July 27, 2008

Cowen reaches out to the great Irish tribe

Posted in Ireland · 96 comments ·

Brian Cowen is proposing to embrace people of Irish descent in a move that could redefine our nation.

In New York last week, Brian Cowen made a significant speech. Although not much detail was reported, its content will have more impact on Ireland than anything he or Nicolas Sarkozy might have said at their much-hyped meeting.

In his address at the Irish consulate, Cowen proved that he is a modern thinker, a politician in touch with global realities, who is contemplating a post-nationalist Ireland. He spoke about the Irish tribe. He said that he would redefine the relationship Ireland has with the US, and in particular with Irish America.

According to a report in the Irish Echo, Cowen articulated a novel idea, which has the capacity to change Ireland’s relationship with the world, ‘‘acknowledging everyone who had worked hard in the Irish community, whether they were Irish-born, their parents were born in Ireland, or those who simply had a sense of being Irish’’. Cowen said that these were partnerships that were meaningful for those with a deep, serious kinship.

The Taoiseach announced that he was undertaking a full review of Ireland’s relationship with the USA. He stated: ‘‘This work will also prove invaluable in informing wider initiatives to harness the power of the Irish diaspora across the world.”

He continued: ‘‘We have to recognise these new realities, recognise the new challenges, today and tomorrow,” adding that the Irish had entered a new era globally and that the potential of the diaspora was a resource that had to be tapped.

This is a significant move by the Taoiseach because it reveals that the Irish state has finally recognised that, in a globally interconnected world, the country with the best network has a huge comparative advantage.

The world is undergoing a communication revolution that will obliterate national power as we have come to know it. It will mean that a nation’s message becomes blurred, and the power of being sociable – sometimes in the past portrayed as a weakness, and the antithesis to the stoicism and aloofness of power – will dominate.

The world has 1.4 billion plugged-in internet users and that number is growing by 250million a year. There are three billion mobile phones in the world, with another billion coming in the next three years. Ten hours of video are being uploaded onto YouTube every minute of every day. This connectivity revolution, where the best salespeople for ideas will be individuals playing a giant game of ‘pass it on’, is ideally suited to dramatic initiatives, and the diaspora is a natural sales force for the country.

The winners will be those countries which have access to the best brains, are open to ideas and which allow individuals to travel freely. As Cowen is proposing much freer travel between Ireland and America, presumably for people of Irish heritage, we could see our potential workforce increase from four million to 70 million.

These people would not have to move here, although some undoubtedly would, but by telling them that Ireland is open to them and vice-versa, you create the network necessary to compete.

If we just think about the Irish in America, the commercial power of the diaspora is irrefutable. Of the 34 million Irish-Americans registered, in the 2005 census, a third have bachelors degrees or higher. That’s over 11 million people.

More than 30 million Irish Americans have a high school diploma. As 91 per cent of the total Irish-American population has completed secondary education, our American cousins are considerably better educated than us. Even today, only seven out of ten Irish children finish the Leaving Cert.

Some 40 per cent of Irish Americans are either professionals or work in management, and 72 per cent are home owners.

The average income of an Irish-American household is $53,000. This puts them at the top of the ethnic league after the Jews, in terms of education, income and social class. Close to 900,000 English speaking Irish-Americans speak a second language. Their average age is 37, but there are over 10million Irish-Americans under 18.

This is an extraordinary reservoir of talent. The Irish-Americans define themselves as Irish; and while they are American, they have a deep affection for, and affiliation to, this country.

The 3.8 million Irish Canadians, the 1.9 million Irish Australians and the half-million Irish Argentines have similar profiles in terms of education and income.

By giving them a stake in their country of origin, Ireland could easily offer companies a most attractive package, a European country with a truly global workforce whose human capital is guaranteed and whose networks are solid.

Embracing a worldwide tribe who are not bound by geography or political boundaries but are unified by culture, familial history and shared experiences, would be a post-nationalist project – the very essence of globalisation. Last Monday, in contrast, Sarkozy seemed like a dinosaur — a Kissngerian hangover from the era of nation states, defined by geography, where the state defined the citizen’s relationship with the world.

Sarkozy was like a ‘top-down’ relic in a ‘bottom-up’ world, talking about relationships between states and using expression like ‘‘vital national interests’’.

He spoke of European visions, as if we were still in the Cold War. This is one of the problems with the EU. It is dominated by people whose view of the world has not changed since the Treaty of Versailles and who appear to see power as something for countries to fight over. But power has been disseminated. The small are rich, the big are poor. Those with soft power are thriving, those countries with traditional hard power are faltering.

A global diaspora, plugged in and bound by something much more important than money, is possibly the best asset any country could dream of – and we have it. The Taoiseach has triggered something powerful. Let’s plough on.

  1. Patrick


    This is very interesting – It may have been obvious to others, but you have just opened my eyes to a massive opportunity and marketplace. Now I need to get my thinking cap on!!

    But also the government have an opportunity to be very innovative and put this collective virtual brain power to work on numerous research initiatives and open source projects that would ultimately be targeted for the benefit of Ireland and our challenges.

    Can the government do it? Will they be able to be flexible to the new agile ways of working in a Web2.0 / Enterprise 2.0 world?

    Lets see how quick Enterprise Ireland embrace companies that are trying to tap into this opportunity also!!



  2. Johnny Dunne

    Great to hear the Taoiseach is ‘open’ to making changes in hopefully supporting an ‘urgent’ focus to increase the volume of Irish based ‘internationally’ traded services businesses. David , the ‘power’ of the Irish Diaspora is something you have spoken about the opportunity for a while. Does anyone know who’s doing something about it, is there a ‘private’ company sourcing businesses in the US now ?

    Despite the IDA’s best efforts and profile in corporate America we had about 30 projects from new US companies setting up in Ireland last year. Assuming like all IDA client companies 2/3’s are US MNCs, while ‘helpful’ that’s not a ‘significant’ addition to the 1,000 MNCs operating in Ireland. According to Enterprise Ireland there is only 50 indigineous Irish companies per annum opening US offices.

    Paul Rellis, the head of the American Chamber of Commerce and Microsoft in Ireland , has put it very well in today’s Sunday Business Post the case for the importance of ‘internationally’ traded services to the Irish economy, we need to be able to trade as freely with ‘emerging’ powers Russia, China, India etc

    Wondering might we already have the ‘lions share’ of the revenue from the top US exporters of ‘high value’ items, the US has a workforce of 153 million (75 times our 2 million) exporting under €800million. We export €150 billion with about €65 billion in ‘services’ – the 600 US multinationals employ 100k !!!

