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Roche lambastes Krugman, Klaus and Ganley.

by Frank Schnittger Thu May 21st, 2009 at 07:16:28 AM EST


I had a 50 minute on camera conversation with Dick Roche, the Irish minister for European Affairs, in the Department of the Taoiseach yesterday in which he had some strident things to say about Paul Krugman, Vaclav Klaus and Declan Ganley.

He accuses Krugman of not being attentive to Irish economics in his comments and of having bigger fish to fry in the US - "his analysis which compares a stimulus package (in the US) to the Irish situation without taking into account the full range of social supports available in Ireland ... is somewhat fatuous for a man with his economic reputation ... in real terms the EU and Ireland has a stimulus package ... but it would be a very brave person who would suggest spending even more money here when we have such a massive gap between the tax take and current expenditure." The issue of whether there should be an EU stimulus package as opposed to national stimulus packages is one which might properly be discussed as part of the campaign, but hasn't really been raised to date.

Roche lambastes Vaclav Klaus for a "gross breach of protocol"; of "interfering in Irish politics"; of amazingly subjugating the right of the Czech people to make their choice on Lisbon to the decision of the Irish people; and of being "an embarrassment to his own country".

He accused Declan Ganley of attacking Europe for not supporting the invasion of Iraq because he "stood to make a lot of money out of the war in Iraq, through his operations in Guardian Net and Liberty Mobile, and his disgusting involvement with very very corrupt arrangements in Iraq ... (where) attempts were made by a discredited US Under secretary of Defense ... Mr. Jack Shaw ... to skew contracts ... when contests were run for telecommunications networks in Iraq and his friends who owned the CDMA technology rights - including the Ganley Consortium - failed to win contests .., Mr. Shaw tried to have those contests overturned and tried to run a contest that was not a contest ... a so called contract to install a first responder network ... and morphed these into full commercial phone networks without the bother of having any contractual contest ... and these are the people who talk about openness and transparency?"

excellent grassroots journalism from the diaries -- Jérôme

The discussion was in three parts:

  1. The Irish economic situation and its impact on the European Elections

  2. The Irish Political situation

  3. The Lisbon Treaty and its potential impact on the development of the EU.

Part 1. The Irish economic situation

In the first segment Roche seeks to put the current economic crisis in the context of unprecedented prior economic growth, substantial reserves in the National Pension Fund, and additional factors such as the decline of Sterling which have disproportionately impacted on Ireland.

But he also notes that people on the doorsteps are spontaneously raising European issues such as Lisbon as being important in the context of Irish economic recovery.  He has a swipe at George Lee, a famous Irish television economic commentator and prophet of doom who has just declared for the opposition Fine Gael party as its candidate in the Dublin South Bye-election for the irish Parliament.  The reference to George's taste in blue shirts is a snide reference to Fine Gael's origins as a party with some links to quasi fascist "blue shirt" politics. (The siren sounding during this section of the interview is the sound of a division bell for a vote in the Irish parliament).

Part 2. The Irish political situation

Unfortunately my inexperience with webcam technology came to haunt me in that I managed to lose the second or middle segment of the interview.  

Fortunately it dealt mostly with domestic Irish politics and topics I have already covered quite extensively in my posts entitled Data, Data, Data! and The politics of distraction.

This section covers his analysis of the prospects for each party in each of the four Irish Euro constituencies; the proposal for a new crime of Blasphemous Libel by his colleague, the Minister for Justice, Dermot Ahearn; and the "coronation" of Barroso to a new term as President of the Commission by the EPP and PES (to the exclusion of Fianna Fail's ALDE group).

In this section of the interview he acknowledged that Fianna Fail was in trouble in Dublin where Eoin Ryan is currently trailing Mary Lou McDonald (Sinn Fein) in the polls, but felt that transfers from the second Fianna Fail Candidate, Eibhlin Byrne, The Lord Mayor of Dublin might well see him home for the last seat.

