Archive for March, 2013

Mobilise to end Austerity and Defeat the Property tax

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Recent history clearly shows that neoliberal economic policies as now practised by Ireland’s incumbent administration fail repeatedly, witness Pinochet’s Chile and Argentina under the military junta. They spawn dictatorial governments who do not listen to the voters who elected them, a consolidation of wealth within a greedy minority, privatisation of state assets and services, drive down wages, and create rampant unemployment.

Austerity has failed Ireland; witness over 100,000 emigrating (a lifestyle choice?), 450,000 on the dole (over 25% of the working population and not 14% as the Government would say), the job market distorted (witness job bridge and internships, deliberately dumbing down valid career options and forcing down wages), distortion of the housing market (recent property tax valuations have both under and over valued properties, so much for the free market our present Government continually backs), sell off the true benefits accruing from Ireland’s natural capital base through privatisation of state assets, and dismiss out of hand the significant role of public services in the delivery of key provisions such as security, health, environment, education, and economic development (witness cuts in public jobs, cuts in public wages, and privitisation of public services), in short rendering the Irish people subjugated instead of free.

I know that both sets of my grandparents presently are turning in their graves, the free Ireland they wished for rapidly being turned into a corporate fiefdom.

If you want a country that is managed by real Government rather than corporate/political puppets mobilise on Saturday, April 13th next in Dublin, as the first stage in a process to create a free democratic Ireland led by people of vision, intelligence, integrity, and courage.

100,000 people marched for peace in Dublin prior to the last Gulf War. Mobilise your friends and neighbours and fill Dame street with 100,000 people on Saturday April 13th, so sending a clear message to our Government, the EU finance ministers present in Dublin Castle, and the world at large that Irish people will not be subjugated and treated like children any longer.

Postscript to the recently published article “Reading Between the Lines”

Monday, March 25th, 2013

Today, Monday the 25th March 2013, I received a mail from the proprietor of an Irish tourist business who specialises in sea angling. A booking from a UK based party, accounting for 21 bed nights, had just been cancelled due to a member of the group having read my recently published article/critique analysing the real and perceived quality of Ireland’s sea angling product and how it is presently marketed, “Reading Between the Lines”.

UK sea angler Roger Ball with an eight pound plus pollack taken on the Beara peninsula, May 2012.

Needless to say the proprietor was not well pleased, ironically however, based on their long experience promoting Irish sea angling the proprietor agreed with the overall thrust of the piece, especially when it came to the marketing analysis, they just wished that I would have considered who was going to read it and how it would be interpreted before it was published.

Passionate about Irish sea angling and its promotion, that being the raison d’etre behind establishing the website, I was equally upset at the person’s loss and offered not only to remove the article immediately, but also to contact the potential customer in person, actions which the business owner said were unnecessary.

On reflection I decided that a wider explanation on the background to “Reading Between the Lines” was in order, so here goes:

I too am a tourist sea angler within my own country and am appalled at how my chosen pastime has been frittered away by gross mismanagement of Ireland’s marine resource over my lifetime, I’m 52.

Equally, having been interested in how Ireland’s sea angling product is marketed and promoted since my teens, it amazes me how even as our inshore fish stocks have diminished the sea angling message put forward by the state agencies responsible has hardly changed one iota, in terms of content and approach, from the formula devised in the sixties by the late Des Brennan. An outsider looking in could easily perceive that everything is rosy in the garden.

A specimen Wexford estuary flounder.

If Ashley Hayden is the little boy who states that “the King really isn’t wearing any clothes” then so be it, the truth has to get out at some stage. Ireland has a diminished sea angling product period. The sad part is, those that could improve it, ie, the state agencies and legislators with responsibility for the marine continually do nothing due it would appear to an inordinate leaning towards the commercial fishing sector to the detriment of all other interested parties.

Shoot the messenger for that’s a normal response, but remember those who have or are about to read the piece, the information presented is a critique of how Ireland’s diminished sea angling resource is currently marketed. The article quite clearly states that there are still international standard sea angling experiences available from both boat and shore around Ireland’s coastline, however it is seasonal and found only in pockets, where as once upon a time in the not too recent past quality sea angling could be found everywhere.

There are many posts within that highlight quality sea fishing experiences this writer has enjoyed from boat and shore in and around Ireland over the past three years, please check out the archive diary posts and the media section. By quality I mean sea fishing on a par with that I experienced back in the 1970′s. The significant difference being that today I have to travel round trips of 400 miles within Ireland to find it. If that disappears, which on present form unless radical changes in the CFP occur appears likely, what do we do then.

In principal that is why I wrote the article and make no apology for it. Sea angling can make a positive contribution to Ireland’s economy if the product in all its facets is taken seriously, unfortunately at present there is no coherent strategic business plan, to include recreational sea angling, on the table at Government level.

