Monday, October 31, 2005

Kitchen trauma

  • Firstly there was no bacon, not even a rasher. The rashers I bought last week were out of date.
  • Secondly the kitchen was in darkness while I cooked. No lightbulbs could be found - well those who did the looking did not look far enough.

So I peeled spuds and chopped cabbage and onion by very poor candle light. (yeah yeah all very ambient I know - did not cut myself either!)

And the darkness and lack of bacon meant when it was made I took a bowl of it and ate it with a slice of ham and did not take a photo. Better luck next time. Morgan when you take photo's of finished dishes how do you pause in time to click and then eat?

Samuel Who?

Well Bush's Supreme Court nominee announcement came this morning, his name is Samuel Alito, some white male according to Wonkette . So a good biblical name, Samuel, and he has been a judge! No doubt La Bamba will give us the low down as soon as the train gets back from the country! And Samuel has a blog, but I doubt it will be as funny as Harriet's! And note how much less we will hear the words Scooter Libby and Indictment in the next while - moving the news along or what?

Happy Hallow'een

After a particularly busy week I think I might have today at home and am planning a bit of cooking not only to relax but to find a few vitamins and minerals. Yesterday I bought cabbage and potatoes without a thought of Hallow'een and colcannon, this morning though I realised what day it is and that it would be a good day to make it. I was drifting off to sleep last night listening to a discussion on UK talk radio about how US inspired Halloween has taken over in the UK. Trick or Treating has taken on a nasty tone in many parts of the UK with homes of those who don't treat being tricked - well egged and floured at least.

In all of this the Celtic nature of this celebration has been forgotten. I doubt even in Ireland the many games and traditions I was taught by my parents are being passed down. We were also spending time remembering our dead, religiously or otherwise.

Homes nearby have been decorated for weeks and the festival will soon rival Christmas in the hype department. For weeks local kids have been seen dragging pallets and doors and tyres to their hideouts in preparation for the bonfires. However the incessant rain of the last few days might have dampened those squibs.

So anyway there might be a photo of some colcannon and a bit of a recipe later on - and maybe a bit of bacon on the side! Time to reclaim the recipe from the St. Patty's day (groan) US sites and place it back in Hallow'een where it belongs!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

As predicted by Rachel Maddow

Miers withdraws...

Washington Post
Bush blamed her withdrawal on calls in the Senate for the release of internal White House documents that the administration has insisted were protected by executive privilege.

Here are the finished results of Stevie's assistance and supervision on Sunday.

I finally have my cook books in the kitchen. Having bought two new ones I realised that my collection was getting extensive. But all books are sent upstairs never to be seen again. I complained - highlighted the fact that I can't cook without them and said I would get shelves so they could be in same room as the cook. So I won! The shelves were bought and they went up in no time. The payment in return was the promise of lovely dinners! Now I have not quite got round to doing that yet but I am looking forward to it!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Hiding it from us again?

Legal reasons are preventing the full publication of the Report of the Ferns Inquiry. It is being laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas rather than being fully published for sale in Government Publications and on the internet. I don't know if I am relieved or angry that I and others can't read it in full. I was prepared myself to read it and to remind myself of the clerical, hierachical and statutory abuses and corruption that I had learnt of in the 1990's.

Now I can't read it and there is a part of me that is relieved as it is said to be hard reading but I think people should know and maybe the media will tell the full story in the days to come. Tonight's episode of Altered State on RTE 1 will again cover those days of revelations (and debates on abortion and homosexuality) and I don't think those days are over yet.

Update: Thanks to Trish's tip you can find the Ferns Report online here (a member of the public has put it online) and indeed it is now also available for purchase in Government publications.

Preparing the way

Listening to Rachel Maddow this morning, I found she was paying closer attention than some and has identified the Miers nomination get out clause in a press briefing given by President Bush yesterday. The underbelly is the section of her show where she closely examines rightwing politics and extracts the hidden messages.

Q Mr. President, as a newspaper reported on Saturday, is the White House working on a contingency plan for the withdrawal of Harriet Miers' nomination?

