Posts Tagged ‘ Phil Hogan ’

News in Brief – Irish Spring Break Is Upon Us

Enda-Kenny

A man has been handed down a suspended sentence after telling Gardai to “shut the f*** up”. The man, who has previous convictions and is a recovering heroin addict apparently, became enraged when his partner didn’t win a community award: Tallaght Person of the Year. After a public row he snatched her handbag and stalked off only to be picked up by Gardai. Sure we’d all be raging if we didn’t win Tallaght Person of the Year.

He should give auld Enda a call. The Taoiseach is in Washington singing the Wild Rover with Mr O’Mahoneybama and has told a press conference if people have a problem with the way he’s doing things they can give him a ring. His number is public after all. This has given NIB an idea. Continue reading

News in Brief – Water Scandal Breaks As Kemp Fears Dublin Death

rosskemp

50, 85, 100, 180, not the winning Lotto numbers but the ever climbing bill for Irish Water. Imagine. We’ve been paying for our water through our tax contributions for years, so surely now paying a fee for it shouldn’t incur extra cost, if anything it should just be cash in the bank shouldn’t it? Wrong. Actually, water, the thing that falls freely from the sky a lot, is going to cost us a fortune in IT systems. And it was necessary for a lot of consultants to consult on this before consulting with the Government about how much more consultations and cash were needed. If only the Government had “consulted” NIB, we could have told them it would cost a lot and basically sounds like a crap plan, all for a pint and a packet of Tayto. NIB thinks it was Phil Hogan that said; ‘You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.’ An awful lot of expensive consultancy eggs. Continue reading

News In Brief – Americans Flee Clare As Che Mural Is Ripped Down

kilkee

Now we’ve all had a post Electric Picnic wash and a cup of tea, let’s see what’s been happening this week . . .

Apparently long serving councillors are to receive “parachute payments” as town councils are abolished next year. Phil Hogan, is behind binning town councils so has set up a gratuity fund for those getting the boot. When asked what they wanted as a leaving gift from their, ahem, important work, their survey said parachutes evidently. Nice big yokes, in pretty colours. Continue reading

News in Brief-Eight Thousand Sign Up For Movember While Bon Jovi Gets Set To Rock Slane

Great craic in Cork over the Bank Holiday weekend. Superintendent Barry McPolin, in charge of policing the city centre, drew attention to the above par number of minor crimes on Saturday night. Jazz fans, he said were well-behaved, which is good to know. He blamed the furore on other revellers. The senior Garda also stated twelve claims of alcohol-fuelled assault were being investigated but was positive about the lack of stabbings or serious assaults.
If you weren’t having the craic in Cork over the weekend perhaps you were in Kilkenny. 30% of all visitors to the south-east head to the city apparently, which is getting a new, €5.5 million “Medieval Mile”. The initiative, which will feature a museum at St Mary’s Church, a ‘Great Garden’ along the River Nore and an “upgrade” to the visitor experience, was launched by environment minister Phil Hogan and has been hailed as good news for tourists and retailers, provided you’ve your cash is in groats.
Eight thousand people have signed up for Movember, the annual charity fundraiser which sees men grow moustaches to raise awareness for prostate cancer. The campaign, which encourages women to take part as well – by bolstering beliefs moustaches look good on their boyfriends – has grown well over the last five years and will soon be a full beard.
Never mind Movember it looks like we’re in for a snowvember with white stuff already covering the hills of Donegal as well as parts of Limerick and Cork. It’s going to be a long winter.
A Spanish traveller was ejected from a Ryanair flight in Valencia after trying to board with a carry on bag AND a book. The passenger was told she would have to pay an additional €50 to check in the book before becoming aggressive.The story didn’t have a happy ending as she was removed by police. Ryanair stated she had also refused to show ID or a boarding card which led to her removal.
In celeb news Bon Jovi has thanked Irish knee surgeons for keeping him rocking and rolling on tour. After suffering from knee problems John Bon was referred to a Dublin surgeon who fixed him up. Now he’s fit enough to charge €79.50 for a ticket to their show at Slane Castle.