    We have a few hundred thousand private companies, the US must have millions of companies. For example, you can drive for an hour between San Francisco to Palo Alto in Silicon Valley. There must be literally 10,000s of ‘high value’ companies all over this area looking to export into Europe and beyond…

  3. Malcolm McClure

    David makes the point: “The world is undergoing a communication revolution that will obliterate national power as we have come to know it. It will mean that a nation’s message becomes blurred, and the power of being sociable – sometimes in the past portrayed as a weakness, and the antithesis to the stoicism and aloofness of power – will dominate.” However I’m not convinced that Blarney is easily conveyed on the web, –even with broadband. Sharp arguments lead to profitable businesses.
    Nor am I convinced that Cowen’s attempt to “harness the power of the Irish diaspora across the world.” will be richly rewarded. David provides a lot of statistics about how well-educated Irish-Americans are but nowhere defines what an Irish-American actually is. Someone with an Irish-sounding name? Someone whose great-grandmother reputedly arrived on a boat from Cork?
    Truth is that emigration is a deeply traumatic experience and most permanent emigrants want to erase mostly painful memories of the “auld sod” and get on with their lives. At first, of course, they socialize with their compatriots and feign nostalgia to gain acceptance with them. But when they achieve success and a wider network of friends, nothing will persuade them to return permanently. Even when they do, there’s no way they will ever ‘fit in’ back here again. (Anyone remember the pink Cadillac El Dorado that drifted through the country back in the late 1950s?).

  4. fergus mclellan

    Hi ,

    I have always admired your stance on economic issues. I have been mostly in agreement with your main philosphical and economic arguments.

    I did feel that your negativity on the economic side of things was a little premature but I also knew that you would eventually be proven right – and the longer the easy credit boom continued the more exaggerated the necessary correction will be.

    Your column in sbp today , and the toaiseach’s hintings at adopting your suggestion to leverage/strengthen Ireland’s diaspora is most welcome.

    Given the recent result in the referendum , and the weighting of our extended population in the US / Britain / Australia perhaps there is a great opportunity for a flexible/adaptable Ireland to officially be an extension of the US and Asia , rather than Europe…whilst retaining a special relationship with Europe. Perhaps opting out of Europe’s fast track whilst being a base to encourage inward FDI is where we should be positioning ourselves.

    I haven’t read your books so perhaps you have already identified and discounted the possibility – or indeed perhaps you already proposed it.

    One comment posted to your article asked how do we harness the diaspora..I would think the same way as the Jews/Israeli’s do. Let’s grant passports, use St Patricks day, give investment and tax breaks / easy immigration packages, have a Bord Failte type body…except called “Welcome back”, get Bono involved, Bob Geldoff……open an embassy in every city in America (Australia and Britain too) and promote cultural events/trade/local government involvement….the rest will happen naturally – as a group strengthen polictical lobbies will be formed. Promote Irish diversity – colour creed or economic background.

    You seem to be influencing those in power, and I think the current climate is an opening for fresh direction/new thinking. As you say every crisis is an opportunity – and I think you are making the most of the opportunity – good luck.



  5. B

    I think Cowan was reaching out allright. Reaching out to cover his own ass.

  6. dealga

    Personally I find this pie in the sky stuff. There is absolutely no indication that vast swathes of people with tenuous ancestral links to this island would be willing to either up sticks and move here or stay home and somehow move here in spirit. What about their loyalty to the place they’re actually from?

    Our diaspora are not a tribe no matter how much we like to pretend they might be. All they have in common is the entirely superficial – unlike their deep roots and strong ties to their real homes and the communities they now inhabit.

    If our diaspora were a persecuted people, treated as different or as outcasts in their communities, like the Jews were, then maybe they’d be willing to be organised along some tribal, ancestral line. But they’re not, and you’d have to do a LOT more to convince them why they should extend their links to the ould sod than just invite them ‘home’.

    So instead of looking at it from our point of view maybe answer the question ‘why should they?’

  7. Is this speech past it’s “sell by date”?.
    I mean the IDA have been tapping the rich vein of the irish diaspora in America for the past two decades now.
    Only a charity disposition will bring them here when costs exceed Switzerland as a country in which to live ,work, and do business.
    The corporate tax free status (almost) benefit, is undergoing steady erosion, as this government operate the only way they have ever known -waste, profligacy, re-election priming of sectional interests, pumping up the cost of living and general taxation (both direct and indirect) and gorging themselves and their cronies and camp followers on the national cake.
    There was a big holiday supplement in one of the recent sunday newspapers outlining the wonderful hotels and spa resorts around Ireland where you could have facial mud bath for 100 Euros,and a luxury room with breakfast for 90 euros per person, and so forth.!
    All that stuff is as far removed from the average irish-or american- tourist/holiday maker, as the moon is from the earth.
    I am a member of a home exchange club-one of the largest in Europe-and I have enjoyed many wonderful holidays all over the world at no cost except the air fare. I exchange my home,(sometimes my holiday home) and my car, with another family, and benefit from meeting other people and receiving detailed information about the locality I am visiting.
    This is the future. Ride on, Failte Ireland and keep spending the taxpayers money.!
    The future is against you.

  8. VincentH

    Is there a disadvantage to the other political parties should FF open the ex-pats to the Irish ballot box.
    In other words why now, why not in 1932 or any of the other two’s when they were in power for that matter, a f****d up economy is hardly a new thing for us in all honesty.
    But surely any outside vote would split more or less as the parties split now. Anyhoos, it would be lovely to see the projected breakdown of the new-Irish vote and how it would match that of the ex-Pat.

  9. Philip

    “The winners will be those countries which have access to the best brains, are open to ideas and which allow individuals to travel freely.”…Yes – Fully agree – which is why the US works so well – and will continue to do so. Opportunity and ability to harvest that opportunity are key elements.

    I also agree with the idea that nationhood is becoming a thing of the past as are (in my opinion) the associated structures of government and associated public services. Fundamentally, Europe is just making a big version of this and it too could crumble – were it not for the fact that it does retain the lions share of cultural roots for the rest of us. Indeed, I would say that Europe may become the only nation of 2 or 3 others in a global internet of tribes – and that may be a good thing. Anyway, let’s not forget, many European nations still retain their own colony links and manage their influence to the benefit of their naton states.

    Ireland cannot afford nationhood. I think I slightly understand David’s idea on leveraging the diaspora by playing the reverse of what colonism has done AND leveraging the low cost infrastructure that has become available to make this happen. What this means in concrete terms?

