Humans: Still digging trenches

Exactly 100 years ago this month humans were digging trenches in France in preparation for a war that was to kill millions.

Exactly 100 years later humans are digging trenches outside the city of Mariupol in preparation for full scale war.


The evolution of the human brain is slow, too slow to ensure the survival of the species.

Garda Inspectorate: Not to be trusted?

I laughed last week when I turned on the radio and heard somebody say (yet again) that the country/economy had turned a corner.

I laughed even more when I listened to the Garda Inspectorate, Robert Olsen; tell the nation that the recent ‘problems’ within our police force was nothing more than a ‘systems failure’. (Morning Ireland, Thursday 13 March).

Clearly, Mr. Olsen is a newcomer to Ireland and is therefore completely unaware of how obnoxious that particular phrase is to the people of Ireland.

For decades we’ve heard the phrase trotted out to explain the rampant corruption within practically every department of government.

We’ve heard it used to cover up and facilitate the widespread (and still ongoing) theft by banks and other financial institutions of countless millions from the State and customers.

We’ve heard it used to explain away the child abuse holocaust and subsequent cover up perpetrated by the Catholic Church.

And now, Mr. Olsen wants us to believe that the widespread corruption within our police force is nothing more than a ‘systems failure’.

In common with all those who have used this obnoxious and insulting excuse in the past, Mr. Olsen is talking bullshit.

And although Mr. Olsen is only new to our corrupt culture it seems he has already become adept at defending those who operate within that corrupt culture.

Here’s a portion of the interview he gave on Morning Ireland in which he was clearly caught out but still managed, in the great Irish tradition of calling a spade a shovel, to wriggle out of an awkward situation.

Your report says it was mismanagement (not corruption) how did you arrive at that conclusion.

The Garda Inspectorate’s remit is not about investigating wrong doing. We did an inspection of the processes and we didn’t go into and it’s not our role to do investigations of individual incidents that may or may not have been more than mismanagement.

If it’s not your job to find out whether there was corruption or not, how can you say that there wasn’t corruption?

Well I can say it because that’s not what we had looked for.

You’re saying it’s not your job to look for it?

It was a systems failure.

If it wasn’t corruption, was it incompetence?

Well, I think it’s mismanagement, we’re very clear on mismanagement and you can take that wherever you want.

So lets’ just focus on one particular answer give my Mr. Ollsen to see if there’s any logic whatsoever to his reply

Question: If it’s not your job to find out whether there was corruption or not, how can you say that there wasn’t corruption?

Answer: Well I can say it because that’s not what we had looked for.

No, not a shred of logic to that answer; does not make sense in any manner or form. So it seems that Mr. Olsen has cottoned on to another great Irish tradition – whatever you say, say nothing and, of course, that’s exactly what Mr. Olen was saying – nothing.

And when somebody like Mr. Olsen says nothing he is, effectively, supporting his boss the Minister for Justice and Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan.

And in supporting these men, who clearly have many questions to answer, Mr. Olsen is in danger of placing himself and his office in the same place as every other so-called regulatory/advisory agency in this country – on the side of the system rather than the side of objective analysis.

Mr. Olsen’s loyalty to his boss was confirmed at the end of the interview when he was asked did he think the whistleblowers were vindicated.

He refused to give a straight answer. Now let’s be clear here, there is absolutely no problem with Mr. Olsen simply expressing what is a clear fact, what every reasonable person believes – that these brave whistleblowers are indeed vindicated men.

The fact that he refused to give a straight answer suggests that Mr. Olsen is reluctant to cause any offence to his boss, the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter.

By refusing to give a straight answer it seems that Mr. Olsen is faithful to another great Irish tradition – loyalty to the boss, to the system, above all else.

Mr. Olsen is new to his job, he’s new to this country but Irish citizens should not rest easy in their minds that he is loyal to their interests.

His use of the discredited ‘systems failure’ excuse and his loyalty to his boss make him, at the very least, suspect.