THE PRESIDENT: Harriet Miers is -- is an extraordinary
woman. She was a legal pioneer in Texas. She was ranked one of the top 50 women lawyers in the United States on a consistent basis. She is -- look, I understand that people want to know more about her, and that's the way the process should

Recently, requests, however,
<> have been made by Democrats and Republicans about paperwork and -- out of this White House that would make it impossible for me and other Presidents to be able to make sound decisions. They
may ask for paperwork about the decision-making process, what her recommendations were, and that would breach very important confidentiality. And it's a red line I'm not willing to cross. People can learn about Harriet Miers through hearings, but we are not going to destroy this business about people
being able to walk into the Oval Office and say, Mr. President, here's my advice to you, here's what I think is important. And that's not only important for this President, it's important for future Presidents.

Harriet Miers is a fine person, and I expect her to have a good, fair hearing on Capitol Hill.

The point of all this being that Bush was not asked a question about the paperwork issue, he dropped the paperwork issue into his remarks, unprompted. And Rachel is predicting the reason why Harriet Miers's nomination is withdrawn is because of the war on terror and the advice she has given as White House counsel. Other papers did not pick up the way in which Bush is preparing the ground, but nothing passes by Rachel's ears!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

And then you take the hammer and hit the nail like so...

Stevie inspects gf's handiwork! Photos of the finished object and its usefulness in the culinary department to come!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The proof of the pudding is in the eating....or something...

Mental Meanderings and Verbal Collage highlight the recent application for fare increases by Irish Rail. Leaving aside the service and infratstructure issues of which I have commented on before I thought it might be useful to look at the misconceptions that rail travel in Ireland is expensive. All this takes me back to public transport economic lectures which I thought were drivel but must have stuck somewhere!

The European Commission website which is very inaccessable does have this data and also data on comparison of public subventions but I am dammed if I can find it at the moment. However Irish Rail have published comparisons of their fares on a cost per km basis and I include the graphs here. Of course I don't expect VC and MM to believe me so I'll be back to show other information when I can wade through the commissions database with further figures. ;-)

And I will predict the comments - 'but but but at least we get a seat, airconditioning etc etc for our money on the continent' - yes I agree but you can't compare the services on price basis without taking in to account the other factors.

When data is produced which looks for example at how much the French government give SNCF per year and how much the Irish government subvent Irish passengers we will find the real problem with regards to rail travel and costs in Ireland. And of course some PhD somewhere also documents the legacy of European investment in services versus the British investment in railways in Ireland during the industrial revolution and beyond which still impacts us. (Oh look an 800 years of repression, plundering and pillage post! United Irelander might be along to award plaudits!)

If the jpegs when published are unreadable the data can be accessed here.

Singing for her supper...

Harriet writes songs on the Harriet Miers Blog.

If I were a justice
Ya ha deedle deedle bubba bubba deedle deedle dum
In my robes I’d biddy biddy bum

If I were a high court judge!
I’d… be a super jurist!!
Ya ha deedle deedle bubba bubba deedle deedle dum
If I were bum biddy bum confirmed
Yiddle-diddle to the Supreme Court.

The Pantry is making a comeback

According to this story on Women's Hour the pantry or larder is making a comeback. This makes me very happy however I doubt I will every live in a house large enough to have one. But one of those pull out wall to ceiling drawers would do nicely. The pantry fell out of favour when the refrigerator arrived. (It seems pantry was used up north and Larder in posher houses down south in the UK.) Now I am not a food historian so I am not sure if the same history applies in Ireland. However we seem to have a lot of utility rooms these days but a space that one could walk into and see exactly what you have and find what you are looking for would be divine.

I was thinking about the pantry this evening as I tried to fit in my purchases from the Asia Market in Drury Street. (such an interesting shop!) I just could not fit in the packets and tins amongst every thing else in there. I like putting things on the edge of the shelves so that I can reach for things without everything falling out. However this does not happen too often and I tend to break bottles and jars a lot (garlic salt and oregano being the prime culprits)

Foodbloggers are posting pics of their kitchens at the moment. I am glad I am not a true food blogger as mine is definitely not one to post about but its very interesting to read about other peoples kitchens and how they organise them.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Vice President Rice?

