My ears are burning…

I’m expecting a number of FOI requests to come back this week, including one from Fás. Strictly speaking, the Fás one should have been sent from their office today, as it was submitted exactly four weeks ago… so it was interesting to note an upsurge in hits to this site from the Fás server this morning.

At 10.06 the first click-through from the Fás internal PHPBB forum landed on this site. Since then there have been approximately 75 more (it’s now 2.45pm) – nearly every second hit to this site today has been from the same thread on the internal Fás forum.

All the Fás click-throughs land on this website’s About page, which makes it more interesting.

As I am a conspiracy theorist journalist; this raises a number of questions…

  • why is there a link to this site from the Fás internal server?
  • Is it relevant to the FOI requests I’ve submitted?
  • What is being said?
  • If relevant to the FOI request, why does it matter who sent the request?
  • Who in Fás went looking for me online and found this website?
  • What does it matter what the work I’m doing for this site involves?
  • Does this effect whether or not the FOI is granted?

I wonder… it should be noted however that at the moment I can’t know if the thread is relevant to my FOI or not, I’m just making an educated guess as I’ve had no other involvment with Fás at any point.

Anyone with access to the thread [which can be found at this link, if you’ve access to the Fás server,] could let me what’s happening, my number is kicking about

Or I could simply FOI the details of the thread and find out for myself in four weeks time.

Dear Fás: I’m watching you watching me? So, who are you?

Of course, I’m not one to miss an opportunity to use a Bros song in a blog post.

NAMA – A Reality?

OPINION: Last night Leviathan discussed NAMA. The panel consisted of journalist Margaret E. Ward, banker Peter Matthews, Green Party Chairman, Dan Boyle, and Frank Fahy, the Fianna Fáil TD. The latter two spoke in favour of NAMA, and the other two, virulently against. David McWilliams chaired, though he himself is strongly against the implementation of the legislation.

I left feeling angry, upset and disappointed. Not at Leviathan itself, which is something I back fully, but the attitude of parts of the audience – who I reckon represent a large element of Irish society in this instance – and the two political panelists.
Continue reading “NAMA – A Reality?”

A step in the right direction –

I’m delighted to draw attention to the new blog from a number of Irish political scientists – The contributors list is short for now but rumour is it may expand soon. I’d heard there were plans afoot for such a blog but only happened across it yesterday, turns out it has been operating below the radar for a few weeks.

Here’s hoping it can match, which has been influential in recent months, in its respective field. To do so will require thoughtful comment from readers to match thoughtful articles. The comments often maketh reform blogs. The debate between informed readers maketh IrishEconomy.

Go check out the site, subscribe to it and consider entering the debate.

To the writers – thanks, and that doesn’t come from me alone. I hope you stick with it.

Want to bypass our donations system? No problem

Recently I wrote about how the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) assumed one of the largest political branches in the State, the Kevin Barry Cumann in UCD, was inactive. The post, which you can read here, includes one sentence which I want to expand upon…

“Unfortunately, they’re [SIPO] working with awful legislation, but doing an pretty poor job on top of that, at least in some areas, as I found out.”

To be honest, “awful legislation” doesn’t really do it justice. The rules on political donations are so terrible it seems they have been purposefully designed to make it easier for political parties to loop around their limitations, they’re that bad.

The dreamer in me has been telling for while not the write this post. “Don’t tell the good politicians how the bold ones work the system”, it screamed. The other 99% of me said, “fuck it, they all know about this anyway, it’s whether they chose to work it or not is the question”. So here, dear reader, I tell you how I understand our public representatives can work the donations system…
Continue reading “Want to bypass our donations system? No problem”


Thursday’s Irish Times, Business pages, in the “In Short” sidebar, down the bottom.

Abbott Lodge Ltd, the firm part-owned by Paddy “the plasterer” Reilly, paid rent to its two directors of €154,391 in 2008, according to abridged accounts just filed.

The company, which runs a guest house of the same name on Gardiner Street, Dublin, is owned equally by Mr Reilly and businessman Brian Moloney.

The accounts show the firm had no bank overdraft at the end of the year, compared to an overdraft of €74,401 at the end of 2007.

