Monday, April 4, 2011

Kenny hits his stride

 By Edel Williams,

For a long time, Fianna Fail remained in office because voters believed there was no ‘credible alternative’ to a Fianna Fail led government. Well, it appears we (the people who voted to keep the status quo) now have to eat humble pie because those sentiments appear to have been erroneous. Kenny has impressed me mightily in his first three weeks in office. His demeanour, his carriage and his refined affect makes a welcome change to the cringe factor some preceding politicians caused in me. 

I watched him on the news being greeted in America before St Patricks day, and he seemed comfortable and relaxed in his surroundings. It appears that looks can be deceiving because Kenny appears to be a man of much more substance than most of us gave him credit for. I also applaud his immediate attempts to curb the overspend in his own government by removing expensive ministerial cars and drivers from all ministers including all former Taoisigh and giving all new ministers until May day to come up with a car pool plan. This is what happens in the ‘real’ world of you and I, when our finances are tight. We have to really cut back - not just look like we are cutting back. The past government obviously believed that they were somehow exempt from the necessity of ‘really tightening their belts’ like the rest of us. Giving up a percentage of a huge salary does not in my book represent a real saving to the Irish people or a real and sustained effort to curb the gross overspending that has lead this country into the hot water where it currently resides. I also loudly applaud the ending of the apparent ‘jobs for the boys’ culture that rightly or wrongly ‘appeared’ to be rampant in past governments when new ministers were appointed. Gone it seems are the days, when a politician can hire expensive outside consultants into their departments thereby securing jobs for those who helped them get to power. 

The Kenny/Gilmore government has also with immediate effect reduced the amount of civil servants a Minister can have in his private and constituency offices. I am sure this represents only a small saving in the overall scheme of our indebtedness, but it certainly gives me great hope that our fortunes will change. Rhetoric is easy and don’t we all know we have heard all the hyperbole before. But this time ‘seems’ different. Fresh ideas and fresh enthusiasm often reinvigorate and perhaps now, this new government can get down to the serious business of really resuscitating this country’s fortunes. Kenny is a man obviously settling with ease into his very important role and I wish him the very best of luck over the coming years. For with his success may come our reversal of fortunes! 

We’re entitled! 
The more things change, the more some things seem to remain the same! I am astounded at the news that civil servants of this country, at a time of unprecedented crisis, continue to cling to the very outdated notion of ‘entitlement’ to privilege days, lumping them now into what they view as their ‘annual leave allowance’. Perhaps in the past special consideration was paid to civil servants in the guise of these privilege days, but times have to change and change cannot only come from the grass roots; from the private sector. 

It must also come from the top echelons of this society and that includes the Civil Service, top to bottom. I keep asking myself why civil servants feel they can continue to cling to these now redundant notions that these days are somehow enshrined as their ‘right’. The days of feeling ‘entitled’ to what one sees as their ‘right’ has to be relegated to the past, if we are to move forward with any sort of real progress. Do not get me wrong, I have respect for the work of civil servants, some of whom operate within very difficult work conditions, but over the past decade work conditions, remunerations, ‘entitlements’ etc received by the civil service far surpassed that of the private sector and I don’t understand the mentality of clinging to now obsolete terms or conditions. This is a time we all need to pull together and take the pain with the gain. We all took the gain, but are we all taking the pain? Of that I am not sure?

A refreshing Change!
Listening to Morning Ireland recently I heard an American commentator talk about the difference between the handling of the Iraq crisis and the handling of the crisis in Libya by President Obama. How refreshing it is to hear that this commentator believes they now have a chief who will not be ruled by emotion, but rather by caution and sensibility. The American media, especially some of the more conservative networks revel in ‘Obama bashing’ on a daily basis. To some of these commentators the man can do nothing right! Their preference for presenting the ‘news’ in such a biased way is quite distasteful, so it is indeed refreshing at last, to hear that he is being heralded as a voice of wisdom by his own country. It certainly seems that way to the rest of us here anyway!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Muammar Gaddafi A Brief History

Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi born 7 June 1942, commonly referred to as Colonel Gaddafi, has been the leader of Libya since a military coup on 1 September 1969 where he overthrew King Idris of Libya and established the Libyan Arab Republic. 

His 42 years in power made him one of the longestserving rulers in history. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Gaddafi's government was considered a pariah state by the West, denounced for oppressing internal dissidence, acts of state-sponsored terrorism, assassination of expatriate opposition leaders, and crass nepotism which amassed a multi-billion dollar fortune for himself and his family. 