News in Brief-Divorced Couple Battle Over Titanic Replica As Clooney’s Irish Ancestry Is Cast Aside

The biggest story of the week has to be The Irish Daily Star rather losing its shine after publishing controversial pictures of a topless Kate Middleton, a.k.a. future Queen the Duchess of Cambridge. Richard Desmond, well-known for his penchant for publishing -cough porn cough-, and 50% share owner has decided to cut his losses with the Irish branch of his newspaper empire after what Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte called its “lapse in taste”. Rabbitte who was rampant on RTE’s John Murray show claimed Desmond had overreacted before suggesting the Star knows what taste is.

The best things in life are free, including a University degree or so one student in Mayo thought. Anna Marie Flanagan, a mature nursing student has been banned from attending lectures at Galway Mayo Institute of Technology after failing her first year but continuing to show up.

Despite being ineligible to continue the course Ms Flanagan was not deterred and still attended lectures and lessons in what has been described as a “disruptive for other students”. She has subsequently had an order placed on her to prevent her doing any further study or turning up at GMIT.

She may be the first of many students on the make if Phil Hogan’s new incentive is approved. The Environment minister has given the go ahead (“didn’t ask” but “fully supports”) to local councils to withhold vital grants for third level students whose parents have not paid the household charge.

Did you enjoy the London 2012 Games? Did it inspire you to make some summer resolutions, get fit for Christmas? Don’t get your runners out too quick. Before you get carried away apparently the Olympics will have no impact in inspiring us to get off the sofa or on obesity levels long-term. Previous Games have not caused an “Olympic effect” according to Doctor Niamh Murphy, director of the centre for health behaviour research at Waterford Institute of Technology. Former international athlete, Dr Murphy said efforts to tackle obesity in Ireland were short-term, disconnected and uncoordinated; “everyone is doing stuff in their own silos”. As London 2012 fades from our minds so too will any ideas about taking up judo, javelin or becoming a Jamaican sprinter.

Wednesday saw the tenth anniversary of ’Speak Like a Pirate Day’ on which people are encouraged to add the odd oohh arr aye shipmates into everyday conversation. County Wexford took this literally by becoming the smuggling hub of the country. A €1.5 million haul of smuggled cigarettes was found in Enniscorthy town giving them the unofficial title of smuggler’s cove. County wide cigarette sales are down up to twenty percent,  which is being blamed on illegal trade. So if a man with a parrot on his shoulder offers you some cheap fags tell him to walk the plank.

A one happy couple in Cork have watched their relationship go down like a sinking ship, like the Titanic actually. Hungarian national Zoltan Panka and ex- Carmel McGrath, are caught in a vicious dispute over who gets their handmade, 16ft, Titanic replica. Ms McGrath accused MR Panka of taking the ship from her house without permission whilst Mr Panka counter claimed owner-ship (get it?!) Ms McGrath then stated it was she that paid costs to build the boat and has secured a court order to prevent him from selling it. Mr Panka claims he has since received abusive text messages from McGrath and had no intention of selling the ship which is worth about €70,000. For goodness sake, Rose and Jack they ain’t this feud will go on and on.

George Clooney isn’t from Abbeyleix. I know, I know, it’s devastating. This “news” comes from genealogy company Eneclann, based at Trinity College, and is in dispute with earlier genealogists who traced George back to Co Laois. It was believed George’s relatives were forced to leave their ancestral home in Kilkenny due to the famine but what do you know? They weren’t. We’ll all sleep well tonight.

Unless you have a sore head. It turns out people who take pain killers could in fact be giving themselves headaches. Nice, (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) highlights new research showing those that use painkillers more than ten days out of a month, in cases of ’medication over-use’, can exacerbate tension headaches and migraines. Not so nice.

