Should I write about the upcoming Irish election along with Irish “justice” for criminals … ah why not? Perhaps you can find some common ground in both, because both politicians and criminals have already found their pot of gold.
I do realize that many of you could care less about Irish politics and Irish bad guys…I like politics and sometimes I mix up the bad guys.
In a previous post, I use a Groucho Marx quote to emphasis my lack of understanding of Irish politics. “A child of five would understand this…send someone to fetch me a child of five”.
I suggest you read carefully because there will be a quiz given at a later date. If you take it you will become eligible to win “a self powered row boat trip up the Acushnet River out of New Bedford harbor”.
The Taoiseach, (the Irish word for leader or Prime Minister) has dismissed the Dail (US equivalent of Congress) and called for general elections on February 25. Unlike the US, where you are able to vote directly for the President, here you vote for representatives to the Dail. The candidates and party receiving the majority of votes will form a government and the President will, in turn, appoint their party leader to the position of Taoiseach. Simple enough huh? But wait … the votes are tallied proportionally, so it is possible for someone that came in second to actually come in first because the person who came in first didn’t actually come in first … or who’s on first.
Send me a child of five quickly!
President Mary McAleese
Ok … seriously and with the help of Wikipedia, the Irish Times and my brother-in-law …
Ireland is a constitutional republic with a parliamentary system of government. The Oireachtas is a bicameral parliament comprising of the President of Ireland, Seanad Eireann as the upper house, and Dail Eireann as the lower house. The President serves as the head of state, and is elected for a seven-year term and may be re-elected only once. President Mary McAleese is currently serving a second term after taking office in November 1997. The next presidential election is scheduled for October 2011. The President is primarily a figurehead, but is entrusted with certain constitutional powers with the advice of the Council of State. Once the Dáil elects the head of government, the President appoints that person as the Taoiseach (prime minister). Most Taoisigh have served as the leader of the political party that gains the most seats in national elections. It has become customary for coalitions to form a government, as there has not been a single-party government since 1989.
Martyn Turner, Irish Times Brian Cowen Taoiseach, Ireland Isn’t this cartoonist the best you have seen in a long time?
The Seanad is composed of sixty members, with eleven nominated by the Taoiseach, six elected by two universities, and 43 elected by public representatives from panels of candidates established on a vocational basis. The Dáil has 166 members elected to represent multi-seat constituencies under the system of proportional representation and by means of the single transferable vote. Under the Constitution of Ireland, parliamentary elections must be held at least every seven years, though a lower limit may be set by statute law. The current statutory maximum term is five years..
The Government is constitutionally limited to fifteen members. No more than two members can be selected from the Seanad, and the Taoiseach, Tanaiste (deputy prime minister) and Minister for Finance must be members of the Dáil. The current government is a minority administration led by Fianna Fail with Brian Cowen as Taoiseach, supported by independents; the government’s former main coalition partner, the Green Party under leader John Gormley, withdrew from government in January 2010, precipitating early elections. As well as the Greens, other opposition parties in the current Dáil are Fine Gael under Enda Kenny, the Labour Party under Eamon Gilmore, and Sinn Fein led by Caoimhghin O Caolain. The last general election to the Dáil took place on 24 May 2007. The Dáil must be dissolved within five years after its first meeting following the previous election, and the Constitution of Ireland requires that a general election for members of the Dáil must take place not later than thirty days after the dissolution. The next general election must, therefore, take place no later than 14 July 2012. However, a general election has been confirmed for 25 February 2011 following the dissolution of the Dáil.
The parties that have candidates in the election are Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour Party, Green Party, Sinn Fein, Indepedents, Socialist Party, Workers Party, and the Communist Party of Ireland,
The party that has been in power during the later stages of the “Celtic Tiger” and the last several years of the melt down has been Fianna Fail with the Green Party playing a coalition role.
The Irish blame Fianna Fail for their economic problems and therefore it is expected they will elect Fine Gael as the ruling party.
Are you still awake?
Ireland is a common law jurisdiction. The judiciary consists of the Supreme Court, the High Court and other lower courts established by law. Judges are appointed by the President after being nominated by the Government and can be removed from office only for misbehaviour or incapacity, and then only by resolution of both houses of the Oireachtas. The final court of appeal is the Supreme Court, which consists of the Chief Justice, seven ordinary judges and ex officio the President of the High Court. The Supreme Court rarely sits as a full bench and normally hears cases in chambers of three, five or seven judges.
Both the Supreme Court and the High Court have the power of judicial review and may declare to be invalid both laws and acts of the state which are repugnant to the constitution.
The Dail is elected, the President is elected, Judges are appointed, guidelines for sentencing are written by members of the Dail and the Judges give forth sentences. No where in this formula is there something called common sense.
The following are samples of some disturbing recent sentences. Should you have better examples of court cases favoring the bad guys, please send them on.
One particular case may be difficult to read because it was difficult to write about. It is about a serial molester and priest, you may want to pass over it.
A burglar with 137 previous convictions has been given a six month prison sentence for smashing in the front door of a crèche and stealing 100 euros. That will teach him. He’ll never do that again.
An ATM skimming gang, some of whom targeted the President’s husband has been jailed at Dublin Circuit Court. The Romanians group were also found with advanced skimming equipment and a laptop containing names and credit card numbers for over 1800 people. The gang members received sentences ranging from 16 months to 2 years. Gee and most of these fellas were looking for jobs stocking shelves at Woody’s.
A Dublin priest who raped a seven-year-old young boy on the altar, after tying him up with cords from his vestments and playing Elvis Presley songs to drown his screams, was sentenced to 16 years for abusing young boys.
Tony Walsh, 57, was a famous member of a priests music group known for his Elvis impersonations. He was a serial molester whose activities were known to senior figures in the Dublin archdiocese who overlooked his crimes.
Oh come on … these senior officials of the church thought he had been rehabilitated…mistakes happen. What I would have given as a sentence would be to randomly pick 10 fathers of the molested boys that Walsh abused, it is estimated that he molested 100, and each father would have 15 minutes alone with Mr. Walsh to do whatever came to mind.
Murderer in Cork sentenced to life in prison. (Life in Ireland translates to about 14 years less time served) After 14 years, certainly, he has seen the light.
Then there is a Man with 56 convictions that gets a nice sum of 44,000 euros a year from social welfare and the “system” has paid one million euros to lawyers to represent him over the last few years.
My recommendations would be abolish the office of the President, the financial savings alone would be the justification; abolish the Seanad, though some are qualified and serve well but the rest seem to have been dumped into the position to pay back a political favor or they are defeated politicians that just won’t go away. The population of Ireland is only about 4.5 million people, I therefore would reduce the number of members serving in the Dail. As for the Judicial system. Sentencing guidelines must be revised and Judicial sentences must be reviewed by a non-paying board for fairness to both the accused and the victim….and finally I would completely over haul the social welfare benefits program. A program that has imposed a tax burden, on the working people of Ireland, approaching 50% of wages.
You might ask…who would I vote for if I could. I would vote for Fianna Fail.
A friend of mine, who was one of Boston finest, used to say, tongue in cheek, after a “bad guy” was killed on the street “so sad…he was just turning his life around”.
I guess we can say the same thing about someone newly elected to the Dail or sentenced to life in prison…it’s too bad … they were just turning their lives around.
Congratulations if you made it all the way through. Like I said I like politics and it’s my blog so….I’ll try to lighten it up a bit next time. Any suggestions…bring em on.