Brien also had another favorable condition: IBRC agreed to write off over €100million of Siteserv’s debt. And shareholders received €5million from the sale. The sale of the company to O’Brien therefore cost the Irish taxpayer €110 million.” (J.P. O’Malley, “Why Is The Irish Government Scared of Billionaire Denis O’Brien?,” The Daily Beast, 6/12/15)

O’BRIEN ATTEMPTS TO SILENCE POLITICIANS AND JOURNALISTS WHO CRITICIZE HIM

“O’Brien Has Previously Injuncted Or Initiated Defamation Proceedings 24 Times Against 42 Media Outlets.” (J.P. O’Malley, “Why Is The Irish Government Scared of Billionaire Denis O’Brien?,” The Daily Beast, 6/12/15)

In 2016, O’Brien Sued The Irish Revenue Commissioners And Claimed They Breached His Privacy By Providing Details Of His Tax Liability To The Media. “Businessman Denis O’Brien is suing the Revenue Commissioners claiming they breached his privacy by providing details of his tax affairs to the media. He claims the alleged disclosure arose from a document Revenue provided to certain news organisations during a case arising out of his tax liability for 1999/2000 relating to the sale of his shares in Esat Telecom to BT Hawthorn Ltd. Revenue deny his claims and say almost all the information came from a public High Court hearing.” (“Denis O’brien Sues Revenue For Breach Of Privacy,” The Irish Times, 3/16/16)

In 2015, O’Brien Succeeded In Getting An Injunction Against Media Outlets Reporting On A Speech In The Irish Parliament That Criticized His Banking Arrangements. “As I wrote in May this year, most of Ireland’s media were silenced after O’Brien obtained a Dublin high court injunction against the country’s main broadcaster, RTÉ, in order to prevent it reporting a parliamentary speech. That injunction was eventually ‘clarified,’ which allowed the speech to be reported.” (Roy Greenside, “Why Does Irish Media Mogul Denis O’Brien Launch So Many Legal Actions?,” The Guardian, 10/29/15)

O’Brien Sued The Parliamentary Committee That Cleared The MP Who Criticized Him For His Banking Arrangements. “The speech that upset O’Brien was made by Catherine Murphy TD, who raised questions over his banking arrangements. When she was cleared of having abused her parliamentary privilege by a Dáil committee, O’Brien then started legal action against the committee.” (Roy Greenside, “Why Does Irish Media Mogul Denis O’Brien Launch So Many Legal Actions?,” The Guardian, 10/29/15)

  • The Irish Times: O’Brien’s “Case Is Ill-Judged And Dangerous, A Regrettable Move By A Wealthy Serial Litigator.” “That is also the clear purpose of the writers of the Constitution. Any other interpretation, however tempting to judges instinctively distrustful of the imperfection of political decision-making, will set the judiciary on a course of confrontation with parliament that it will rue, irrespective of the merits of Mr O’Brien’s cause. His case is ill-judged and dangerous, a regrettable move by a wealthy serial litigator. He should withdraw it.” (Editorial, “In Defence Of Privilege,” The Irish Times, 8/5/15)

 

  • O’Brien’s Injunction Was Branded As A “Constitutional Crisis.” “But numerous journalists and politicians branded this particular injunction as a constitutional crisis. The Irish Constitution allows for all statements that are made in its national parliament to be protected by parliamentary privilege. By gagging his critics, O’Brien was potentially creating a precedent in Ireland where a private individual was dictating what could and could not be reported from the national parliament to the press.” (J.P. O’Malley, “Why Is The Irish Government Scared of Billionaire Denis O’Brien?,” The Daily Beast, 6/12/15)

 

“In August, He Threatened To Sue A Satirical Website, Waterford Whispers, For Running A Spoof Item About O’Brien. The Post Was Duly Taken Down.” (Roy Greenside, “Why Does Irish Media Mogul Denis O’Brien Launch So Many Legal Actions?,” The Guardian, 10/29/15)

In 2013, O’Brien Won A Defamation Claim Against A Paper That Covered His Earthquake Relief Efforts. “In February 2013, he won €150,000 damages in a successful defamation claim against the Irish Daily Mail over an article published in 2010 about O’Brien’s Haiti earthquake relief efforts. The Mail’s solicitor said after the verdict that it was a sad day for freedom of expression in Ireland.” (Roy Greenside, “Why Does Irish Media Mogul Denis O’Brien Launch So Many Legal Actions?,” The Guardian, 10/29/15)

