This possible €13Bn in taxes from Apple is beginning to cause no end of bother. First the EU stabbed our fawning Government in the back by demanding Ireland demand the dough from the biggest company on earth. 

Feeling a tad miffed, Baldy Noonan as much as told Europe to fuck off and instead, cuddled up to Tim Cook and Apple. As a result, this country and Apple are taking a formal case against the initial competition ruling. So the lines are drawn and everyone is clear what they're doing?

Well, not exactly. Apparently Tim Cook was under oath recently back in the States as he was questioned closely about Apple's Irish tax arrangement. In the course of this he reputedly said, “We negotiated a tax rate which meant that our tax was calculated at less than 2%.” The real question of course is, two per cent of what exactly? Is it 2% of all the profits shifted over to Ireland from many different countries or is it 2% of the profits generated from sales here. The article doesn't say.

In theory then it could be two per cent of some loss or negative figure but that's not the real news. This morning, none other than Revenue chairman Niall Cody put the cat among the pigeons. Referring to Cook's statement under oath, our Niall said that, "Tim Cook was “wrong” to claim, while under oath in the US, a tax deal had been struck with this country." (Loud whistle!!!). Not only that bombshell though, our Niall had more to say. "Regardless of the appeal, Revenue must retrieve the €13bn in funds and has been asked by the EU to provide, by January 2, an exact figure of how much is owed." 

Well, isn't that a fine how-do-you-do? Our Government intends to vigorously deny Apple owes us the money while the Government's right arm, the Revenue, intends to squeeze the dough out of Apple starting January next year. Meanwhile Apple is swearing they don't owe it and the EU swears they do. The rest of us, I suppose, are just swearing as usual. 



So our Lords and Masters are flogging off as many of our national assets as they can, some of the proceeds of which will doubtless trickle into their party coffers in preparation for the next election, (because there's always a next election).

Enda's blue shirts barely got across the line the last time out and a motley crew of unlikely allies had to be cobbled together to ensure they kept their jobs. The current arrangement for governing Ireland is precarious and unstable but they did sneak a budget through so we'll see.

But the Mayo Moron is back, coming on all statesmanlike, as he gazes benevolently down on his adoring flock. He even used the "M" word the other day. Yup! Enda says he has a mandate from us to rule. Of course he didn't get it from me and if you are reading this then I doubt he got it from you either. But let's give the old bluffer the benefit of the doubt and say he has it, (for now).

I've mentioned in the past that the only jobs a politician does is make laws and do anything for re-election. They serve no other purpose. For years I have felt we have enough laws to go around  so we no longer require a Government. Once a law is on the books they tend to be damned hard to rub out, don't they.

Then I had a lightbulb moment. Why not only permit a law to remain in place as long as the mandate of that lawmaker is valid? Any law enacted by any Government should only last as long as the tenure of that Government. As soon as they are kicked out, the law is scratched. There is some logic and not a good bit of common sense to this idea. Politicians would be a lot more careful drafting laws that are unpopular with the people for one thing. The five year mandate can end with calls for an early election. But wouldn't it be beautiful is all of Enda's pointless laws went with him. The next crowd would have to start again and try to get it right or they too could be "Enda-d."

This brings up another delicious project as well. Just say one Government sells Irish Rail for example. Regardless of what's paid for it by the new owners, their ownership ends abruptly as soon as that Government falls. You see, all political decisions while in power are nullified by losing that power. The mandate ends and with it go the decisions made during that mandate. The clock is back to zero as it were. 

This is particularly pertinent while the fate of Irish Water hangs there. We're not paying for it and the Government say they can't. If you're a politician, the easy way out would be to offload it to a foreigner, pocket the cash and throw your hands up in despair saying, "There's nothing we can do about it now!" But is the decision died with their mandate then we simply take it back as soon as the offenders are voted out.

Look at it another way. Why should a party and its leader get in for a term, make stupid decisions before we realise we were mistaken to elect them and then when they sail off with their bloated pensions, the rest of us have to honour those bad decisions? There's hardly a single decision were make in our lives that's carved in granite, is there?  So we tell Nestle or whoever comes calling that, yes, Irish Water is a license to print money and yes, they can have it for almost fuck-all. But if the idiot who sold it to them is dumped unceremoniously out of office, then the Irish take back their asset. We can't say fairer than that! We could do the same with the land sold by NAMA to the gougers.

It would make voting for a Government a far less stressful occasion for all of us, it would make our Lords and Masters more prudent and it would keep the vulture funds away too. We might even have to solve our own problems ourselves. That'd be novel!




There's a letter writer in Dublin who plagues the pages of the broadsheets with what can only be described as Government propaganda. A Mr A. Leavy is the ultimate in political correctness who is quick to slap down any criticism of the establishment. I have read his utterances now for years and actually have silently agreed with some of his points. But then this morning in the "Examiner," he presents the so-called Irish bailout in terms I'm not letting him away with.

