Archive for June, 2013

Anglo Tapes

What most Irish people find alarming about the Anglo tapes is, they know 99.99% of workplaces and communities (probably workplaces & communities worldwide) are the same.

Some feel contempt and rage for these executives. I don’t. I feel sympathy. And if I ever meet them and they are open to the idea, I will give them a big hug and tell them “…it’s ok to be you…”

They, and we, are to be felt sorry for as our organisations are populated and governed by this same smug, arrogant and sleazy attitude. An attitude that says “…hide your mistakes or blame someone else…” These poor executives just never grew out of that attitude and it shows that neither have we.

They are still living the life of a schoolchild rewarded for precocious and selfish behaviour. Unfortunately it is the only thing they were ever rewarded for and masked what they were truly best at. I feel sorry for them, as they never stood a chance. More disadvantaged than any kid who grew up in a so-called deprived area. Disadvantaged as they have been lied to all their lives.

Lied to and told this was the way to succeed. Lied to and never given any constructive feedback other than ‘you’re brilliant’ or ‘you’re shite’. Forced then to constantly seek the ‘brilliant’ feedback – and would stop at nothing for those accolades.

If there is no reward for learning from mistakes, then why not bury them? Blame others and let them clean up the mess – it makes sense it’s what you’re rewarded for. Unfortunately it’s how society works and it is how we like it.

These poor execs are the type of people that succeed in our school systems, workplaces and communities and unfortunately they always will. These type of people and activities are ever present and all around us. They are in our local sports clubs, residents associations and anywhere else you care to mention that has a membership of at least 2. They are us.

The sniggering, the guffawing and mimicking of accents, not to mention the purile rendition of an offensive and banned national anthem says it all. And unfortunately we were all too familiar with it in the schoolyard. Unfortunately most of us did not leave it there, in the schoolyard, we brought it to work to our new communities, right through adulthood and to such an extreme stage that it is no longer funny – not that it ever was.

Of course there is a lot to be learned from pain and for this I am grateful. And it is long overdue that we learned to mature, in every aspect of our lives. Stop rewarding this type of behaviour no matter where you find it. Whether it’s your sports club or a major corporation. You know exactly who these people are, you recognise this behaviour, don’t you? Then end it!

Call it for what it is. Stop laughing at the stupid jokes, stop before rewarding this behaviour and most importantly stop putting people who behave so, into any position of any description that matters in any way shape or form. Whether it’s with money, your children or the team jerseys. It doesn’t matter, boot it out.

The more seriously we take matters like these the more we can enjoy what is real in life.

This culture, and it is a culture, will flourish as long as we continue to point the finger at folk in Anglo or our Crèches (see and refuse to look at ourselves. What are we prepared to tolerate and strive for each day?

They say ‘you get the politicians you deserve’ well sadly and most alarmingly you also get the company executives you deserve. So stop pointing the finger at these unfortunate types (they are maybe beyond redemption). More beneficial to work on yourself and be the type of person you want to see in charge of communities, companies and Government. Only then will folk like these cease to be left in charge of our society.


1916 Whos Afraid

WHO’S AFRAID OF 1916? – BY: Tom McGurk

As Alan Shatter moves to ‘demilitarise’ the 1916 commemorations, one leading writer asks why it is that we seem so afraid to celebrate the military nature of the revolt which gave us our freedom: it’s time, he argues, to accept the Rising for what it was – warts, guns and all.

PEOPLE passing through Arbour Hill in Dublin last Wednesday might have been confused about what was happening.

They would have seen an entire regimental colour party from the Defence Forces, followed by the Army band, marching into the Church of the Most Sacred Heart. Then, from the long line of motorbike outriders and limos parked outside, the President and the Taoiseach emerged.

What was going on, passers-by must have wondered, because while evidently there was some major State event happening, where were the crowds? Here was the full ceremonial party of the State, legislature, judiciary and Defence Forces all dressed-up and in their Sunday-best (on a Wednesday) and seemingly nobody had told anybody else about it? Bizarrely, it seemed that here was a State event with more dignitaries and soldiers of the State present than actual citizens of the State.

