March 17, 2010

Artists and entrepreneurs are the key to our recovery

Posted in Ireland · 225 comments ·

On St Patrick’s Day two years ago, while nudging my way up a crammed Fifth Avenue, the idea of the Farmleigh Global Irish Forum came to me. I’d thought about it before and I had seen how other countries cultivated relationships with their global tribes — particularly the Jewish tribe and Israel — but it was only after seeing the unique outpouring of Irish America on March 17 that I knew we should do this. We should tap into the power of the tribe and see where it takes us.

Like many initiatives, the real power of something like Farmleigh can never be dictated in advance. There is an element of chaos in putting people together who don’t know each other and are bonded by something as fluid as having an “interest” in Ireland and allowing the conversations and ideas to flow.

But Ireland has never been short of ideas, if anything we have loads of ideas and not enough people who can execute them. The hardest part about ideas is getting them to fulfil their potential. This is what any entrepreneur will tell you. It is also what any artist or writer will tell you. It’s easy to have an idea for a book, the hard part is having the discipline to write it.

Similarly, had the officials and Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin not been open to the idea, Farmleigh would have remained an idea thrown out in a bar on St Patrick’s Day — how many of these do we have? So it’s all about execution and no matter how amenable the diaspora or tribe is, we still have to translate an emotion into a reality.

Out of Farmleigh have come a number of concrete initiatives and only time will tell how many others are bubbling away under the surface. Dermot Desmond’s University of the Arts, the Farmleigh Graduate Programme, the latest tourism campaign ‘Home’, the ‘Gateway Ireland’ portal as well as the many regional Farmleighs which are taking place today — all these are tangible. Sure, Farmleigh had its critics, and some of the points made are valid and apposite — but you have to try, you have start somewhere and the connections made are likely to throw up more initiatives.

This is the beauty of setting up networks and bringing people together, you simply have to stand back and let human curiosity, ingenuity and love of risk run its course.

These are the sort of characteristics which join two of the most interesting types of people in our world — the artists and the entrepreneurs. One of the most gratifying and unexpected developments to come out of Farmleigh has been the realisation that artists and entrepreneurs are on the same side.

For many years this natural alliance has been obscured, often by arts administrators who, as bureaucrats, are more risk averse than either artists or entrepreneurs. Some academics play this role too, a sort of false bohemia cosseted by the protection of a State salary.

These folk like to hang with artists but would never risk their own creature comforts and live like artists. It is natural — no in fact it is essential — therefore, to create an enemy that is inimical to the artistic temperament so that the artists never see who their real kindred spirits are and the entrepreneur never sees that the artist gets up every day.

The fat-cat businessman image is a type of Dickensian caricature, counting his swag and scoffing at artistic effort. But this is far from the truth.

Take James Joyce for example. Joyce was an entrepreneur before he was an artist.

In September 1909, on a visit to Trieste, Eva Joyce, James’s younger sister, suggested to Jim that there was money in cinemas. For a city of 400,000, Trieste had loads of cinemas. In contrast, there wasn’t even one in Ireland.

Joyce was sold and he put together four venture capitalists to back him. Joyce negotiated 10pc for himself. Today, this capital would have been known in the jargon as “sweat equity”.

Joyce set off in October 1909. By December the Volta cinema was open on Mary Street in Dublin, with Joyce as proprietor. The ‘Evening Telegraph’ covered the Volta’s opening night on December 20: “James Joyce, who is in charge, has worked apparently indefatigably and deserves to be congratulated on the success of the inaugural exhibition.”

Two other ventures captivated Joyce. The first was a plan to import skyrockets into Trieste, and the second was to import Irish tweeds into Italy. Both projects were dropped and the Volta folded, but all three episodes reveal a portrait of the artist as a young entrepreneur.

Joyce, arguably our finest and definitely our most celebrated writer, saw no contradiction between artist and the entrepreneur. Rather they are complementary and at their root the artist and the entrepreneur are similar. A fine business brain is as interested, irreverent, creative and alert as a fine artistic mind. The artist sees himself as outside the mainstream. So too does the entrepreneur. Both celebrate the individual over the collective. Both regard security with a certain distance.

There is a striking similarity about their worldview. Both regard most of society’s obsession with certainty and security as bizarre. Neither can bear the idea of working for someone else for a wage.

The very thought of taking orders from a bureaucrat strikes fear in both. Working is about creating, beating the competition and expressing themselves, not about pointless committees, political games and promotion.

In the end, artists and entrepreneurs are the only people in society who do not retire. They rarely become jaded or washed up. Of course, many artists and entrepreneurs become part of the establishment, feted by politicians, the media and corporates alike, but most remain beyond the pale.

What binds these two apparently contradictory groups? Risk. Risk and a love of risk, originality and freedom, distinguish the entrepreneur and the artist from others.

Both groups live on their wits, not from the type of corporate arse-kissing that dominates many “successful” career structures in corporate and public sector Ireland. They make things happen by displaying enormous self-belief, hard work and attitude.

An interesting way of looking at the similarities is to remember your schooldays and examine the subsequent careers of friends. In many cases those who ploughed their own furrow either artistically or in business were remarkably similar.

It wasn’t really that surprising, therefore, that when I got up to chair the final session at Farmleigh, there was a little knot of some of Ireland’s and the diaspora’s finest entrepreneurs and artists huddled together excitedly.

These people understood each other. They are spiritual bedfellows and unlike others they — artists, writers and entrepreneurs — realise that the idea isn’t the end, it’s the beginning. The hard part is the hours spent on your own — writing, tearing up, getting up when you’ve been knocked down and taking the flack from the critics, who tell you that idea will never fly. This St Patrick Day, let’s celebrate these doers.

  1. wills


    What is the point contributing innovative ideas into the market place when the whole edifice is rigged.

  2. Wills the point is, you have the power to get out of the rat race and entrepreneurs know how to print their own money and pay less tax to the crooks

  3. Wills, the point is that without ideas, and many of them, nothing happens and the edifice, as you put it, remains rigged.

  4. Tim

    David, throughout history, the great strength of the Irish people appears to be “creativity”.

    So, I think you are right: Look at the per capita Nobel Prizes for literature, alone?

    Massive, per capita.

    I posted a link on the last article, of the Governor of California, promising to bring business to Ireland, because he has seen the innovation and creativity of the Irish entrepreneurs who have set-up businesses in Silicon Valley.

    All good news.

    You are right.

    But, our leaders must start to focus on this, instead of cutbacks and trying to fool the EU.

    • Deco

      We have not won a Nobel Prize for anything in half a century.

      We are not producing it anymore. Anybody any ideas why ?

      • Deco

        I actually reckon that since we started ‘celebrating’ artists, we turned the artists into losers.

        • G

          Maybe artists need struggle in order to produce their ‘muse’………once money comes in there is an argument that the quality declines, Picasso is a case in point.

          • wills


            Picasso painted brilliantly till the night before his death.

          • Piscasso did and so did Mattise , Monet and all ‘les nabis’ – prophets eg Pierre Bonnard … al sur la mer de cote d’azur

          • G

            @ Wills – its a subjective thing I suppose.

            One art historian I came across said Picasso’s work in later years (post-WWII) declined and he spent most of his time frolicking in the sunshine in the south of France, with women problems and that his work never reached the dizzying heights of his blue period or Guernica (1936), I have a tendency to agree. His output was phenomenal but the quality? Not so sure.

            Simon Schama in his Power of Art series (excellent) is pretty critical of Picasso but practically worships Guernica.

          • wills


            One of my areas of expertise is Picasso.

            Mr. simons BBC feature on Picasso i saw.

            Picasso s late period particularly his ‘cock and vagina’ paintings were significantly and dare I assert intentionally mis understood by the establishment crttics except of course andrew dixon who considers Picasso s late period of ‘cocks and vaginas’ as a re invention of modern art providing us all with the painter jean michel basquiat who died early but exploded all left over art artifice and freed up the creative processes for the rest of us to all follow down, which by the way, the powers at be know all to well about and quickly moved in to blockade.

            I appreciate your come back on Picasso G and I will stop now as its of thread.

          • G

            @ wills – thanks, always good to push things on, appreciate it.

      • Tim

        Deco, Séamus Heaney won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1995.

        • Deco

          Alright. Heaney won it recently.
          But strictly speaking he was a Northerner – both British and Irish. And he is essentially a northerner still.

          Heaney, and his literature are part of an Ireland that is disappearing fast. In fact, Heaney is the end of the line.

          • Blackpigsdyke

            Deco, I hope your post above “… a northerner” is accidental rather than deliberate. Seamus Heaney and for that matter anyone from the disapora is as Irish as you or I.

            In regard to David’s article, I fully agree that getting the emotion into reality is the biggest hurdle. Hopefully, Farmleigh is the beginning and a second republic will be the end.

          • Deco

            No it is deliberate. Are you offended ? To have your pride offended is your choice. Dashing your hopes for me is not a consideration.

