Inevitable attack on #RepealThe8th movement targets Amnesty Ireland and Colm O’Gorman

THE ISSUE

Colm O’Gorman is both Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland and a leader of the #RepealThe8th campaign, thus making him a prime target for the so-called ‘Pro-Life’ movement.

THE MEDIA

Article by Amnesty International from Amnesty.ie on Friday, December 8, 2017

CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS UNDER THREAT FROM DRACONIAN LAW AND AMNESTY COULD FACE CRIMINAL CHARGES

SIPOC wrote to Amnesty International Ireland only last year to acknowledge that its work on reforming Ireland’s abortion laws, which includes the work supported by the OSF grant, was not in breach of the [Electoral] Act

THE COMMENT

My attention was drawn to this matter by a string of ‘outrage’ posts from the usual right-wing suspects on Twitter such as John McGuirk and Evert Bopp.

The perennial trolls make several references to supposed ‘illegal actions’ by Amnesty.ie and have been recycling the same argument all weekend.  Obviously only a fool would take their social media opinions at face value without making an effort to get Amnesty’s side of the story, which is very different as you can see by the above link.

What interests me about this is how the law in question is being applied.  Ireland is great at passing laws but when it comes to enforcing them, not so much.  While it does look like Amnesty was in technical violation of the said Act, it also seems that they were singled out by the authority in question, after previously being advised that they were ok.

Imagine a road with a 60km speed limit on which cars travel daily above and beyond that level without penalty.  Suddenly a group of ‘concerned citizens’ inform the gardaí about one vehicle in particular, after which an officer is dispatched with a speed gun to patrol the road to catch that one suspect without checking all the others.

We could use another analogy, calling this a political equivalent of racial profiling.  Amnesty [and by extension the Irish mainstream media for not covering this to the liking of Messrs McGuirk and Bopp] are being accused of political bias when you would have to question the motives of those who initiated this controversy by registering a string of complaints with SIPOC.

I wonder how much scrutiny of funding the likes of Iona Institute and Libertas could handle.

With public opinion strongly in favour of repealing the 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution, it was inevitable that the so-called ‘Pro-Life’ movement would work behind the scenes to pull any kind of stunt they could to try and tip the scales the other way.  It’s a shame that they have managed to persuade and official body to help them in their cause, but hopefully enough people see sense to realise for what it is and not take it any further.

#IANWAE

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Big step for #RepealThe8th movement as Oireachtas committee set to back up Citizens’ Assembly

THE ISSUE

The Irish Government has been considering the Eighth Amendment to the Irish constitution which enshrined the protection of unborn children after a referendum in 1983.

THE MEDIA

Article by Sarah Bardon in Irish Times on Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Oireachtas committee set to recommend repeal of Eighth Amendment

Fianna Fáil TD Billy Kelleher said trying to replace or amend article 40.3.3 is not practical, insisting a straight repeal is the only option.

THE COMMENT

I’m no fan of Fianna Fáil but when they or Fine Gael or indeed any political party falls on the right side of an issue I’m happy to give them their due.

After hearing the opinion of experts from all points on the vast spectrum of this issue, first the Citizens’ Assembly and now a multi-party Oireachtas Committee, it seems the will of the Irish people has changed drastically from the two-thirds yes vote from the referendum back in Ireland’s Dark Ages, also known as the 80s.

Of course the so-called Pro Life movement is making accusations of ‘bias’ because apparently their ‘side’ of the argument didn’t get the 50/50 coverage they wanted but as I said earlier, it’s a spectrum rather than a two-sided coin and the Iona Institute position lies only at one extreme end and thus should receive a proportionate amount of exposure.

It’s not over yet though – this article simply states that the committee is ‘set to recommend’ repeal.  They still have to actually recommend it.  Then the Dáil needs to organise a referendum for straight repeal with a simple yes or no option for the Irish people, not some fudge involving complicated wording.

Here’s hoping the committee members go on to back up their words with action next week.

#IANWAE

Only one way for the Irish Labour party to come back that I can see

So I was flicking through my twitter feed today, desperate to find something, ANYthing that didn’t make reference to US presidents apologising for racists.  I noticed this –

 Dermot Looney is a local councillor to me and I have followed his tweets for a while.  He is talking about this article in the Irish Examiner where Labour TD and former Environment Minister Alan Kelly suggested that the Social Democrats should merge with his own Labour Party.  An interesting proposition.  Interesting in that it’s so laughable and smacks of desperation.

I made a grave mistake in 2011.  Not only did I vote for Labour, I backed their going into government.  I thought with such a strong contingent in the Dáil they’d be able to implement a decent portion of their manifesto. I was very, very, wrong.

