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This Week At Irish Election Literature March 30, 2018

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From 1988 A communist Party of Ireland Discussion Pamphlet ” Democratic Rights” outlining a History of the Troubles and the solution of the CPI

An unusual anti abortion leaflet from the Childinthewomb.com website warning of the links between feminists and Wicca

Spartacist Ireland No 3 Spring/Summer 2003

The front page of a recent issue of Jacob Rees Mogg Newspaper “The Somerset Star” giving details of how well Brexit is going.

Quite a crowd …….. March 30, 2018

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Quite a crowd in Dublin (and other centres around the Island) today in support of the Woman at the centre of the recent rape trial.
Not the usual protest crowd there either (although many prominent people from The Left were there, the only leaflets I saw were from ROSA). For something organised at less than 24 hours notice that’s some turnout.
The Beginning of something I wonder ? ….. Or a part of wider movement connected to Repealing the 8th?

Social media and the 8th March 29, 2018

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Speaking of Hot Press, this is interesting:

In an editorial in the new issue of Hot Press, editor Niall Stokes has called on Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to provide reassurances that the campaigning in the abortion referendum – now set for May 25 – will not be undermined and distorted as a result of lying, deceitful, deliberately misleading ads, targeting individuals and groups via Facebook. The editorial, which you can read below, includes an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg…

The letter puts a number of key questions to the Facebook founder, and the organisation of which he is head, as to how it will conduct itself especially in relation to advertising, between now and the polling day in the Irish abortion referendum.

“Can you tell Irish Facebook users,” Niall Stokes asks of the Facebook founder, “what you intend to do to ensure two crucial things: (i) that Facebook cannot and will not be used as a means for dangerous outside forces, of whatever kind, to subvert the democratic process here; and (ii) that no ads purchased from outside the Irish democratic arena will be allowed in relation to the referendum on abortion, in order to ensure that Ireland is not effectively gamed by sinister, unaccountable forces outside the jurisdiction?”

The Hot Press editor suggests that the best response might be for Facebook to refuse all advertising relating to the referendum.

“As you know, Mark, it should be easy to ensure that deceitful under-the-radar advertising is prevented,” Stokes writes. “The old adage applies: ‘Follow the money’. You know where it is coming from. You know the ads are being booked. You can insist on seeing every one before it is published. You know who is being targeted. You can prevent abuse.

“In fact you could unilaterally refuse to allow any advertising whatsoever about the abortion referendum. Given the extent to which your organisation has been shown to have facilitated black propaganda in the past, that is really what we think you should do.

“Are you going to take the money, in the way that you did from Cambridge Analytica or their agents? Are you going to allow the democratic process in Ireland to be subverted, in the way that the US Presidential election was? And hr Brexit vote?

“Are you going to assist the biggest liars, and the most unscrupulous wretches to win again?”

A copy of Hot Press, containing the article will be delivered to Facebook’s European HQ in Dublin this afternoon.

http://www.hotpress.com/Facebook/politics/themessage/Facebook-and-the-Repeal-Referendum-An-Open-Letter-to-Mark-Zuckerberg/21862621.html

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fhotpressmagazine%2Fposts%2F1614723745230653&width=500”

Twitter Post: https://twitter.com/hotpress/status/979326587509276673

The Border… March 29, 2018

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I’m crossing the Border myself this weekend. It is something that I do regularly and is a process that is seamless with no visual or other indication that there is any distinction between the parts of this island. As it should be. It is only when one is into either ‘side’ that one see traffic signs and so on. And I’ll be honest, I kind of like that soft differentiation, much as I like the soft differentiation in Wales from England. I think that isn’t a partitionist mentality so much as a pluralist one.

But reading the latest thinking on the issue in the context of Brexit it is clear that there is no substance to British government suggestions in relation to ameliorating the problem. At every point they retreat to the useless lines they’ve bene articulating for a year or more now. As Simon Carswell in the IT notes:

The questions being asked in talks this week are: what are the controls that are needed so that Northern Ireland does not become a third country? How can controls be moved away from the Border?
On the eve of officials meeting in Brussels, Britain’s Brexit secretary David Davis, in an interview with BBC on Sunday, appeared to suggest that a mix of options A and B could maintain an open border. The “overwhelmingly likely option” of a free-trade and customs agreement would make finding a solution for the Border “much, much easier,” he said while border checks could be avoided with a “whole lot of technology”.
To some, Davis is throwing out stock lines the UK government has been repeating for months.
“You can see why the European phrase about ‘magical thinking’ comes back to the fore here. Because Davis is really showing that they definitely don’t have answers,” said Katy Hayward, an academic at Queen’s University Belfast who has carried out much research on Brexit and the Border.

