Idirlíon (Internet)

Irish TV And Cinema? Some Hope

TG4 - Súil Eile

TG4 – Súil Eile

I was going through my collection of Blu-ray and DVD movies and box-sets over the weekend, not to mention several hundred hours of digital content on my main HTPC, and it suddenly struck me that less than 1% of the total was actually Irish-made. I have a huge catalogue of films and TV shows from (in descending order) the United States, Britain, Japan, China, Canada, Korea, Australia, France, Denmark, Germany and Russia but the number of productions from Ireland is infinitesimal. Six documentaries or drama-docs from TG4 (including “1916 Seachtar na Casca” and “Bóthar na Saoirse”), two comedy-dramas from TG4 (“Rásaí na Gaillimhe 1” and “2”, plus “An Crisis”) and one comedy from RTÉ (the early 2000s’ “Paths to Freedom”). And that is pretty much it. Out of some three thousand hours of cinematic and television entertainment less than twenty hours are actually Irish-made productions for Irish audiences.

In part this is attributable to the availability of domestic productions for the home entertainment market in Ireland which is astonishingly low. Only a handful of the more popular shows are released on DVD and the vast majority of those are from RTÉ which gobbles up most of the licence fee to feed itself. Unsurprisingly they are usually at the lower end of the market, reflecting the culture of Irish television in general. TG4 releases hardly any of its far superior and more Irish-orientated shows on DVD no doubt due to costs. Though why it has not entered the digital market via downloads or streaming on the lines of Amazon or Netflicks is beyond me. It simply makes no sense – but then very little about public service broadcasting in Ireland does.

All of which leads me to the observation most commonly made by Continental visitors to our island nation: in terms of language and cultural references the Irish are indistinguishable from the Americans or British. In fact they seem little more than the mongrel off-spring of both. Given that Irish television and cinema has historically provided almost no output to balance that of the United States and Britain this is hardly surprising. If I were French, German or Spanish one would expect French, German or Spanish entertainment productions to dominate my home library. Even if one were to accept arguments about economies of scale there seems little doubt that the same would hold true if I were Danish, Swedish or Finnish, nations not dissimilar in size to Ireland.

The facts are this: public service broadcasting in Ireland as embodied by RTÉ has failed and failed miserably. It is simply a bad Irish joke. This is widely acknowledged throughout the country where, ironically, most people now recognise that the best TV output stems from TG4, the Irish language TV channel. Even militant hardcore Anglophones critics have agreed that it outperforms every one of its rivals, public or private, and is about the nearest Ireland has to an “Irish BBC”. Yet it receives less than 5% of the television licence fee and a nominal government grant (95% of the TV licence goes to RTÉ which is begrudgingly obligated to produces a handful of shows for TG4).

Funnily enough it seems that I am not the only one who was thinking along these lines. From the Irish Times newspaper:

“Could Irish language movies and songs ever compete in the global entertainment market? Some 70 per cent of Hollywood’s box office revenue now comes from dubbed and subtitled versions of its movies sold in international markets, according to the Motion Picture Association of America. In pop music, Psy’s Gangnam Style represents the first wave of non-English international mega-hits that will sweep in as the commercial pop culture of countries such as Korea, India, China, Russia and Brazil continues to develop.

Currently, most Irish language films and pop songs are not making a major domestic, let alone international impact. So how about establishing a €2 million annual competition to select and film the best Irish language movie script, and to record the best Irish language pop song?

Imagine the film got €1.8 million, with the remaining €200,000 spent on recording and making a video for the song, and on the administration of the competition.

The competition could be open to international screenwriters and song-writers, with the proviso that all production money be spent in Ireland – meaning an annual investment of at least €1.8 million into the Irish media industry.

