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Fan fiction? May 31, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Mixed reviews of Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld, a novel that posits a world where Hillary Clinton did not marry Bill Clinton and somehow winds up as US President. Slate.com did like it. Anne Enright in the Guardian half-liked it. Jason O’Toole on RT did not!

Statements in the media… good, bad and indifferent… May 31, 2020

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.

All contributions welcome…but let’s start with the lead headline from The Sunday Independent which indicates an interesting set of priorities. ‘Saving Summer’?

EH fulminates about how ‘Fine Gael no longer looks after the private sector donkey’ and refuses to unlock the lock-down (behind the pay wall natch!). And yet FG’s polling support remains rock solid while his chosen horse of FF…

Meanwhile a short piece from Dominic Cummings statement worth noting…

After I started to recover, one day in the second week, I tried to walk outside the house.At one point the three of us walked into woods owned by my father, next to the cottage that I was staying in. Some people saw us in these woods from a distance, but we had no interaction with them. We had not left the property. We were on private land. B

Truly, the rich are different.

Michael McDowell in the IT:

At some point our political system will probably have grasped that being led by the “science” of public health must increasingly be balanced by applying the precautionary principle to our economic survival and sustainability, and pushing out the boundaries of risk-taking in pursuit of getting all our people economically active again.

Too many questions? One firm prediction – if we have any sense of humour left, we will laugh at the puritanism of the 2m “advice”, the flip-flopping on face masks, the warnings against “dickeying up” your home during lockdown and the so-called experts who feared opening garden centres.
Let’s hope it’s not too hollow a laugh.

You go first Michael.

Pat Leahy not wrong here:

You wouldn’t have to be the sharpest political analyst in the world to figure out that this has the potential to turn our politics upside-down. If the next government manages the adjustments cleverly, fairly, with purpose and honesty (though every one of those will be contested territory), if it practices good government against all the odds, its constituent parts can prosper politically. If not, opposition parties – especially Sinn Féin, assuming it leads it – will be presented with an unparalleled opportunity to crush the old firm of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael and utterly remake the Irish politics landscape. Either way, our politics will be transformed.

Here, though?

That is another reason why the country needs to be reopened as quickly as is sensible. This will be among the first decisions of the new government. It will make few more important ones. Reopening – and restarting economic activity – will involve risk. But so does every other course of action. If economic activity doesn’t restart sooner rather than later, we might not have much of a country to reopen.

Define ‘as quickly as is sensible’ and ‘risk’.

Fergal Bowers by contrast on RTÉ makes a solid point:

Covid-19 has brought a big stop to the world’s gallop. In some ways, it has becalmed the planet.

Polls May 31, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Two polls, one in the ROI, the other in the UK show fascinating divergences. The first from RedC for the SBP show support for Fine Gael holding steady at 35%. SF at 27%, again no change. Fianna Fáil on an abysmal, and ironic given who is likely to be the next Taoiseach, 15% (+1). The GP is at 6% (-1). The SDs are 4% (+2). Labour is on 3% (NC), with no bounce from a new leader. SOL-PBP is at 2%. Aontú at 1% and for some reason Renua is polled and polls at 0%. Independents are 7% which is -1. RTÉ frames this as follows ‘A new opinion poll suggests that Fine Gael has retained its support, despite the continuing Covid-19 pandemic’. I’m not so sure it’s a huge surprise. For all the myriad flaws in the response to the virus FG is blessed as was noted in comments BTL here by having the UK to the east and the US to the west. And at least it seems to be driven by the science in way others have not been. Moreover this doesn’t suggest a massive groundswell of antagonism to the current approach to the lock-down. FF was road-testing some lock-down sceptic rhetoric in the Dáil this week. One wonders whether they will consider that politically profitable from here on out. Perhaps not to judge from these figures.