            The fact is that Heaney, growing up and working in a so called opressed society, has managed to produce something that has not been produced south of the border in sixty years. Does this not say a lot about the state of ‘culture’ south of the border ? Heaney is a very intelligent and well read man. But he is not the prototype for the Ireland that has been euologised by either right, left or centre in the South. In fact in the education system in the Republic we no longer have any idea of what the purpose of education is anymore ? Producing graduates with inflated final scores maybe ? Producing compliant consumers ? Producing rugby players maybe ? I would say that the education system in the south is overly obsessed with compliance of the students. The enjoyment seems to have gone out of learning. This is an inevitable consequence of a society that is intellectually controlled.

            Heaney is very adament that he is a Northerner. Maybe this also disagrees with your hopes for him also ? Oh, it looks like your hopes for other people are not being fulfilled. This will happen, again, and again…

      • Jonathan Hannon

        Seamus Heaney won a nobel prize for literature in the early 90′s. john Hume and David Trimble won a peace prize in the early 90′s. And in the early 80′s an academic engineer originally form tuam, co galway won a nobel prize for his work on the Concord!!!. Michael Cooley trained as a machinist and master fitter in the 1950′s in the Sugar factory in Tuam. His class mate was the now world renowned writer Tom Murphy. They trained under a man called Franz Kaplan who have fled Nazi Germany as he was Jewish. Cooley left the factory in the early 60′s a fluent german speaker. He went on the write several books on the revolutionary “just in time” logistics and engineering model which became the bible of the Japanese car industry. He was later senior design engineer at lotus aerospace. He was awarded a nobel prize for his work. Back then we trained the best and sent them abroad. Cooley’s friend Tom murphy wrote some great plays about this topic. The truth is we fell foul to a group of elite insiders. We as a country have no real ideology. We have the bertie consensus theory where everyone gets a little of what they want and some get a little more. It turned my stomach to see McCreevy swanning around Cheltenham this week while people struggle to survive. in his article in the irish times some time back he made it clear he is totally unrepentant. Sutherland also is happy with his beliefs. It seems that their idea of a new order doesn’t include the small people of society, its only about making money. People like Michael Cooley left before and are leaving again. While we save “our” banks. There’s so much lies in the press these days, its hard to get any idea of where we’re going as politicians just continue to spin the spin.. I’ve used this quote quite a few times but it comes to mind a lot. Its form that great american trouble maker Gore Vidal. “when all this goes wrong (free Market capitalism) it’ll be socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor”. He said this in 1983. How right he was.

        • coldblow

          You’re right. That’s Vidal’s phrase.

        • Deco

          Jonathan Hannon.
          It is disconcerting that our best days are behind us as a learning culture. The most recent of those people you mention were either educated in the North,or left the country to finish their education in the US.

          We are either not producing them,or not keeping them. Structural deficiency there.

          • Blackpigsdyke

            Deco, after reflective reading of your initial argument and later statements I accept your point. The education system is disfunctional and the dumbing down of society in general.

            I admit to a sensitivity to identity, due to living in foreign lands, and initially thought your argument was going in that direction.

            Adversity/oppression are fertile grounds for art and literature. So I look forward to your “Rape of the NAMA” (re: Alexander Pope).

    • Eireannach

      How many Irish people have read ‘En Attendant Godot’ in French, or Máirtín O Cadhain’s ‘Cré na Cille’ as Gaeilge, or even Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ in English?

      The people who actually read these books and offer the Nobel prizes are OUTSIDE Ireland – we just boast about their achievements to make ourselves look good on the international stage, but few Irish people actually read these writers.

  5. Ruairí

    Hear hear David,

    I have a number of artist friends and family, and, in addition to buying them copies of The Artist’s Way, I have also implored them to read and understand the metaphysical message behind Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill (original editions only folks, you have been warned).

    You are bang on. Its EXACTLY the same stuff. Ideas, how to grow them, how to guard them and see them into reality. How to build your desire and belief. How to war against fear. How to trust your intuition.

    Literally, THINK and grow RICH. Rich min mind, rich in wealth, rich in family, rich in peace; whatever you invest your thoughts in.

  6. paddyjones

    David is forever ducking and diving what needs to happen in this country is to cut our public spending so that our borrowing is less than 3% of GDP. Only then will we get the economy back on track, actually we need to have surpluses so that we repay our national debt. In my house the only debt is a small mortgage and I keep spending under what I earn. It is simple housekeeping. We need to cut another 3 billion in 2011 and 3 billion every year until 2014.
    The ECB is in charge of our economy thankfully , not Brian Lenihan or Brian Cowen. Today the EU commission pulled up the Irish Government on trying to fudge the figures and told them they want more detail and concrete figures about how precisely they are going to adhere to the 3% target by 2014. It was music to my ears, the Irish government actually told the EU commission that the economy would grow by 4% from 2011 to 2014 which is a total fudge.
    So when I hear some leftie going on about their disgust about cuts I just think to myself thankfully the EU is now in control.
    We need more cuts in health, education, social welfare and the capital budget. The insiders as David calls them have made a fortune out of the increase in public spending. Indeed alot of them bought property with borrowed money and now with falling incomes and asset values they cannot afford to repay loans.
    Farmleigh was a good idea don’t get me wrong but we need to get our fundamentals right at the same time.

    • Ruairí

      Why did you leave out cuts in tax breaks and an introduction of a wealth tax?

      Are they not fundamental to a recovery of the government’s standing vis a vis the EU deficit rule also?

    • Ruairí

      “So when I hear some leftie going on about their disgust about cuts I just think to myself thankfully the EU is now in control.”

      Your angst with ‘lefties’ would have some logical merit were you to state that you are a free marketeer and that NAMA & bank capital injection also are OTT state intervention. You haven’t mentioned NAMA or the banking bailout in this latest position but are you saying that expenditure cuts are okay and socialism for the rich is also ok? I hope not old boy. That would be the pinnacle of ‘ducking and diving’ in my book.

    • wills

      Curbing public spending can start with scrapping NAMA. Putting 55 billion on the public purse.

      • paddyjones

        NAMA is something that I would reluctantly agree is a necessity. I don’t like it but it is here to stay nobody can stop it.
        As for a wealth tax … it is not going to happen as it would hit thousands of small property investors.
        NAMA and the public deficit are two completely different problems, you can simply say that if NAMA did not go ahead we would have an extra 55 billion for public expenditure.
        I repeat the EU are now in control not the Irish Government not the Irish people, if FG/Lab were to enter government tomorrow they still can not avoid the EU rules.
        In Greece 1 in 3 is a public sector employee and 1 in 3 is paid on the black market. Their public services are a mess, teachers work in a substandard educational system but then do grinds on the black market to boost their income.
        We are quite close to Greece they have a population of 11 million and their national debt is 300 billion, we have a population of 4 million and by the end of this year including NAMA our national debt will be 140 billion.
        The IMF will be here within 1 year mark my words.

        • wills

          I can simply say if NAMA evaporated we as taxpayers could have 55 billion for hospitals, education, for people living on the poverty line, for the carers i say pay them say 300 euros a week for starters with the 55 billion we are been stolen of from NAMA.

        • Ruairí

          @ paddyjones Yes a property (wealth tax) is very much on the cards within the next five years.

          Also regarding cutbacks to stay within the deficit rules, unless we are planning to close up shop completely, then our cuts must be with the view to re-allocating our resources to get back on top of things, not just to stay within ECB 3% confines.”

          Dr Chris Horne’s riposte in this week’s SBP 21/03/10, a response to Colm McCarthy’s ‘Snipshot’ from the SBP 14/03/10

          McCarthy’s fixation appears to be on cost management, like any reasonably-trained corporate controller. He appears to fear that any suggestion to increase investment in one area of activity will inevitably lead to pressure for other increases elsewhere.

          But a good strategist, and a good chief financial officer, identifies parts of the system where cuts can be made, precisely so that the Taoiseach, the chief executive, has flexibility to increase investment in the areas critical both for short-term survival and long-term prosperity.

          The Department of Finance notes that, of every €133 spent this year by the exchequer (remember €33 of that is borrowed), just under €5 is going to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

          Just €5 in total for the work of the department and IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland, Fas and other enterprise agencies. No member of the Innovation Taskforce would argue for further increasing the national debt, but perhaps the government might wish to consider rebalancing the allocations within the total exchequer envelope, so that sustainable employment can be created.

          That is our professio fidei: that ‘‘a good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children’’. “

  7. Bamboo


    Thanks for this article and for your initiative to realize the Farmleigh projects. That itself is a piece of art. Great success!!

    I posted before questioning why the Irish artists receive so little funding and stimulation from the GOV. Somehow the boom period made the Irish loose any sense of appreciating small achievements.

    Ireland has a proven record of creative ideas and thinking and this is gradually diminishing. I came from a society that one had one job and that was sufficient to survive. No need to earn an extra bob here and there. It was all very straightforward.

    But during my many trips to Ireland in the early 80’s, what were so prominent were the art and craft shops all over the country, the Spanish students, and many men and women had more than one job in order to survive. One needed to be creative in order to earn a living. I remember a young boy renting a donkey from a farmer so that he can go to the beach and offer donkey rides. He was only 9 at the time and later he bought a super deluxe lawn mower and offered his services to golf clubs at age 14, he then went into property. He saved enough money to go to Australia and is living a very comfortable life in Sydney. The donkey idea is a form of art itself.