The Irish Film Board (IFB) used to maintain that it was unrealistic to try competing in Irish against major Hollywood films, but in an increasingly globalised world, things are changing. Ned Dowd, a Hollywood producer responsible for films such as The Wonder Boys and Last of the Mohicans , points to the success of his film Apocalypto , directed by Mel Gibson, which despite being in Mayan earned $121 million dollars (admittedly on a budget of $40 million). Gibson’s earlier film The Passion of the Christ was in Aramaic and earned $611 million. “It’s all about story, universal themes,” Dowd has said. “The language is secondary.”

This whole notion is speculative and aspirational, but if it were to succeed even partially it could prove a key element in keeping the language vibrant for the next generation. Young people are now accustomed to cartoons and soap operas in Irish, but films and pop music are almost exclusively in English. Demand for Irish songs exists, witnessed by the viral success of the Coláiste Lurgan cover versions that emerge each summer.

It seems there’s also an appetite from abroad to help the language. Seven years after broadcasting the No Béarla TV programme, in which I travelled around the country speaking only Irish, I am still regularly approached by Irish-American cultural groups and impassioned individuals, keen to know how they can help the language.

…the benefits of targeted funding can be seen in the Danish media market. “In Denmark the public service broadcaster puts €1 million a year into feature-film production on top of the Danish Film Institute’s €60 million – and that’s a country the size of Ireland.””

The doling out of severely limited funds between RTÉ, TG4, Bord Scannán na hÉireann (the Irish Film Board) and the idiosyncratic Sound and Vision Fund (controlled by that quango par excellence, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland) is beyond a scandal. Whether the monies are raised through the licence fee or general taxation millions upon millions of euros are being wasted on projects that are almost guaranteed to have little commercial or popular impact. Most simply appear and disappear without the general public being even aware of their existence. Millions more is going on duplicated staffing and administration expenses. Offices filled with paper-shufflers and seat-warmers. It is this scatter-gun approach to Irish television and film production that has made our nation a cultural vacuum.

If we intend to be serious about our language and our culture, if we intend to be serious about establishing a viable TV and cinema production industry for our domestic market, then it is time to close down the vanity projects and political patronage system of yesteryear. A start should be made by leaving English language broadcasting in Ireland to the private market with all the necessary (and presently missing!) statutory safeguards on quality, standards and ownership in place. Let TV3 and 3e, or the new “ITV Ireland” promised by UTV, provide English language television services along with the dozens of American, British and Canadian channels already available to Irish viewers via cable and satellite. RTÉ should become an entirely Irish language public service broadcaster (and restricted to Irish language advertising in order to level the playing field with its private rivals who survive on English language advertising and sponsorship). After all what is public service television and radio supposed to do but provide what private enterprise will not? TG4 should be rolled back into RTÉ which should be restricted to two TV and three radio channels, as well as internet services. Bord Scannán na hÉireann should be replaced by a cinema production arm of RTÉ, the equivalent of BBC Films or Film4 in Britain, with an obligation to produce a minimum of four Irish language cinematic release a year. Legislation should be introduced to facilitate the showing of these movies in cinemas across Ireland upon release, similar to regulations in force elsewhere in Europe. RTÉ should also take up the old role of Gael Linn, producing and fostering Irish language music for cultural or commercial purposes.

As for the TV licence fee or its replacement, scrap both and instead implement direct government funding via an independent oversight body appointed by the Oireachtas. Given the size of Ireland’s national economy, comparing overseas’ public service broadcasters and the country’s needs a new RTÉ budget of 400 million euros per annum is more than adequate (with 45 million earmarked for Scannáin RTÉ). And if you are wondering where that money is going to come from how much do you think the government already spends on direct funding for RTÉ, TG4, Bord Scannán na hÉireann and the Sound and Vision Fund under the BAI, not to mention the millions that goes to the likes of Gael Linn Records and other Irish language organisations? Believe me there is a mass of money dispersed throughout a dozen state-funded organisations and quangos that could be easily pooled to contribute towards the core budget of a new RTÉ.

