Your Country, Your Call, You’re Doomed

Creating a credible alternative

Have you seen the ideas that made it to the last five in the Your Country Your Call competition?

Let me remind you what that was.  Martin McAleese, the presidential spouse, had a notion to invite innovative proposals that might create jobs and get Ireland back on track.

As the YCYC website puts it, The competition is designed to find two major proposals that, when implemented, will transform our economy – or significant elements of it – by creating jobs and opportunity.

The categories for the competition are

  • Communications and technology,
  • Design, engineering and manufacturing ,
  • Education and the arts,
  • Energy and environment,
  • Food and agriculture,
  • Health, sport and nutrition and of course
  • Other

So. What bright ideas made it through from the thousands of entrants worldwide?

You might remember Brody Sweeney, the sandwich sultan.  The bap baron. The panini potentate. Brody was the driving force behind O’Brien’s sandwich bars, a chain of franchised outlets that sold sandwiches and coffee to hungry office-workers.  Brody’s idea is to create an all-Ireland superbrand, to market food and tourism, North and South, but he seems to be overlooking something fundamental.  The Irish brand is screwed.  We’re perceived the world over as grasping, corrupt crooks, and that perception wasn’t helped by the grossly overpriced, and very ordinary, fare sold by the likes of Sweeney’s own sandwich shops.

Brody needs to get back to basics and forget about slick marketing campaigns.  The world doesn’t believe our bullshit any more.  If he was serious about marketing an Irish brand, Brody would do well to start at the beginning, by tackling the greed  at the heart of Irish business culture, and in particular the food and tourist industries that see visitors as marks to be fleeced.

Neil Leyden, a screen writer and digital media consultant, has been pushing his idea of an international content services centre for a while now, and even persuaded Minister Eamon Ryan to support it, which admittedly isn’t hard if you include the sort of phrases that make Eamon break into a sweat of excitement.  Smart economy. Global Media Hub.  Essentially, Leyden wants to set up a clearing-house for digital rights — a sort of bank, if you’ll excuse the expression, and he seems to have snared the YCYC judges by saying that his Irish Content Industry Association would drive the development of a cultural and creative quarter.  Translated into English, this means a snappy new office area for Dublin, with more wine bars and a few jobs for Leyden’s friends.

It isn’t immediately clear why Ireland would be better able to provide such a service than, for example, anywhere else in the world.

Gordan Hyland’s proposal isn’t a million miles  removed from Neil Leyden’s.  He wants to create a financial securities market based on intellectual property.  This description of the idea is everywhere, but I don’t know if it originated with Mr Hyland: The proposal deals with positioning Ireland centrally in the knowledge economy by setting up an intellectual property services centre anchored around an IP-based exchange.

Right then..  Another brokerage company.  Another intellectual-property protection racket.  Exactly what we need.  Maybe he could have a word with Neil Leyden and they could go into business together.  Save a few bob on the set-up costs.

Peter Kavanagh, an electrical engineer, wants to install photovoltaic panels on the sites of existing wind-farms.  This will take advantage of the equipment already there and the grid connections.  Good idea.  He could also put them on the roofs of power stations and on every public building in the country, but I’m afraid it’s another Eamon Ryan-tickler like smart-economy bicycles.  It ain’t gonna stop the current economic collapse, nor produce huge numbers of jobs, and the PV cells cells have a payback period of, how long? Three lifetimes? PV is just not economic but that’s engineers for you: do what they know, and ignore the bigger picture.

I’d give a prize to the last pair of geniuses, Cianán Clancy and Colm Mac Fhlannachadha, for the most impenetrable waffle in the competition.  In fact, I’m tempted to send this to the Campaign for Plain English.

The Data Island Strategy will build a world-beating entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem around digital services aimed at positioning Ireland at the forefront of its associated spin-off industries.

The sheer pomposity of it is worthy of the late Brian Lenihan Snr, or perhaps even Charlie Haughey.  Translated into English, it means, we’ll do great stuff, and everything will be great and we’ll do it by magic, even though the country is broke and everyone knows we Irtish are an incompetent crowd of scammers.  Look over there!

