From despair to… where?

Voters react to Enda's latest mention of his five-point plan

The term “content aggregation” frightens the living daylights out of most journalists. A content aggregator basically collects information and spits it all back out again in a convenient format such as a website or an iPhone app, allowing the discerning consumer to pick and choose what they want to read.

For journalists it means something different- getting paid once for an article that can be reproduced via hundreds or possibly thousands of different outlets. As one who has (through no conscious effort on my part) had interviews reproduced in over a hundred different African newspapers, I’m not sure whether I feel honoured or ripped off.

Essentially, news programs are the most basic form of content aggregators. They take in everything from around the world – Libya, the New Zealand earthquake, Michael Healy Ray and his godawful cap -and parcel it up nicely for our consumption. I missed the debate last night so I was glad to have the news programs to give me the highlights.

Here’s the conclusions that could be drawn from the soundbytes proferred by the fourth estate as I made my way from Copenhagen back to Stockholm.

1) Enda is already Taoiseach, and he knows it. He is already laying out his program for government, he is already talking to the unions, the EU and the financial markets via foghorn diplomacy. He is still wooden and unconvincing, but he is becoming more statesmanlike by the day.

2) Eamon is sorry. Sorry for the newspaper ads, sorry for the criticism, sorry for departing from the script. Belatedly, he is stretching out the hand of friendship, but shouldn’t be surprised if it gets slapped away. He went all-in, and blew it. Enda might throw him a few chips to keep him in the game, but don’t bet on it.

3) Míchael has not just lost this election, but is well on the way to losing the next one as well. At a time when he and his party should be prostrating themselves before the electorate and begging for forgiveness, he is coming across in debates and radio appearances as boorish and aggressive. His vapid insistence that cancer sufferers in the Free State have never had it so good says all we need to know about Fianna Fáil and their impending doom.

It’s bizarre that a man from a boxing family doesn’t understand the significance of throwing in the towel- it’s not something done because you want to lose the current fight, it’s because you want to live to fight another day.

Aside from being an insult to the voters, his appalling performances lately have led to a situation where he won’t even be leader of the opposition; instead he will be kowtowing to Gerry Adams, one of those he shamefully attacked to deflect from his own shortcomings. Whatever about Adams’ own pecadillos, Martin and his cohorts effectively stole €150 billion from the Irish taxpayer – glass houses and all that…

All of this. of course, doesn’t amount to much – the content aggregators in question were all Irish news outlets, but Ireland is only a tiny piece in a bigger puzzle at the moment.

Yesterday afternoon I met with an ex-colleague who is well-versed in the tribulations suffered by Danske Bank through their involvement in Irish markets, and they – both the bank and the colleague – don’t seem to see things getting any better any time soon.

They despair of any sort of solution that doesn’t involve a default or meltdown of some sort. For the Danes, the date of the election is an irrelevance; it is the date of the inevitavble default they are focussing on.

Independent candidate Kate Bopp made an appeal on Twitter that the electorate refrain from voting for local issues this time around, instead concentrating on issues of national importance.

I’d go a step further and suggest that it is the international dimension that is most important this time round; regardless of the fact that our democracy has cast up three candidates ill-suited to the foreign stage, this is where our future will be decided.

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