On the contrary, while they certainly did not do nothing in government (bringing Educate Together into the Irish school system wasn’t nothing and despite all the austerity they managed to keep union strikes at arms length), they were an absolute failure at accentuating any positives and were attacked from all sides to become yet another minority partner of an Irish coalition to be devastated by the electorate.

So is there any way back for them?  Well with this ‘new politics’ we seem to be ‘enjoying’ now, they have been able to get policies pushed further down the Leinster House canal than they might have before, but is that enough?

Well I can tell you one thing…courting other parties on the ‘left’ to join them isn’t their answer, at least if they ever want me to take a punt on them again.  In fact, now that I think of it, only one thing would turn my head.

I want the Labour Party to pledge that they will never again form a government in this country until it’s one they can lead.  

Prefereably I’d want to broaden the scope of the pledge to say they’d go in with any ‘left-wing’ government but since Sinn Féin are considered ‘left’ that just wouldn’t do.

Now don’t get me wrong – I know they would never make such a pledge.  They’d continue to use the ‘watchdog’ argument for going in with either FF or FG even though it has failed to materialize so many times.

But for me, if they really want any hope of getting a sizeable vote at a general election they have no choice but to lead the resistance to the FF/FG monopoly – in fact, if there are any two parties on this island Alan Kelly should suggest merge it’s them.

The way things stand now, the Roisin Shortalls and the Joan Collins and the Mick Wallaces of this world do nothing but mock Brendan Howlin’s party, and from his own rhetoric the feeling appears mutual.

Perhaps my idea is folly but Labour will need to do something otherwise more of their ranks, including Dermot Looney himself, will defect to parties like the Social Democrats.  JLP

#IANWAE

 

Of course there is racism in Ireland

Like many articles on TheJournal.ie, the real reading is not in the actual text, rather below in the comments section.

Take this one titled “‘People throw bananas at you or tell you to go back to your country just for asking to see a ticket’“.  The inspiration for the article is a campaign run by the Immigrant Council of Ireland, Transport for Ireland and Dublin City Council to promote “a message of zero tolerance” towards racism in Ireland.

Of course this debate is particularly timely what with President #DoubleDownDonald having one of his classic press conference meltdowns where he tried to suggest that not all those who protested the statue in Charlottesville were neo-Nazis.  By the way, in that tirade, the president alluded to something he called the “alt-left” which proved the very point I made a couple of days ago about false equivalency.

But returning to Ireland, the Journal article cites numerous experiences of racism by public transport drivers of various origins.  It’s not all violent, most of it isn’t.  But particularly in an area like this, ie racial hatred, the violence is the tip of the proverbial iceberg, and to understand where it comes from you first must acknowledge what lies beneath the water, and there are several examples in the comments section of this piece, much as we’d expect.

The first category, and the easiest to dismiss, is captured by this one…

Yawn!! The Journal is really laying it on today. Its endless. Are they being cynical and using it all for clickbait? Can you not see it just a quango justifying it’s continued existance (and big saleries) by portraying a subjective and selective number of allegations. Whether they are true or not doesn’t really matter as it is about the above. The Journal also love these type of press releases as they get a lot of comments.

Spelling atrocities aside, this is classic conspiracy theory nonsense…much easier to blame those calling out the racism than to acknowledge it.

Next we have the soft denier.

Sadly, we have racists in Ireland but I like to think that the racists are a minority. Of course, one would have to be of a different race to know the reality in everyday life. The actual lived experience is the most revealing.

Did I miss something?  Has anyone suggested that racists were in the majority?  But at least this person appreciates that they haven’t experienced this kind of racism personally, unlike this final genius of a commenter, a “hard” denier if you will…

The poor foreign taxi men will be on next telling us all how hard their life is and what a bunch of racists us Irish are… Give me strength… If your gonna work dealing with the public especially on crammed public transport your gonna have to listen to a bit of crap every now and again whether your black, white, orange, Irish, Polish, Russian or whatever.. That’s the nature of human interaction, mostly good but sometimes bad, that’s never gonna change no matter how many posters you put up so either accept that your in a foreign land and a minority of people aren’t going to like you, either get used to that fact or get a job in an office…

There is racism all over the world.  But it’s not a bloody competition.  We can’t justify what happens on our own shores because of what happens elsewhere.  We stand up and call it what it is whenever we see it.  And like I said earlier, it’s not just the violent incidents we need to call out.