Ok so I have tried very hard in the last week to keep my blog this side of the pond. But but but...

Cheney retiring? To be replaced by Condi?

Waiting on Rove's indictment - there will be martini's all round when than happens. And it seems there might be a Cheney involvement in that matter too. And Harriet, did she give advice in the Plame-CIA leak affair to Rove, Libby or others? Wonkette is playing indictment bingo.

This is a lot more entertaining than the Fianna Fail Ard Fheis in Killarney this weekend (no point examining the Clár looking for the motion on same sex marriage or partnership!) How snooze inducing is the Tory leadership race. Cameron really gives me the heebie jeebies. And as for who replaces Brian Kerr? Who'd want to? Whatever happens in the next round there are going to be 3 better teams ahead of us in our group. We are doomed. Time to learn the Brazilian national anthem (click here to listen) or something me thinks.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

No joking matter

US Senator David Vitter (Republican - Louisiana - quelle supris!) needs a new speech writer. Speaking last week at a lunch in his state, Vitter compared Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to the marriages of same sex couples. Describing an area which had been hit by both hurricanes he said

“Unfortunately, it’s the crossroads where Katrina meets Rita. I always knew I was against same-sex unions.”

Gay rights leaders have been understandably outraged particularly as same sex couples affected by the hurricane have been denied benefits as their relationships are not recognised. All three states affected by Katrina have passed defence of marriage or bans on same sex partnership.

Irish Bloggers - who/where are ye?

John muses about the lack of comment in Irish blog land on the overcharging scandal. A search through Technorati last night had me thinking the same. Given the lack of Irish news other than computer scandals and the Irish Soccer Team's failure to qualify for Germany 2006 I thought that this issue might have had more comment.

Is the lack of comment due to the fact that many bloggers don't know people who are before the Residential Institutions Redress Board? Or maybe because the Redress Board workings are so secretive to begin with, no-one knew what they were talking about.

Maybe most people are at work when Liveline is broadcast so bloggers have not heard the testimony provided? Maybe some bloggers feel the survivors are lucky to be getting any recompense at all for the abuse that they suffered. Are there many Irish bloggers out there that comment on things that have nothing to do with Sport, Northern Ireland or technology?


Now I know you are saying at this stage 'Maman Poulet will you ever get a life'. But Ken Murphy from the Law Society was on Questions and Answers tonight doing more outrage at the 'small minority of solicitors' who stole money from vulnerable survivors of institutional abuse when they were being paid for it already. (Breathe...)

Tonight in his defence of his members, Murphy said if it were not for solicitors that there would be no Redress Board in the first place. (You can see it here if you do not believe me.) Now this is when coke bottle hit the television, scared the cat and terrorised the dog.

No Ken it was not solicitors who got the Redress Board, it was the survivors, and it was people like Eoin O'Sullivan and Mary Raferty breaking the silence in Suffer Little Children and States of Fear. In fact Ken, the Residential Institutions Redress Board was established to stop people that you represent making money but some of your gang went and tried it on anyway. The Redress Board was established to silence the victims. The money for the Board is coming mainly from the state because some people that you represent argued on behalf on the church in a very dodgy deal done in 2002 between the State and the Church and rubber stamped by Dr (of tomatoes) Michael Woods - whispers of Opus Dei abound.

By the way Ken we are not thick - you think if you keep name dropping the names of people and organisations representing survivors that it sounds like you are really on everyone's side and Mr Good Guy? It does not work - grab yourself a bigger shovel.

Monday, October 17, 2005


Morgan's move to food blogging ala Oz is making me hungry everytime I surf there. (Udon noodles look a bit like worms though!) And he rubs salt further into the wound (or makes me even hungrier with his boasts about the low cost of the food down under) What is it about this little island surrounded by water that makes seafood so expensive?

This week I am cooking some of my favourite things as I have the house to myself and also doing some batch cooking for a friend. Alas there is no camera in the house to record my attempts! Maybe that is not such a bad thing!

The cheques are in the post...