In the UK, by contrast, there’s no good news for the Tory government. As reported in the Observer Opinium has the Tories just 4% ahead of the BLP, 43% to 39%. Moreover as this indicates the genuinely massive Tory lead as recently as April has collapsed. I’m no great fan of Starmer but without question matters have stabilised. As significantly as the Observer notes the self-inflicted damage from the Cummings affair continues apace.

Boris Johnson is under fresh pressure to sack Dominic Cummings as a new poll shows that more than two-thirds of voters – including more than half of Tories – want him thrown out of Downing Street for breaching lockdown rules.

And the ebbing of support for the Tories can be traced in large part to that affair:

In the past week alone, the Tory lead has fallen by eight points, the largest weekly drop Opinium has recorded since 2017.

And this has to have ramifications for the future:

Opinium conducted its survey on Thursday and Friday after Johnson said he believed it was time for the country to “move on” from the the controversy: 41% agreed that the country should now “move on”, but a large minority (37%) said it should not – including almost a fifth (18%) of 2019 Conservative voters. Two-thirds (65%) said they believed Johnson was wrong to be still supporting Cummings – including almost half (48%) of 2019 Conservative voters. Just over two in five (43%) UK adults said they had lost respect for the government over its backing of Cummings – of which 45% voted Conservative in 2019.

Book launch seminer: Housing Shock: The Irish Housing Crisis and how to solve it May 30, 2020

Posted by Tomboktu in Uncategorized.

Invitation: ‘Housing Shock: The Irish Housing Crisis and how to solve it’ — book launch webinar

‘Housing Shock: The Irish Housing Crisis and how to solve it’ is a new book written by Dr Rory Hearne and published by Policy Press (on June 3rd). 

You are invited to attend a webinar and book launch hosted by the Reboot Republic Podcast on Wednesday June 10th at 7.30pm featuring:

Dr Rory Hearne, author of new book ‘Housing Shock: The Irish Housing Crisis and how to solve it’ & Assistant Professor in Social Policy, Dept Applied Social Studies, Maynooth University
Leilani Farha, former UN Special Rapporteur & Director of the Shift Global Right to Housing
Fr Peter McVerry, Homelessness campaigner
Prof Michelle Norris, School of Social Policy, UCD
Vincent Browne, Journalist

Chair: Dr Mary Murphy, Department of Sociology, Maynooth University

Register in advance for this webinar:

Hosted by Reboot Republic podcast- Tortoise shack media

The book is available to purchase (30% discount for attendees of webinar launch!) from the publisher, Policy Press:


Also available from Easons:


Contact Dr. Rory Hearne: Rory.hearne@mu.ie


Overview of ‘Housing Shock’
The unprecedented housing and homelessness crisis in Ireland is having profound impacts on Generation Rent, the wellbeing of children, worsening wider inequality and threatening the economy.

Hearne contextualises the Irish housing crisis within the broader global housing situation by examining the origins of the crisis in terms of austerity, marketisation and the new era of financialisation, where global investors are making housing unaffordable and turning it into an asset for the wealthy.

He brings to the fore the perspectives of those most affected, new housing activists and protesters whilst providing innovative global solutions for a new vision for affordable, sustainable homes for all.


Reviews of Housing Shock

 “Reflects Rory’s commitment and optimism that through radical transformation and reclaiming the role of the state we can resolve not only the housing crisis but other societal challenges. This book makes a key contribution to making that transformation happen.” Mary P. Murphy, Maynooth University

“Shows how housing in Ireland has made some very wealthy but left thousands homeless. An expert analysis of how government policy has helped make owning or renting a home unaffordable. A must-read.” Fr Peter McVerry, Peter McVerry Trust

“An accessibly written analysis of the causes and implications of Ireland’s housing problems, coupled with a comprehensive plan for addressing them. This is a real tour de force.” Michelle Norris, University College Dublin

“A damning indictment of those who treat housing as a commodity and a financial asset. With passion and authority, Hearne paints a vision of affordable, secure and sustainable homes – a right for everyone”. P.J. Drudy, Trinity College Dublin


Book Contents

Preface: COVID 19, housing and home

Foreword: Special Rapporteur for Housing ~ Leilani Farhi

Introduction: a new housing crisis;

Chapter 2: Generation Rent;

Chapter 3: Homelessness: the most extreme inequality;

Chapter 4: The normalisation of homelessness;

Chapter 5: Working for social justice: community, activism and academia;

Chapter 6: The neoliberal roots of the current crisis;

Chapter 7: The new waves of financialisation: vultures and REITs;

Chapter 8: Inequality and financialisation;

Chapter 9:  The lost decade of social and affordable housing: austerity and marketisation;

Chapter 10:  The people push back: protests for affordable homes for all;

Chapter 11: The right to an affordable, secure and decent home for all;

Chapter 12: A Green New Deal for Housing: affordable sustainable homes and communities for all.

Same time, next year? May 30, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Predictably Duran Duran in St. Anne’s Park, Dublin, was… ahem… postponed this week. It’s been rescheduled to Sunday 13th of June next year. And sensible that was, though given we were less than a fortnight out from the original gig perhaps a little late in the day. There’s a new event portal from Ticketmaster which has details of rescheduled gigs. I see a couple there already. Yes, for a start. And some slated for later this year, well, not sure they’ll happen. Horslips, late in the year? Might. Might not. I’ve heard that one major Irish promoter is already talking about focusing on Irish acts next year rather than international ones, which seems sensible.

The Vast of Night May 30, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Good reports on this. Coming to streaming services soon.

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Bell X1 covers May 30, 2020

Posted by irishelectionliterature in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to..., Uncategorized.

Recently the Sunday Game came back with a promo featuring Bell X1’s version of Boys of Summer. It was a beautiful choice. They have done some wonderful covers over the years and their gigs always have a surprising one or two.
Paul Noonan plays the NCH next Friday June 5th as part of the NCH LiveStream Series.


Something for the weekend …. May 29, 2020

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.

In 2002 The UCD branch of the Socialist Workers’ Party decided to leave the main party and re-name themselves Socialist Alternative. They released a lengthy Statement as to their reasons why…..
Available in pdf here

Signs of Hope – A continuing series May 29, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Gewerkschaftler suggested this recently:

I suggest this blog should have a regular (weekly) slot where people can post happenings at the personal or political level that gives them hope that we’re perhaps not going to hell in a handbasket as quickly as we thought. Or as the phlegmatic Germans put it “hope dies last”.

Any contributions this week?

Shrugging off the lockdown… May 29, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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There are two columns today in the IT demanding that the shut-down be eased faster – indeed in some ways reading them you’d wonder if they’re not actually demanding that the shut-down be eased altogether. I find it interesting that there’s been not one columnist this week that I’m aware of suggesting that the current route is the correct one. Someone I mentioned this too rather cynically suggested that given the social base and commercial base of the media perhaps that’s no surprise. Perhaps it isn’t.

Anyhow, so we get one columnist arguing that:

Given the scale of economic carnage and human misery coming over the hill, every arm of the State should be on a war footing to save small businesses. Instead, those in tourism and retail are left exposed on the front line as cannon fodder, as Ireland pursues an economically-reckless scientific experiment to throttle a virus that other European countries are learning to keep at bay.

Well how about saving lives?

It gets ever more bombastic as it goes. And offers some dubious analysis:

The obedient public was originally told it must endure temporary lockdown to flatten the curve, but now it is being told to flatten small retail and tourism too with an anvil of caution. That is not how lockdown was sold.

As noted yesterday, in the speech announcing the lock-down the Taoiseach was clear this was about saving lives. And there’s some offensive stuff too:

The Government is getting comfortable with a welfare mentality in its relationship with the retail and hospitality sectors. Keep them all locked down until the doctors are happy and feed SMEs the methadone of cheap loans and grants.

But it’s the tilt into rhetoric that is most irritating (to me at least):

There will be no work for the young unless we get a grip and tackle this draining of our national self-confidence. For that is what has happened here.

The State says its research shows people want a very slow lockdown unwinding. But that is not a measure of their desires. It is a measure of their fear. All the while, the goalposts are shifted.

That’s right, blame people for an entirely rational response to a viral pandemic and paint it as ‘fear’ and lack of ‘self-confidence’. Many here have long been critical of the boosterism of business rhetoric. Here we see it’s logical conclusion. It’s just self-confidence that is lacking if people don’t feel something is safe – all the while as he calls for measures to ensure a reasonable level of safety are unwound faster than the best medical advice.

In all of this no mention of workers health or safety. It just is a given that that is irrelevant, that there’s risk and one has to live with it. No doubt self-confidence will keep people well.

Then we have that well known viral expert Stephen Collins writing:

TDs need to start behaving sensibly in their own House as a first step towards leading society back to some kind of normality so that businesses, schools and shops can open with a realistic set of rules. For instance, there is no good reason why primary schools should not start to reopen on a phased basis in June.
Young children are in no danger from Covid-19 and the evidence is that they do not pass it on either. The fact that the Irish National Teachers Organisation has been raising objections to the schools going back in September shows how the level of fear about Covid-19 has got out of control.

The statement about young children is simply not correct. More correct would be to say that we do not know fully what the impacts are, that as it stands young children appear to get in general a lower intensity infection but we cannot yet be certain about their ability to transmit it to adults (there’s a study out today that would appear to suggest that that level of transmission is low, but one would have to wonder about how robust it is on the numbers). I’ve linked to studies that suggest that children are well able to pass it on to adults. For Collins to raise the INTO’s very valid concerns as if they are paranoid is predictable but quite remarkable. For him the issue of workers health isn’t an issue at all. He is happy to use dubious, or misleading, statements to ignore that entirely.

There’s more, but that’ll do to give a taste. This from the UK offers a reasoned analysis why some in education are much much more cautious about reopening too rapidly.

Basic questions we’ve asked the government have been interpreted as nothing short of treason. Questions like, what is the scientific rationale for a 1 June return date? Are large groups of children all in one place likely to spread Covid-19 and cause a second spike? It is not unreasonable to expect the government to have these answers, and to share them.


Confidence that any adjustments would not risk a second peak that would overwhelm the NHS is one of the qualifying measures. And at first reading, the Sage information offers little assurance on this issue because the evidence around the likely impact of a return to school is unclear. Furthermore, the separate Independent Sage group report says that new modelling shows the risk of infection would be halved if children returned to school two weeks later than ministers currently propose.

And let’s keep in mind that we have quite literally only just eased the first phase of restrictions and do not yet know precisely what the effect of that easing is.

Meanwhile there’s this inconvenient fact. I was talking to a principal only last week who told me he had had numerous calls from parents unwilling to send children back until they felt matters were safe. They, like the last quote want some guidance on that but as the principal noted it is their constitutional right to keep children out of school.

But the columnists above appear to assume that if schools or other institutions or business enterprises are opened people will go to them (and again, notable that they are the only voices in the IT on this. Not one article in the opinion pages this week presenting the medical view).

Another piece from today suggests that is far from the case.

Many crèches and childcare facilities will go out of business or choose not to reopen unless the Government agrees a package of financial supports, according to a body representing private sector childcare providers.

Seas Suas says privately owned and operated childcare providers employ 18,000 staff and care for more than 144,000 children.

In its new post-lockdown strategy document entitled “Reopen Safely, Recover Sustainably”, Seas Suas anticipates that even if some facilities can open on 29 June, as few as 20% of children will actually return due to continuing concerns among parents.

It seems likely that people are more cautious than some in the media assume. They’ll weight the situation up and come to their own ccnclusions. September, perhaps a little earlier seems sensible as we gather in facts and see about how the virus has been contained (notable too how none of these boosters appear to engage with a second wave of infections. I guess that’s soooo April).

And all the empty exhortations that self-confidence is lacking or that there’s no risk at all won’t dent that reality.

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