Sunday, August 22, 2010

The travails of Senator Ivor Callely continue

Leinster House When the Select Committee on Members’ Interests of Seanad Éireann found that Senator Ivor Callely had misrepresented his normal place of residence for the purpose of claiming €81,500 in allowances I contacted the Committee.

I asked on 24 July if the Committee could confirm if Senator Callely has honoured the clear undertaking given in his evidence on 25 June 2010 that he would reimburse, or repay, any overpayment of allowances?  If this undertaking has not been honoured, what steps do the Committee propose to take in the light of their own determination and findings on 14 July 2010 to preserve public confidence in the Seanad and its members and within what time frame will this issue be equitably resolved?

I pointed out that there are, according to statistics provided by the Revenue Commissioners, over 900,000 people in our workforce of 1.8 million that earn €20,000,or less, per annum.  It would take the total income tax deductions in a fully year of over 750 of these men and women to fund the allowances that Senator Callely claimed from his second house in County Cork that were the subject of the Committee’s investigation. 

The Clerk of the Committee replied that the repayment of any allowance is now a matter for Senator Callely and the authorities in the House of the Oireachtas Service and the Committee has no further role in this matter.

Senator Eugene Regan, of Fine Gael, is a senior counsel.  He wrote an opinion article on the Callely issue in The Irish Times on Saturday, 21 August titled ‘Callely not out of the woods on suspension’.

Two points caught my eye:

  • Section 10 (1a) of Ethics in Public Office Act 1995-2001 gives the Committee the power to refer a matter under investigation to the Director of Public Prosecutions.  The author states that this provision not only empowers the Committee, but obliges it, to refer a matter to the DPP, if the Committee consider an offence may have been committed.
  • Section 28 (2)(c)(ii) of the Ethics in Public Office Act 1995, as amended by the Standards in Public Office Act 2001, provides that where a committee reports and a resolution is passed suspending a member for a specified period and where the breach in issue is continuing, then the member is suspended “in addition … until such time after the expiration of the period specified … as he, or she, takes the steps specified … to secure compliance”.

Senator Regan opines that the Seanad is judged by the citizens not merely on the transgressions of individual members but on how it is prepared to deal with transgressions and how prepared it is to exercise the powers available to the full.  His point is well made.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Irish households owing less and saving less

This is a quick overview of the current status of the deposits and indebtedness of Irish households.


June Mortgages €M Other Loans €M Total €M
2010 107,677 32,514 140,191
2009 114,306 33,637 147,943
2008 121,260 30,030 151,290
2007 116,434 27,728 144,162
2006 104,897 23,743 128,640

The mortgage figure does not include €37.8 billion outstanding in respect of securitised mortgages.  While overall indebtedness is €10 billion less than it was in June 2008, it is €12 billion higher than it was was in June 2006 and this trend must be seen in the context of a severe increase in unemployment.


June Deposits €M Monthly Transactions 
Ratio of Deposits to Loans outstanding
2010 97,253 -581 69.3%
2009 98,462 -135 66.5%


Household deposits are €1.2 billion less in June 2010 than in June 2009.

The negative monthly transactions in each of these months can be viewed in the context of increases in deposits in the prior three years.  Deposits increased by €124 million in June 2008; by €634 million in June 2007 and by €1,572 million in June 2007.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Pakistan’s President flees a major humanitarian crisis to sip tea at Chequers

Asif_Ali_Zardari_-_2009 There are vey few countries whose citizens are abandoned by their Head of State at time of widespread distress and crisis.  The President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, took himself off on a 5-day soiree to London while those of his citizens that have not been drowned are floundering in flood water, breast-deep.  This very important man is the widower of Benazir Bhutto, who served twice as prime minister and was assassinated in December 2007.  He is also reported to be the 5th richest person in Pakistan

Meanwhile, the Irish people have been bombarded with advertisements this week to provide succour.   David Cameron must have been deeply impressed with this visiting personality cult but Cameron would also know that were he to abandon the Brits in a crisis of similar gravity his  tenure as prime minister would come to a very abrupt halt. 

The 11th President of Pakistan maybe very rich and very privileged but he is a disgrace.  He has treated his office and his people with contempt. Spineless leaders are bereft of priorities formed by empathy and basic moral authority.

I saw this pathetic weasel of a man speak on BBC Television last night and it is a long time that I have listened to such inconsequential waffle and blather as he explained the significance of his visit to the UK.  He came across as an empty-headed, vain, self-absorbed fool who is wholly disconnected with his own people and whose capacity to deliver anything of value anywhere in the world is severely compromised.

Genuine leaders display loyalty to their own people, especially  at a time of severe distress and their priorities and presence are with them.  They deal with a crisis directly – even if that is only a matter of providing moral support through their presence.  Is there any tragedy in Pakistan that would keep this naïve clown at home, or is his infinite vanity and pompous nature such that he resides in a bubble above the aura of human distress and misery? 

Perhaps he should be  reminded of the international travel pattern of Nicolae Ceausescu, especially his very important trip to Iran on 18 December 1989 and the consequences of that episode of presidential delegation.

His ambassadors ought to make a public statement as to whether the people around the world should open their purses and wallets while President Ali Zadari behaves as he does.  How much of Ali Zadari’s personal wealth will be donate to the alleviation of this crisis, as he is reputed to be one of the five richest people in your country and will the amount of his donation be a matter of public record, or does he also delegate that matter to the UN

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The World has arrived in Dublin

2010 08 05_4664_edited-1 The World has dropped into Dublin.  This is a cruise ship with a difference because it is the first ever residential cruise ship.  Built in Oslo in 2002, it has 166 residential units that sell in a price range from €500,000 to €10 million for a suite that can accommodate up to 12 people.  One, two and three bedroom residences are available.  Monthly dues start at €20,000 to cover travel and overheads, including meals from the liner’s four restaurants, deli and gourmet grocery store.  The owners of these residents enjoy a net worth from €5 million+.

The vessel’s tonnage is 43,524 gross.  It is almost 197 metres long and 30 metres wide. 

The World departs for Cork on Sunday, 8 August and for the remainder of the year its itinerary will include Faroe Island’s, Greenland, Iceland, Newfoundland, Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo, Buenos Aires and Christmas will be spent on an Antartica expedition.

The New Year will shepherd the fjords of Chile, the west coast of South America with many 5-day stops en route before reaching the Panama Canal in March.  The voyage then proceeds around the Caribbean and up the east coast of the US, stopping at New York before heading to Portugal, Bordeaux, London, Edinburgh by mid June.  From there the vessel proceeds on a tour of Baltic ports including Helsinki and St Petersburg before heading to Amsterdam, the Mediterranean and onwards to Capetown, South Africa for Christmas 2011.