It is incredible that an issue of this weight could essentially ignored or treated with an utter lack of seriousness. That it has economic, social, cultural and political implications for this state – few of them positive, appears to figure not at all in the thinking of the UK government.

What is also clear is that amongst those most directly affected, farmers and so on within Northern Ireland or on either side of the Border there is a consensus that a ‘soft border’ at the ports is the optimum solution. Indeed one very good point is made:

Like many other farmers here, Lowe’s milk goes south to the Republic and his beef goes east to the UK. As chairman of the Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers’ Association, he says most farmer-members want to stay within the EU’s customs union to avoid tariffs and checks on products as they move. But if they are required, the checks should take place at the sea ports where veterinary and sanitary checks already take place.
“We are an island off the mainland. Stuff has to be exported anyhow. There are checks done regardless. That would be the best scenario as opposed to a hard border. We are not talking about constitutional change,” he said, referring to objections of the Democratic Unionist Party at the prospect of a border in the Irish Sea.

Vassal states and other issues… March 29, 2018

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Interesting column from Simon Jenkins in the Guardian where he suggests that slowly and painfully the UK is inching towards the ‘Norway option’ for Brexit, that is EEA/EFTA membership. He concludes this after the most recent transition deal…

A detailed analysis of the Norway option in last month’s Economist was unequivocally favourable. Norway in 1994 went through the same referendum debate as Britain, with the same drift towards compromise. The country remained in the European Free Trade Association (Efta). It stayed open to a single European market in goods, capital and labour, but it held aloof from the common fisheries and agriculture policies. Norway also stayed outside the EU customs union, to secure its own trade deals elsewhere. It is hard to see what substantive argument a Brexiter could have against this.
Norway fiercely denies it is a “vassal state”. It is rated by the Economist Intelligence Unit as the “most democratic” in the world. It must abide by EU rules on trade in goods within the EU. But so must EU members, who can be overruled by majority voting. On matters of joint concern, such as energy, Norway is consulted and heard. Its lobbying office next to the Berlaymont building is more effective than any council vote. As for the European court, the Efta court liaises with it and is rarely in conflict.

And:

Trade in services and finance is more crucial to the UK than in goods, and here both Europe and the world would remain its oyster, as this EU single market is in its infancy. As for migration, Efta arrangements embrace a register of EU nationals, controls on their citizenship and property ownership and expulsion if they are out of work for six months. A mere 20% of Norwegians regret their Efta status. Of course Norway is smaller than the UK. But the issue is whether its model is practicable. It is.

And Jenkins notes that the only downside of this is being outside the customs union (as Norway is). But he regards that as something that could be dealt with in a Norway+ scenario. Which would combined with single market membership (albeit a more bespoke form, as with Norway) allow for an invisible border on this island.

That this is the Richard North prescription is perhaps ironic given how he is a convinced Leaver but also one who has argued long and convincingly for EEA/EFTA status. A prophet in his own country etc.

One has to hope Jenkins is correct. North isn’t so sure – or perhaps he is being brutally realistic when he thinks the UK government will have to be dragged kicking and screaming to appreciating reality.
Still, some levity. He has one entertaining thought:

But, in their rush to point out the EU dimension, none of the media pointed out that, even after Brexit, we will still be signatories to the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement. Ironically, the likes of Rees-Mogg, so keen on WTO rules, would still – most likely – find his treasured passports printed abroad. 

Thus, even when they do their trivia, the media so often miss the point. But in this case, we hadn’t done it on the blog for them to scavenge. No doubt, in fullness of time, the media will catch up once more, and discover the WTO link all by themselves. That is what they do.

Huh? March 29, 2018

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Almost half of Irish adults believe “some cultures are superior to others” while almost 20 per cent believe “some races/ethnic groups are born less intelligent”, a landmark study on attitudes to race finds.The study published on Thursday by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) also finds just under 45 per cent of adults believe some races are “born harder working”.

That’s depressing beyond words. Where do people get this stuff from? Any thoughts on how these negative and incorrect attitudes persist?