In 2012, Transparency International Voiced Concerns About O’Brien’s Legal Actions Against Journalists. “In November 2012, an organisation called Transparency International Ireland voiced concerns to the United Nations over the number of O’Brien’s legal actions. It cited figures compiled by the National Union of Journalists that listed actions, or threats of actions, against 17 journalists and media groups by O’Brien since 1998. Among the most high profile were those against some of Ireland’s best-known commentators, such as Vincent Browne, Sam Smyth and Elaine Byrne. TI Ireland’s chief executive John Devitt said at the time: ‘The use of litigation and legal threats denies journalists and editors the human right to freely report and comment on matters of public importance.’ ‘Journalists also have a duty to report or comment on issues in the public interest – even if they have a negative impact on Mr O’Brien’s reputation.’” (Roy Greenside, “Why Does Irish Media Mogul Denis O’Brien Launch So Many Legal Actions?,” The Guardian, 10/29/15)

#IrishWater Anti-Repression Demo (and some thoughts)


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UPDATE:  Arrests have now risen to twenty this week with a husband and wife arrested this morning by the police. 


We Wont Pay

Tonight about 700 people gathering outside the Department of Justice and Equality in an anti-repression demonstration. The demonstration was called in response to ongoing arrests of adults and children involved in the anti water tax movement.

Amongst those speaking at the event was Jason Lester a 16 year old boy arrested on Tuesday morning by ten detectives, nine in plain clothes. The police arrested him in his bedroom after he was woken up. “Next thing I new they where standing in my bedroom and arresting me under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act.”

Crowd 1

Jason’s arrest was one of 17 so far this week which on Wednesday also included a 14 year old boy. The arrests follow a familiar pattern at this stage where large numbers of police arrive at the break of dawn at peoples houses in the working class community of Tallaght, usually minimum of six police officers per arrest. People are put into cells, stripped of shoes, belts and personal possessions, fingerprinted and interrogated for several hours and then released without charge.  

Crowd 2

The arrests focus on an incident in Jobstown last November when a car driving Irish Deputy Prime Minister, Tánaiste Joan Burton, was prevented from moving for up to three hours by people sitting in front of it. They were demonstrating against the introduction of a water tax, part of ongoing state policies resulting from the shifting of private speculation debt on to public accounts.

Crowd 3

A decision was made to build a case of false imprisonment of the Minister, by an investigation team resourced to a degree one would normally associate with high level criminality such as murders or drug trafficking. Its commonly understood within the wider public and the broad anti-water tax movement that the police operation is motivated not with a desire to convict anyone with false imprisonment of the government minister. That itself is a ludicrous proposition given that footage available on-line shows that her car was surrounded by police at pretty much the whole time.

An understanding of policing in Ireland suggests that the motivations are probably muddy. In part they probably do come from a desire to put manners on people involved in embarrassing and annoying a senior government minister. And if you can simultaneously sling enough hyperbolic mud at a movement you might create division and inoculate others from getting involved. And whilst the history of Irish policing ‘crisis’ show that the force is wide open to political interference, a more mundane reality is that police forces engage in political repression for the same reasons a dog licks its own balls. Because its coded into its DNA. For a substantive look at political policing in Ireland check out this report from the Garda Research Institute. But before looking at policing its worth looking at the movement from which those arrest come from.

The anti water tax movement itself is the largest and most sustained public reaction to years of cuts, job losses, growing poverty and inequality. A sense of the importance and social power of the movement is illustrated by the fact that the political party polling highest at present, Sinn Fein, changed its own position in relation to Irish Water and the proposed introduction of water charges. Other left organisations such as the Socialist Party/Austerity Alternative Alliance and Socialist Worker Party/People Before Profits and trade unions and activists are involved under a broad Right 2 Water banner.

AAA Banner

However the wider movement itself is not under the control of any of these organisations. To be part of it you simply just have to not pay. It is made up of an increasingly networked affiliation of community groupings communicating with each other. In this way groups from across the country, and within the capital, are in regular contact with each other to organise solidarity actions such preventing meter installations or support events like the anti-repression demo.

