Wednesday, April 18, 2012

SU Shops and Clubs and Societies

The announcement by the Students Union that it may relinquish control of the SU Shop might come as concern to those of us associated with Clubs and Societies.  We have in week 9 agreed to gift the Union a total of €240’000 over three years.  The repayment schedule is dependant in the ULSU Services (Shop) company returning to profit and C&S taking a third of that profit until the gift of monies given is repaid. 

This Agreement struck with Clubs and Societies still stands.  The Clubs Officer and I are mandated by Council to represent the view that the SU Executive abides by and honours it.  As the Shop will now probably be relinquished from ULSU Services control some aspects of the agreement will have to be revisited.

Club and Societies will still be repaid the funding transferred to the Students Union, whether from ULSU Services or directly from the SU.  The agreement between SU and C&S will have to be reworked during or after the summer recess to reference this.

Despite the recent developments the Students Union does still require an amount of money from the Clubs and Societies share of capitation.  It is certain that the €60’000 this year, and same amount for the next Union fiscal year will be required.  If, under a new Shop arrangement the Union requires less in coming years then this will of course will be of benefit to C&S, the current agreement allows for this.

In the terms and condition of the agreement it does state that there must be an annual review and approval by Clubs and Societies Council which leaves another avenue of protection for C&S.

It is also important to remember that no agreement has yet taken place.  This is only an approach that the Students Union is undertaking.  And there was no cloak and daggers regarding it either.  The SU Executive was only informed last Thursday at an interim Board of Trustees meeting.  The people that first needed to be informed outside of the Shop Board, SU Executive was the shop employees.  The student body was informed by An Focal earlier today.

The prospect of the shop being removed from SU control is in my opinion good for all concerned.  As Derek Daly, SU President has stated the SU can now go back to being a fully representative body.  They do not have to try and be shopkeepers resulting in ULSU services running at a loss more years than in profit.  The debt associated with the shop will be a burden taken away from the Students Union.  A private company running the shop contributing a portion of profits to the SU can give a return with no risk involved.

It is disappointing though that the delivery of this information has again been a failure of the Students Union.  The positive development is now masked by rumors once again.

Seamus Kearney
Societies Officer

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Full Debate now needed on the future of Rural Hospitals

It is now time for a full debate and review of rural hospitals.  The government acted with nothing but the best interests of the people of Roscommon when transferring services to Galway.  The report outlining services to be unsafe from HIQA was compelling to necessitate this.  The government act on basis on information given to them from what they must regard as reliable state agencies.  The handling of the matter though was less than what is desired. Communication between the relevant Ministers, Government Parties, State Bodies and HSE needs to be improved and upgraded.  The reasons for the closure were clear but were not communicated to all who should be informed.  The game changing HIQA reports importance was not outlined earlier.  

This controversy can be rectified by having a review of all hospitals with the aim for a full debate by both public and both Houses of the Oireachtas on the future of Rural Hospitals as John Crown (Independent Senator) has suggested.  Although while my confidence in HIQA is also not very high, I do not believe that is the militant wing of the HSE as Crown suggested and while I do not doubt the content of their reports, they appear to cherry pick the Hospitals to review to be inline with HSE hierarchy policy and should take into account what toll HSE staff cuts take on certain hospitals.  Staff Cuts on Rural hospitals have more severe impacts than in the Centres of Excellence in the cities.  

A debate needs to have a definite start and finish and I believe can be concluded before the end of the this year.  This should not be something for the government to hide from but to engage with all involved and affected by recommended downgrades closures to see what best solutions can be put in place.  The government during any debate needs to send out strong and single minded signals on what action it is pursuing and be firm and unwavering on any resulting polices.  Election promises do not constitute policies and the wills of individual Deputies cannot prevent any action necessary from being pursued.  The Government is not holding on by 1 or 2 votes but by nearly 20.  

There is a need for a reduction of the number of our Emergency Departments but there is not an over allocation of Rural Hospitals.  Medium to Long Term Care is best delivered in Local Hospitals that deinstitutionalise the care provided for the patients who prefer to be as close to home as possible.  I have full confidence in James Reilly in is efforts to overhaul and eventually eradicate our country of the HSE.  Indeed Dr Reilly himself has first-hand experience of the ineffective of the Health System introduced by Michael Martin.  The honeymoon is now over.

Read more:

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sean Gallagher - The Shrewd Operator

With his Presidential bid heating up it is worth taking a look at what the articulate dragon and what are his personal and possible party aims.

Without doubt his candidacy is doing Michael Martin a tremendous good favour.  Fianna Fail cannot afford to run a reasonable Presidential campaign but cannot go without having their man in the race.  Gallagher gives Martin a relief in embarrassment, embarrassment in not running a candidate for the first time in FF history but relief in that he can support covertly a man of the clan.

A committed member of the Fianna Fail party he appears on a plight to resurrect its fortunes by virtue of being an independent.  He has no-one fooled.  He is the de facto FF candidate.  I know that as a member of a political party and especially if a member has served in some high ranking capacity in that party then that person does not change their stripes overnight.  And especially of a party of the size of Fianna Fail.  As I overheard in the media last week, "one must have their colours nailed to the wall to succeed to such high positions".

And it also seems that his high association did not go unrewarded, only last year Sean was appointed to the Board of FAS.  While he also serves on the Board of InterTrade Ireland and Chairs the Drogheda Port Company.  I don't doubt the competency of Sean but his multiple state board appointments brings into question what was the real reason behind his appointment.