    But people having more than one job is gradually not necessary anymore as Ireland headed into the Celtic tiger years. The father and mother working so hard for their kids, and very often also for their own parents and other relatives are a thing of the past.

    Gradually the need for individual creativity has changed from “earning an extra bob” to something bigger and preferably much, much bigger. Now, Only the global success stories are important. U2, Bono, Bob Geldoff, River Dance, winning the Eurovision (again), The Commitments, etc are the stories that count. Then for so many families owning one property is not enough; they had to have another property somewhere in the sun.
    Now we want to be world leaders in something, if we can’t do that, then it is all seen as very “Mickey Mousy” ideas and any worthwhile idea has to be on the scale of the next Google or Amazon., Ipod, etc. Anything less is somehow not worth writing home about. Now, we are told to think “smart” through the “Smart Economy” and we have to be inventive by the “Innovation taskforce”. (I was in Powerscourt recently looking at typical Irish Art and Crafts. The way it was presented in the shop, it gave me the feeling that it was a genuine local craftwork. I actually bought one item and only to find out on a trip to Bali that this very same item was made by the Balinese.

    As if all the tremendous efforts in the 80’s by so many families don’t count anymore. That is only pitons and very much “kitchen table cottage industry”. And only Now the GOV wants to invent some sort of wheel. This wheel will be so big that we can have the 120,000 jobs. Each of us will have a job to cover for everything. Somehow I get the feeling that once these jobs are created we can stop being smart or creative and so we can relax again.

  8. G

    Saw it today on the streets, it is about much more than the diaspora. I saw people from Indonesia, Tongo, Poland, Hungary and many more walking and performing in the parade. The thought struck me, its not just about a diaspora, it is about the all embracing nature of the Irish, the wonderment of our culture, that is our true talent, an honest broker in a world badly in need of someone to trust. The Irish can offer the true open hand. The celebration of cultures today under the banner of St. Patrick was a true revelation!

    As for art, it is true salvation, it is also, to use economic parlance, one of our comparative advantages, we need to focus on what we do well and what we bring to the world, how we enhance the world.

    Playing financial sticks and stones has NO LEGACY, moving money around, short changing people is contemptible.

    Time to look at ourselves in the mirror, look in the soul, we can offer the world so much, we just need to get back in touch with who we are and where we came from. We have an enormous history and legacy to honour.

    • Ruairí

      I feel sorry for Brian Cowen. That’s awful. Could happen to anyone in fairness.
      Has to be said, where would you get that kind of exposure for a little country. And if you think about it, our involvement in the British empire, our speaking of English, yet with our own inherent superiority ;-), leaves us in a fantastic place to punch above our weight worldwide. And we do.
      There’s a lot to be proud of and hopeful of tonight. If we bottle it, then the next generation will crack on. Even with the mess we’ve left them.

    • ps200306

      Uh … that’s “so last year”.

  9. ps200306

    Meanwhile back in 2010, NAMA gets ready to throw the family jewels down the crapper. Gurdgiev reckons that even apart from the general NAMA madness, it could lose billions just through sloppy definitions in its LTEV calculations.

  10. ps200306

    Hard to believe that it is exactly eighteen short months since the gobshite/gangster (delete as appropriate) Pat Neary was assuring us that the Irish banks were perfectly safe and functional.

  11. Listen to WILLS :

    ‘wills says


    What is the point contributing innovative ideas into the market place when the whole edifice is rigged.’

    Focus on fixing the rigged system first and then afterwards you can ‘feel safe’ to allow your dreams – ideas- intutition – innovation – development – activity commence —– otherwise you are wasting your time and only creating enemies around you and your family.We need proper leaders and laws and enforcements otherwise you are a ‘dead man walking ‘ in Ireland.

  12. Idea

    Our spiritual needs are important and currently our rc church leader is contemplating resigning even though he does not say so.Without going into why he should and should not when he does there will be a big vacuum and the Roman Curia will be worried because other fringe christian movements will like vultures purchase our churches to enable the RC to defray the pending court awards .Rather than waiting we as a nation should form our own Celtic Church and buy these churches and have our own laws and not the cannon laws of Rome dictating our rights .When we have repaired ‘our church ‘ then that will be a first step in repairing the rigged system.
    Then we can begin to live in a safer place.

    • ps200306

      Why do you need to buy church buildings to make your own church laws? People have been concoting their own version of religion since the dawn of time. Homemade religions are ten a penny. The idea that you have to buy RC buildings in order for some kind of mantle of legitimacy to pass to your new church is frankly barmy.

  13. I make stuff, and sometimes make stuff happen, so maybe I’m one of those you’re creating myths about. “live like an artist” “remain beyond the pale” what next?…”eats meat with fingers”…”raises feral children in Phoenix Park”…”saves economy with poetic devices”…”wears cape of knitted shamrock to fly faster that Ryan Air”. I understand a little about Soft Power, hearts and minds, questioning attitudes and all that comes with it. I believe society currently explains itself as a market, with power retained by a small number of stall holders. So maybe we should start our thinking process better and broader information ?.

  14. Spiritual Ignorance@Our Peril

    Failure to be seen to repair our spiritual needs will result in many new foreign kinds of roman curia and newer cannon laws .Try to imagine the following places making our national spiritual decision needs :
    Mecca ,
    & Others

    Or the following new spiritual laws replacing the Roman Cannon Laws :

    Sharia Laws
    Cult Laws
    Manmade Scientific Laws
    Jungle Laws

    We need to write our own national spiritual needs with its spiritual center in Ireland .We need to reclaim St. Patrick and rewrite his teachings to be ours .
    Failure to act will result in our loss of our national identity to be contender in world business.

  15. New Light – if you see light at the end of a dark tunnell in Ireland now watch out because it is an uncoming runaway train heading against you .

  16. Incident


    • G

      When will they call round to El B and Mr. Big?

    • Malcolm McClure

      So Seanie has had his collar felt? Why didn’t this happen 15 months ago?

    • Deco

      It takes a mountain of evidence to arrest anyone in business in Ireland.

      Bear in mind that arresting Seanie and punishing Anglo is a positive for the Duopoly. There was a time when they controlled who made money in Ireland.

      I want to know about the others. Fitzpatrick was not the biggest or even the worst rogue in Irish banking. Some very powerful bankers are connected to media commentators. And they never get any coverage.

      • G

        A fall guy is needed.

        • D Fall Guy will topple the Pantheon in Irish Banking .
          Perhaps in future the day after St. Patricks Day will be known as St. Fitzpatricks Day

          • there were a 100 grey bottles standing on the wall ………then one grey bottle then began to fall … there are 99 grey bottles standing on the wall……then another grey bottle then began to fall now there are 98 grey bottles standing on the wall……then one

          • Deco

            John Allen – there is something hilarious in that comment about Seanie Fitz having a day to himself.

            There seems to be a campaign in the media to villify and destroy Seanie Fitz. And then for good measure Fingers gets burnt as well.

            But there are many other bankers, who run banks who sell advertising in the media every day. And they are handled very carefully by the media.

            The worst offended in my view is the Irish Times. They go on an orgy of Seanie Fitz scalping. But they are very soft on the Duopoly, and the rest of the Irish Finance sector.

            The advertisers penny hits their bottom line. In Ireland everything in the public domain is compromised.

  17. paddyandhisturnips

    the ball is rolling now, briaN cowen announced in the states a discounted education for the irsh diaspora, so lets fill all the empty houses with i have said before, irish education is respected the world over…thanks to all that went before us , missionaries and brothers and everyone else from victorian times to the brothers that train the ethiopian runners in africa today..point being, education …by the irish welcomed and respected the world over….so use our network of educational facilities to train, educate and welcome people from all over the world. Those that are not diaspora can have an educational visa for 5 years…6?? 7?/ they are not allowed to claim any benefits , education is to be paid for…..

    another thing,getting back to entrepeneurs and artists..why not do somehting like…the government has an international to enter and everyones a winner…they will fly anyone to irleand for free..from anywhere…the catch is you have to book in a specified time …lets say a weekend….fly to ireland for free, link it to something like flickr that has an area only with pictures of ireland…beautiful ireland..mad ireland..wild ireland..all the irelands…..we want tourists so fly them here for free…michael o leary almost does it…so why not the government do it…just think of the world wide publicity ….all the media zones would pick up on it…priceless free advertising….and then, how much could this cost…they all have to stay somehwere when they get here…have to eat. drink !! so a winner all around…and..human nature being what it is, some of the peoples friends would want to go as well but would have left it too late for the free they will pay..anyway, just an idea….

    • G

      US students still pay about 3 times the price Irish students pay…………

      Don’t let FF off the hook – they must go regardless of what they do between now and the election!

      OUT, OUT, OUT!!

  18. MK1

    Hi David,

    And a belated Happy St Paddy’s Day to you, and to all who frequent this site.