It is within this context that the arrests this week is perhaps most usefully understood. The Irish government has failed spectacularly at each and every step of trying to create Irish Water as a legitimate social policy. It has bounced between an attitude of arrogance and disdain and open fear as deadlines for registration get pushed back and proposals changed so many times that most of us probably forget what the initial Irish Water proposal was. The entire process has only further fuelled disillusionment and general disconnect between ordinary people and a form of low-cunning politics that is clumsy, cruel, temperamental and when the shit the fan, fundamentally unjust.

Disillusionments with unjust policies, or indeed political systems, pose no threat or possibility of change when they are limited to small left wing meetings. Nor do individual bodies and families worn weary with the stress of bills and putting food on the table, and having to feed the relentless desires of a banking system to have its pound of flesh so that you have a roof over your head.

It is a profoundly different experience for everyone involved, for governments and participants, when that disillusionment is expressed on our streets. Be that hundreds of thousands of people collectively refusing to sign up, twenty thousand people walking together in the capital or twenty or thirty people on their own street stopping water meters going in in the first place.

Each one of these things is an active and living expression of solidarity and care. The very things most visibly absent in the logic of ‘austerity’.

From the perspective of people engaging in this movement, these are beautiful and empowering things. The reality of becoming engaged with our neighbours in trying to shape our world outside the ritual of voting is a transforming experience. We become political and social actors ourselves. And we do it again and again. Exploring that further is another piece of writing, but suffice to say that movements of this size are not just about changing policies or getting better governments in the future at the next election. For thousands of people involved it is a real change in the immediate way we understand what politics is and what it can be.


From the perspective of a government that sees their respective party support falling, and looking across Europe and seeing that peoples movements are a real game changer, public engagement in social solidarity is a terribly bad idea. And perhaps for a moment we can indulge and make evident the basis of this fear. A lot of TD’s in Labour and Fine Gael are going to lose their jobs. We can be generous enough to recognise that it is scary to look forward to the future with that fear. We know it all too well. So at an individual level there is perhaps a case to be made that our own humanity is served to recognise that with empathy. But equally their job losses will be a result of a loyalty to organisations that preside over growing poverty and inequality. So perhaps this is small justice in action.

Though the established order of things is not about individual TD’s. The established order of things is about the maintenance of a captured state. And the maintenance of the established order is primarily achieved by having the power to defined what gets talked about and what doesn’t.

click for full size

click for full size

Arresting Socialist Party TD Paul Murphy first thing on a Monday morning was clearly motivated by a desire sought to shape a media narrative of the week. The headline news at 7am on Monday Morning Ireland, an RTE radio show that sets the news agenda for the day, was about the €3,500,000,000 hidden away by rich Irish people in Swiss accounts of HBSC banks. By 8am the headline was the arrest of Paul Murphy and three others and all other media outlets pursued. Now the arrests most likely were not timed to knock out the Irish end of the global HBSC tax evasion story.

Nonetheless those folks with €3,500,000,000 stashed away enjoy very much the established order of things. Where we see social solidarity and positive actions to make justice and equality central to how our society works, they see a mob. When we challenge the legitimacy of certain policies or orthodoxies, small but powerful interests know that their ability to shape the state to suit themselves is under threat.

And it that sense the demonisation of the broad anti-water tax movement by Denis O Brien press is just part of the historical game played between owners and the owned. The fact that Michael Geoghegan, the former CEO of HBSC at the time, was appointed chair of the NAMA advisory board is a mere footnote in the weeks news. There has been no public debate around precisely who in Ireland defrauded millions from our public services.

Dept J E

It remains to be seen if the wider public in Ireland will be swayed away from non payment by the recent police actions. And when Paul Murphy says he would love to see his day in court so would many of us. Its unlikely to happen. One can only imagine how damaging it would be for Labour and Fine Gael facing electoral meltdown to have the Tánaiste and Labour Party leader Joan Burton cross examined in the courts. I doubt very much whether the established order of things will have an appetite for that.

I’ll leave the last words to Jason

Statement from Communities Against Water Charges

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Resisting the Water Charges and Defending Our Right to Protest

We are residents of a number of communities in Dublin North East. Over the last number of months we have come together to resist the installation of water meters in our areas, and to oppose this unfair double taxation that the government calls water charges.

For most of us, this is the first time in our lives that we have engaged in any sort of protest and have only done so because we simply cannot take any more of this government’s austerity agenda. At all times we have sought to resist the installation of these meters in a peaceful, dignified and resolute manner.