In Ireland East, he noted that Nessa Childers (Lab) comes from a very distinguished line of Republicans and Fianna Fail politicians (her Grandfather, Erskine Childers, was a hero of the fight for Irish independence, and her father was the fourth President of Ireland) and he felt her nomination was a real coup for Labour.

He felt Brian Crowley (Fianna Fail) was safe in Ireland South but that Declan Ganley, despite spending a fortune on his campaign and having a clear run in the Galway end of the Ireland North West Constituency was not going to get elected.  He had the greatest of admiration for Marian Harkin (Independent) and expected her to be re-elected to the last seat with Jim Higgins (Fine Gael) and Pat the Cope Gallagher (Fianna Fail).

Roche claimed that he had been a champion of Fianna Fail's move from the UEN group to the ALDE Group in the European Parliament and said I would have to ask Brian Crowley my question about his alleged opposition to this move.  Roche would not be drawn on his views  on the "Coronation" of José Manuel Barroso to a second term as President of the Commission by the EPP and PES but noted that the ALDE group  had 11 affiliated members on the Commission.

Roche said that no one had mentioned the Blasphemous Libel issue on the doorsteps and thus that it could therefore not be described as an attempt to distract people from the economic issues or consolidate Fianna Fail's conservative base. (I wasn't expecting him to criticise a Party and Government colleague, but I suspect the proposal may disappear after the elections).

Part 3. The Lisbon Treaty and its potential impact on the development of the EU.

The third segment of the interview is contained in part 2 of the video below.  The controversial comments about Klaus and Ganley come towards the end of the interview


For the seriously nerdy, I enclose my interview plan and questions below.  You will note that I had to chop and change quite a bit during the interview to allow topics to be raised as part of the natural ebb and flow of the conversation.  I also had to keep the questions much shorter and didn't manage to cover the full range of questions before the division bells rang and Dick was called into the Dail for a vote.  However I am very grateful to those of you who suggested questions, and I hope you will feel you got some value from the interview.

Interview Plan/Questions

Hello, I'm Frank Schnittger, and I'm an independent blogger who publishes on the European Tribune, Booman Tribune, Daily Kos and on the Thinkaboutit blogging campaign which is run by the European Journalism Centre and funded by the European Commission in an effort to stoke up interest in the European Parliamentary Elections. The readership of my blogs is mostly European and American and so this interview will be conducted largely from an international rather than from a domestic Irish perspective.

The European Parliamentary Elections are often characterised as 27 distinct national elections which happen to take place in the same week but which are generally dominated by local and national issues because that is what seems to animate the Mainstream media and local electorates the most.  Most of the media coverage in Ireland has been dominated by the trouncing everyone expects Fianna Fail, the main Governing Party, to get because of the parlous state of the Irish economy.

When I was preparing for this interview I published a list of 10 questions I proposed to ask the Minister on my blogs by way of getting some advice and feedback from you, my readers and fellow bloggers out there.  Most of my questions were from an Irish perspective but it soon became pretty clear from your comments that you were also interested in hearing more about the Irish Government's views on Lisbon, the development of the European Union, and our larger and longer term vision for the future of Europe as a whole.  So I've ended up with a list of 25 questions which may take more time than we have, but I'll do my best to cover as much ground as possible.

So I will start this interview with a few questions about the Irish domestic political and economic situation and then gradually move on to the broader European Policy issues.  

1.    Minister, let's start with the easy question: There is an old joke that the difference between Ireland and Iceland is one letter and about 6 months.  In recent weeks we seem to have been making strenuous efforts to catch up with Iceland.   The Irish Economy is expected to decline by 6% both this year and next, having already declined by 4% last year; unemployment is expected to rise to 17% next year; the current budget deficit is expected to come in at over 10% of GDP both this year and next - over 3 times the Maastricht Growth and Stability Pact limit - and that's before we bail out the Irish Banks to the tune of anything up to €90 Billion which is equivalent to almost the whole of Ireland's GDP.    How do you think the Irish Government has been doing in managing the economy, and how do you expect the Irish electorate to react at the polls in a couple of weeks time?

