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Lovely – not. December 9, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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From the Guardian – out and about on the campaign trail in Sleaford and North Hykeham.

Victoria Ayling, a county councillor standing for Ukip, believes this argument will not wash with voters, and accuses her Tory opponent of not wanting a quick enough Brexit. At the same time, she dismisses the Labour candidate for voting remain and Jeremy Corbyn for “slagging off our armed forces and coming over like a complete traitor”.

Does anyone think polling of party leaders is important? December 9, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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I ask because I read this in the IT on foot of the poll that shows an increase in satisfaction in Enda Kenny and I’m left a bit bemused.

While his detractors have been counting down the days to his departure it appears the general public are warming to the Fine Gael leader again.
The Irish Times/MRBI poll shows Kenny’s satisfaction rate is at its highest rating in four years.
He has jumped an incredible seven points since our last poll to 36 points. All that and an increase in the Government’s satisfaction rating.

I can’t really believe that that has much political weight – even for Kenny. But perhaps I’m wrong? What do others think?

And tied to that, does it have any political impact? Will this poll cement Kenny’s position in power in FG for a bit longer?

On the current SF TDs crisis… and other matters December 9, 2016

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I don’t know what to make of it, but what of this analysis from Sarah Bardon who writes in the IT.

Yesterday Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell used the Constitutional protection afforded to him to allege Sinn Fein TDs Dessie Ellis and Martin Ferris were linked to the murder of prison officer Brian Stack.
Most TDs use Dail privilege when they have exhausted every other avenue, when the media stops listening and they are left with little other choice.
What Farrell did yesterday was different. He used the luxury of privilege to score a point off his political opponent.

And she continues:

It is the same criticism he and others directed at Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald when she named a number of former politicians alleged to have offshore accounts to avoid paying tax.

And she concludes:

Alan Farrell may have been supported by his own party for what he did. However, he may have done more long-term damage for TDs by his actions.

This Week At Irish Election Literature December 9, 2016

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Irish Politics.
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Starting off with Three postcards from a series produced by The Migrant Rights Centre Ireland

A leaflet from Neil Clarke of the Greens from 2004 in Letterkenny. Interestingly his brother was Maze escapee James Pius Clarke.Jim McDaid resigned after greeting him on Court steps when his extradition was turned down. Clarke won the final seat on Letterkenny UDC by a countback, the last two candidates were tied on votes and Clarke won as he got more first prefernecs.

“Fianna Fáil Seasca Bliain Ag Fás” Booklet For Concert To Celebrate 60 Years Of Fianna Fáil

And finally From the mid 1980’s “A Restless Society ..Developing a Sense of Community” a large policy document produced by Young Fine Gael

Take The Quiz……. December 9, 2016

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Irish Politics.
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Had forgotten about this which I found again yesterday…. The freeman stuff seems to have died down a bit or maybe I’m just hanging around the wrong bus stops……
soverignquiz

Exam blues December 8, 2016

Posted by Tomboktu in Bits and Pieces, Education.
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I’ve been back in college since September. It’s part time, postgraduate (diploma for year 1, a masters degree if you add a thesis in year 2) in a subject area specifically relevant to my work, and delivered by specialist body under the academic oversight of one of the universities in Dublin.

I don’t mind the hard work, but I am finding this course a nightmare.

Now, I’ve been at the books on and off for over a decade, including a previous masters degree a decade ago. Last year I did a course at the Law Society. It was a short enough course, but with some tough slogging at assignment time. They had reasonably short turn-around times, and strict word counts. For the early assignments, you needed to critically assess the specific primary materials – usually court judgements. For the final, major essay, you needed to find the relevant cases as well as critically assess the judgements.

The problem with my current masters is the main assessment method: closed book examinations. I had one exam last week, and have three more in the next eight days. My approach to the study has been to delve into the assigned readings, annotate them, and when I can synthesise some points I think are to be drawn from a number of them, do so. But yesterday and today, going back over my marked printouts and my notes, and drafting mini-riffs to have ready for tomorrow’s exam, I find I cannot make it stick in my brain.

Maybe I’ve become lazy in that department. At work, I write a lot of policy analyses, and within the space we operate in they’re good* — my manager doesn’t read my work closely+ any more, and the only feedback from the board for my last project was to correct a single typo. But when I am drafting those positions, I have free access to all of the sources I can find, and don’t need to remember the details.

In my last masters degree, the main assessment for taught modules was by take-home exam: two questions to be returned in two days. The questions were designed to get your analysis, and when we started, we were warned that it would not be enough to summarise the relevant literature.

But this memorising is doing my head in.

