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Another Big Day Today… June 27, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
53 comments

And so it begins. Meet the new Taoiseach, kind of same as the old Taoiseach, who according to plans will be the next Taoiseach again, again.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has been elected Taoiseach by 93 votes to 63 with three abstentions in a historic Dáil vote which has taken place in Dublin’s Convention Centre.

He had the support of nine Independent TDs as well as his own party, Fine Gael and the Green Party.

Independent Galway TD Sean Canney was a surprise vote against Mr Martin’s election.

That was all of the Green Party.

And those Independents voting for Taoiseach?

…Marian Harkin, Michael McNamara, Noel Grealish and Michael Lowry, Peter Fitzpatrick, Matt Shanahan, Richard O’Donoghue and Verona Murphy.

That’s a nice comfort zone should some of the GP walk. Isn’t it?

But who voted against?

Sinn Féin, Labour, the Social Democrats, People Before Profit, Solidarity and Rise TDs, along with Independents Joan Collins, Michael Fitzmaurice, Catherine Connolly, Michael and Danny Healy-Rae and Thomas Pringle, opposed the election of Mr Martin as Taoiseach.

So. A Fianna Fáil government back in power nine years after they were ejected from office. But a Fine Gael government also back in office! Though I think Varadkar was slightly over-egging the pudding in the following:

He pointed to Fine Gael’s unprecedented third term in office and an opportunity to protect what had been delivered and improve on mistakes.

Generational conflict… June 27, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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This cracked me up last weekend. A very funny take by Nosheen Iqbal in the Observer/Guardian on a certain friction between Generation Z and Millennials. For those unaware of these matters Generation Z is

…Zoomer for short… is the demographic cohort succeeding Millennials and preceding Generation Alpha. Researchers and popular media use the mid-to-late 1990s as starting birth years and the early 2010s as ending birth years. Most members of Generation Z have used digital technology since a young age and are comfortable with the Internet and social media, but are not necessarily digitally literate. Most members of Generation Z are the children of Millennials.[1]

Whereas Millennials are:

…the demographic cohort following Generation X and preceding Generation Z. Researchers and popular media use the early 1980s as starting birth years and the mid-1990s to early 2000s as ending birth years, with 1981 to 1996 a widely accepted defining range for the generation.[1]

Millennials are sometimes referred to as “echo boomers” due to a major surge in birth rates in the 1980s and 1990s, and because millennials are often the children of the baby boomers. This generation is generally marked by their coming of age in the Information Age, and they are comfortable in their usage of digital technology and social media. Millennials are often the parents of Generation Alpha.

Note by the way Generation Alpha. A new one on me.

Researchers and popular media use the early 2010s as the starting birth years and the mid 2020s as the ending birth years. Named after the first letter in the Greek alphabet, Generation Alpha is the first to be born entirely in the 21st century.[1] Most members of Generation Alpha are the children of Millennials.[2][3]

As Iqbal says:

Generation Z aren’t just inventive and droll – they get it. So they’ve come for the social media narcissism, the Buzzfeed quizzes, the “people who still think Harry Potter movies are a personality trait” and they’ve come hard.

To them, as one 16-year-old told Vice, millennials are “old people trying to use social media… they try to use all the hashtags and gifs, but they’re not good at it”, or they’re try-hards who “really get caught up in really simple, everyday stuff. They grow a basic thing, like a fruit or vegetable, and they’re like ‘wow I didn’t kill it’.”

I only have to think those words in the latter sentence in the voice of a creature fairly WBS-adjacent who would be slap bang in Generation Z and I can endorse entirely what Iqbal is saying. Sarcastic doesn’t even come close to describing that attitude. I asked the creature what they thought about this analysis. They were scathing of all older than them including boomers of various stripes…

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… the soundtrack to Pride June 27, 2020

Posted by Tomboktu in Uncategorized.
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It’s Pride weekend in Dublin, so this weekend, I’ll mostly by listening to the soundtrack of the 2014 film ‘Pride’ (available to rent online from the British Film Institute for £3.25). The film tells a fictional story that draws heavily on the real story of LGSM, Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, which was a group set up a few weeks after the 1984 London Pride parade following a successful bucket collection at that parade. LGSM twinned with a mining community in the Dulais valley in south Wales and raised funds outside gay bars and clubs in London to help feed the families of the miners in the valley during the 1984-1985 miners’ strike.

