Classifieds Advertise Archive Subscriptions Family Announcements Photos Digital Editions/Apps
Connect with us

Political World

Maybe the Poll Tax was a good idea after all!

Published

on

When I was a kid I used to leave the tap running while I brushed my teeth. Living in London in the 1960s, ecology was mere frogspawn struggling to hatch in the raging river of Cold War paranoia.

Nowadays I’d find impossible to concentrate on brushing my Hampsteads if the tap was gushing good clean water down the drain. Even if it’s flushing fluoridated dodgy water, it’s still a waste.

At that same young age, I complained about having to eat my greens. In return, I received lectures from Dad about the starving people of Africa that made no sense to me at all. Yes, Dad, but they’re not going to get this cabbage if I don’t eat it, are they?

Then I travelled and saw women carrying huge containers of water for miles across baked scrubland. It made me feel incredibly lucky to have water on tap at home, but even that didn’t really change my behaviours.

When you fly low over Ireland you look down on an almighty puddle, out of which occasionally rise green bits, so it’s absurd that while living here I’ve started to feel conscious of wasting water. Maybe I’m just such a contrary sod that I had to find a flooded country to begin to value and care about water.

Soon enough we’ll all be thinking about water, because we’ll be paying for our usage. The outrage the Irish are feeling about all these new taxes reminds me of Thatcher’s Community Charge, or Poll Tax as it was known by everyone but herself.
The British are used to paying taxes for the common good. When Aneurin Bevan introduced the world’s first health service, the Brits were happy and proud to pay their collective contributions. However, they found something inherently offensive about the Poll Tax. It appeared to be a tax on life itself.

Then, just like Frank and Nancy Sinatra, Thatcher went and spoilt it all by trying it out on Scotland first. It was a stupid decision on many levels. The Tories’ electoral presence north of Hadrian’s Wall has never been more significant than a grouse’s poop on a highland moor. Aside from that, it’s no secret that the Scots have never felt affectionate to their southern neighbours, and have built a justice system of their own that dwarfs the English in its compassion and understanding. You cannot go to jail in Scotland for non-payment of a fine.

So naturally the Scots refused to pay this Poll Tax, imposed upon them from distant Westminster (ringing any Irish bells?), and inspired the English to respond similarly. Campaigns of non-cooperation sprouted up all over the England.

One of the most effective was a nationwide effort that created tens of thousands of false identities, for whom Community Charge registration forms were submitted. We were all at it, filing on behalf of Mr. Bun the baker, Mr. Banky Fatcat, Maria Julie-Andrews and good old Elsie Boadicea.

It screwed up the government database and made the obscene tax unworkable.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Sinn Féin will discover power brings evolution not revolution

Published

on

Taoiseach in waiting?...Mary Lou McDonald with Galway West TD Mairead Farrell on the streets of Galway.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

Sinn Féin is not like any other party; even when it enjoyed only a fraction of the support of the SDLP it was still attracting the attention of the world media. During the 1980s and 1990s, just about the only Irish political figure American political journalists could name was Gerry Adams.

There was something about Sinn Féin that set it apart – that smell of cordite was catnip for the media.

So the party is viewed through a different lens than, say, the Labour Party, or the Social Democrats, or even the Greens. It carries original sin in the eyes of a portion of the electorate (generally older) who see its association with violence (which included many egregious murders and massacres) as unforgivable for all time.

For others, the passage of time has taken some of the sharp edges away. For the rest, specifically those born after the 1994 ceasefire, that is just not relevant to their lives. For some of those who remember those years, that attitude of younger voters is hard to stomach. But that’s the reality of how things stand just now.

I was always taken by the phrase of the late historian Ronan Farren that the birth certificates of all nations are blood-soaked. The fact of the matter is that Sinn Féin has been in from the cold for 25 years almost, accepting that it would strive to achieve its goals by exclusively peaceful and democratic means.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Continue Reading

Connacht Tribune

Áras an Uachtaráin and the constitutional ties that bind

Published

on

Making headlines... President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina during their visit to the Galway 1916 Exhibition in the former Connacht Tribune Print Works on Market Street.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

Those who become President of Ireland are, metaphorically, provided with a silken gag; for the seven years they reside in Áras an Uachtaráin, they are supposed to keep their opinions and personal political persuasions to themselves.

The relevant Article in the Constitution sets out this rule: “No power or function conferred on the President by law shall be exercisable or performable by him save only on the advice of the Government.”

The President is not allowed to leave the State without first receiving the advice (i.e. the permission) of the Government. Theoretically, every speech they make needs to be run by the government first.

The President is said to be “above politics”. That meant they are not subject to any criticism from parliament or from the government. The other side of the coin is that it is expected the President will not wander into the political forum.

For most of the time since the office of the President was established in 1937, these rules have caused no major problems. With one exception.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

Continue Reading

Connacht Tribune

Trimble leaves a legacy of peace to be proud of

Published

on

David Trimble...lasting legacy.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

The death of David Trimble brought back memories of the time he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize almost a quarter of a century ago, along with John Hume, for their efforts in securing the historic Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

It could be argued that others should have been also on the plane to Oslo that winter, namely Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair.

Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness also played an important role by steering the hard men of the IRA on a path that saw them end their campaign of violence and accept a political solution achieved by solely democratic means.

Of course, it would have been a blatant contradiction to award a peace prize to Adams and McGuinness given their instrumental roles in a republican movement that prosecuted a ruthless armed strategy for almost 30 years right up to that time. The Damascene conversion in 1998 did not erase what had gone before.

Certainly, Hume and those around him from the SDLP – particularly Séamus Mallon – deserved all the praise they got for their selfless pursuit of a political pathway and their brave eschewal of all forms of violence as they grappled with the unique set of circumstances of Northern Ireland.

That said, Trimble showed a huge degree of personal courage and resilience in facing down his critics and enemies – and there were many loud and bitter voices condemning him on the unionist side – and persevering with the talks that culminated with the historic agreement in Hillsborough Castle on that Good Friday in early April in 1998.

But it would have been unimaginable for him to be in that position three years before hand or even three years afterwards when the UUP began imploding around him. The important thing was that he stayed the course during that crucial period.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Continue Reading

Local Ads

Local Ads

Advertisement
Advertisement

Facebook

Advertisement

Trending