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Friday, March 6, 2015

Helen Callanan and that 'confession'. Irish Independent at it's best against Ian Bailey

The Irish Independent and their ‘reporters’; you either love ‘em or hate ‘em or find them believable or not. They are at least amusing. Little over a week ago the High Court got to listen to ‘evidence’ from a former editor of the Independent group of newspapers, Helen Callanan, in a libel case involving Ian Bailey.

                                                                         Helen Callanan

Always sniffing for a good story, true or not,  she apparently caught a fish without even casting a line. The fish that she thought she caught was Ian Bailey, labelled as the ‘self confessed’ suspect in the Sophie Du Planter murder case relentlessly and mercilessly by The Irish Independent, because they believed he did murder her. I digress. Back to the fishy story.

                                                                          Ian Bailey

In her ‘evidence’  she said she could not believe her luck when Ian Bailey told her on the phone that it was he that killed Sophie in order to resurrect his career. This was after Helen told him that he was a suspect in the case. It was even worth €20,000 to him for the story as well. Helen, clearly flabbergasted by this marvellous turn of events, by her own admission, was on to the scoop of her career. Check that, she eventually got the boot for nicking staplers at the office. (just joking, that part is made up, the stapler part) 

Can you even imagine ! This was a chap she never even met and yet here he was, cool and calm on the phone, confessing to his new best friend in the hope of getting a job from her or some other compensation for his story. All the material, which she classed as evidence, was duly written into the record as proof of his guilt which was, according to her, given entirely by the oral evidence of Ian. The National Enquirer better snap this lady up quick now that she is the former editor of the Sunday Tribune. 

Yes, Ian had provided stories before for the paper but now he was the main event! Helen lamented at the libel proceedings that the biggest fiasco that she had ever encountered was that the reporter she had on a story was in fact the suspect. It seems she never considered the story itself a candidate for a fiasco or even inglorious pantomime. This is ground breaking journalism at it’s best at the Independent group. What do they teach at these journalism schools? 

The reality of this cringe worthy and non-corroborated fiction by Callanan is note worthy, for she knows too that the trash group newspapers, that she once served like a trained lap dog, will be next in the libel firing line after he gets done with the other useful idiots that the corrupt cops used to try and make him into a ‘confessed murderer' rather than the innocent man he clearly is.

Barry Clifford

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Illustrator Tomi Ungerer says Ireland is the best place to live

                                                                        Tom Ungerer

HUMOUR has served the illustrator Tomi Ungerer well. He’s endured an uncommon amount of adversity in his life.

Born in 1931, his father died when he was three years old, leaving his family penniless.
His hometown, Strasbourg, was occupied by the Nazis several years later. French, his mother tongue, was outlawed, so he learnt German in four months.
In art class, under the Nazi regime, one of his first tasks was to draw ‘a Jew’. He also witnessed murders.
“My mother was very courageous,” he says.

“We always took everything as a joke. I remember very well there were official posters on every wall, one right across the street, saying you weren’t allowed to have a radio or you would be sentenced to death. And, every night, we listened to London on the radio. We never thought about the consequences. You just live with the situation.

“Afterwards, I happened to be in Colmar, the last bridgehead the Germans had across the Rhine. The battle raged for three months.
“I know exactly what it is to live in a cellar, to be bombed, shelled, to go without water, electricity. I didn’t need television. I saw the whole thing. By the age of 14, I’d seen the war like an infantryman, digging trenches for the Germans.

“It was craic. When things go bad, your only self-defence is to make fun of everything. Sometimes, during bombing, we would laugh hysterically. For the rest of your life, you appreciate much more all the mad things you did.”

Ungerer has been blacklisted and has had his children’s books banned from libraries in the United States, because he was moonlighting as an illustrator for erotic fiction.
He once spent six months observing a dominatrix — “the one who does the job where the psychiatrists stop” — in a bordello in Hamburg.

Puritanical America couldn’t, as one critic put it, reconcile his “kidso” work with his “porno” work. It led to his self-imposed exile from America in 1970.
He now lives in west Cork. At 83, his attitude to sex remains unchanged, open-minded.
“With everything, people should be allowed to do what they want,” he says, “as long as they don’t hurt anyone and it’s by mutual consent. Like in France, if people want to have their shirts open, why shouldn’t they have their shirts open? They’re not hurting anyone.

