Friday, December 29, 2023

Ireland in 2023: Music and tax haven shenanigans

'Fairytale of New York' played at funeral

(reload the page if the music doesn't start)

John Sheahan (born 1939), the last surviving member of 'The Dubliners' (the famous group that was founded in 1962) played at the funeral.

"The Rare Auld Times - John Sheahan – 80th Birthday Concert Celebration"

I was in Ireland in the first 3 weeks of December 2023. I was there to attend the funeral of my youngest brother in West Cork.

In Dublin despite the cold, the Christmas spirit was high. I visited The Ginger Man pub and the crowd spilled onto the pavement. A kind doorman prioritised me (I shocked him later by giving him a tip!).

Inside, the iconic Irish Christmas ‘Fairytale of New York’ played with the late frontman for the Pogues Group – Shane MacGowan and the late Kirsty MacColl singing.

James Patrick Donleavy (1926-2017), a New Yorker whose parents were Irish migrants, had served in the US Navy during World War II and came to Ireland in 1946. Trinity College in Dublin after the war was a mecca for adventurous Americans who used the GI Bill as a passport to higher education and he enrolled in the university.

Donleavy's book ‘The Ginger Man’ (1955) was banned in Ireland. ‘A Fairytale of New York’ (1973) had an Irish theme. In the 1980s the London-Irish group the Pogues popularised the song version.

Five years ago Saoirse Ronan, the Irish-American actress, sang 'Fairytale of New York' with Jimmy Fallon, the host of NBC's 'The Tonight Show.'

The Pogues achieved 2nd place in the UK single charts in 1987, and last week 'Fairytale of New York' got a 6th ranking.

Sinéad O'Connor (1966–2023); Shane MacGowan (1957–2023), and Christy Dignam (1960–2023) were leading Irish musicians who died in the year.


In The Ginger Man, Dublin, Ireland

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Israel a "brutal colonial power"; local rights group calls it "apartheid"

A Bedouin by the Jordan River in the early 20th century taken by the German Protestant Institute of Archaeology.

The heinous attack on civilians in Israel, early on October 7th, was a monstrous crime perpetrated by Hamas terrorists. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, said this month that Hamas committed war crimes but "The collective punishment by Israel of Palestinian civilians is also a war crime, as is unlawful forcible evacuation of civilians."

"An eye for an eye" (Biblical Hebrew: עַיִן תַּחַת עַיִן, ʿayīn taḥaṯ ʿayīn) is a commandment found in the Book of Exodus 21:23–27 citing the principle of reciprocal justice measure for measure.

Jesus in the Christian Bible John 8:7, with Mary Magdalene, a disciple, said to the men who wished to stone her to death, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."

SEE also: Israel is the West's last settler colony

Avi Shlaim (born 1945) is an Israeli and British historian of Iraqi Jewish descent. He is an Emeritus Professor of International Relations at Oxford University.

He wrote an essay for The Economist on this year, the 75th anniversary of the declaration of the State of Israel on May 15, 1948.

"The controlling logic of settler-colonialism is to subdue and drive out the natives. Noam Chomsky, an eminent Jewish-American intellectual, has argued that settler colonialism is the most sadistic form of imperialism. In Palestine, the Zionist leaders were not sadistic, but they were ruthless in pursuit of their goal."

"In 1948, following the Arab rejection of the UN partition plan, they exploited the opportunity offered by an Arab military attack to extend the territory of their emerging state beyond the borders drawn by the UN cartographers and to carry out large-scale ethnic cleansing of Palestine. After the war, all the emphasis was on Aliyah or immigration, “the ingathering of the exiles”, nation-building and promoting the welfare of the Jewish population. The Arab minority inside Israel was kept under military government until 1966. During this period the settler-colonial character of the new state became obscured, but it did not fundamentally change."

I experienced the transformation of Israeli society over the past half-century at the personal level. In the mid-1960s I served loyally and proudly in the Israeli army because I felt at that time that the IDF was true to its name: it was the Israeli Defence Forces. After the 1967 war, its character gradually changed. It became the repressive police force of a brutal colonial power. I for one, therefore, do not regard Israel’s 75th birthday as a cause for celebration but rather as an occasion for critical reflection and soul-searching.

Friday, November 10, 2023

Israel is the West's last settler colony

Map of the Southern Levant in the 9th century BC, with Israel in blue

Mount Zion is a hill in Jerusalem, located just outside the walls of the Old City. The term Mount Zion has been used in the Hebrew Bible first for the City of David and later for the Temple Mount, but its meaning has shifted and it is now used as the name of ancient Jerusalem's Western Hill (Wikipedia).

Theodor Herzl (1860-1904), a Jewish journalist living in Austria-Hungary, founded the Zionist movement in 1896 and he convened the First Zionist Conference in 1897.

