The EU Gravy Train

Irish MEP Kathy Sinnott and other MEPs filmed in Brussells at 7am on a Friday morning clocking in with bags packed. Oh dear.


Kathy Sinnott, fresh faced and angry after 7 hours work overnight.

Makes me wonder if I should have voted yes to Lisbon. Kathy Sinnott was looking for a No vote (no, she didn’t influence me) but perhaps the Lisbon Treaty would have stopped this sort of thing. Oh wait! Who am I kidding? Of course it’ll continue!

(via someone on #linux who mentioned the video)

Update Kathy Sinnott published a fair video response to the RTL report. She doesn’t defend her colleagues, but makes it fairly clear (unless those emails were doctored which is easy, but I digress..) that she was working through the night. She also adds that the “[expenses] regime is ending in the next term”.
Via Fred, who came from here according to my logs so I presume he’s spreading the word.


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28 thoughts on “The EU Gravy Train


  1. Actually, the Lisbon treaty was largely intended to streamline procedures, prevent abuses and reduce costs overall – campaigners portrayed it as a power grab but, in reality, it was pretty boring vehicle bundling together every procedural “bug-fix” that the thousands of EU civil servants have accumulated and wish-listed over the past decade.

    I don’t much care about the EU and, having settled in the UK, I didn’t get a vote anyway but I do think those who have benefited from Ireland’s boom have been shockingly short-sighted.

    It is no coincidence that this German TV team chose to highlight an Irish representative – after decades of unparalleled goodwill towards the Irish, a new image of the self-interested, ungrateful and grasping Irish is emerging.

    Again, I don’t care, none of it affects my life, but the couple of times per year that I return to Dublin, I do wonder about the arrogance that prosperity has fostered and the extent to which that prosperity is an illusion. Everyone tells me how great things are but the prices are astronomical and people seem to be oblivious to the debt they’ve built up.

    If there is a downturn, the brash new Ireland might actually need goodwill at the centre of Europe and, well, they’ve sort of blown that.


  2. There is a very serious downturn actually. From talking with hotel staff today and recently it appears that American tourists buy soup and a sandwich and share between 2 here in Blarney.
    The story is the same in Galway according to the girl we spoke to. I think it’s starting to dawn on people that the good times are over.


  3. Yeah, I’ve been hearing hints of that from different people over there.

    My younger brother bought a house with his girlfriend, way out in Meath, for a huge sum, thirty-year mortgage, I think about 4 months ago when prices were at their zenith. In the run-up to the vote, he was telling my father to vote no on the basis that the EU might interfere with Ireland’s low corporate taxes and cost him and his girlfriend, both scientists, their jobs with an American company.

    Then, when Lisbon was defeated, my dad reports that my brother was in a right panic, worried that a two-tier EU would result in his company pulling out of Ireland – I guess having a huge mortgage makes people somewhat skittish. Thank God I’m a pauper.

    Mind you, your report of Americans sharing food – truly, the Apocalypse is nigh :)


  4. Well, I just hope that the economic downturn doesn’t majorly affect me when I finish college.
    (That is if I finish college at this rate of failure…)


  5. Quite apart from the fact that the day allowance specifically does not cover night work meaning that she was, absolutely, abusing the system, has anyone in the Irish media actually slowed down the video and LOOKED at the emails she quickly flashes up as proof that she was working all night?

    Faking emails headers is easy but it is also easy to make small mistakes when doing so:

    22:58PM, 6 words, from SINNOTT KATHY to ‘Jenny and Neil Farrell’

    23:58PM, 3 paragraphs, from SINNOTT KATHY to ‘jmabbott2@eircom.net’

    00:38AM, 2 sentences, from SINNOTT Kathy to SINNOTT Kathy – to herself, no independent verification possible.

    01:28AM, 3 sentences, from SINNOTT Kathy to ‘Jene Kelly’

    01:43AM, 2 words, from SINNOTT Kathy to ‘Kathy Sinnot’ – again, to herself, so, no independent verification possible BUT, note that, this time, the app prints out the TO name differently; HIGHLY UNUSUAL.

    02:05AM, 2 sentences, from SINNOTT Kathy to SINNOTT Kathy, cc SINNOTT Kathy.

