A Victory For Right Over Wrong.

I think it was in 2011 when the now discredited Fine Gael/Labour coalition government of Ireland in trying to raise some much needed capital decided to levy a Household Charge of €100 on all properties in Ireland.  They decided to let the villainous bankers, developers and politicians get off scot free and go for the easy meat, poor Joe Public,  The very ones who had no hand in the impoverishment of the state of Ireland.

This Household Charge was to be followed up in 2013 and every year thereafter with a Property Tax to be levied on each property depending on value.  There are considered to be 1.6 million such properties in Ireland.  The rewards were great €160 million first year, followed by upwards of €320 million per annum ad infinitum.

At the time I thought the idea lacked substance it was surely unconstitutional to levy a charge on the family home and I joined in with vigour at the uproar this charge caused.  Many rightfully refused to pay and organisations sprang up to challenge this tax.  Organisations like “Attack The Tax” and “From Acorn To Oak” were founded and they constructed a legal vehicle with which to question the unconstitutional nature of this tax.  Many joined but the government first of all withdrew the tax from the pay packets of those in the public sector and ordered the Inland Revenue to take it from those in the private sector but still many refused.

The County Councils had been charged to collect this Charge and in 2012 Mayo County Council decided to bring a test case against Peter  Anthony Keegan from Westport, an ordinary guy who must have been pulled out of a hat.  They charged him with non-payment of the tax and Mr Keegan fought his battle for two years which involved many Court appearances saying the Charge was unconstitutional.

On March 5th last week Mr Keegan was summonsed by Mayo County Council to appear before Judge Mary Devins at the Castlebar Circuit Court to finally face charges for non-payment of the Household Charge.  Mr Keegan had challenged the Council and their legal team Ward McEllin to disprove its unconstitutionality.  They could not and Ward McEllin withdrew all charges before the case came to court.  Obviously the judge and Ward McEllin had been in discussion and the judge must have told them that she would rule in Mr Keegan’s favour and therefore before a judicial decision could be made, it would be better to withdraw so that there would be no legal precedent set.

The case potentially is a huge victory for the people of Ireland and you would have thought the withdrawal would have been all over the media but there has not been one whisper from the mainstream, television and national newspapers.  It does show how much the media are in the pocket of government.  It has very damaging consequences for Enda and his mates in the Dail as everyone who paid the charge should be entitled to a refund, some €160 million or thereabouts of illegal tax.  Some might even consider seeking redress for damages if they were bullied, harassed, threatened or frightened into paying like a lot were.  Mr Keegan is certainly going to be seeking costs for his two years of worry.

The Property Tax that followed this Household Charge was set up in the same manner as are the  water charges being sought by Irish Water and these charges will eventually be addressed.  It has been a victory for the people of Ireland and a lesson to be learnt by everybody.  If the state or its agents try to make anybody sign a declaration (a Contract or Agreement), do not.  No man or woman can be forced to make a declaration or sign an agreement against their will.  This is what Mayo County Council tried to do but failed when it realised there was no law in existence that allows such a thing.  The Human Rights Convention expressly forbids it.  The State of Ireland have a real problem on their hands and this can of worms will be opened more fully in the next few years and that is why the media have kept shtum.

However the following morning, 10 days afterwards and after I had published the above The Irish Times reported the event with a slightly different slant.