More bang for your buck, the elimination of waste and duplication, removing corruption and patronage, introducing public oversight and accountability, levelling the playing field between public and private broadcasters, servicing Ireland’s indigenous language and culture and presenting it to the world, establishing a thriving domestic television and movie industry, employing tens of thousands of Irish people in Irish jobs, generating tax revenue through targeted government investment…? Ok, admittedly all of this is far too sensible. Which is why it will never happen.

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Even A Fanboy Has His Limits

Speak no fanspeak, see no fanspeak, hear no fanspeak

Is it just me or is there now a dearth of thoughtful and well-informed websites and blogs on the genre worlds of Sci-Fi and Fantasy literature? Oh yes, the banner-heavy, paragraph-light sites that focus on the latest Marvel or DC movie franchises are in plentiful supply. However most of these flash-happy affairs have as much substance as a stick of candy floss; and are just as forgettable. When it comes to in-depth reviews, essays and analyses by people who know what they are talking about – and who aren’t afraid to break the taboos of fannish devotion – one is left clicking through page after page in search of something with a bit of intelligence and insight (who knew that Monster & Critics was still in existence? And by god is it awful). One longs for the likes of the Cimmerian, the now defunct US-based website devoted to Robert E. Howard, where people of real talent wrote with eloquence and wit on the works of Howard, J.R.R Tolkien and others. Ironically in some cases where good online venues did exist to examine or debate such matters their supposed “improvements” have actually managed to ruin them. Britain’s SF Crow’s Nest springs to mind (that is if you can actually find the current website via a Google search. Talk about SEO unfriendly. Not to mention the dubious honour of creating an internet site that actually looks worse than its pleasingly old school predecessor). Websites specifically focusing on the old reliables, books, comics and graphic novels, have now succumbed to the cult of infotainment-style soundbite-reporting on the latest rumour about the latest superhero flick. It is all so mind-numbingly inconsequential.

Is this the dreaded future of the internet that the critics warned us about? The sinking into the mire of collective mediocrity? How has fandom come to this?

Learn A Language In Six Months?

Since this is generating some internet buzz I thought I’d post it: How to learn any language in six months, Chris Lonsdale at TEDxLingnanUniversity. I’m always suspicious about “fast-track” learning. Most are gimmicks and as I know from experience learning a new language when in adulthood is as much about a person’s intuitive abilities as anything else. Some can, some can’t, and most just fall somewhere in the middle. I’m very much in the “can’t” camp.

Glenn Greenwald On War By Other Means

GCHQ - the spiders web

GCHQ – the spiders web

From Glenn Greenwald a must-read for Republican and progressive activists in Ireland and elsewhere examining how the internet is used and abused to manipulate individuals and groups in the interests of major nation-states. To defeat one’s enemy one must understand (or become?) one’s enemy.

“One of the many pressing stories that remains to be told from the Snowden archive is how western intelligence agencies are attempting to manipulate and control online discourse with extreme tactics of deception and reputation-destruction. It’s time to tell a chunk of that story, complete with the relevant documents.

By publishing these stories one by one, our NBC reporting highlighted some of the key, discrete revelations: the monitoring of YouTube and Blogger, the targeting of Anonymous with the very same DDoS attacks they accuse “hacktivists” of using, the use of “honey traps” (luring people into compromising situations using sex) and destructive viruses. But, here, I want to focus and elaborate on the overarching point revealed by all of these documents: namely, that these agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself.”

Congratulations To Wings Over Scotland

Wings Over Scotland busts the crowd-sourcing bank

Wings Over Scotland busts the crowd-sourcing bank

Wings Over Scotland, the influential news and current affairs website, launched an appeal early this morning for funding to keep it going in the lead-up to the referendum on Scottish independence. The Reverend Stu, editor-writer of WoS, asked his readers to pledge £53,000 (€64,000 or $88,000). By this evening, just eight hours later, that goal had been achieved. Whatever happens in September of this year the Scotland of old is dead and buried. A new nation and a new consciousness has arisen.

A Transgender Story Is A Human Story

Transgender rights are human rights. Something so obvious it should hardly need saying!

Transgender rights are human rights. Something so obvious it should hardly need saying!