Solicitors all over the country have been burning the midnight oil and writing cheques to refund clients for overcharging according to today's Liveline. The Law Society has begun the enquiry and they are receiving phone calls. The Director General of the Law Society is turning up at openings of survivors groups and appearing all over the media.
Whether claimants who are refunded by their solicitors will continue to make complaints is unclear. However some of the solicitors involved are being embarrassed into refunding the overcharges - and also adding interest and payment for the distress they have caused.
Still the workings of the Residential Institutions Redress Board go unchallenged, their secrecy and the demands of confidentiality of the claimants continue. The stresses of those still to appear and who have appeared before the board will continue.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

See what I did Ma! - Friday Night Cat Blogging...

This proud cat (and I am being polite) is is showing off his latest conquest, toilet rolls. Toilet paper is far more flitterable than kitchen towel it seems (an earlier conquest this week).

Thursday, October 13, 2005

How long till the flaw?

So Apple launch a Ipod video player. How long until we see the launch of when the screen cracks or battery fails or the latest version of Desperate Housewives looks poor on screen?
Ah but think of the train journeys watching Lost or The West Wing (New series starts Friday night on More4 by the way!) or The L Word!

Illicit reading

Ah Maureen Dowd is having lots of fun about Harriet. One can no longer read Maureen's column online without paying for it as previously discussed - but actually thanks to blogs one can :) Why does it feel like being 9 and reading my Enid Blyton book under the covers with a torch when I am still able to read Maureen via the efforts of a blogger in copying or typing the text into their blog?

So thanks to Uniongrrl we can see that Maureen has difficulty being able to assess Miers without a judicial record (about which Mental Meanderings has already commented on.) So she turns instead to the notes between Harriet and GWB recently released under freedom of information requests. (Or the US version of FOI - the term escapes me at the moment.)

Now I think Maureen has been a bit creative with the notes uncovered but it could add to the chatter about Condi and Harriet and their GNO (girls night out).
October 2002 "I'm not sure Condi has made the time to thank you herself, so I just wanted to say how much we appreciated the tickets to 'Madame Butterfly' on Saturday night. I wore my long black robe - I mean, opera cape. I just wish it had had that song from 'The Sound of Music' - I know you love it, too - 'Cream-colored ponies and crisp apple strudels. ...' You're one of my favorite things, sir!"

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Joe Strikes again

On the bus at an ungodly early hour this morning I listened to Ken Murphy, the Director General of the Law Society responding to the allegations that solicitors are being paid twice in cases involving those taking cases to the Residential Institutions Redress Board. You can listen to the interview here (real player) and read about it here. Essentially he is concerned, condemed it and says that if true, the double billing is indefensible.

The power of Liveline strikes again and today's show might be even more revealing. Carmel Foley, the Director of Consumer Affairs and member of the Law Society Complaints Committee has called for the committee to covene to discuss the issue.(Carmel is one of the most wonderful public servants Ireland has ever had and I don't think she gets enough praise for what she has achieved in her various roles hampered by government restrictions and political interference and inaptitude but I digress.)

One must also remember that those who are making the allegations are some of the most vulnerable members of our society and have been through a lot in their lives already. Complaints procedures should be as accessible as possible including advocacy and literacy assistance. While the Law Society can now investigate complaints invovling the RIRB and its processes, it's a bit strange having them investigate themselves but we live in hope with the involvement of Carmel Foley and others from outside the profession.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Redressing Irish Life

I have a dark secret to reveal. I love Liveline and in particular am very fond of Joe Duffy. I don't think you would hear the diversity of voices anywhere else on Irish radio or television. I am struck in particular by the fact that there are often a lot of older women calling in, and a lot of people call who are in desperation over some injustice. Its a case of 'Feck the TD's, lets ring Joe Duffy.' And when Joe gets hold of some particular injustice he holds on and let the story develop and he gets angry too.
Joe has covered many facets of the Residential Institutions Redress Board over the past few years. He and his callers have addressed the Board's procedures and in fact the accompanying cover up what it is supposed to be redressing. The board was established to deal with the cases of those children who were abused while in residential care in Ireland in the last century. The legal costs are supposed to be covered by the board.