It’s the sort of meaningless horseshit that landed Ireland in its current predicament and yet somehow, inexplicably, the YCYC comittee think it has the potential to get us out of the hole.

I’d remind you that these are the best five ideas from thousands.  God knows what was rejected.

Now, lest you accuse me of negativity, and point out that it’s easy to criticise, let me give you my positive suggestion.

It isn’t based on marketing, positioning, flim-flammery, three-card-trickery or trying to persuade the world that we’re honest when the world knows full well what a bunch of gobshites we are.  It isn’t based on wishful thinking, it doesn’t use the sort of nonsense phrases like world-beating that for years we relied on to delude ourselves.

It’s simple.  I suggest investing in ethics.

I suggest re-educating our entire population, from the youngest pre-schooler to the grimmest old businessman, and including the public service and politicians, explaining precisely what integrity means.  I suggest teaching our entire population that marketing, promotion, sales, PR and international glad-handing are of no use whatsoever if the thing you’re trying to sell has no substance.

If we don’t take this seriously, we’re doomed to repeat the current economic disaster over and over again, each generation with its own Bertie Ahern, its own Seanie Fitzpatrick, its own Fingers Fingleton, and all the other assorted, integrity-free panhandlers and parasites who have soiled the reputation of this country and sold us down the Swanee for their own, ignorant, self-serving enrichment.

Forget about Eamon Ryan’s smart economy.

Let’s put all our effort into creating the Honest Economy.

52 thoughts on “Your Country, Your Call, You’re Doomed

  1. Amen to that! What a load of bullshit
    Some of the admitedly crap sounding digital related ideas sound suspiciously like they might go in that ‘internet 2’ area – ie turn the internet from a free for all (ish) (aka net neutrality) into a corporate controlled channeled thing like TV and Radio so you have to be a big deal to get on it.
    Hoping for the Bock Channel if so.
    Anyway perhaps they are being vague so they can change it to whatever digital they like after they win.

  2. Perhaps we could become part of Germany? They took on the GDR, and it was a much bigger burden, and the suggestion is no sillier than the suggestions above!

  3. They unified Germany, but they weren’t hobbled by the sort of snake-oil merchants who have all the power in this country.

  4. When I was an undergrad I took an optional course in management for a year and then management and innovation for the second year, mostly to broaden my base as I was science heavy. I took nothing from my two years of lectures, due to the fact that there was very little to learn. It was mostly common sense with a dash of smoke and mirrors and a ton of bullshit. They brought in this guest speaker one time who was a specialist in techniques of innovation-I can never forget him telling us to think up innovative solutions to everyday problems. He gave us examples of what he wanted; an inflatable bike (I shit you not), or adding water to something that gives you more water (his words, verbatim). I guess he forgot to tell us to ignore the laws of nature, they didn’t seem to exist in his world of buzz words.

  5. Exactly. That’s the sort of bunco artist so admired by our politicians and by the adminisphere.

    That sort of bullshit doesn’t challenge anyone and it doesn’t force anyone to think, but it does provide endless opportunities to spout meaningless buzz-phrases at promotion interviews and on television.

  6. Spot on Bock. Waffle merchants are the people that got us into this mess, no matter how much spit and polish they put on bullshit, it’s still gonna smell of shit.

  7. Sir,
    I completely agree with each and every point made. I submitted a proposal to this worthy cause but alas, it was rejected.
    It was an idea based on fact, was tried and tested, generated employment, aided social interaction and was more or less self funding.
    Now I realise that it was not the idea that failed, but possibly who I am. Not in the loop!


  8. I’m on ta you Bock, yer writing all this stuff about Ireland as a clever hidden dig at America because I seriously doubt that America and Ireland are so similar “grasping, corrupt crooks” yeah yer on about America alright.

  9. Strap a PV Panel on the back of Eamon Ryan and throw the fucker off the cliffs of Moher, that would shorten the packback period.