In response to a letter by another contributor, A. Leavy writes, "He also left out the fact that when this country was bankrupted by the decisions of a small number of its own most powerful citizens, the taxpayers of other EU countries, some of them poorer than us, contributed to an €85bn bailout in 2010." This of course, is the official story put about be those in charge and it has been bleated almost constantly since by our own Government lest we think something else happened.

Well, something else did happen. Pre-2008, European banks in Germany and France were awash with saver's money and banks don't make money themselves on deposits. Banks make their profits on loans so that was the first thing to understand about the collapse and subsequent alleged bailout. Up to the early noughties, Irish banks did not borrow from Europe. But word got out here about the cash mountain and Anglo-Irish Bank in Dublin duly made enquiries. That was the second thing to understand. Mainland European banks were willing and able to loan of own banks as much as they liked at preferable rates and that started the rot. It was banks lending to banks and no Governments, (or ordinary people), had anything to do with that. It was an outbreak of banking recklessness.

With access to what seemed like a bottomless pit of money, our bankers went looking for big borrowers. Enter the builders and developers and contracts flew around like confetti. Loans were taken out to pay the interest on other loans and the whole thing went mad. The theory was that it was all too big to fail, the mantra was build it and they will come and the belief was that property would always go up in price. So the German banks kept giving and out home grown go-boys kept taking. That feeble Fianna Fail Government were delighted because tax monies were flowing in without any effort from them but they did not have any control over any of it. It was happening despite them. The bank regulator was asleep and never raised alarms so the Celtic Tiger purred on.

The pyramid had to come crashing down because the bubble could not continue to inflate forever. Houses that cost €100,000 to build were selling for €500,000 and were clearly overpriced no matter what people thought. The day of reckoning happened when the panicked Irish bankers secretly met out Government and told them they were broke on paper. The gamble had exploded, there was nobody paying back their debts and the anxious Germans were beginning to demand they loan repayments. 

We need to understand that banks, both national and central, are private companies and even the EU itself in at the mercy of the ECB. Governments have no control over their currencies and that is the great evil at the heart of modern capitalism. We were up to our necks in it with nowhere to turn. That was the moment that Brian Cowen and his front bench had the chance to ditch the existing irish banks, dissolve the Irish Central Bank and set up a State bank to guarantee an amount of deposits. Instead, they opted to bailout the existing banks. That started the real rot and we're still feeling that decision eight years later. In Iceland, they jailed their bankers and in Ireland, we rewarded them. But that was never going to be the end of it. While the banks had the State guarantee behind them and billions transferred from the exchequer to the bank vaults, (so to speak), there were bigger fish to fry.

Banks are the ultimate business. All other enterprises expend time and effort in order to make money. They borrow to invest to make profits. Banks however, create all the money and I mean 'create.' Banks uniquely create money out of nothing and this process is called, "Bringing money into existence." They have the levers to increase or decrease the money supply at any given time of their choosing so that they can squeeze or inflate as suits them. Central banks regularly bring money into existence that was not there before and your local bank also does the same when you apply for a loan or mortgage. They don't have it for you so they simply make it up. The only "REAL" money in the economy is that which is traded for real work. Not mistake then that this is the money the banks get paid back in return for their illusory money.

As regards the bailout, we have been led to believe that the EU countries bailed Ireland out of a financial problem and that is not what happened at all. The EU 'Instructed," Ireland to accept a staggering set of loans from private banks, (The ECB & IMF), and give that money to our banks. The IMF, (another private bank), and the European Central Bank, (private), effectively got their fellow bankers here out of trouble by corrupting the EU politicians to force the Irish to socialize a private debt because the alternative would have been the collapse of private banks around the world. The Irish banks then returned the imaginary money to an imaginary account in Europe to balance the bank's books. So my gripe with A. Leavy centers around his statement, "The taxpayers of other EU countries, some of them poorer than us, contributed to an €85bn bailout in 2010." They didn't Anthony. The ECB invented nonexistent money, made it end up with our banks in return for real money that was worked for by the Irish taxpayer. It was a scam from start to finish but on an enormous scale. It was daylight robbery and what our politicians are guilty of is their complicity in this robbery of the Irish taxpayer by the banking sector at home and abroad. 

I don't ever want to hear that word "Bailout," again!


I come from an era where the church and the pub were the centre of Irish society. The centrality of both goes back centuries and every single person partook in one or the other and more often both of them. Morality, family values and good behavior were themes of the church while entertainment, sport and human interaction were the function of the public house. In the church we listened and in the pub we talked. The majority of us attending either venue came from, what was known as, a good home.

An uneasy balance always existed between the authoritarian church and the looser arrangement of the pub. Church elders often visited the pub while publicans almost always attended the church. The church closed the pubs on Good Friday, Christmas Day and during what they described as the holy hour. Sermons heard in the church were vigorously discussed in the pub giving way to a saying back then, Don't bring up sex, politics or religion." We all dressed up for the church and wore what we liked to the pub. They were two ends of the same society stick basically. The church was selling guilt and a conscience and the pub was selling freedom and a carefree time. 