Labour Party Conference Descends Into Chaos

In recent times politicians haven’t been topping any popularity polls, so it was no surprise that on Saturday, at the Labour Party Conference in NUI Galway that violent clashes broke out between anti-austerity protestors and Gardaí.

In the afternoon, vicious scenes of fighting were witnessed, as protestors attacked security men with flags, utilised a mock coffin as a weapon with which they breached the Garda cordon surrounding the conference and proceeded to the doors of the hall where the conference was taking place. A mere 20 Gardaí became the shielding force, acting as the sole barrier between the protestors and the conference delegates, the not so popular Labour politicians.

Resulting from these ferocious scenes was the decision to lock down the conference centre for a period of time. This however did not deter the efforts of the protestors, with one RTE camera man even succumbing to a ‘pepper spray’ ordeal at the hands of the frustrated protestors. Journalists who had attended the event to cover the protest were also threatened, and one student was finally arrested by Gardaí after reaching the windows of the conference centre.

People Before Profit TD, Richard Boyd Barrett, who was one of the politicians leading the demonstration, said that what was initially a peacefully demonstration had been hijacked by a plethora of other protest groups, namely the Occupy Dame Street movement, Citizens versus Charges, Shell to Sea, lone parents, anti-bin tax campaigners, DEIS schools defenders.

As bag pipes and bodhrans sounded in the background, taunts aimed at Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan, echoed around the NUI Galway campus, whilst placards read ‘Don’t Register Don’t Pay’, ‘Axe the Home Tax’ and ‘Thug Hogan’ were evident to all.  

Undoubtedly this was an obvious to Phil Hogan’s reiteration on Friday night that the Government were not backing down regarding the collection of the Household Charge of €100, and would enlist the help of local authorities to pursue all those who have not paid.

To date 900,000 people have registered for the household charge. Notifications will be sent to those who have yet to pay in a similar method by which people are notified of their obligation to pay the TV licence. Phil Hogan also pointed out that “People know in these financial circumstances they must make a financial contribution for local services, and notwithstanding the fact that people are under pressure, over 900,000 people in this country have prepared to comply with the law – unlike the people outside,” referring to protestors outside a conference he delivered in Kilkenny on Friday.

So dare I say it – Are violent protests truly the correct medium to have your voice heard? Or are they just an excuse for thuggish behaviour? Does there not exist a better means through which our voice can be heard? Should these groups to meet not be given the opportunity to meet with specific political parties in an ordered manner for a healthy discussion and one which does not end in violence?

It may be the age old adage, but violence does not solve anything. Outlandish yobbish behaviour of protestors merely paints the nation in a bad light, and we could really do with not tarnishing our name any further. If we want issues addressed by government ministers we must meet with them in a different environment. Also, we must note that it is possibly the worst time to be in government, and must commend the efforts of those currently in ministerial roles, as they have quite simply landed a job that requires them to clean up a mess caused by others.

We as a nation must accept our part too in the financial recovery. Whilst we may look unfavourably at some austerity measures, and the requirement to pay the household charge, we must focus on the ways by which we will recover as a nation, and return to some form of prosperity as a country – a country we can be proud of and one we aren’t so ashamed to call home – even if that does mean adhering to the Government’s request and paying the household charge!

The Top Ten Most Hated Men In Ireland

We have in recent years grown accustomed to hating those who have inflicted pain upon us. Sadly given the current state the country is in most of these hate figures stem from past and current governments who have sold us down the river. But among this batch of hate figures lies more than political greed and ignorance as infamous sports stars and circus clowns who pose as singers also feature in our list of the top ten most hated men in Ireland.

1)Phil Hogan-Ireland’s very own Mr. Fix It has become a forlorn figure in recent weeks after his disastrous attempts to persuade 2 million people to pay the household charge failed miserably. As of the March 31st deadline less than half of those eligible had yet to pay the €100 charge. Cracks are also beginning to emerge in the coalition such is the ferocity of the argument against paying the tax.