    > This St Patrick Day, let’s celebrate these doers.

    I agree that we should celebrate doers. But as you allude to in your article, there are many in our economic ecosystem who are not doers but who are leaches and connivers.

    Your article title is that Artists and Entrepreneurs can be a key to our recovery. However, I do not think that is the case. Yes, Artsists and Entrepreneurs do share some traits in terms of risk, yet they do so completely differently.

    Indeed, many an Artist is more than happy to get rid of that risk, to get ‘state sponsorship’, etc, rather than to live off their product. A writer perhaps is more in line with a business entrepreneur.

    Entrepreneurs have to live by their output. Of course luck plays a part. And of course they must play “the game” and be part of the system that is risk averse. They are not in a parallel economy. But they can have success by sidestepping others in competing areas, etc. Abd sometimes using dubious law-breaking practices, and indeed bribes, bungs, ‘under the table’ …

    Ironically, one of the biggest purchasers of art in this country have been the banks, and the government/state. Irinically, the two entities that have got us into a big quagmire. I would hazard a guess that there is some art in Liam Carroll’s and other developers houses, as well as that of Sean Fitzpatrick.

    Painting and creativity is good for the mind, and if anyone can afford the time, they should go and create, write …..


    • Steps to success in modern Ireland…
      1. Join a political party
      2. Get invited into Opus Dei
      3. Have an opinion but be quiet about it
      4. Learn how to spell Patrimonialism
      5. Never have an original idea
      6. Grow forelocks
      7. Never “Lance Boils” or mention DMcW
      8. Never admit to “Taking the Queens Schilling”
      9. Keep talking but do nothing
      10. Be ever non-committal

      • G

        Christ………we have some characteristics as a people, can sadly identify with some of them!!

        I only hope that when circumstances worsen, necessity will overcome them………

      • Deco

        You left out drink in Fagans of Drumcondra, contribute to the odd whiparound, and play golf.

        In fact I reckon you should substiture all of the above with just one step.

        1. Enroll in the K-Club. (I believe it is marketed as being ‘exclusive to everyone’ at the moment).

        And feck your ten point plan. Only one step needed. Play golf in Strafan.

  19. Deco

    I am steadfastly against David’s proposal. In fact it is nonsense. We are at the moment learnining about the serious errors from mixing business with the state. From mixing the state with religion. From mixing the state with art. etc. etc. We seem to have this insipid urge to mix up stuff that should be left alone.

    Mixing Art with business will make Art corrupt, and business ridiculous.

    Second, we have been prone to what has been called a “Bull-shit run”. This is a particular theory that is rationally flawed, but which suceeds in infecting the intellectual culture and running rampant. It seeks to take over the entire culture are remodel it. It rewards a set of insiders. It is profitable for the few, and feeds the delusions of the many. We seen it with property. We seen it with retailing. We seen it with alcohol. We seen it with political movements. We seen it with trade union movements becomming protection rackets, culminating in IBEC which is a union for bosses to extort money out of the rest of society.

    And there is always one way to know that the lemmings are being prepared for a bullshit run. The word “celebrate” shows up. And the herd get instructed as to how to think, what to appreciate, and how to feel their own significance.

    So, I am opting out of this. Leave Art alone. Don’t bastardize art like everything else has got destroyed in Ireland by the gombeen factor. You don’t expect Limerick city, or Ireland, to take account of the work of Frank McCourt because intellectually Ireland is still being kept in the same place.

    Our intellectual culture needs to develop. Letting IBEC/ICTU/the media have a say in matters is a sure way of deforming it, and preventing it from being free to it’s own devices.

    Apart from this, I have a question to ask. David, you are trying repeatedly to come up with an easy option to solve this crisis. But this is nonsensical. There is no easy option. We all have to stop deluding ourselves. We need to take the hard options otherwise there will be no solution to this crisis. I seen great art in poorer countries, and it never got them out of the mess that they were in. Pompous statements about the significance and greatnes of being Irish will not make it any different here.

    • G

      One of the great debates: art and commerce mutually exclusive? I am not so sure………….

      Deco – I take on board the point you have made howver, I never thought I would see myself writing this but here goes…………

      Art and commerce have a long intertwined history. Michelangelo was on commission from the Church to do the Cistine Chapel (see excellent depiction in the movie ‘The Agony and the Ecstacy’, prior to that he worked for Florentine Merchants). Indeed, the successful marriage of ‘commercial men of vision’ and artists like Michelangelo produced tremendous Renaissance works, indeed, it produced the Renaissance.

      The Medici use their resources to awaken society, there is the famous story of the two mosaics. One mosaic depicted the town without civic involvement, the town was dirty, crime ridden etc, the other moasic depicted a town where all the citizens were actively involved, it presented a town of peace, harmony etc. They fostered and inspired the birth of the Italian Renaissance.

      In more contemporary times, Brad Pitt is using money from the studio system to run artistic exhibitions and build environmentally friendly and beautifully architecturally designed houses in New Orleans, so far he has ploughed between 5-10 million dollars into the project.

      Brad the Builder (Guardian)

      I personally have reservations about the dollar mixing with the artist but the black and white approach can also be limiting and in some senses, counter-productive.

      Ireland does seem to be short its Medici, all playing it cute and tight but you can’t take it with you!

      I think an equitable business model, along co-operative lines etc or at the very least, heavily regulated, with Unions and proper pay and conditions for employees can play a positive role in society and by extension in the arts.

      I accept though that places like Cuba have a vibrant cultural scene but patronage has to come from somewhere and in this instance it is State supported.

      I think something like Riverdance revived Irish culture and more importantly brought it to a mass audience. St. Patrick’s Day is a mass cultural/artistic event which has gone global (green however is an unlucky colour in China) – I see the potential in it. Better exporting that than tanks and guns or being involved directly in neoliberalism/speculative capitalist systems.

      I think the spin off for our society in terms of the creation of artistic schools could be tremendous once the government doesn’t use the money for roads or corrupt semi-state bodies. I mush rather see our students learning muscial instruments that nefarious financial ones!

      I would like to tease this out more with posters, but I applaud David for throwing the hat in the ring, never easy :-)

      • Deco

        Charlie Haughey thought of himself as a Medici there for a while….along with other delusions of his own self importance….and of course the rest of us never seemed to appreciate what he was doing for us….because we were more concerned about what he was doing us for !

    • lff12

      I agree with a lot of what you say. Arts has many forms and some are far more potentially profit making than others. For example visual art does attract big bucks – trying to put on an opera or large theatre production – now thats rarely going to break even never mind turn a profit.
      There is a little funding coming from business to arts, mostly through event management, but it tends to concentrate on populist rather than narrow interest art forms.

    • MK1

      Deco> David, you are trying repeatedly to come up with an easy option to solve this crisis. But this is nonsensical. There is no easy option. We all have to stop deluding ourselves. We need to take the hard options otherwise there will be no solution to this crisis.

      I agree that there is no silver bullet solution to a credit frenzy and a credit bust, apart from pain and hard work. Neither of which people want to take on willingly.

      I do think we need to give David some break here. He is not seeing Artistry as a solution, but merely saying that when the Farmleigh ‘idea’ did come to pass it showed that Artists and Entrepreneurs have more in common than ‘mainstream’.

      Next week, back to more solutions, none of them silver bullets ……


      • tony_murphy

        The best solutions are always the easiest solutions, the most logical

        1. The government has to resign and an election called immediately

        2. People must elect credible TD’s

        3. Shutdown the banks. They are all tainted.

        4. Jail the fraudsters – whoever they are

        5. Ban the Roman Catholic Church

        6. Scrap the Euro

        7. Scrap NAMA. Do not let the bondholders, builders, developers, politicians, rest of the insiders take the losses they deserve

        8. Re-negotiate debts

        9. Give ghost estates over as social housing

        Confidence can then be built once this has being done

        I’d invest in Zimbabwe before I’d invest anymore money in Ireland at the moment. No one with a spark of sense would invest in a country as corrupt and dysfunctional as Ireland under the current regime of insiders

    • wills


      Great reads, thank you for it.

      The art / commerce debate, do we all remember back in the eighties the saying ‘have they sold out yet’.

      This idea is disappeared.

      The cultural norm to day is, no one can sale out, its available if you want it, the profit motive, just take it, its yours, the sell out factor is dead.

      I say bullsh1t.

      The ‘sale out’ factor still holds and still stands and it is by which we all will be judged by the gods.

  20. Deco

    St.Patrick’s Day joke.

    BIFFO is in Washington, on a personal mission to find long lost relatives….
    Harney is in Australia, because she wants to be in a place where she can have a good long dry spell…..
    and Calamity Coughlan is in Germany in an effort to meet as many extremely serious intellectuals as possible……so as to engage in heavy intellectual conversation…and teach them all a thing or two : ))))

  21. Deco

    How much tax do artists pay in comparison to all other workers ?

    Oh yeah, that’s right. They got an exemption from CJH. Time the arts lobby stopped protesting and started paying taxes like the rest of us.