By running in this election he is also building a substantial profile for himself.   All the headlines, newspaper columns, TV debates, Radio interviews his media exposure is exploding.  That is momentum he won’t give up.  Whether he has future political ambitions I’m not sure but one thing I am confident about is that he will take to the speaking circuit faster than a duck to water.  And of course a motivational book or two won’t go astray.

I have met the man personally and could not fault his politeness ans willingness to engage in discussion but I cannot overlook the seemingly obvious objectives of his campaign.  Sean has also done tremendous work in the community projects he has been involved with and with youth work but he is guilty by association with his party, not former party, he never did resign his membership.  With all his now independent stance on his campaign why didn’t he abandon Fianna Fail long before his Presidential bid.

To sum up, Sean Gallagher is not a man you can take at face value but rather a man you have to examine to find out his true aims, and true reasons for standing.

In honest opinion he will not get elected but will make a good standing and it certainly will not be the last we will hear of the dragon from Cavan.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ireland’s week on the world’s stage

A boost, economically and socially from the problems of same we are and have been plagued with.

Last year we hosted the Ajai Chopra, Dept Director of the International Monetary Fund and Jean-Claude Trichet of the European Central Bank.  But this year, in the space of a week, this country is hosting the British Monarch on a full State visit, the British Prime Minister, a major world sporting event (Europa League final) and the US President.  Also, Monday the Grand Princess cruise ship, with 4’000 passengers docked in Dublin port on the eve of the Queens visit.

The Queens visit is of course the pinnacle of the week’s events.  News cameras of the world and especially those of Sky and BBC new are covering every inch of Queen Elizabeth’s events within the country.  This is worth its weight in gold in the amount of interest this is stirring from the UK.  Indeed Failte Ireland are already promoting it with a slogan I recently heard; “come to Dublin to follow the Queens steps”.  Given the diplomatic and historical significance there is a key trade aspect to Queen Elizabeth’s visit.  With a fifth of all UK trade and a majority of Irish trade between the two countries the links between the two nations are reinforced.  It is a pity that the Monarch cannot get more face time with the crowd, but because of the tiny backward minded few this is too far a step in security terms at the current time.

The cruise ship passengers have a huge benefit to the local economy in the capital.  With rates an average of 3/4 thousand paid by passengers they would be eager to sample what Dublin has to offer.  Indeed the cruise ship industry is worth 50 million to the Dublin economy every year.  Also Cork is not left out in that regard as many vessels of equal capacity also make short visits to Cobh where Ireland’s only dedicated Cruise Port is located.  And right next to a train station to make the logistics of such trips all the more convenient for exploring the Rebel City.  Bus companies are too delighted with the arrival of these mega liners in times of recession as each ship might need up to 50 large buses to offload its passengers to be carried to multiple destinations.

A Portugal only Europa League final in the Aviva Stadium (renamed Dublin Arena for the game) was slightly overshadowed by the royal visitors but was another event to remember.  Up to 40’000 Portuguese fans made the journey to our capital for the final.  A large section of the European sports world and the Portuguese nation watched the new Aviva Stadium in all its glory as Porto and Braga battled it out.  Porto defeated defending champions Braga but the real winner was of course the new stadium.

American visitors always made the effort to spend a few days on this the isle of  their fore-bearers (well most of them as it seems!).  But with declining visitor numbers who better to show them our a renewed Ireland then their own President Barrack Obama.  The Offaly town of Moneygall will never be the same again as following Obama US tourist will flood to see the town that their President (or ancestors of his) hail from.  Irish people will also get the chance to hear one of Obama’s great speeches first hand (something he is not shy of doing) when he does a Daniel O’Connell style public address at College Green.  While he will be hear less than 24 hours his scheduled is tightly packed in to make full use of him while he’s here!

Now Dublin will have to share the spoils as over tomorrow Thursday and through to Monday, Tipperary, Kildare and Cork will get a slice of the fanfare that follows the Queen and President Obama.

Further Reading:

Queens Visit:
Obama's Visit:
Europa League Final:

May McAleese, President of Ireland's Speech in full at Dublin Castle

Our President welcomed the queen to Dublin Castle, the former seat of British Administration in this country and more specifically the head of British Intelligence. An intelligence service that so ruthlessly put down so many attempts to gain Irish Independence. Now though the Head of the British State is a guest of equals with Mary McAleese. President McAleese remarked that the history between the the UK and Ireland is a Repository of sources for bitter division but that time and new interpretations can open up space for new accommodation. She alluded to the unique history and two way traffic with each country playing a significant role in each others development. More importantly she reiterated her view that this state visit was the culmination of the peace process.

Full Text of Speech:

Your Majesty, Your Royal Highness, Taoiseach, Prime Minister, First Minister, Tanaiste, Foreign Secretary, Distinguished Guests:

It is my pleasure to welcome you to Dublin Castle this evening on this the first ever State Visit to take place between our two countries. This visit is a culmination of the success of the Peace Process. It is an acknowledgment that while we cannot change the past, we have chosen to change the future.

The relationship between our two neighbouring nations is long, complex and has often been turbulent. Like the tides that surround each of us, we have shaped and altered each other. This evening we celebrate a new chapter in our relationship that may still be a work in progress, but happily, has also become a work of progress, of partnership and friendship.

The contemporary British-Irish relationship is multifaceted and strongly underpinned by the most important connection of all — people and families.