“Does everything always have to be so extreme? People take themselves so seriously. Whenever you take things too seriously, you’re bound to have more extremes.”
In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo murders in Paris, Ungerer was widely quoted in international media, and compared the actions of the killers of his fellow satirists to those of the Nazis.

“Every bullet shot at my brothers has hit my conscious self – I feel as if I had been killed by proxy,” he wrote in a blog immediately afterwards.
The magazine has profiled him in the past, and he empathises with how perilous the job of a satirical cartoonist can be.

For his militant stance on civil rights and the Vietnam War, among other crusades, he was targeted by the FBI during his last years in America, and his work in fostering Franco-German relations angered zealots in France.
“I know how it feels to get banned and ostracised. When I arrived in Ireland in 1975, I received death threats from French patriots, because I was engaged in Franco-German friendship, saying, ‘OK, if you come back to France, we’ll mow you down’.

“There is such a thing as freedom of press. There is such a thing as satire. I’ve done over 140 books, written and illustrated, and a lot of them are just plain satire.”
However, while he utterly condemned the Charlie Hebdo killings, Ungerer isn’t comfortable with some material that people find offensive.

“To make fun of Muhammad, that’s not satire, that’s gratuitous. Satire can be close-minded. There’s a limit. I’m very split there. One has to think of the consequences. People’s religion is something that gives them hope,” he says.
Within a year of landing in New York, in 1956, Ungerer had published his first children’s book, The Mellops Go Flying, about a family of fearless pigs and their sausage dog.

Several more outlandish books followed, including classics such as The Three Robbers, Crictor and Moon Man.
The last has been adapted as a film that will screen as part of this week’s Cork French Film Festival.

The books left an indelible mark. Their wicked humour and Ungerer’s contrarian approach — he characterised unloved animals, like rats, snakes and vultures as heroes — turned the genre on its head.
He found a key that unlocked children’s imaginations.

He realised they don’t see the world sentimentally, and attributing redeeming qualities to unpopular animals was a masterstroke.
At the time, children’s books were full of “bunny rabbits and lettuce leaves and blue skies and shit like that,” said Maurice Sendak, author of Where the Wild Things Are.

Sendak was interviewed before he died in 2012 for a documentary on Ungerer entitled Far Out Isn’t Far Enough, the title of which is one of Ungerer’s catchphrases.
Ungerer says the best gift you can give a child is a magnifying glass. Make them curious. Let them find the detail.

If you make it too easy, you’re not allowing them to explore. His influence can be seen, for example, in shows like Sesame Street.
“One of the reasons we came to live in Ireland was people’s attitude to education and children. What we’ve always liked is that children here are being taught as adults and respected for their opinions.
“It’s very important. It’s not a case of people saying to their children, ‘Shut up and say ‘yes’.”

Ungerer was welcomed back into the fold in 1998. He was belatedly awarded a Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration, the equivalent of a Nobel Prize amongst his peers, and Phaidon Press began to reissue his children’s books.
Several more new publications followed.

There is a museum in Strasbourg dedicated to Ungerer’s work, while he is still ensconced in west Cork.
“One of the things we liked about this country was that we didn’t find any arrogance,” Ungerer says.
“People are proud of being Irish, but they’re never pushing it on you. I’ve been fighting arrogance all my life. I was exposed to French arrogance, German arrogance, English arrogance.

“I have found out the three words how to get any snobbish, high-nosed Englishman off his saddle. You know what I ask him ‘Are you Irish’? You wouldn’t believe the stuttering. How can an Englishman explain to a Frenchman that he’s not Irish? It’s one of my little recipes.” 

As part of the 26th Cork French Film Festival, organised by the Alliance Francaise de Cork, Tomi Ungerer will present Moon Man at the Gate Cinema at 4.15pm on Wednesday.

Tomi Ungerer appears at creative conference OFFSET, at  Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin, this weekend. See

Richard Fitzpatrick

Photo Minute: Fright or flight

A buffalo runs down a tiger
                                                                        Both Get away
                               A weasel tries to ambush a woodpecker and its fright and flight
                                                               Both live to tell the tale

Things to do when you think you have nothing to do

Do an act of service

Pursue a hobby

Read a book

Write a letter

Call your Mother or Father

Clean up your place
Take a walk

Read a newspaper or magazine

Call those who don'd get called

Visit those who don't get visitors

A Service Dog......... a Trusted Friend.