Today, both institutions are on their way out. I drop into churches at odd times on weekdays and can attest that they are empty, save a few committed saints. Equally, I drop into pubs at odd times on weekdays and they too are empty, save a few committed boozers. Nobody prays anymore but they're still drinking. The question is, how and where? To understand this twin social phenomena, we should understand that this is not the product of natural societal evolution but rather an example of dark social engineering, devised for a yet unstated purpose. 

The church in Ireland has been mainly the author of its own destruction though not solely to blame. Scandals involving sexual antics by clerics with the very young were bound to rock their steely grip on us and their amazing lack of reaction completed the rout. But the church was always more than big buildings with black and white people in them. The church was about what we believed in, how we conducted ourselves together and it shaped our attitudes to others as well. In essence, it was about what we actually are as a people. Remember faith, hope and charity? They meant something to believe in, a hope for the future and being kind to those around you, all as a way of life. None of that is in fashion any longer. For a period of celtic tiger time the sole belief was money and riches. When that failed spectacularly, the whole edifice of belief splintered into causes such as gay marriage and other liberal agenda items that had always simmered. We did have a collective belief one time also and it was centered on things getting better all around. That's gone badly backwards. And we no longer treat each other anything like as kindly as before

The disappearance of the pub from our culture is down to attacks on all sides for this venerable institution. Smokers anecdotally made up half of the regulars and they were just kicked out. Then drink driving laws were changed and enforced to prevent people coming and going to all but the nearest pub. Government and publican greed conspired to drive prices of alcohols through the roof then and the puritan brigade were out in force shortly afterwards. The puritans urged public health to drive a carriage and four through the public house and this spawned sensible consumption figures for the individual which had no basis in reality. When all of the above together began to lower consumption nationwide, the puritans were still not satisfied. Acknowledging the huge drop in alcohol sales they nevertheless invented a new problem. They said we'd taken to binge drinking, defined as three or more drinks in a single sitting. 

Our human nature has not radically changed in any of this and people are still getting their "highs," somewhere. There is a cocktail of pharmaceutical solutions available for just that. The off-trade in alcohol has flourished and now counts for over half of all sales in that sector. And drug use is so common nowadays as to be hardly worthy of mention. Gambling is the new addiction among the young and social media is another one. In the absence of real lives in the pubs and churches, people have instead opted for virtual lives on-line from the comfort and isolation of their own homes. High on substances, they can pretend to be something or someone else. Lonely for contact they are willing to engage with faceless nobodies they mistakenly call 'friends.' That, it seems to me, is as good as it gets for the young.

For the older generation, society today is unrecognizable. Lying and cheating are the common currency now and it is all done brazenly and without embarrassment. Stealing and dishonesty is carried out routinely by the State and everyone just accepts it. Friendships are hollow and trust a thing of the past. Knowing your neighbor could invite the accusation of invading their privacy. People are alone and worse still, they feel very alone. The media peddle fear and uncertainty about everything around us and public health scammers scream risk from the rooftops. We don't congregate in the chutes or pubs anymore to discuss these things face to face. Instead, we are each forced to be islands as the State regards us as economic units, business sees us as prey and everywhere we turn, there are hands reaching for what's left in our pockets. We have become hunted slaves and we don't even get together to organize any collective response to it. Divide and conquer was always the motto of the Imperial invader and I'd add to that today the word 'isolate.' 

I miss the central position of the church in our lives and I miss the influence of the pub too. Their combined demise left a vacuum which has been filled by confusion, mistrust, greed, anger, confusion, dread and isolation. The Western World, led by the US, is veering towards fascism and some form of "One World Order." Divide and Conquer is institutionalized and Democracy in any sense of the word has become a vague smokescreen. The real people behind this will get away with it too because they've put in place the denial of the right to free association by other methods. Right has become wrong and vice versa, standards are non-existent and the workplace is patrolled by the jackboots of HR and ruthless management behind them. Humiliation is common and fear of the risky unknown shrouds us all.

The modern world is truly depressing and I see no hope that the young are capable of changing it for the better. I see no evidence either that they have the brainpower or willpower to do so.


It is a question we could all ask ourselves. But it suggests the existence of an absolute definition and to some extent, there could be truth in it. So, I am a man and the only way I can see that ever changing is if I wanted a sex change, and I don't.

I am a man who enjoys a beer and in some quarters, that makes me a "drinker." But there was a time that I didn't touch alcohol and who knows, maybe that time will return. I hope not. I also smoke between five and fifteen cigarettes every day too and am often accused of being a "Smoker." The term smoker, is often spat out rather than spoken and is there to denote some kind of social leprosy that I am blighted with which makes it necessary to shun me at every opportunity.

At an average of ten cigarettes a day at four minutes spent smoking each one, I'm a smoker for 40 out of the 1,440 minutes in every day. So for 2.8% of everyday, I am a smoker or to put it another way, for 97.2% of everyday, I am a non-smoker. But I am a Father 100% of the time.

I only drink on the weekends and even then, not for 24 hours a day. But I concede that I spend longer than 40 minutes on Saturday alone drinking beer. That would make me more of a drinker than a smoker then. But, I work 40 hours a week and that would make me more of a worker than a drinker. And I spend far more time writing each week so maybe I'm a writer and not a worker after all.