We are therefore appalled at the recent developments in how An Garda Síochána have policed our protests, and with the blatant campaign to vilify and demonise us that the government and Gardai, supported by segments of the media, launched in recent days.

They have claimed that Gardai are routinely assaulted at protests, and that our movement has been infiltrated by a “sinister fringe” or by “dissident republicans”. We categorically reject these claims. In recent weeks we have been subjected to heavy handed and abusive policing by the Gardai. Men and women, protesting peacefully, have been pushed, pulled and punched by Gardai. To our knowledge not one of our fellow protesters has been convicted of assaulting a member of An Garda Síochána, and violent protest is not something we would endorse or tolerate.

With respect to the claim that our movement has been infiltrated by sinister elements, we reject this also. We are the people on the streets, day in, day out, peacefully resisting these meters; we are mothers, fathers, parents, pensioners, workers and unemployed – we are not sinister, dissident republicans.

In light of these developments, we are genuinely fearful that the Gardai, at the behest of the government, are preparing to become even more aggressive towards our protests and to eviscerate our right to protest.

We therefore call on all of the people of Ireland to come out and support us this coming Monday, 10 November 2014, in Dublin North East. We fear that GMC Sierra will attempt, with heavy Garda support, to enter our areas and install meters that we do not want. It is our intention to continue to resist this unjust tax in a peaceful and dignified manner, but we fear that the decision has been made to strip us of a meaningful right to protest.

Each and every one of us has resolved to resist this tax and these meters, we will continue to do so in a peaceful way, but if we are to succeed we need the support of other communities. If we all stand together, we can resist these charges, retain water as a public good and human right, and vindicate our right to protest.

Communities Against Water Charges
communitiesagainstwatercharges@gmail.com
09 November 2014

Joan Burton and the Political Policing of Labour

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Joan Burton

 Its hard to know were to begin. A Labour minister announced yesterday that sections of the police force are to be drafted in to set up road blocks and stop workers in cars outside industrial estates.

When I first heard this mentioned on my Facebook and Twitter feeds I assumed it was some kind of left knee jerk interpretation. (I’m prone to them myself) Then I thought it might be FG spin from either within Burton’s department or the Dept of Finance to politically damage Burton. This was before I realised she said this herself on air, though ‘clarifying’ later in the day that she was referring to industrial estates rather than housing estates. Should we be eternally grateful that a Labour minister in only sending cops to harrass the labouring classes at our places of work, rather than at our homes? This is a deeply authoritarian step for any government to take, and as such it is a risk for Labour in further antagonizing ordinary working class people . Though given that Labour is hemorrhaging support, it seems that the party will face a similar fate to other  centrist minor coalition partners right across Europe over the last ten years.

This political policing begs some serious questions too. How exactly is a cop stopping cars of people coming out or heading into a days work going to be able to tell if people are signing on the dole while working. Under what legislation can a police force be entitled to demand your personal information on the presumptive basis that all workers coming out of a workplace might be doing the double. On what information are they using to pick those to stop. Are they going to stop every car, thereby creating long tail backs for workers in and out of work? I cant help thinking of how the RUC used to stop people coming and going to local GAA matches, creating massive tailbacks, often delaying kick off times. Simple harassment of a population to suits the states aim. What’s the difference here? Are people who work in industrial estates going to have to do what people in the north used to? Head off half an hour early to build in time being held in a traffic queue by the cops? How long does the Labour/FG government think people will put up with this shit?

Text from Burton's summer newsletter, basking in the light of right wing Daily Mail commentary supporting her right wing populism

Text from Burton’s summer newsletter, basking in the light of right wing Daily Mail commentary supporting her right wing populism (Thks @electionlit for flagging

Some other question arise around the particulars of this policing. Even the police commissioner has had his traffic penalty point wiped of the system by police under his command yet the only punitive measure around this has been the Independent newspaper sacking the journalist who had the temerity to ask the obvious questions. The Independents Group Editor in Chief also got his point wiped off, so you can see why the journalist in question was sacked.

But the widespread collusion and cover up of misuse and abuse of centralised data on people living in Ireland by the police force puts us in a position that demands critical attention. Is the state actually going to allow cops to be hardwired into the social welfare databases? At workplace check-points are people going to be asked to give names and addresses that are then typed into the welfare database? Or will they radio in to an already overstreached frontline social welfare workers? Given that the police force has demonstrated its untrustworthiness around centralised penalty point databases , how can they be trusted with information on people benefits, claims history etc. Its seems entirely foolish, whilst the traffic penalty point affair has been swept under the carpet, that the population as a whole, and million odd of us with personal information stored on the state welfare system should have any confidence that this information can any longer be considered secure.