Until the phenomenon of fandom engulfed popular culture (thanks to Joss Whedon, JK Rowling and Stephenie Meyer amongst others) many a hardcore geek like myself found ourselves under much derision for our devotion to all things “genre”. That most of us did not match the thoroughly Americanised stereotypes that were foisted upon us, from Comic Book Guy to Big Bang Theory, mattered not a whit. On several occasions I found girlfriends, actual or potential, perplexed by the contrast between my outward public persona (how I was perceived by others) and what they learned upon getting to know me better. Apparently men who drive fast cars and live fast lives should not read books about alien spaceships and ever-living elves (tell that to the late great Iain M. Banks!). In fairness I always left a clue here or there to the multifaceted nature of who I am. The Converse shoes and Danger Mouse wallet were a dead giveaway, after all (or at least they were until the “mainstream” adopted such visual cues as their own). But then in real life as in drama some people prefer the one-dimensional.

However one thing most Sci-Fi and Fantasy fans could say in the defence of their interests, and rarely with challenge, was the openness of their minds. Not just on fiction or art, or even technology, but on society and humanity itself. Thing is, I’ve never met a racist Sci-Fi fan. No, truly. Nor have I met any homophobic ones. Oh, I’m not saying that such don’t exist. I’m sure they do. We’ve had the debates about Frank Miller and the excoriating of Orson Scott Card (on the latter I’ve always enjoyed the self-delusional rhetoric of “I hate homosexuality but I don’t hate homosexuals”. Which is like saying “I hate the Irish language but I don’t hate those who speak the Irish language”. And we all know what cerebral excrement that is…). However I personally have never encountered discriminatory views on… well, pretty much anything. The laissez faire live-and-let-live attitude of geekdom was one of its greatest merits. No doubt the new-found popularity of all things cult will make it in times to come a more accurate reflection of wider society (as just another consumerist product) but for now I believe tolerant liberalism remains at its core. In Ireland at least. So when it comes to sex and sexuality for instance, well if you’ve read and understood John Varley’s Steel Beach or any of Banks’ Culture series it is a bit hard to become worked up about people’s biological preferences. Honestly, who cares? Or to put it another way, why not?

As always I ramble on but this discursive introduction brings me to a genuinely touching and very personal post by the blogger Aoife Hart which I thought I’d highlight. It’s in the form of an open letter from Aoife to a niece she has never met nor it seems likely will ever do so. The reason for their enforced separation? Aoife is a transsexual woman, a corrective of one of the quirks of nature that her family seem unwilling to accept. To be perfectly honest I find people’s hesitancy with or the inability to accept transgender men and women beyond my comprehension. I wear reading glasses. Should I not do so because my “natural state” is to be myopic? My youngest sister had her tonsils removed because they left her frequently unwell and susceptible to illnesses. Should she have not done so because tonsils are a “natural part” of who she was? Human physicality and physiognomy is constantly subject to artificial change, change to what we want it to be or to what it should be. The female religious fundamentalist who claims that improvements to the human condition are “against nature” is the very one who will dye her hair with caustic chemicals and daub her lips with colours containing fats from a pig’s arse.

I will say no more on the posting for it is a personal matter and it is not my place to do so except to direct you to the letter itself.

Republican Think-Tanks

Saor Éire

Saor Éire

There is a considerable debate going on amongst Irish Republicans and interested observers in Ireland over the future direction of revolutionary republicanism. With a renewed focus on the ideological aspects and political traditions of Republicanism as it pertains in the 21st century some new ideas are emerging as well as much self-analyses (and quite a bit of recrimination, fair and otherwise). The independent Republican website the Pensive Quill has been one platform for airing these debates but there are others. Two recent articles are of interest, this Q&A on contemporary matters with former senior PIRA Volunteer Gerard Hodgins on the PQ and this lengthier examination of recent history from Diarmuid Breatnach over on Rebel Breeze. A lot to agree with in both (some of Hodgins’ points match those I made two years ago and repeated several times since then) and a lot to disagree with in both (I believe that some of Breatnach’s interpretations are open to question). As I have pointed out before the internet has become the primary anti-establishment platform in Ireland, a medium for debating and disseminating progressive republican values and politics to the wider citizenry and beyond. That looks set to only grow.