    Cowen will have to do more than issue lofty ideals and start issuing some kind of deal which is long overdue to local SMEs…”The winners will be those countries which have access to the best brains, are open to ideas and which allow individuals to travel freely.”…could be reworded ..”The winners will be those countries which have access to the best brains, are open to ideas and which allow individuals to TRADE & TRAVEL freely.”…But how do you tax the Argentinian? Will there be bilateral arrangements – some practicalities need working.

  10. Paul O'Brien

    The article’s references to Ireland in the context of the Internet and post-nationalism rang a bell. See my article published recently in the online journal Postcolonial Text:


  11. Aidan

    I agree full with fergus mclellan’s posting, i believe ireland should un entagle itself from the european project which is moving east in terms of influence and finance, we have little cultural connections with mainland europe and have failed to learn european languages, where are people going to now that the recession is hitting here, to america and australia as usual, in fact there are way more illegal irish working in america and australia than legal working in germany or france even though legally irish people are allowed stay and work in europe for as long as they want. Supporters of the lisbon treaty are by and large middle aged well off and now out of touch with the new reality emerging in ireland, It is young people twenty and thirty somethings that are the ones that rejected lisbon, the establishment is failing to recognise what happened with lisbon, they are now hysterically blaming it on british euro sceptics, they are like ostriches burying their heads in the sand

  12. JN

    The comparisons of the Irish disapora to the Jewish diaspora are really quite interesting. When you consider the high-tech nature of the Isreali siege economoy Ireland plc could learn lots of lessons – for a start we know longer have an economy under constant threat of war and should now be reaping the peace dividend in spades.

    That’s why No to Lisbon was the right thing to do. The key three principles though for maintianing global competiveness are Tax, Tax and erm Tax. Corporation Tax that is. Bigging up Ireland as a low-tax, hyper tech location in which to site your Web 2.0 server farm really does start to make Sillicon Bog almost plausible. Whatever happened to Ennis – Tech Town of Tomorrow?

  13. Philip

    To Paul O’Brien: That link was most interesting.
    In a nutshell (as far as my little mind can take it) – The future is the internet (web 2 etc.), we all have to go virtual…but initially we need to ensure we spread ourselves over the net in a manner than cannot be easily disrupted by nation states or corporations – to retain our sense of virtual identity and the basis of teaming with others. The Diaspora has to be pulled in to make this resilient and faciliate a tradition (initially at least) which can evolve to a new concept of working together than could be a vanguard in economic development.

    The new economy will discard the notion of ownership as a form of wealth. Participation and improving ability to participate will be the key. You can always rent a car or a yacht or whatever. Being Irish mens you get bored of it anyway. Kids grow up, life goes on… Can Irishness and fickle attitude to banal realities and it’s diaspora be the catalyst make this happen? Could our love of owning land and property be a vestige of our last attempt to shake off being owned by another power…Tune In next week..!! Joking aside, I think this is very workable. Lots to be let go of first.

  14. b

    The only thing we have in common with 4×2′s is the notion that God left us a little country in adverse conditions in the bible. That and being made feel guilty by your overbearing ma.

    We don’t bother with mainland Europe because the way we are taught languages is along the same lines that Christianity is taught in Guantanamo bay. Our education system was completely taken over by a nationalist agenda and just look at the abject failure of teaching our OWN language for over 80 years to see how bad we are at other languages.

    I think that a fickle attitude to banal realities is the manifestation of a decadent society. Nobody is watching the shop.

  15. Observer

    This is brilliant!

    Finally we don’t have to worry that our identity is going down the drain.

    Friends of mine in the States will be delighted!

    Just one point to mention though……………….

    The vast majority of Brits who have Irish Descent reject it completely and show nothing but shame for it or even worse tarnish it. (Regardless of Generations*)

    I lived in the UK for 20 years and can mention that alot of bad school kids whom I had the displeasure of being with, later ended up in Jail…….. and most had Irish Surnames.

    They gave me a terrible time because I was Irish…………. yet too ignorant to realise their own origins.

    *Just in case this is wrongfully interpreted I met a good number Irish-Descended Brits whom I would call worthy of being Irish……….. they came from 1st Generation Backgrounds and good repute.They are exempt from any harshness that I may have said earlier.

    If we had a criteria to filter any potential bad eggs or fraud from any Diaspora Hub locations, then we can avoid the same mistakes that occured with the Volga Germans in the early 90′s.

    Quite a few didn’t speak German or practise their ancestral traditions……… making them vulnerable to victimisation.

  16. Patricia

    It is great having an open mind Taoiseach. We, the Irish Tribe all arround the world, love our Irish roots and heritage. But, please, remember, that all of us are equal. An Irish Argentinian should be treated as well and as good as an Irish American. You know during the Diaspora, five countries received the Irish people: Canada, USA, S.Africa, Australia and Argentina. Argentina was the only non English spoken country that received so many Irish. Argentina was also the first Latin American country to recognice the Republic of Ireland and to settle an Embassy more than 55 years ago.

  17. Philip

    B, point noted and most would agree I think. The question is how to navigate out of this mess. That is the subtlety in the diaspora message I am trying to grasp. And I think O’Brien’s paper on the matter gives a rationale of why we are here and maybe a concrete way forward with due caution on the environment as it exists now. Yes, the paddies can be idiotically fickle and mindless…but when you were always minding some elses farm, would you blame them? Maybe the idea of a nation state for the Irish needs to be challenged seriously. What can’t we all emigrate? Can we all be without a home and still live well paying our taxes and our fair share wherever we live? 30 Million plus say yes. Not something the local government can digest perhaps?

  18. b


    We haven’t minded anyone elses farm for nearly 100 years. I wouldn’t go out and blame the Brits again for Paddys fecklessness. I would blame the lack of education given by the state. If it wasn’t propoganda, religion or Irish it was unpatriotic.

    We forced half a million half educated people into poverty in England while we were in the dark ages under Dev. We are still living under their small minded parochial mindset. My father was forced to England as a child and to this day I don’t know why he came back. This is the second generation of the same family that were forced to England. His grandfather was forced out in the 1920′s and he was forced out in the late 1950s.

    This notion of us all “owning” a home is a red herring. Ownership means paying the bank to be your own landlord.

    The Diaspora notion is not being taken seriously. The vote is not extended to ex-pats of this generation and those that emigrated to England and who want come back are not allowed. I am talking of the older generation. The last of the navvies. Thrown out to Kilburn or Birmingham never to be allowed to return. Never acknowledged for sending money home when we were in the self imposed shits.