There were a few small complications in compiling the videos in this post. One is that a 2-CD album was released at the same time as the film, but it contains 24 tracks that don’t appear in the film. Including them here would make for too long a post. A second is that the credits at the end of the film list a few items that aren’t on the CD and which do not appear to have been released anywhere else. (Also, two pieces listed in the credits in the film are anomalies, which I explain below.)

Most of the music in this week’s TWIMBLT post is music that characters in the film can hear. (When putting this post together, I learnt that that kind of music has an adjective: diegetic.) Three exceptions are the first video and the last two videos, which are played over some opening and closing credits.

1 Pete Seeger – Solidarity Forever

An extract from Pete Seeger’s Solidarity Forever is played over the opening production credits (‘Pathé, BBC Films, Proud Films and BFI present‘, etc.) and these credits are intercut with documentary footage from the miners’ strike — I think it is the police attacks at Orgreave. The song reappears in the dramatic action, when LGSM members sing a chorus from it to celebrate finally making contact with a mining community. Singing that song was not part of the script, but the director used a take where the actors spontaneously chose to sing it as part of the scripted

"LGSM celebrate their victory. Hugging & Cheering."

 

 

 

The first song we hear in a dramatised scene is the film is 2 What Difference Does It Make by The Smiths, which is played at the 1984 post-pride party in the flat above Gay’s the Word bookshop. I haven’t included it here because the world has had enough Morrissey.

Ten of the remaining 16 songs in the film (that is, not including the two in the closing credits) are from the period between 1981 and 1984, with a good smattering of gay artists among them. That is a historical reflection of the period when the film is set, but for some of us — me included — it can evoke feelings of what it was like to be gay at that time.

3 Soft Cell – Tainted Love

 

 

4 Pete Shelley – Homosapien

The choice of Pete Shelley’s Homosapien is obviously an example of a song from the time with a gay theme. (I love the pun ‘homosuperior’ for the gay term ‘top’.) It also has a link to the main story: it was one of the songs Pete Shelley played at a benefit concert in the Hacienda organised by the Manchester LGSM.

 

 

5 Frankie Goes to Hollywood – Two Tribes

 

 

6 Phil Collins – You Can’t Hurry Love

 

 

7 Culture Club – Karma Chamelion

 

 

8 Shirley & Company – Shame Shame Shame

 

 

9 Paul Robeson – Drink to Me Only Thine Eyes

Paul Robeson’s Drink to Me Only Thine Eyes is well outside the 1980s. In the film, it is background music in a Christmas scene in the miners’ hall in the Dulaith Valley. I think it’s not diegetic, though it’s possible it’s intended to be a record playing in the hall as the miners’ and their children and LGSM guests socialise in the evening after a bingo session. Diegetic or not [I’m getting good value from my new word this weekend], it does add a hint of a Christmassy atmosphere to the scene. But it is apt for ways not covered in the film. Not only did Robeson share a similar left-wing political outlook with the characters in the film, he also had a strong connections with Wales. In 1957, while denied a passport by the US authorities, he got around the travel ban and sang live at the miners’ eisteddfod via transatlantic cable.

 

 

10 Bronwen Lewis – Bread and Roses

 

 

11 Smokey Robinson and the Miracles – I Second That Emotion

 

 

12 Frank Solivan – Across the Great Divide

 

 

13 King – Love & Pride

 

 

14 Bronski Beat – Why?

Mark Ashton, who, with Mike Jackson, organised the collection for the miners at the 1984 Pride parade that led to the formation of LGSM had been a friend of Jimmy Somerville before Somerville was famous. (A 1982 documentary film, Framed Youth: Revenge of the Teenage Perverts, made by the Lesbian and Gay Youth Project, includes both of them.) Bronski Beat’s singles Smalltown Boy and Why? in the UK singles charts reached, respectively, no. 3 in June and no. 6 in September 1984. In December that year, LGSM organised the ‘Pits and Perverts’ ball, with Bronski Beat as the headline act. It raised so much money that the Dulais miners support group felt they could not keep all of the proceeds for their own community and they distributed some of it to other mining communities.

