Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Original Of The Species

The reason I started this blog lark was to try to have an online diary, on the one hand, and to both capture and articulate my thoughts for posterity on the other. I also wanted to present a little bit of confessional to the world, for whomever might be interested - mini mental ehibitionism, I suppose - though I haven't done as much of that in a while. As such I don't pretend to be an authority on anything I write about and I'm sure a seasoned observer would be well able to drive trucks through some of the holes in my arguments.

Kind of by accident, the blogs I read are about US/Global politics, Ireland in general and pro-Enlightenment thinking (few sport for some reason). One thing I've noticed in the two years I've been browsing blogs is the increase in the number of previously unheard of (at least by me) blogs specialising in niche political commentary that suddenly appear and become the source of choice as events unfold. It's as if, when something happens, someone identifies that something as a blogging opportunity in the hope that the mainstream bloggers notice and link, thus raising the profile of said blogger (nothing wrong with that of course). I first noticed it on Instapundit, he of the multiple "Read the whole thing" links (Why? You've just given me the gist and relevance of it, haven't you!?) then after the multi-million Northern Bank robbery in Northern Ireland before Christmas and also during the Ukrainian crisis.

So now there is a new blog run by Gavin Sheridan called Irish Corruption. Now not for one second do I suggest that this is not a worthwhile or an important or a necessary exercise. In fact, if the right sources become available, this site could become very valuable and a leading player in terms of highlighting and thus fighting corruption in this country. But at the same time I'm irked by the constant rush in Ireland to portray ourselves as "the most corrupt..." this, that and the other. We nearly seem to fall over ourselves in the rush to rank ourselves in terms of other countries. It bugs the crap out of me. Why can't we deal with our own issues without drawing stupid analogies with tin-pot dictatorships or aspiring to be as honest as the Scandanavians or whatever? And why is it that we allow the likes of Sinn Fein and its media apologists (I'm looking at Daily Ireland and The Phoenix here) to engage in whataboutery - finding moral equivalence between the brutal crimes of the Provos and petty corruption among some southern politicians. Liam Lawlor may be a crook but he's not an apologist for gangsters and murderers.

In the recent clamour to label African nations as being too corrupt to recieve aid, Will Hutton made the all-too-obvious point that western capitalists are the real trailblazers in terms of corruption. Any analysis of the topic would show that planning abuses in South County Dublin, for example, or cost overruns on state projects are chicken feed in global terms. Yet one contributor to this post about leading Irish construction materials company, CRH, doing business in Poland makes the ridiculously general, and impossible to back-up statement that "most corruption scandals come from mainly catholic countries [like] Italy, Poland, Ireland." I know that's only one opinion but it's similar to what we all, surely, hear every time we go to the pub or get in a taxi.

As I highlighted before, the French demanded the watering down of sanctions against Burma by the EU in order to protect the multi-billion dollar interests of French oil national, Total, in Burma and its brutal military dictatorship. Yet we all turn into taxi drivers at the suggestion that a councillor has rezoned land to suit himself or a buddy. It's wrong, of course, and should be dealt with, but it doesn't make us the king of corruption scandals. So might I suggest that Irish Corruption will be a very worthwhile enterprise, but only if it's kept sober, to the point and backed up with hard facts and evidence and good sources. If it just becomes a medium for hearsay, conjecture and innuendo (as I suggest that the CRH story is and will remain without any evidence), in order to bulk-up the catalogue of corruption, then it may get the site hits and increase the profile of its editor, but it won't deserve to be taken seriously, which I'm sure is what its editor really wants.
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