_____
*Whether the people we give them to think they’re good is a different matter.

+ Update: Actually, that’s not quite true. She no loner reads it closely before it goes to the board, but she sits me down before a board meeting so she can understand the rationale for all of the points and any possible banana skins.

Neutrality December 8, 2016

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.
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Thanks to the person who forwarded this, Archon from the Southern Star

That bitter Cabinet row last week between Taoiseach Enda Kenny and wandering minister, Shane Ross, was important – if only for the light it threw on Fine Gael’s policy on neutrality about which we, the plebs, know very little.
Sinn Féin wanted a lock on neutrality. Precisely, the Republicans sought the following amendment to the Constitution: ‘War shall not be declared and the State shall not participate in any war or other armed conflict, nor aid foreign powers in any way in preparation for war or other armed conflict, save with the assent of Dáil Eireann.’
Uncontroversial, one would think, and in conformity with the views of most citizens, particularly given the street cred Ireland enjoys around the world because of its non-intervention stance when disputes break out among the Big Powers.
Consequently the plain people of Ireland found it somewhat bizarre that Kenny should blow a gasket after Transport Minister Shane Ross called for a free vote on the Sinn Féin neutrality amendment. The Dear Leader is said to have furiously bellowed that the independents would get their free vote on another occasion, but not this time.
The matter, he roared (allegedly, we hasten to add), was of ‘fundamental public policy.’ He feared that, if the Sinn Féin motion were enshrined in the constitution, ‘it would mean unforeseen difficulties in so many areas for the country.’
Not one member of his ragbag cabinet asked him what he was on about!

We can only speculate, assisted in no small way by an observer’s account of Kenny excitedly waving in Ross’s face a copy of Bunreacht na hEireann, and at the same time spluttering that article 29.9 of the Constitution made it perfectly clear, as did the treaties of the EU, that there were very tight ‘safeguards’ on neutrality.
Article 29, commits Ireland to ‘the ideal of peace and friendly co-operation amongst nations’ and to ‘the principle of pacific settlement of international disputes’ – which is hardly a ‘tight safeguard’ against involvement in blood-soaked US adventures!
Ross, to his credit, was having none of Kenny’s sophistry and demanded the right to support a referendum on neutrality. In other debates, he had objected to the use of Shannon Airport by the US military.
He described Minister Charlie Flanagan as the ‘greatest advertisement for the abolition of the Department of Foreign Affairs’ and said ‘Ireland was no longer an independent neutral nation whose word was listened to around the world.’
The unctuous Health Minister, Simon Harris, pleaded with Ross and Kenny to find a formula of words that might defuse the row, while the contribution from motor-mouth, Minister John Halligan, went down in history for its Churchill-style profundity: ‘I’m not too pushed,’ he commented nonchalantly before going on to add with all the discernment of someone possessing remarkable political wisdom ‘because it’s almost impossible for Ireland to go to war.’

Eventually, after the Dear Leader declared that there was no question of our neutrality being infringed in any way, nor would there be a European army, Ross caved in. There was no free vote, and the Sinn Fein motion was strangled at birth.
But the plain people of Ireland were not fooled! They knew Kenny was spouting bunkum thanks to people such as Richard Cole, chairman of the Peace and Neutrality Alliance, who for years pointed out that Ireland could not be considered a neutral state if you have over 2.5m US troops landing in Shannon Airport since 2001.
Former army officer Tom Clonan, describes Shannon as a ‘virtual forward operating base for ongoing American operations in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.’ The airport, he says, has had daily landings of military transport aircraft, mid-air refuelling tankers and other US Air Force, Navy and Army aircraft ever since Ireland became a member of the ‘coalition of the willing’ in the US global ‘war on terror.’
But, despite the evidence, Flanagan and Kenny (supported by Fianna Fáil) continue to push the myth that the flights are ‘civilian’ and that Shannon is used only for crew rest, refuelling and passenger transfer. It is an argument rejected by the Peace and Neutrality people, who claim successive governments have granted the Yanks permission to carry weapons and, in some cases, ammunition.
Recently, the magazine Counterpunch reminded us that a 2003 High Court judgement stated that Ireland had been in breach of the Hague Convention on neutrality by allowing US troops to use Shannon Airport on their way to and from the war in Iraq.

As for the likelihood of Ireland participating in a EU army, well, Roger Cole points to the fact that Irish troops already are part of a British-led EU battle group that has been conducting exercises on British soil. Kenny, however, sees no threat to our policy of military neutrality.
His viewpoint is difficult to reconcile with the fact that France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary are in favour of a joint European army and that NATO has declared the EU a strategic military partner
Britain, which has always opposed the formation of a EU army, has seen its influence wane in Europe since Brexit. This, in turn, has encouraged sabre-rattling from God-help-us countries, such as Poland and Hungary, to press for an acceleration of EU military integration – and that includes Ireland!
Nonetheless, Flanagan continues to reject the possibility that a EU-wide army is in the process of gestation. His argument is based on the premise that since there is no provision in the EU treaties for the creation of a EU army, ergo, there will be no EU army.

