Tag Archives | David McWilliams

Why we shouldn’t give the diaspora the vote

This post has been brewing for a while. A letter appeared in the Irish Independent some time ago that took a theme that I’ve seen many times before, and which I’ve begun to form a strong aversion to. Here’s the text of the letter first of all (available here):

If David McWilliams (Irish Independent, December 16) is so concerned about the power of the ‘insiders’ in the political, social, financial and religious networks of Irish life, why did he not have that on the agenda of the recent Irish Global Forum held at Farmleigh?

He knows that for more than a century the networks of Irish life have been going to the Irish diaspora with begging bowls in times of economic stress. I suggest that if he wishes the power of the ‘insiders’ diminished that he offers Irish citizens in the diaspora a vote in Irish national elections.

Most modern democracies with large diasporas have done so. Indeed, some old democracies like Britain and France are now doing the same.

Firstly, this would be a sign of recognition of the contribution made by the diaspora.

Secondly, Irish citizens in the diaspora voting in national elections would hopefully burst the bubble of ‘insider’ personalism that permeates Irish life.

Thirdly, it would give Irish people in the diaspora a sense of inclusion.

Is that too much to hope for?

Bobby Gilmore
Navan, Co Meath

I’ve written about the Irish diaspora previously here, Diaspora, schmiaspora! How about the chickens who came home to roost?, so you can probably guess that based on that article, I am strongly opposed to us providing a vote to the Irish diaspora.

I can’t argue that the letter above may have an attractive proposition to providing the vote to the diaspora as it might dilute the impact of the so-called (by David McWilliams here) “insiders”.

However, what else was the Global Irish Economic Conference organised by the selfsame David McWilliams but one big love-in amongst the “insiders” – both the diaspora and the Irish based?

But that’s really an aside. I’m against providing the vote to the Irish diaspora because they have no true (interest) in how our country is run. The diaspora choose not to live in Ireland, for whatever reason, so why should they be allowed determine the destiny of those who actually do choose to live here (or live here because they don’t have any other options).

The reason that the David McWilliams “insiders” can wield so much power in this country is because those who live here decide to let them.

It takes, I think, about 1.1m people to change the government in this country.

But based on the 2007 election approximately 1.1. people didn’t actually bother to vote at all. That’s enough people to remove the “insiders” completely from Irish life, but those people who have the most to gain by doing so, don’t actually bother.

As the truism, or saying, or whatever goes – “we get the government we deserve”.

On a more positive note though, 507,000 people last year signed up in Facebook to demand a replay for the Ireland v France World Cup playoff game while 46,000 want John Joe from the Late Late Toy Show to fix their clocks.

That’s pretty much half way towards changing how our country is run. It’s a pity so many people just don’t care enough about the things that really matter.

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Breakfast Roll Man – end of the Celtic Tiger?

It was always said that once David McWilliams’ Breakfast Roll Man ceased to exist that we would know that we’d finally seen the end of the Celtic Tiger.

After a few nights out recently with friends home from the States, I’d propose that the we’ll actually only see the end of the Celtic Tiger when we see the end of the dudes working in the toilets of clubs and bars in our bigger towns and cities.

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I’m still not convinced by the IdeasCampaign

I’m looking forward to this morning to seeing the usual suspects on the IdeasCampaign “Independent Advisory Group”. The whole thing strikes me as very Fianna Fail in execution. Next, we’ll be having a Tribunal to get everything implemented. In about 10 years time.

To my mind, there should be no doubt as to the political involvement in all of this, remember – we’re expected to believe that a regular mary public, Aileen O’Toole, has set up a campaign to collect ideas from the general public that, according to the Taoiseach, “will be fast-tracked to the Cabinet sub-committee on Economic Renewal for assessment and implementation”. The Green Party can hardly get their ideas put before Cabinet most of the time, yet Aileen O’Toole gets her ideas “fast tracked”.

So, I’ve seen enough so far to still not be fully convinced about the motives behind this campaign. There was the Terms & Conditions changes, the fact that the ideas aren’t being shared with the key stakeholders (us, the general public), and the fact that an unnamed committee was formed to review the ideas rather than opening them up to the public for comment, enhancement and ultimately, support.

Apparently, there are now more than 1200 ideas that have been submitted to the site, of which the “best” will be put forward directly to cabinet. But where’s the transparency here? Brian Cowen has a serious problem with Declan Ganley using his money to try to influence things just because he’s rich, saying of the political fundraising issue that it would be “undermined by those who only pay lip service to transparency”. So far, I fear that we’re facing a similar hi-jacking of the democratic process and route to cabinet here with the IdeasCampaign. Who’s to say that the ideas put forward don’t come from those behind the campaign, claiming to have the backing of the public, when it’s actually them bypassing the public to get their ideas to cabinet?