2.    Have you been doing much campaigning on behalf of your candidates, what issues are people raising on the doorsteps?  I see your wife Eleanor is campaigning for a seat in the local elections in Greystones - does this mean that Irish politics is still a cosy club where the same people keep it in the family?

3.    The recent Sunday Business Post Red C poll put Fianna Fail at 24% of the vote - a historic low - which compares to the 42% you received in the last general election in 2007.  If that poll turns out to be accurate, do you think Fianna Fail might even lose a seat in one or more constituencies?

4.    There are 4 sitting MEPs in the  Dublin Constituency which is being reduced to 3 seats for this election.  This means at least one sitting MEP has to lose out, and the polls seem to be predicting that the last seat could be between Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein.  Wouldn't it be extraordinarily embarrassing for Fianna Fail to lose to Sinn Feinno one wins an election as of rigtht      and have no seat in the Nation's Capital?  Could such a defeat not threaten Brian Cowen's credibility and leadership of the Party and the Irish Government?

5.    Labour have nominated Nessa Childers, a daughter of a former Fianna Fail cabinet minister and President of Ireland, and also a former Green Party Councillor, for the Ireland East Constituency.  Do you think her name recognition and association with both Fianna Fail and the Greens puts her in the ideal position to take the third and last seat their from Fine Gael?

6.    Fine Gael (the main opposition party) have nominated a very strong second candidate in Ireland South in Sean Kelly, a former high profile President of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA).  Does that give Fine Gael a chance of a second seat in Ireland South or will the last seat go to Labour or the sitting Independent MEP Kathy Synnott?

7.    The fact that Sean O Neachtain, Fianna Fail sitting MEP in Ireland North West has withdrawn due to ill-health means that Declan Ganley of Libertas is now the only candidate based in Galway, the main city in the region.  Given the tendency of people to cross party lines to support local candidates, do you think Ganley now has a realistic chance of being elected?

8.    Fine Gael and Labour make much of their membership of the two largest groups in the European parliament, the EPP and PES respectively, whereas Fianna Fail has been a member of the much more marginal UEN group and has just joined the liberal ALDE group.  Does this not undermine Fianna Fail's credibility as the leading Irish party in Europe particularly as Fine Gael got 5 seats to your 4 at the last election?

9.    Is it not a little surprising, just when you are joining the Liberal ALDE group in the European Parliament, that the Fianna Fail Minister for Justice should bring in an amendment to the Criminal Justice Act in which he proposes to bring in a new crime of Blasphemous Libel? Is this not bringing us back to the 1950's, or the divisive referendum campaigns on Divorce and Abortion in the 1980's?  Some people (myself included) have suggested that Fianna Fail might be trying to distract attention from the economic situation, and that you tried a similar diversionary tactic ahead of the last European Elections when you proposed controversial reforms of immigration and asylum laws?

10.    Many people deride the European parliament as a home for retired national politicians or people who couldn't otherwise make it in national politics.  What distinctive contribution did the Fianna Fail members of the last Parliament make, and how would you see them influencing policy and legislation in the next parliament?  What are your main policy priorities in the EU?  Why was their no EU Stimulus plan to tackle the global recession?

11.    Is a new term for Barroso a wise decision for Europe? Why?  Isn't that the sort of thing which should be decided by an active political campaign during these elections rather than agreed by the EPP and PES behind closed doors?  How does Fianna Fail, as a member of the ALDE group, feel about being left out of the loop on this?  And "Do you agree with Labour that the next Irish Commissioner should be selected by the Dáil?"

12.    Turning to a question on the Lisbon Treaty.  I know it's not directly an issue in this election, but a second referendum is widely expected to be held next October. Indeed Czech European affairs minister Stefan Fule, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the EU has said he thought the Government should announce the date of a second Lisbon referendum at the June council, provided the necessary guarantees were in place.  When will you be announcing the date of the next referendum?

13.    Why do you think people who voted NO the last time around, or indeed didn't vote at all, should vote YES this time around?  What do you say to those who complain that Ireland is being bullied by the European Elite to keep voting until it produces the "right" answer?