    We are much better at throwing people out rather than actually solving the problems. In Ireland we like to exclude those we do not want rather than admitting that the problems are our fault and OUR responsibility to fix.

  19. AM in Belgium

    The first thing he can do is to give me back my vote.

    It is criminal that just because I am out of the country, I lose my right to vote. Along with Denmark, we are the only EU country to disenfranchise its citizens like this.

    Give back the right to vote to Irish-born people, and you will immediately see an increase in so called “ownership” and stake in their country of origin.

    Until an Irish politician starts to do this, then anything they say is just hot air.

  20. Peter Atkinson

    Me thinks that Biffo is only embracing the diaspora because he has run out of any other plausable future policies.His predecessor spotted a niche market realty, not reality, Clearly this never provides long term economic stability, so he managed to turn our nation into feckless amateur property speculators.We have now become a nation of property spivs, trying to offload dodgy builds in the Balkans et al.

    Job creation via manufacturing, services etc provided by real entrepeneurs does provide long term economic stability but his party have gone to great lengths to stifle this with layers of bureracracy.No entrepeneur in his/her right mind could contemplate a startup in this climate.

    So my advice to the diaspora is, remember you are where you are for a reason.If you have money or brains to burn you wont get a better bonfire than here to burn them in.

  21. Paul

    I have older brothers who feel no connection with Ireland what so ever, they were forced to leave in the 80′s, and have never come back. They live happy lives in the UK and Spain. One is a Doctor, the other has his own business in Barcelona. They will quite happily come here on holidays, but that is as far as it goes, and I am sure they are not alone with these feelings. My brother in Barcelona, says he could not possibly live here, and would not move his business here. his memories of Ireland are ones of a insular, smalltown insecurities, and of course heavy drinking, he could never get his head around the drinking culture, and this attitude that you were not a man unless you could down 15 pints in one night. I think many people feel they owe this country nothing, but they would never say this out loud, they would only make these feelings known at a personal level. I know when I had to leave in the early 90′s, I felt like part of a rejected generation, and I never quite looked at Ireland the same way again. Even though I am now back living a happy life here, something has changed. Do we “owe” anything really ?.

  22. dealga

    Why should any person who permanently resides outside the country have any say in how the country is run? Utter nonsense. If you don’t pay tax here you should have no say on how it’s to be raised and on how it’s to be spent, which, at the end of the day, is what you’re supposed to be voting for.

    Stuff like that reminds me of the rash of articles from a few years ago, where emigrants who had shagged off when times were bad (the vast majority didn’t send a brass tack home), had come home when things picked up only to spend their time moaning about how the country had changed for the worse and how everything was better in Australia or wherever.

    But it does prove a point and Paul hits the nail on the head, albeit with an anecdote. Where is the evidence that this tribe of ours want connections beyond the superficial and, more importantly, what’s in it for them? Who’s going to answer that?

    Irish society clearly, demonstrably, does not make decisions based on any assessment of a greater or common good. The massive increase in kids attending gaelscoils just so they don’t have to mix with immigrants (be it for xenophobic reasons or a fear about little Johnny’s education – the result is still bad for society as a whole) and the result of the last General Election (people whinging about the Health Service, but voting FF on the sly to protect their wallets) is plenty of evidence of that. Irish people make decisions purely on an assessment of personal interest. So why this successful diaspora of ours will sign up to some great notion of the Irish tribe advancing as one on the global stage is beyond me.

  23. fergus mclellan

    I have read the comments since my last posting and I suggest the following:-

    The ultimate low budget electronic voting system is at our fingertips!!!

    Grant ALL irish descendants an equal vote over the WWW on significant issues – regardless of current location / race /colour /creed. Create the club.

    Ireland have been at the forefront of a number of high publicity “firsts” in the last 20 years…and we have all benefitted and felt PROUD. The mere mooting of this www voting proposal by our government will send a shockwave around political circles worldwide.

    Give the diaspora a current reason for tapping into their ancestary.

    Forget the naysayers – they (or their parents) would have advised fiscal ruin many years ago when we dropped our corp tax rate.

    Those who don’t want to be positive can continue to nurse their pint of Smithwicks, and genuflect at 6pm every evening.

    We actually already have one of the most representative and accessible poilitical systems in the world – let’s reclaim our worldwide descendants now …before someone else claims them.

  24. fergus mclellan

    By the way Dealga…the people who don’t pay tax here already have a HUGE say in how the country is run (any tax-wise rich guy is a minimal tax payer and a big political funder).

    Paul – you touched a chord with your family’s experiences. Mine are very similar but that is no reason that we can’t be innovative and seek to improve. The club won’t necessarily call for all folk to return..different folk can operate at different levels.

    Peter/Philip – you guys are just plain negative – enjoy the Smithwick’s.

  25. Gerry Nash


    I found your comments very insulting:
    “The massive increase in kids attending gaelscoils just so they don’t have to mix with immigrants (be it for xenophobic reasons or a fear about little Johnny’s education – the result is still bad for society as a whole)”…

    First, it is disgraceful that an Irish poster begrudges parents who wish their children to learn the ancient language of our country. Only the Irish produce begrudgers like you, Dealga, people who put foreign migrant workers before our native language.

    Where do you get your prejudices from, Dealga? What kind of research did you do on attitudes of gaelscoil parents before you came out with your whopper? Do you even know any gaelscoil parents? Or are you just cocooned in your own little monolingual monocultural world?

    And who is preventing the children of immigrants from attending gaelscoileanna? No one! How come you didn’t wonder why no immigrants appear to have any interest in the Irish language?

  26. Malcolm McClure

    fergus mclellan said,
    “The ultimate low budget electronic voting system is at our fingertips!!!”
    But that’s even more susceptible to fraud than postal voting. You must have a foolproof electronic id system to make it possible for each ‘authentic’ Irish person to have just one vote.
    Including diaspora Irish in the electorate could be quite a money raiser. One of the fastest growing parts of the web is genealogical research. The govmint could raise a lot of money by offering to authenticate genealogical claims with a Diaspora Passport, for which they would charge say 500 euro. It would also provide a PIN, which would give authentic (more than 50%) Irish, voting rights on the web. This enterprise would provide a lot of employment for genealogists in the authentication business. It would also make Irish ancestry a privilege rather than an assertion.

  27. fergus mclellan

    Positive thinking Malcolm.