We know the governments #Budget2014 buzz word wasincentivise” but given the regular leaking from police sources to journalists in Ireland, surely this opens up new incentives for bent cops to get information they can sell? If the Data Commissioner isn’t thinking about this right now, they should be. This also demands a response from the Trade Union movement. The Trade Union movement as a whole should be asking question of the GRA too.

On another level though, this is about much more than not trusting the police force with access to the largest dataset of personal information on people living in Ireland. The decision to set up workplace check points need to be contrasted with the states approach the actual largest welfare fraudsters in this country. Noonan announced yesterday that companies like Google, Facebook and Yahoo, as well as the entire banking and financial sector will have another full year to siphon off hundreds if not thousands of millions of euros in legal tax dodging schemes. This year’s grace will no doubt allow the Irish legal firms that rubber stamp their cooked books. They along with with the banking cartels, (the main block within the Clearing House Group,) will have ample time to devise with their partnered civil servants in the Dept of Finance, other specific legal tax dodging strategies that will fulfill Noonan’s limited demand of resident corporations not being stateless. And you can rest assure not one hi viz cop will be involved.

If this government can find the resources to pay lots of police to stand like pricks outside industrial estates across the country, where people are actually doing real worth, whyhas the state only had one forensic accountant working on the investigation into the money/credit creation scams at Anglo? I got a question asked in the Dail around the levels of policing in the ongoing Anglo investigations in early 2012. This was Noonan’s answer back then

..as of 14 February (2012), the current strength of the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation is seventy one, comprising one Superintendent, five Inspectors, fifteen Sergeants and fifty Gardaí.  Twenty-six Garda personnel are engaged in the investigations into Anglo Irish Bank, comprising sixteen personnel at the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation, including fifteen Garda investigators and a forensic accountant as well as ten members of An Garda Síochána currently seconded to ODCE.”

The investigation into Anglo has to include tens of thousand of emails, correspondence as well as lots and lots of cooked books. yet the state investigation has 26 cops looking at it. And one, yes one, person qualified to check those cooked books.

Anglo alone will cost us €52,000,000,000 (€52 Billion). Welfare fraud has been shown by Michael Taft of Unite to be in the region of €26,000,000. So Anglo costs us about two thousand times the level of welfare fraud. That’s not even mentioning the other ongoing payments the state continues to make week in and week out to unsecured bondholders. Clearly we can understand now that the myth of wealth creation of the Celtic Tiger was actually processes of debt creation and by extension welfare fraud.

The dissonance is striking and sickening. Not only has the institutions (both local and transnational) of financial capitalism captured the legislative dimensions of the state, but in effect they have the power to direct policing resources away from their own activities. Whilst we have the ideological drive and practical manifestations of deregulation of the financial sector as it churns out debt, we are now told by the government that we should willing accept the imposition of physical policing of the places of actual wealth creation, our workplaces.

What this shows that despite the language of consensus politics emanating from the political classes (“We have all sacrificed” “we are all in this together”), is the government is increasingly adopting approaches to and within the Great Recession that foreground the politics of contention and antagonism which form the actual basis of the captured state. In terms of how economies function these days, it makes little sense to think there is an actual divide between the financial economy (which creates debt ) and the real economy (where we create real wealth through our work). But from a social and political and radical democratic perspective the conceptual divide is useful in helping us understand how power really works in this state. The only suitable response to both the government and to the individuals in uniform doing their political policing. A polite but firm “fuck off.”

That Sunday Business Post/RED C Poll & “objective journalism”

Red C Poll Cover

So the Sunday Business Post commissioned a poll by RED C. I’ve embedded the full report below.

Nothing out of the ordinary in the questions. It looked at attitudes to abortion, and the state of popular support in the population for the political organizations that jockey to be the Troika managers of your lives.

Some results got lots of airtime and covered by all the mainstream media outlets. However as noted by the good folks over at Rabble the  mainstream media ignored a  very significant section of the poll.