In 1971, Gaddafi offered to merge Libya with Sudan, but Sudanese President Gaafar Nimeiry turned down that offer. Nimeiry said of Gaddafi: "He has a split personality, both parts evil. Gaddafi's attempts to procure weapons of mass destruction began in 1972, when Gaddafi tried to get the People's Republic of China to sell him a nuclear bomb. In 1977, he tried to get a bomb from Pakistan, but Pakistan severed ties before Libya succeeded in building a weapon. After ties were restored, Gaddafi tried to buy a nuclear weapon from India, but instead, India and Libya agreed for a peaceful use of nuclear energy, in line with India's "atoms for peace" policy. Several people around the world were indicted for assisting Gaddafi in his chemical weapons programs. Thailand reported its citizens had helped build a storage facility for nerve gas. Germany sentenced a businessman, Jurgen Hippenstiel-Imhausen, to five years in prison for involvement in Libyan chemical weapons. Gaddafi trained and supported Liberian dictator Charles Taylor, who was indicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the conflict in Sierra Leone. Foday Sankoh, the founder of Revolutionary United Front, was also Gaddafi's graduate. 

According to Douglas Farah, "The amputation of the arms and legs of men, women, and children as part of a scorched-earth campaign was designed to take over the region’s rich diamond fields and was backed by Gaddafi, who routinely reviewed their progress and supplied weapons" Gaddafi intervened militarily in the Central African Republic in 2001 to protect his ally Ange-Félix Patassé. Patassé signed a deal giving Libya a 99- year lease to exploit all of that country's natural resources, including uranium, copper, diamonds, and oil. 

The Lockerbie bombings
For most of the 1990s, Libya was under economic and diplomatic sanctions as a result of Gaddafi's refusal to allow the extradition to the United States or Britain of two Libyans accused of planting a bomb on Pan Am Flight 103, which came down on Lockerbie, Scotland. Through the intercession of South African President Nelson Mandela—who made a high-profile visit to Gaddafi in 1997—and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Gaddafi agreed in 1999 to a compromise that handed over the defendants to the Netherlands for trial under Scots law.[99] UN sanctions were thereupon suspended, but U.S. sanctions against Libya remained in force. After diplomatic negotiations held through the various countries' secret services, led by Stephen Kappes of the CIA and Sir Mark Allen of MI6, in August 2003, two years after Abdelbaset al-Megrahi's conviction, Libya wrote to the United Nations formally accepting 'responsibility for the actions of its officials' in respect of the Lockerbie bombing and agreed to pay compensation of up to US$2.7 billion—or up to US$10 million each—to the families of the 270 victims.

Something to look forward to

President Obama will be visiting Ireland in May. Obama is probably the best US President since Roosevelt. 30 million US citizens now have health care that did not have health care before. He has set about changing the worlds view of the US with his progressive foreign policy initiatives that include establishing better relations with central and south american governments. 

Americas past foreign policy positions on Latin america can only be described as inhumane and criminal. Obama clearly sees this and has worked hard to restore good relations with this part of the world. We can be grateful that he is in charge over the next 2 years. At a time when the Middle East is undergoing radical change it is important the the US President is one that is thoughtful and measured in his response to this changing world. I am looking forward to his visit and the sense of optimism he brings with him. We need optimism at the moment and a "Yes We Can" attitude.

The Pub, The Queen and the Dictator

Muammar Gaddafi has been in the news lately and the viciousness of his regime has become apparent with the bombing of his own people and his own civilians. 

The Queen is in the news because she will be visiting ireland soon. 

The Pub The Players Lounge has been in the news because it has banned the Queen from visiting its premises. The so called republican attitude displayed by the Players Lounge and its owner towards the Queen can only be described as infantile, hypocritical and intellectually deficient. The owner of the Players Lounge needs to cop on to himself and stop living in the past, a past that involved a cosy relationship between the Irish Government selling beef to Libya with deals done in a tent in the Libyan desert with Muammar Gaddafi himself. Not to mention the deals done with Muammar Gaddafi by violent republican organization during the troubles when the IRA trained in Libya and received arms to kill civilians in Ireland. Libya was also involved in the Lockerbie bombing. 

So it would appear that violent republicanism has a lot in common with Muammar Gaddafi. They both have bombed civilians, they both have a complete disregard for democracy and the world will be a better place when both are consigned to the history books. Will the Players Lounge be raising a banner supporting Muammar Gaddafi? I doubt they will be. 

The Queen is the head of state for our nearest neighbour Great Britian. Great Britian has apologized unreservedly for Bloody Sunday and has moved on from the past. The Players Lounge needs to do the same. Wise up guys and get a life, you are living in the past. I can safely say that I will not be visiting the Players Lounge myself, banned or not and I am sure that the Queen will not be to upset that she cannot pup in for a quick pint.