To add to a Fine Gael witches’ brew deliberately concocted to confuse the public, Simon Coveney’s recent white paper on defence strongly supported the harmonisation or ‘interoperability’ of Irish military forces and equipment with NATO and EU military forces.
And, in another Fine Gael-inspired policy document, entitled the ‘Department of Defence and Defence Forces Strategy Statement 2015-17,’ we are informed of Ireland’s commitment to the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy, to EU Battlegroups and to the NATO-PfP. Ireland (to our surprise) has long been an enthusiastic supporter ‘of positive engagement’ with other like-minded EU member States and with NATO-PfP. Current strategy is to enhance Defence Forces’ ‘interoperability’ in multi-national operations and ‘to contribute to the development of military capabilities in accordance with international standards.’
Against a background of almost clandestine military developments that strike at the heart of Irish neutrality, is it any wonder Kenny went ballistic (a term apt in the circumstances) when Shane Ross demanded a free vote on the Sinn Fein amendment?
If it had gone through, then the definition of neutrality would have been strengthened in an inalterable fashion. Kenny and his gung-ho pals certainly didn’t want that!

Yet another poll December 8, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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The Irish Times has a poll today, that yet again points to a fairly static picture of Irish politics. The larger so-called ‘centrist’ parties (copyright Pat Leahy) are in or around 27-30% each. Sinn Féin is on 17%, Ind/Others on 20% and Labour on 6%. Movement from the last IT/Ipsos MRBI poll is relatively small:

Fine Gael, 27 per cent (up one point compared with the result of the October poll); Fianna Fáil, 30 per cent (up four points); Labour, 6 per cent (up one point); Sinn Féin, 17 per cent (down two) and Independents/Others, 20 per cent (down four).

One knows one is in trouble with a poll when the photos of those representing parties and ind/others on graphics are perhaps the most interesting aspects. Is that really Shane Ross representing Ind/Other? Sure is.

With an MOE of 2.8% it’s difficult to get too exercised about this. By way of comparison here are the figures from the last RedC/SBP poll:

Fine Gael 25% (no change)

Fianna Fáil 24% (-2)

Sinn Féin 16 % (+3)

Independents 12% (+2)

AAA-PBP 5% (-4)

Independent Alliance 4% (-2)

Labour 5% (no change)

Social Democrats 4% (+1)

Green Party 3% (no change)

And Others including Renua 1% (+1).

Reading a bit into the articles one will find this sort of thing:

Sinn Féin’s drop of two points still leaves the party on a solid 17 per cent of the vote, but the decline in party support in Dublin to 13 per cent would be a concern if the trend was maintained in future polls.
The party may be losing some support to the Anti-Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit group, which is on 6 per cent in the capital and 3 per cent nationally.

But apparently FF is ‘improving’ its support in Dublin.

 

And elsewhere one can read that:

 

Support for Independents/Others has fallen back four points. For the most part, the drop is among Independents who do not belong to one of the better known parties or groupings, the one exception being Shane Ross’s Independent Alliance which is marginally lower in this poll (down one point to 2 per cent). Other parties and groupings have held steady (Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit on 3 per cent; Green Party on 3 per cent; Social Democrats on 2 per cent; and Independents4Change on 2 per cent ).

 

Make of it what one will.

Signs of Hope – A continuing series December 8, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Gewerkschaftler had a good one last week – of sorts!

UK workers in a time of Brexit December 8, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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From yesterday… and Tory MPs, John Whittingdale and Michael Gove, suggesting to the CBI business group that:

…companies should start drawing up a list of regulations they want to see abolished or reformed.

Such as?

Gove highlighted a government-commissioned report by Marc Bolland, the former chief executive of Marks & Spencer, which ran through a list of EU employment protections it would like to see withdrawn or changed including pregnant worker proposals, the agency workers directive, the acquired rights directive and the working time directive.

Oh, there’s lip service paid to the ‘concerns of the TUC’ but…

John Longworth, the former chair of the British Chamber of Commerce, who campaigned to leave, told the committee that he thought the “opportunities for deregulation are legion”.

“Some of it will be to do with employment rights. Some of it will be to do with the fact that people might not be allowed to do overtime that they wish to do,” he said, citing lorry drivers as an example.

Jesus. Christ.

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