In 1902, Arthur James Balfour, succeeded his uncle, Lord Salisbury, as British prime minister. He established a Royal Commission on Alien Immigration (1902–03). Colonial immigration restriction laws played an important role in the formulation and passing of the 1905 Aliens Act.

In London there were immigration restrictions among the Jewish community who did not wish to see Jewish ‘pauper classes’ descend on England.

Herzl asked the colonial secretary, Joseph Chamberlain, to permit Jewish colonisation in British-controlled Egypt near El Arish (the largest settlement of the Sinai Peninsula in the northeastern area by the Mediterranean coast), but he was offered Uganda. The goal was to still to settle in Ottoman Palestine.

SEE here as well: Israel a "brutal colonial power"; local rights group calls it "apartheid"

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

The ‘Perfect Storm’ metaphor and lame excuses

Google Books Ngram Viewer cites 'Perfect Storm' in the early 1700s and the Oxford English Dictionary has published a reference from 1718: 'and a perfect storm of applause.'

The references peaked in the 1860s and in modern times from the late 1990s. There was an all-time peak in 2018.

Vanity Fair, an 1847 novel by William Makepeace Thackeray, has a scene in Naples where "the hat went round, and the bajocchi (a coin, originally copper, later silver, issued by the Papal States from the 15th century to 1865) tumbled into it, in the midst of a perfect storm of sympathy."

The first known use of the expression in the meteorological sense is on May 30, 1850, when the Rev. Lloyd of Withington (Manchester, England) describes a perfect storm of thunder and lightning all over England (except London) doing fearful and fatal damage.″

The UK Met Office was founded in 1854 and the Irish Meteorological Service was established in 1936.

From Google Books 1720 to 2019 'Perfect Storm'

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Secure homelands for Jewish and Palestinian people



In James Joyce's 'Ulysses' the character Mr Deasy says "Ireland, they say, has the honour of being the only country which never persecuted the Jews. Do you know that? No. And do you know why?"

"- Why sir?" Stephen Dedalus asked, beginning to smile.

"- Because she never let them in," Mr. Deasy said solemnly.

Leopold Bloom, the Jewish protagonist is believed to have been modelled on a Jewish friend of Joyce in Trieste, in the then Austro-Hungarian Empire. The city had many nationalities and Jews were more welcome there than in other cities of the empire.

The Irish minister in Berlin in 1933-1939, Charles Bewley, was a Nazi admirer and an anti-Semite while Ireland had a postwar welcome for Nazi war criminals.

It took 50 years for a French president to acknowledge without any equivocation the extent of the French state and citizens' complicity in collaboration with the Nazis in deporting some 76,000 French and foreign Jews.

Sunday, October 08, 2023

Irish Government may have nixed a key remedy for 'Leprechaun economics'


Tourism Ireland: "Gold" at the end of the rainbow County Donegal - Oct 30, 2015

[Leprechaun economics triggered über sham Irish economic growth in 2015 and it still endures up to the present. Phantom overseas exports that neither originate in Ireland nor have subsequent contact, trump the value of net custom-tracked Irish merchandise exports...In Irish folklore, the “luchorpán,” which means “little body," was a mischievous elf who hid a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.]

In July 2016 American economist Paul Krugman dubbed the annual revision of Irish 2015 GDP (Gross Domestic Product) "Leprechaun economics." The 2015 GDP had jumped to a stunning 26.3% on the 2014 data.

IMF April 2023: Ireland at US$145,200 per capita GDP (Gross Domestic Product) was the highest in the world; the UK was at $56,500, but Ireland's true level was $33,500 per capita.😏

In response to the 2015 results, the CSO convened the Economic Statistics Review Group (ESRG), to broaden its deliberations on the challenges to interpreting Ireland’s national accounts due to the impact of globalisation.

Philip Lane, then governor of the Central Bank of Ireland (CBI) and now chief economist at the European Central Bank (ECB), chaired the ESRG, and members included representatives from the CSO, ESRI, UCC, Fiscal Council, TCD, Department of Finance, IIEA, IBEC, SIPTU, and the NTMA. The Group also received submissions from former CBI governor Patrick Honohan, the Revenue Commissioners, Eurostat, and the OECD.

In February 2017 the 'Central Statistics Office (CSO) Response to the Main Recommendations of the Economic Statistics Review Group (ESRG') were unveiled.

"An adjusted indicator, Gross National Income* (GNI*) of the size of the economy should be published, appropriately adjusted for the retained earnings of re-domiciled firms and depreciation on foreign-owned domestic capital assets."

Wednesday, October 04, 2023

European mass inward migration and melting Arctic


Scientists from the US Geological Survey predict that by 2050, the lack of sea ice will have reduced polar bear numbers by about two-thirds. By 2040, summer sea ice is expected to recede to a band around north-eastern Canada and northern Greenland, taking polar bears with it. This remote area could provide the very last bastion for sea ice-dependent Arctic species, such as polar bears to make their last stand.