To the guest house owner (I personally have availed of both their service and wonderful local sea angling product, and will do so again), as discussed we are both singing off the same hymn sheet, I will be more careful as to how I direct my commentary in future. To those who cancelled their trip, if you have read this post think again and give me a call as there still is quality sea fishing in Ireland, you just need to know when and where it occurs (the booking you inadvertantly cancelled being one such place).

To those with responsibility for both the resource and the marketing budget, start to fix the former and reappraise how you organise and spend the latter, a 60% fall in UK tourist numbers over the last five years testament to that……..

Further reading: “Reading Between the Lines”.

A Masterclass in Dry Fly Fishing

Monday, March 18th, 2013

Sometimes you just have to step back and admire, a skill honed over many years can, when presented by a master, look easy. I’ve gotten to know Liam Stenson, like many other fly anglers, through his blog Irish Fly With a shared interest in both fly fishing and blogging our paths were bound to cross at some stage. A friendship has developed over the last few years, and not having met since last season it was nice to catch up while casting a St Patrick’s Day line on the River Liffey downstream of Ballymore Eustace.

A well conditioned River Liffey brownie taken on an Olive Klinkhammer.

Enjoying a fine day on the Liffey commencing around eleven thirty am, finishing around three thirty pm, a stand out few moments of the session has to be retold. Even colder than the day before, I found myself upstream of Liam fish less until a good trout took in a back eddy close to the far bank. Head shaking and sullen it sat in the current thrashing before cutting loose. Well that was it, cold and pissed off I walked down towards Liam who, as I approached, looked up from perusing his various fly boxes.

Irish Fly Fisher Liam Stenson nets a nice River Liffey Brownie.

“I’ve had a few trout Ash to a particular dark olive pattern that I tie for this section of river, unfortunately I appear to have none left”. Liam had given me a few flies before setting out, and not having used them all, maybe he could be lucky. “Here, look in the box you gave me this morning”. On cue the particular tying called out to Liam before quickly becoming attached to his 1.7 lb b/s tippet. That’s when proceedings got interesting.

Playing a half pound River Liffey brownie.

A narrow gut ran fast into a dog leg pool deflecting off a high bank so creating a back eddy on the inside. The current then flowed off fast under some low lying branches where most of the trout were resident. Occasional dark olives, swept into this run were being picked off by these fish who were sitting either side of the fast water, a heavy boil and plop signaling a particular trout’s presence on cue as I looked across. Liam dipped his fly in floatant then placed it in the water so removing any excess oil which could create a trout scaring slick. Wading through the pool he took up position ready to cast towards the rising fish.

A well conditioned Liffey half pounder for Liam Stenson.

Lengthening his cast Liam delicately placed his fly in the flow just upstream of the low branches. Feeding a half yard of line to prevent the klinkhammer skating he moved his rod tip in unison with the visible imitation. Ker plop, Liam’s left hand pulls line down in conjunction with right hand sharply raising rod top, the trout bores left and deep out of the current. A few dashes here and there and it’s in the net, a plump, yellow bellied Liffey half pounder in great nick for the time of year. Congratulations proffered, we discussed the years of passion and interest that went into developing the skills I had just witnessed. “It all boils down to being regularly on the water Ash”, I couldn’t disagree while equally admiring Liam’s humility, one of fishing’s gentlemen…….


Spring Chill on a Favourite Stream

Monday, March 18th, 2013

This morning she has the look of an English chalk stream, running clear, the first vestiges of ranunculus (a curse later in the season) waving in the current. A sharp, cold south easterly breeze blows upstream, not a rise to be seen, the trout are keeping their neb’s down and who would blame them. In the distance snow lies on Lugnaquilla, Leinster’s highest mountain, like a dome shaped Mount Fuji, standing sentinel over the surrounding countryside.

A rain fed trout stream flowing off the Wicklow mountains, Ireland.

Making my way down to a get in point below the bridge I slip into the water, cold seeping through my waders, fishing just might be slow. Set up with a four weight rig, kill devil spider on point, greenwells spider covering center, with a partridge and orange taking up the rear, I cast at a 45 degree angle towards the far bank, throwing a mend before letting the flies swing around. Lengthening the line, third cast a pull, splash, and hop, diving and skittering towards my hand, a beautifully spotted 10 inch trout.

Early season fly fishing on a rain fed Irish trout stream.

Spring regularly finds me on this river, flowing off Wicklow granite she first runs across bleak  moorland before dropping quickly onto a rich agricultural hinterland where she meanders gently, eventually linking with her parent River Slaney. With a river bed comprising coarse sand and gravel ideally suited for constructing redds, this stream enjoys a run of salmon and it is not unheard of for early season trout fishers to unexpectedly connect with the king of fish. My five minutes in the sun occuring a few years ago while fishing a 1/0 copper Mepps with trout in mind, four pound b/s line being no match for a spring salmon when it decides to get its head down.

Early season wild brownie from a rain fed Irish stream.