 

 

15 Dead Or Alive – You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)

 

 

16 Yazoo – Situation

 

 

17 Frankie Goes to Hollywood – Relax

 

 

18 Schubert Trout Quintet, Movement No. 4

[A different version from the film]

Here is the first of the two anomalies I mention above. Schubert’s Trout Quintet is not listed in the film credits. What is listed is No. 1 in D-flat major Minute, with Arthur Rubinstein named as the performer. Unhelpfully for a piece of classical music, the credits do not name a composer. A search using the information in the credits in the film produces links to Arthur Rubinstein playing Chopin’s Minute Waltz, which has quite a famous tune. The problem is that that tune does not appear in the film. There is a scene in which a piece of classical music is played — when Joe arrives home to a christening — and it is an arrangement of one of two similar pieces by Schubert. I think this one sounds most like the extract in the film. (The other option is the melody to Schubert’s song Die Forelle, but the tempo of that is faster.)

 

 

19 Billy Bragg – There Is Power in a Union

The final two songs in the film are not diegetic [last time I’ll use that word here], and both were written after the events portrayed in the film. Billy Bragg’s There is Power in a Union is played over the characters marching in the 1985 Pride parade, when the South Wales miners marched in solidarity with the lesbians and gays who had supported them during the strike. At this stage, the characters have no dialogue and instead, paragraphs are displayed summarising key real-life events and people. Among them are that for the first time a motion on lgb equality was adopted at the British Labour Party’s conference a year after the strike, and that one of the key factors behind that was the block vote of the NUM.

Another fact sets up the context for the final song that is played over the credits. Mark Ashton, the text tells us, died of AIDS in 1987 at the age of 26. Jimmy Somerville — at that stage in The Communards — wrote For a Friend in memory of Mark.

 

 

20 The Communards – For A Friend

 

 

*** — *** — ***

The second anomaly I referred to above the videos is a listing in the music credits for an item titled ‘AIDS — Monolith’. That was a 45-second film made as part of an information campaign run by the British government in 1987. It appears in the film as a TV advert when the invented character Joe is watching television with his family at Christmas 1984. (The director of Pride Matthew Warchus knew he was taking some creative license by using it in a scene that is set a few years before the advertisement was actually made.) I assume it is listed in the credits as a condition for its use by the owners of the rights to it, though I don’t know why it is included in the music credits, between I Second That Emotion and Love and Pride.

(more…)

A Big Day Today June 26, 2020

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.
37 comments

Will we have a new Government by the end of the day or not?
You’d assume Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil will pass it. The Greens will it get the required two thirds?
I’ve heard all sorts of predictions for the Green vote and they have had an open campaign on the issue. Letter advocating a Yes Vote and for a No vote were sent out with each ballot. I’ve heard predictions for 72% being in favour of the deal to it being around 50/50. I’m told The Young Greens (15% of the membership) ran an exit poll and 35% voted Yes. There could be just a handful of votes in it in the end….. Then what? Will there be defections if it’s lost? Is that the end of Saoirse McHugh and some others? If it is, will there be a breakaway or some sort of Green Left Alliance formed? It’s an area RISE and PBP are very interested in.
A point made by a Fianna Fáiler to me was that they hoped the margin in favour would be quite large, better than 80-20. The larger the margin the easier it will be to heal the divisions that have arisen from this. The No side in FF are hoping for 30% and on a good day to break 40%. The initial onslaught by those in favour of the deal led to a lot of planned No voters not to go public. They are hoping that there are a lot of silent No votes.
For Fine Gael, will be interesting to see the level of opposition among Councillors and Members.
Any predictions?