    That includes Bertie ‘Autobiogaphy’ Ahern, Bono and chums, the writers of Fair City, and all the other people who declared themselves as “Artists” in Ireland.

    It is becomming farcical. Maybe I should set up a property rezoning business and try and declare the income as art.

    Artists should not be allowed to get away with anything that the rest of the workforce get forced to pay by means of the tax system.

    • Deco

      Put the artists on PAYE – like everyone else.

      • G

        Certainly any artist making over 40k a year should pay tax………but they should also be entitled to the dole and other allowances as well as proper access to training, scholarships etc – everything should be done in the early stages to assist them in their craft………

        I believe in equity regarding taxation and don’t believe ‘workers’ should carry the burden, I sense the tax exemption was setup to assist 4 particular band members, with lobbying from other successful ‘commercial-artists’.

        Thought Bono’s decision to shift money off-shore shortsighted and highly cynical.

        • Deco

          No Bono’s tax management strategy is just selfishness.

          It is his right to be a selfish smartalec. And it is the right of the rest of us to treat like we see him. Which is what we are not doing.

          I suppose you could say, that we are lacking self respect in relation to the way we treat Bono and the way he treats us. But this is a common theme.

          In fact this is the hall mark of membership of Irish society. Be a donkey and get rode on every time.

  22. lff12

    As it happens, years before I studied business studies, I studied music and worked for about 4-5 years as a musician and teacher (basically I had to pay the bills). I totally disagree with the comment on Arts Admins. Most of them come from a creative background and are brilliant – only a small minority have come from non artistic backgrounds and generally most are well willing to take risks (after all, we made a much bigger risk on our lives and careers by studying arts subjects in the first place). The problem is that often they’ve little or no investment to actually risk so they are not risk averse – its simply massive undercapitalization.

    You have to recall that outside of purely commercial populist arts businesses and the grants system, most Arts is backed here by RTE, which unfortunately subjects it to all kind of stringent constraints. Lastly, arts is often trivialised and different types are lumped together.

    I think the problem with the tax break systems is that they were intended for very low earning artists at a time when personal taxation was hard on low earners. I recall a time when a teacher on £14k a year was on the upper tax rate. Since these folk were self-employed it did help them a lot. It was never intended for the multimillionaires that now benefit from it. It would be helpful if an earnings limit was set on it.

    • coldblow

      I wouldn’t know but you may well be right about art administrators. I used to know the owner/ manager of a small, well-run and (above all) reliable security firm and was surprised to learn that someone with the same name had been appointed to head our top arts quango. It hadn’t occurred to me it might be the same lady…


    With hundreds of SMES closing every month, forget about entrepreneurs driving a recovery.As for artists, it is a tiny specialised area completely dependent on tax shelters.With employmnet falling by 100k per annum, we will be back to 1.2 milion in employment within 5 years, the level it was in 1922.

  24. Ruairí

    Well well David,

    the BBC are full of high praise for you! As they should be. And a vocie cried out in the wilderness……..but nobody was listening…….

    “The Irish economist David McWilliams described the bank in 2006 as being “simply a leveraged hedge fund betting its own and its clients’ money on overvalued property”.

    With some prescience, he added: “Normally when the property market collapses, these type of outfits go bust.”"

  25. coldblow

    In his last article David mentioned the Beatles’ ‘I’m only sleeping”. Until I bought the album three years ago I had never heard it although it’s one of their finest. Same applies to the Neil Young track a while back (which by an odd coincidence I had onlyh been listening to the night before I read the article). If you go abroad it is not uncommon to hear three classic songs in a row on the radio. This happened to me in Friesland, in Majorca (an English-language station as it happens). When I visited Portugal in 2007 there was a Sunday evening (around 6pm) programme on their equivalent to RTE Radio 1 which appeared to be dedicated to 70s English progressive rock! This would never happen over here, or if it did steps would be taken so it didn’t happen again. I think I’m straying into Deco’s territory here, but certainly there seems to be a kind of censorship, or self-censorship or conspiracy to avoid providing anything demanding or simply…well.. good. (Alright, it’s not as bad as German Mardi Gras music but they only have to put up with it once a year…) They seem to have an idealized listener (who I identify with the ‘Dave’ of a particularly obnoxious tv licence ad of a few years ago) who must not be startled under any circumstances. Now I know why they called it ‘underground’ music.

    Same seems to be the case with tv and films. Declan Lynch in the Sindo estimates that while 99.9% of the output is rubbish the remainder includes works of stunning artistic merit. Read any critical compilation of cinema’s seminal works and then watch the tv schedules and set the video. If you live in RTEland you will have a long wait. TV3 did actually show “Jackie Brown” but I missed most of it because the newspaper had left it out by ‘mistake’. Conspiracy or what?

    Ah, the freedom to rant, but wtf! Take Riverdance as a prime example. I was in a pub in Omeath when the Eurovision was on trying to catch the barmaid’s eye for a round and I saw it on the tv behind. I noticed that I was the only person in the place (and it was bursting at the seams) who was actually looking at it. But because it showed a bit of leg it caught on. We’re so sophisticated! I later heard that people from West Clare, from places like Quilty, who would spend a fortune travelling up to Dublin to catch the show but who couldn’t be arsed strolling half a mile down the road to see the real thing. (I speak with some authority here as Jean Butler was in the pub once deep in conversation at the bar and I had to put some super dooper steps into the set to get her to come over, lol!)

    Public art = face painting? Maybe a bit of an exaggeration. But Anthony Cronin wrote recently about how in an earlier time this country was philistine to the core. Anthony Burgess noticed that while Dubliners liked to talk about Joyce he couldn’t find anyone over here who’d actually read him. (Ok I remember a French-speaking Caribbean writer interviewed once on TV5 who told of his disappointment on arrival there that everyone wasn’t reading Flaubert.)

    The best books in Spanish seem to emanate from South America these days (eg Llosa’s amazing book about the dictator of the Dominican Republic, Trujillo.) I can’t think of anyone from prosperous Holland or Denmark (off the top of my head), although Sweden seems to be an exception for some reason (the likes of Enquist). If Ireland has more than its fair share of top artists maybe it’s because they really do thrive in adversity!

    That’s covered most of the ground I think. At least for the moment. Or as our friends at the bar say: “nothing further occurs to me”.

    • Deco

      A few years ago, I seen a review in a newspaper of the German film “Good Bye Lenin”. And in the review they asked why RTE were showing this at 00:15 to 02:20 in the morning. There were no sex or violent scenes in the film. It was film about a falling ideology, and about ordinary people trying to live and love through the farce that is thrown in their face everyday by officialdom. So..why on all earth would such a film be shown once every ten years on RTE, and even then at a time that nobody would know about it ???

      Because a central theme of the film, is the level of deceit in the media, and how in spite of all the deceit/lies/propaganda/rubbish on television, the people used their own judgement and developed a feel for what was true and what was not true.

      Well…..we can’t have that sort of thing developing here !!! The regime here, the party (FF) would not like us learning about media bais, would they ???

      Oh, I recommend the film. Best in German with English subtitles.

      The strange thing about oppressive regimes with singular versions of the truth is that they make individuals miserable, and they do not know it. The level of success of the regime is the degree to which they never ask questions, or ask the wrong questions.

      • G

        Excellent film.

        As is the movie “Das Leben der anderen” (The Lives of Others)

        Valid points Deco.

      • coldblow


        For me it’s like being stuck on a long journey in a crowded minibus. There’s a noisy oafish clique at the front and they’ve monopolized the steering wheel and the radio. It’s Abba. (Incidentally, I think these could be the same lads who were earlier messing around at the back of David’s classroom.)

        I’m not saying you are wrong but I never thought of it as being done deliberately to mislead. More a complete imagination failure: this is how it is because, er, this is how it is. Growing up, forcefed endless ‘Wonderful Radio 1′ each morning courtesy of a domineering elder sister you’d still live in expectation of occasionally hearing something great: ‘Backstreet Love’, ‘Burlesque’, something by Bowie, etc. But that day has passed. If I ever do hear or see something excellent nowadays I get vague feelings of unease. Something’s wrong. It doesn’t feel right, people will be scandalized. Be grateful for scraps, you’ll sometime see something worthwhile during the day or after midnight.

        This is a country where the same news bulltein will tell you four times how Man Utd did (and repeat it at the end in case you missed it) but not anyone else. Where they are STILL talking about Packie Bonner’s save. Where I have never yet heard a weather forecast through to the end: just tell me if there will be rain tomorrow then shut the **** up. Where a politician or president can say something like “one small step for man, one huge leap for mankind” and no-one will notice that it doesn’t actually mean anything, that you can turn it ba backwards without affecting the meaning. Where you can go to a table quiz and guess some of the questions in advance and have a good idea of the remainder.

        Deco, I think you’d like the Czech writer, Milan Kundera. There’s a nice passage in one of his books where they are in his Communist homeland and everyone has to go on the big parade and smile and be cheery. He keeps turning it over in his mind looking for sense and then the right word comes to him: kitsch.

        It’s a place where someone says something interesting on the Late Late and the audience oohs and aahs. Wow! Really? That’s amazing! But you already knew it, and so did Plank or Tubbers, though they don’t let on.