All We Can Give The Dead Is Memory

On 22nd February 2015 my wife and I flew out of Dublin Airport bound for Beauvais 50 miles north of Paris, an airport in much need of investment and used by lots of budget carriers from North Africa and especially by our very own Ryan Air. A hundred years ago on the 25th February 1915 five 2nd Battalion Connaught Rangers, five 2nd Battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers, a cavalryman from 15th (The King’s) Hussars and a Frenchman, Eugene Vincente Chalandre were executed by firing squad at Guise Chateau by the newly occupying German forces. These men’s story was published in our 2012 edition of New Ranger magazine but I will give you here a brief synopsis of their final months in late 1914 and very early 1915. It is a story with everything, helplessness, starvation, empathy, bravery, jealousy, lust, immaturity, evilness, cruelty but above all outstanding humanity.
On 26th August 1915 just three days after the Great War started for the British Army, the 2nd Battalion Connaught Rangers part of the rearguard of the retreating British forces from Mons and because of bad intelligence, ran into a German ambush in the village of Grand Fayt in Northern France. About 15 men were killed but a sizeable number went missing, most as it turned out, about 290 of them, became prisoners of war. A few escaped capture, of these some were spirited back to England by the Edith Cavill group in Brussels while others took to the countryside, hoping to join up with their unit once the retreat stopped. Five of them found themselves in a wooded landscape south of Grand Fayt, easily hidden from German Forces but without food and being joined up by stragglers, five Munster Fusiliers and an NCO from the King’s Hussars, all from the brave and worthwhile attempt at Etreux on 27th September 1915 of halting the German advance for a very useful few hours. After about three weeks of this rude existence, eating raw vegetables not daring to light a fire in case discovered, they were found on the outskirts of the little village of Iron by a retired silk weaver, Vincente Chalandre. Unconcerned with the danger he was putting himself in, Vincente asked Mme Logez, owner of a small mill if he could hide these men in the mill and give them food. And this they did with the little they had for about five months over the bad winter of 1914/15, the whole village pitching in to help these vulnerable men ignoring the German Army calls for an amnesty. It seems that the Germans were aware of lots of these groups of British soldiers wandering round the countryside behind their lines and wanted to rid themselves of this nuisance.
At the same time nature being nature, lust and jealousy were also at work. There was a lady in Iron who gave her comforts freely to whoever male was present. An old soldier, a veteran of the Franco Prussian War of 43 years previously, a M. Bachelet, had been receiving his oats frequently from this lady but had been put out when some new blood had appeared on the scene in the form of Clovis Logez, the 17 year old son of Mme Logez, the mill owner. So encumbered with his lust for this woman and so jealous of the young man, Bachelet decided to get back at the Logez family by reporting them to the German HQ in Guise, a large town about five miles away. The German soldiers came out in force on the 23rd February 1915 and captured these soldiers and Vincente Chalandre and brought them back to the chateau at Guise.