    I think the fraud issue can be overcome. I think it should be offered on a no fee basis …in order to build up the database – and to be egalitarian in nature. Discreet advertising will fund.

    I think it will mark Ireland as a cutting edge democracy aswell as a user of available technology…in addition to swelling our ranks. It’s a social revolution. A bit scary for institutionalised polictics and boundary hugging technocrats.

    Differences between you and me are only minor quibbles. It’s an exciting proposition. Significant voting events need to be a feature in order diaspora membership to be “weighty”.

  28. b

    Fianna Failure have no history of reaching out to the diaspora.

    My great grandfather was threatened with his own murder by them in the 1920s if he didn’t leave Ireland. He had joined the army at the time it was the British army but was based in the Curragh. He got thrown out.

    My own father lost his father at age 8 and he had the stark choice of a lifetime of poverty in Ireland or education and a new life in the UK.

    I don’t see how Cowan and that hatchet faced closet nun Hanifin will let anyone back into the fold. They have the vote under control and anyone outside will have wider influences and not be as inspired to believe their biased horseshit. So I think the diaspora idea will be strangled. And besides emigrants have been viewed as traitors and deserters.

    Over half my friends live abroad. They got educated here and then left. What use is it to educate people to go? I doubt if many will ever come back. And I am only 34. The boom was squandered like a junkie who won the lotto. They spend it on flash cars and big houses and never ever tackle the main, unsexy but ultimately worthwhile issues. We got a lot of hot air a load of shite houses and more Hyundais and BMWs than you can shake a stick at. A complete and utter waste of time and money.

    If you are abroad. Stay there. For your own sanity.

    Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

  29. Ah wonderful, one of Mr Cowan’s advisor’s has finally read your Generation Game !. So our councilors on their €33,000. plus packages will now all be heading off this autumn to shake the hands of our forgotten cousins , and then things will be all right here again . Truth is the Paddies wandering around temple bar and Dublin 4 , who have all soaked up the Government spin that we have been getting for the last few years have to wake up and see what is actually happening on this little island of ours today,we hadn’t a great Celtic Tiger, we simply built a few houses and filled them with wide screens and big fridges and the farmers who sold the land for these houses traded in their twenty year old cars for new ones!. As an independent nation for what that is worth we are still maturing. Sure we were ruled by the Brits for a long time , but now we are been fooled by the spin doctors within Government , Fianna Fail has always been the party of the construction industry , now that they have looked after their friends within this game and made vast sums on over priced plots of land and poky apartments, they have pulled their annual party tent at the Galway races this year , as they are all off investing in Bulgaria with Mr Hobbs.
    It’s the attitude, of ‘sure I’m all right jack, and sure aren’t all politicians corrupt any way !’ that has to change here. Yes we should start thinking like the American Jews, but for Christ’s sake we don’t need Bono to get involved with this project ( he’s going to be too busy now with the god children any way and building his new Clarence pad!) .
    Maybe David you should suggest making our little island a tax free zone for the diaspora , maybe then our Dennis O Telecoms will bring back money they took from our nation in the first place and those who’s parents worked hard in Argentina and else where will give us the cash injection to keep the spin going !

  30. David S

    Answer me this me McWilliams- what makes you and your fellow arrogant snobby globalist elitist business class think that the nation state is a “thing of the past”, given that the number of nations in the world is rising everyday (consider Kosovo recently). Also with the rejection of the lisbon treaty- the Irish people have made it clear that they are sick of both sides of the globalist coin- be it at the EU level or Americanization and globalism. I like many of other young people in their 20s are sick of how this country is been diluted and destroyed by the selfish baby boomer generation and their whoring of our ancient 9,000 nation and race to the arrogant snooty business elite in New York, Washington and Brussels. What this country needs is a return to self-sufficency and economic nationalism (which you had just about suggested when you suggested less reliance on oil)- the sort that our useless leaders such as Bert, Cowen-n-gate and the rest of the dipsticks in (modern) Fianna Fail and Fine Gael seem to dissaprove off and demonise on a daily basis. Economic nationalism is the basis for a strong, stable and happy Ireland. Globalism and all the arrogant side effects it produces such as selfish individualism, excesive immigration, cultural decline, Americanisation etc etc- need to be given a kick in the teeth by the electorate come next election. We CAN be self-sufficient- we can use clean coal technology and nuclear energy- and by leaving the European Union regain our large fishing stock to be exported for great profit.
    As for so-called “Irish Americans”- I have to say that these are the most annoying individuals on the face of gods green earth. If you are born in the United States and grow up in that society- there is no way you are remotely Irish. These people are clowns- and should read Pat Buchanan’s articles on hypenated Americans. Sure take whatever money these people are willing to give us through tourism- but lets not be naive, thats all we want. We are the Irish race- unique in every way, most of us have no interest in mongrels calling themselves “Irish Americans”. They are about as Irish as the aristrocrats in their D4 mansions- in fact send the OMG americanised Dublin 4 bunch over to New York, and not the other way around. There is no such thing as a diaspora- we are the Irish race, there are no diluted half-breeds, plus there Americans- who wants to be associated with such a bunch of idiots. Long live self-sufficient Ireland and god bless the return of the Ireland of yesteryear- the one we had for 9,000 years before globalists and the arrogant snobs in the business world through our country to the WTO/IMF/UN wolf. Long live the nation state and the Irish race.

  31. David S, think that horse has already bolted, mate.

  32. fergus mclellan

    Wow…David S. !!!!!

    You are proof that the “no” lobby also includes some loony elements. You’d have us all eatings shpuds ‘n drinking porter.

    Well if it was good enough for your grandfather (or Sean Leamas) it’s good enough for you – right ?

    You are entitled to your opinion tho’. But that’s about all you will have …an opinion …oh.. and an economy of peasant countrymen tooled up with medieval shpud digging devices.

    You just sit ‘n groan buddy while the rest of us finance your retirement and social services and secure your kids future.

    By the way perhaps you should align yourself with Al Quaeda or some other bally go backwards clan.