Come to think of it, I used to travel a minimum of 1,000 miles a week in the car, but as that took only about 25 hours a week behind the wheel, I was more of a worker than a driver. I know a Mother of two very young children who tells me she spends twenty hours a day minding them. Does that make her a babysitter?

And what about toilet habits? I 'pee' four times a day, every single day, but I would not describe myself as a pisser, or something even worse. I do a lot of talking as well, both at work and at home and even sometimes in the pub at weekends. In terms of time spent, I am probably more of a talker than anything else. I even talk in my sleep, or so I've been told.

But in the current unenlightened climate it is the smoker moniker that is the one most used. "Johnny smokes," is a term I have overheard so many times as a description of who and what I am. If I had a medical degree, I'm sure they would say, "John is a Doctor," probably denoting the direct opposite to a smoker too. Having said that, my GP was a smoker some of the time as well?

Anyway, for the purposes of clarity, should you be asked if this  author and spokesperson for Forest Eireann is a smoker, remember that I am not smoker 97.2% of the time. Instead, you could, as my family like to do and simply say, "He's a langer."


The Apple tax issue has thrown up a far more interesting question. The ruling was a "Competition Ruling," not a tax ruling and it is vital to understand the difference between the two.

What the recent ruling is not saying is that our rate of corporation tax is too low because that would be a tax ruling and in the EU, it is up to every country to set their own rates of taxation. What that ruling is really saying though, is that Apple paid a lower rate than all of the other resident multi-nationals here and this special treatment of one company, according to them, amounted to unfair state aid. 

In effect, they are saying that if we choose to offer Apple a zero-rate or tax-free status then that's fine as long as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Intel, IBM, Pfizer, Eli Lilly and all of the rest of them are offered the same tax free status. Margrethe Vestager said as much in her announcement. Competition rulings seek to give multi-nationals a level playing field in theory, thus ensuring that one does not have a false unfair advantage over another. 

That's okay in theory and if properly applied, the supermarket chains would have no advantage over the corner shop. But we know that whenever the big supermarket moves in, the corner shops begin to close down. The theory and the practice become substantially at variance with each other. You see, the bigger guy has the money and buys in volume so he has more clout. The supermarket chain tells the supplier what it will pay for their produce, not the other way around, and if the supplier doesn't play ball with that, they too are out of business. It's the economies of scale in action.

So we know and understand that the bigger pockets always get the better deal because that reality lies at the core of economics. They buy in large quantities and pay lower unit prices in return. As a result, we now have farmers associations complaining that the supermarkets are dictating what they produce and what price they'll get for it. In economics it is called the, "Power in the chain," meaning the supply chain. The middleman supermarket has the power in the produce/buyer equation.

The bigger guy therefore will always secure the preferential deal and while I do not know the details, I have no doubt that the big global names who have settled their European headquarters in Ireland will all have made the best deal they can for themselves, Apple included. So this competition ruling is a moral one rather than a legal or business one. It is the expressed ideal that in a utopia of fairness and equitability, everyone will pay and get an equal share. That is a fine ideal as long as you also admit it will never happen. 

But what is true for supermarkets and corner shops is also true for big countries in relation to small countries. Don't tell me that Ireland is on a level playing pitch with Germany or France because we are not. We are surrounded by ocean, have unfavorable weather, a poor business and social infrastructure, low population and we suffer because of our remoteness from the marketplace. As we learned from the banking (rip-off) crisis, being a member of the EU changes none of that. Far from being bailed out by them we were shackled with crippling debt for generations to come. Europe's big boys simply got together and picked Ireland as the fall guy to protect their own interests. The only interest Ireland received was the massive interest from debts imposed on us. German banks gambled away their money and lost with the result that the Irish taxpayer was told to bail them out. That is what really took place after the dust had settled.

And now those same European faces are back accusing us of being unfair for trying to stimulate economic growth, against the odds, in order for us to raise the necessary funds to meet that debt imposed on us by those same European faces. Our then Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan, was ordered by the EU to accept the ahem, bail-out. He was ordered to bail out our banks so that they in turn could bail-out so many European banks. These same guys are now lecturing us now on fairness!!

One of those faces is in our newspapers this morning. The Frenchman, Pierre Moscovici, is having a good old laugh at our expense as you can see. But he is also upping the stakes. Now that the moral position has been taken by a competition ruling, old Pierre Moscovici wants a, "Tax Ruling," to match it. He's making a list and checking it twice, gonna find out who's naughty or nice and then he intends to shaft us again. This  European commissioner for tax affairs has spotted an opportunity for his native France and he promises to establish a, “European black list of tax havens,” to tackle tax evasion within their borders. Doubtless the lad is hoping that all the big Yankee boys here will up stumps and re-locate to France where a secretive Renault-style tax deal can be done with them one-by-one, depending on their planned level of investment over there of course. Apart from the obvious acclaim the French might drench him in, why would the lad do such a thing to us?