After a night of torture on 24th February, they were led out, shot and their bodies thrown into a prepared grave. The Chalandre and Logez houses were burnt to the ground, Vincente’s children thrown on the streets and the Logez family imprisoned in Germany. After the war the bodies of the soldiers and Vincente were exhumed and buried with due ceremony in Guise Communal Cemetery across the town. Bachelet was tried and sentenced to death but died in prison before his sentence was carried out.
We had been aware of this incident for some time and donated monies from our sparse funds when Hedley Malloch, an English man with roots in Ireland and teaching at Lille University decided to set up a committee to construct a monument in the village of Iron. This was done and we were there in 2011 at the opening ceremony. In January of this year with the centenary of this tragic event about to happen, Hedley invited the Association back for the ceremony. It was thought that it was important that we were present at this ceremony so I volunteered myself and that was why Helen and myself found ourselves at the dilapidated excuse they call Beauvais Airport. We were shortly to be joined by my daughter Katy, another member of the Association,who was flying in from Marakesh in Morocco, where she now lives accompanied by her two daughters. Three generations of our family here to honour the unnecessary deaths of 12 brave men a century ago.
We stayed in St Quentin, a large town about 20 kilometres from Guise, a town that saw some action at the beginning of the war, was in German hands for most of the war and was nearly destroyed in the Allied advance in late 1918. It boasts a magnificent basilica which on a clear day can be seen from miles away and must have been some sight and it reflected the riches of the area when it was built in 1509. Nowadays the whole of this area of the Aisne Department is taken over by the growing of beet, the sweet sickly smell hangs over the whole area which is populated by many sugar distilleries. Money is scarce it seems in Northern France, a little like Northern England, the towns are grey ugly places and I suppose St Quentin is the pick of the bunch, lying on a ford of the River Somme. On the 24th February we visited Peronne, another grey town on the Somme but it boasts probably the finest Great War museum that I have ever seen and I have seen a few.
The 25th February arrived as we gathered in the pouring rain at the monument in Iron. There was some quality there besides the population of the village. Descendents of the main families, especially the Logez and Chalandre families, an attaché from the Irish Embassy in Paris complete with chauffeur driven BMW, reporters from the Irish Times and Irish Independent and other local newspapers and Hedley Malloch, who seems to be treated with great respect by the locals for his part in raising this incident to international interest. Also there to give a touch of colour were the Essex Regiment re-enactors who were there at the opening in 2009 and have fallen in love with the story and the place plus relatives of some of the soldiers who were shot. The locals had over the years taken these executed soldiers as their own and very much treated the little ceremony with due dignity although a decision was made because of the weather to hold it in the Community Hall adjacent to the lovingly tendered two monuments outside. One for the people of Iron who were killed in the war and one for the Iron 12.
All speeches were given in both languages. The English thanked the villagers for looking after their men and the villagers thought the soldiers were given to them and considered them to be their own sons. Speeches over, a volley of shots from Lee Enfields of the Essex Regiment was fired over the memorials and glasses of cider and cakes were offered round with a chance of talking to the locals. It came over quite clearly how both the Logez and the Chalandre families suffered after this. The Chalandre children were put on the street and the Germans insisted the villagers did not care for them, they eventually found an orphanage that took them in. The Logez family were interned in a prison in Germany and contracted TB which saw most of them off in the 1920s, Clovis the 17 year old son became a victim of a mental condition brought on by conditions in the prison which saw him die prematurely. Some sad ends to some brave people.
Back to Guise for the second half of the proceedings and after lunch in the 1960s version of a French Hotel, we assembled at the Execution site at the Chateau. It was now my turn on behalf of the Connaught Rangers Association to give an oration on the spot. The place had been improved since our visit in 2011 with a stone tablet laid over the sparse concrete slab that marked the spot explaining what happened on 25th February 1915. The undergrowth had been cut back and a concrete edging had been fixed round the slab and decorative stone placed between edging and slab, making it a less forbidding place than it was three years ago.
I said ” It is a great honour and a privilege to stand here today as a representative of the Connaught Rangers Association to commemorate the heedless loss of 12 men’s lives 100 years ago. As I stand amongst you worthy people of Iron and Guise who have put so much work into remembering the deaths of our brave soldiers of years ago and also that of Monsieur Eugene Vincente Chalandre, one of your own, I weep. Vincente did not have to do what he did but his love of his fellow man drove him on, whilst the soldiers of the Connaught Rangers, The Munster Fusiliers and the King’s Hussars had their duty thrust upon them on enlistment.
The five Connaught Rangers had 50 years of soldiering between them, experienced men no doubt, but they had never in all those 50 years fired a shot in battle. Perhaps these soldiers had a perceived fatalism of their lives when they became detached from their units in the long chaotic retreat from Mons in August 1914. For the Connaught Rangers, its defining moment came at Grand Fayt on 26th August, for the Munsters and the Hussar, at Etreux the following day, the 27th. These helpless yet independent men followed the ever retreating Allied armies until as they thought they found relative safety in Iron helped by Monsieur Chalandre and Madame Logez until they were betrayed by Bachelet.
The German Commandant could and should have shown mercy but war throws up some strange decisions. The poor men did not deserve to die this way, on this spot, shot in cold blood by an avenging enemy, shot without mercy, when all they were trying to do was exist, but through psychopathic intransigence they were.
We in Ireland and I am sure you people of Picardy will never forget them. God bless them all especially their executioners.”

Katy my daughter gave the same words in France and said it sounded more poetic in that language, certainly I noticed many a tear coming from French eyes as she spoke.
Then off to the cemetery, we were going to march there as we had done in 2011 but it was spilling down and the decision was made to drive. At this place we had two little ceremonies, one at Vincente’s grave which had been wonderfully inscribed by the municipality of Guise, where Michael Chalandre, Vincente’s grandson emotionally described his family’s thoughts and stressed that Vincente had only done what any right man would have done. Then it was the turn of the Irish attaché to thank the people of Iron and Guise. We then went over to the communal grave of the soldiers, lovingly tendered by the CWGC, where the granddaughter of Pte George Howard 9381 Connaught Rangers gave a very good speech about her grandfather. George who was from Sheffield had enlisted in 1908 and had had a relatively easy life in barracks in Ireland and England until confronted by German aggression.  They had only found out about the details of George’s death a year ago. There was another volley of shots over the grave by the Essex Regiment and the day was over. We were invited back to the Town Hall in Guise for refreshments, the Mayor thanked us all for coming and we had time to think. Time to ponder over how marvellous it was that 100 years after their death, citizens of three countries were still admiring and remembering and soberly thinking to ourselves would the same call to duty apply to oneself if faced with the same dilemma. My wife Helen was moved by the raw emotion displayed on the day and Katy and her two daughters were equally impressed. Long may these feelings remain and long may we remember not only those men but all people who die in stupid conflict.
One last night in St Quentin, a trip down to Compiegne where the Armistice was signed, a remarkable lunch in the town at the Hotel Du Nord and it was time to head off. For the kids the Eiffel Tower in Paris was calling before jetting off for Morocco, for us the gloominess of Beauvais airport, finally arriving home at 2.00am Friday morning. Sleep was the definite order of the day.

