Interesting article on Bloomberg examining the impact of Europe’s economic depression and how that has effected the north-east of Ireland in particular, where of course the added dimension of the continued British Occupation fuels growing political and communal tensions. Among the more important facts are the following:
“After falling to a 30-year low following the accord, the unemployment rate is now back where it was and as high as 27 percent for males in some Belfast neighborhoods, levels last seen before the peace process began.
Between 2005 and 2008, home prices almost doubled. Then they dropped by about 50 percent.
The region has a higher proportion of empty stores …with a 21 percent vacancy rate.
In Belfast, one in four retail units is empty…
About 27 percent of the population is defined as economically inactive, or without a job and not looking for one, labor statistics show.”
Regardless of one’s politics, Left or Right, by any measure this is a crisis in the making with potentially devastating social consequences should it continue for a prolonged period of time (and five years now into a sustained depression all pointers are indicating exactly that). The fact that “Northern Ireland” exists solely on the basis of a huge financial subvention by the government in Britain (leaving aside the military aspects of the Occupation) simply reinforces its status as an artificial colonial entity – the last remnant of the British colony on the island of Ireland. Take away the economic, political and military muscle of Britain and the shoehorned architecture of partition would collapse.
Meanwhile in this part of the country the ongoing economic crisis seems to be finally sparking some signs of dissent amongst Irish voters. Well, excluding the usual 25% of the electorate who seem to regard the EU-ECB-IMF diktat as a golden opportunity to hammer down on the other 75% of the electorate. Crisis? What crisis? Over on the Cedar Lounge Revolution there is an excellent analysis by WorldbyStorm on the latest RedC/SBP poll showing broad public support for Croke Park II and by inference the much maligned Public Sector:
“This is stunning stuff given the media and political disparagement of the PS over the past four or five years. I’m genuinely surprised that the figures are so clearly pitched against the orthodoxy, indeed at a public opinion level it would make one question just what is the orthodoxy any longer. And it suggests that there’s a distinct disconnect between public opinion and the messages being put out on a continual basis by the Sunday Independent, parts of RTÉ, much of the IT – albeit in a lower key fashion, and in the SBP as well as the likes of George Hook, et al.”
On the percentages for party political support (which initially the SBP claimed as a fall for Sinn Féin and a rise for Fine Gael) WbS writes:
“Fine Gael: 28% (NC)
Fianna Fáil:** 25% (up by 1%)
Independents/Other:** 20% (down by 1%)
Sinn Féin: 16% (up by 2%)
Labour: 11% (down by 2%)
Stability for FG. it’s found it’s level. 1 per cent ahead of its 2007 rating. Long gone are the heady days of 36 per cent or even higher. Labour still sliding downwards. Sinn Féin recovering slightly since the previous month – is that indicative of a relationship between the SF and LP vote? Could be. Or it could a shift from Ind/Others which it is worth noting remain at the upper end of the strength throughout the past two years. Though it is entirely possible that the movement is also towards FF which is up marginally.
Pat Leahy makes the case that for both the Labour Party and SF things aren’t absolutely terrible. I wonder about the first – losing over half your representation, perhaps more on some poll projections is pretty grim. And while it is true that the LP is now at its average polling support for much of the 1980s onwards that’s hardly a great achievement. Anything but one would think. Moreover the game isn’t over yet, not by a long way. SF is indeed consolidating. It’s operating at a significantly higher level than 2011. But still, they’ll need to do better again. How they can fashion that outcome remains to be seen.”
And finally from Fine Gael TD Peter Mathews, darling of the right-wing media, a helpful insight on abortion and the view of men in suits thanks to some tough questioning from Vincent Brown (transcript in full over on the Boroadsheet):
“Browne: “Okay, isn’t there something terribly arrogant about us men particularly deciding in the case of women that they have to carry to full termination a baby within their womb irrespective of the consequences to them throughout the rest of their lives of doing so. Isn’t there terrible arrogance in that, involved in that?”
Mathews: “Well, you’re suggesting that arrogance arises in the case of all men. It doesn’t in my case. I have huge respect for my mother who looked after me, you know, through, before my birth ,after my birth, I have huge respect for wife who has borne our children, and I have huge respect for my daughter. And also for all my nieces.”
Browne: “You’re not dealing with the point I’m making, Peter.”
Mathews: “I am, Vincent. Not the way you want me to.”
Browne: “Yes of course you’re not the way I want you to because, you’re not answering the question.”
Mathews: “Truthfully, Vincent.”
Browne: “I think that maybe you haven’t listened. If in the case I have postulated to you somebody else was to say that oh no under no circumstances can your daughter take decisions for herself in circumstances such as that, wouldn’t you be appalled.”
Mathews: “I’m saying Vincent, that the reality is that expectant mothers and fathers, their partners or husbands do make those decisions for themselves, the same way for instance, hold on, men, men, well, men….”
Browne: “But they don’t. Sure the law has intervened they make criminals over them.”
Mathews: “Look, Vincent, men went down the mines and ways, men went into the mines and ways to provide for their family and their health was impaired and they died young. Look, for goodness, life is tough…. Vincent you know that, the ‘The Road Less Travelled’. ‘Life is tough’ that’s the first sentence of it. And it was written by a psychiatrist in 1957.”
Oh, well that is ok then. Life is tough. Women are criminals. Welcome to the Fine Gael socio-economic worldview.