Through listening to Liveline I have learnt an awful lot about the Board and some of the experiences of those appearing before it. No individual appearing before the board can talk about what happens or how much they receive - they are bound to keeping all details confidential with afear of losing their award should it be revealed. It's the law seemingly to protect them but one wonders who they are really protecting. Claimants are not allowed to bring anyone in with them to the hearing and often they don't participate in the hearing at all and leave it to the legal people including a barrister they often have not met until a few minutes before the hearing began.
Those appearing before the board are pressurised into accepting the amount awarded to them and not to request additional hearings or to appeal it as they fear that they may lose up to half the original amount awarded. For many who take cases to the Board the money is not the issue. They want to have their day in 'court', to speak about what happened to them and to hear from those responsible for the abuse or their representatives. In fact what some of them only want is to hear an apology.

Now we learn there is 8 weeks left before the closing date for the lodgment of cases. Solicitors firms are advertising seeking clients before this closing date. Callers are ringing Liveline stating that they have had to pay money out of the awards made to them to their solicitors, this is on top of what the Board will be paying legal representatives. On average the Redress Board are paying €11,000 per claimaint but it seems many people are being asked for more, or infact having amounts deducted from the cheques issued to them. And it seems without Joe Duffy much of what we have heard to-date would have not been heard by anyone.

Monday, October 10, 2005

New books

The list of books I want to buy is growing daily, Jamie Oliver has a new cookbook out as has Nigel Slater and Rick Stein. Marsha Hunt's new book/auto-biography, Undefeated, looks good too. Carol Coleman has documented her experience as RTE's Washington Correspondent and a exerpt appeared in yesterdays Sunday Times. The exerpt is about that interview with GWB which saw Carol vilified by Fox News and others and celebrated in some parts of the blogosphere for asking hard questions of the President.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

From the postbag

I have had three blog related emails from strangers this week so far. They provide interesting blog material. (Phew just when writers block strikes.)

A reader (Hi Graham!) writes…

Where do you stand on lesbians and gay men working together? I thought you were one of the few lesbians that worked with gay men in Irish queer politics in the 1990’s?

Well Graham yes that was the case, I did work with gay men often as the only lesbian in several organisations in the 1990’s. You wonder because of my posting about Sapphic Ireland if I have changed? That is some extrapolation to make! No I have not morphed into a lesbian feminist separatist yet - and there is nothing wrong with that position either. But if we keep being excluded/avoided as is the current position there is a chance yet!

There is no doubt that 12 years on if I was getting involved in activism that I would no longer be the only lesbian in any organisation I work with. Firstly there are a lot more lesbian women active and involved in moments but not in lesbian and gay organisations in Dublin. Secondly I would now refuse to let myself be placed in the situation that I was when I was 22/23.

Additionally I think I would be far more comfortable now working in women only spaces than I was in 1993/4. However I still am not comfortable working with the closet door partially open but I think that has been largely removed as an issue. By this I mean that the situation has changed and that there are more women out and a lot more skilled women involved or available to be involved in activism. However at the moment all the activism is led by men supposedly on behalf of women but with little involvement or no consultation with women.

SI is an attempt by some women to provide a virtual space for discussion, reflection and information. It spills over into some non virtual activities but primarily will remain an online resource. (We need a webmaster by the way – anyone interested?) Currently in Dublin and many other places in Ireland there are no groups, supports or resources for women. There are women from all walks of life involved in SI and some discussions held online indicate that there is a huge need for more information and support. However to do this requires financial support and structures that are not available to me or my colleagues. Those with the finances and structures should be doing this work and consulting with women on how to do it and having women lead it.

Whether I return to activism beyond what I am involved in already is a whole other issue altogether. And I also am aware that my opinions and concerns are mine, not everyone agrees with me and me them and there are other women who could take the gauntlet. But we could be waiting a while to see women actively involved in the new networks and services under development.

Wiesy goes legit

Michelle Wie turned professional today. She is 16 next Tuesday and has $5 million each from Nike and Sony as a birthday present. The problem is that she can only play 8 events a year on exemptions for the next 2 years. The LPGA has wisely decided that one must be 18 before trying for a card on the tour.