Climate change was likely the catalyst that spurred our early modern humans to leave Africa. Archaeologists speculate that our ancestors left 50,000 to 60,000 years ago, or maybe earlier, following coastlines and islands through Southeast Asia toward Australia. In June 2023 archaeologists uncovered two new bone fragments in a cave in northern Laos, suggesting that Homo Sapiens wandered southeast Asia up to 86,000 years ago. The findings indicate that humans migrated through the area earlier than previously thought.

2.7°C is the median of the combined low and high ends of current policy projections on climate change. This is a global average. A heatwave such as the recent one would occur every 2-5 years in a world that is 2°C warmer than the preindustrial climate.

Extreme heat will be regional and before the end of the 21st century, the heat could trigger unprecedented migration. 

Ancient hunters stayed in the coldest part of Northern Europe rather than migrating to escape freezing winter conditions, archaeologists have found. Dr Alexander Pryor, from the University of Exeter, who led a study, said: "Our research shows the cold harsh winter climates of the last ice age were no barrier to human activity in the area. Hunters made very specific choices about where and when to kill their prey."

However, with the Arctic ice melted, Northern Europe will be a refuge from extreme heat.

The summer of 2023 was Earth’s hottest since global records began in 1880, according to scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS) in New York.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

European cities, housing crises, and too much tourism

'Far from the Madding Crowd' (1874: Thomas Hardy's novel)
Four Seasons Resort, Langkawi, Malaysia
Credit Michael Hennigan

William Whyte (1917-1999), a Fortune magazine editor, was the author of a famous 1956 book 'The Organization Man.' He argued that corporations and suburbs were turning the American middle class into timid conformists more interested in pleasing their colleagues and neighbours than in thinking or acting for themselves.

The book challenged claims of entrepreneurial vision and courage in business by describing the ongoing bureaucratisation of white-collar environments including board rooms, offices, and laboratories. Whyte also popularised the word “groupthink.”

His New York Times obituary noted "As an urbanologist he wrote, taught, planned and once spent 16 years watching and filming what people do on the streets of New York. He also conducted a study showing that a large percentage of companies that moved from New York City ended up in locations less than eight miles from the homes of their chief executives." Finfacts: Cognitive dissonance and the flawed American democracy

Sunday, September 03, 2023

Irish wealthiest in World in 2023! Brits ahead in GDP per capita

IMF April 2023: Ireland at $145,200 per capita; UK at $56,500; Irish adjusted $33,500

The IMF (International Monetary Fund) says that Ireland's gross domestic product (GDP) per capita is the highest of 195 countries. This is based on Purchasing Power Parities (PPP).

"Not Pygmalion likely!" or better still the original "Walk! Not bloody likely" ("bloody" was a contemporary taboo) from the character of Eliza Doolittle in the 1914 'Pygmalion' play by the Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950).

However, the gold at the end of the rainbow is an illusion.

In 2021, the US Treasury named Bermuda, the Caymans, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Singapore, and Switzerland, the top 7 corporate tax havens. Their share of US multinational corporations' foreign profits had risen from almost 30% in 2000 to over 60% in 2019.

Almost a quarter of a century ago, Ireland became the world's most profitable country for US corporations.

While American companies provide jobs, the distorted headline GDP results in high international rankings whether it's economic or social issues. It fools foreigners and is seldom corrected in Ireland.

The reality is that Ireland is in the second tier of Advanced Economies.

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Facts: Ireland's GDP per capita was €25,300 in 2022

Last April the International Monetary Fund (IMF) published gross domestic product (GDP) data for countries across the globe, in current US dollars.

The Irish level adjusted by me for overseas multinational data in the National Accounts was at $26,600 (€25,300) in 2022 with Lithuania and Portugal just behind and Estonia and Czech Republic ahead.

If the polluted Modified GNI* metric was used the GDP per capita would be €53,600.

Irish public debt rose more than 11% to €226bn at the end of 2022. The Department of Finance announced in March 2023 that the per capita debt was at €44,000. It said, "Ireland has one the highest per capita debt burdens in the world."  

Last February The Financial Times ran a story titled "Irish central banker defends runaway economic growth as ‘real.’"

Sept 2023: Irish wealthiest in the World in 2023! Brits ahead in GDP per capita

However, the governor was economical with the truth.

Gabriel Makhlouf told the Financial Times that much of Ireland’s growth — forecast to be 12.2% last year, more than treble growth in the overall EU — comes from “real factories with real people” even if a lot of activity stems from big technology and pharmaceutical groups.

“Too many people think or jump to the conclusion that this is all about intellectual property that’s sort of moving around and it’s not real, and that’s wrong,” Makhlouf said.