This campaign started as a personal idea from Aileen O’Toole that she was doing (with a little support) from Amas. This was to be a public ideas gathering exercise, for the public and of the public. Yet, so far, apart from handing over any good ideas that they may have, the public have been completely excluded. Why?

From something that started off, apparently, as a personal idea, it has now very definitely been recategorised as a PR campaign from a PR company. Even the posts on the blog are being changed to remove the personal aspect to redefine it as a campaign.

Originally posted on Friday morning:

The Ideas Campaign was featured on this morning’s edition of RTÉ Radio 1’s flagship news programme “Morning Ireland”. Aileen O’Toole talked about the campaign and the huge response since last night’s launch.

New Version, updated over the weekend:

The Ideas Campaign was featured on this morning’s edition of RTÉ Radio 1’s flagship news programme “Morning Ireland”. Campaign director Aileen O’Toole talked about the campaign and the huge response since last night’s launch.

Now, you may ask what’s the big deal. Well, to my view, there’s a whole lot more going on in the background here that the public are not finding out about. In marketing terms, after less than 5 days of the “campaign” it’s been repositioned already – from personal to professional. In marketing and PR terms, I would have thought that such a change in tack after such a short period of time would be seen as a spectacular failure. Why the changes?

If the public are to have much faith in what’s going on, then full information needs to be provided.

  • Who’s actually behind the campaign? Who’s funding it?
  • Who really convinced RTE PrimeTime to take the unprecedented step of launching a professional organisations website on their programme? PRIMETIME ffs!
  • If the ideas submitted were sold (according to the original T’s & C’s) then who was going to get the money?
  • Was it to be Aileen O’Toole in her capacity as the original promoter?
  • Or now that it’s a “campaign”, would the money have gone to Amas, or someone else?
  • Will the public get to see all ideas submitted, or just the subset submitted to cabinet?
  • Will we be told who originally submitted the ideas?

Don’t get me wrong here. An IdeasCampaign it to be recommended and supported. In fact, two of them is great. Maybe even three. How about four ideas campaigns? Lots of ideas campaigns out there – it’s a pity only David McWilliams’ site is sharing the ideas submitted. Unfortunately though, for David, no one in Govenment listened to him for the last 5 years, so they’re unlikely to start now. Maybe he could submit them anonymously on the IdeasCampaign.ie website and actually get the government to listen to him.

But as I saw from quoted by Joe Drumgoole yesterday on Twitter, “An idea is so small a part of a business that it’s almost a rounding error”. He went on to add “Value of idea = 0. Value of idea + execution plan = 0.001, Value of idea + evidence of execution = 0.01 etc. etc.”

An “action campaign” anyone?

6

In Search of The Popes Children

I was reading this thread on AskAboutMoney this morning about last weeks TV programme “In Search of the Pope’s Children” fronted by the author of the original book, David McWilliams. The second episode was to be on tonight. First things first, I didn’t watch the programme, and I haven’t read the book, and I won’t be watching tonight either.

A comment on the thread which made me think was the following – “He claimed the foundations of the New Ireland aren’t half as stable as we’d like to believe saying it was founded upon three economic factors: cheap credit, cheap energy and cheap labour.”

Something that’s been occupying my mind in recent months has been based on how people are funding their childrens education, and their own retirement funds. To my untrained eyes, and from reading many newspaper articles and many of the posts on AskAboutMoney, it appears that most people are “investing” in order to provide for those future financial needs.
People are buying property (home or abroad), or their investing in special childrens education savings accounts, or they investing in the stock market or market based funds. All this is to take money now, and hope that it earns more money in order to have funds for their future needs. And there’s nothing wrong with any of this.

But what does any of this do for our own Irish economy in the long run? The reason I raise this was that in the early 1980’s my father set up his own business which started off employing 3 people, peaked at 45, and had a constant average of about 25 until he sold it in the late 1990’s.

The three reasons he gave for setting up this business were:
To get away from his existing jobs
To fund his kids passage through college
To set himself up for his retirement

By the time he sold the business, he’d successfully met all three targets and he began what is still a very fruitful and enjoyable retirement.

However, at the same time as he met his own three personal goals there, he also provided employment in a small town in the west of Ireland for large numbers of people during the nearly 20 years he ran the company. As well as sorting himself and his family out, he was also helping the financial goals of many many other people and families at the same time through the employment he provided. This was particularly important given the timing of when he set up the business – in the darker days of the 1980’s.

People today investing in property or stocks, I believe, don’t have that same positive impact on the Irish economy as my father did – especially when the investment leaves the country. I personally have a concern about that and where the country will end up if we continue down that path.

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