My little boy, Morgan, is different. Not so you'd notice but the 'difference' makes a huge impact on his life. He has Aspergers Syndrome - ASD. High Functioning Autism if you must give him a label. He was diagnosed when he was at four and then discharged, with no support offered. I've had to learn how to care for my son through hands-on experience and the Internet. And I've just discovered something that I hope will change his life.

I read about Trained Service Dogs and how they can help change the often difficult and challenging lives of children like Morgan and now my friends and family are campaigning tirelessly to raise funds for a dog that will be deeply loved and will return that love with care, protection, fun and confidence for Morgan.

To me, 10-year-old Morgan is gorgeous, sensitive and loving. he sees the world from a different angle and says the funniest things at the most inappropriate times such as saying to his Step Dad, "I'm really sorry to tell you this but I think your Gran is going to die soon" at her 90th Birthday Party. Yes, it raised a few eyebrows there too!

You see he can't read situations, or facial expressions or even emotions for that matter so it wasn't funny to him, it was a fact. Though I do still secretly have a chuckle about it, this social inability leaves him very vulnerable. Imagine not knowing who is joking or being mean. Who is a stranger and who is just being friendly. A Service Dog would respond by putting itself between Morgan and any possible threat.

Morgan is a bright boy, above academic level for his age and he has kept us very busy. One of his earliest talents was using the computer and by age four was logging on independently, We purchased a game subscription, not realising a budding hacker was in our midst, watching passwords being typed in, logged into the payment details and at the grand old age of Four and half, emptied his fathers bank account.

Another of his skills is Lego building, currently part way through The Death Star.We now have so much Lego we could build an extension. As each interest develops into an obsession, Prepare for a challenge as I pirouette round a room that has an assortment of figures and space crafts in various poses for a boy who has diagnosed his Mother with Legophobia and will flip if they aren't in the right place when he returns. Now you are starting to get the picture.

However, its not all fun, cuddles and brick models. Challenging children have challenging behaviour as does Morgan. He was a lamb really until bullying opened his eyes to being different. It made him realise he didn't fit in and he gets frustrated, upset and angry. Yet while his anger is fleeting his remorse and guilt seem to consume him. Again a Service dog would see the signs and respond before he lost control.

He is very polite, well mannered, most of the time and articulate. However, take him out of his comfort zone (usually his onesie), and you will see the anxiety and panic that makes him unable to cope. Its called sensory overload and well, its difficult to explain but Morgan's anxiety has become so great that other than visiting our local newsagent for his favourite drink on his scooter once a day, he's becoming trapped in his own home. Its debilitating for him. A harness is attached to his dog who would then sense his anxiety and move into action.

As they've gone through school together the difference between he and his sister, Sophie, has shown most starkly not in achievement but in social life as Sophie's solid friendship group have a diary full of social events while Morgan's only ever invite came from one of Sophie's friends. Leaving him asking one of the hardest questions I've had to hear "Why aren't I allowed friends Mummy?". Now I know a dog isn't going to give him a party but it is going to give him a trusted companion..

In a society where it seems its acceptable to discriminate against anyone who doesn't fit the norm, maybe it pays to remember that children are born accepting of everything around them and learn what isn't acceptable from adults. This bright little star needs to shine. The dogs we are raising money for are trained to aid all aspects of every day life. Its the difference between Morgan looking out of the window wishing he could go and having the confidence to put on his coat, Knowing that if he feels anxious he has someone with him who knows what to do, isn't that what every 10 year old boy deserves?

Suzanne Burnett

Ten Ancient Viking thoughts for the day

"One's back is vulnerable, unless one has a brother"

"There are more things to be thought of by men than money alone"

"Never slay more than one main the same stock,and never break the peace which good men and true make between thee and others"

"Then said Atli, when he got the thrust, 'These broad spears are becoming a fashion.' After that he fell forward over the threshold"

"He is bad tempered, and may be that I shall let another's wound be my warning"

"There are few more certain tokens of ill than not to know how to accept the good"

"Where fault can be good, the good is ignored"

"A tale is but half told when only one person tells it"

"No one is a total fool if he can be silent"

"Eyes cannot hide a woman's love for a man"

Photo Minute: Beautiful Scotland

Unthinkable: Is religion just a matter of taste?