  10. These fortune-seeking bounders are teaching in our Universities, charlatanism at its best. The class was a mix of people from different years and degrees/faculties—what hit me was that alot of them were buying into what he was saying and got sucked in. The ideas that they came up with were as idiotic, shit in shit out. Here is another one of his great ideas, although not as good as the inflatable bike; he wanted to ‘invent’ milk that changed colour according to its temperature, so a person could tell how hot their tea was. A magnificent mind

  11. Bock, Let’s sell our strengths. Our haul of Olympic boxing medals shows that we have fighting down to a tee. As you have alluded to above, we are world class in blowing smoke rings. Remember Bertie’s little bon mot “Where there’s smoke, there’s mirrors”. Surely we can go into business using these skills?Let’s defend war criminals in the Hague? I’m sure Charles Taylor will part with a few million worth of diamonds for a good sleeveen defence.

    Let’s whore ourselves to every toerag on the face of the planet.

  12. Why did his company go into examinership? Because his sandwiches were too dear and too dull.

    And Brody wants to re-brand Ireland?

    We’re doomed.

  13. Whatever about the guy’s achievements or failures, at least he tries, but if he thinks re-branding is the answer, he’s delusional. It’s going to take more than spin this time.

  14. First off, Martin is a Dentist, married to a Law Lecturer, who happens to be the overpaid President of Ireland and has been scratching his arse since she got the gig all those years ago, a man with time on his hands so to speak, and, fear of his arse, as the missus will soon retire on a pension of approximately €170,000 a year for her sterling service, and, we will even get the privilege of paying for her funeral. when she pops her clogs., so that out of the way, lets look at the assorted hair brained schemes,
    Brody Sweeney is actually quite a decent bloke, but marketing Ireland as a Food and Tourism brand North and South???, ah… Brody, Norn Iron is the U.K.’s problem not ours, but then being as Martin and Mary are from Norn Iron, I suppose it did’nt do you cause any harm.
    Digital Rights?, Intellectual Property?, whatever, I can see thousands of jobs falling out of those two, Knowledge Economy?, Google after their latest jobs anouncement will employ 1700 people in Ireland, and procure little or fuck all here, LIDL who sell groceries, and, procure from Irish suppliers, employ 2400 people.
    Photovoltaic Panels and Wind Farms, total horseshit, as someone with 5 years of experience in this field, it does not work effectively in this climate, all I can say is thank Christ for my remote start diesel generator.utter bollox., if you don’t believe me check the Eirgrid site, see how good it is.
    This is just our typical horseshit, “be seen to be doing something”, while achieving fuck all.

  15. “As the YCYC website puts it,”

    I think your spelling is incorrect here Bock.

    That should be the YMCA.

    Did our Glorious President also get the spelling wrong?

    Maybe it was just her unelected husband.

    But then she also is unelected.

    So while her unelected husband has “ideas” about how he can “crate” “enterprise” for the peasants what, are those of us who are not peasants, supposed to do?

    Look to his unelected wife for inspiration?
    Well, I’ve come to a conclusion.

    Fianna Fail and their unelected President and her unelected Consort are complete scum.

    But hey?

    Who cares, if they want to waste more money, so what?

    Nobody cares anymore. We all know that Fianna Fail and their unelected President have ruined the State.

    Happy Days.

  16. jbkenn

    “First off, Martin is a Dentist, married to a Law Lecturer, who happens to be the overpaid President of Ireland”

    Don’t take offence. You are wrong.

    If you wish to refer to the current President of Ireland it is important to refer to her as the Unelected President of Ireland.

    Happy to fix that for you.

    No need to thank.

  17. “Your country your call…….excuse me the EU are in charge its not our country anymore.
    They just don’t have a clue do they? The presidential spouse is that a official title, not much to do only come up with crap like this.
    Sometimes I wish to end would come cant take much more of this.
    Last week Blair next few weeks Pope in the UK endless crap and not one job created.
    Speaking of the war criminal Blair he thinks very highly of Bertie…birds of a feather.
    Keep up the good work Bock expose these bullshitters every chance you get.