In late 2021 economists at the Central Bank of Ireland noted: "Further increases in exports due to contract manufacturing and merchanting will continue to distort Ireland’s trade performance and inflate GDP in the National Accounts."

Ireland is not among the wealthy countries.

Last June Eurostat reported that actual individual consumption (AIC) consists of goods and services actually consumed by households, irrespective of whether they were purchased and paid for by households directly, by government, or by nonprofit organizations. It said the AIC per capita is an indicator of the material welfare of households.

Ireland in 2022 fell to 87, meaning AIC was 13% below the EU average and a gap of 32% with Germany.

Ireland was at 115% in 2006-7!

Patrick Honohan, a former governor of the Central Bank and emeritus professor of economics at Trinity College, Dublin, has written a piece "Is Ireland really the most prosperous country in Europe?"

Ireland’s average per capita consumption ranked 21 in the world in 2017 (ignoring countries with less than a million population).

The OECD club of mainly advanced economies, ranked Ireland 19 of 38 countries for household net adjusted disposable income.

The 2022 edition of the European Commission's Scoreboard of 2,500 business companies, outlines spending on R&D (research and development) worldwide in 2021.

Ireland has 24 companies on the global listing led by Medtronic of the US having a spend of €2.4bn (the redomiciled firms are mainly American). However, the only Irish-born companies are Kerry Group and both Bank of Ireland and Allied Irish Banks.

Irish SMEs (small and medium-sized firms) also export less than their European counterparts. Survey data shows the percentage of SMEs that do not export fluctuated between 58% and 65% over the past 5 years – well above the Euro Area (single currency area) average. In 2022 Irish companies exported to the other 19 other member countries, were at a paltry €8.9bn. The Euro Area has a population of 347mn including Ireland's 5.057mn.

Sunday, July 30, 2023

American business firms global champions for now

The genesis of multinational enterprises (MNEs) dates from the early 160Os when the state trading companies, the English East India Company, and Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC: 1602-1799) — United East India Company in English, but commonly known as the Dutch East India Company, adopted the shareholder model. China in particular preferred silver rather than European-produced goods in exchange for spices and tea, and the trading companies became leading Asian traders in opium — in effect drug cartels. Finfacts: First Modern Economy: Myths on tulips & most valuable firm in history.

Saturday, June 24, 2023

The misplaced fascination with the RMS Titanic

The Titanic leaving Belfast on April 2, 1912

The sinking of the RMS Titanic in April 1912 has been in the news again and the US Coast Guard has announced that a “catastrophic implosion” of the submersible, known as “Titan,” killed the 5 people on board. The front cone and other debris were located by a remotely operated vehicle 1,600 feet (487 metres) from the bow of the Titanic, which rests in 13,000 feet (4 kilometres) deep in the North Atlantic Ocean. It was about 400 miles (348 knots; 644 km) off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada.

In 1985, it took Robert Ballard (born 1942), a former US naval officer, eight days to be the first person to locate the wreck of the RMS (Royal Mail Steamer) Titanic.

“A Night to Remember” (1958), a British film directed by Roy Ward Baker, was acclaimed for its accuracy on the sinking of the Titanic and had been based on Walter Lord’s 1955 book. "Titanic" (1997) which was directed by Hollywood film director James Cameron, brought the story to another generation. It's reported that Cameron has completed 33 dives to the wreck of the Titanic.

Harland and Wolff Ltd was founded in Belfast, north-east Ireland, in 1861. It had in the first decade of the 20th century won orders for 3 giant 'Olympic Class' liners from the White Star Line. Employing about 15,000 people on a 300-acre site, the nearby Belfast College of Technology provided vocational education for the firm's apprentices.

Catholics comprised 24% of Belfast's population in 1911 and a small number worked at the shipyard in East Belfast. There was a myth that the Titanic's hull number "3909 04" flipped over, read "No Pope."

The chairman of Harland and Wolff in 1895-1924 was a leading Liberal peer, Lord Pirrie, and on April 11 1912, the British Liberal Party government introduced the Third Home Rule Bill which would grant Ireland self-government.

Research by Andy Bielenberg, senior lecturer at University College Cork (UCC), shows that by 1907, the 6 counties of the north-east accounted for two-thirds of Irish industrial output and two-thirds of industrial exports originated in Belfast, Ireland's biggest city in 1911.

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

"Dear dirty Dublin" — Air pollution low among Europe's capitals

Una Mullally of the Irish Times said this week that "Dublin is a dirty, smelly, sticky old town once again." I was back in Ireland in May and I stayed in the city centre south of the River Liffey for more than a week. It looked clean to me; the sun was shining and people were using the recently installed outdoor furniture.