Hunger Striking To History

Well yesterday Dublin witnessed what could only be classed as a spontaneous reaction to the ridiculous judge Paul Gilmartin’s sentencing of the Dublin Five to prison for coming within 20 metres of a water meter installer.  10,000 or so locals from the Dublin area arose, put on their boots and scarves and walked into town to protest.  No notice given just this spontaneous reaction to protest against a wrong and aiming to put it right.  It has probably pushed another 50,000 to join the protest on the 21st of March, next month when Dublin will once more be brought to a standstill.  As I said in my last post these Five are heroes in the making.

And then came the news that will set sphincters quivering in Leinster House, two of the Five went on hunger strike immediately they were incarcerated.  Derek Byrne and Paul Moore have taken the decisive step and what is more they say that if they are not released by tomorrow they will decline to take liquids.  When Irish men go on hunger strike they undoubtedly mean it.  History tells us that for 70 years in the 20th century when men like Terence McSwiney and Bobby Sands and all those in between refused food, they refused it wholeheartedly and died for their aims and the cause they were fighting for in the end won.  Does Edna Kenny want the blood of these men on his conscience?  Does he want to go down in history linking arms with Margaret Thatcher and Lloyd George.

Why has it come to this?  The intellectual cripples in the Fine Gael/Labour coalition fucked up good and proper in 2013 when they formed Irish Water.  No discussion with the people, no educating them in the deplorable state of water infrastructure caused by 40 or 50 years of wilful neglect by successive Irish governments and worst of all, bringing out this unbelievably stupid programme of water meter installation costing €3.5 billion, €3.5 billion they did not have and which will take many, many years to get back if they ever in fact do.  Their thinking was dire, in fact non-existent.  Water meters will never ever serve the purpose for which they were dubiously intended, their only purpose was to control even further the habits of a populace that was slowly but surely waking up to the shortcomings of these evil men and women in mainstream politics.

Metres are not needed, Britain does not have them and they have many more mouths to satisfy than Ireland.  A standing charge was the way forward, it would cost nothing in terms of investment and that in fact is what Edna’s mob have now retreated to.  But first of all the government had to treat their electors like equals and not like the pack of dogs they have taken us for.

I am sure if Edna had come forward in 2013, held his hands up and said “sorry folks, the last 50 years of government has been a shambles regarding water infrastructure.  Money that should have been set aside from the central tax fund was diverted to other schemes and it has now come to a situation where we cannot guarantee supplying you with potable water which is our duty under the Constitution and unfortunately this problem is only going to get worse because us good and true men in the Dail have fucked up big time”, he might have succeeded.  He should then have explained how much this restoration of infrastructure was going to cost and over how many years and that the government does not have that sort of funding available after years of austerity brought on by the illegal activities of bankers and politicians.  If he was any kind of a man at all and before he started charging the people for water, he should have called a General Election and said that most of the present incumbents of the Dail had “not fit for purpose” tattoed across their foreheads.  He should then have dissolved his Fine Gael party and hoped that Martin would do the same with Fine Fail and implore the country to come up with a new system of politics far and away removed from the present civil war, parish pump system we now have and which is nearly 100 years past its sell by date.

Only then would the electorate acquiesce to these further charges levied but unfortunately now because the people were not treated with the respect due to them, protesting principles will forbid them ever to have good clean water..  I think that eventually they can be persuaded to fork out but only if this present lot of treaty and anti-treaty shite are shovelled out the back door.  Look at Greece, they did it or are doing it, look at Iceland, they have done it.  So people of Ireland understand and realise your power.  You have in your midst people of strength, people who can think lucidly, people who respect their fellow man, people who can cut the crap.  So I advise you to stand up and be counted.  I can see you have already started the process with Clare Daly and Michael Fitzmaurice and others already having their bums on hallowed seats.  I can see chaos for a while but is that any worse than the corrupt, hollow shite-hawks we have previously elected.

However before we run away with ourselves let us not forget the jailed Dublin Five who have been imprisoned because Edna’s bowels are loose.  Let us somehow get them out before they harm themselves permanently, because as I said before when an Irishman goes on hunger strike, it is not a whim, he fucking means it.

Water, Water Everywhere But Not A Drop……..