Large numbers of British born people live here in Ireland and many more of our citizens have British backgrounds, ancestry and identity. In Britain, those of Irish birth, descent or identity are numbered in millions.

The two way flow of people between these islands goes back millennia. This very room is dedicated to St Patrick, whose name is synonymous with Ireland. Yet he is reputed to have been born in Britain. Patrick’s life as the man who brought Christianity to Ireland is illustrative of the considerable exchange of ideas and knowledge that there has been between our two nations throughout history.

It has been a fascinating two way street with Britain bestowing on Ireland our system of common law, parliamentary tradition, independent civil service, gracious Georgian architecture, love of English literature and our obsession with the Premiership. Conversely, Britain greatly benefitted from the Irish genius of the likes of — Edmund Burke, the Duke of Wellington, Daniel O’Connell, Charles Stuart Parnell, Maria Edgeworth, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw and even Father Ted. Indeed, it was Shaw who wryly observed that:

“England had conquered Ireland, so there was nothing for it but to come over and conquer England.”

However, even Shaw might not have dared to imagine that this cultural conquest would come in time to include rugby and cricket.

The Irish in Britain and the British in Ireland both as individuals and communities, have made an invaluable contribution to both our homelands while also cementing the links between us.

Today those links provide the foundation for a thriving economic relationship. As close trade and investment partners and as partners in the European Union, Britain and Ireland are essential to each other’s economic wellbeing. It is imperative that we work fluently together to promote the conditions that stimulate prosperity and opportunity for all of our people.

It is only right that on this historic visit we should reflect on the difficult centuries which have brought us to this point. Inevitably where there are the colonisers and the colonised, the past is a repository of sources of bitter division. The harsh facts cannot be altered nor loss nor grief erased but with time and generosity, interpretations and perspectives can soften and open up space for new accommodations.

Yesterday, Your Majesty, you visited our Garden of Remembrance and laid a wreath there in honour of the sacrifice and achievement of those who fought against Britain for Irish independence. Today at Islandbridge, just as we did at the Island of Ireland Peace Park at Messines in 1998, we commemorated together the thousands of Irishmen who gave their lives in British uniform in the Great War.

As the first citizen of Ireland, like my fellow countrymen and women, I am deeply proud of Ireland’s difficult journey to national sovereignty. I am proud of how we have used our independence to build a republic which asserts the religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities not just of all its citizens but of all human beings. I am particularly proud of this island’s peace-makers who having experienced first-hand the appalling toxic harvest of failing to resolve old hatreds and political differences, rejected the perennial culture of conflict and compromised enough to let a new future in.

The Good Friday Agreement represented a fresh start and committed us all to partnership, equality and mutual respect as the basis of future relationships. Under the Agreement, unionism and nationalism were accorded equal recognition as political aspirations and philosophies. Northern Ireland’s present status within the United Kingdom was solemnly recognised, as was the option for a united Ireland if that secures the agreement and consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland.

The collegial and cooperative relationship between the British and Irish Governments was crucial to the success of the Peace Process and we can thank the deepening engagement between us as equal partners in the European Union for the growth of friendship and trust. The Governments’ collaborative efforts to bring peace and power-sharing to Northern Ireland have yielded huge dividends for the peoples of these two islands.

W.B. Yeats once wrote in another context that “peace comes dropping slow.”

The journey to peace has been cruelly slow and arduous but it has taken us to a place where hope thrives and the past no longer threatens to overwhelm our present and our future. The legacy of the Good Friday Agreement is already profound and encouraging. We all of us have a duty to protect, nurture and develop it.

Your Majesty, from our previous conversations I know of your deep support for the peace process and your longing to see relationships between our two countries sustained on a template of good neighbourliness.

Your visit here is an important sign - among a growing number of signs - that we have embarked on the fresh start envisaged in the Good Friday Agreement. Your visit is a formal recognition of what has, for many years, been a reality – that Ireland and Britain are neighbours, equals, colleagues and friends. Though the seas between us have often been stormy, we have chosen to build a solid and enduring bridge of friendship between us and to cross it to a new, a happier future.

Your Majesty, your Royal Highness it is in that spirit of mutual respect and warm friendship, it is in faith in that future, that I offer you the traditional warm Irish welcome - cead mile failte - one hundred thousand welcomes.

I now invite you, distinguished guests, to stand and join me in a toast:

To the health and happiness of Her Majesty and His Royal Highness;

To the well-being and prosperity of the people of Britain;

To the cause of peace and reconciliation on this island;

And to continued friendship and kinship between the peoples of Ireland and Britain.

Go raibh maith agaibh.


Queen's Speech in Full at Dublin Castle

We have had the Kings Speech but now we listen to the Queens Speech
The speech of his Daughter, Queen Elizabeth II to the Irish people from Dublin Castle.

The Queen offered her sincerest sympathies and regret to all who were hurt in the troubled past between the two nations. That in itself is a powerful acknowledgement of the events of the suffering endured by all people, Irish and British in Ireland's struggle for Independence. The speech was short and to the point, it gave less a chance for picking holes and causing unwanted effects of what is said or indeed not said.

''A hUachtarain agus a chairde (President and friends).

Madam President, Prince Philip and I are delighted to be here, and to experience at first hand Ireland’s world-famous hospitality.

Together we have much to celebrate: the ties between our people, the shared values, and the economic, business and cultural links that make us so much more than just neighbours, that make us firm friends and equal partners.