  18. There was I thinking that it was the politicians job to be innovative and create jobs. Why are they being paid astronomical sums and expenses? At E300,000 the president is a burden. Her husband must be wondering how he fell out of a window and went up. What gobshites we are indeed!

  19. Brody Sweeney £5 for a sandwich with a few taytos alongside to make it look substantial. A sliced pan is two euro. Penny dropping now,Brody?

  20. The two winners will get awards of 100,000K and more to help implement their schemes. How much time should we in fairness allow the entrepreneurs to produce the fruits of their ideas? By their fruits we shall know them etc.

    Her Excellency the President of Ireland was elected to her first term of office, when she soundly beat off four other candidates. The second time round she exercised her constitutional right to nominate herself. As FG and Labour between them decided not to nominate a candidate to oppose her, and FG-Lab county councillors were instructed not to vote to nominate any alternative candidates, (four county councils can together nominate a presidential candidate) Mary MacAleese was, under the constitution, deemed elected unopposed.

    She is the first President to use her office to focus on the topic of entrepreneurship and job creation. She is also the first President to have visited an Orange museum in Loyalist Belfast.

  21. Bock,. I take no pleasure in being proven right. When it was launched I flagged up YCYC as a real lame lazy half arsed copy of an ideas forum set up by a former editor of the Sunday Tribune.
    Your idea of investment in ethics however is excellent. Myself and Seanie Fitz are launching a new ponzi scheme in support of your efforts.
    Maybe we will call it ……. The Honest Buck or even The Honest Bock?

  22. All the grandiose terminology past and present such as”Tiger Economy” Envy of Europe” to present “Smart Economy” Knowledge Economy” World Beating” Best in World” Centres of Excellence” World financial hub” etc etc.If I was a cartoonist I would explain it by drawing an Irish version of Idi Amin covered from head to toe in medals.

  23. We’ve always been good at substituting real achievement with inflated pomposities. Eamon Ryan is still at it with his smart broadband bicycle economy.

  24. a really simple way in which we could have become world leaders was in the organic food market. Ireland, green, clean, etc etc. but every fucking farmer in the country decided to sell their land and make a killing. we could have dominated the world food market with our produce and made a useful contribution to the world. Instead we get inane gimmicks like this bullshit like knowledge economy and we cant even roll out broadband across the country.


  25. Just when I was thinking of giving up the whole integrity gig and joining everyone else at the trough you throw this at me? Twenty years in the private sector, ten in public and not one bribe or brown elvelop, I’m well pissed off, gutted. Oh well I suppose I will have to resort to fiddlin doul exes, maybe it’s not too late to join the FFers.

  26. Good article.
    I particularly like the end where you suggest educating people to be honest. I would hate to see the celtic tiger be re-born on the back of soem ingenious ideas and live in a country of fat people in fat cars driving to fat houses and adopting the f*ck you attitiude to all around them. Young people who never knew hardship or toil.

    The long term solution is to educate our kids in morals and ethics from an early age. Children have tremendous potential and whether we realise it or not they are our only hope. If we foster and encourage them now they will create a society (not merely an economy) where communities interact and help each other progress.

  27. I suspected YCYC(YD) was a FF fig-leaf, but was nevertheless persuaded to help put in a proposal. Needless to say it was too disruptive to the powers that be and was rejected.

    Ethics and honesty, eh? And how is that compatible with a economic system which recognises only greed and competition as motivation?

    The IP based exchange is the only innovative one and is situated on precisely the wrong side of two fences. Firstly we don’t need another financial market, but should be shutting down existing ones. Secondly, in the age of the internet, information wants to be free. The Icelanders, in contrast to this proposal, have not only told the bankers to get stuffed, but have recognised the future (or the better part of it) belongs to data havens and openness.