Ever been on a bus when a driver was verbally abused?  Or in a shop when it was an employee?  Or in a taxi when an Irish driver was telling you stories about scary activities by black drivers?  Or at a family gathering when an elder relative used the ‘n word’?  I have.  And I’m ashamed to say that too often I failed to speak out.  I’m actually part of the problem, I freely admit.

Of course I’m not saying we should put ourselves in any danger when out and about but the simple fact is that if we do nothing at all, it will continue.

But one thing we can definitely do is accept that it’s happening, and that will cost us nothing.  JLP

#IANWAE

It’s not about Jobstown, Paul Murphy nor Joan Burton. It’s about what side you’re on.

The date was September 17, 2016.  I got the Luas with my wife and our two young children to Heuston Station, which was one of the meeting places for the latest Right2Water march.  We all set off towards the centre of town, and there were thousands gathered in just our section and the various groups from around the city were to converge at St Stephens Green.  

As we walked along the quays, I’d say it was probably around Ormond Quay, a man walked up to my wife as she pushed the buggy carrying our then 17-month old daughter and stuck a microphone in her face.  Behind him was a cameraman with his device pointing at her.

“So why are you marching today?”

“I don’t want to talk.”

“But I thought you cared about water changes?  Why are you marching then if you don’t want to talk about it?”

To be clear, I am paraphrasing the man, but that is definitely the gist of the exchange.

Needless say I wanted to throw him into the Liffey.  On a more sensible level, I wanted to give him a piece of my mind.  My wife does not feel comfortable in those situations.  And why should she.  All she wanted to do to lend her support for something she believed in was march, and it is as much her right not to talk as it is to talk.

How dare you confront a peaceful protester in this manner?  Would you not at least ask permission for the interview first?  Identify yourself and the broadcaster or publication for whom you are reporting first?  This is what I wanted to say to the man.  But I knew it wouldn’t come out that way so I took her hand and led her away from him.

I don’t want to give the impression that I go to these marches all the time.  That’s not because I’d be ashamed if I did, in fact it’s more to the contrary…I’m ashamed that I had somehow managed to be elsewhere each and every time such activism was going on, no matter how much I believed in a particular cause.  My “excuse” for the past year or so has been that I have been more interested in the US Presidential campaign plus my online time has been taken up by running a monetised sports blog.

None of that really matters, though.  You either show up for events like this or you don’t.  And on this day I honestly thought showing up was enough.  I should have been more prepared for a moment like this one.  I should have known to confront this asshole with a clear head and using accurate language to give him a proper soundbite and I should have also known to use my phone to record my own words as well.

Anyway, here’s my point that relates that incident above to this article.  

Do you believe my recollection of what happened?  Or do you think I’m exaggerating the reporter’s aggressiveness and/or lack of professionalism for the sake of the cause I was marching for?  Your honest answer to that question is very important when it comes to contemporary Irish politics.

Something else happened to me on the day of that protest.  As we waited at Heuston Station for the march to start, I was handed a placard.  I looked at it. It read “Jobstown Not Guilty”.  I handed it back to the man.

The reason I wouldn’t take it was not that I was opposed to the Jobstown cause, rather that on this particular day, while I did know about the incident in question involving then-Tánaiste Joan Burton, I was unaware of the specifics of the pending legal case, and also the organisation to back the defendants.  

Basically I didn’t want to be going around with my children holding a placard for a cause I knew little about.  And truth be told, in the short amount of time between receiving the placard and handing it back, I didn’t have time to check whether or not it was somehow connected to Sinn Féin, which was my greatest fear.

Since then of course, I have gotten to know more and more about the #JobstownNotGuilty cause.  Again because of other distractions, I never managed to get too involved in the activism, but you can be sure I was delighted when the defendants were found not guilty at the end of June.

Was the delight down to my thoughts on the actual events which transpired on that fateful day in Jobstown in November 2014?  Of course not.  I wasn’t there.  My delight stems from the fact that this was way, way more than a court case.  This was actually the coal face of modern Irish society.  People’s approach to the topic could not illustrate more where they stand with regard to the “haves vs have-nots” nature of public opinion these days.

And am I a fan of Paul Murphy?  I can’t answer.  I don’t know the guy personally.  But I do know that he was elected by the people of Dublin South-West on a ticket which couldn’t more clearly define his mandate if it tried : “Anti Austerity Alliance”.

I have certainly read multiple attempts to smear him though.   Like this op-ed by Philip Ryan in the Irish Independent over the weekend.