14.    What are the Irish Lisbon guarantees over tax, defence and ethical issues such as abortion and family life going to look like and how are they going to be made legally binding? Why are we going for a declaration - which does not have the same legal standing as the guarantees - on the importance of workers' rights.  I thought the Charter of Fundamental European Rights was the one part of the Lisbon Treaty which was exceptionally well drafted. Why was the rest of the Treaty made so unintelligible?  

15.    Eurosceptics make much of the fact that the Constitutional Treaty and Lisbon were rejected by French Dutch and Irish Voters.  They forget that if you add in the massive vote in favour of the Constitution by Spanish voters, then a majority of European citizens who did get the chance to vote actually voted in favour of the Constitution.  Is not the real problem not majority vote style democracy, but the requirement for unanimity before any fundamental changes can be made?

16.    What steps are you undertaking to ensure that the next Government Lisbon campaign will be a more effective one?

17.    Fianna Fail and the your Green Party government coalition colleagues appear to be at odds over whether Ireland should play a part in the European Defence agency as required by the Lisbon Treaty. Are they asking you to renegotiate that part of the Treaty?

18.    What difference do you think the Lisbon Treaty, if ratified, would make for Europe?

19.    Despite the economic crisis, how does Ireland see the future of EU spending with regard to much poorer member states? The meaning of solidarity?

20.    I interviewed the Libertas candidate for Ireland East, Raymond O'Malley last week and he was arguing that he was opposed to Lisbon because it didn't go far enough in making the EU more democratically accountable.  He felt that all Commissioners, including the President of the EU Commission should be directly elected by the voters.  What is the Irish Government's position on this?

21.    Do you support Libertas' proposal for a "blue card" scheme to limit the mobility of works in the EU to two years within another member state and to make them ineligible for social welfare benefits in another member state?

22.    Does Ireland support the further enlargement of the EU with additional members such a Turkey, Croatia, Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia, Montenegro, and Iceland?  Why is Iceland being given fast track priority?  Does further enlargement require further institutional reform? Is there an Irish vision of the European Union beyond the Lisbon Treaty? (Ralf Grahn) Is Ireland comfortable with Sarkozy's view of an EU of two or three big member states (through their heads of state or government) setting the pace for the EU?

23.    Should there be a European regulator for financial institutions?

24.    Looking at past major controversies in Europe - Kosovo, Iraq, Extraordinary Rendition, the role of NATO in eastern Europe - what difference would Lisbon have made?  We were complicit in extraordinary renditions in Ireland - with many flights passing through Shannon on their way to Bagram airport and other dark sites where torture is known to have taken place.  Does the Irish Government now regret this?  Given that dark sites and black operations are so secretive even the US congress doesn't seem to have been kept fully informed, were we not naive to accept US assurances that no "torture flights" were taking place?  Isn't it ironic that the term "Enhanced interrogation techniques" used as a euphemism for torture is a direct translation of the German "Verschärfte Vernehmung" which the Gestapo invented for forms of torture that would leave no marks?  And those Nazi interrogators were executed for war crimes after the war.  Will the Irish Government support the prosecution of torturers and those who authorised torture by an international Court?

25.  The evidence shows that the "enhanced interrogation techniques" were specifically authorised by Rumsfeld and Cheny in an attempt to find evidence of links between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein in an attempt to justify the war on Iraq and that they resulted in false confessions useful only for propaganda purposes.  Isn't it ironic that the US ended up using the same techniques as used by the Vietcong in Vietnam to illicit false confessions for propaganda purposes?

Any recs here or ratings on Th!nkaboutit very welcome.  Any tips on interview technique also appreciated, as this was my first time trying to do this sort of thing!

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 06:39:38 AM EST
Now also available in in Orange.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 08:10:33 AM EST
This is the kind of thing bloggers should be doing.

Are you going to be in Paris this September? If not, I may need to stop over in Ireland. :)

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 10:19:43 AM EST
I "did" Paris last year, and so will probably go to Bremen instead where I have relations and where Crazy Horse is whipping up a storm...