    Now that could have legs. I quote:

    One effect of the Icelandic banking crisis has been to persuade Icelandic lawmakers to vote for a “new media haven” in Iceland, with the world’s strongest press and whistle-blower protection laws, and a “Nobel” prize for Freedom of Expression. The Althing, which is often described as the world’s oldest parliament, founded in 930, voted unanimously in favour of the legislation with only one member abstaining. One of the inspirations for the proposal was the dramatic August 2009 gagging of of Iceland’s national broadcaster, RUV by Iceland’s then largest bank, Kaupthing. The broadcaster had received leaked documents showing the precarious position and unusual practices at the Reykjavik based bank.

  28. Brody was big into branding alright. He was pretty up front about the fact that he had no interest in food whatsoever, only in business. No surprise then that the food might not have been anything special, or that it was overpriced. Not that I ever tried it. Fairly typical Celtic Tiger stuff though I assume, all branding and marketing, no substance or quality.

    Your proposal would be a great one Bock, except for the fact that in the case of those in need of such education, you would I fear be talking Greek to a pig, as my old Dad would say. You would only be preaching to the converted. Or maybe I’m just a cynical pessimist.

  29. I loved this project. The little people were asked to be patriotic and refind the Irish Tiger, while those greedy, nationless, borderless, unpatriotic, selfish businessmen who had landed us in this shite with their ‘no borders, all currencies’ culture, were pampered and soothed with dig outs from the very people who were patriotic – in that we did not shirk our responsibility by sending our earnings off-shore and hiding it from the state.

  30. Great idea Bock. I think EssoDee might be correct though, the people in need of an education in integrity and ethics would have a hard time understanding what you’re talking about.
    You’d have to spell it out for them, with very specific examples of what integrity means.. e.g.:
    Even though I am tempted to put my friends in charge of, for instance Development Authorities, it may not be in the state’s interest as there is a conflict of interest and they may not be the best person for the job. Even though it is tempting to take back handers and line my pockets from said friends, this is not ethical and I am abusing the trust of the electorate if I do this.
    When I am caught partaking in this corruption and I am seen to be a lowlife weasel with no moral fiber to speak of, it’s best to own up to these things as people are really not dopes and don’t buy any old bullshit. (i.e I won it at the horses, or it was a dig out, I was getting seperated from the misses and the little tear thrown in for believability doesn’t really wash with anyone with an ounce of cop on)
    Or.. even though it is tempting to ride Joe Public for every possible penny technically allowed to be claimed as an expense, I shall not do this as it’s wrong. Wrong being a bad thing. If I never bought mobile phones, I shall not make up false invoices from companies that are no longer trading, as again people are not dopes and I will be seen to be the coniving little weasel that I am.. etc etc ad infinitum

  31. I see BOCK that you are as observant as ever. I really do like your take on the facts of life in Ireland today and how it all affects that thinking you do so well. I looked up ethics and found this;

    Schools of ethics in Western philosophy can be divided, very roughly, into three sorts. The first, drawing on the work of Aristotle, holds that the virtues (such as justice, charity, and generosity) are dispositions to act in ways that benefit both the person possessing them and that person’s society. The second, defended particularly by Kant, makes the concept of duty central to morality: humans are bound, from a knowledge of their duty as rational beings, to obey the categorical imperative to respect other rational beings. Thirdly, utilitarianism asserts that the guiding principle of conduct should be the greatest happiness or benefit of the greatest number.

    I hadn’t taken much notice of the definition as written but have always been aware of how important it is that ethics be the central back bone supporting all our actions.
    One need look only at matters local to observe how ethic-less our communities have become.

  32. Good Article Bock. Fintan O’Toole in his book ‘Ship of Fools’ had a somewhat similar idea. I think he called it a new public morality. You are absolutely right. In fact we won’t have to wait for the next generation of Seanies or Fingers. The rip off goes on. The rip -off probably never stopped.
    The Legal and accounting professions advising NAMA, the Dept of Finance and the Regulator are enjoying tribunal like bonanzas at present.
    So too are high profile liquidators. They don’t touch a liquidation unless there is megabucks in for them.

    As for those YCYC ideas, it really makes you wonder if we deserve to survive as a nation. Hard to know who is worse. The people promoting those ideas or the people accepting them.

