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Budget that punishes plain folk for greed of bankers



Date Published: {J}

Well, how much did they get from you? If you’re in the public sector, you must feel like the sacrificial lamb. If you’re young and unemployed, just skewered.

By ‘they’, I don’t mean the government. Sure politicians bear some of the responsibility, and in fairness they have taken a little of the pain (though ironically, the same pay cut falls on those who opposed their policies).

But a far greater share of the blame lies with the people who owned and ran the government. I mean the property developers, the consultants and lawyers, the financial sector, the banks. Most of all, the banks. For the last decade, Ireland has been run almost entirely for the benefit of these people. They farmed us.

But you can’t just blame the bankers, can you? We were all involved. They may have bought the politicians, but we still voted for those politicians. (Well OK I didn’t, but a majority of us did.) We took the too-easy loans and invested in overpriced property. (Well OK I didn’t, but a lot of us did.) We grew richer because of the boom. (Well OK I didn’t, but a proportion of us did.) We were all to some degree complicit in this. We deserve some small share of the punishment.

Mirthless laughter. Who do you think suffered most in this budget – the people who most benefitted from the property bubble? Quite the opposite of course. Do you think you’ll ever see a former bank executive queuing for the new reduced dole (or I suppose you should call it the ‘Seat-on-a-board Seeker’s Allowance’)? It is of course the people already finding it hard to survive who are bearing the brunt of this. The ones on low incomes, who depend on benefits, who struggle to get by. Ranks now being swelled by those ruining themselves to repay the banks for houses that aren’t worth what they borrowed. In other words, the great majority of us are going to suffer. The ones who won’t suffer – who indeed are being rewarded – are those who brought this on us.

Remember it was only three years ago that AIB was making profits of €1.2 million, per hour. An insane amount of money, a sizeable portion of which they shared out as dividends and bonuses, rewarding themselves for their own utterly irresponsible, purposefully short-sighted behaviour. And yet somehow no arrests have been made. Quite the contrary – with NAMA we are saving them from the natural consequences of their greed. We’re protecting their profitability, we are actually rewarding them for their selfish and thoughtless actions. Every cut that you felt on Wednesday, every increase in expense and reduction in benefit, is to pay for their spree, their massive self-indulgence. Do you really believe they are not laughing at us?

A harsh budget, but one that utterly fails to go to the root of the problem.

Nationalise the banks. Firetheir executives. Confiscate their pensions.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup



Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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