IQAir is a Swiss tech firm - IQAir World Air Quality Report 2022 Finds Only 5% of Countries Meet WHO PM2.5 Air Pollution. For example, it collects data from Ireland's Environmental Protection Agency. There are 30,000 air quality monitoring stations across 7,323 locations in 131 countries.

Dublin's north inner city has been named Ireland's "litter blackspot'" in a survey. The country's latest litter league, compiled by the Irish Business Against Litter, lists the north inner city bottom of 40 areas across Ireland for rubbish.

The Irish Times reported last week that members of the public have been urged to treat outdoor spaces with care and protect fragile ecosystems as part of a new campaign launched by Leave No Trace Ireland, an organisation that campaigns for “outdoor ethics”.

“The lowest awareness of the impact of irresponsible behaviour was shown to be among those below 35 years of age and the 2023 Love This Place Campaign is focused on this demographic to increase education around the simple actions people can take to protect and enhance our experience of the outdoors countryside, and recreational spaces.”

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Irish Celts are as real as Leprechauns

In Ancient Greece Κελτοί (Keltoí) was the word used for "Barbarian" (non-Greek-speaking people, including Egyptians, Persians, Medes, Phoenicians, and tribes in Europe, emphasised their otherness. According to Greek writers, this was because the language they spoke sounded to Greeks like gibberish represented by the sounds "bar...bar")." While viewing foreigners as inferior, they were also often treated as candidates for conquest and enslavement.

The mainly independent tribes collectively Keltoí had their own names during the Iron Age, between about 600 BC and 43 AD. It would be about 2,000 years, in the early 18th century, for the words "Celt "or "Celtish" to enter the English language.

Greeks established a colony in Southern Gaul around Masallia, or modern-day Marseille in 600 BC. There were about 60 tribes in the area of the Gauls in Western Europe.

There was no invasion of Ireland by these tribes that settled in land stretching from the Atlantic coast to Asia Minor (see map above). What tribes invaded Ireland?

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Putin critic gets 25 years evoking Gulags and useful idiots

Russian opposition figure Vladimir Kara-Murza, who was accused of treason and spreading "false" information about the Russian army, stands inside a defendant's cage during his sentencing at the Moscow City Court on April 17, 2023. Handout/Moscow City Court Press Service

The Russian Putic critic Vladimir Kara-Murza (41) has been sentenced to 25 years in jail in Russia for charges linked to his criticism of the war in Ukraine. He was found guilty of treason, spreading "false" information about the Russian army and being affiliated with an "undesirable organisation."

The "outrageously harsh court decision clearly demonstrates yet again the political misuse of the judiciary in order to pressure activists, human rights defenders and any voices opposing Russia's illegitimate war of aggression against Ukraine," the EU's top diplomat Josep Borrell said in a statement.

Putin's Federal Security Service, or FSB (the successor to Putin's KGB), tried to kill Kara-Murza by poisoning in 2015 and 2017.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny (46) was poisoned with novichok by FSB agents in August 2020. Bellingcat, the investigations group, identified the team that was authorised by Putin to kill Navalny.

After treatment in Germany, Navalny returned to Russia and is now serving 11-1/2 years in the IK-6 penal colony, and may also face another charge with a sentence of 5 years.

Navalny is allowed only four visits by relatives per year instead of the usual six visits and there can be no communication with other prisoners. His lawyers believe that he is being slowly poisoned. “Our theory is that they are gradually killing him, using slow-acting poison which is applied through food."

Today April 26, 2023, Alexei Navalny (46), the jailed critic of the Russian dictator who is 70, has said he is being investigated on terrorism charges that could see him sentenced to 30 years in prison. Putin couldn't kill him by poisoning and now he wants to have Navalny in jail indefinitely.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Success of Irish economy masks the extent of underlying weakness

The International Energy Agency was set up in the wake of the 1973-1974 oil crisis to help industrialised countries to respond to major oil shocks — this year the head has warned that the “energy battle” between Europe and Russia is not over, despite a sharp drop in wholesale gas prices that has eased concerns over high bills and blackouts. Fatih Birol said Europe’s efforts to replace Russian gas supplies this winter had been a “big success” but cautioned there were lingering fears over next winter. IEA

Indigenous Irish exports were 4.7% of total merchandise and services exports in 2021, dominated by FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) firms.

In 2021, the highest price level for consumer goods and services among the EU member states was observed in Ireland (44 % above the EU average) and the lowest in Romania (45 % below the average).

The USA was Ireland’s largest merchandise export market in 2021, with over €52bn in exports. This accounted for 32% of the total value of exports. Medical & Pharmaceutical Products and Organic Chemicals comprised €37bn, or 71% of the total exports to the USA in 2021, according to the CSO (Central Statistics Office). The second biggest export partner was the UK with over €18bn of exports, closely followed by Germany with over €17.7bn.

China and Belgium (for onward flights to other destinations) complete the list of the remaining top 5 export markets.