Copy to:

Robert Olsen
Alan Shatter
Martin Callinan


Very funny letter in today’s Irish Times

Cannes heist


One of your Front page stories (July 29th) deals with the €40 million jewel heist at the Carlton Hotel in Cannes. We are told that the hotel had been hosting a “temporary” exhibition of jewels.

It’s hard to argue with that.

Yours etc,

Pat O’Brien
Dublin 6

Snooker battle

There was great excitement and tension at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield this evening as Judd Trump and Shaun Murphy battled it out for a place in the semi-finals of the World Snooker Championship.

Both combatants swapped frame for frame right down to the wire of the last frame.

Coverage was due to end at 6 pm for those without a red button but, thankfully, someone in the BBC had the good sense to continue broadcasting.

Judd Trump, my favourite, just pulled it off setting himself up for another battle with the most talented snooker player ever, Ronnie O’Sullivan.

Should be great entertainment.

Richard III and the power of science

From a historical point of view the discovery of the remains of king Richard III is fascinating.

But what really impresses me is the role played by science in the discovery.

Meticulous scientific research, the scientific process of rebuilding an accurate face from a skull and the amazing accuracy of Carbon 14 dating to mention just some of the great powers of science.

I just can’t resist comparing the power of science with the ‘power’ of religion.

If all the priests in all the world had prayed every day for the last 500 years asking ‘god’ to show them where the king was buried he would still be lying undiscovered under a Leicester city carpark.

Channel 4 documentary here.

Smokers unite!

From the Attic Archives.

Irish Examiner: Letters to the Editor: 14th June 2003.

Which publican will refuse to serve a smoker?


Thank God for the call for debate by the Vintners Federation of Ireland on Health Minister Michael Martin’s tomfollery as to whether informed adults can or cannot have a smoke with their pint or glass of wine.

Does the minister seriously expect any publican to refuse an adult a pint if he or she lights up?

Is he going to inspect every pub for ventilation?

I have 28 air changes per hour in my pub and dining room. Any more would seriuously interfere with ladies’ hairstyles or gents’ toupees.

Neither I nor any other adult smoker would dream of going on holiday to a country where an after-dinner citarette, cigar or pipe was declared illegal.

Even the Taliban allowed this liberty.

Vincent Keaney

Louis Walsh's money

John Meagher thinks that Louis Walsh should donate his €500,000 to charity. Fair enough, it’s an opinion.

But Mr. Meagher is being a touch arrogant when he justifies his suggestion on the basis that Mr. Walsh is wealthy.

Just because somebody is wealthy does not mean they should be subjected to moral pressure as to how they should dispose of that wealth.

His boniness Sir Bono is humbled by the generosity of Irish taxpayer's

So there was Sir Bono the Great enjoying a midnight swim – naked – while partying in the South of France.

He was joined by a naked Catherine Mayer (now Time Europe editor and the journalist who recently put Enda Kenny’s face on Time Magazine).

Also present, and also naked, was rock singer Michael Hutchence, now deceased.

Bono had never met Mayer before and when told she was a journalist said:

Please write that mine (his Bono?) is bigger than Michael’s.

Well it seems that his Greatness is still strutting around displaying his ‘Bono’ to anyone willing to pay due homage to his enormous ego.

We’re told Enda Kenny was granted an audience with his boniness last year to ‘discuss affairs of state’, no less.

Apparently, his Greatness is willing to sacrifice some of his valuable time to act as an ambassodor for Ireland.

He would of course have to ‘serve’ his country from his base in Holland where he operates comfortably as a tax exile.

All the same his Greatness is very impressed and indeed humbled by the incredible generosity of ordinary Irish citizens who, despite suffering severe economic pain (and paying very high taxes, don’t forget the taxes) are still willing to contribute generoulsly to the overseas aid budget.

Comedian Jack Whitehall, on a recent edition of the excellent BBC comedy panel quiz QI, neatly summed up his boniness as follows:

He’s been going around for the last twenty years with his head up his arse.

I couldn’t agree more.