Ideologies have a power to build communities; that’s why they endure, says philosopher Alexandra Grieser 

‘That religion is back on the political stage has much to do with its power to build communities and provide blueprints for action.’ Photograph: Thinkstock
Philosophers such as David Hume  and William James argued long ago that reason and emotion are intertwined. Discoveries in neuroscience have confirmed their hunch. Yet today’s debates on ideology and religion seem reluctant to acknowledge the evidence.
People are labelled either left or right, either religious or scientific, as though they wear ready-made uniforms of belief. But as Trinity College Dublin lecturer Dr Alexandra Grieser points out, ideology is never purely a matter of principles; it is also bound up with sensations and tastes. Grieser, who is assistant professor for the theory of religion, argues that we can deepen our understanding of religious belief through aesthetics: the study of sensory values.
She provides today’s idea: “Aesthetic forms are never only expressions of ideologies; they create the realities we live in.”generation: it’s a perilous time to be a child in Ireland
How is an ideology more than just the principles underlying it?
“Ideologies are convincing not only on the basis of what they say, but also on the basis of how they link ideas to the life of people.
“Political ideologies have always linked up with forms of art, symbols and architecture; they ‘tuned’ the body, as in parades and by uniforms, and they prescribed how to sense, feel and behave between kitchen and bed, without much of a difference between religious and, say, communist ideals in this respect.
“Religion, however, has the advantage of being rooted in long historical traditions. It harks back to repertoires so well-established that even its critics have to deal with them.
“Today, it seems that the time of the great political ideologies is over. It is more the mediated world full of promises and advertisements that led sociologists of the 1990s to observe a ‘McDonaldisation’ of our perception; we’re thinking we have a free choice, but we’re choosing uniformity.
“Ironically, McDonald’s recent TV spot advertises that ‘taste is a powerful thing’ by showing that cheese and honey are disgusting, and only the burger gives the security of knowing what you get.
“Indeed, taste is powerful, especially when it comes to encountering difference. Exclusiveness makes aesthetic ideologies political.”

Does the experiential nature of religion explain why it is so resilient to attacks from science?

“That we expect religion to ‘go away’ has much to do with the western Enlightenment idea that science would replace religion and make it superfluous or wrong. But religions change over time, and they are not confined to explaining natural phenomena.
“For some time it looked like sociologist Robert Bellah was right in saying that religions have become a matter of ‘habits of the heart’. If you want to know about astronomy, you don’t need to ask the Vatican any more, but if you are looking for communal rites, for a meaningful form of coping with crises and death, you wouldn’t go to the university either.
“Moreover, science does not deliver the values that determine how to consequentially act. Science and technology even brought along problems we never had before, and religions gained a critical function when it comes to questions such as the redefinition of ‘brain death’, or what we should be doing on human embryos.
“That religion is also back on the political stage has much to do with its power to build communities and provide blueprints for action.”

Can you understand religion, then, unless you have also experienced it? 

“Maybe it is even harder to understand religion when you think that the experience of others should resemble your own. If I want to understand the interplay between religion and violence, for instance, it might be more important to look at what motivates people than to share their experience.
“But if one wants to study the many aspects of religion, it certainly helps to assume that religious people are ordinary human beings, and not just ‘those weird people believing strange things’. It is on the basis of their humanity that we can understand even extreme actions or attitudes.”

How has neuroscience become a battle ground for ideologies?

“It might sound a bit like a political thriller to say that the military has a huge interest in brain research. However, Edward Snowden has shown that we are living in such a political thriller every day, and movies such as The Matrix have already responded to the idea that knowing about the brain also means knowing how to control it.
“We have great research that shows how the brain has been imagined as the steering centre of our personhood, as the commando bridge of our body, and as the computer that can be reprogrammed for optimal functioning. But recent findings show how strongly entangled our ‘embodied mind’ is, and that we create the brains we have, not least through how we treat and use our bodies.
“Instead of creating a neuro-religion and believing that fixing the brain will fix all odds of human life, it is important to ask the simple question that philosopher Catherine Malabou  wants societies to discuss: what should we do with our brain?”