Does He Mean Us? Yes, He Does

Do they mean us? I think they do!

Do they mean us? I think they do!

At the start of December last year I wrote a brief post marking the achievement of 400,000 views of An Sionnach Fionn in the two plus years of its existence. I also mentioned one other aspect of this website’s success, the apparent ire of newspaper columnist and former RTÉ producer Eoghan Harris at the online growth of progressive Republican politics and opinions in Ireland as represented by ASF and others. He wrote:

“… it seems clear to me that one of the main causes is the manipulation of the internet by the agents of atavistic nationalism.

Increasingly, internet political sites are infiltrated by a band of anonymous fanatical nationalists.

But it won’t be long ironed out if IRA apologists are able to have a free run on the internet…”

And this:

“…there is no sign that the State, the national broadcasters or civic leaders have enough interest acting in loco parentis on the moral side, particularly when it comes to protecting young Irish people from the propaganda of the Recurring IRA which is peddled on the internet.

Right now most Irish adolescents receive their historical education from the internet. By and large, it is dominated by a toxic nationalist lobby…”

At the time I was informed by a “friendly voice” that An Sionnach Fionn has become something of an irritant for some editorial rooms in the Dublin media establishment. Now we have this article in today’s Sunday Independent newspaper by Harris restating (as he does almost weekly) the claims of the discredited Anglo-Canadian historian Peter Hart which contain’s the following:

“Hart was the first historian to fully probe the sectarian dimension of the IRA’s campaign in Cork. This makes him a bogeyman for ultra nationalists. On one website they denounce his work as “central to the ideology of a hardline rump of Neo-Unionist and Pro-British apologist writers and journalists in Ireland”. As I am sure that includes me…”

Which of course is a direct quote from my post here on the controversies surrounding the 2013 publication of the collection of historical essays by David Fitzpatrick. However it’s good to know that I can count Eoghan Harris and co. amongst my loyal following.

It’s All About The Metadata

I’ve written before about the importance of “raw data” in any revolutionary or military struggle and while that may seem obvious the means of collecting and sorting through such information is far from so. While the Snowden revelations have shocked many (although few have altered their online behaviour despite what they learned) they are only the storefront of a far deeper development. The Irish journalist Ed Moloney has reminded me via his blog of a video from the TED convention last September that I meant to post but which slipped my mind. It highlights the importance of “metadata” and how building a web of interactions is frequently the first step in mapping any organisation or movement. Given the frequently amateurish nature of the current generation of would-be Irish revolutionaries versus some of their contemporaries elsewhere in the world it makes you wonder why exactly the authorities in Ireland and Britain are having such a hard time closing down what is still an embryonic insurgency on the edges of mainstream Republicanism (though they are not exactly failing either).

Removal Of The RSS Feeds – Apologies

RSS feed diagram

RSS feeds – they look simple but…

Yes, I know, the RSS feeds to like-minded websites in Ireland, Scotland and elsewhere have been removed from An Sionnach Fionn. I’m afraid the reasons are technical, mostly to do with slower load times on my own webpages and poor SEO ranking due to the presence of multiple RSS links on ASF. So what to do? Many (many, many) readers have queried their disappearance and requested their return. I understand that they represent a convenient go-to list of news and views from the Celtic nations. So I will be providing an alternative to the RSS feeds through direct links categorised by language and country. While that carries it own issues it will keep load-times to a minimum while pleasing the web crawlers of Google and Bing. Hopefully. Your views and opinions are welcome (not to mention alternative solutions).