Well, for one thing, why not? The unelected bastard knows he can do it and get away with it, Ireland collapses and our few remaining assets go up for sale to the lowest foreign bidder via NAMA and, who knows, perhaps he sees sufficient civil strife in the wake of all that to warrant French soldiers marching down Ireland's streets. Who'd stop him? We certainly couldn't do a damn thing about it and if he had EU backing, we needn't expect any help from our so-called partners. You may think this a fanciful scenario just now but if I'd told you in the nineties that the US was going to tear the Middle-East wide open, you would not have believed that either. We need to get real. We are a mere four and a half million inconsequential people on a small remote island off Europe's shores. A few centuries back they let us starve in a famine. The Irish were considered as pure cannon fodder in times of war and I suggest that in times of peace we are not considered at all.

That, my friends, is why we have learned to box cleverly. David McWilliams put it succinctly this week when he said that 90 per cent of all of our exports come from the multi-nationals here. Any country's viability depends on the relationship between their imports and exports. The more of the latter you have the better off you are. Take away 90 per cent of our exports and Ireland as an entity is not viable. Apple led the way into Ireland in 1980 and could just as easily lead the way out in 2017. Henry Kissinger famously said, "If I want to talk to Europe, who do I call?" Boardrooms in the States look at Europe and then at the biggest of their own breed, Apple. If Ireland is good enough for Apple, they say to themselves, then it's good enough for us too.

Before the last election, officials here hinted that any tampering with the relationship we have with our multi-national guests would be a red-letter issue in short order. In plain-speak that means, we would pull out of the EU rather than risk our guests pulling out of here. The proposed CCCTB or common consolidated corporate tax base for Europe is a case of the big countries bullying the small ones in the interests of the former. 

In an earlier article, I pointed out that we Irish never had an industrial revolution but when we began to attract the big Pharmas and IT giants, we suddenly had an industrial revolution, albeit a couple of centuries late. How would France or Germany have reacted had their industrial revolution been halted all those years ago? If it had happened, then theses countries today would be poor, uneducated agricultural wastelands and may not even have successfully unified. 

So it is ironic, given our fawning and unwavering support for the EU, that they should now go for the jugular so soon after mercilessly beating us senseless with their so-called bail-out. I am only glad that finally, an Irish Government has the balls to stand up to them on our behalf. So far, Michael Noonan has only kicked for touch by opting for a session in the European Court of Justice. It ties up the Apple issue for five years and I bet he's hoping for the breathing room necessary to defuse things before they really blow up and we're given no choice. 

However, in the light of current utterances from the continent, BREXIT is beginning to make more sense. It would not surprise me one bit to hear that Dublin is considering its own exit strategy should all hell break loose. There will have to be a plan B after all.



I think it is fair to say that the average female is more law-abiding than the male. For example, a male is more likely to exceed the speed limit than his female counterpart. This is not to say that men are lawless. Rather, they tend to be more ah, flexible when it comes to the letter of the law.

I could speculate that women, as the physically weaker sex, may be more inclined to view the law and the forces of law and order as their protectors. In this regard, the sentiments of a Mother may be even more pronounced. While Dad may protect the home and property, Mom will always see to the children first. 

If the above is true, then it may seem peculiar that is by and large it is men who make and enforce the laws, including the rules of the road. Perhaps in time this will change but I suggest the beginning of such a change is well under way, albeit from an unusual angle.

Under the heading, "Mother hits out at delay in reforming drink-drive laws," the Examiner yet again, features a crusading Mother who lost her 24-year-old son in a car accident. For the last seven years, Christina Donnelly has campaigned relentlessly to have drivers held accountable for their actions, especially in the case of drink or drug drivers. Her proposal, called after her son, Brendan's Law, demands that drink drivers convicted of causing death be put off the road until they appear before the courts, for a minimum six- to nine-year jail sentence upon conviction, with no early release for good behaviour. Christina wants to lock 'em up and throw away the key. And before you say it is only a grieving Mother venting her frustration, she has already made Ends Kenny agree to introduce "Brendan's Law," and she's meeting Minister for Transport, Shane Ross next week.

In a similar vein, another grieving Mother is on the warpath having lost her daughter Amanda in a crash near Cobh, Co Cork, in 2012. It emerged at her inquest that gardaí later identified serious defects in her 4×4’s rear suspension which made it not roadworthy. In Paula Murphy's case, she maintains that the standard of the NCT must be severely increased to ensure nothing like this ever happens again. Both women profess a deep caring for every other road user and are only on their respective hobbyhorses for the common good. 

The point though is, I do not agree with either of them, however unpopular it may be to say so. In criminal law there is a clear distinction between murder and manslaughter with appropriate punishments for both. Appropriate is the operative word here. Manslaughter is an accidental incident, one that is not pre-meditated. There is an implication that the drunk driver not only caused Brendan to die but planned to do so in advance. Similarly in the case of Amanda, there is an implication that some NCT tester wanted her dead and I do not believe either to be the case. 