Dr Alexandra Grieser and cognitive scientist Dr Fred Cummins are giving a joint talk on March 4th, 6-7pm, called The Ground from Which We Speak, as part of the Dublin City Council Welcome Disturbances exhibition at the Lab Gallery, in partnership with UCD Art in Science.


  • Question: Should you listen to your heart or your head?
  • Muhammad replies: “God created the angels from intellect without sensuality, the beasts from sensuality without intellect, and humanity from both intellect and sensuality. So when a person’s intellect overcomes his sensuality, he is better than the angels, but when his sensuality overcomes his intellect, he is worse than the beasts.”
Joe Humphrey

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Photo Minute: A terrifying beauty...

Vladimir Putin talking tough....

“I love soccer”

Vladimer Putin

“Anyone who doesn't regret the passing of the Soviet Union has no heart. Anyone who wants it restored has no brains.”

“History proves that all dictatorships, all authoritarian forms of government are transient. Only democratic systems are not transient. Whatever the shortcomings, mankind has not devised anything superior.”

“Nobody should pin their hopes on a miracle.”

“ It is necessary to suppress any extremist actions, on all sides, regardless of their origin.”

“Yes, life in Chechnya so far looks more like a life after a natural disaster.”
(After attacking it) 
    “Terrorists are always a threat to someone. If we’ll be scared of them, it means they won.”

“Why should we talk to people who are child-killers? No one has a moral right to tell us to talk to child killers.”

“Comrade wolf knows who to eat, as the saying goes. It knows when to eat and is not about to listen to anyone.”

“Terrorism has no nationality or religion.”

“ If you press a spring too hard, it will snap back.You must always remember this.”

                                               “ There is no such thing as a former KGB man.” 

"If you are ready to become the most radical of Islamists and to be circumcised, I invite you to Moscow. I would recommend that he who does the surgery does it so you'll have nothing growing back afterward."

 "We will wipe out them in the outhouse.” (on Islamic terrorists who happen to be
going to the toilet, an outside one)

McWilliams recalls 'nasty attacks' after predicting banking collapse

One of the country’s most high-profile economists was subjected to personal and nasty attacks over his prophetic warnings about an imminent banking crash, he has told an inquiry.

David McWilliams, also a columnist and broadcaster, said he was vilified for predicting and regularly cautioning about a looming crisis in the years running up to the country’s spectacular economic collapse in 2008.

The former central banker, who contributes to several Irish newspapers said he was “slapped down” by fellow economists over his gloomy forecasts and accused the media of an “undoubted herd mentality”.

Mr McWilliams said people were “swanning around” now with titles like banking expert who “didn’t open their beak” while living in Ireland in the run-up to the financial nosedive.

Senior bank bosses cautioned him about “dangerous talk” and he was told “don’t frighten the horses”.

But he told the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry in Dublin that editors never “muzzled” him.

Mr McWilliams said it was “very hurtful” when his motives were publicly questioned and he was upset about his wife and mother reading the attacks on him at the time.

“Irish mammies read all that stuff,” he told parliamentarians.

“It was very personal and quite nasty.”

The banking inquiry is currently holding a module into early warnings, divergent and contrarian views during the run-up to the crisis.

Despite his high profile warnings, Mr McWilliams said he was never contacted by anyone in power until the banking meltdown reached boiling point in September 2008.

“Categorically, not one advisor, not one minister, not one civil servant, not one member of the regulator, nobody,” he said, when asked who contacted him.

“In actual fact, I would have been toxic to all of them and they would have avoided me like the plague.

“All this was going on and never once was I asked my opinion about anything, by anybody informally or formally.”

But after meeting then Finance Minister Lenihan during a radio interview on September 6 that year, they swapped telephone numbers and Mr Lenihan called to his home in Killiney, south Dublin, 11 days later.

They discussed the options in his kitchen, followed by around 10 phone calls and one more face-to-face meeting on October 4.

“I never saw or met him again,” Mr McWilliams said.

“I think he was using me as a sounding board more than anything else.”

His only other official contact was from then Environment Minister and junior coalition partner Green Party leader John Gormley, who telephoned him at the World Economic Forum in China to find out “what was going on”, he said.

“I said I’m in Beijing, you tell me,” he told the hearing.

Mr Lenihan was also telephoning him “asking me all the time what are the foreigners saying”, he added.