Madam President, speaking here in Dublin Castle it is impossible to ignore the weight of history, as it was yesterday when you and I laid wreaths at the Garden of Remembrance.

Indeed, so much of this visit reminds us of the complexity of our history, its many layers and traditions, but also the importance of forbearance and conciliation. Of being able to bow to the past, but not be bound by it.

Of course, the relationship has not always been straightforward; nor has the record over the centuries been entirely benign. It is a sad and regrettable reality that through history our islands have experienced more than their fair share of heartache, turbulence and loss.

These events have touched us all, many of us personally, and are a painful legacy. We can never forget those who have died or been injured, and their families. To all those who have suffered as a consequence of our troubled past I extend my sincere thoughts and deep sympathy. With the benefit of historical hindsight we can all see things which we would wish had been done differently or not at all.

But it is also true that no-one who looked to the future over the past centuries could have imagined the strength of the bonds that are now in place between the governments and the people of our two nations, the spirit of partnership that we now enjoy, and the lasting rapport between us. No-one here this evening could doubt that heartfelt desire of our two nations.

Madam President, you have done a great deal to promote this understanding and reconciliation. You set out to build bridges. And I have seen at first hand your success in bringing together different communities and traditions on this island.

You have also shed new light on the sacrifice of those who served in the First World War. Even as we jointly opened the Messines Peace Park in 1998, it was difficult to look ahead to the time when you and I would be standing together at Islandbridge as we were today.

That transformation is also evident in the establishment of a successful power-sharing executive in Northern Ireland. A knot of history that was painstakingly loosened by the British and Irish Governments together with the strength, vision and determination of the political parties in Northern Ireland.

What were once only hopes for the future have now come to pass; it is almost exactly 13 years since the overwhelming majority of people in Ireland and Northern Ireland voted in favour of the agreement signed on Good Friday 1998, paving the way for Northern Ireland to become the exciting and inspirational place that it is today.

I applaud the work of all those involved in the peace process, and of all those who support and nurture peace, including members of the police, the gardai, and the other emergency services, and those who work in the communities, the churches and charitable bodies like Co-operation Ireland.

Taken together, their work not only serves as a basis for reconciliation between our people and communities, but it gives hope to other peacemakers across the world that through sustained effort, peace can and will prevail.

For the world moves on quickly. The challenges of the past have been replaced by new economic challenges which will demand the same imagination and courage.

The lessons from the peace process are clear; whatever life throws at us, our individual responses will be all the stronger for working together and sharing the load.

There are other stories written daily across these islands which do not find their voice in solemn pages of history books, or newspaper headlines, but which are at the heart of our shared narrative. Many British families have members who live in this country, as many Irish families have close relatives in the United Kingdom.

These families share the two islands; they have visited each other and have come home to each other over the years. They are the ordinary people who yearned for the peace and understanding we now have between our two nations and between the communities within those two nations; a living testament to how much in common we have.

These ties of family, friendship and affection are our most precious resource. They are the lifeblood of the partnership across these islands, a golden thread that runs through all our joint successes so far, and all we will go on to achieve.

They are a reminder that we have much to do together to build a future for all our grandchildren: the kind of future our grandparents could only dream of.

So we celebrate together the widespread spirit of goodwill and deep mutual understanding that has served to make the relationship more harmonious, close as good neighbours should always be.

See also the Speech by Mary McAleese, President of Ireland:

Monday, May 16, 2011

Was Dominique Strauss-Kahn set up??

First off, I am no conspiracy theorist, wacky tales amuse me, like most people but I always would declare to be a realist.  The most plausible solution is commonly the solution.
But Strauss-Kahn’s case does pose some questions.  For instance if someone or organisation did want Strauss-Kahn out of the way who were they?

Top of the list of course is Sarkozy.  
With his popularity plummeting below 30% and him trailing Strauss-Kahn in opinion polls for the French presidency he fits some of the billing.  Although known for his ruthlessness I cannot see him risking a connection to this directly.  If someone did do it to aid the incumbent premier then it was not with the knowledge of the man himself. 

The most intriguing conspiracy theory stems from the US side.  Could the head of the IMF have been sidelined to protect the Dollar?  
Forget the recent press coverage that the Euro has suffered and Dollar gained because of the arrest.  That was a blimp rectified in a few hours.  Look at the significant comments made by Strauss-Kahn himself last February.  He declared it a real possibility to replace the Dollar as the world’s defacto currency with a universal SDR system.  His reasoning was that world markets are too dependent of the internal volatility of the US Economy and indeed there are other economies that are surpassing the US benchmark.  The key position of the Dollar was and is strategic to the US.  It can exert proxy control of significant market forces.  But who in the US would pull off such a feat.  I mean it is a banking issue we are talking about.  This isn’t the hijacking of the Dollar by Bin Laden’s cronies.  To be honest there is always enough over patriotic arseholes throughout Washington and the vast, over equipped, murky intelligence network to see that a snotty nosed French Champagne socialist be brought down to earth.  It is anyone’s guess.  Once this isn’t a Watergate moment with Obama pulling the strings we shouldn’t worry.

Strauss-Kahn was right though.  The US Economy should not be soley relied upon to balance our own economies against.  For the eleventh time since the Law was past the US Government is being force to raise the Debt Ceiling that is can amass.  Currently set at over 14 Trillion with the sale (hopeful sale I may add) of 99 Billion in US Treasury Bonds this is being breached.  Without the raising of the celling the US risks a catastrophic default on its debts.  Forget the sole US economy, US bonds are held the world over for their reliability second only to hard cash or gold.  Countries and Senior Bondholders would be crumpling all over the world.  Indeed the IMF would be powerless to rescue this because of the fact that the US is the major IMF creditor.