The UK was the biggest source of imports in 2021, with imports of €19.5bn.

Ireland remains an important UK trading partner

The UK’s trade surplus with Ireland was the UK’s second highest, after the surplus with the United States. Ireland was one of seven EU countries the UK had a trade surplus in 2021 — the remaining six were with Malta, Luxembourg, Cyprus, the Netherlands, Denmark and Estonia. Overall, Ireland was the UK's fourth-largest export market and tenth-largest source of imports.

A UK Department of Business & Trade factsheet issued on March 17, 2023, noted that total trade in goods and services (exports plus imports) between the UK and Ireland was £82.0bn in the four quarters to the end of Q3 2022, an increase of 25.2% or £16.5bn from the four quarters to the end of Q3 2021.

Ireland was the UK’s 6th largest trading partner in the four quarters to the end of Q3 2022 accounting for 5.0% of total UK trade.

In 2021, 40% of Northern Ireland's goods exports were to the Republic of Ireland (compared to 7% for the UK as a whole) while 36% of Northern Ireland's goods imports were from the Republic of Ireland (compared to 3% for the UK as a whole).

UK exports to Ireland were worth £41.6bn; imports from Ireland were £20.4bn, resulting in a trade surplus of £21.3bn. The UK had a surplus with Ireland in both goods and services.

Ireland was the UK’s 4th largest export market and the 10th largest source of imports.

Sunday, March 26, 2023

FT 1000: 7th ranking of Europe’s fastest-growing companies 2023


Ireland has no native-born firms in the tech categories. The only entry is in the Food & Beverage category: Bevcraft Group (181), a specialist process and packaging business. Last December it merged with a Norwegian firm — Cubicle 7 Entertainment (192); System.I0 (271); Zoosh Digital (423) — these 3 Irish firms were founded by foreign nationals.

The Irish Venture Capital Association (IVCA) last month reported  an estimate that venture capital investment "in Irish tech firms and SMEs in 2022 totalled €1.33bn, no change on the previous year." The data are not reliable as it includes foreign firms, mainly American, that become Irish for tax purposes. 

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) says "Ireland has a large population of very low-productive SMEs that co-exist with high-productive large firms (mainly foreign firms)." Employer firm births are low (even including foreign firms) and the number of firms that export is also low (separate article pending). 

The Financial Times's FT 1000 published in March 2023 with Statista, a research company, data on the European companies with the highest compound annual growth rate in revenue between 2018 and 2021.

The minimum CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) required to be included on the rankings, was 36.2% — slightly below the 35.5% in last year’s ranking.

The Big 4 countries Italy (260); Germany (217); the UK (155) and France (140) accounted for 772 of the 1,000 firms or 77%.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Children of 1960s refugees/asylum seekers to UK push for migrants to return to Africa

Their parents fled Africa as refugees in the 1960s. Now they want to ship migrants to Rwanda

Rishi Sunak, the British Prime Minister, Priti Patel, the former Home Secretary in the Johnson administration, and Suella Braverman, the current Home Secretary, all support sending refugees to the African country of Rwanda, even if they had no family ties in that East African country. In the 1960s their parents fled Africa and likely broke the then-British laws.

Last year Suella Braverman said, “I would love to have a front page of The Telegraph with a plane taking off to Rwanda, that’s my dream, it’s my obsession.”

Britain abolished slavery in 1807 but existing slavery remained in the British Empire until 1834-1838. In effect for Indians a form of slavery remained called an indenture. Many Indians agreed to become indentured labourers to escape British-controlled India's widespread poverty and famines. Some travelled alone; others brought their families to settle in the colonies they worked in. 

Between 1834 and 1917, Britain took more than 1mn Indian indentured labourers to 19 British colonies, including Malaya, with its tin mining and rubber plantations.

In Africa, they settled in South and East Africa. Mauritius was successively a French and a British Colony during the period 1715-1968 and under British rule, Mauritius became a sugar-producing island.

White South Africa got its independence from Britain in 1961; Tanzania / Tanganyika in 1961-1964; Uganda in 1962; Keyna in 1963 and Mauritius in 1968.

Both the newly independent states in East Africa and the Republic of India did not want the Indo-African populations. Free Indian migrations in the 20th century had become elites in the countries.

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Plunge in Irish rental residential properties raises prices

On February 1, 2023, it was estimated that the number of housing units for rent in Ireland was just over 1,000. This plunge in the market has resulted in pushing up the rents of the existing stock of rental properties.

Until land reforms in Ireland by the British administration, in the late 19th century and the early 20th century, the Anglo-Irish "absentee landlord" was a hated figure in Ireland. Today the term "landlord" is still a pejorative for some of the population.

There is a misleading notion that most landlords are making a lot of money, squeezing poorer people.