“Why didn’t they ring their own bloody advisors instead of me? I never got paid a cent for all this,” Mr McWilliams said.

“Why did they have to ring a bloke in China to find out what was going on under their noses?”

When he asked them about this, their response was that until now everything they had been told was wrong, he said.

After the sporadic contacts over a few weeks he said he heard nothing again from anyone in power.

The commentator said he backed a State guarantee for bank depositors at the time, but only as a temporary measure until Mr Lenihan could find out the full facts about what was going on inside the banks.

A €440bn blanket guarantee was agreed by the then Fianna Fail/Green Party coalition on September 30.

Mr McWilliams said Ireland’s banking crisis was absolutely preventable but the banks staged “a financial coup d’etat” making sure their creditors were paid off while citizens were left miles behind.

Jack Powell: 75 years a vet, always with a Jack Russell on his shoulder

                                       Born: May 29th, 1913, died: February 6th, 2015
Jack Powell and his dog Trixy from the book Nenagh: This Must be the Place. Photograph: Pádraig Ó Flannabhra.

Jack (Ginger) Powell, who has died at 101, was Europe’s longest-serving vet when he retired from practice after 75 years. Set in his ways when it came to cars, for the last 62 years he drove only Volkswagens, including the first Beetle in Nenagh in 1952 and bought a new one last year to celebrate his 100th birthday.

When they look back on their childhood days, anyone who grew up on a farm around Nenagh in North Tipperary will remember him as the vet who always had an alert Jack Russell terrier, Trudy or Trixy, perched on his shoulder when he drove into the yard to treat an animal.

Known in racing circles as a skilled equine vet, he had a great memory for pedigree and a special gift for dealing with difficult horses. A foal that he had bought for £400 went on to be a winner at the RDS Horse Show. Named Royal Frolic, he sold him to a British trainer and in 1976 he won in the Cheltenham Gold Cup by five lengths at odds of 14/1.

Born on the family farm at Blean, not far from the village of Toomevara in the foothills of the Silvermine Mountains, Powell went to the local national school, followed by a year in Ballymackey Church of Ireland Diocesan School. His second-level education was at a boarding school in Sligo and in 1932 he went to veterinary college in Dublin, graduating in 1936.

An extraordinary man by any standard, having milked his first cow at the age of five, he loved his job and had a genuine vocation for working with animals.

Still practising after 75 years, he finally retired in 2011, a milestone marked by then President Mary McAleese with the presentation of a gold medal award as Europe’s longest-serving vet, a record unlikely to be broken.

On qualifying in 1936, he went to England, taking up a post with the British ministry for agriculture. Involved with the first testing of animals for TB in 1938, he was also immersed in the 1937 foot-and-mouth epidemic.

Astonishingly, he was also a pilot with the Canadian Air Force, serving as a flying instructor during the second World War. In 1943, he married his wife, Sheila, and in 1947 they returned to set up his practice in Nenagh.

Looking back on the changing face of Ireland after a life which spanned the War of Independence, the Civil War and two World Wars, he recalled that land now fetching £20,000 an acre could be bought for as little as £10 an acre.

“We had no electric light, no television, no motor car. We walked to school, regardless of weather. We walked the cattle to the fair and so, of course, the standard of living now is vastly superior to what it was 50 or 60 years ago. Everyone has 4x4s, faxes, telephones, all mod cons. Rural Ireland as I knew it has gone. I’m still part of it and I enjoy living in it, but small farmers have gone the same way small shopkeepers will disappear. One has to accept that changes are inevitable.”

Predeceased by his wife, Sheila, Powell is survived by his sons Charles, John and Richard.

Enda won his own lottery when he became Taoiseach

It’s a bit rich of Mr Kenny to launch a commission on low pay when his salary is €185,000 a year, or €3,500 a week, which is more than the leaders of the much larger Britain and France earn

                                                                                 Enda Kenny

IT WAS Enda Kenny’s Marie Antoinette moment. Reality and regality diverged as the Taoiseach showed how out of touch he is with the people he aspires to lead.

Launching a low-pay commission, Mr Kenny was asked by the Irish Examiner if there was scope to further cut the salary of the Taoiseach, or if he was worth the €3,500 a week we pay him. He replied: “Very much so.”
So, there you have it, our very own L’Oreal Taoiseach, paid more than the leaders of Britain or France — because he’s worth it.