  33. David S

    fergus mclellan you sound like a yank- where does Al Quaeda come into this? Thats another problem with the intolerant New World Order bigots like you- getting countries involved that don’t affect their direct interests (you never heard of non-interentionism and nation-first war policy). As for spuds/porter and medieval agriculture- what a lame attack on my argument. I never said that people should eat or drink spuds or porter- nobody in this day and age has to go back to the old diet because there is enough money for modern frozen food for everybody.
    As for your attack on “peasant countrymen”- why you sound like a snob out attacking the good, descent hard-working men and women who produce our nations food. Bet your one of those spoilt-rotten decadent D4 an taisce snob types who enjoy laughing at the rest of us from the safety of your antique armchairs in your “Georgian” mansions- while the rest of us down-to-earth folks do our best to keep this country up and running

  34. Paul

    David S, you are only a kid, trust me, by the time you are in your 30′s you will have become everything you are currently rebelling against. Besides, no one ever listens to what 20yr olds have to say with any seriousness, because they have little knowledge of what they are on about, I know it is not a nice thing to say, but we all went through it. You are right about the “dipsticks”, but even the people who vote for them know that they are useless.

  35. David S

    Oh I see lads- you can’t win the argument by saying argument is loony and for thatch cottage peasants- so now your resorting to the “young people rebelling” argument. Paul i’ll happen to let you know that i’m currently hoping to study history and political science soon- and love my history and politics (don’t worry i’ll always be an ordinary person- not like the west brit toffee nosed students which you’ll probably produce.
    If making an argument against globalism is just “youth rebellion”- why have you never heard of a 125 year old by the name of Eamon De Valera? Was he a naive youth rebel?

  36. Gerry Nash

    I don’t agree with everything the poster David S said, but he’s dead on about Mass Immigration.

    It’s been a disaster for Ireland.

    And now we are faced with the spectre of Immigration coexisting with Emigration.

    In other words, young Irish people are leaving Irealnd, while young Indians, Bosnians, Pakis etc. are arriving.

    It’s madness! In a few decades there’ll be no Irish nation to argue over.

  37. Garry

    From the article …
    “Sarkozy was like a ‘top-down’ relic in a ‘bottom-up’ world, talking about relationships between states and using expression like ‘‘vital national interests’’.
    He spoke of European visions, as if we were still in the Cold War. This is one of the problems with the EU. It is dominated by people whose view of the world has not changed since the Treaty of Versailles and who appear to see power as something for countries to fight over. But power has been disseminated. The small are rich, the big are poor. Those with soft power are thriving, those countries with traditional hard power are faltering.”

    funny david, but you seem to be missing the biggest story of the week, where BP have been kicked out of Russia by Putins buddies. In the absence of the credible threat of hard power (in this part of the world anyways) soft power mattered. I think the BP incident is the latest in a long list of events that show EU leaders are far from being the only ones who think in Cold war/hard power terms……

  38. David S

    I’ll leave one more comment for today- so as others can post their comments. People who believe in all of this end-of-history, neocon, globalist nonsense are severly deluded individuals who need to take their heads out of the sand. It seems that everybody who is pro-globalism and neoconservatism seems to think that any form of opposition to their Thatcherite form of conservatism is either “liberal” or naive. These immature fools running the game are just that- have you never heard of Traditional conservatism, which people like Putin are hammering back into Russia- whether or not the global elite like it or not. These fussy thatcher style conservatives are in for so a kick up the a*se when most countries decide to put their own interests first- just like Sarkozy is doing in France, and the no-nonsense Putin is doing in a resurgent Russia- and their shown for what they are, a bunch of greedy self-centered individuals who would sell their nation down the river for some dosh. In fact the idea that these baby boomers with their so-called thatcherite conservatism are running the economies of nations is just sickening. Look all around the Western world and all we see are de-industrialised shells such as America, Britain, Ireland etc who make nothing in the dumb belief that a “knowledge economy” is the way forward- while the Chinese laugh themselves silly while making billions and billions of dollars of products for the greedy consumerist baby boomer run societies- while they build up their own economy and industries. The “knowledge economy” is a load of hot wind- we are all doomed in the end because we have given all of our old manufacturing jobs. I mean what does sitting around in an office clicking a bloody mouse and using Microsoft Excel do for us- when we are not actually producing ACTUAL things? I’m sick of all this nonsense about the so-called knowledge economy and that knowledge economies outperform industrial countries. Stop deluding yourselves- but your all so wrapped up your own selfishness that you couldn’t care less that all of our things are made in a hostile country like China. Same way as you think its a good idea for a small peripherial island like Ireland, with little or no industry- to rely on outside forces to put bread on our table. If anything we should be 10 times more self-sufficient and safe than countries like France.
    Oh and McWilliams don’t be so naive in thinking that the small nations and soft power matter- just as in the 19th century of any century before that, it is the big timers that make the desicions. The whole One world globalised nonsense idea that the small nations with knowledge economies are where its at- are completely foolish. The resurgent Russia with trillions of tonnes of natural resources, backed up by a powerful government and armed forces- matters A LOT MORE than some “knowledge based” economy that produces nothing but hot wind.

  39. fergus mclellan

    David S,

    I am not a “yank”. I am from Tipp. But that shouldn’t matter. You sound like a zenophobe – but you should grow out of that. I used to think Ireland was great too , until I traveled and worked and lived. Now I realise that Ireland’s greatness is in it’s small size & adaptability…. this discussion is about rounding of our weakness – our influence due to our small size.

    You have a huge gap in your knowledge about economics that you need to bridge. International trade and specialisation work ! Free market economics work ! Whilst you are studying your history look at the recent fall of centralised economies.

    I hope you educate broadly before you step into politics or you’ll be a laughing stock. By the way you will then have made it to the unproductive ranks of a civil servant – but hopefully a well rounded one.

    I suggest you don’t contribute to economic discussion forums until your viewpoints mature are are more informed.

  40. David S

    Also don’t forget the programme made by RTE with presenter George Lee on peak oil- isnt it time now more than ever that we become self sufficient, and rely less on some silly notion of a global nation. Also with peak oil to be reached soon airplane and shiping will be more expensive- which may make people from America, not least Australia think twice about coming to Ireland. And from what i’ve been reading- life after peak oil could turn vicious- if not between America, Russia and China. Self sufficiency now- no false dreams.

  41. fergus mclellan

    David S…

    really – you should quit it. Your comments are cringeworthy.

    You just sound fearful and negative.

    The world and commerce will survive and boom again, and sustain us and future generations.

    It will sustain some better than others – but that is the modern day equivalent of hunt & gather , survival and evolution.

    Hey – I’m not particularly good at it but I recognise this reality.

    The better we get together as a team the better we will do – that is why there is a huge advantage to being an easily manouverable adaptable economy. And the diaspora thing ..if properly tapped..will allow us to puch above our weight…potentially incredibly above our weight. It is worth a shot.