However, in 2021 the CSO (Central Statistics Office) reported that landlords (86%) owned only one or two properties. Most of them owned one. It added that half of all landlords earn less than €10,000 on these investments after allowable expenses — such as mortgage interest, depreciation on fittings and furniture, repair and maintenance costs and letting costs.

If an individual was taxed at a higher rate the net annual income from their investment was €5,150 or less. If the lower tax rate was applied it could be as high as €7,150.

The median price of a dwelling purchased in the 12 months to July 2022 was €295,000.

The return of 1.75% is not extortion.

The lowest median price for a house in the 12 months to July 2022 was €145,000 in Longford, while the highest median price was €610,000 in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown.

According to Ronan Lyons of Trinity and producer of the Daft rental report, "Fewer than 1,100 homes were available to rent on February 1, 2023. This is largely unchanged from the number three months ago, at the time of the last report, and down almost 22% on the figure available on the same date a year ago.

But that figure from 2022 was itself a complete outlier in a series that stretches back to 2006. Between 2015 and 2019, a time when supply was very weak relative to demand — pulling up rents — there were typically 3,800 homes available to rent at the start of February. The average for February 1st over the full period 2006-2021 was 8,500."

Thursday, March 09, 2023

Jon Stewart on gun control and Irish useful idiots

Jon Stewart is an American comedian, political commentator, actor, director and television host. Stewart hosted The Daily Show, a satirical news program on Comedy Central, from 1999 to 2015 and he is now the host of The Problem with Jon Stewart, which premiered in September 2021 on Apple TV+.

In an episode, "Chaos, Law, and Order" on gun control with Oklahoma state senator Nathan Dahm, Jon Stewart argues Dahm's support of anti-drag show laws directly conflicts with the logic he uses for loosening gun restrictions.

Dahm and other Republicans want to shield children from drag but firearms are the biggest cause of death among children in America.

During the pandemic, firearm-related deaths rose among children, with seven children per day dying by firearm in 2021. From 2011 to 2021, nearly 18,500 children ages 17 and younger died by firearm.

Dahm has introduced several bills loosening gun restrictions, including the first anti-red flag law against restricting gun access to those deemed dangerous.

Jon Stewart: “And what you're telling me is you don't mind infringing free speech to protect children from this amorphous thing that you think of. But when it comes to children that have died, you don't give a flying fuck to stop that, because that shall not be infringed. That is hypocrisy at its highest order.”

Not only does he want to protect the Second Amendment, but he also believes that more guns make Americans safer.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Putin follows Peter the Great as Russia's 1% own 59% of wealth

Peter the Great (1672 -1725. He modernised Russia and visited Western Europe in 1697 and 1717. His eldest child and heir, Alexei, was tortured and executed in 1718. Alexei had a poor relationship with his father. 

The Russian war against Ukraine is a year old and it's the biggest land war in Europe since 1945.

On April 30, 1945, in an underground bunker in Berlin, Adolf Hitler committed suicide by swallowing a cyanide capsule and shooting himself in the head. After the death of the beast Germany unconditionally surrendered to the Allied forces,ending Hitler’s dreams of a “1,000-year” Reich (empire).

Another insecure dictator in 2022 wanted to restore the Russian Empire and he too had a record of mass murder.

It was not on the scale of the Austrian-born Hitler but Putin and his henchmen have no mercy when it comes to targeting civilians.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said this week that nearly 18mn people are in dire need of humanitarian assistance. Some 14mn people have been displaced from their homes while 8mn have moved abroad.

Vladimir Putin, the current Russian dictator, has compared himself with the tsar, Peter the Great (1672-1725), in their historic quests to win back Russian lands.

“Peter the Great waged the great northern war for 21 years. It would seem that he was at war with Sweden, he took something from them. He did not take anything from them, he returned [what was Russia’s],” Putin said last June after visiting an exhibition dedicated to the tsar.

The revelation of imperial ambitions showed that the alleged grievance of the eastward Nato expansion was a facade for a conventional war of conquest.

Peter's rule, Putin suggested, was proof that expanding Russia had strengthened it.

"It seems it has fallen to us, too, to reclaim and strengthen," Putin concluded, with a near-smirk (according to Sarah Rainsford, the BBC's Eastern Europe correspondent) that left no doubt he was referring to Ukraine and his aims there.

Friday, February 03, 2023

Populist agitator Paddy Cosgrave hates Ireland

Ireland and 12 other European countries are Full Democracies: only 21 in World

Paddy Cosgrave, chief executive of the Web Summit and the most prominent business backer of the Sinn Féin political party, seems to spend a lot of time seeking material to support his claim that the Irish Government "is the largest organised crime cartel in Ireland, maybe Europe" and "the corruption & criminality of the old economy is seeping into the new economy of Irish tech."