An Sionnach Fionn – 400,000 And Rising

What An Sionnach Fionn stands against - censorship, the corruption of democracy and the dissemination of propaganda as fact

What An Sionnach Fionn stands against – censorship, the corruption of democracy and the dissemination of propaganda as fact (Íomhá: Indy Media Ireland)

A quick post to note that after two-and-a-half years of existence An Sionnach Fionn has now passed 400,000 views, the majority achieved in the last eighteen months. For a website expressing progressive Republican views on an island nation where such opinions are regarded as strictly verboten by much of the media establishment I am quite pleased with that modest number. The three most popular articles so far have been 2012’s Lets Speak The Truth: Those Who Hate Irish Speakers Do So Because They Are Racists… and 2013’s The 1969 Truthers and Death Squad Britain – The Past That Won’t Stay Hidden (with nearly a thousand “shares” each on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other social media). So can I just thank everyone who has helped make this possible through their support, media sharing, comments, emails, messages, tips and links (especially the latter two).

And for your consideration flexible democrat and British apologist-in-chief Eoghan Harris venting as only he can in the Sunday Independent newspaper:

“… it seems clear to me that one of the main causes is the manipulation of the internet by the agents of atavistic nationalism.

Increasingly, internet political sites are infiltrated by a band of anonymous fanatical nationalists.

But it won’t be long ironed out if IRA apologists are able to have a free run on the internet…”

And again here as he issues a call to arms on behalf of the Neo-Unionist group-think:

“…there is no sign that the State, the national broadcasters or civic leaders have enough interest acting in loco parentis on the moral side, particularly when it comes to protecting young Irish people from the propaganda of the Recurring IRA which is peddled on the internet.

Right now most Irish adolescents receive their historical education from the internet. By and large, it is dominated by a toxic nationalist lobby, preaching the grisly gospels of Anglophobia and anti-Unionism.”

Does he mean us? I think he does ;-)

Responses To The Metro Herald “Nazis” Letter

Ian Mac an Ghaill’s letter to the Metro Herald criticising the description of Irish-speaking citizens in Ireland as “Nazis”, as published by the newspaper in the days previous

Ian Mac an Ghaill’s letter to the Metro Herald criticising the description of Irish-speaking citizens in Ireland as “Nazis”, as published by the newspaper in the days previous (Íomhá: Metro Herald 2013)

Following on from my criticism of the Dublin-based newspaper, the Metro Herald, for publishing a letter from a correspondent styling himself “Aaron” comparing Irish-speaking citizens and communities of Ireland to “Nazis”, two replies have been published by the Metro, one from Ian Mac an Ghaill and one from Daithí Mac Lochlainn. Fair play to both for getting through the vetting process and having their views put into print.

Metro Herald Letter: Irish-Speakers Are “Nazis”

A letter published by the Metro Herald newspaper calls Irish-speaking citizens of Ireland “Nazis”

A letter published by the Metro Herald newspaper calls Irish-speaking citizens of Ireland “Nazis” (Íomhá: Metro Herald 2013)

The Metro Herald is a free newspaper published in Ireland with both print and electronic editions, and distributed principally in Dublin city. On the 4th of November 2013 on page 11 of the newspaper under its “Mailbox” section it published a letter from a correspondent where he described the Irish-speaking community of Ireland as “Nazis“.

“Having moved house recently, I found myself at the unfamiliar bus stop checking the times and route. Guess what? All the bus stops were listed in Irish. It’s the same for the 15 other Dublin Bus ‘information’ boards I’ve since checked. So much for the majority of users who either don’t speak the language, or those who don’t know every placename in Irish. Talk about bowing to the Gaeilgeoir Nazis.