What was happening was, of course, the official commemoration at the graves of (some of) the executed 1916 leaders on the 97th anniversary of the Rising. One could hardly blame any observer for thinking that it was all being handled like some afterthought, a national event out of sight and out of mind.

Significantly, given the controversy it subsequently aroused, it is useful to remember that the event was hosted on behalf of the State by Justice, Equality and Defence Minister Alan Shatter.

However, the lack of public involvement was only the beginning of the many questions left hanging in the air.

Certainly, some citizens would have known about the occasion because this newspaper had, that very morning, reported that the Minister has allowed significant changes, involving the Army, to be made to the traditional format of the ceremony; an Army colour party would no longer be present inside the church at the Mass and ceremonially saluting at the Eucharist. Apparently there was even an attempt to remove the Army generals from the front row of the church but that was resisted.

So why was this ceremony being demilitarised, especially by the Minister in charge of the Army? It wouldn’t be the first time this Minister has exhibited a poor knowledge of the history and traditions of the country.

WHATEVER Mr Shatter’s intentions were in changing the format of the commemoration, the reason the Defence Forces were given such a significant role in the State’s commemoration of 1916 has a significant historical background.

Essentially, the format of this ceremony – ongoing since 1924 – was dictated by the post-Civil War crisis. Back then the new State was continually seeking a wider acceptance for the legitimacy and the role of the Defence Forces in those difficult years after the Civil War.

So, symbolically linking them to this particular ceremony dedicated to the 1916 leaders was part of that, while sending, at the same time, a message which illustrated the continuing paramilitary tradition.

There were many armies at one time, all calling themselves the army of Ireland. After all, this was what was called the ‘Free Staters’ army’ and it had defeated the Republicans in the bloody conflict that followed the signing of the Treaty.

This week, the Minister also sought and got changes in the religious ceremony itself. Where once it was an all-Irish Requiem Mass, this time it was mostly in English and with a significant multi-faith ritual. Again the original type of service had historical roots: post-Civil War, the Irish language restoration project and the significant power of the Catholic Church were also being thrown behind the new State.

Significantly too, the association of the executed leaders with Easter and their deeply Catholic deaths all invested the Catholic Church with a direct link to the Rebellion that few historians of the period can find. In fact, the Catholic hierarchy were historically opposed to the Republican tradition and especially to the notion of armed insurrection. But post-independence, the Church, just like the State, was keen to be on the right side of the executed 1916 leaders.

On Wednesday, the eulogy at the Catholic Mass was given by the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Michael Jackson. Mr Shatter seemed to have him on his toes too.

In his contribution, Dr Jackson warned that ‘this generation of Irish people should be cautious of those who politically manipulate and exploit the legacy of 1916 and surrounding events’. (Presumably, in the circumstances, he wasn’t referring to Mr Shatter.) The Archbishop continued with perhaps a clue to what Mr Shatter and the Government are intending when he said: ‘History develops a new function, that of releasing new energy in a tired and repetitive world, porous to exploitation by those who know that old fears and old symbols still sell and who still suppress those who can think otherwise and think for themselves.’ I think a reasonable translation of this gobbledegook is that the sooner we accept that the past in Ireland needs to be reinvented the better.

There were other symptoms too of the State’s – and in particular this Government’s – unease with the whole 1916 business.

The Presidential wreath was laid in memory not just of the executed leaders but for all those who died around the events of 1916. Presumably, that also includes the 116 British soldiers who died putting down the Rebellion.

So what’s going on here and why can’t what has worked for the State in the past be left alone to work in the future? I t’s three years to 2016 but if last Wednesday was anything to go by, I suspect the 1916 revisionist script rewriters are already burning the midnight oil.

But why? What are they afraid of? Us or the unvarnished facts of our history? Why is there such nervousness about that 2016 date looming like some dreaded and dangerous family occasion? In an important new study, just published, entitled Fatal Path, about violence and democratic politics between Britain and Ireland from 1910 to 1922, Ronan Fanning, Professor Emeritus of Modern History at UCD, quotes eminent historian Bernard Lewis on revisionism.