Now the realities of it.  A woman says she was raped and she should be believed.  I mean the accusations are serious and the US authorities are being very effective in dealing with this.  They made the right decision to take him off that plane, innocent or not.  Justice now has to take its course, the presumption of innocence must be protected but the crime (if committed of course) and punishment must be brought to bear on the attacker.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

US Foreign Policy with Israel and the Palestinian Reconciliation

US foreign policy will be interesting to watch now, with the Palestinian Reconciliation Agreement in Egypt.  How will they react in the short to medium term?  Their undying support for Israel has become strained because of President Netanyahu’s refusal to stop settlement building.  They have lost their key ally in the region, Egypt’s Mubarak who they bulked up his armed forces with American weaponry.  The new regime in Cairo is now taking a more Pro Arab, Pro Palestinian side, indeed the agreement to reconcile was formed on Egyptian soil.  American administrations always seek peace from the Arabs but pursued them to agree to a peace with Israel on the Israeli terms.  Now governments in the region are rejecting the Americans way and are encouraging the Palestinians to form their own peace.  The European Union is key to this.  They should reject totally and unanimously the call from Israel to halt the 288 million euro in development aid to Palestine.  Significant moves toward peace must be listened to and encouraged.

The EU must now act as the buffer from the Americans one sided interventions and aspirational rhetoric and take the hard decisions to form peace in the region.  I also call on the delegates and the next meeting of the United Nations to listen to the Palestine cause in their attempt to get recognised as a state.  They need not make any bold moves to do this but should at least listen and form an international committee to oversee the developments in the possible creation of a Palestinian State.  This can only come through with the renunciation of violence from all parties involved.  A commitment to do this must be followed through before any type of recognition is even considered by the United Nations.  But first listen and acknowledge developments made.

I find it irresponsible of Israel to totally dismiss the recent agreement to reconcile by Hamas and Fatah.  It is important to support any moves to get everyone around the table to work out a framework for the future in a democratic way.  Israel should be aware of its role in the evolution of Hamas, it initially welcomed the creation of Hamas as a means of fractioning the dominant Fatah during the early 90’s.  But the legacy of Hamas is not forgettable, they are a terrorist organisation that have committed atrocities and are not renouncing violence.  But like Northern Ireland and the IRA in order to get the gun out of politics they must be brought to the table whether publicly or privately and talked to.  They continue retain popular support which cannot be ignored.
In short, the EU must take the bull by the horns and work with the Americans, Israelis and Palestinians in a four way arrangement to work out a solution tolerable to all, UN involvement not essential.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Reduction in the Number of TD’s

This was a campaign issue for both Fine Gael and Labour.  Fine Gaels plans were to reduce the Number of National Politicians by 35%.  This can be viewed as a 35% reduction in the 226 TD’s and Senators.  To obtain 35% this would add up to the abolition of the Seanad and its 60 members along with taking out 20 of the Dail members.  This would leave us with 146 National Politicians, a sustainable number in my view.

Phil  Hogan, Minister for the Environment stated today that the reduction would be in the limit of the constitutional requirement for the ratio of Deputies to population.  This (Under Article 16, Section 2.2) of the Constitution is set at 1 TD per every 20 to 30 thousand of population.  At the moment, it is estimated to that each TD represents an average of 26’500 of people.  If Phil Hogan was to go about using the constraint of the constitution, the maximum reduction in my view would be 16 to 150 deputies.  And that pushes the average up to over 29’000 in the ratio of TD to population.  This would be unsustainable.  The 10’000 leeway was set so that the Electoral Commission don’t have to be dividing towns and cities to enure the ratio stays exact.

In my view under the Constitutional Convention the ratio should be reset to One Deputy for not more than 35’000 people and not less than 25’000.  This would allow a reduction to 146 TD’s, the ratio, (under current population) would be around 32’000 per TD, which is a sustainable averge per TD.  In order to speed things up I believe that if the Minister acts now and gets the Attorney General to draw up the necessary legislation a Referendum to redefine the limits could be included a the time of the presidential election in October.  This would add a significant degree of reliability that the government is serious on the issue.

I feel that no more than 20 TD’s should be gotten rid of though as it is important to retain in excess of 140 national politicians to ensure we have a full representative democracy.

Some argue that there will be a democratic deficit in the Oireachtas, with up to 80 members being wiped away and what could be up to 30 in the Lower house.  Other countries manage just fine, we should give it a try, and indeed it is still a total reduction or just 35%.  It should also be reminded that we have a 12 MEP’s that we send out to Europe.  These should be given full attendance rights in the Dail.  They should not have voting rights but should be allowed the full rights to speak in debates.

Reference in the Constitution:
Article 16
2° The number of members shall from time to time be
fixed by law, but the total number of members of Dáil
Éireann shall not be fixed at less than one member for
each thirty thousand of the population, or at more than
one member for each twenty thousand of the

Further Reading:

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Suicide Debate in the Dail 3rd May (Statements on Suicide Prevention)

The session in the Dail today regarding Suicide Prevention was a very fitting debate.  Witnessing cross party support in the current Dail is rare but on  this issue they all are accepting of each others proposals to find a solution to the problem.  This is very welcoming as it is not an easy issue to deal with and has been hidden at times and needs to be tackled and highlighted.  All deputies spoke well and there was very good proposals and ideas put forward.  Deputy Sandra McLellan is right that an Treaty on Mental Health, signed by Ireland is the “nations best kept secret” due to the fact many children are forced to share facilities with adult patients.