    On the negativity side…here’s something worth thinking about…
    In 1891 town planners in London predicted that Oxford street would be 8 feet deep in horse manure by 1920.

    What they hadn’t allowed for is invention of the car , obviously.

    I am not saying that everything ends up rosey – but most things improve. A guy your age wouldn’t be able to survive in the Ireland of 100 years ago. You wouldn’t even have received an education. I fear your negativity would have marked you as a herd straggler and you your genes would have been culled by natural/economic selection.

    The free market is already weaning folk off oil and increasing the attractiveness of alternatives. And free trade is allowing particular companies to gain from econmies of scale and specialise in the manufacture of more fuel efficient jet engines.

  42. Paul

    David S, despite enjoying your last post, you seem to come across just the same as some barstool republican, obsessed with “brits”, I can never understand why people waste so much time and effort focussing on this subject. Why does everything on this island always come down to “dem Brits”. It is laughable, we would blame them for the bad weather if we could get away with it, but on a more serious note, despite all your fancy quotes and notions, have you ever thought about Irish societies lack of accountability, no one seems to be responsible for anything, no one ever takes charge, and admits they made a mistake and tries to put it right. Even “dem brits” will at some stage own up and take what’s coming to them when things go wrong. But us “cute hoores” and “chancers”, we just pass the buck, and blame everyone around us. Just like you do, with your constant harping on about “Brits” and “West Brits”, you sound like a Fianna Fail Councillor. I actually enjoyed reading your comments until you let yourself down with the whole west brit obsession, I can go to any bar or street corner in Ireland and listen to that sort of drivel. I am surprised to didn’t slip in a “post colonial” comment along the way

  43. I see all the media are obsessed with Lidl and Aldi and the difference in price between their irish and european shopping basket(almost 59%)
    This is an efficient barometer of the devalued irish euro if ever there was one.Remember the McDonalds burger price the Economist used to gauge the level of imbalance between world currencies.!
    Lidl and Aldi, being international could replace this accurate if basic tool (the McDonald burger price)to measure imbalance between parts of the Eurozone.
    I did this survey about 4 years ago.Nothing has changed since. If anything the price disparities have worsened http://www.soldiersofdestiny.org/lidlpricecheck.htm

  44. David S

    Paul I never said anything about England- west brits is merely a term for snobs who go around acting like the royal family- when I mentioned the term I hadn’t actually got England or Britain in mind. I have relatives in England- and my great-great grandfather came to Ireland after the Highland clearances in the 1850s. In fact what you fail to mention is that the Scots and Welsh put as much blame on the English for their problems- and celebrate when England lose in football or rugby matches. I hate the condescending arrogant D4 twits like Bob Geldof who think we’re all idiots outside of their patches. And no i’m not a Fianna Fail person- nor am I a Fine Gael person. As far as i’m concerned they should just join into one big party because there are little or no differences between them. Labour are a bunch of wasters, the PDs too self-important, Sinn Fein- I won’t even go there. I think the old pre-Haughey/Burke/Lawlor Fianna Fail under De Valera, Lemass and Lynch we’re the best years this country had.
    As for Mr McKlelen- i’m not the one making these predictions about the world after peak oil- I told that there was a programme with George Lee on RTE in I think Novemeber 2007 (look up the RTE archives). It said that off course we would have electricity, employment and descent food- but that the age of relying on everything from outside and carrots from Indonesia we’re over. That is why I think we should become self-sufficient and not delude ourselves about some so-called diaspora. We’re not Jewish- we don’t need a diaspora because we are not a people surrounded by hostile neighbours as is Israel in the Middle East. When the knowledge economy takes a back seat to the return of small-scale agriculture and maybe even the old cottage industries and manufacturing areas- there will simply be no jobs for them. Also as an island (at least underdeveloped parts of Scotland and Wales are connected to England and by rail to Europe) we could once again be paying extortionist airline fees to get in and out- so it won’t simply be jumping on and off a plane as we do now- whether you are American or Irish. I mean you only have to look at Ryanair this week- this is just the start.
    And once again I am not some anglophobe crackpot who wants us to dig up fields with horse and plough and live in tiny mud and thatch cottages smoking clay pipes- just to make that clear. And no we’re not going back to the 19th century- its just going to be a little different from the late 20th/early 21st century way of doing things. The future is in self-sufficiency, NOT globalism or some so-called diaspora

  45. fergus mclellan

    Daithi S….a chara

    De Valera, Lemass and Lynch…the best years we ever had ?????. You must be joking. Post catholic Ireland has been the best years we have every had (the last 15). You didn’t live under any of these governments — so what would you know ?? Your comments remind me of some of the craw thumping bigots who skewed history lessons for us in school.

    Nobody is arguing that oil shouldn’t be substitued with a cleaner more economical/renewable alternative. The best route to finding that product is by free market economics, science and maybe a helping hand from those who regulate. Don’t you trust humans to self regulate / rebalance if scarcities occur ? – of course it will happen – it HAS to ! Economics drives replacement – as it prices scarce items out of use.

    I feel like I am talking to my son now…but here goes…..DON’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU SEE/HEAR ON TV. For all you know George Lee could be one of those D4 slimeball in disguise who has invested heavily in woodchip, or who has taken odd ball option positions on the ISEQ…or maybe he’s just another media type prone to exaggeration…or just maybe his PREDICTION will come true. I am sure there’ll be a solution .

    Get the chip off your shoulder and relax a little. You will mature. I remained quite gloomy until my mid twenties — it’s an hangover from puberty – it will pass. As a tipp man in Dublin I actually found some D4 types who were a great laugh. Conversely there are dreary/dour types in Tipp that are just a waste of good oxygen. Hey – People are basically the same everywhere (even in England !). BE POSITIVE, embrace and discard as required – but be sure of one thing >>> you have a lot to learn (we all do – but your knowledge gap is is evident as is your “up to now” narrow experience and the chip on your shoulder).

    Speaking of stereotypes …there are a lot of dreary and dour types/nay sayers in Scotland…where did you say your anscestors came from ?
    Mine too – not that it matters. What matters is where we are going and how we go about it.

    You seem like a guy who’s heart is in the right place — you care about your context. Please care enough about it to give yourself the time to grow and get perspective, experience and education — then tell all us know nothings what we should do.

    I suggest you first thesis should be….

    How globalisation, the free market economy and democracy have emancipated human life on earth, ended world wars (by creating interdependency) and have heralded in a new era of populism.