Paul Murphy really fancies himself as Ireland’s modern day Nelson Mandela with a megaphone

Here’s a thought…instead of slagging the man off for his megaphone, why not ask yourself why he feels the need to use it?  Or better still…give him the megaphone YOU’RE using.  Let HIM write a piece in the Indo and let your readers form their own opinion?  

No – it’s much easier to hide behind your column and slag the man off along with half-truths and tenuous associations.

And while we’re on that subject…a few points.  The pro-establishment media are very concerned with the fact that a water balloon was thrown.  So much so, they make it sound like it was a Molotov cocktail.  If that’s the extent of the violence that took place, then that’s surely enough to question the general narrative for starters.

They are also very concerned with the fact that Joan Burton is a woman.  Why?  She was the Tánaiste at the time.  It shouldn’t matter a jot what gender she is.  There was nowhere near this level of hysteria when President Higgins had a similar in-car experience a couple of months later, although the mainstream coverage was still very much anti-protester.

And as for “kidnapping”, well that one’s easy.  The court has decided it wasn’t.  Therefore it wasn’t.

But we had the ultimate side-taking just recently in the Dáil by our new Taoiseach.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fnewstalkfm%2Fvideos%2F10156467130447907%2F&show_text=1&width=560

Asked by Deputy Murphy if there would be a public inquiry into false statements made by gardaí throughout the course of the trial, Varadkar replied thus…

Deputy, you had a fair trial…

…so we’d best leave it at that.”  Had that been the Taoiseach’s point, even it it meant brushing Murphy off on the Garda thing, I would have understood to an extent.   Remember…“Taoiseach” is supposed to mean “leader”, and one every bit as much of the people who voted for Murphy as those who voted for Fine Gael.

But he couldn’t resist going on…

…you were acquitted, but that doesn’t mean that your behaviour was right.  And it may well be the case that you weren’t engaged in kidnapping, but it was thuggery.

…and his good buddies at BlueshirtFM, aka Newstalk, were on hand to provide plenty of “huzzah!” for his clearly biased opinion.  No fear of asking a Solidarity representative on to provide some kind of balance.

The Jobstown trial and all the pro-establishment opinion surrounding it is not about what took place that day.  It was about framing the narrative of Irish political discourse.  The country was brought to its knees by the actions of the government, the banking sector and the construction sector and one by one the public are expected to pick up the tab.

Whatever you may think about Paul Murphy, he is merely the latest focal point for the establishment to attack through various means.  If it wasn’t him it would be someone like Brendan Ogle.   Or Mick Wallace.  Or Ruth Coppinger.  Or Clare Daly.  The way this country is set up right now, it’s remarkably easy for those either wishing to suck up to the establishment or afraid to appear “too left” to play the man (or woman!!!) instead of the ball.

And what is the ball?  It’s the true political discussion, one that is not being had anywhere it matters.  It’s not about Fianna Fáil vs Fine Gael.  It’s not even about “haves” vs “have nots”, at least not precisely.

It’s about three distinct groups….those who speak for the “haves”, those who speak for the “have nots” and the most important of all, those burying their heads in the sand, making countless excuses for not getting involved.  Much like I tend to do.  At least I find the odd hour or two to voice my opinion here, though that of course is nowhere near enough.  JLP

Follow the Jobstown Not Guilty Facebook page here

#IANWAE

A view on the Jobstown trial by Keego

Editor’s note – Apologies once more for this site remaining idle for so long…demand from other projects has been too strong of late.  We will get back to it soon.  In the meantime we are grateful to Keego for offering this post.  We have our own take on the Jobstown trial here at FPP and we hope to post on it soon.


 

I had planned on taking the summer off from furiously writing down thoughts on various topics. The plan was to be thought free for a few months as thinking about and reading the news was overloading my already fragile brain.

There was a Trump, a Brexit and a commissioner who appeared to enjoy her commisionary position a bit too much and is willing to do anything to keep it. But there was one issue that made me reach for my vintage dell Netbook (not my best investment) to vent and ask you your opinion on the topic and that was the trial of the jobstown 7. These were a group of people who protested against then Tanaiste and all round unlikable person, Joan Burton.

The coverage of this trial annoyed me, the way the protest was organised annoyed me and nearly everyone involved in the protest on both sides annoyed me. So I thought I would vent into your brain in the hope that you could either correct or agree with me.

Firstly, before we get started, a little about myself might help. I am pro protest. It is healthy and when used correctly, massively effective in sending a message to government. And I think that is where we start. From the moment the news hit the stations about an ongoing protest in Jobstown in Tallaght, it appeared to be an unorganised mess.

When a protest is organised it is near unstoppable. When something is unstoppable then things change. No doubt that there is a massive list of things that need to change in Irish politics, and this could have been a massive dent in that list.