        Sometimes I’m Frazier when I wake up in the morning. Sometimes Cliff, Diane, even Woody. Today I must be Victor. But it’s always Groundhog Day on Craggy Island.

        • Deco

          Coldblow – an awful lot of what you wrote makes a ton of sense.

          The level of ‘debate’ in Irish radio is managed. It is usually right versus left. Authority versus the rest of us is just not allowed. It is a predictable with no conclusions. (But this happens in the US also). It is called ‘balance’.

          I did not know about Milan Kundera. But I can understand exactly how he feels. And that in itself is instuctive of contemporary Ireland. And I think I will find out about his work.

          For me the critical moment came last November over the Henry handball incident. Hundreds of thousands of Irish people outraged at the injustice of it. And yet nobody asked any questions, let alone made any form of protest over the ponzi-scheme property built up. Cork City was under 2 metres of water, and in Dublin there were protestors making jackasses of themselves outside the French embassy. And they were mild compared to that ‘peice de resistance’ of a jackass Dermot Ahern who as minister for Justice felt done an injustice. The Irish do not need a French soccer player to teach them all about cheating. Dermot Ahern never that Patrick Neary or Fingers did any of us an injustice. Or the builders who built the ‘waterfields estate’ in Kildare. And Maid Marion, came on the radio the Sunday afterwards to explore the handball incident and how it made us feel. And it ruined the TV schedule for the coming July, and hurt national self importance and opened up our sense of indignation. And that is what yo get for so many hundred grand a year from the public broadcaster. Bread and Circuses in the mould of the era of the descent of the Roman Empire. But mostly, circuses. And throughout the entire farce over the past fifteen years….I heard the refrain….celebrate…celebrate…. Celebrate what ? i ask. The whole thing is a farce !!!

  26. severelyltd

    “Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art. ” Andy Warhol

  27. Ruairí

    A new campaign. One observer believes the people behind the campaign may not be as upfront as they could be as to who they are?

    Its an online directory. Looks like a good effort to me by an unincorporated association. Nothing murky here. Just good effort I think.

  28. Deco

    This is sickening.

    The gardai could hardly be said to have done anything wrong, even by the annals of the need to protect Irish authority. I get the sense that this garda will be made an example of, at the behest of the government for the purpose of upholding authority.

    Is the Seanie Fitz thing a distraction ?

  29. Ruairí

    Unfortunately, there are a number of short-sghted and reactionary comments here to the mixing of the words artist and entrepreneur.

    Both are of the same stuff in the main. Yes, there are pragmatic entrepreneurs; loads of them! But true visionaries share many similarities with artists: – how they come in possession of their ideas, how they surround themselves with appropriate physical and social stimuli, how they bring latent action to fruition.

    John Maynard Keynes. Artist, philosopher, economist.

    Tellingly, one of the greatest influences on our modern world, from an economic standpoint, can arguably be said to one of the great philosopher-economists.

    “Our aim is to argue, on the basis of such arguments and still more recent work, that there is a strong case for considering Keynes, not as an economic scientist in the modern sense of the term, but as a philosopher-economist comparable with Hume, Smith, Mill and Sidgwick. He may have written only one major philosophical work, his Treatise on Probability [Keynes, 1973a], and it may indeed be the case that he decided, unlike his distinguished predecessors, not to make a career in philosophy; but for all that, his life’s work (or his work in economics) makes more sense in the context of his philosophy than independently of it. Paradoxically, one of the main differences between Keynes and the other British philosopher-economists mentioned is not that he was a scientist, but that he was, or sought to be, an artist-the only major economist who lived among a group of artists and who was a central figure in a powerful artistic and literary movement [Skidelsky, 1983, 1992, 2002; Goodwin, 2006].”

    Surely gentlemen (and ladies), we are more than economic units? we are social beings! With peculiar motivations, not always predictable and not always economically measurable (in the strictly monetary / “scientific”sense anyway).

    I wholeheartedly agree with David’s essence here. Its not a solution to our imminent woes, but is certainly a key driver in the re-establishment of who we are and what we’re good at here in Ireland. The job of government is to facilitate the DOERS. Let’s hope that happens, in the public, private , NFP and others sectors.

  30. wills

    Heading over to Bray police station for 6.30 to throw some eggs at Doctor Frankenstein.

  31. Seanie is doing an overnighter.

    • Bamboo

      They must have told him to bring his pijamas and toothbrush. On the other hand, As his arrest was at 6:30 this morning, he may have been in his pijamas still.

  32. MaxKeiser

    Today’s arrest of Sean Fitzpatrick is a total PR stunt. He was arrested at 6.30am— for the morning news, & the drama of the 6.30pm deadline is for Prime Time evening news. We will all wake to more of it tomorrow morning with another 6.30am deadline.

    But what’s worse it is diversionry tactic.

    It’s obviously an attempt to soften public opinion towards Anglo before they report the biggest losses in Irish corporate history.

    This is not a welcome development in the entire Anglo affair ~ it is sadly an indication of the government’s intention to pump more millions / billions after Anglo’s previous costly bail outs.

    Hard to believe & crazy and all as this appears to be, it’s what we have come to expect from the current government, nor is it their first Garda led Anglo PR stunt.

    A total insult to all tax payers through out the country.

    • Bamboo

      Well said MaxKeiser, you are right

    • G

      would have to agree, also designed to get government chestnuts somewhat out of the fire, dilute the anger, expect more diversionary tactics………….

      It’s the system that allowed Seanie to do what he did that should be in the dock, not just this fall guy.

      New government, accountability and full enquiry into those at the political and financial centre!

    • drick

      yes, agree totally, it was ny first instinct when i read about it

  33. paddythepig

    You forgot technologists David. They, far more than artists, will sustain an economy. We need to demote economists, speculators, bankers, publicans, car dealers, farmers, estate agents etc .. and invest in technologists. Will we do it? I doubt it.

    You are right about the Irish brand. It has a lot of potential, especially with our American cousins who really love it when they come here. We should start by cleaning up this country top to toe.

    The only Irish writer who I could relate to during the past 10 years was Paul Howard (Ross O’Carroll Kelly). He was fresh and relevant, but not considered high-brow. It’s interesting to me how such work is not considered good enough for literary honours ; there is an intellectual snobbery which overlooks it, dismissing it as pop-art. But I laughed loudly at many of his jokes ; I saw people discuss his books ; my best friend even got quite annoyed one time by his very accurate depiction of a crooked and arrogant estate agent (he was trying to buy a house at the time, circa 2004, and the description cut a bit close to the bone, such was the bullshit he was encountering in his search).

    Seamus Heaney always left me cold. I can’t see the merit in his work, never mind a Nobel prize. Yet he is lauded. Maybe I’m a philistine. He just strikes me as too settled, not pushing out the boat, living in an academic cocoon.

    I’m suspicious of artistic awards consequently. Official Ireland, with it’s ‘artistic national treasures’ – not for me.


    • ps200306

      I’d like to agree with you about hi-tech, being in that sector myself. But the figures don’t bear you out:

      • paddythepig

        How did the Germans and the Japanese succeed after the 2nd world war?

        I use ‘technologist’ in it’s broadest sense.


        • Deco

          They did it by the application of effort. In other words hard work.

          But we are still looking for easy options in this country. We are above such sweaty concepts. The Irish concept is a sacred cow that must not be impinged upon. Even if it means that we will follow the path of the Easter Islanders. Or the Vinlanders in the 15th Century. Too proud to learn and adapt.

          • Deco

            I meant to say “The Irish concept of lifestyle is a sacred cow that must not be impinged upon”.

        • G

          @ paddythepig – The Germans and Japaneses regrouped pretty quickly after the war.

          Berliners for instance were out on the streets the day after Hitler’s suicide reclaiming bricks to rebuild their shattered apartment blocks others worked hard to get basic services back up and running.

          Both socieites were organised in such a way before the war that in some senses people working as a collective came pretty natural to them. Their male poplulations however as we know had been decimated, with many injured soldiers returning from the front, the pressure must have been enormous especially in the very harsh winter of 1946.

          The Allies (mostly the Americans) upped a gear once the outlines of the Cold War starting appearing, industrialists and ‘entrepreneurs’ were courted and ‘rehabilitated’. It was very much realpolitik from the US as they feared the ‘Red Meance’ spreading further Westwards in the case of Germany and also penetrating into Asis in Japan. The US also took many German scientists to work on what became NASA and their atom bomb projects, while former SS men were also ‘shipped’ to the US so that the American military could learn all they could about Soviet tactics, strengths and weaknesses. I saw a figure of 33,000 SS going to the US, but I would have to double check.

          There were also other considerations for the European Recovery Programme, or the ‘Marshall Plan’, the US saw large markets and a rare opportunity to remodel whole socieites in their image. The Plan was basically a $13 billion stimulus and within 4 years all the major European economies were surpassing pre-war levels. The US got back the money in no time through the purchase of Western goods and the payback of war loans (with interest), the negotiations of which on the British side sent J. M. Keynes to an early grave.