Back to the present, after my initial success things went quite, a couple more pulls signaled interest but nothing definite ensued. Flattering to deceive the day looked glorious, blue skies and fluffy clouds creating an impression of spring warmth when in reality it was Baltic. Time to go down, replacing the kill devil with a weighted nymph, instant success, of a similar 10 inch size, the trout shook itself free after thirty seconds.

Wet flies for a favourite stream.

Persevering down stream with no more joy I changed over to a dry fly set up tying on a dark olive klinkhammer, working a few runs on my way back towards the car seemed like a plan. With still not a rise in sight and fishing water more in hope then design I signed off, it being well past the witching mid day hours so important to fly fishing in early March. Tomorrow is another day with the Liffey, Mr Irish Fly Fisher Liam Stenson, and a master class in fishing the dry fly beckoning, bring it on…….

No to the Property Tax

Monday, March 11th, 2013

Born and raised by Irish emigrant parents in 1960′s London I experienced the brave new world of hope, individual potential and freedom, which enveloped large parts of the world post WWII. Sadly, Ireland today in a socio-economic context bears no resemblance to that so recent period of endless possibility.

Last week I received my valuation forms through the post, the first stage in a process which, if I proceed, will tie my family home to the Government forever, a property tax sold on the pretext of provision of local services, with refusal to pay spun through the media as being unpatriotic.

I want to make it clear that I will never pay this unjust tax, my home is sacrosanct and as stated in a previous post is not an earner, so to those who seek to foister this charge, in an obvious jack boot manner, do your worst.

Living in the country I pay for and pipe my own water, maintain my own septic tank, and pay for my bins and recycling. The road outside still has the pot holes created during the big snow of 2010.

I and my family have always paid our way and are not averse to service charges where service is provided.

Free market economics as advocated by Milton Friedman failed in various South American countries to include Chile and Argentina. It is as plain as day obvious that the Chicago School of Economics has got to Enda, Michael, Eamonn et al. The Irish people do not deserve the subjugation masquarading as democracy that we have to presently endure day in and day out.

To Josephine Feehily, Revenue Chairperson, and your minions, you may say that you are doing your job as per the Government in terms of collecting and or chasing up on this charge, but think again so did Hitlers cronies.

I am not a criminal and I am quite happy to pay my way and contribute to the state ongoing as I have shown in my life to date. However this soldier knows good law from bad, and at this stage, based on the guts of a decade of appalling self serving administrations, the time has come to draw a line in the sand.

Ashley Hayden will not sign up for this charge, EVER. I, my family, and the people of Ireland deserve better Governance, and SOONER OR LATER we will get it.

Yours sincerely,

Ashley Hayden

First Day on the River

Saturday, March 9th, 2013

Grey clouds press down on the surrounding hills, a sharp variable easterly breeze cuts, and the threat of rain is never too far away. Only die hards fly fish County Wicklow’s mountain streams in March, trout, spent after spawning are only beginning to return to the runs and glides, with fly life, especially today marked absent. Like a magnet though our red spotted friends beckon, the rushing waters call, and before we know it a cast is unfurling, placing a weighted nymph into a likely gut.

Early season fly fishing high up in the Wicklow hills.

Peat stained water runs clear and surprisingly low given the amount of rain that has fallen since what seems like last April. At below summer level, without doubt finding a fish is going to be hard. It’s nice to be out though, pulling on the waders, sharing fishy tales, while pondering about life and fishing. Accompanying me on this first trip to the river is Mitchell Josh, an avid angler from Oregan on the USA’s west coast, visiting Dublin with his wife he fancied a day out in the country, striking a balance between sight seeing the Book of Kells and The Guinness Hop Store.

A little beauty, still thin after spawning, this trout will plump up over the coming weeks.

A deer bounds across the moor, tail up, flashing it’s white behind, a farmer spreads slurry on a nearby field, in the distance artilliary fires, quite surreal, and best of all we have the river to ourselves. Working runs downstream, a partridge and orange on the dropper partnered by a weighted nymph on the point, our day is punctuated by a few tentative pulls and one sprightly trout. It’s called fishing not catching, or so runs the cliche, I’d say it’s about being there, wouldn’t you agree?


EU Discards Deal Looks Like A Fudge

Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

Sir,- Having witnessed over my lifetime (I am 52 years of age) a national resource plundered, the positive headline “EU agrees ban on fish discards” (Breaking News, February 27th), reads like a damp squib based on the detail outlined in the subsequent report.

With many hard pressed whitefish stocks on the brink of economic if not actual collapse, why a phased delivery to begin January 2016?

Also, what are the management plans for zero total allowance catch (TAC) species such as spurdog (rock salmon) and species that are restricted or commercially banned like bass are to Irish commercial fishers?

In principal it looks like these fish could be targeted and landed legally by default.  Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney described yesterday’s agreement as an “historic milestone”, unfortunately it reads like a fudge.

The failed history of EU and Irish sea fisheries management looks set to continue.

Yours etc,

Published in Letters to the Editor, Irish Times, 28th February, 2013.