We have a problem with accepting risk in our modern society and this is particularly true of accidents. Each year in the USA, an average of 450 people fall out of bed to their deaths. While this may at first appear confusing to you dear reader, it is nevertheless the statistic. Is the bed-maker at fault for this? Should beds be banned in favour of sleeping on the floor? Perhaps laws should be introduced to determine the height of all beds and the flooring material used beside them to break a potential fall? If so, the stairway in the home must become a thing of the past surely? But those 450 people did not wake with an urge to commit suicide? 

These unfortunate incidents are accidents and nothing else. I do not agree with drunk driving nor do I know the detailed background of the accident that Brendan was involved in. But what I do know is, if a Garda smells alcohol at the scene of a car accident, then whoever has consumed it is assumed to be the party at fault. The other driver may have been speeding down the wrong side of the road but that is considered immaterial. One pint of beer puts you over the legal limit but does not make you actually drunk. 

In the same vein, the 4X4 at the centre of the other accident had passed the NCT just seven months before. The Mother's case in this instance is, that the leaking suspension fluid pipe that may have had a bearing on the accident, should have been spotted during the annual car test. From experience of the NCT, if they discover a leak anywhere underneath you car, they will force you to replace all of those pipes. As well as that, faults can develop between NCT's and unless we are forced to do an NCT every day, (at €50 a pop), then shit happens. An experienced driver can instantly sense a problem or something different when the car is not as it used to be and they take the appropriate action to remedy the situation. After all, none of us set out to be killed behind the wheel.

Outside of perhaps Dublin, you simply must have a car to function in Ireland. Most of the country drive to and from work, take the kids to school, do the grocery shopping in centers outside of town and generally get from 'A' to 'B' in a semi-efficient manner every day. A motor car is not a luxury but a necessity and a damned expensive one at that. With taxes for everything, an unusually high road tax, expensive petrol, a rip-off insurance scam in full flight and the cost of the things in the first place, the ordinary motorist is hard-pressed as it is. On any day, motoring on public roads is about give and take. There are good and bad drivers as well as good and bad roads. The weather can be perfect for driving or positively dangerous and everything in between. Night driving is a different animal than daytime driving before you even explore the peculiar circumstances of any individual accident. A crying child behind you can be an even bigger distraction than a mobile phone is when you alone in the car. The variables are endless and it is impossible to cater for everyone and every situation.

But a grieving Mother with a strong sense of self-righteousness and a well-developed blame culture can skew the law to put others off the road or behind bars for nine years. Neither interference will bring their loved ones back no matter how much compassion we heap on them. As well, neither interference from them can ever be proved to save a single life either. We debate how to make the roads safer and one sure method would be to ban all vehicles off the road. That would surely get rid of crashes of any kind. However, anyone struggling now to keep their old banger on the road and keep their precious job so they do not drown in a sea of debt, could find the NCT un-passable if one woman gets her way. And the other woman would see a family member jailed for nine years for being involved in an unintentional accident in the first place. 

I am not without compassion for both of these woman and I do sympathize with their misfortune. But we all live in a society and the misfortune of the one should never govern how all of the rest of us must live our lives. Perhaps fate was the guiding hand in both incidents but whatever it was, the idea that all of the rest of us innocents must be punished some way for doing nothing wrong, is itself wrong.

Two wrongs do not make a right!


"Donald Trump's foreign policy is risky and disturbing," says the man who planned the Iraq War. Paul Wolfowitz was a co-author of "Project for the New American  Century." 

This new bible of the aggressive Neo-Cons advocated unilateral military action by US forces across the globe, ignoring International Laws, breaking treaties already signed by their own country and shafting the UN and world opinion. Wolfowitz recommended de-stabalising the Middle East, surrounding Russia with hostile forces, hemming the Chinese into their own territories and positioning American bases in every country on earth. Much of this work is already done while other parts of it are  in train.

The "Project for the new American Century," was composed in 1999 and all of what took place since including Libya, Iraq and Syria were predicted and planned. Central to that blueprint was the proviso that nothing could be achieved, "Saving a catalyzing  event such as another Pearl Harbour." This was duly delivered in 2001 when four hi-jacked planes drove public opinion in America to demand revenge. Cynics cite 9/11, the justification for the New American Century, as just too damned convenient. 

I have written quite a bit about 9/11:
here also,
here again,
and here.

So you will guess that I'm quite unconvinced by the official explanation concerning what actually took place on that fateful day and I have no doubt the world has not heard the end of it. 

But to hear the likes of Paul Wolfowitz today refer to Donald Trump as 'risky and disturbing,' is, for me just laughable. Indeed, if my suspicions about Wolfowitz and his side-kicks have even a grain of truth to them, then Trump is a pussycat by comparison with what went before. The dark hand of Wolfowitz is all over 9/11 and its aftermath. He is a delusional war-monger whose ambitions as a Republican, now appear to favour the Democratic Hilary, another who'd like to see America in even more wars. 

The pity of this election over there is the poor choice of candidate available to the great American public but if the likes of Wolfowitz was on either ticket, I would begin work on a nuclear fallout shelter in my back garden right now. 