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 10:22:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You do realise, Frank, that the Rites of the Brethren of Caol Ila will be performed in Bremen? ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 10:40:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm more into Lagavulin myself because I was raised on the Bog of Allen and it has a very pronounced peaty flavour.  However Caol Ila is made only just down the road on Islay and it isn't bad for an imitator.  So I will give Crazy Horse a pardon on that...

I had the misfortune to have to visit the Island on a round trip of Scottish Distilleries when I was responsible for producing the original Malts.com - see http://www.malts.com/en-row/learnaboutwhisky/theflavourmap.htm.  It was a tough job but someone had to do it.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 10:49:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
First off  the mic (presumably the camera mic) is too far away. The sound thus has too much room acoustic and puts you at a perceptual distance from the dialogue. There are various solutions, but they depend on what sort of video camera you are using. If you camera has a mic input, then a separate mic will produce much better sound because it can be placed without being tied to the camera shot.

I can give you some more tips by email if you wish. (Or continue here if you tell me what camera you have)

As with all these types of interviews, it would be nice to edit. If you have a Mac then you have iMovie and it is very easy to do - even for a novice. There are PC solutions, but I can't advise on them. iMovie also helps you to format for web applications.

If you can edit then it is useful to have a caption at the beginning with the date, place and who is taking part and what the subject is. Edit out any blank spots (like the beginning where you sit down). You could also do your explanation to camera in a separate shot on your own, and then cut to the interview proper. The introduction bit is often shot after the interview ;-)

I prefer the over the shoulder interview because the interviewer is not the most interesting part (even you Frank) - the subject should be larger in frame as much as possible.

With two cameras it is easy to do a professional type interview. Both cameras can be locked off. The prime camera covers the subject in mid close up from the interviewer's position (or rather slightly this side of a 'line' drawn through the two people. The other camera takes a wider shot of the interviewer, perhaps even slightly over the shoulder. You mostly use the prime camera (and its sound), but it is useful to have a change of shot as you ask questions. It is fairly easy to edit these kind of parallel shots together in a fluent whole.

Many pro interviews use only one camera. The same effect as above is achieved by shooting the interviewer after the interview, who then re-asks the questions to an empty chair. Throw in a few nods or eyerolls to cover yourself.

IMO these type of interviews are very useful coming from bloggers. The questions are different, the atmosphere different.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 11:05:39 AM EST
Many thanks Sven.  I was using a simple small Flip webcam on a small tripod on the table we were sitting at.  There is no separate Microphone or jack for a mike input, but there is a USB port which allows you to plug it into a laptop... - so possibly, indirectly, a mike could be plugged in if it has a USB receptor.

It's my first time using the camera and I lost one clip because my eyesight is too poor to read the buttons on the camera clearly. Since I lost the sight of an eye small print instructions also defeat me.

To be honest, I was just glad to have a recording device because he speaks so fast, keeping notes would have been a nightmare, and as he can speak quite colourfully, his direct words are always better than my summary.

I thought he might be inhibited by the camera, but he clearly had some messages he wanted to get across.  His comments on Ganley could land him in the Libel Court - so strict are the laws here - and people with money just use the threat of them to keep people quiet.

I've tried editing the clip to take out the start but even uploading the clips took most of the night so I gave up until I have more time.  Part of me actually likes the obviously amateur set-up because it isn't meant to be a media set piece.

If I was going to do it properly I would need to have someone with me to operate the equipment.  It was simply a case of pointing the camera in the right direction and hoping nothing went wrong after that.

I'm aware of the one camera two takes technique but I actually ended up ad libing most of the questions, so I would have had to be able to edit out the sound in the first take and overlay it with the questions being asked a second time around on camera.  I had recorded the intro at home beforehand but would then have to splice it onto the interview itself - something I know how to do - but again it takes hours!  I couldn't get my laptop sound to work at the interview - so I couldn't play it to him - for his background - so I just ended up repeating most of it as part of my opening question.

All very amateur and unprofessional, but at least one step up from pure text, and an awful lot less writing and note taking on my part - which would also have slowed up the interview process.