    03:22AM, 2 sentences, from SINNOTT Kathy to ‘jnmi@eircom.net’

    04:02AM, 3 sentences, from SINNOTT Kathy to HOWITT Richard

    04:39AM, 1 sentence, from SINNOTT Kathy to ‘Michael O’Sullivan’

    04:54AM, 2 words, from SINNOTT Kathy to ‘Kathy Sinnot’ – again, the TO name is not in line with how the application has previously displayed it. How is this possible? Also, read the content: a reply, sent to herself, in response to another email sent by Kathy to herself with the subject line “Kathy – Do we have information on JP Bonde”. Why on Earth would hail herself by name in a quick reminder email? Does anyone send notes to themselves like “Bob, don’t forget the milk”? I’m guessing the subject and contents were hastily cut n’ pasted from another email, sent to her by someone else at a different time.

    05:10AM, 2 sentences, from SINNOTT Kathy to ‘Kathy Sinnott’, cc ‘daithiherriot@yahoo.ie’ – strange, standard practice would be to reply to the person and cc to yourself.

    06:41AM, 3 sentences, from SINNOTT Kathy to ‘Therese Dovel’, cc ‘Therese Dovel’. This email contains instructions from Kathy to, apparently, the employee/service provider who provides email-related tech support, so, no independent verification possible and an interesting coincidence that it is to precisely the person you might go to if you needed advice on faking email headers.

    SO … in her video she claims to have spent the night “processing hundreds of emails” but that actually turns out to be 12, including 5 quick “Thanks for your email” messages and 4 simple reminders to herself, two of which appear to have been forged.

    The differing format of the TO name used in different emails sent to herself is the main problem – an email application would display this in the same way, with the same case, every time. This is a typical rookie mistake when an email is hastily forged.

    Also, the workflow does not ring true: anyone dealing with any volume of correspondence would deal with the really short “Thanks for your email” stuff in a batch but, here, the 5 such emails are spread throughout this alleged marathon session.

    Even if not faked, it is more than a little deceptive to flash up 4 emails sent only to yourself, as reminders, trying to give the impression they were correspondence.

    So, according to Kathy, stem cell research which saves lives and offers hope to millions is wrong, but abusing public funds and fabricating documents when caught with your hand in the jar is okay.


  6. The Lisbon treaty would have had no effect on the MEP expenses system, but would have created a lot more waste and bureaucracy with an EU Diplomatic Corps (External Action Agency) an EU President and the European Public Prosecutors office. The Eurofederalists are the main abusers of the system. If KS says she was working for 7 hours then who are you to doubt the veracity of her claims, especially given her life of campaigning for the disabled?


  7. @FutureTaoiseach

    I’m not casting about wild, unfounded assertions: I gave a complete list of WHY I have severe doubts about the veracity of her claims. I don’t NEED to say she is lying, I can be pretty relaxed about just letting people watch the video, look at the “hundreds” (…er .. twelve ..) of emails she allegedly sent and come to their own conclusions – this is one of those pretty obvious and embarrassing moments for everyone, like Bill Clinton swearing he hadn’t been fooling around with Monica.

    Incidentally, even if Sinnott had been working for 7 hours overnight, that allowance is specifically and unarguably for that day, Friday, 9AM – 5PM. Good for her, burning the midnight oil, but she was not entitled to payment for Friday, neither were any of the other scammers dropping by with their suitcases to clock-in for the day before rushing off to the airport.

    She got caught. She instinctively lied about it. She scrambled to fabricate evidence and it backfired. You believe what you want to believe, but the evidence is there, just like Monica’s dress.

    You should also remember that the shiftiest people often associate themselves with the worthiest causes – charity, religion etc. Sinnott probably has done good deeds on behalf of the disabled but one thing is sure: if she, and all the other religious nut-jobs trying to stop stem cell research get their way, there will sure be a lot more disabled people about the place to do good deeds for.

    Anyway, as I said at the beginning of this thread, I couldn’t care less about Irish politics, EU politics, US politics etc – anyone with any intelligence knows that the dice are loaded, that politicians despise their electorates and that, given the opportunity, they will all stick their hands in the cookie jar. I have realized that politics is just another form of showbiz, at the rather shabby end of the scale, along with strippers and birthday party magicians.

    Do you really want to become the Taoiseach one day? It is sad to come across such poverty of aspiration in the young. Forget the cookies and dare to dream!

    Oh, and, just for clarity, these views are all my own, nothing to do with Donncha, the owner of this blog.


  8. Simple explanation for the TO field, she is sending them to her other email account, her iol account.

    I’d take her word that she was working all night, wether this entitles her to the expenses is another matter.

    We now know her personal email address and that of a number of other people. Did Kathy ask their permission before making their addresses and correspondence public?


  9. Donnacha she is actually the mother of a disabled child so you are wrong to draw the comparison you do with ‘shifty’ people who associate with causes like this.