With the jailing of five water protesters yesterday in the High Court in Dublin by the idiot judge Paul Gilligan for contempt of a court order forbidding anybody to step into a 20 metre no-go zone round meter installers, it emphasised the governments absolute terror at the situation it has got itself into with regard to water.  They do not seem to realise in this computer driven modern world people are claiming back their power and nobody can stop them unless they are treated with respect and equality.  Giving out 19th century punishment to peaceful protesters is no way of approaching these two qualities.  The bloody judge might just as well have put them up against a wall in Kilmainham and in Maxwell fashion, shot them, because these five names will go down in Irish history and put on the same pedestal as Connolly, Pearce and the others of 99 years ago.

A woman, Bernie Hughes of Finglas, Michael Batty of Raheny and Derek Byrne of Donaghmede were given 28 days and Damien O’Neill of Coolock and Paul Moore of Kilbarrack were given 56 days detention for daring to go inside this 20 metre zone.  And indeed it was Derek Byrne who last month called our President, a parasitic little midget at a gathering in Dublin.  A sobriquet far too distinguished for the little fart whose ascension seems to have uplifted all parts of his homunculus frame.

They were cheered in court by their fellow protesters and protest marches started as soon as the five were led away with the promise of further, bigger and more disruptive marches to come.  It was all a brilliant piece of caricature showing the absolute injustice that exists in present day Ireland and dare I say the world, where bankers, politicians and international commercial types are robbing their countries blind and not even getting a rap over the knuckles whilst peaceful protesters are slung in the slammer for demanding their rights.  However the day is coming and it ain’t far off when the people will make sure these parasites won’t have any knuckles to rap.

A week ago Edna Kenny, our Fuhrer, was saying that he could not understand these protesters because by installing meters he was saving the country massive amounts of water and then a couple of days later Irish Water come out and say they are losing through leaks from an antiquated system 49% of all the water it produces and that it will take 20 years and billions of pounds that it does not have to bring the country’s water infrastructure up to international modern day standards  Tell me Edna how spending 3.5 billion euros on water meters is saving the country’s water when the water pipes of this country are acting as a water sprinkler to encourage the verdancy of this country to presumably keep the Tourist Board happy.  Surely 3.5 billion euros would go a long way to curing Irish Water’s wet dreams.

It is obvious that when orders came from Europe to clear up the water problem Ireland has, the Fine Gael/Labour coalition jumped into a hole it had neatly dug for itself and without thinking, pulled a cover over the whole and created Irish Water with all its ensuing problems.  It grieves me to say it but I feel sorry for the situation Irish Water is in and for all the stupid eejits who left their jobs for life in County Councils to install themselves into jobs that will not shortly exist, because just out of nappies Irish Water is a bankrupt company made even more bankrupt by Mr Minister Kelly’s backdown on water charges, which  half the country will not pay anyway.  There really is going to be some wonderfully imaginative accountancy exercises and what also grieves me is that the €1900 I pay a year on road tax which I hoped was alleviating the pot hole problem on our much neglected Connaught boreens  is now to be spent on the provision of fluoride injected water.  It is a problem I am trying to get my head around and work out ways and means of not letting this get me down too much before I die a cancer induced death brought about by government stupidity.  But I should look nice smiling over the rim of my coffin at a room full of teary relations.

Without doubt after years of absolutely poor government from the Fine Gael, Fine Fail and Labour political machines, Irish Water have now a greater task than Hercules when he was set the task of cleaning out the Augean stables.  Augeas was the king of Elis in Greece who had a great herd of oxen housed in stables that had never been cleaned out.  The crafty Hercules just diverted an handy river through the stables which washed all the excreta of years away.  Irish Water are not able to do this because they have diverted all their water into pipes that are sprinkling the country and keeping the grass growing and covering the accumulated mass of rubbish or corruption, be it physical, moral, religious or legal that is weighing this poor country down.

And as an almost final note to Irish Water, although I do sympathise with your plight, you will get no help from me.  My meter is archaic but working, my water is still “piss”, endowed with cryptospiridium and fluoride and I am not paying a penny until you get your product fit for market.  The road tax is a problem I had not contemplated but like Hercules I can be crafty too.  There are more ways of skinning a cat than killing it first.

Definitely my last thoughts are with the soon to be “Famous Five”, Bernie, Michael, Derek, Damien and Paul.  I hope your disgraceful treatment by the tyrant Gilligan does not impair your future prospects and I hope you bear your holiday at Edna’s hotel with dignity.  You lads and lassy are the heroes in this struggle, which we will win over these dimwitted fools who think they are our masters.  Bring on the elections in 2016, we cannot wait.


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