So in the end I opted for speed and simplicity and tried to focus on the content.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 11:37:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But if you need any more help, just let me know.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 11:40:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Many thanks.  I take your point about the poor audio quality in particular and will see if I can get a mike that I can plug in via the USB key.  I'm actually pleasantly surprised it's even as good as it is. - I had visions of having to type out the entire interview!

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 11:46:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure where podcasts are going, but they are obviously easier to do than video. And easier to edit also. If you have, for instance, a Zoom H2 you can do great hi-fi stereo interviews, but you cannot hand-hold it.

Audio podcasts work well - I track several sites which I download to an iPod nano, but I also download videocasts too, such as the TED presentations.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 12:21:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It would be trivial - but not cheap - to buy something like a Zoom for video journalism, load the audio as a separate file, and then sync it to video later.

The problem with affordable USB mics is that they look like toys. The problem with 'proper' recorders like the Zoom is that they're expensive, especially if you're not using them much.

I don't know of anyone making a mid-range product which does both jobs well. Someone ought to start selling one.

The Samson is the best and cheapest I've been able to find - but something smaller and cheaper would be better.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 08:40:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The H2 can be had for around 160 quid. We've used one for budget shooting live acoustic music: we find a 'sweet spot' for the H2 up above the crowd and it runs continuously through the shoot, then 2 cameras shoot with inbuilt mics for synching, and overdubbing close up sounds where needed.

Yesterday I did a voiceover in a pukka studio with an acoustic speaker's booth with a good mic, but the track went straight to an H4, and the engineer doing flying 'marks' on it to indicate fluffs and retakes.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 03:49:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i love my zoom. it's tough, light, small and has great little mikes in it, with flash drive. i am using an 8G card with great results. can't recommend it highly enough. well worth the cost.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 07:52:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OT, what podcasts do you track? do you use itunes?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 07:56:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I track TED, several comedy sites and podcasts by friends and colleagues - mixed audio-only, video etc. I tend to watch the videos in bed, but the audios I listen to in the car.

I only have 8 gig on the nano, so I have to dump before reloading out of iTunes.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Thu May 21st, 2009 at 08:33:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I like the non-professional look. People are pretty much conditioned to respond to and frame the standard media presentations in a certain way.

Something which breaks those rules also breaks the spell. I think it feels more real, and that makes it easier to listen to what's being said.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 08:45:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bravo Frank for a great piece of work!!
by vladimir on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 12:11:39 PM EST
Ahern dismisses blasphemy 'hysteria' - The Irish Times - Wed, May 20, 2009

Justice Minister Dermot Ahern today accused conspiracy theorists of whipping up hysteria around his plans to modernise laws on blasphemy.

The minister wants to reform existing legislation to punish those who cause insult to religions rather than holding a referendum to change the Constitution.

He said he is being forced to act now to prevent a legal loophole in the new Defamation Bill which is currently proceeding through the Dail and Seanad.

Mr Ahern today told an Oireachtas Committee he was puzzled by the "hysterical and incorrect reaction" to his proposals.

"It does show that when you scratch the surface, there is an incredible intolerance among pseudo-liberals in this country," he added.

"I've even been called a Catholic fundamentalist by a person who I believe to have a brain the size of a pea," he told TDs and Senators.

Mr Ahern said the only time he visited Rome was when Lazio played Roma in Rome's football derby.

He also denied he or his officials consulted religious organisations before making his proposals.

Mr Ahern added: "I hope that my explanations will help to put at rest the minds of all those fantasy conspiracy theorists that have detected dark machinations and bogey men behind this proposal."

The accusations have been, in the main, that he is trying to distract the electorate from the economic situation and consolidate Fianna Fail's conservative base by timing his proposal to coincide with the current bye, local, and European elections.  The hysteria seems to be coming mostly from the Minister...

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 01:09:46 PM EST
Awesome stuff, Frank.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 07:21:58 PM EST
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed May 20th, 2009 at 08:41:36 PM EST

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