  46. Joe

    Before we all scourge David S for his suggestion and call him immature, I believe the point he tries to make is valid, albeit it with a misguided delivery. I think what he is trying to say is that no longer can we be dependent on large scale multinational mass employers enticed in by the mantra of grants, low CT rates and an educated workforce, these are no longer innovative, and all of which can and are being replicated by all countries east of us, who have the additional advantage of large populous centres and lower costs bases-transport, labour etc.

    While these companies may come to our shores, they most certainly will leave again. This has reflections to the property boom in that it fills an economic gap, but it really unsustainable; the only difference being the time line may be somewhat longer.

    My belief for a sustainable future of Ireland is in the independent, the system that operated in pre-americanisation/Maslow past. And by this I don’t mean, we all return to living in hovels, taking the shovels to work and a bit of GAA on a Saturday evening followed by pints.

    No I mean adative individuals ,self employed/or indigenous SME’s, their tools of trade being the PC whereby they trade on options on the S&P 500; or they design aircraft engine parts in their basement workshop and provide instruction to India for their manufacture, and orgainse shipment to Boeing; or the tractor where the farmer tends to the land and produces a healthy crop for whatever population remains on the island. All operations from the right side of the brain, creative, artistic innovative supported by the traditional homogenous industries, If you catch my drift.

    David S i think this is the point you were trying to get across.

    I also don’t believe we can depend on the diaspora or the EU or anyone else to provide for us.

    We must learn to do it for ourselves in whatever form that takes. And we certainly cannot look for some one to blame if we cant. We can all leave and “follow the pound” or we can stay and adapt, embrace and live all Ireland has to offer (good and bad). As a nation we are starting to learn that mountains or oceans no longer bind us, we can live where we want and earn or living from wherever that is; that will be the beauty of technology. But it will take cleverness and foresight if we want to stay in Ireland, because I think all here understand that the “Das current system is kaput”

  47. Observer

    David, Fergus relax you two.

    We do need the Irish Diaspora, alot of them would be expatriates wanting to come home. Also we’d benefit from long deceased countrymen whose descendants feel greatly attached to this country and want to contribute.

    Ireland only ever got off the ground because many Irish-Americans realised our potential as “The Atlantic Crosssing” base, they also wanted to give opportunities and hope that their forebears were robbed of.

    DeValera was a good leader to this country and kept the country running when there was the “Great Depression” and “World War 2″…………… it was widely revered for he had done until when he died its become fashionable to spit on all he did.

    Charlie Haughey, Bertie Ahern, Burke and Lawlor were nothing but criminals and fraudsters,,,,,,,,,,,,, This mess that we are in now is because of that Fraud Ahern.

    Fergus……… as for

    “Grant ALL irish descendants an equal vote over the WWW on significant issues – regardless of current location / race /colour /creed. Create the club.”

    I agree that descendants have the right to get involved with Ireland’s Issue but as for Colour and Race that is already contradicting Irish Descent and eligibility.

    I personally reject the term “Race” to describe a person’s origins, we are all humans and part fo the same species “Race” but I prefer Ethnic Background instead. Their “Colour” would also determine their ethnic background.

    Let me use an e.g.

    If you had say a Person had say only partial French Ancestry was european but was made of non-european descent…….. I couldn’t regard them as a european.

    I don’t want to create a debate or anything but from my own experiences………… If you had someone from claiming to be French but had only the smallest that could be traced……. I couldn’t rule them as eligiable.

    I’m Norman Irish, but you wouldn’t find any french blood left in me because my ancestors intermarried generation after generation into the Celtic Irish Population.

    We can’t just automatically offer citizenship because someone has an Irish Surname especially if they don’t even have any resemblance to ourselves………

  48. David S

    Thank you Joe- that is exactly the point I was trying to get across. I’m not very good at getting my point across in debates lol. And your ideas on local, small and medium businesses and a return to a pre-Americanised self-sufficient Ireland are spot on, and they are exactly what I was tryihg to say. And your right on the technology front- by self-sufficiency I would never mean or advocate knitting clothes, making poitin or home made bread as a replacement for the current system- by been self-sufficient we should make such things as computer parts, airplane parts, create abundant and exportable energy such as nuclear and maybe even wave (given theat we are an Atlantic wind-swept island), and in turn power our own grid completely by ourselves (which France nearly does by producing 75% if their own energy by nuclear). But it will be even more important to keep national and regional industries alive- but the more local economies and self-sufficiency the better and the richer.
    Also when the so-called “global” (code word for injecting American ideals into older nations & regions) age passes away we can simply return to been Irish and happier. No more greedy shoppers, rude shopkeepers, crappy plastic houses with carboard walls, no more greedy CAP funded and subsidized farmers selling off agricultural land for McMansion doll houses to make millions (and I put my mouth where my money is because our family owns land) no more rat-run dormitory towns (which my old town and former villages was turned into in the 80s) which contribute NOTHING to the local area, or, whose people refuse to think of their neighbours, no more “what America does, we follow”, no more two tonne jeeps thundering along narrow country, village and city roads and the list goes on……..The problem with America or an Americanised society is that everything is reduced to RIGHTS RIGHTS RIGHTS….my right to do this, my right to this. In Ireland (even to a lesser extent in the 90s) it was simply unacceptable to always put your own interests before the general welfare of everybody else. And the problem with so called “individualism” is that it is nothing but a code word for “me me me” and is simply patronizing becuse we’re all aware that we are different and have individuality. In fact the Irish (personality-wise, humour-wise, community-wise, employment-wise) have got ten times the amount of individuality than Americans. While I no it is not right to advertise books on other peoples websites I suggest that people buy or look up two books (a) The end of Irish history? and (b) Judging Dev by Diarmuid Ferriter. And i’m aware that people do agree with me on certain issues- so I just wanted to say that I dont want to come across as forcing my opinion (which is anti-liberty) or trying to throw stuff down peoples throat. We all agree and disagree on different things- and thats our perfect right as adults, including Mr McKellen and Paul.

  49. David S

    lol Observer I too have Norman ancestry- don’t ask me how my family know this. Probably about 80% of me is Celt/Scot/Gael and the other percentage Norman. I have relatives that came from North Galway, Westmeath, and Bandon, Cork- I think the Cork part of my family has Norman descent. But i’m not really sure if you could consider them French as they we’re originally Vikings from Scandanavia- and the Normans that landed in 1171 where alreading in Britain for 5 generations (105 years) so they would have inter-mingled even more with the native Celtic/Saxon peoples. But then again its no harm telling the ladies you have a bit of French in you! lol. It might be a good way to get one.

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