That man Wolfowitz redefines "risky and disturbing."


Overseas readers might be wondering what all the fuss is about regarding Apple and that tax bill the EU claims they owe to Ireland. Surely, you might think, it is a straightforward numbers issue and either they do owe that sum or they don't. After all, this was worked out between officials of the Irish Government and representatives of the company and agreement was reached between the two parties. Apple is forthcoming and upfront year-on-year about the sums involved and our lads can calculate what's due from what was agreed upon in the first place.

But the problem goes way deeper than that and to understand it, you need to know a little of Irish history and how our National psyche was developed. The Industrial Revolution, which took place from the 18th to 19th centuries, was a period during which predominantly agrarian, rural societies in Europe and America became industrial and urban. Industrialization marked a shift to powered, special-purpose machinery, factories and mass production. The iron and textile industries, along with the development of the steam engine, played central roles. It also saw improved systems of transportation, communication and banking

While the Industrial Revolution began in the UK, it quickly spread all over Europe, everywhere that is except Ireland. We never experienced that industrial revolution here and instead we remained poor and backward. In fact, we got the Irish famine, a period of mass starvation, disease, and emigration in Ireland which occurred between 1845 and 1852. So while the rest of the developed world made great strides forward, Ireland was devastated. Some estimates suggest that the population on the island stood at eight million before the famine but fell to as little as one and a half million seven years later. Millions managed to emigrate to the US, Canada, Australia and the UK but millions died back home also. The origins of the famine are complex and I won't go into that here, but while everyone else was taking a bold step forward, Ireland was forced to take a hundred steps back. 

This country wandered into the twentieth century, poor, uneducated, under-developed and occupied by a foreign army. We fought a war of independence against the greatest power on earth at the time before gaining that independence and turning on each other in a bitter civil war. When the dust settled, most of that twentieth century was lived on the breadline by our parents and grandparents and the only depressing hope for the average Irishman was still emigration. Then in 1979, a young American lad called Steve Jobs came over to Cork and bought some land for a factory. He had a vision for a whole new industrial age based on emerging technology and unhampered by the spoils of an existing industrial base, the Irish jumped on his dream. 

Today, people look at Europe and wonder why little Ireland hosts the European Headquarters of all the really big global names like Apple, Google, Intel, EMC, HP, Facebook and so many others. The answer is, this is our industrial revolution. We have wandered into the twenty-first century wired to the world. We worked hard to get educated, we have plenty to eat and spend, we are adaptable and flexible and critically, we were in the right place at the right time. Every one of those big names sat down with our people here and thrashed out a plan to settle here. Each would have had their own terms and conditions and somehow we were able to accommodate them all. You'd have to believe we did something right to make that happen.

The EU ruling in this light, threatens to de-rail our one and only industrial revolution. We have little in the way of natural resources over here that could yield jobs and a way of life for our citizens. At the same time, the leaders of all of the big companies here are watching the Apple tax issue develop and they must be thinking of alternatives for themselves should things go against the jewel in the crown for Ireland. As our noted economist David McWilliams writes this morning, "Let’s not forget, without multinational investment, Ireland would be Albania with brutal weather. The multinationals have completely transformed the capital base of the country, totally upgraded the type of careers that are available to people here and plugged Ireland into the global economy in a way that is impossible to quantify. In short, they — not the EU — are the key to Ireland’s economic modernity. The future is the smartphone, the technology and the Silicon Valley way of looking at the world"

It would be catastrophic blinkered thinking to demand the €13 – €19 billion from Apple at this point because some unelected Commissioner in Brussels says so. The tax arrangement reached by Apple on which this sum is based, has been changed for the last two years and is no longer in force. But whatever the arrangements were reached in 1991 and again in 2007 between the Apple and Ireland were agreed upon and formed a contract between both them and us. We signed up for it and are legally bound by it. It is not a moral issue but a legal one. Tim Cook has made the point that the tax figure being bandied about has been derived by respectively changing the original contracts to reflect 2016. The EU even acknowledge that neither Apple nor Ireland broke any laws. In fact, the kernel of their argument is that if such a deal was done with Apple, then it should have been offered to all the other multi-nationals based here. Remember, this is a non-competitive ruling, not a tax ruling. In essence, the EU position is that, if Apple can pay less than one per cent corporation tax in Ireland, then Google, Intel, EMC, HP, Facebook and all of the others must be offered that too, or else Apple have to cough up.

That makes it very complicated because each of the other large companies will have made their own deals with Ireland to cite themselves here. This morning, the CEO's of each of them will be considering the implications of what happens next in their own spheres of influence. Should Apple de-camp, they will be leading a charge of others in their wake and we Paddies will helplessly look on as our industrial revolution is taken from us to be replaced once again by isolation and poverty. 