Given the large amount of money Michelle missed out on this year as a amateur I am sure she will make plenty even in the 8 events she can play in. But she will make even more parading as an oddity/genius/clotheshorse for Nike and others elsewhere. (And she has been wearing Nike gear for at least the last 2 years) Fairly fluent in Japanese she is being seen in marketing terms for those brands based in the Far East where women golfers have a very high status and many fans.

Michelle’s sights are not just set on women’s golf. She wants to play in the Masters. Expect to see her competing in more men’s events in the next two years but not Augusta! And also expect to see more knives out for her from fellow competitors on the LPGA tour. Michelle as a amateur was not free from criticism, her invites to some events deeply offended many women players who had to compete to qualify but now she is professional I would see that criticism getting a lot louder and more direct. (Alison Nichols, a former US open winner, was less than enthusiastic about the whole thing when interviewed on BBC Five Live this morning!) She is being called the next Tiger Woods and there is huge excitement about her and the future for women’s golf. Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel might have a lot to say about that!

However if she goes round playing men’s tournaments and losing cuts she will not gain fans or respect for those logos she is being paid to wear. Knocking the socks off the women and beating Annika a few times would set her in better stead for her tasks ahead.

Sadly the Ladies European Tour does not have a Michelle Wie in the shadows. Womens golf in Europe is poorly sponsored and shoddily run. There is very little money available to encourage younger players and the best players leave for the USA as soon as they can. Rebecca Coakley, currently Irelands best woman professional golfer is currently competing for her tour card on the LPGA tour this year. (Registration Required)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Signs of a changing Ireland

The Polish election posters at the newspaper booth on the corner of Abbey Street and O'Connell Street.

The Presidential election is on Sunday. The man expected to win will be a right winger either Lech Kaczynski or Donald Tusk. Kaczynski is the Mayor of Warsaw who called for the banning of the Pride march in Warsaw. His brother, Jaroslaw, led the political party expected to form the next government but stepped back to allow Lech a chance at winning the Presidency. I wonder how the majority of Irish based Poles voted? Probably for change and the right given the poor economy and the fact they had to leave home to get work.

This is one of the many reasons that I worry about giving emigrants a vote. We might still be facing many of the social issues dealt with in Altered States on RTE this evening if Irish emigrants had had a say. The Banin sweater brigade have a most rosy view of the 'not so' emerald isle and as a voting block could force changes on the state that would not reflect modern Ireland (whatever that is!!!)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Proud Man

So its book plugging time. And it’s a pleasure to do it. I picked up a copy last week and hereby apologise for not going to the launch Dermod, I had a job interview to fret about!

Dermod Moore aka Bootboy and fellow Irish Queer blogger at has a book out. Diary of a Man is a collection of his Bootboy columns for Hot Press. I have been reading his column on and off for years. In fact it was often the only reason for me the non-music loving soulless person that I am to read Hot Press. But before I knew that Bootboy was Dermod I also sort of knew of him through his mother.

I am one of the many gay people in Ireland that wished Phil Moore was my mammy. Or at least was enthralled meeting and working with her through the 1990’s as she was the spokesperson for Parental Equality and oft pointed to reason we got an equal age of consent in 1993. Now I do think Dermod probably had a very hard deal as his mammy was always talking about him – some story to do with soup if I remember correctly. Anyway Phil and Harry are very proud parents and so they should be. And as a surrogate parent of sorts (or at least a listening ear) to lots of members of gay youth groups that she spoke to and met we are very thankful for Phil and also for their son.

In his early columns, Dermod wrote about issues that many gay writers in Irish gay publications would not or did not write about. The book is a wonderful journey through the last 10 years and has some amazing pitstops along the way. If you don’t know his writing read it and if you do read it again – it’s a great social history too with reflections on different events as well as pop culture of sorts and many personal reflections on identity which I think lots of people (women included) can identify with.

Won't be getting there at all....

Mental Meanderings had a very stressful rail journey today and this followed an equally stressful journey last week. She believes the solution to old dilapidated rolling stock and a poor service is privatisation. The photo above of the Ladbroke Grove railway incident is a result of privatisation. You split the railway line into being run by one company and sell the service to a myriad of others. No-one knows what the other one is doing. And bang.