Calling in air support? June 26, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
4 comments

I was impressed for once on the comments BTL on this piece by Sean Doyle, chief executive of Aer Lingus, who is imploring the government to lift the fourteen day quarantine on air passengers. There’s some sensible thoughts amongst the comments about how having gone through three months of restrictions it makes very little sense to risk undermining the gains made for the sake of, well what, precisely? Doyle of course, as with others, continues to overstate the the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the European Commission guidelines which actually call for strong social distancing on flights, albeit resile at demanding same. I think we can safely assume such distancing will not exist in practice. This is not to ignore the impact of the quarantine and other measures:

Crucially, it has also had regard to the critical importance of the aviation sector to the Irish economy. Together with tourism, aviation supports €17.6 billion of GDP annually and provides employment to 140,000 people in the Irish economy. As an island economy, Ireland has a huge reliance on the connectivity and mobility that aviation provides. Given the catastrophic impact the coronavirus crisis is having on the economy, the restoration of air services is urgently needed to help our economic recovery and boost employment.

But Doyle cannot offer a clear way forward that reduces risks at this point to acceptable levels because, in truth, there is no clear way forward in that regard. But as with other calls to lift restrictions the following sits oddly:

Ireland’s reluctance to act on the recommendations of the commission is baffling on a number of fronts. Firstly, there has been significant success across Europe in containing the virus, with very low average daily growth rates in each country. From a comparative perspective, the level of success in containing and controlling the spread of the virus in these European countries is equivalent.

Yet one need only see how in a range of places in Europe the virus is appearing again (let’s not even consider the situation across the Irish Sea). Indeed you can read in the Guardian the following very sobering report.

Ten countries currently facing serious increases in coronavirus infections are among those nations with less stringent approaches to managing their outbreaks.

Guardian analysis of coronavirus data, in combination with the University of Oxford’s coronavirus government response tracker, has identified that 10 of the 45 most badly-affected countries are also among those rated as having a “relaxed response” to the pandemic, underlining the mitigating impact of effective government public health policies.

The countries include the US – which is experiencing its largest increase in coronavirus cases since April; Iran, Germany and Switzerland – two European countries where the R rate has risen above one this week.

And in the IT, Gabriel Scally Honorary Professor of Public Health at University of Bristol, notes:

There are calls for the relaxation of quarantine from citizens who want to spend summer holidays abroad, from business people who feel personal travel is crucial to their success, and particularly from the travel and airline industry which generates substantial employment and of which Ireland is justifiably proud.

The international airline industry, working with the main European public health body, has come up with proposals which, they believe, can enable everyone to fly safely. Even if this was to be entirely correct, it does not in any way minimise the basic problem of possible importation of new cases of the infection from countries, covering most of the world, which have not yet got anywhere near containing the spread of this deadly disease.

The impossibility of the adoption of a uniform position towards loosening of quarantine measures is illustrated by the comparative position of Scotland and England. In Scotland there has been substantial progress and they now have a very low level of deaths and few new positive cases. The signs are hopeful that they may decide to press on towards full elimination of the virus.

And his conclusion:

There is much work to be done to get the economy in Ireland up and running again, to deal with all of the people needing healthcare who have been unable over the past few months to get the investigations or treatment that they need, and also to enjoy time participating in sport and cultural activities. Continued restriction on international travel is a small price to pay not only to preserve the ground that has been gained, but to prevent avoidable outbreaks or even a second wave of new infections and deaths.

Difficult to disagree.

RIC and unionism June 26, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Thanks to BH for the link to the following, a piece on RTÉ from Adrian Grant of UU, on ‘the uneasy relationship between unionists and the RIC’.

He notes ‘The complexity of events in Ireland a century ago does not lend itself to generalised statements about unionist history’. And he argues:

Having recently written a book about the history of Derry city and county from 1912 to 1923, I was struck by the lack of historicity in Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s assertion that the forced cancellation of the [RIC] commemoration meant a “setback for unity and a setback for reconciliation”. Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan went further, stating that “any unionist looking at this will be rightly very concerned at the idea of reuniting Ireland”.

Because:

If we look at the experience of just one county, we can see that the complexity of events from a century ago does not lend itself to generalised statements about unionist history, or how unionists feel about their past today. The first person killed as a result of political violence in Ireland during the 1912-23 period was Francis Armstrong, a 35 year old Protestant shot dead in Derry by the RIC as he watched a riot from his front window on August 14th 1913.