          The post-war order and US hegemony was cemented with the Bretton Woods Institutions, which were largely US controlled and funded while bitter wars were fought in Italy and Greece with Western backing to prevent left-leaning governments from emerging, something the Greeks in particular never forgot.

          MacArthur was appointed Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers in Japan (SCAP) while the allies set about rebuilding Germany as a ‘bulwark against communism’ but also as agents of Western capitalism/consumerist socieites – which both countries followed virtually to the letter of the law.

          Unfortunately the Marshall Plan did not benefit Ireland in a major way, had it done, it may well have revolutionised the country a lot earlier and we may have avoided some of the problems we see today. The liberation from ‘sheeplike’ following of State and Church would have been appreciated.

          We were certainly left in the ‘agricultural/comely maiden at the crossroads’ slow lane, but Dev was delighted, so that made everything ok. Industrialisation took another 10-15 years as a consequence.

          The Marshall Plan

          • Deco

            Dev actually tried industrilization in the 1930s. That was what the entire protectionism policy, masterminded at the time by Lemass, was concerned with.

            Frank Aiken, who was left of centre, and DeValera’s Minister for External Affairs annoyed the Americans in the 1950s by siding with the Russians over the recognition of Red China and it’s efforts to get the seat on the UN Security Council. In the process Aiken and Ireland alienated the US, the rest of NATO, and the Vatican. And DeValera, as a consistent advocate in nuetrality, and supsicious of the colonialist elements in Britain, never did anything to censure Aiken.

            At the time Irish foreign policy was very highminded. None of this stuff of the Yanks using Shannon or any of that.

            But even with all the transfers given to Germany, Japan, and later Korea and Taiwan, these societies also developed in the modern sense, as driven by meritocracy and hard work. These were very American values in the mid 20th Century.

            In Ireland we did not participate in this. And this was a missed opportunity. The gombeen element continued to scelp the rest of the population.

          • G

            @ Deco – my understanding is that Dev’s policies in the 1930s were more tainted with nationalism and a desire to keep Ireland ‘pure’ hence the move toward autarky and the subsequent economic war with Britain which set the country back substantially.

            Aiken and Lemass asserted themselves in the post-war period, especially in the 1950s which laid the foundation for industrialisation and growth in the 1960s.

            However, in the late 20s and 30s, Ardnacrusha was a substantial ‘industrial project’ and quite an achievement, Lemass also pushed for the Industrial Credit Corporation to facilitate supplying funds for setting up industry. A number of ‘semi-state’ companies modelled on the success of the ESB were also set up as was Aer Lingus.
            Dev had more success on constitutional matters and negotiating the return of the Treaty ports, which possibly prevented Ireland from being dragged into a wider war.

            As with a lot of things Dev orientated, the record is highly chequered.

    • coldblow

      I think it was Desmond Fennell who said of him: “Whatever you say, say nothing.”

  34. ps200306

    I don’t see art ever making its way except by patronage. Go to our National Concert Hall any night — you’ll get amazing value compared to any of the usual extortionate pop concerts, but even at the low prices they have difficulty getting bums on seats for some events. I can’t see it paying its own way without corporate sponsorship and subsidies via RTE.

    Commercial ventures like Riverdance, on the other hand, can make lots of money but only at the expense of “art”. Riverdance might have been a nice idea for a Eurovision interval, but the commercialised version was run by a few bigwigs who made all the money, fell out and sued each other more than a few times, employed hordes of lackeys who didn’t earn much more than their airfare to international venues, and was so risk averse that everything from the soundtrack to the taps of feet on the floor were pre-recorded. Very few people who were wowed by the “virtuosity” of the live show knew that they were essentially listening to a CD. (Apart from those who noticed the music kept playing when a mic was accidentally knocked over or somesuch). There was even a law suit over whose taps were being used in the recording. Tawdry stuff.

    Historically art relied on the patronage of people with volumes of money gigantic enough to match their egos. The Medici merchants, banksters and financiers, crooked politicians, warmongers, extortionate tax men etc. were the classic example from Rennaissance times. Patronage on that scale is rare in modern times. There’ve been a handful of artists who made enough money to be able to decide their own direction. One of my favourites is the American composer Charles Ives who I count as the foremost innovator in 20th century music (often decades ahead of better known composers) … but his works were rarely performed during his active career, and when they were it was usually because he backed them himself — a luxury he could afford by being a millionaire insurance salesman.

    Ives is probably a good example of how creativity and entrepreneurship can go hand in hand. Riverdance is a good example of how entrepreneurship can kill art.

    • Deco

      It is unfortunate that the McDonalds version of culture is effectively smothering the five star meal version.

      But I cannot see how applying the state’s revenues will fix it. The state interfered directly in the housing market and created a mess, but refused to regulate their own intervention. And the failure to regulate was in effect an intervention.

  35. wills


    NAMA is a banking heist stealing the taxpayers of Ireland of the sum totaling at 55 billion euros.

    • paddyjones

      Nobody likes NAMA but it is a nescessary evil, not even the banks like it as it forces them to make real loses now rather than writing it off over the next ten years. Performing loans will be unaffected cited to be 40% . What you should be more worried about is the recapitalisation of the six institutions we will never see this money again . AT least the NAMA 55 billion will have some sort of payback but it will make a loss no doubt.
      The 55 billion is coming from the ECB at 1.5 % not the taxpayers beit backed by Irish government bonds. The real problem comes when Ireland defaults on its debt , in 2014 the national debt will be 175 billion including NAMA. Thats 44,000 eur for every man woman and child in the state. Now isn’t that one hell of a hole to be in……

      • Blackpigsdyke

        Just to add to the nadir, (you may know this already but just in case), I was informed today that NAMA employees are being seconded from the very banks that put the country into this position in the first place. Lunatic and asylum come to mind!!

      • liam

        Paddy, we will never see most of that 55B again, plus you can factor in another 55B in opportunity cost of this entire adventure, plus recapitalisation to date, plus the wave of personal defaults that are coming plus….

        There is nothing at all necessary about NAMA. Honestly, I really do mean nothing personal about it but I don’t understand how it is possible to propose a credible argument to the contrary unless one is appealing to vaporous notions of “international credibility” or some such other bollocks, especially since we are agreed that Ireland is most likely heading for an actual or a de-facto default.

        Surely you are joking when you suggest that the bankrupt and heavily indebted Irish banks don’t like the idea of Nama? Surely also you are joking when you suggest that actual, real and by any sane and rational accounting standards, performing loans will make it in to Nama?

        Well, perhaps I am being to cynical there and I apologise for that. I know you are merely trying to see the upside. I’m afraid there simply isn’t one, not for Joe Average at any rate. NAMA=THEFT, plain and simple. A coup d’etat that has Ireland’s elected representatives (and by extension every taxpayer) working for the banks and not for the people who voted them in.

      • Tim


        “…not even the banks like it….”

        Lies have been told to you, my friend; the night NAMA was passed in the Dáil vote, they painted the town red, celebrating.

    • wills


      - No evil is necessary this is mind control hogwash.

      - Performing loans are performing loans and so red herring.

      - Recap of the banks is what it is a theft of taxpayers monies.

      - The NAMA 55 billion in freshly minted ready cash will be taking by the banks and never see the light of day. The debt the NAMA cash is built on will be passed onto the irish taxpayer and never be paid.

      - SOvereign debt de fault if it occurs will occur because the banks see a killing in it.

      - the national debt will never be paid only put on the long finger into the far distant future which will never arrive and it is this ‘pile on the debt fantasy’ that the elites use to rob and pillage and plunder the real wealth of this country decade after decade after decade.

      • liam


        Rather more poetic than my take, but agreed nontheless.

        Paddy, seriously, consider what you have said: “…the NAMA 55 billion will have some sort of payback but it will make a loss no doubt”. This is the sort of stuff I used to hear back when I had the patience to pay any attention to the Irish media. Its simply madness to suggest that there is both a return and a guaranteed failure to make a profit from the same enterprise. Bonkers!

  36. ps200306

    Now here’s an idea — make all government data public, from Dáil deputies’ receipts (yeah, I know they cancelled them) to departmental expenditures of every variety.

    If someone lobbied successfully to get the data, I’d work for free on software to publish/analyze it. We could even invent some open government data standards (as is done for data in many other walks of life) to foster open sourcing of new analysis software that would work across many countries and give us a comparative analysis. I think it would be a major innovation in democracy. Maybe we could persuade FG to tag it on to their list of democratic initiatives that they’re proposing to put to a referendum should they be elected (and force the other parties to follow suit in their election promises).

    • liam

      I have expressed before here that I’ve always been of the opinion that Open Government is the key to Ireland’s woes. Gavin Sheridan over at has done some brilliant work on FOI access to some of the sticky details of TD’s expenses and declared interests, that should by default be published and available online as a matter of public record, rather than requiring an individual citizen to extract the information.

      A fantastic article on this very subject right here (via Gavin Sheridan):

        • ps200306

          Excellent links, thanks guys. I had in mind more of the Tim Berners Lee data idea, rather than the John Podesta “who was at what meeting” FOI idea.