  33. Apart from former EU Commissioner David Byrne, who chairs the decision-making group, I can’t figure out who else is in it. That’s because YCYC have the worst website I have ever seen.

  34. Great article. There’s also the issue of 300,000 of tax payers money being used to fund the winning ideas. As well as that 2 of the private companies who have contributed to the prize fund are AIB and Bank of Ireland. So whatever they gave is basically tax payers money as well.

    The whole thing was set up as a lobbying group. None of the 5 ideas can be implemented for the 500,000 on offer. So who will pay for it? I’ll give you 2 guesses and the first one doesn’t count.

  35. YCYC has been well and truely botched from it’s original aim and purpose. However Sweeneys plan may have some merit. We have in Ireland some of the best raw food materials in the world. Why not introduce an Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée or (AOC) as a quality standard as they have in France for wine and food. Producers have to adhere to strict standards before their produce is labelled Chateau Bla Bla Bla AOC. If we can get these quality systems in place then marketing Irish food as quality food will be all the easier. Considering our nearest neighbours attitude to food production and agriculture in general we have a head start. But it is up to us as consumers to make it happen. We are ashamed of our native foods and the rarely appear on restaurant menus. We will eat Lapin but not Rabbit, Jarret but not Ham Shank. The tiger is long gone, let’s reclaim Ireland.

    As for morals and ethics, too late methinks. The cute hoor is too well entrenched and admired.

  36. Good to see McAleese or her staff visit this site. Yet again they have stolen someone else’s ideas. In this instance Mary called for improved ethics in business and politics.
    Funny that, coming from a FF hack who acted as an advisor to the Catholic church in its efforts to protect paedophile priests.

  37. I was told by a Belfast solicitor that she acted as an advisor to Denis Maloney who represented Brendan Smyth, the paedophile priest.
    Maloney went on to become a Papal Knight and now serves on McAleese`s Council of State.

  38. One of the winners of YCYC is the above mentioned Leyden. The competition was sponsored by Cisco Ireland. The chairman of this organisation is Kim Majerus who works with Leyden in his capacity as project manager of
    Gateway Ireland.
    Sorry to relate Bock,the Clancys were the second winners.

  39. Richbanker and Bock.
    Apologies for the delay. Went back to the source and this was the response.
    ” Sure everybody knew about that!” ” As for Moloney and McAleese, thats common knowledge, Sure wasn`t Denis boxed off with a job on the council of state for fucks sake”
    Needless to say I was disappointed by the response from this reputable solicitor ( if such a thing exists). However any information he has given me in the past has always been on the nail.

  40. The Irate Chemist hit the nail on the head. But the students flood into those business and marketing degrees, where they learn the bullshit lingo, and, most importantly, how to play the system, how to operate without knowing anything about anything. But I see Royston Brady, fine upstanding intellectual that he is, wants more of them in our government. If only all our politicians were a little more like Michael O’Leary, a little more completely focussed on greed and Mickey-Mouse jobs; and a little like our central banker Mr Soden, who does not believe that we are created equal, because wealth is the clearest sign of ability, we’d be… Oh, that’s where we are…

  41. I’ve been on those management course too. Very light on specifics. Very heavy on business-speak. There is a place for marketing, but a lot of people confuse it with spin and waffle. Maybe it’s time for a fundamental review of all these marketing and business degrees to see how much tangible skill they teach and how much is just jargon and cliché dressed up as knowledge.

  42. Politicians should be in the service of the people of this country for the right reasons and I believe this has been lost down the years with overpaid salaries and unbelievable pensions that grossly outweigh their value.
    Why can’t we attract visionaries and leaders into public service for the honour rather than the package?
    Ireland needs to stop robbing itself through greed and corruption and re-affirm a moral code of sincere integrity and honesty on itself. We’re not puritans but rediscover our true values.
    YCYC is a lot of insincere PR shit and claptrap that has turned out to be an embarrassment. Another 200000 wasted with the dreams of many with it.
    What leader would lead the country for no salary or pension but just the honour of being the first world leader to set the line?

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