Within the part ignored (page 11 below), results showed that of those polled, 88% wanted to see a rise in taxation of incomes of €100,000 and over.  This was the highest figure for any of the questions posed by RED C, and yet not one journalist in Ireland has bothered to report on this in the context of Wednesdays forthcoming blood bath budget. The Sunday Business Post, which commissioned the poll, didn’t even bother mentioning it or expanding on the implication of such high support for tax increases on the rich.  67% of those polled are against any cuts to welfare support such as child benefit or  to state pensions. Again this hasn’t been reported.

It says lots about the interests of corporate media when statistics directly relating to the upcoming budget are sought from the public, only to become airbrushed out of mainstream media’s conversation. Why did they bother their hole getting RED C to ask the questions in the first place….

Online privacy and security across our communities.

This 392 page, Creative Commons licensed handbook is designed to help those with no prior experience to protect their basic human rights to privacy in networked, digital domains. By covering a broad array of topics and use contexts it is written to help anyone wishing to understand and then quickly mitigate many kinds of vulnerability using free, open-source tools. Read it, act on it and share. Follow @cryptoparty for updates etc.

A Note From Below To The Yes Voter.

“WE, the working poor, the unemployed, the people with the material least have a functional value is neoliberal society. We aren’t just blackmailed or threatened. We are the blackmail, we are the threat. We are Ghosts. You might see us, you might recognise us, Shit, you might even tweet us.  But we will remains Ghosts to you, the see-through collateral damage of a state that is told by its owners that it must be the economy of their desire rather than it be a society of our desire.

Like an inverse cruelty lottery, our growing numbers, our visibility, our actual existence,  is blackmail writ large. Ghosts seen but without voice as Ghosts with voices are people.  “Take the hit, vote Yes, suck up this policy”  they say, “or you will join the growing ranks”.  The professional PR teams from Merrion Row place such incendiary rhetorical devices carefully yet irregularly. To talk solely of ‘bombs’ and ‘guns to our head’ is a dangerous game in Irish politics. They know that, we know that.

Instead explicit vocal threats are wrapped up for consumption with phrases such as “the benefit of the country” or “patriotism” that melt away like ‘the body of christ’, sticking to your mouth and the back of your gullet. The swallowing is hard because you know it to be untrue, you know yourself that this emanates from mouths within opportunistic political organisations,  and is scripted by professional liars, both that have been part of the fabric of abuse and corruption since the states inception.  Our health must suffer for the collective health of Mythical Mother Ireland is seems.

Irelands new middle classes, our ‘relatively secure’ – a few paychecks away from an economic cliff themselves –  are taught to see us as a manifestation of their own fears.  They/you act like scaffold and window dressing to an empty pyramid of injustice and power-over that has no moral legitimacy in our eyes. Drape what you like on the scaffolding, but the Wizards of Oz has bolted. Long live the Wizard of Oz. We reject the legitimacy of other human beings to treat our lives as the waged slaves of the gambling rich. We reject their authority to make our futures dependent upon the protection of the institutionally corrupt. We will burn their debt before we let them burn our futures with their debt.

Your/our elected ‘leader’ even refused to come on to TV to debate and discuss financial dictates and capitalist desires inherent in this referendum. This in a time where the internet has been around for the life time of some voters! The PR teams manage this man – supposedly who put himself before us to serve us – to not talk about the referendum. They may mange their reality, but they will never manage ours.

So yes today in this Yes vote we recognized our function. Our function today is to remain materially impoverished so that the possibility of you joining us keeps you in your place. We are the humans that manifest the PD matra that inequality is necessary. We are the Ghosts of neoliberalism and representative ‘democracy’. Today you may even celebrate a Yes because it reduces your fear of becoming one of us. The gun remains at your head, but the finger was lifted off the trigger. Are we stable yet?

We give a warning based in care, solidarity and an expression simply of another humanity and another way of doing this. We are not Ghosts to each other. We will continue to dig at the foundation of this disgusting economic and political system and its immoral arithmetic. It was with our bodies that we built ghost estates only to become Ghosts ourselves. But Ghosts have memories. Ghosts know how to care for each other. Ghosts know how to love as they fight for a society that places the eradication of social injustice as its primary function. As we dig at the foundations to build something new we make sure with give encouragement to you in the middle but really, like us, outside. We carry you, whilst you carry fear. The burden is heavy. Let go of the scaffolding, Let go off your fear. Say out loud “I’m afraid of no Ghosts”, see us as humans to struggle with and beside and we will catch you.”

An unemployed labourer.