2)Bertie Ahern-A man of many friends who has become the face of the recession. The former Irish Taoiseach used his many bank accounts to swindle money from left, right and centre. Rumour has it the Oxford dictionary are redefining the meaning of corruption. Expect a picture of Bertie to feature beside it. The disgraced former Fianna Fàil leader is also available for promotional work, if you would like to contact him simply hashtag #willdoanythingformoney or open a cupboard near you. He may be lurking nearby.

3)Sean Fitzpatrick-The wanker banker is a cult hate figure amongst the Irish people having been at the forefront of the banking crash. The ex Anglo Irish chief hammered out loan after loan and will never be accountable for his actions. Prosecution should befall him sometime soon if there is any justice in this world.

4)Brian Cowen-hardly surprising that the iconic alcoholic and legendary Irish ballad singer features on this list. Far be it from me to mention in the first sentence that he succeeded his comrade Bertie, such was his lack of leadership and constant failings. Biffo will forever be remembered as nothing more than an incompetent and senseless moron whose main claim to fame is a drunken television appearance.

5)Enda Kenny-One year into his tenure as Irish Taoiseach the man viewed by many as our very own problem solver is drawing the ire of those who elected him. Pre election promises have failed to materialise but then again what’s new. Has “tried” his best to be seen to be repressing the urgencies of the European Union on many issues, imparticular our low corporation tax. Expect the act to fall sometime soon and Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy will get their way. Big changes are required if Kenny is to return to popularity amongst the Irish public.

6)Gerry Adams-Vile, deceiving, inept just few of the words that could critique the life and times of the Sinn Fèin leader. The republican has more secrets than Pandora’s box. His chequered history is common knowledge amongst the people of Ireland. Adams tested the waters last year when he put forward his comrade Martin McGuinness in the presidential election. He will no doubt have been surprised by the reception McGuinness got and expect Adams to run for the Àras in the future.

7)Jedward-Love them or loathe them you can’t ignore them. Despite not having a musical note between them the Lucan duo have gone on to achieve great success following their stint on X-factor. After a solid turnout at last year’s Eurovision, one would expect Jedwardmania to propel Ireland further up the ranks this year.

8) Ajai Chopra-The deputy director of the IMF’s European department has been a regular visitor to these shores in recent months following the decision by the Irish government to sell our economic sovereignty to the powers that be in Brussels and Berlin. “Chopper” is a 20 year veteran with the IMF and shoulders some of the blame for the burden of debt placed on the Irish people. Had it not been for the economic ineptitude of repetitive Irish government’s he would not have become the notorious celebrity he is today.

9)Brian Kennedy-The Voice of Ireland himself. Self proclaimed media whore, once wrote a song or two and continues to publicise his less than popular book by making ridiculous insinuations. Irish rugby captain Brian O’Driscoll has yet to clarify whether or not he is in fact Kennedy’s sweetheart.

10)Thierry Henry-Irish people certainly know how to hold a grudge and no one will ever forget the France striker’s handball that effectively ended Irish hopes of making it to the 2010 World Cup.

News in Brief: #Axethetax Among Top Headlines This Week

Meetings and protests explode across the country, #axethetax has taken off on twitter, poetic posters have been stuck to Dublin phone boxes – Stick your 100 euro charge up your arse – said one.

Phil Hogan has assured the public that non-payment of the household charge will not result in jail time. The punishment may only stretch as far as a ten euro surplus charge. 

Whilst RTE has been unable to issue similar to assurances to their top earning presenters who are set to face significant pay cuts. The broadcaster is attempting to offset a twenty million euro operating deficit by reducing presenters pay by up to thirty percent and closing its London office. A voluntary redundancy scheme has also been put in place. 