Mr Kenny’s handlers knew he had dropped a howler, but it was too late. The comment’s arrogance will resonate to polling day.

The Taoiseach then sensed things slipping away from him, but his efforts to regain the initiative made matters worse. “Salaries are down 40% in the case of the Taoisigh — we’ve cut everything to the bone. And your question is typical,” he said.

I suspect that the people who really are on the bones of their arse think that ‘struggling by’ on just €3,500 a week is still a bit of a juicy one.

And as for the comment “your question is typical”, which he sneered at this column? ‘Typical of a free press holding an arrogant executive to power, is that what you meant, Taoiseach’?

Erm, no, that is probably not what Mr Kenny had in mind. It was more likely along the lines of: “Typical the Irish Examiner should dare question me, rather than just accept my magnificence as read.”

If you can’t ask a Taoiseach at a low-pay event about his vast salary, when he is trying to convince us he has finally woken up, after four years in power, to the reality of people scrapping by on a pittance, where can you?
The CSO has just revealed that 144,000 children are living in consistent poverty. This means their families cannot afford the basic levels of heating and clothing they need. So, is it acceptable for a Taoiseach to blithely insist that he is worth three-and-a-half grand a week?

Mr Kenny is also always banging on about wanting to make this the best ‘small country’ in which to do business.

So, should the business of our leaders not be to cut their own financial cloth in accordance with the needs of a small country?

Though well down on the obscene €310,000 that — surprise, surprise — former taoiseach Bertie Ahern paid himself, at €185,000 Mr Kenny gets a very good deal compared with other Western leaders.

Before the Greek crisis sent the euro into a temporary plunge, Mr Kenny was earning more than Britain’s PM, David Cameron, who gets €170,000 a year, as does the President of France.

Britain and France are the fifth- and sixth-largest economies in the world, are nuclear powers and wield a veto at the UN security council. Yet, the Taoiseach of Ireland — a country that has a population smaller than the 5.3million boasted by Yorkshire — gets paid more than their leaders.

Does that make sense to anyone other than Mr Kenny and his bank manager?

It is just one week since Mr Kenny, at the Fine Gael national conference, aped the British prime minister’s slogan “We are all in this together”.

And his wage comments prove that the words are just as empty in his mouth as they are in that of his fellow Tory across the Irish Sea.

It is the same with thrusting Thatcherite Leo Varadkar, who, at the height of the anti-water-charge anger, expressed bemusement that people were getting so excited at having to pay €3 a week. But then when you earn almost as much as Cameron does — €157,000 — for being an Irish Cabinet minister, then, really, what is €3 out of €3,000 a week?

One of the achievements of this Government was to restore the shameful Fianna Fáil-Green Party cut in the minimum wage, and the establishment of the low-pay commission is a belated, but very welcome step in the right direction on wage equality.

But when you have the Cabinet spouting crap about all being in this together, while they pocket three grand a week, at the same time as cutting child benefit and snatching €80 a week from lone parents as a way of forcing them to take jobs (what jobs?), the political spectacle just becomes nauseating.

Mr Kenny was also playing fast and loose with the facts with his sloppy remarks about the Taoiseach’s salary being down 40%, as some of these cuts were made in the previous Government.

When Mr Kenny assumed the top office, he was entitled to €214,000, after cuts by the collapsing Fianna Fáil administration.

Mr Kenny decided to draw €200,000, and then this was further reduced to €185,000, under the Haddington road deal, meaning it fell by 15% from what he could have had under his watch — though the ‘lower’ level is still far above what he was receiving as opposition leader.

Mr Kenny has suddenly popped-up on a few soft-question interviews in recent weeks, because his minders have seen the polling data, which shows the public regards him as aloof. They think he does not feel their pain.

The new charm offensive was supposed to restore in the public mind the image of the old, easy-going Enda.
Well, his L’Oreal comment has certainly been offensive to people getting by on a meagre €8.65 an hour, but where is the charm?

Of course, Marie Antoinette never actually said: “Let them eat cake”.
But Mr Kenny did say he is “very much” worth three and a half grand a week.

And the end result is the same — an angry, abandoned public demanding their leaders’ heads.

Shaun Connolly