Aaron”

There are extensive laws in this country covering discrimination and incitement to hatred. I’m calling on all readers of An Sionnach Fionn to make an official complaint as stated in the procedures outlined here by the Office of the Press Ombudsman. The first action is a letter directly to the editor of the Metro Herald asking for a printed apology in the newspaper for the publication of a reader opinion liable to incite hatred towards Irish-speaking citizens and communities in Ireland. The address to send the letter to (marked “Confidential – not for publication“) is:

“The Editor, Metro Herald, 1st Floor, Independent House, 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1″

I am further asking for emails to be sent to the Herald Metro at “info@metroherald.ie” with the following text:

“To The Editor,

Is it the policy of the Metro Herald to publish letters from individuals inciting hatred or discrimination towards Ireland’s Irish-speaking community as appeared in your publication in the 4th of November 2013 edition under the “Mailbox” section on page 11? Does the Metro Herald agree with the description by the letter-writer of Irish-speaking citizens or Gaeilgeorí as “Nazis”? What steps do the editorial team of the Metro Herald intend to take to rectify the publication of a statement expressing bigotry towards a sizeable minority of the nation’s population? Will you be issuing and publishing a formal apology to your Hibernophone readers while reviewing your editorial guidelines?

Furthermore does the Metro Herald support the provision of bilingual public signs in Dublin in accordance with the Official Languages Act of 2003? Does the Metro Herald accept that this is a legal requirement that Bus Átha Cliath is obliged to fulfil, along with many other regulatory requirements? Does the Metro Herald have an editorial position that opposes equality of treatment for Irish-speaking citizens with their English-speaking peers?

I await your answers with interest.”

In addition the newspaper can be be reached at its Facebook and Twitter profiles if some prefer to contact it via these platforms.

Please, I urge as many people as possible to help put a stop to the petty and casual bigotry that Irish-speakers and their families experience in Ireland both through the local and national news media. If we act we can stop it – if we fail to act then we will continue to allow ourselves or others to be victimised in this manner.

(With thanks to An Lorcánach)

Hobitit – The Hobbits

Hobitit or The Hobbits from Finnish public broadcaster Yle, 1993

I thought I’d post this to An Sionnach Fionn since few people will have heard of it let alone seen it outside of its home country. In 1993 the television and radio network Yle, Finland’s public service broadcaster, produced a mini-series loosely based upon a theatre version of J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy “The Lord of the Rings” called Hobitit (literally “The Hobbits”). Shown in 30-minute episodes over nine weeks on the channel Yle TV1 the series featured actors shot on studio sets with some questionable costumes and make-up choices not to mention some very early TV video effects (the worse effects of all!). However it is well-regarded by many Finnish fans of Tolkien and Jounin Ensio has posted the entire series to YouTube with the addition of English subtitles:

1. Bilbo

2. Tie (Road)

3. Vanha metsä (Old Forest)

4. Pomppiva poni (Prancing Pony)

5. Konkari (Strider)

6. Lórien

7. Mordor

8. Tuomiovuori (Mount Doom)

9. Vapautus (Liberation)

Eat The Old

Bono wishes us proles a happy fuck you from the masters of the Neo-Ascendacy

Bono wishes us proles a happy fuck you from the masters of the Neo-Ascendacy

Back in September the journal.ie, an online Irish news and current affairs website, held a poll asking its readers if they believed in global warming. Leaving aside the idiocy of asking the question in the first place (where have these people been for the last decade?) only 44% of those who took part in the poll replied that they did believe in it while an astonishing 42% indicated that they did not believe in climate change. Of course in recent years the commentariat of the Journal has an gained an unenviable reputation in Ireland as an online home for those expressing some quite extreme right-wing socio-economic views so perhaps this is no big surprise. If Ireland has a “Tea Party” movement then thejournal.ie is where it gathers (though it is worth bearing in mind the statistics on web use from the Guardian which indicate that over 90% of its Comments are left by less than 10% of its online readers). However in this report on the rally today by senior citizens in Dublin protesting the continued policies of indentured servitude being inflicted on its own people by the Fine Oibre coalition government the basic inhumanity of Ireland’s far right (for such they are) is revealed in all its online glory. Screw the old. Screw the young. Screw the ill. Screw the weak. Screw everyone but the rapacious Neo Ascendancy at the top and its parasitical hangers-on in the glorification of all that is self.

Such is the ideology of the Mé Féin movement. But then Jonathan Swift summed up their unchanging views far better than I: A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People From Being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick.