Posted on 7th April 2018

Slane Castle

On Thursday morning I went for a walk.  It is a daily routine and gives me an opportunity to connect with nature and gather my thoughts.  It was a beautiful day and the daffodils were flourishing but along the route lay a recently fallen beech brought to the ground by a sudden gust of wind.  By a miracle when it fell it narrowly missed a farmer.  Thinking about this brought my mind to the plight of the many farmers who are currently short of fodder for their animals.  The ground is still cold from the Beast from the East and the grass won’t grow.  Finally the government is assisting with the importation of fodder.  Sometimes we need reminding of the importance of the Agri Food sector to the economy.  We ate apples a long time before we associated the fruit with high-tech.

Thinking about high tech, what are the general public to make of the shenanigans in Independent News & Media.  If I was a journalist whose data was breached, I would be hopping mad.  The very idea that confidential information was seen by a third party is very disturbing.  In fact, I agree wholeheartedly with the Press Ombudsman Peter Feeney when he said “ It’s Irish society will suffer because the Fourth Estate role of journalism investigating those in authority and those in power, is undermined if confidentiality is threatened”.  As to the corporate governance issues at INM that are now in the public arena, I have already come to my own conclusions and probably for the moment feel it best to keep them to myself.

If the data breach at INM is sinister, the behaviour of Mother Russia is something else altogether.  I have no doubt in my mind that the Russians were responsible for poisoning Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury.  The Russians are attempting to undermine the British position after Boris Johnston, the Foreign Secretary, made a blunder in an interview with a German TV station.  The logic behind the British position stands and it is essential that Western European governments stand firm against what is a clear attempt by Putin to intimidate the West.  The government was absolutely right to expel a Russian diplomat.

Turning to the United States, I would have to say the opening salvoes in a trade war with China look very unsettling but I fear there is a lot more at play here than economics.  In the latest U.S. national security strategy report China’s aims are described as follows – “ to challenge American power, influence and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity”.  This is dangerous stuff.  Donald Trump has just replaced his national security advisor with a hard right winger called John Bolton.  He sees China as a rival and has talked of their “belligerent conduct in the South China Sea”.  Worried about North Korea, think again.

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