Instead, the people surrounded Burtons car and shouted abuse at her, banged on her windows and all round intimidated her. There are pictures of her smiling in the car, but that is irrelevant. There is zero context to that photo, was it at the start of the protest? People sat down in front of her car not allowing it to move off. This is beyond stupid. If I sit down in front of a car of someone I don’t like, I get run over.

The garda siochana arrived and this is where it gets a bit murky. Aside from locking an old lady in a car and shouting abuse at her, the Garda were limited in what they could do. The geography of the area meant that the way out of this situation necessitated moving the Tánaiste into another vehicle. With the crowd at fever pitch, she felt that this would be unsafe.

And that is the first point. Whether you think that Joan Burton could have opened the car door and walked out or not is not the issue. She did not feel she would have been safe enough to do so. This is a logical response to being shouted at and intimidated for the preceding time.

I had a conversation with someone on twitter about the above point. He stated to me that she could have left anytime she wanted to, she just had to ask the Garda for help. Maybe I have been hit in the head too many times, but if I need to ask a Garda for help to get out of my car then there is a safety issue in progress, or is that a bit unfair of me?

The entire protest was leaded by Paul Murphy of the People Before Profit/Solidarity/Will protest for headlines party. Megaphone in hand he chanted slogans that riled up the crown and made any chance of a quick and safe ending to this protest a near impossibility.

Skipping forward a bit to the outcome. There are 2 massive issues arising from this. Firstly the government went full on in chasing the people who organised it. Dawn raids where a semi regular occurrence for a time. Nothing good happens at dawn as we all know! When the Garda go in heavy handed like this it plays into the hands of the protestors. Immediately, anyone who is hearing the news asks ‘what are the Gardaí/government trying to hide/cover up’. Again this is a healthy response. Even with my dislike for Murphy there was never any need to knock on his door at dawn. It was done for headlines, it was done to send a message and it makes the Garda/Govt look exactly the same as the people they are chasing.

That being headline hunters.

It comes to pass that the Garda who were there on the day of the protest couldn’t get their stories straight, or couldn’t remember the same story at the same time. As soon as this happens the case gets so filthy that the Jobstown 7 where always going to walk free. And in walking free became martyrs/celebrities for the left. This was what made me write this piece. I would be a left leaning person, I believe in taking care of everyone, I believe in being fiscally conservative but I also believe in having a plan. Murphy et al do not have a plan that works. They have tremendous sound bites, tremendous slogans but nothing of substance that will help anyone.

This protest shows the bad judgement of Murphy. Instead of planning, even if this was off the cuff he should have planned ahead. He was happy to stand by while people locked an old lady in a car and shouted abuse at her. Imagine if instead of that, they lined the streets and slowly turned their back on the Tánaiste, in silence. That would have been power and would have made for footage that would be shared on social media for years. Instead they acted like the kids in Berkley College when someone they don’t agree with comes to speak.

If you don’t believe in your beliefs enough to put them forward in an adult way then you are just a dreamer without a plan.

So, with the Jobstown 7 walking free. This means that protesters can shout/spit/imprison people who do not agree with them. It means you can say anything you want to anyone and have no repercussions.  It means that it is not about the idea, it is about the force and loudness with which you shout yours out.

This is not a good thing. This is not what Ireland should be about in 2017.

In closing I would like to repeat. I think protesting is the most powerful tool we have as citizens, especially with the voting system the way it is. But we need to be smart, we need to be productive in the protesting. It is not about who is the loudest, it is about who has the best idea for this country.

Please share this with Murphy and his party, I would welcome an opportunity to speak to him about it. I’ll even buy the coffee. I am not saying this so I can shout at the lad, I genuinely want to understand his thinking because it is so far away from mine, even though we would both be called loony lefties!

Do tag me in the sharing of this post @nkeegan on twitter

A rhetorical question for Sinn Féin as the UK electorate decides

This question is of course completely rhetorical – I am but a humble individual who is relatively new to political blogging so my chances of getting an answer are about the same as Jeremy Corbyn’s of winning an overall majority, but I’d still like to put it “out there” nonetheless….

Dear Sinn Féin,

If your party could choose one of these scenarios for the island of Ireland today, would you go for…

(1) A united Ireland with a government led by an Irish ideological equivalent of Theresa May, or

(2) A continuation of the Good Friday Agreement “status quo” but with a Republic of Ireland government led by an Irish ideological equivalent of Jeremy Corbyn?

Yours sincerely,

Jeff Pagano

#IANWAE