  10. @Fred – I’ll accept that there could be legitimate reasons for any individual part of it, but, taken as a whole, it does not ring true, and that struck me way before I knew anything about her politics or religious views – I’m just saying, read the emails, think about the timeframe and ask yourself “Is this really the work-pattern and the total output of someone beavering away all night, “processing hundreds of emails”.

    As for permission, the whole thing reeks of being technically savvy but desperately hurried. Honestly, I don’t think it occurred to them that anyone would slow it down and actually look at the contents. Would you put a dozen extremely short emails forward as proof that you’d been working hard all night?

    No, we were meant to briefly glimpse all these official-looking screens full of words and not notice that half of them were either to herself or just a few words long. And, no, when you’re rushing to hide something, you don’t stop to think that you might be exposing email addresses and confidential correspondence.

    It’s all short-term, reflex action survival, digging yourself ever deeper, Bill Clinton without the cigar and the stains.

    @ Gavin – the researchers would have contacted Sinnott before the show, she would have pointed them towards her video during a lovely, “ah, well, y’know, it’s been rough” chat and, true to form, not one “researcher” will have actually, really LOOKED at the video. Fucking amateurs :)

    @FutureTaoiseach – I have sympathy for any parent whose child has difficulties but let’s drop all the “Ah, God, sure isn’t she great” crap that probably got her elected: you know what, having a disabled child does NOT automatically qualify you for the sainthood.

    This is exactly the sort of fuzzy thinking that has allowed priests, politicians and various other conmen to get away with murder since the foundation of the Irish state. It is not only acceptable to question the honesty of our “betters”, I would say that it is an absolute requirement for true democracy.

    I stand by my statement that good causes attract slime – if a car saleman’s name is Honest Bob, check your receipt.


  11. Well. Kudos for opening the can of Lisbon worms, Donncha. I’m afraid the earlier remarks about spilled “goodwill” has truth in it – the memories of the rejected Nice treaty are still fresh. Having said that, I’m not too sure how the Irish “no” measures up to the rejections in the Netherlands and France of the immediate precursor of Lisbon, “constitution” issue – which in those two countries were tossed out for mostly very different, non-constitution issue related reasons (i.e. in France, much resentment against EU-borne directives that undermine the French more pro-welfare mindset, and in the Netherlands much resentment against a failure of their own government to explain the relevance of EU policies which is exploited by populists blaming the EU for national disconnects). My big problem with the French and Dutch rejection is that it didn’t reflect on the necessity of institutional EU reform (addressed via the Constitution) but instead used / abused the referendum to vent on EU perceptions.

    In other words, and as much as I try, I’m still not too clear what it is that the Irish said “no” to in the Lisbon bandaid package to “patch up” the hole created by the French and Dutch naysayers: I hear lots of arguments, but few that stick out and none that relate to the Lisbon treaty itself.

    So, what am I missing or not reading that more adequately explains the Irish rejection of Lisbon? I mean, reflexive anti-EU arguments aside, as those have a very simple cure in the pursuit of a referendum to opt out of the EU altogether.


  12. I’m based in Canada and even though I’m not as familiar as you with European politics, I find this kind of behavior contrary to just about every basic ethics rule.

    The politicians who’ve been caught red handed trying to cash-in without working for it should flat out resign.

    I’m under the impression the situation was better -before- the European Union…


  13. “Again, I don’t care, none of it affects my life, but the couple of times per year that I return to Dublin, I do wonder about the arrogance that prosperity has fostered and the extent to which that prosperity is an illusion. Everyone tells me how great things are but the prices are astronomical and people seem to be oblivious to the debt they’ve built up.”

    You’re wrong. Lisbon will have very serious implications that haven’t and won’t be spelt out. YOu think that you can hide in the UK, that it won’t affect your life? What stupidity and selfishness. Broaden your understanding of what’s going on Donncha. You’re just another selfish arrogant Irish person from what you have written here.

    To Alvaro, the Irish voted No en masse, because they didn’t know what it was about, didn’t bother to find out, wanted to vent their spleen against their own government (rather than vote them out) and believe that if in doubt vote No. Very few voted out of a sense of gratitude this time round. Now my own opinion was once very pro EU precisely because others rather than the shower of gombeens in Fianna Fail would be running the country. They have singularly destroyed this country in teh last ten years and surely, the EU couldn’t possibly do half as bad through their policies and laws. However, ultimately, the EU is not about the small people. They are being drowned out en masse. Democracy is being crushed and once obliterated through the ratification of Lisbon, it is gone forever and nothing can change this. Now the IRish can’t and wont’ stop this. We will be railroaded into it with some economic pain if we vote No again. It is futile. This is inevitable. However our vote, just for the sake of democracy, which our own government won’t accept is ironically the last EU democratic grandstand for all its faults and foibles. It will be so interesting to see what ensues. It will be a great day for FF haters, a desperate day for the IRish in general who will probably be publicly derided by EU officials. We are now a Catch 22 nation, performing a trickster twist on Europe’s high falluting plans, making the insidiousness of that plan all too obvious..no we are not likely to give a flying f*(k about their opinions. We have never cared about international views of us. We are unable to I think. But it won’t matter. We are doing a favour to democracy..we are going to reveal the soul of the EU…bring it on.