The McWilliams article today is not the first time he's suggested our future lies with the North Atlantic english speaking world of the UK, US and Canada while at the same time, our Government is hinting at a possible red letter day where this country must decide where its future lies. A core attraction of Ireland is our EU membership and access to the EU market and this must be borne in mind. But if that attraction should have the effect of devastating our economic infrastructure, then the price for remaining in the Union is too high. But from the EU perspective post-BREXIT, they have to consider the ripple effect of Ireland going to the polls to decide on its continued membership. Even worse, is the issue of US-EU relations on trade and the future of the world economy. 

As things stand this morning, little Ireland is in the middle of a global shit-storm. The EU has positioned itself against us in one corner while Apple and the US is on our side. That is the real state of play and thirteen billion or whatever it really is, is a sideshow. On the table is our precious industrial revolution with America wanting us to continue and progress it and Europe wanting to take it away.

It's that serious!


My last piece on Apple touched on their old business model and and how it was run along independent national and geographic lines. This continued for a short time with the sale of the "i" products through the traditional local dealer sales channels with iMacs etc, until the iStore was set up. I clearly remember Steve telling the world, "Now you can buy a Mac twenty-four hours a day anywhere in the world." The whole sales operation, the big earner for the company, moved online and Apple were the first to do so. 

That was a hell of a gamble because in 2002, you had to already own a computer and have an internet connection to order a Mac directly from Apple. Today, everything is done online but in those early days of internet business, Apple was way ahead of its time in this regard. But the critical issue in all of this is that, "Apple went virtual." They became independent of country or region and became instead a virtual operation, everywhere in Europe except Cork in fact. In Cork they had thousands of direct employees, land and buildings with plant and machinery and critically, they were registered here with the companies office. They had a sort of  European presence in their otherwise self-created virtual world. Though it cost me my job and career at the time, I understand what was happening in hindsight. 

In the real world of big digital  businesses today, you buy in a virtual world of virtual shopfronts represented by websites. My old company, registered in Dublin, Ireland, ceased to be. It was like any other company that had simply shut down. It was no longer operative or liable for anything. The virtual operation made its products in China and Eestern Europe, among other places, the products were shifted to third-party warehouses for distribution and delivery in the various territories around the globe based on the rule of allocations. Today, as such, Apple Belgium for example, is a website possibly hosted on a server farm almost anywhere whose orders are processed in Cork. Orders and payments are accepted there after which instructions for delivery are issued to the region the order was received from. This is common practice now but it begs the question, where do the actual tax liabilities reside?

The Apple Belgium store is most likely not anywhere near Belgium but it works if you live there. This though blows the whole argument from Brussels apart unless Belgium decides to ban sales over the internet there. I have no doubt that Apple applies Belgian taxes to their sales there but I have no idea which Apple office pays that bill. But you can be absolutely positive that Apple honours all sales taxes due to the countries of origin. The issue today is not about that though, it is about corporate tax and where the actual real company is resident. The answer to that has to be "the cloud." 

Apple has its own version of that called, guess what?-the iCloud. Perhaps that's where the iStore lives, who knows? Under EU law, their registration and actual presence in Ireland permits them to trade with all of the EU member states but from a remote location that could be anywhere on the planet. But if they do not have registered offices in an EU country then they cannot be liable for corporate tax in that country. Mercedes sells cars in Ireland but pays its corporate tax in Germany. Certainly in Ireland where Apple are registered, they pay corporate taxes on their business within the island. What they don't do is declare their profits on repatriated overseas sales to the Irish Revenue and you'd have to say, why would they? 

In this cloud frame of mind, our Revenue people agreed to a scheme whereby profits from sales outside Ireland could, sort of land here temporarily, be shifted to an imaginary place back in the cloud and then once cleansed, it could legally come back into Ireland to be shifted to a tax free haven elsewhere. All of it was a paper exercise, (or taps on a keyboard actually), and the money was never due to Ireland in the first place nor was it any of our business. That at least is our official response. We were always just happy with thousands of jobs and €50M or so every year in corporate taxes for Apple products sold in this country. 

So this one is going to be a real can of worms. A "" web address does not necessarily make you liable for UK corporate tax. You'd have to be registered as a UK company trading there. I'm not saying that the Irish authorities are absolutely right in this particular bun fight but technically, they didn't do anything wrong and neither did Apple. It begs the wider question, how do you tax the cloud, a virtual world of ones and zeros. This conundrum seems to have dawned on the dullards in Brussels. Steve must have considered this when he made the bold move first but his company has complied with tax law in the geographies and international law also. A case may be made that the Paddies were damned creative when they shook hands on this one but I doubt it was of their own creation. 

Finally, the figure of €13 billion is a nominal figure conjured up by EU bureaucrats and the announcement even suggested that loads of others may be entitled to a bite of the action here also. From the Irish perspective however, Apple have paid us everything that is really due to us and the Revenue boys here know that. The only thing this can possibly achieve is to make Apple reconsider their continuing presence in Ireland and it will almost certainly rattle the cage of all of the other big boys resident here as well. 
That is why, surprisingly, I am right behind our Government on this particular issue. The Irish are just being realistic and accepting the changing world we live in while the european bureaucrats are still living in the last century. The poor bastards just haven't a clue how these things are done today in the modern world and they wouldn't listen to us if we told them.