A look at how a former beacon of booming development and social prosperity has been plunged into economic desperation.
Ireland has been one of the largest casualties in the global financial crisis, which began during the banking collapse of 2008 and has continued to impact markets and destabilise the developed world ever since. Following a government guarantee to underwrite the country’s six major banks shortly after the crisis broke, Ireland’s population of 4.5 million was shouldered with an enormous debt of €400bn ($515bn), proportionately the highest per capita commitment in the world.
Yet with bank liabilities accounting for an eye watering 309 per cent of GDP, it quickly became apparent that Ireland would fail to find its own way out of the economic downturn. As a consequence, in 2010, the EU and IMF stepped in to offer Ireland a rescue package worth €85bn ($109bn) - then one of the largest bailouts in history.
How different it had been only a couple of years earlier. Then the country was riding high, revelling in its reputation as the ‘Celtic Tiger’.
With low interest rates, upwardly spiralling property values and seemingly inexhaustible lines of credit available from the banks, for a decade the Irish economy had seemed to be a pin-up for the new age of market deregulation. With money so easy to borrow and fantastic returns apparently offered by even the most speculative investments, property developers became the new heroes of the economy - lauded for their ability to magic profits out of thin air.
According to one of them, Simon Kelly: “We didn’t think we were borrowing it, we thought our businesses were borrowing it for the purposes of owning buildings or building hotels or doing commercial activities, which we all did.”
But it was not just the developers who were enjoying the boom; the country’s rapidly expanding middle classes felt richer too and enjoyed spending the money that seemed to flow so easily into their hands. With more consumers came more retail outlets, more hotels, more developments ....
Of course, like all bubbles, it had to burst eventually. And when it did the liabilities of Irish banks were so huge they threatened to take the whole economy with them - hence the government’s decision to prop them up.
The problem is that all this debt now has to be paid for, by higher taxes, reduced pensions and a shrinking public budget for things like social security, education, health and jobs.
The EU and IMF loans required the Irish government to hack public spending to the bone - by €12bn ($15bn) over the next three years. That may not sound like a huge sum of money in these days when international financial commentators talk blithely of trillions and quadrillions of dollars, but for a small country, with a population of only 4.5 million it is a huge sum.
And as the public sector has tightened its belt to meet these cuts, so the public sector has felt the pain too - businesses have closed, jobs have been lost and unemployment has soared. And inevitably the public mood has soured too.
In 2011, the Fianna Fail ruling party was comprehensively crushed in a general election dominated by angry recriminations over who was responsible for the crisis. But the problems facing Ireland have not gone away and as the years of austerity and cutback stretch out ahead, increasing numbers of young people are emigrating overseas, something that earlier generations of the Irish had been forced to do but which during the boom years had never seemed necessary.
Against this background, filmmaker Sinead O’Shea investigates how Ireland, once a beacon of booming development and social prosperity, could have reached such a point of economic desperation and asks whether the country can ever turn its fortunes around.
Eoin Butler The "Journalist"
Mostly when I write my articles they come easily, except the ones like Pass me the spinach where I bare a little more of my soul than I would really like to, but find that it's just got to be done for clarity and maybe just a little closure. Some people can go through life happily with the usual milestones, birthdays, Christmases, engagement, marriage and of course children, but for whatever reason - I could get very philosophical here -that life just wasn't meant for me. I have a very different life to many people, it's not always been one of my choosing but it's what I have lived and unless someone invents a time machine in the very near future, there's no way that I can change what has already happened. But if they do invent a time machine and I can go back and avoid certain parts of my life in Iraq, believe me it will be the first thing I do. If however I am unable to change the facts of my life but just revisit as some sort of observer, I will do my utmost to get a signed, sworn statement from Uday Hussein and his father Saddam, attesting to the fact that I was Uday's fidai/body double, because after 20 years suddenly my story is at worst, fabricated and at best, highly exaggerated according to certain journalists. It really makes me smile! Of course I made it all up! Uday was a great guy! all the women loved him, he was such a looker that I had to pretend to be him to pick up chicks! NOT! He was an angel and anyone who ever sought refugee status outside of Iraq because he tortured them, raped them or murdered a member of their family is a liar! He was so innocent that the American soldiers who shot him, his brother and nephew to death at the villa in Mosul should all be court-martialed. I am of course being sarcastic, It's true I would have preferred to have seen Uday in court for his crimes and see him try to deny my story, but more on that at another time.
Ed Caesar The "Journalist" in Malta 2010
You see, when I first left Iraq in 1992 and up until 2003 I was considered useful, whether I wanted to be or not, or whether I co-operated or not- which I didn't- my story backed up the American administrations desires to invade Iraq, unintentionally by writing my book in 1992 -the original Arabic manuscript- I gave them all the ammunition they needed to invade Iraq -except for W.M.D's I never had clearance for that kind of information- but they couldn't act on it then, they had to wait for the right time.
On September 11th 1991 George Bush Senior, then President of the United States of America gave his State of the Nation speech declaring his New World Order it took another ten years and a rigged election for his son George W. Bush to become President and the tragedy of the Twin towers for the dominoes to start falling.
What surprised everyone was that I was not a supporter of the war on Iraq, I was against the regime but I didn't want an invading force tearing my country apart, to this day I can't understand why people don't understand that.
I had always had a strained - we'll call it a- relationship with the CIA, they'd say " work for us", I'd say "NO", they'd say "we'll make your life hell!" I'd say "fuck you! do what you want!" and they have, I've been held in a covert prison, beaten and tortured, I have yet to attain citizenship from any country even though I lived in Europe for the past 20 years, Ireland for 15 of them, the last two of those I spent dying slowly while waiting on a hospital bed -I'm still waiting- so I could be fully diagnosed with whatever neurological disorder I have - it's "probable Multiple Sclerosis" but apart from the Brain lesions and the plaque on my spine ( which the Irish doctors tried to tell me and my wife "are within normal parameters") my neurologist here -here being my new home in Europe - is not finding things he thinks he should- still, at least I am getting treatment here, in Ireland it was left to my G.P. he did his best, but really all he could do for me without a diagnosis was just pain management. Strangely certain blood tests that he sent to the lab came back, destroyed/lost not once or twice or three times but four! Since leaving Ireland I have been diagnosed as a diabetic also, it seems that if I had stayed in Ireland much longer I may not have lasted much longer, maybe that was the idea?! Call me paranoid if you want, but when you have lived my life you know that there are no coincidences.
So where am I going with this? Well how do you silence a person like me? I blog, I write books, I have my own website, I have my Youtube and Vimeo and now there's a movie based on my life story. These are all the ways people find me, with the birth of the internet the world opened up and you can find just about anyone, anywhere and because of this I have a loud voice in the world. What concerns the CIA is the support that people give me, they follow me on twitter, they are my facebook friends and they think about what I say, especially about the American administration, the CIA and Iraq, people ask me questions and are free to believe or not as the case may be. That's dangerous, they have spent the better part of the last decade trying to make sure that we only know what they want us to know and think what they want us to think on any given subject. So what are they going to do about me? They are going to try and discredit me, make me out to be some "Walter Mitty" figure -and that term has been used- they are going to try and convince you that I made it all up or that I have exaggerated my story -the truth of the matter is I haven't even told one tenth of my story- they want you to believe that I am telling you lies before I even open my mouth.
How do they do this? because there is no oversight in journalism anymore, people who call themselves journalists write articles, they don't really need any proof, they can use words like "source" "close aide to..." or "member of the Hussein inner circle" and try to make you believe that this person has "spilled the beans on me", ask yourself this, why now? Why after 20 years? More and more people are listening to me and less and less people are believing the shit that they are trying to feed us. They will try and imply that I have some sort of mental illness or syndrome, ironically, because let's face it how could I suffer from post-traumatic stress if I wasn't tortured?? If you need evidence of any of this just check out the (Wikipedia) page about me, I didn't set it up someone else did a few years ago, but just look at it... all you will find there is a brief history and then the allegations, backed up by the same two articles tagged repeatedly. Other editors have tried to remedy this by adding other articles by respected journalists like Marie Colvin Foreign Affairs Correspondent at Sunday Times, John Simpson BBC, Sir David Frost BBC and Ed Bradley of CBS (RIP) to name a few, only to have those revisions deleted. Wikipedia is supposed to be balanced, my page is not! I happen to like (Wikipedia), I find it useful but Wikipedia only works when the people who upload and edit the material are completely unbiased, this cannot be said about my Wiki page and if you go into talk you will see the "chat" between two editors, one talks more than the other, interestingly the one who chats the most says "I left the page up only for the sake of poor saps who may be pulled in by this nonsensical claimsmaking in the future." I don't have a problem with additions to my Wiki page if they are accurate and balanced, everyone is entitled to their opinion but Wikipedia is not a place for opinion, it's a place for fact. Not one person in this world is liked by everyone that is a fact, I don't expect everyone to believe me either, but if you want to try and disprove my story bring me more than pimps who used to work for Uday, an ex- surgeon who was fired because it was found that he was stitching girls Uday had has his way with and who I had refused to help with his book and an ex- who hates my guts. You see that's all that they have, even after the fall of Saddam no-one found one document disproving that I was the double of Uday Saddam Hussein.
Dhafir Mohamed Jabir
There are no photographs of Haytham Adjmaya or Dhafir Jabir the "sources" in Ed Caesar's article because these guys know what they did when they were with Uday and know what would happen to them by the hands of Iraqis inside or outside Iraq if they were recognised.
A third Iraqi quoted as being one of "Saddam's bodyguards for several years" has also said that Uday didn't have a double, well, this "bodyguard" is none other than the guy who gave Saddam up, he gave Saddam Hussein his President up to the Americans for the 25 Million dollar ransom, to this day he hasn't received a penny of it! You see nobody likes a snitch, the Americans kicked his ass to Jordan and from there he was taken to the UK and now lives under protection, but is dragged out every now and then to 'make statements' I can only presume that he goes along with it in the hopes that if he's a 'good boy' he'll eventually get his money. Betrayal runs in his family, his cousin Fetah Al-Sheikh was in command of the interrogation of the suspects of the assassination attempt against Saddam Hussein in 1984 and Al-Djeil he killed 28 people during his interrogations but after the invasion of Iraq and his cousins handing over of Saddam, the Americans made him an offer. They told him he had two choices, he could be tried for the murder of the 28 people OR he could make a statement saying that Saddam had ordered the execution of the 28 and he was offered the position of Interior Minister in the post Saddam government, Fetah chose to become a witness against Saddam Hussein. During the trial of Saddam it was found that Fetah had cancer, knowing he would never make it to the courtroom a video tape was made of his evidence from his hospital room, it was shown on a big screen at the trail, Fetah's oxygen and medical equipment there for all to see.
Anyone who wishes to believe that I made this story up to sell books or make a movie - that would mean the I've spent the last 20 years waiting to make money that I'm donating to charity - here's a piece of advice, don't buy the books, don't go to see the movie or buy the DVD, everything I do is free of charge, you can read it here and make your mind up, if you don't believe me at least you may be entertained!
Eoin Butler The "Journalist"
My body carries the scars and my mind carries the memories of the atrocities that I have witnessed and endured. In the past twenty years the only weapon that anyone has been able to wield against me has been the word of pimps and an ex, I especially liked the comment on Eoin Butler's - who wrote the article in The Guardian - website that accused me of being Bi-polar, something that my ex has been diagnosed with. Unlike Ed Caesar's article Eoin Butler's pieces are filled with his "opinions" and "gut feelings" he may not like me, that's his prerogative, but he really makes me laugh when he accuses other more respected and renowned journalists of not doing their jobs properly, his greatest coup was when my ex contacted him! His article in The Guardian is a prime example.
Ed Caesar wrote his article put it on his blog and left it at that, Eoin Butler on the other hand wrote an article about me in 2007 for a little known Irish magazine called Mongrel that was owned by an Irishman and a Palestinian, the Palestinian -who holds Irish citizenship- also worked supplying intelligence about other Arabs to the Irish Secret Service -there are only 11 people working in the Irish Secret Service, they need all the help they can get- Eoin then set about adding the article about me to his website, but he kept revising it, so what you read now is not the originally published article, he then continued writing articles about me, so far he has made me a weapons dealer, human trafficker, he has cast doubt on my education and generally called me a liar. Why have I not sued him? Well, you can't get something from nothing and really he's not worth any more of my time than what I am writing here. Eoin usually writes "fluff pieces" for whatever paper takes his work, the Irish Times and The Guardian being two, but his favourite subject is me and it's usually the stories about me that get him published, investigative journalist he's not, well maybe he is, he investigates pubs. Eoin's greatest achievements are going for Mayoman of the Year, trying his hand at stand-up comedy and sticking links to his articles especially The Guardian one everywhere so that hopefully someone will actually read them. Eoin thinks he's a journalist when really he is just another tool of the system.
No matter how many people are bought, I will never give up fighting for my rights in this world against corrupt governments, the Irish department of Injustice and the CIA.
(Advice To Journalist)
"If you didn't hear it with your own EARS or see it with your own EYES,
Don't invent it with your small mind and share it with your BIG MOUTH."
This is Eoin Butler doing his stand-up comedy, I'm sorry, I didn't have time to subtitle it in English.