|June 2012: Diarmuid Flynn and residents of Ballyhea and Charleville, North Cork, protesting at the headquarters of the European Central Bank, Frankfurt.|
The European Parliament election will be held in Ireland on Friday, 23 May
2014 and we at Finfacts urge voters in the Ireland South constituency to vote
No. 1 for Diarmuid O'Flynn who is standing as a non-party candidate.
Across Europe extreme right wing parties are expected to make gains as voters
will express disenchantment with traditional parties. In a welcome
contrast in Ireland, immigrants are not being blamed for our economic woes by
candidates, but this European election, the local elections and the next
general election, should be ones of consequence.
When foreign commentators wondered during the international bailout why the
Irish were so docile, Diarmuid Flynn was the leader of a unique example of
grassroots citizen activism in rural Ireland with a focus on national and
related international issues in contrast with the enduring traditional parish pump politics of
local demands coincident with the system of limited accountability where the buck seldom
stops anywhere that has operated at national level in Dublin for decades.
Change continues to come ever so slowly in Ireland and the election of
Diarmuid O'Flynn has the potential to light a fuse that could trigger the upending
of the established political order at the next general election.
“I’m not deaf - - I hear the anger, I see the dissatisfaction, and I have to
go faster,” President François Hollande of France told his people on Tuesday.
In Ireland the slow-motion governing coalition is running empty on ideas on
modernising governance systems and
putting the economy on a sustainable course that is not over-dependent on a
model where American companies provide Ireland with ready-made jobs.
No change of position among current economic ministers at
the top would
matter as not one of them has implemented or pushed for significant change.
Of course they would counter with laundry lists of initiatives but when they
the 2014-2020 economic strategy last December, it was merely a brochure
containing a cocktail of
platitudes and aspirations to meet the challenges of a changing world -- months
later and it is mainly forgotten.
Following the lamentable record of the Department of Finance during the
property bubble, the Government had the opportunity of establishing a fiscal
advisory council that would be appointed by the Dáil
Éireann (Lower House) and
report to it similar to the Australian equivalent (which also has a
role in assisting non-government parties and members of parliament with fiscal
The Government opted for the Department's choice and Ireland got what is effectively an
intellectual ornament rather than a watchdog, with members appointed by the
minister and with reporting responsibility to the Department.
In a period of economic crisis, it took two years for the Oireachtas (Parliament) to close a
loophole in a 2009 law in respect of buy-to-let mortgages; it's almost four years
since a government gave a commitment to the bailout troika on reform of legal
services but it remains pending; it took five years to make it easier for
generic drugs to be prescribed while the State's drugs bill grew 25% to €2bn.
However, generic drug prices in Ireland remained three times higher than in the
UK; it will be six years after the banking crash when the Oireachtas at last begins
a banking inquiry.
At the MacGill Summer School in July 2009, Enda Kenny, then leader of the
Opposition, asked why do we have a budgetary system in place that is unfit to
run a corner-shop, let alone a nation of 4m people?
Four years later in July 2013 the International Monetary Fund
there wasn't even a common chart of accounts to categorise public spending and "it
requires extensive manual manipulation to reclassify data and consolidate out
intra-governmental stocks and flows. This increases the risk of double counting
of assets and liabilities across general government units."
Twice in a generation the Irish economy has been brought to the brink
of ruin by international crises that had been exacerbated by local
During the first of these calamities in the grim summer of 1985, local people
in the West Cork village of Ballinspittle, close to my hometown of Bandon,
claimed to have seen a public statue that represented the mother of Jesus
Christ, moving. It brought national and international attention to the village
and lots of visitors.
In the grim spring of 2011, in Ballyhea, another Cork village, Diarmuid
Flynn, a journalist at the Irish Examiner, became the leader of a weekly protest
by local people against the bailout of bank bondholders that had initially been
guaranteed by the Irish Government in September 2008 and reaffirmed in the
international bailout in November 2010.
The cost of sovereign support for Irish banks was €64bn and about two-thirds
of the €32bn that was provided to Anglo Irish Bank, was a bailout of depositors.
Despite the economic crash, the ancien régime remains intact and immutable,
with the comfortable safety net of the euro.
There is an opening for a party or movement that would drive change and that
shouldn't be mainly dependent on individuals who appear on television.
Sweden and Finland implemented durable change in modern democracies with
diverse opinions represented in parliament.
There is an agenda of parliamentary reform that every candidate for Dáil
Éireann should agree on or not before an election.
A fiscal advisory council reporting to the Dáil should be complemented by
honest national accounting that would contrast with the current addiction to
spin where data distorted by the significant foreign-owned multinational sector is used to
mask inconvenient facts.
The price of change is some instability but the cost of inaction would be
So light a bonfire of the vanities in Ballyhea and
across the Ireland South constituency on May 23rd, make a difference and send a
message of change to the rest of Ireland with the election of Diarmuid O'Flynn to
the European Parliament.
Diarmuid O'Flynn campaign website
Some of the themes in this piece are covered in more detail here:
Irish Media Post-Economic Crash: "Don't interrupt the minister"
Celtic Tiger RIP: Change in
conservative Ireland six years after crash
OECD BEPS Project: Ireland should embrace corporate