LEWIS says: ‘The purpose of changing the past is not to seek some abstract truth, but to achieve a new vision of the past better suited to the needs of the present and their aspiration for the future.

‘Their aim is to amend, to restate, to replace or even to recreate the past in a more satisfactory form.’ The Fanning book is fascinating in that it deals with exactly the current disquiet in relation to this State’s lead up to 2016.

He argues that it is time that even historians recognised how the threat of physical force triumphed in Ireland between 1912 and 1922 and how British parliamentary democracy crumpled in the face of it. Minister Shatter’s changes to the traditional 1916 Commemoration occasion may owe something to the dead hand of political correctness, but there appears to be a larger agenda at work. Particularly with a younger generation in mind, a sort of bowdlerised historical hybrid is being created by the State. Given the extensive agenda of historical commemorations due from now until 2022 (the end of the Civil War), are we yet again witnessing another official version of State history being produced? Is the curse of yet another divisive history, so often the legacy of the post-colonial state, to be ours again? But what I don’t understand is the nervousness, their concern for us. Do they really think that some 80 years on as an independent State, it is still not safe for us to be left loose with our own history.

The contrast with the UK could not be more vivid. Take its November Remembrance Day. It unifies the entire nation and brings all political and religious shades to the same spot. It fortifies the British sense of nationhood and national homogeneity and creates a national moment of unity and continuity that enriches the nation.

Quite simply, on the Sunday closest to November 11, at 11 o’clock in the morning, millions of British people at home and all across the world know exactly what they are remembering, who they are commemorating and (perhaps just as importantly) who they are as a people.

But, while in the UK history is an immovable force, here in Ireland the sands are always shifting. And so this time around it is – Who’s Afraid of 2016? The 1916 Rising has always created a crisis for democratic politicians because it was a defining political event devoid of any democratic mandate and in the immediate aftermath, deeply unpopular with the vast majority of the Irish people, then years along the constitutional path to Home Rule.

iN retrospect, the subsequent British executions of the leaders may well not only have snatched an extraordinary victory for the Republicans from the jaws of defeat, but it also bequeathed a hugely difficult legacy for Irish constitutional politics ever since. Political power had come out of the barrel of a gun and 30 years of Home Rule politics were swept away.

So how do you celebrate 1916 without accepting the seminal importance of the physical force tradition in Irish history? Dress it up however you like, Pádraig Pearse and company declared a Republic on Easter Monday 1916 without first checking it out with any of us around at the time, and then the shooting started.

Furthermore, the War of Independence that followed was started without any democratic mandate from the newly elected first Irish democratic parliament.

The IRA may well have been the army of the Republic but that title was self-styled and never conferred by the Dáil. Even then the politicians were uncomfortable with the shadow of the gunman.

In the years since, the political classes have sought to hide these realities. There was, of course, the threat it constituted to what might happen in the North, and down South the tradition of paramilitarism persisted.

But if you ask me, it is time we were finally allowed to grow up and learn the inconvenient facts of our birth. Why should a Government that has already proved its inability to teach economics now be able to teach history? 1916 had no democratic mandate because crown colonies don’t enjoy proper democracies in order to grant mandates to revolutions. (Come to think of it, wasn’t that why 1916 happened in the first place?) The War of Independence was fought by tiny numbers in about ten counties and was not universally supported. So much so that when the Civil War came, the vast majority of the population had actually turned their backs on armed insurrection.

In fact, the constituency for armed politics has always been tiny in Ireland; had the Unionists of 1912 not taken up guns, the Nationalists might never have.

Our grandparents no more liked guns than we do. But for all that, to continue to ignore the significance of armed politics is to ignore the facts of our national birth.

If anybody needs to grow up now it’s our daft politicians who are trying to rewrite history. We’re just fine with it – warts, guns and all.

ORIGINAL – Daily Mail Sat, 11/05/2013.