This delusional partisan says most Irish journalists are "sycophantic, bootlicking, propagandist[s] for the crony class." In his dystopia, the Irish Government operates like Mexican drug cartels and the Italian Mafia.

The Web Summit mainly holds events in countries - Portugal, Brazil and Qatar - where bribery is endemic. Cosgrave has no problem with corruption in these countries and the Portuguese government provides half of the annual revenue of the Web Summit. However, Ireland is a cesspit of corruption according to Cosgrave!

The 3 founders of the Web Summit had a bitter public bust-up and they have amassed 14mn documents in advance of a hearing at the Irish High Court.

Cosgrave has become Ireland's Donald Trump.

Founded in 2010 the Web Summit company got funding and public agency support from the Irish Government. 

Eaten bread was soon forgotten by Cosgrave and he has copied the tactics of both the far-right and Trump.

The demonisation of groups is the tactic of the authoritarian and if one person behaves badly, they are all tarred with the same brush. If the pattern in the US follows, public officials will be exposed to violence. Dr Anthony Fauci, America's recent top medical expert on the coronavirus pandemic, had to get police protection.

George Orwell in 'As I Please: 1943-1945' wrote “Do remember that dishonesty and cowardice always have to be paid for. Don’t imagine that for years on end, you can make yourself the boot-licking propagandist of the Soviet régime, or any other régime, and then suddenly return to mental decency. Once a whore, always a whore.”

Mainstream journalism is not perfect in a free society but Cosgrave's abuse is from the Trump playbook.

India used to be proud of its democracy but the Hindu nationalist government "Through its control of the media, monopolization of campaign finance and harassment of opponents, India seems set on a path to becoming an illiberal pseudo-democracy similar to Turkey or Russia." The present prime minister ordered a raid of the BBC bureau as he was upset with a TV documentary.

Reporters Without Borders ranked India 150th worldwide for press freedoms in 2022, down from 142 the year before. China is at 177.

Ireland has a ranking of 6 among 180 countries

The Irish and Finnish states despite their achievements or faults were the only two new states after the First World War to survive as democracies in the period 1918-1945.

In November 2021 Cosgrave opened the web summit in Lisbon with "evidence" of Irish corruption. 

Last November the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD: a club of mainly advanced countries) said that since "the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention entered into force over 20 years ago, Portugal has not had a single foreign bribery conviction. Detection remains low and Portuguese authorities prematurely closed foreign bribery cases without investigating relevant allegations thoroughly and proactively, with the number of cases terminated having increased significantly compared to Phase 3. Notwithstanding recent reforms, Portugal has not addressed longstanding Working Group concerns regarding its legal framework, and sanctions for foreign bribery against natural and legal persons do not appear to be effective, proportionate or dissuasive."

It's ironic that to Cosgarve, the Irish Government "is the largest organised crime cartel in Ireland, maybe Europe" when Sinn Féin was the political front for Provisional IRA, and together with other Republican paramilitaries, they were responsible for 60% of the deaths in what were called the Troubles in 1966-1999.

Both the Provisional IRA and Provisional Sinn Féin were led by the same people.

2022: Web Summit chief calls Irish government a crime cartel

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Michael Hennigan's year of 1953 and 70 years later

"Tour Bus made a short stop here. A small village near Galway. May 14, 1953"
Photo by Martin J. Walsh Jr on a trip to Ireland in 1953, from Minnesota

The Irish Times newspaper reported on Saturday 17 January 1953 that weather conditions would be good and this was the day my mother gave birth at St Anthony's Hospital, in the southwest Irish town of Dunmanway, County Cork. I was named Michael Anthony Hennigan with the first name after my father. I had two older brothers and Maurice the eldest had been named after his paternal grandfather while Thomas was named after his maternal grandfather.

My parents had a farm east of the town and the quality of the land was not good.

On 16 January, a resolution in the US Senate called for the end of Irish partition. The future Irish American president co-sponsored the resolution.

On 18 January 1953, a political group calling itself Sinn Féin, (Irish: 'We Ourselves' or 'Ourselves Alone') said it would contest all 12 constituencies in the next Westminster elections in Northern Ireland (this Sinn Féin was a separate entity from the Provisional IRA and its political wing called Sinn Féin, that were created in Belfast in January 1970).

On 31 January, Dublin Airport's weather station showed a jump in rain and high gusts of 61.9 knots per hour. However, the Republic of Ireland escaped the massive storm damage that day, and into 1 February. The MV Princess Victoria ferry sailing between Stranraer, Scotland and Larne, Northern Ireland, sank during a storm with 133 lives lost, including every woman and child aboard while 44 men survived. In the North Sea, the storm caused extensive flooding. There were 19 deaths in Scotland; 307 in England; 28 in Belgium, and 1,836 in The Netherlands where the dykes were breached.

This event resulted in the greatest storm surge in the North Sea, on record.