Jude Collins

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Money and the Áras and having a good laugh

Money: it would drive you mad if you let it. Can’t live without it, can’t live er um, well actually most of us figure we could live quite nicely thank you with it. Last weekend, Edwina Currie was on Stephen Nolan’s BBC Radio Five Live show expressing her serious, serious doubt that anyone in Britain had so little money, they went hungry. But then her idol was one M Thatcher, so she would say that, wouldn’t she? 

Back in the real world, money is an increasing worry for more and more people. Here in the north, at least  55,000 people are out of work.  Each day brings fresh news of lay-offs and threatened closures. In the south – well, in the south at last count, nearly 450,000 people were jobless. 

Now. The President of Ireland, as we’re told time and time again, can’t  do as a politician does and draft legislation that might create jobs. But s/he can set an example.  Say you had a president who boozed a lot: not good. Or who smoked like a train or looked a bit odd or had no neck : not good again. We like to think of our president as someone who won’t look or sound embarrassing.

Above all, there should be a connection between the president and the people. S/he doesn’t have to be exactly the same as the people –  Mary Robinson wasn’t -  but they should live lives that let them know  how ordinary people live.

So how does that pan out in the Áras stakes? Well, there’s probably nothing much the people in the south can do about the presidential residence. The Áras is far bigger than any human being needs,  although some will tell you it ‘lends dignity to the office’. Mmm. I’d say dignity comes from within, not from where you call home.

But back to money. Let’s assume the presidential race is now a two-horse affair (actually I think it’s still a three-horse). If it is a two-horse, how closely in terms of income do the two front-runners resemble the suffering southern population? Can the south’s populace, as they’re being hammered into the ground, look up at the president and murmur “At least we’re all in this together”?

Take the twinkly little man from Galway with the gammy leg - how does his income compare with that of the ordinary Sean Citizen? Well, Higgins  receives three pensions – one from his teaching career, another as a former Minister in the Dail, and another for being a TD. Put those together and you get around €130,000 every year. Add to that the President’s salary if he gets elected and Higgins will be pulling in something between €400,000 and €5000,000 per annum. A bit beyond the realm of the average punter, wouldn't you say?

Or supposing - no, stop laughing - supposing the next president is Gallagher, the Dragon’s Den man.   I’ve never seen the TV programme but I’m told  it involves people who’ve a money-making scheme presenting their ideas to a panel of People With Money. And since Gallagher is one of the people on the panel,  it’s reasonable to assume Gallagher is a rich man. Outside the Dragon’s Den, Gallagher ran a company called Smarthomes (guess what they did) which had a turnover of €10,000,000 a  year. Yep, that's millions all right. He’s alleged to have lost several million in the recession, like a lot of other property big boys, but like a lot of other property big boys, even though he's coy about saying how much, he's probably got several millions stashed away.  So will he take his salary of over  €200,000 a year if elected? Does a bear evacuate its bowels in the deep dark forest?

So there you have it. The Irish people  of the south are losing their jobs, thanks to Fianna Fail corruption and property developer greed. So the polls show a lifelong Fianna Fail activist  with a property bent most likely to be elected.  Following him in the polls is a poetry-writing academic who’s been a life-long Labour Party representative- that's Labour which is  cutting to the bone in every sector, in a kind of neo-liberal frenzy and in direct contradiction of their pre-election pledges. Which means that, if the polls are correct,  you don't know whether to laugh or cry or both.

First, though, let us all stand and sing  the first three verses of “God Save Ireland’. 


  1. http://joejacksonjournalist.com/2010/09/06/michael-d-higgins-the-joe-jackson-interview/

  2. I can't believe these polls Jude. Say it ain't so: http://anpucarbuile.blogspot.com/2011/10/i-read-news-today-oh-boy.html

  3. Jude,

    surely that comment about Higgins' disability was tasteless. Was there any need for it? You don't need to go there whatever the passion for the McGuinness campaign. Disappointed in that. Hope it is a blip

  4. Anonymous 19 21
    Im afraid good taste goes out the window when Jude continues in his obsession with getting Martin elected as President.At least there is only another week to go before he resumes commenting on other issues in the world.

  5. Jude has a dog in the fight and is open about it so he there is little wrong in his commenting on it and seeking to persuade his readers. Many others opposed to McGuinness present their case as objective journalism. While I would not support McGuinness I do not find Jude out of order to do so. I just found that remark on the Higgins disability very disparaging.

  6. Anon 19:21 - Friends of mine sometimes enjoy commenting on my,um, hair disability. Higgins has a gammy knee which he says is getting better. Lucky him, I say. I could, of course, be tasteless and stand on a few carefully-selected coffins of the dead, shouting the gruesome details of their demise and insisting (without a shred of proof) that he was responsible for them. Would that be tasteless of me? Ah no. Impossible, since so many southern commentators/interviewers have done so with McGuinness. And you're concerned about Higgins's gammy leg. Pu-lease..

  7. Anon 22:13 - see my last comment to Anon 19:21 re tasteless.

  8. Jude,

    if your candidate of choice was heavily involved in the IRA which it seems certain he was these are the type of questions he will face. I don't see how it could be any other way. You of course have every right to question Higgins about his past even if he does not want you to go there. You are also right to bring up all the other issues that you have raised, many of them are valid. That Martin McGuinness's background might not figure in your perspective is something for you to make the decision about. You might have good reason. Many others take a different approach. Slowly balding myself I see it as soemthing other than a disability. To focus on a person's disability rather than their political record seems out of order. Martin hasn't yet mentioned it. Disability, skin colour, sexual orientation are all things which have no relevance to the discussion. Maybe you were bantering and no more should be read into it than that. I just found it detracted from your wider argument.

  9. I see Eamon Gilmore has called on Sean Gallagher to come clean on his links to Fianna Fail.Eamon and his political friends have a brass neck considering how many of them are former members of OSF/Workers Party/Democratic Left.

  10. Anon 12:25 - Remove your cloak of anonymity, repeat your charge and I'll see you in court. Simple as that.

  11. I have never heard the Jordanstown allegation against Jude. I have not the slightest reason to believe it is true. I actually think it should be removed by Jude. It would hardly be censorship. These allegations lobbed from behind the safety of a wall should not be permitted. I am maintaining anomymity because I am disagreeing with Jude not abusing him. My intention in raising this point earlier was to have him reflect, not to invite insults.

  12. Anon 13:08 - I think you're right. If Anon 12:25 used scurrilous language I'd erase it. I think this comes under the same heading. Thanks for the suggestion.

  13. Jude,

    this is much worse than scurrilous language. Character assassination of the worst sort. You are on stronger grounds in erazing it. In the interests of free speech you offer people the opportunity to rubbish your opinion. It can hardly extend to rubbishing your character. You did right.