Interview with Joan Burton… March 29, 2018

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…in Hot Press with Jason O’Toole – and as ever with O’Toole’s interviews very interesting it is too…here’s some quotes.

Jobstown is mentioned…

Did you receive death threats through social
media?

Look, it’s a casual feature of misconduct on social media: acid attacks, and death threats, and stuff like that. That’s not just my experience.
The Guardian did a big study on women politicians and social media, and they found about 80 percent of the most hateful and vicious posts were in respect of women politicians. So, while male politicians were trolled, it was at a much less intense level.
Have you reported threats to the Gardaí?
Ah, no. As I said, I just took myself off it. But people I know – nieces and nephews of mine – were very upset by it, particularly younger people who just couldn’t understand why somebody would do this to another human being.

And:

Do you think it was right to take the case?
That was never in my remit – that was a decision for the DPP, which is independent – and I respect that independence. But what left me
bewildered were questions like, ‘What was Idoing in 1968?’ ‘Did I go walking a lot?’ There was an attempt to put me on trial, although I
was the injured party. And interestingly, now that you mention Paul Murphy – in my experience of Paul Murphy and in the Dáil, he would jump to be in any medium where he could express his opinion. But very interestingly, he didn’t choose to go into the witness box.
Were you disappointed in the jury’s verdict?
Not at all. I have the height of respect for the jury. I was there to give evidence. All I can say is that the jury worked very hard and they came to their conclusions. And I absolutely respect their verdict.

Government?

Was there hostility towards you and Labour
when you were in power?

It was very mixed. Yes, from some people, particularly people caught up in water protests, but from other people too.
What’s your biggest regret from Labour’s
time in coalition?

I’ve always regretted that Labour didn’t take the Finance ministry. Labour should’ve insisted on having Finance.

And:

Did you consider pulling the plug duringyour
time as leader?

No. I never wanted to walk out of government.
Did it cross Eamon Gilmore’s mind?
I know when the water charges came in, Eamon Gilmore certainly contemplated it, because it was an enormous shock to Labour. Eamon was very surprised and extremely angry. So, there were a lot of discussions.

And government in the future?

Would you envisage Labour doing a deal with
Sinn Féin to form a left wing government?

One of the worst periods in the last Dáil was the debate in relation to what happened to people like Mairia Cahill, in terms of them being abused, by Sinn Féin. I was very disappointed that Mary Lou McDonald, a very striking and good performer, basically stood up like an old-fashioned bishop, and did absolutely nothing to help those who had suffered serious
sexual abuse at the hands of people who were empowered. So, no. I mean I have never yet heard an explanation of why they stood foursquare behind Gerry Adams’ attitude to child sexual abuse.

Presidential elections?

Would you like to see Michael D. run for a
second term as president?

I would. He has really performed exceptionally well as President – none more so than in relation to the 1916 celebrations. It’s Michael D.’s personal decision, but should he decide to offer himself for another term, he would have my full support.

And Repeal…

There’s an idea that if you’re adopted you
should be anti-choice.

I have my own experience. And I think in relation to this referendum, we should trust women. I want to see doctors around a woman’s bed, or midwives better still, and them making the decisions that are good for that woman. And the woman making the decision that she believes is right for her.

Very interesting interview and a lot more. Well worth getting hold of HP and reading it.

Converts? March 28, 2018

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Justin McAleese (the name is so familiar) makes some very solid points here about the lack of welcome for LGBTQI+ people in the Catholic Church in the context of the World Meeting of Families which is to be held in Dublin this August. There’s already a big push on about this in the RC. McAleese writes:

In August, the World Meeting of Families takes place in Dublin. Last October, Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy said that it should be an inclusive event for all families, including gay families. He said about family: “It anchors us in life, defines us. It’s comfort when we are in difficulty and the first place to go to celebrate.”
I got married last year and our final stop on honeymoon was to a group of nuns that I’ve known for years. They didn’t mention church doctrine or conversion therapy – they just saw us as a newly married family.
Over a lot of tea and buns, all they wanted to hear about was the ceremony, the dinner and dancing and to see as many photos as possible. It was Pope Francis’s exhortation Amoris Laetitia in action.

But:

However, my wedding photographs have no place at the Dublin World Meeting of Families (WMoF2018). In the last three months, the organisers of the WMoF2018 have shown a staggering zero-tolerance policy towards the LGBTI+ community.