While The Irish Times runs a real time stream of household charge developments, an elephant ran amuck in Kerry. Sadly only one of these stories was illustrated by an image of Mick Wallace, independent TD for Wexford. 

Jedward were also running, recently completing a marathon with apparently no prior training. Gratefully the Grimes brothers are now back in Dublin, (we’ve missed them haven’t we?) no doubt for a spot on the Late Late. 

Or perhaps Tallafornia? The show’s producers have been inundated with applicants since announcing the launch of the second series of this ‘repulsive and compulsive viewing’. The new episodes will see the cast relocated to live communally in a villa, somewhere hot, sunny and far away where they will presumably be left. 

Jane McEvoy knows about communal living in the current series of The Apprentice. The only Irish contestant this year Jane has a lot to prove after the success of Jedi Jim Eastwood in the last series. Currently in business with Centra (featuring in their ad campaign with husband Gary) she’s so far proved a powerful opponent managing to evade the sack last week. We will have to keep watching to see how far she gets.

 The watching of the household charge, however will come to a close at midnight tonight, when we will find out exactly how many have registered and what will befall those who have not.

Over One Third to Boycott Household Charge

At the time of writing, more than 530,000 Irish citizens are intent on breaking the law. In an unprecedented act of defiance, a sizeable amount of Irish homeowners are planning on refraining from paying the newly-introduced Household Charge of €100. The results of a Paddy Power RedC poll conducted earlier this week indicate that 39 per cent of those eligible for the tax will not pay it.

The 61 per cent of those polled who intend to pay the charge – or have already done so – is primarily made up of older people, while almost half of those aged between 18 and 54 surveyed say they will refuse to pay.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, coalition supporters are the most likely to pay the charge; 77 per cent of Fine Gael voters and 26 per cent of Labour advocates declared they will have paid up by Saturday’s deadline. In stark contrast, 72 per cent of Sinn Féin supporters are adamant they will not pay, as are 43 per cent of Fianna Fáil voters and 44 per cent of Independent supporters. The latter takes in backers of the Socialist Party and the United Left Alliance – both political groups have been extremely vocal in their disapproval of the charge.

Of those questioned, 65 per cent said the tax was unfair, and 72 per cent said they would prefer a charge for use of services rather than a flat tax.

This latest survey will no doubt come as another blow to the under-fire government. Nevertheless, Taoiseach Enda Kenny remains optimistic that people will “measure up” and “obey the law”. He did concede, however, that: “The government can only function where it gets the cooperation and the support of the people.” Despite a late surge in those registering to pay the tax, the figure remains well shy of the 1.6 million homeowners who are liable. Even members of Kenny’s cabinet are dubious as to whether or not the majority of people will pay up before this weekend’s deadline. Transport Minister Leo Varadkar admitted it would probably take until the end of the year before those who have paid reached 80 to 90 per cent.

Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party is among those TDs who have urged house owners to boycott the tax in an act of mass revolt against austerity. He said: “This is the first time in the history of this State that such a massive movement of this kind has been crystallised in this way. It’s people power.” 

Thousands of demonstrators have attended nationwide protests against the charge, while others have called for an extension to the 31 March deadline – a suggestion Environment Minister Phil Hogan immediately shot down.

Active Retirement Ireland has said they have been inundated with calls from elderly people who are confused as to how to pay. The organisation’s CEO, Maureen Kavanagh, has criticised the government for sending out conflicting messages in relation to the charge. She said: “The problem has been around the information that was given out, particularly over the weekend, where Minister Hogan said that council officials may be calling door to door to collect the charge has led to fears of bogus callers.”

Problems with the Household Charge website have also been reported, with many people voicing their annoyance at having to make several attempts to pay the charge before it was processed correctly. Further frustration was evident when it came to light that those who live in estates with even a single property unfinished are exempt from the charge due to a loophole in the legislation. As the results of last year’s census released today show that there were 289,451 vacant dwellings in Ireland at that time, 14.5 per cent of all houses in the state, the figure of those who are ineligible to pay could be quite substantial.

On Monday Fine Gael TD Brian Hayes, said that if the government couldn’t raise the estimated €160 million from the household charge, they may have to look into raising personal taxation. Figures obtained today from the Department of the Environment show that fewer than one third of homes in Ireland have paid the charge. People who do not pay the tax will face financial penalties which will increase monthly.

Household Charge Backlash Heats Up

“It is morally wrong, unjust and unfair to tax a person’s home.” These were the words spoken by Enda Kenny in 1994. Nobody, I’m sure, truly believes that a politician will stick to their words, keep their election promises or hold to values they publicly stated they held.

The latest charge to be foisted on the tax payer from the Budget 2012 is the Household Charge, introduced in the Local Government Act 2011. It provides for a €100 charge for those unlucky enough to meet the criteria, to “fund vital local services” and which the government hopes will raise around €160 million each year, although depending on the current government for accurate financial figures is a dangerous business. Anyone who fails to pay the tax will face late payment penalties, ranging from 10-30 per cent, depending on how late they are. The government are also sending out leaflets across the country to ensure no one misses the opportunity to pay. Based on the lowest prices offered by An Post’s Publicity Post, the cost would start at €338,000 but is sure to rise.

With only several weeks to the deadline of March 31st, well over 1.4 million households are yet to bow to government pressure and pay the €100 charge. According to a recent Red C poll, around 15 per cent of the population have no intention of paying up. And, unlike the increased hike in VAT, resistance to the introduction of what may as well be a tax for existing in this country has been fierce. On Monday 9th January, protesters gathered at the monthly meeting of Galway City Council to protest the new tax. Although the demonstration began peacefully, it soon escalated, protesters clashing with Gardaí. A nationwide movement has since been galvanised into action. The Campaign Against Household and Water Taxes (CAHWT) launched its anti-government campaign on Wednesday, announcing plans to raise a “war chest” in the region of €250,000 to fight the government charge. The organisation hopes to be funded by grass roots support, asking €5 in membership fees to allow it to fight the legislation.

The movement has already been denounced by Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan. A spokesperson for the Minister said that it amounted to “organised law breaking.” “The minister has already said that it is undemocratic of any public representative to advocate breaking the law and they should resign their seat it that is what they are doing.” Last month, a small group of Independent and right wing TD’s made known their opposition to the charge, stressing their willingness to go to prison for encouraging members of the public not to pay.

Somewhat ironically, many high profile and unfinished housing estates in Dublin are among those who will receive a waiver for the charge. Amongst these is Belmayne in Malahide, North Dublin, opened in 2007 by former footballer Jamie Redknapp amid much fanfare and excitement.

There is a precedent for the People vs the Powers that be. In 1996, the Federation of Dublin Anti-Water Charges Campaigns (FDAWCC) successfully fought the introduction of a similar charge in several Dublin areas. Dublin councils had levied a water charge on households in the county after legislation was passed which allowed them to do so. The FDAWCC organised protests and prevented the councils from turning off water to those who refused to pay; similar campaigns ran across the country. By 1996, over half of the households affected were refusing to pay the charges. In the face of widespread condemnation and solidarity, then Minister for the Environment, Brendan Howlin, announced the water charge was going to be abolished.

Socialist politician, Joe Higgins, who was involved in the nineties campaigns has reiterated calls for a “boycott campaign” which would support a “vast non-payment” of this charge. “If people stand together, we can force the government to abolish this charge” he said. A mass campaign supported by the people of Ireland is the only way this charge is going to be defeated. Once again, on the back of reduced welfare payments and job losses, wage cuts and huge hikes in energy bills, the government attempts to solve its problem by dumping it on the majority. If, by March 31st, the vast majority of households in the country have stood firm and not paid the tax, then the ball will be in the government’s court. And any government which would ignore the wishes of the vast majority of its people would certainly do so at great peril.