From Castlebar - County Mayo -

Local Papers Commentary
From the Western People - 22 Dec 2004
By The Jaundiced Eye
30, Dec 2004 - 19:27

Mayo Gardaí shine a light for Bright Eyes

It was a night of emotion as the Mayo Garda division presented a cheque of more than €52,000 to the Bright Eyes Fund. The fund, set up to raise money for a breast ultrasound scanner at Mayo General Hospital, was the brainchild of Michael and Norah Devaney, who lost their daughter Angela to cancer in 2001. The proud parents and Angela’s daughter Nicole were on hand to witness the presentation but according to Mrs Devaney words could not describe their delight with the Mayo Garda division. Tremendous effort from the Mayo force over the past year saw three events raise €52,208.

I saw the cheque on the front page of just before Christmas. It’s an amazing sum of money and all credit to the guys and gals in blue. With increased affluence it is a commonplace that voluntary and charitable organisations are finding it more and more difficult to get people to help out. It is also increasingly difficult to wheedle a few bob from people for good causes. So great credit to the Mayo Gardai in putting together such a handsome sum of money and a nice tribute to the memory of young Angela Devaney.

Gardaí nab three in raid on popular car auction

Three people were arrested when a search at the motor auctions in Claremorris led to a significant seizure of a number of counterfeit DVDs and CDs and a replica firearm last week. Three people, none of whom are from the area, were arrested after Gardaí raided the long running motor auctions at the equestrian centre at Lisduff on Wednesday night, December 15th. Gardaí from Claremorris station had been working closely with the Irish National Federation against Copyright Theft (InFACT) for a considerable period of time before the stash of what are believed to be counterfeit CD’s and DVD’s were found. The Western People understands that among the stash were films and music albums that have yet to be released in Ireland. A Garda spokesman told the Western People that the planned operation led to a "significant seizure" but the value of the goods seized has not been revealed.

I often wondered about the blatant sale of obviously illegal copies of CDs and DVDs at car boot sales and the like. You expect it when you are strolling through a flea market in some far off land where copyright laws don’t apply in quite the same way as here. With the onset of the ‘information society’ or ‘knowledge society’ intellectual property rights are the foundation of the economy. A slip of plastic cut in the shape of a circle intrinsically worth about 50 cents can sell for 20 euros in a ‘proper’ shop – so there are substantial savings and substantial profits involved on both sides of the transaction. Of course you may have to put up with peculiar distortions or a silhouette of someone walking across the screen half way through the video when you discover that it was recorded in a cinema in Bangkok by someone using a hand-held video camera pointed at the cinema screen. Intellectual property likewise covers the electrons on your screen when they form into the words of  your favourite online morning newspaper. Words and concepts put together and typed up by someone who, unlike myself, expects to get paid when you read them. You could make a strong case that the new Celtic Tiger will be based on this ‘knowledge society’ which in turn is based on these intangible intellectual properties – and the ingenuity of those who create the inventions, music, images, stories and concepts. Those who earn their living by producing these intangible goods in other words.

Of course the rip-off factor provides a huge incentive for piracy. If the Sonys of this world produced CDs and DVDs at a more reasonable price the incentive would not be as strong to pirate or copy CDs. The sums of money that top artists earn are, to put it mildly, extravagant especially when compared with the average industrial wage. Of course you can argue that "it’s the market "and they will charge what the market will bear. It appears that they do. And it appears that the European consumer is prepared to pay quite a lot more than our US counterparts. The difference between Europe and American prices is quite substantial – an indication that margins are much higher over here than they are over there. But the price difference is certainly helping to drive sales of pirate goods and then of course as taxpayers we have to pay overtime for the Gardai to venture out on car boot sale raids. They could be chasing after drunk drivers instead. Drunk drivers are, after all, killing hundreds of people on our Irish roads each year. Drink driving is a much more serious crime than selling a cheap poor quality DVDs at a car boot sale. I know that Sony et al would like us to believe that you are funding Al Qaeda and are in favour of the attack on the twin towers if you buy a cheap DVD - even the pirated copies have the OTT anti-piracy warnings. Or perhaps it's not the market - perhaps the high cost of DVDs and CDs here is merely to do with additional VAT required to garner enough state revenue in order to pay overtime for the Gardai involved in raids on behalf of Sony and the other big copyright holders?

Pursuit of peace in FF is proving elusive

WITHIN two weeks of presenting an upbeat assessment of the current state of health in the Fianna Fáil organisation in Mayo, the General Secretary of the Party has issued an edict barring the cumanns (clubs) from holding their annual general meetings. While constituencies throughout the country have been directed to go ahead with their AGMs by the end of January, Mayo has been singled out and advised to delay the meetings. Initially Mayo had been directed, in line with the rest of the country, to go ahead with their AGMs, but, in the past week, that instruction was reversed in respect of the constituency. According to the Fianna Fáil "corú" - the organisation’s book of rules - there should be one cumann per polling station. That would mean that Mayo should have up to 250 cumann. It is understood that there are approximately 150 cumann in Mayo. Many of these are "paper" cumann, existing in name only and allowing individuals to exercise corrupt control over the affairs of the organisation. Such control is of little consequence, except in relation to general election nominations.

Strong words from the Western People this week calling some Fianna Fail cumainn 'corrupt' by virtue of their very existence. I’m not sure but if the above report is correct it would suggest to me that there is scope for another 100 cumainn in Mayo. Of course if they don’t actually hold regular meetings other than to propose candidates then they are indeed paper cumainn. Say there are 120,000 people in Mayo – allowing for something just about 30% of these would actually cast a vote for FF in an election and allowing for say a 5% active interest in politics – sufficient to actually join a party and turn up at meetings – that would give 13 people per cumann with 150 or 6 if there were 250 cumainn around the county. If you think the figure is 10% then double those numbers! But it's "not a lot" as they say. In any case it sounds like this one will run and run especially with the revolutionary idea that politicians should have ‘real’ cumainn to nominate them and not just ‘paper’ cumainn convened only when nominations are needed. Such a thing could never happen in Mayo surely?

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