The organisers have removed inclusive language on the family by Pope Francis and LGBTI+ pictures from their pamphlets, and deleted references to gay families by a bishop in the catechesis.

Which is depressing. Even worse McAleese notes that:

The Diocese of Meath is also home to the parish of Coole. In that parish’s bulletin of March 3rd last, it promoted an organisation called CourageInternational which is about the business of providing conversion therapy for homosexuals.
Shockingly, in 2012 one of its founding members Fr Benedict Groeschel, said: “Suppose you have a man having a nervous breakdown, and a youngster comes after him. A lot of the cases, the youngster – 14, 16, 18 – is the seducer”. Fr Groeschel subsequently apologised but his choice of words cannot be explained away as clumsy language.
The very idea that conversion therapy exists or is legal in 2018 will surprise many. However, it is unsurprising that its main proponent is the Catholic Church – an organisation that in Ireland doesn’t even recognise the existence of homosexuals in its guidelines for schools.

This concept of conversion therapy is an utter abomination. It is appalling that the Catholic Church would support it. I can’t imagine that many people regard the Church with much favour when they hear of it. Indeed as a means of losing members or dissuading converts it’s difficult to think of anything better given the times we now, thankfully, live in.

That said, I was talking to a friend who discussing Mary McAleese expressed incomprehension as to why she would want to be part of an institution that is palpably misogynistic and homophobic. I understand that, but I also understand the pull – whether religious or cultural and social or some mix of all of those, for people who genuinely believe, or even don’t believe but see religious institutions as a framework within which to structure their lives and attitudes. Those of us who take a different view, whether sympathetic or unsympathetic, may find that pull contradictory, hypocritical or baffling, but it does exist for many. And there’s a further point that it is not as if, for all the rhetoric, religions – most particularly Catholicism, are utterly unchanging or unamenable to change.

But, as noted in the previous post, there’s the feeling that there may not be much of a church left the way things are going… and an inability to change sufficiently fast or perhaps to take people with them while doing so is surely part of that.

Religious attendance… March 28, 2018

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From the IT…a report on religious participation across a range of countries. So, what of this fair state?

Some 54 per cent of Irish people in this age bracket [16 to 29] identify as Catholic, 5 per cent as belonging to other Christian denominations, 2 per cent as being part of a non-Christian religion, and 39 per cent saying they had no religion.
Just 15 per cent attend weekly religious services outside of special occasions such as weddings and funerals, while 26 per cent never take part in any religious services.
However of those younger Irish who identify as Catholic, 24 per cent attend church weekly outside of special occasions, while 10 per cent never do so.

And:

The report’s author, Prof Stephen Bullivant, director of the Benedict XVI Centre for Religion and Society at St Mary’s University, notes: “In only four countries do more than one-in-ten 16-29 year-olds claim to attend religious services on at least a weekly basis: Poland, Israel, Portugal, and Ireland.

I’m a bit sceptical to be honest about that 15% figure. As someone who has been at various ordinary non-‘special occasion’ religious services across the years, particularly recently, those figures seem a tad inflated to me in relation to young people. Indeed as someone who in my pre-teens and early to mid-teens was a regular attendee at both CofI and RC services (this being the decade or so from 1973 on) the sheer collapse in attendance is marked. If I was to say that I was close enough, at 52, in the youngest cohort of those attending it would not be a lie. I’d judge that overall one would be looking at perhaps 25 per cent of attendees under 55. At best. I would wonder how it will persist another two generations.

Limits of change March 28, 2018

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Is this following poll-driven – the idea of ‘safeguards’ to prevent future change after a successful 12-week limit campaign for abortion provision?

The Government has insisted it will introduce additional safeguards “above and beyond” the normal legislative process to minimise the possibility of future changes to abortion laws.
The exact nature of the safeguards have yet to be decided but may require the establishment of an Oireachtas committee or a citizens’ assembly.
The decision follows a public rebuke of Tánaiste Simon Coveney’s calls for a two-third majority lock on any future abortion legislation.

It suggests that one part of the anti-abortion campaign, that is ‘don’t trust the politicians’ has gained some traction. It certainly has the appearance of attempting to consolidate and calm a tranche of voters for whom 12 weeks might be either the outer limit of what they’d find acceptable or even beyond that limit for them.

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