On the general provision side in a privatised situation the service providers bid for services or not depending on whether they can make money on them. Thus customers lose out when the services serving poorer areas get dropped or are given shit trains. Apex and pex fares are brought in which lead to people paying huge fares for wishing to travel at peak times and being discouraged using trains and back into cars. The problems with Public transport in this country are as a result of massive underfunding and in fact no funding during the 1970's and 1980's. Lines were shut down and maintenance was not kept up. Money will not be spent now even when we have it to spend because privatisation must be agreed to with regards to the busses. We have loads of bus lanes and no buses to put on them and the government won't budge and neither will the unions.

Privatisation has been proven to have failed in the UK both in service provision and safety terms and the Irish government are set on following suit The blame for the poor service in Ireland rests squarely with voters who continue to elect Fianna Fail/Fine Gael led governments who can't make a decision as it might lose them votes or make ones to ensure they get votes. 2 billion euro is being given to SSIA holders in the next 18 months - talk about a slush fund - 2 billion euro buys a lot of train. Add the mismanagement of EU infrastructure funds and money given to road builders over the years and not to rail infrastructure and you find more explanations for this mismanagement and extremely poor service.

UK Railway industry commentator Christian Wolmar sums up the failures of rail privatisation far more knowledgeably than I ever could.

The sale of the railways has created a fragmented, expensive
and poorly-run system which shows none of the supposed advantages of private management such as better customer care and focus. The main reason for the failure is that rail privatisation was based on the fallacious idea that a loss-making industry, requiring subsidy of £1-2 billion per year depending on
the state of the economy, could be broken up into 100 profitable parts.

Moreover, the model chosen was based on the idea that there should be competition between different rail operators, an unrealistic concept for railways given the obvious physical limits to capacity, not least the fact that overtaking is a rather different proposition than on a motorway. Ironically, the idea of on-rail competition was shelved even before the sales process got
underway, creating the ridiculous situation whereby the railways were being sold for a purpose that was already recognised as unachievable.

Martin Cullen and his colleagues should not be allowed to get away with not taking the blame for the poor services, management and under investment. However very few people complain, a free cup of tea and years of low expectations seems to have lulled the traveling public into complacency or into PD voters who will have us all taking trains which cost far more than €56.50 to take and are no more guaranteed to get us there on time or to where we want to go. Indeed as Chris Donald wrote in yesterdays Observer one could end up paying £468 for six cups of coffee and a biscuit so that he could plug in his laptop. At least Mental Meandering discovered she could plug in hers for her standard fare! (and blogged to her hearts content too ;-) )

There is no doubt that more people are choosing to fly if they can afford it or someone else is paying. And with the results of the UK privatisation it is much cheaper than the inflated unconsumer friendly fare structures brought in by the profit seekers and their shareholders.

I better hit the publish button before the railway working gf finds out and gives out to me – she would probably agree with it all but does not get involved in rail service issues – just wants people to get where they are going alive. I am far more concerned with the fact that there may not be a train service left at all in this country if ex PD member Cullen and his cronies get their way.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Football, women and the art of having a coversation.

I went to the Ladies GAA finals at Croke Park today. Both matches were rather disappointing, with teams unable to finish off scores and in the Senior match the sides  seemed unmatched with Cork finishing off much the stronger. The 23,000 plus in attendance included lots of pre-teen and teenage girls screaming, whistling and blowing horns. Reminder to self, bring ear plugs the next time.

The visit was a Sapphic Ireland outing. This meant that most of our group did not know each other except for online contacts or discussion on SI. It was the third occasion organised for women to meet up, and it is great idea to have a another event to base a meet up around. Not everyone there was into sport but was interested to watch and spend time with other women.  We adjourned afterwards to a members house for a drink and a few hours of talking about everything and nothing. It was really enjoyable. Often I am asked why have women only space and to justify its existence. Well for those few hours it was great to be in the company of women who knew what you were talking about, who were interested in the same sort of things, or at least respected your interests and opinions and you had the space to make them and listen to others.

And we were not in a pub, there was no noise other than Antony and the Johnsons in the background and there was laughter.