  14. @jane

    All that has happened in the world economy in the almost 4 months since I wrote those comments have done nothing but confirm my analysis that the prevalent culture of taking on heavy debts, on the assumption that wages would remain high and house prices keep rising, was foolish and dangerous.

    I’m not entirely clear what you are trying to say with regard to Lisbon but, again, I stand by my point that there is a big difference between voting No out of genuine principle and voting No out of a general sense of dissatisfaction, rebellion and petulance.

    Just as with complex software, complex organisations and systems need to be continually adapted and tweaked to ensure smooth running. It made no sense to punish the EU for it’s inefficiencies by stopping them applying the “bug-fix” needed to remove many of those inefficiencies. It is unfortunate that the EU needs to face a vote every time they want to apply tweaks but it is a full-blown tragedy that the Irish electorate could be so easily manipulated by a campaign funded by foreign organisations who are only interested in derailing the European project and who have, in the past, frequently campaigned against the principle of larger countries funding the infrastructural development of smaller countries such as Ireland.

    Nothing glorious happened here, the mischievous “trickster twist” that you think plucky Ireland pulled off against the EU goliath will have far-reaching consequences. You also say that the Irish “… have never cared about international views of us”. Well, you must have grown up in a very different Ireland from the one I grew up in.


  15. I agree 100% with Donnacha’s last comments here. Jane, voting in any particular direction out of “gratitude” is not only nonsensical, it’s outright dangerous. Instead, and just by showing up at the booth with a clear understanding of the issue(s) and available choices put before the electorate, you can show such “gratitude” – although civic responsibility alone also warrants just that.

    As I see it – and this comment is written by Spaniard living in the USA these days – there is a reasonable measure of generic “gratitude” that one can have toward the EU defined as the endeavor of intertwining national economies and the larger political framework for international relations with two essential, ultimate goals: to avoid any further possibility of another mass conflagration amidst demographic relatives, and to provide means to collectively elevate the wellbeing of citizens where national government policies don’t suffice.

    In a sense, a bit like the US Constitution neatly delineates and protects “local” (state) responsibilities as distinct from federal government, the EU is little more than a filler for political decision making matter to plug in where national policies can’t reach. So, to project a “super state” entity onto the EU is not just delusional, given the clear insufficiencies in EU decision making discretion, it’s injurious and offensive to the concept of national governmental sovereignty, as well.

    All the more loathsome, in my opinion, is to paint the EU as either reflective of, or worse: an extension of shortcomings at the national (domestic) governmental and political level. After all, while the European Parliament is a result of the electorate’s will, its limited powers are practically moot in the face of the European Councils, where national government leaders concoct agreements behind closed doors, and the Commission, whose members are appointed by those government leaders as well.

    To oppose the whole idea of a Constitution – as a set of guidelines and principles to protect national sovereignty and clarify what exactly the powers of the EU can be, and how they are held accountable, is to oppose the EU altogether as a political entity. At the risk of painting a caricature, that is a fairly traditional or common position in the UK and Nordic states. And that is why I’d suggest contemplating, in those cases, the more straightforward alternative: to step out of the EU altogether. That is what honesty demands.

    The Irish case is different – fortunately, I’d add. With all its domestic political intricacy, it does have (and has shown to have) a far more mature, bottom-line oriented approach to the EU, taking up responsibilities along with the deserved fruits born by EU membership. That is also why I deplore the “double whammy” that is the diffuse, contradictory and opaque front of “Lisbon opposition”. Not that I necessarily object to the notion of coalitions borne by convenience and a casually shared opposition, but because in my view none of its participants can demonstrate an inherently coherent and cogent stance on the EU that makes sense, precisely from a national point of view.

    And that is also what I meant with the Dutch and French exercise in infantile behavior: their vote on the EU was a vote on shortcomings of leadership (or lack thereof) at a domestic level. Shame on such irresponsible, petulant and profoundly ignorant excuses of “citizens”.

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