          Imagine that when a political party promises the sun, moon and stars at election time, that you could actually cost their ideas for them, based on freely available data. Imagine that when the Minister of Finance goes to the various departments looking for costings on various proposed budget measures, that members of the public have already provided the tools to do it (or indeed the information itself). Imagine being able to do your own property market analysis instead of relying on some gombeen vested interest who swears for the third year in a row that prices have hit rock bottom and “value has returned to the market”.

          • liam

            There could be a substantial positive side to this as well. One could think about the value to different Departments of having unfetted access to each other’s data (imagine the effect this could have on their resource planning) or what kinds of services could be provided by the government and their agencies, or how outsiders could deliver innovations based on a complete understanding of the actual facts.

            Its a bit like how open source software develops. Much of the effort in fact comes from paid up employees of major private companies, serious profit oriented and self-interested organisations, who recognise that the FOSS community and the innovations that emerge from it add value to, rather than compete with, their products. These companies then focus on service and integration, where a centralised, top-down approach is essential and where the most profit is made.

            By opening up the ‘code’ of government, the state can then do what states do best: focus on the complex orchestration and realisation of ideas. But the ideas and innovations themselves can come literally from anywhere. A true empire builder in a Government Department would recognise that this presents an opportunity rather than a threat, it only takes the self confidence to acknowledge that doing things the way they have always been done is no longer an optimal solution.

          • liam

            By the way, I wouldn’t say Podesta and Berners-Lee are presenting alternative visions, I think they are absolutely, fundamentally complimentary.

            To take your market analysis analogy, what if when doing your market analysis, you get to see the results of everybody else’s market analyses, all brokered by the relevant Department as a public service? Now, what if the Government actually uses this data, and sees how it stacks up against their own understanding? This is what I mean by Open Government, or as I prefer, Open Source Government. This starts to look like a truly participatory democracy, rather than the autocracy Ireland currently has.

          • ps200306

            Spot on, on all points, liam.

            Another one that occurred to me — what if we could see the spending splurge at the end of each year as Departments rush to use up their remaining budget on trinkets. Definitely a public service phenomenon from what I’ve heard.

          • ps200306

            The more I think about this the more it seems like it could utterly revolutionise accountable government.

          • ps200306

            We could have a Data Sharing Ombudsman whose job was to ask why such-and-such data was not yet publically available, and mandate a period after which it must be.

          • Bamboo

            Agreed to all. Great points!!!
            All this can indeed change society and the way we live.
            For example In Ireland, the ways housing estates are developed are based on how much money developers and bankers can make. In a way, the consumer has no input in the way the estates are set up or how houses are structured and constructed. There are lots of aspirations by GOV and local bodies to give the consumer choices. But these choices for the consumer are very much like the choices I have for my dinner everyday. Eat or don’t eat. In essence, the consumers are facing the same alternatives. Buy or don’t buy.
            This new direction of data collection and rendering it hopefully will give us all an alternative to the way we can live. Up till now it is defined what is on offer. Commercial players can look into this data and play the game according to what is defined by this data.
            I am adding yet another link in relation to this. It is a good start for collecting worldwide emotional data and rendering it.

            Having said that, there is a big chance that data can go haywire of course, but we will give it that chance. Re: the GOV, I think GOVs will gradually be eliminated from playing a role. For example, see how much we “listen” to what,,, Askaboutmoney have to say about the property market rather than what ESRI has to say.

          • liam

            ps200306, It would revolutionise government, it would revolutionise governance.

            Bamboo, thanks! but must disagree on your last point, Government will be necessary, in fact essential, as the implementer and knowledge broker. If Government is not sold on the benefits of this thing (which for the state are huge) in the first, place, there is no hope of it happening.

          • Bamboo

            I do agree with you that a Government is essential. But I rather think that it needs to be “governed” somehow rather then The Government taking initiative and control.
            Of course, a lot of data can only come from Government controlled bodies like the Gardai, hospital, social centres, etc. And indeed, this data has to be controlled because of protection of private information and the scary threat of a “Big Bother” society.
            I am just observing the way things are developing in Ireland and outside. For the moment, just look at how much (dis)trust the people have in government’s information and national media. How is data actually collected throughout the years? Most likely there is one or a group of people assigned to entering this data in a database. It is likely that entering this data is “sloppy” and therefore unreliable due to work pressure, etc.

            Will Government’s trust ever be restored? Personally I think it is going the natural way through collective action and initiatives from the ground. In my opinion this ground is not the government, not the (main) political parties, church, etc. , but the people.

            On a more optimistic note, there is hope that we will have a Government that is more open. Probably this will be established simply by the natural way information is opening up through new technologies and concepts like the data linking and other examples above.

            BTW: I suggested a “PM” feature in this forum. PM as in “Personal message” so that this forum can stick to its own agenda and people can discuss other topics.

  37. Deco

    The search continues to find suckers to prop up the Irish property market….this time students who get to find out that Irish university grading systems are supportive. And they might even develop life long addictions to be delusional, to drinking stout (being politically correct so as to not offend people from Cork), and maybe even learn how to play golf on all those golf course that are not as filled as they used to be.

    Should we tell them that the country is run by the maFFia ??

  38. Deco

    This country’s serial tendency to go from crisis to delusions of granduer back to crisis will only end…..

    when there is an serious and unpreventable outbreak of common sense.

    I don’t think I need to say anymore. And that is not going to be allowed to happen. In fact every other option will be tried first. For the sake of pride and the obsession with self importance.

    So, everyone, look should just batten down the hatches, let the madness pass, and make sure that you will be able to look after themselves and their own relatives when all the delusions have ended.

    • liam

      Agreed however, This country’s serial tendency… This tends to create in the mind the idea that we can’t sort this mess out because simply by virtue of being Irish, we lack the capacity. Personally I find it instructive to consider that Ireland is certainly not the only country with such problems. I entirely agree delusions need to be ended, the above being chief amongst them.

      • Deco

        Ireland is a property-ponzi scheme, political patronage ponzi-scheme, lifestyle driven debt mountain. Ireland is not alone. But Ireland is a really bad example. There is an acronym for countries in this state of excessive leverage.

        STUPID. Spain Turkey Uk Ireland Portugal Dubai. And to get into ‘STUPID’, you need to have a lot STUPID people, doing a lot of STUPID things, for all sorts of STUPID reasons, all propelled on a STUPID trajectory, led by a leadership that is enthusiastically STUPID. This applies to Ireland and all the others in STUPID.

        We are borrowing 200 Million Euro a week, on some sort of climbdown from the financial addiction of recent years. We are still on a STUPID trajectory, as a fully fledged member of STUPID.

  39. finbarr

    A cruelty is not been stuck on the fence but rather to actually see yourself sitting there. If you really need to be loved get off the fence and do something to be loved for…

  40. paddywhack

    Fintan O’ Toole on NPR here stateside yesterday :

  41. paulmcd

    Did any of you observe the following headline on the front page of today’s Independent: Top bankers face quiz after FitzPatrick arrest

    The first question in the quiz will be: What is the capital of Ireland?

    Answer: Doublin’ (minus €3 bn, minus €6 bn, minus €12 bn, . . . ad infinitum et ad nauseam, etc, etc; sorry, cannot reveal the final amount as it is “sub judice”)

  42. Roped & Necked & CO

    Tonsils are swelling along the Liffey today and with daily higher rising tides bookies are betting which bridge will be chosen for The Pantheon .

  43. coldblow


    I wonder did you ever read McCarthy’s Bar. There’s a wonderful image in it of the tourists having fun in Durty Nelly’s at Bunratty while the locals meet up in the fake bar in the theme park instead.

    You have yourself noted that the Irish have cast off their language, and the North, and appear to be shedding their religion also and in that sense they are very modern, or postmodern, or whatever. They don’t seem to have a distinctive cuisine of their own (strip a menu of all the flowery waffle and what are you left with?), their riverine towns (as Myers noted) face away from the river, their beer has no room for Germanic rheinheit notions. The forests have all gone. The cultural highlight of rural life is bingo while the 2 car lifestyle there is that of US suburbia. They are changing their language (the Great South Dublin Phonic Shift). Little is left of their original Gaelic culture but the cupla focal and some formulaic scraps of béaldoideas mouldering in the archives. They are dependent on their nearest neighbours for sport and entertainment. They put no value on their sovereignty. In short they are possibly the first plastic nation on earth.

    And yet, and yet. Despite the fact that the core has been hollowed out the appearance still remains along with an amorphous disembodied genius for telling tales and spoofing, for deluding themselves and others. For entertainment. (I still rmember a ne’er do well neighbour of ours in suburban SE London, a Dubliner, keeping an entire queue in stitches in the local Co-op supermarket.) There’s a distinctive world brand, which includes arts and literature, and the rest of the world seems all too happy to buy into it.

    So I support you in your Farmleigh endeavours. Someone has to get the balls rolling.

  44. Deco

    For those that wonder where Alan “Bubbles” Greenspan stands on all of this….

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