Deputy Simon Harris and others stated that we need to change the attitude in our schools as a priority.  He stated that one woman asked him that if he had a toothache where would he go for help? A Dentist, Would be ashamed of it? No.  We need to change our attitudes as a society.  We need a similar attitude and teaching for Mental Health.  If I become ill I go to the Doctor.  If I begin to show signs of depression  then I go to my local Physiatrist, and should not have to be ashamed of the fact.  I should not have to hide it.

Deputy Jerry Buttimer stated that the debate he was taking part in was the one of the most important debates in the Dail as it deals with the Human effect on everyone so significantly.  In these rough economic times where families are under pressure with employment and putting food on the table it is a time for us to all of us work together.
Youth Suicide in Ireland is the fourth highest in Europe.  We have seen a large increase in young men committing suicide in the past few years.  I am all too aware of this as I know of two young men who have taken their own lives.  Both deaths were a shock and brings the necessity to deal with Sucide all to clear.

It must be ensured that continuing resources are made available for Community mental health services.  Too much resources are involved with hospital based treatment which is against international best practice.  Also voluntary organisations such as Samaritans need continueing support to ensure every person wishing to avail of such services is given the full help they need.

Continuing and improved resources also need to be made available for LGBT students in schools.  This also involves the educating of studnets of LGBT issues and acceptance of people who are gay, laesbian, bisexual or transgender.  Without this bullying can persist and become dangerous to the mental health of the LGBT student.  Many schools as was highlighted today do not have a code of practice to deal with LGBT bullying, this needs to change, and urgently.  Cooperation between the Ministries of Health and Education is essential to ensure proper guidelines and advice are available to schools forming their own policies on this. 

Services for Mental Health must be made as accessible as possible, signs are not always apparent, we need to ensure people can spot the signs themselves and can see tell tale signs in others and to have the knowhow to approach them.  This involves as Jerry Buttimer pointed out joined up thinking between the voluntary and statutory organisations.  A dedicated help line should be established that will always be manned and available to both individuals and to the Gardai.  The Gardai should also be able to access professional support out or normal hours when they are so often are forced to find their own solutions when faced with a person with Mental Health issue.  An inter agency support network and telephone line is the answer to this.

Deputy Patrick O’Donovan stressed the internet as while having its great benefits can be a tool for great wrong and harm.  He pointed out Social Networking sites such as Facebook and twitter where young people are exposed and can be open to abuse.  There needs to be more proactive involvement in the monitoring of these sites and I believe that the companies such as Facebook and Twitter need to be required to put their own resources back into the site to ensure its safe to use for all.

This is another area that schools could address.  A code of practice for teaching about the use of the internet needs to be established.  Safe use of the internet and social sites needs to be thaught to our children who are now setting up online profiles at ages of 8 or 9 now.  Some are even setting up profiles on Adult dating websites at ages of 13.  Parents need to be educated about the dangers the internet can pose to their children.  An education programme after hours in schools for parents should be established.  This would be funded by the Department of Children and Education jointly.

With all the talk it is now up to the government and the Minister for Health (working with the various bodies, state and voluntary) to establish real policy and to implement real change.  I have every confidence he will, I hope though that the cross party support remains and amendments to any policy are constructive and not based on party political scoring.

Further Reading:

Death and Rebirth of Richie Kavanagh

Legendary country singer Riche Kavanagh was the victim of malicious editing on his Wikipedia page.  A user updated his entry on the site to state he had died Sunday morning, May 2nd from a heart attack in Carlow General Hospital.  This set twitter alight and indeed it leaked to Facebook too where people stated posting videos of his works in commemoration.  I myself was duped.  But alas the legend was alive.  There was no word from any official source, only a night time DJ on ROS FM announced it, upon seeing it on twitter himself.  The game was up the truth was told, well found through some digging around online.
Of course the news was not entirely unbelievable.  Last February he announced he is suffering from Parkinson’s and through the last few years his public performances have lessened due to declining health.   Psoriasis crippled Richie's hands since the age of 44.
Although he was never a man to sit down and wait for his time to come, he became a nationwide star by his unique musical talents.

Long live Riche!

In his honour, here is my favourite from him, as it is many others:

Further reading: 

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Last Seanad?


It is looking very likely that this election will be the last ever for the Seanad.  Now the big question, should we actually get rid of it?  Short answer at the moment is yes.  The House has failed in its role.  It is nothing more than a talking shop.  Some legislation does originate their but that could just as easily have been originated by the larger house down the corridor.  It is full of wannabe TD’s and retiring politicians who lost their seats but liked sitting about Leinster House.

 I was always in favour of reforming it, but let’s see what the people want.  It is about time a vote was taken on the issue.  I do think that if there is a desire for an upper house then by all means reintroduce a reformed Seanad in 5 or 10 years’ time following the Constitutional Referendum or at election time but first chuck it out and see how we get on without it.  Give stronger powers to the Dail Committees to balance any democratic deficit.  Along with that give local government back some authority but ensure any power entrusted to them is still subordinate to Dail Eireann.  Might not be a bad idea to allow Councils pass recommendations to the Dail that they could attach to specific Bills affecting the Councils area.  An idea though that would need to be developed further.