And:

The police stationed at the Lecky Road RIC Barracks were held with a particular suspicion by some unionists in Derry throughout the 1912-23 period, mainly because most of them were southern Catholics. This suspicion was intensified in June 1920 when a group of policemen publicly offered their resignations in protest at suspected collusion between police, army and loyalist vigilante groups in the city. This came after 20 people were killed during a week of intense violence that also saw innumerable people injured and more ejected from their homes.

And he further notes that suspicion of the RIC was such that:

Unionist distrust of the RIC culminated in the formation of the almost exclusively Protestant Ulster Special Constabulary (USC, also known as the “B Specials”) in October 1920. This new reserve force had its roots in the rejuvenated Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and the kind of vigilante groups the Derry RIC men were protesting against the previous summer.

Indeed, as he says, for those who think of the RUC as a simple continuation of the RIC the reality is rather different. It was an amalgam of various entities and crucially abandoned a rhetorical commitment to represent both religous demographics. He concludes with the following which I think is well stated:

The Decade of Centenaries has been promoted by the Government as a time to reflect on “fresh insights and constructive dialogue, and to foster deeper mutual understanding among people from different traditions”. If the same effort is not extended to understanding the complexities of unionist history, and avoiding the nationalist tendency to view unionism as a monolithic entity, then much of the positive work of the decade carried out thus far will be hopelessly tainted.

Signs of Hope – A continuing series June 26, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
5 comments

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?

Best of both worlds? June 25, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Worth reading this, a piece from Ian Johnston (described as the ‘winner of the 2020 Hugo Young award. He is a newspaper journalism student at City University and has written for the Times, the Irish Times, the Evening Standard and City AM’) in the Guardian where he writes as a Northern unionist (and Protestant) about the shape of a new Ireland that was united. A couple of very intriguing aspects.

Firstly the openness to shared symbols, some mythical (Cú Chulainn), others anything but (the tricolour), as the basis for an all-island polity. And what Johnson sees as the reclamation of a shared past. But also, and note how this is becoming more a part of the discourse around a united Ireland, a shared island that would still retain a certain differentiation in northern Ireland:

Common sense for moderate Protestants is having healthcare that is free at the point of use. It is peace between loyalists and republicans. For some, it is seeing the 12 July marches respected, though they may never think of taking part.

It is having the freedom to choose which adjective to call ourselves – British, Irish, Northern Irish or none of the above. It is also watching BBC iPlayer without using a VPN, and walking through Belfast’s airports without passport checks.

The most treasured aspects of Britishness should be protected – at least in the north – to ease Protestants through a challenging transition period.

That ‘at least in the north’ is crucial. I understand those who want a phase shift, however I’d have thought the lesson of the GFA/BA and the broader peace process is that slower, sometimes agonisingly slow, approaches work more coherently and effectively to effect long lasting change. And surely none of those examples Johnson offers of ‘aspects of Britishness’ would be a huge stretch, would they (and just on the BBC iPlayer, that’s something many of us in the South would applaud too come to think of it)?

Collecting Covid…. June 25, 2020

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.
6 comments

I have a small collection of Covid related material myself but got a call yesterday from someone who is looking to start a collection of it.
I had various suggestions, the signage, the papers, An Post cards and so on.
What items would you think to collect that would illustrate the past few months?

An interesting Dáil debate… June 25, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Yesterday over the Offences against the State (Amendment) Act 1998 and Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009. To my knowledge Tony Gregory always voted against.

Anyhow:

For the first time since Sinn Féin entered the Dáil in 1997, the party has abstained in a vote on the renewal of controversial Offences Against the State Act.

The party’s decision came after Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan promised that a proposed review of the legislation would be independent.

Though:

Sinn Féin justice spokesman Martin Kenny welcomed the Minister’s commitment to an independent review but said he was disappointed there was no deadline on the review.

And:

The Green Party has on occasion opposed renewal of the legislation but its justice spokesman Roderic O’Gorman said on Wednesday the party supported the renewal.

Interesting to see the votes for and against various amendments…

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