No profit figure is given.

Can’t say much more. Still diggin’.

Comment policy

Following some recent comments we now have to implement a new comments policy. This will mean that all comments are held in moderation before they are published. One user in particular has argued that leaving comments on whatever post he likes about whatever subject he likes is his right as a human being, in order for him to tell “the truth”. Unfortunately, one man’s truth is another man’s lawsuit. Comments are entirely at our discretion.

Neither do we tolerate trolling or worse, sock puppetry. Which is especially strange when the same user has been complimenting himself on his own sense of humour via other names, but under the same IP address. I would suggest that he start his own blog, given this fact.

Dan Drezner school of commenting:

1) Every e-mail sent about the blog and every comment posted on the blog is read.

2) We won’t necessarily reply to every e-mail message or respond to every posted query.

3) We’re truly sorry for the non-responses.

4) Unless otherwise indicated, we will not attribute any quote from any email on the blog.

5) When it comes to the comments feature, remember that we control the horizontal and the vertical. Moderation is in operation because of previous abuse of the feature. We will delete comments that we think are personally insulting, completely off-topic from the post, or so incoherent as to pass all understanding. Our space, our rules.

6) When you’re posting your comments, bear in mind that people are watching. Libel rules apply.

… get up them stairs, Johnny

[Thanks to IrishElection for the clip of Junket Johnny O’Donoghue speaking today before his resignation. I’m going to assume he didn’t need a limo to get from the chair to the backbenches.]

His speech reeked of a sense of entitlement that appears to have polluted parliament to a massive degree. The anecdotal evidence that Fine Gaelers are amongst the deputies giving Labour TDs the cold shoulder following Eamon Gilmore’s intervention last week speaks volumes. I suspect this abuse of the expenses system is not solely a Fianna Fáil problem, they just happen to have been in Government the last eleven years. Continue reading “… get up them stairs, Johnny”

25% isn't a bad standard, is it SIPO?

I had a good one due to go up today, a really good one, honest. Unfortunately the judicial process took a chunk out of it, then while I was parsing data I discovered there was way more to it than I’d realised. So, I’m going to continue digging and publish that at some point in the future, when on more concrete legal ground.

In the meantime, I was due to pitch this yarn to the papers but I’ve been working 16 hour days and haven’t got ’round to it. If you’re a journo reading this, feel free to rewrite it – but I want a co-byline, which I will invoice for, muthafuckers (or at least a credit for this website, pretty please.)

Way back in July the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) published their annual report for 2008. Until about two weeks ago I was in prolonged correspondence with their press spokesperson about it.

For those unaccustomed with them, SIPO are tasked with ensuring our political parties and that crew in the Leinster House comply with the accounting rules, expenses regulations, donations limits an’ all dah’. Many of their reports, while rarely covered in the press, are worth reading. Unfortunately, they’re working with awful legislation, but doing an pretty poor job on top of that, at least in some areas, as I found out.

So, I was looking through the report the day it was published when, under the subhead “Accounting Units of political parties“, I came across this paragraph:

During 2008, the Standards Commission wrote to 202 accounting units which were identified by the relevant political parties (158 accounting units had been contacted in 2007). 62 accounting units furnished the required statutory documentation by the statutory deadline of 31 March 2008. 78 accounting units failed to furnish their statutory documentation on time. 12 branches of political parties informed the Standards Commission that they have never been an accounting unit or are no longer active. 15 accounting units did not reply.

FYI – An accounting unit is a branch of a political party.

That paragraph made my eyebrow twitch and I know when my eyebrow starts twitching, I’m onto something (that was a lie). 78 is a serious number to fail to furnish required documentation on time, but it was too big to look into on my own. 12 units informing SIPO they’re not active was of little interest, but I followed this up, and the number proved correct.

But 15 units not replying, eh? That sounds juicy. Which party branches would they be? What did SIPO do when they didn’t reply? How were they punished? I put these questions to the Commission spokesperson.

“What measures did SIPO take when the accounting units did not reply?” I asked first…

Continue reading “25% isn't a bad standard, is it SIPO?”