The Constitutional Convention expected next year should debate the issue of an Upper House as part of its overall agenda but be directed to not to take any decisions.  Or worse still publish a report on it.  We have had enough of them!  The recommendations have been there on the issue of reform since DeValera first passed the 1936 Constitution.  What we need is a decision.  Annoying me at the moment is the Fianna Fail hacks jumping aboard the campaign to save the Seanad.  Why with they in power for 14 years and the last major report published did they not decide to change it then?  And wasn’t it DeValera who got rid of the Free State Senate when it disagreed with him.

In my view the date of the Presidential Election, a Friday in October, will play host to the Seanad Referendum too.  Expect it to be a campaign issue of the Presidential Election as Norris, a hopeful (no nomination yet though) is a current Senator.

Further Reading: 

Friday, April 29, 2011

A very Royal Wedding

Very hard to avoid today, RTE One and TV3 having live coverage, Sky News is being avoided at all costs!  In all fairness even though I loathe the Royal Family at times, the whole idea of monarchy and all things associated they do put on a nice show.  Monarchy still works for the British and sure let them at it.  Although what would have happened if Blair had put it to a vote in 1997? One does wonder!  

Most importantly about today though, it’s worth £600 million pounds to the British Economy, Jesus if wed known that then we should have told the Queen shove them into Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin! (Joke, obviously).  We wouldn’t have enough Royal doylies to keep all those guests happy.  What I find amusing about today is the calling of Kate, a commoner, a lowly commoner marrying the heir to the throne, Queen in waiting.  She is no commoner, I mean I don’t think she grew up in a semi-d on a council estate in Manchester or wherever.  

Also as a point of note, I spotted a Tricolour in the sea of Union Jacks in Hyde Park, must the D4 contingent offering their undying congrats to their Will and Kate loike.  Should we be proud William decided to wear his Irish Guards Uniform? Doesn’t make a difference, still the British Army!   But I’m not going to go on condemning the Irish Gaurds, well the older type, many Irish joined that Regiment to seek some form of employment, fought and died, indeed it’s the Regiment that was always sent to the frontline, the expendable class of soldiers as officers would view.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

University of Limerick Young Fine Gael supports the cut in the Late Fee for Nightclubs

Release by the UL Branch of Young Fine Gael, of which I Chair and had a part in the writing of

University of Limerick Young Fine Gael supports the call from the Irish Nightclub Industry Association for the cut in the Late Opening Fees.  At present Night Clubs are required to pay €410 per night of late night opening and we agree for a cut to €200 would be sustainable as this would encourage the creation of jobs in the Entertainment Industry.

Clubs are being forced to charge excessive entrance fees to customers due declining revenue owing to the economic recession.  A reduction in the Late Fee will not have a significant effect on clubs that are prospering at present but will be a boost for clubs, especially in rural areas that are on the brink of closing down at present.

Late night opening by clubs is not the primary cause of excessive youth drinking anymore.  Indeed many clubs have shut their doors because of a complete fall in revenue from drink sales. The problems of excessive drinking by youths are not solved by targeting the Clubs with excessive fees and charges.

Most drinking by youths is done outside of the licenced venues now.  We as nation need to reduce the amount we consume in general but an attitude shift is required.  This can only be achieved by starting in our schools educating teenagers of the effects excessive drinking can cause.  Investment needs to be made available for encouraging involvement in youth and sport programmes which give the youth of today other options instead of alcohol consumption.

Near the University of Limerick the Kilmurry Lodge Nightclub closed permanently last February which resulted in the loss of 20 full and part time jobs including those of students who were part of the staff throughout its 15 year existence.  Its closure was due to a serious trend towards off-licence sales and a decrease in revenues as customers were arriving from house parties and no longer spending in the club.

Students now who wish to go to a Nightclub have no other choice but pay for taxis into the city.  With significant reductions in the amount students can spend while at University this becomes a significant expense.  This impacts the overwhelming majority of UL Students who drink in moderation and going to a club is part of socialising on a night out.

An immediate cut in the Late Fee will cost the Government in excess of €12 million in loss of the tax revenue but this will be recouped by the boosting the late night economy.  We agree with the comments by Justice Minister Alan Shatter that this will enhance job creation in the Entertainment Industry.  The Irish Nightclub Industry Association estimates that a reduction will create 330 jobs in the industry.

See the edited Editors Letter version published in today (Firday 29th April) Irish Independent:

Further reading on the subject:

Royal Wedding Day IRA Attack Threat

While it is well known I have my differences with the Royals the threat of an attack on the day of the Royal Wedding shows a sign of desperation by these extremist Republican splinter groups

From the Mirror

MI5 has warned senior Government figures that an attack by Irish terror groups is “highly likely” on the day of the royal wedding.
The intelligence service believes a bomb attack may occur in Belfast or Londonderry in a bid to disrupt the celebrations.
It is thought resurgent dissident republican groups – which include the Real IRA, the Oglaigh na hEireann and “the IRA” – are not ready to launch an attack on London.
But latest intelligence reports from MI5 to the Home Office suggest an attack could take place elsewhere on Friday.
A source said: “Recent intelligence points to a terror attack in Northern Ireland on the day of the wedding. This is a very real threat and described as being highly likely.
“It is not believed the groups yet have the capability to launch an attack on London, which on Friday would cause chaos.
“However an attack would send out a clear message that there is a gathering and substantial threat from dissident republican groups in Northern Ireland and Ireland.”
On Friday the dissident group styling itself “the IRA” issued a statement claiming responsibility for the murder of PC Ronan Kerr in Omagh this month.
MI5 understands that the group, which has also vowed to embark on a bombing campaign, includes veteran paramilitary figures who have the know-how to carry out such attacks. Dissident groups have recently deployed command-wire explosive devices, van-mounted weaponry, car bombs and vehicle booby traps. Several suspected terrorists are thought to be under surveillance by MI5.

More Reading:

Disused Rail Line Tourist Treks

Disused Rail Lines to become Tourist Bike Trail’s (Waterford, West Clare, Valencia), Allow tourists to carry 
bicycles to destinations and disembark with them along the Trails

Disused and closed rail lines make excellent Bike trails because of the flat gradient of the former railway and the disused infrastructure in place.
Just to give an example, the former Great Southern and Western Rail line between Faranfore and Valencia was one of the most scenic in Ireland.  It is a prime trail for a bike trail.
Problems will be encountered though as much of some of the former Rail lines like the Valencia line have been taken over by the farmers and returned to Agricultural use and thus squatter’s rights can now be claimed.
In order to circumvent any problems a statutory system of compulsory acquisition should be put in place, overseen by a judge of course.

Cost of Repeating in Third Level

Many young people now go through Third Level Education here in Ireland and an increasing number are going back to education.  The free tuition frees make this a possibility for many.  The government and governments past must be commended for its introduction and retention.  What concerns me though is that students repeating a year are liable for upfront payment of the necessary fees.  I agree that a student should pay for any repeated year, but asking a student to pay upfront and straight away before the repeated year starts is a huge barrier for many students who may not have done well in a certain year and wish to back to try the year again.  As the state normally pays for a four year degree for any person who enters into such a program a student should not have to pay any fees until they have finished their fourth year of their time in college.  A student who repeats second year for example should not be liable to pay any fees until that student enters the fourth year of their degree program but would be their fifth year in college.  I call on the Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn to consider this as a pressing issue and to ease the burden on students who wish to repeat a year without being prevented due to financial constraints.  Also I would ask of the Minister to make efforts to make financial institutions give loans to students wishing to repeat, even if it means adding some degree of Government Guarantee to any such loans.  

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Young Fine Gaels Role in Power

(My designation of Young Fine Gaels role, not speaking for the organisation as a whole)

Young Fine Gael is a Government supporting organisation but we are by no means in coalition with anyone ourselves.  In YFG we have our own policies and views.   We are here to be as constructive as possible to the government in these tough economic times.  Young people, out of college, out of school, out of a job are the worst affected by this recession.  In YFG we want to help them as much as possible by having clear and effective policies to deal with the issues of youth unemployment, youth emigration and being able to secure as many jobs as possible in Ireland.  Enda Kenny like John Bruton will be calling upon us for advice on formation and implementation of Youth Policy and we are here to give him the best possible help and advice.  We are not afraid to have our own opinions on certain issues though; we are and always have been an autonomous organisation.

See to join and all other news

Monday, April 25, 2011

Real IRA threats to target more Policemen and the Queen

The announcement of a splinter republican group the “Real IRA” that they will target more police officers and indeed target the Queen during her visit can only provoke nothing but disgust and anger. There will always be some opposition but these threats of violent terrorist action are not representative of Irish Society here.  The legacy of British rule in Ireland is by no means forgotten but we have moved on as a nation and a people.  The visit by the Queen does provoke thoughts back to Irish Independence and the rule of the British but that was a time 80 years ago.  

They should never be forgotten but we must strive to move on remember the fallen but lead our nation in a democratic way and that means forming and maintaining good relations with our neighbour.  The actives in Northern Ireland were the responsibility of the Protestant dominated Stormont Government and the Saville Report did show that the UK was able somehow to put right some degree of wrong.  More work needed there though.  While many including myself would like to see a United Ireland, no innocent blood should ever be spilt for it, and by innocent blood I mean every citizen north and south of the border including the security services of both states.  

A Unification of the island can only come through the democratic will and ballot box opinion of people at both sides of the border.  These splinter groups both republican and loyalist need to be brought to justice and their attempts to derail the continuing peace process are nothing short of disgraceful.  The warm relationship between the Republic of Ireland and the UK is important to both countries.  There are many trade links between the UK and Ireland.  Indeed the UK has more bilateral trade with our country then the markets of China, India Brazil and Russia combined.  

Issues of Northern Ireland are also regularly consulted with between Dublin and London which shows the strength of resolve from both Governments to have an effective approach to the constant threats occurring.  The air route between Dublin and London is the busiest in Europe while also Irish and British tourists regularly make up a significant amount of revenue in their visits across to each other’s countries.  Indeed the visit by the Queen is being used to showcase Dublin and my own county of Cork.  

See RTE News site:

Sunday, April 24, 2011

1916 Commemoration

From the Irish Examiner

3,000 attend 1916 commemoration in Dublin

A commemoration has been held in Dublin to mark the 95th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising.

President Mary McAleese led the wreath-laying ceremony outside the GPO, attended by approximately 3,000 people.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the Justice Minister Alan Shatter were also in attendance, along with relatives of those who fought in 1916.

The Irish flag was lowered, the 1916 Proclamation was read, and a minute's silence was observed.

Traffic restrictions were in place in the city centre for a time, but they will be lifted shortly.

However there are restrictions around Croke Park, where the Allianz Football League finals are taking place this afternoon.

Read more: