Let’s see. It’s nearly Christmas (extended Dáil break) so nothing can be done until January
In January, it is European Presidency celebrations so nothing can be done.
February is too close to Easter (extended Dáil break) so best to put it on hold.
April and May are just too close to Summer (extended extended Dáil break) so let’s handle it in September.
September, time for a Referendum Commission. Need their approval before enacting legislation.
Six months later, when they report, it will be too close to Easter/Summer so best to delay until September 2014.
By this stage, way too close to Elections to deal with serious legislation, so just procrastinate until the next Dáil.
Archive for November, 2012
Legislation When ? …… The Political Rhythm Method
November 30, 2012
The Death of Savita Halappanavar – An Indictment of Irish Society
November 27, 2012
The death of Savita Halappanavar brings into the political fray the urgency of legislation to follow the X Case judgement, now 20 years old, but not only that raises a number of issue at the centre of Irish society most notably religious extremism, lack of adequate governance from the ruling coalition, a failed health system and the oppression of women in Irish society. All four of these aspects are featured from this case and this blog post will explore all four aspects in some detail.
Savita Halappanavar died in October 2012 in Galway Roscommon Univerisity Hospital as a result of septicemia which she contracted. Three days earlier Savita had visited the hospital in pain, miscarrying at 17 weeks. It was found had that Mrs Halappanavar had a dilated cervix and so was at risk of infection. Doctors monitored the heartbeat of the foetus and and it appears that because it had a heartbeat it was deemed to be alive and therefore in the view of the medical staff could not be removed. Three days later the foetus was removed. The Guardian takes up the story here (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/14/savita-halappanavar-medically-unnecessary-death) and summarises what happened:
She died of septicaemia and E Coli. She died after three and a half days of excruciating pain. She died after repeatedly begging for an end to the pregnancy that was poisoning her. Her death would have been avoided if she had been given an abortion when she asked for it – when it was clear she was miscarrying, and that non-intervention would put her at risk.
Savita Halappanavar does not have to die in vain. The government and past successive governments since the X Case have failed to legislate adequately for such an occasion. The X Case was brought before the courts when a 14 year old girl, known only as X, was brought to court to prevent her going to England for an abortion due to a pregnancy from being raped by a neighbour. The Attorney General at the time,Harry Whelehan successfully got an injunction at the High Court but this was turned over on appeal at the Supreme Court by a majority of four to one. It was ruled that a woman was entitled to an abortion if there was risk to her life but not to her health. As X was suicidal, this criteria was deemed to be constituting a risk to her life so X was allowed to go to England for an abortion. Since this, the governments of successive years have failed to legislate for the case and to provide clarity for doctors and patients and as such are in breach of European law.
Part of the reason that the government has not legislated for abortion is that there is a certain conservative element within the Irish government, most notably in Fine Gael whom are still rooted in old school conservative Ireland in their politics. Only recently 15 TD’s spoke out against any proposals by the government to liberalise any of the laws on abortion and sought assurances from the government that such legislation would never pass. There is no question over certain members attitudes to abortion within the party when you consider that people like Gay Mitchell have made remarks (which they later say they regretted) which compared abortions to the Holocaust. In statements that were again brought under the microscope before the recent presidential elections, Mitchell was reminded of remarks he had made in 1998 in which he said (speaking of concentration camps) “children [were] poisoned by educated physicians, infants killed by trained nurses” to which was added ““could easily apply to the millions of abortions which needlessly take place year after year”.
This religious element is not only to be found in the government. Savita Halappanavar’s husband told the media that when his wife sought an abortion, he was told that they could not give one as Ireland was a Catholic country. Youth Defence even at the time of writing this article are quick enough to hop on the bandwagon, according to thejournal.ie (http://www.thejournal.ie/savita-youth-defence-abortion-674078-Nov2012/) (in what surely must be a fairly ironic):
Its statement said:
According to the information that is available, it seems that a delay in administering antibiotics may have been the cause of the septicaemia which tragically led to her death.
In other words they are telling us that journalists are not in full possession of the facts, but they are telling us that it seems the antibiotics not being administered early enough may have been the sole cause of death. Do Youth Defence not think they should have the full facts also?
The health system itself, being badly managed due to lack of clear direction and grey areas over the law could have done a lot more to address the situation in which Savita Halappanavar found herself . Doctors in similar situations in Ireland may be worried about the possible legal implications regarding carrying out such an abortion in the country. With no legislation or clear guidance in place, doctors are more or less left in legal limbo as to what direction to take on the matter. A young woman lost her life as there were no clear instructions on what to do in such a situation, which brings me to my last point.
Savita Halappanavar was denied the opportunity to be in control of her own body. The state has no business telling a woman what she can or cannot do with her body up to a certain point when it is carrying a foetus. Savita Halapannavar had requested a termination of the foetus to alleviate her suffering but this was ignored and in retrospect, this was a breach of her rights as a woman, to do what she wanted with her body. Considering the gender balance that exists at the moment in government, it is mostly men that are making the decisions: scary thought that men are mostly making the decisions for a woman and how she should live her life .
The recent report of the government expert group has laid out a number of options. We could legislate, draw up new regulations, do up some guidelines or simply wallow in our indifference. Doctors differ and patients die, in this scenario politicians differ and argue, and patients will die slow agonising death on hospital trollies as they all try to pander to the conservative elements of their parties all the while trying to figure out how not to alienate the electorate. Savita Halappanvar’s father has called for a public enquiry int the circumstances surrounding his daughter’s death. Now that the government has conceded that three doctors investigating their own colleagues was not a good idea, an independent public enquiry appears to be the best option for all parties for the sake of transparency.
It is quite clear that the government, the health services and other agents of society that are meant to protect a woman’s life failed. To what extent is not yet quite clear, but what is clear is this, there is one grieving husband looking for answers.
Justice for Mark and Andreas Marku
November 27, 2012
For the past 26 months and 1 week, I have been stuck in a living hell. Why? My husband Mark was arrested in Crete, Greece, on the 16th of September 2010 and has been languishing in prison ever since.
Mark and his younger brother Andreas spent 16 months in pre-trial detention before being convicted, in January 2012, of being a member of and armed gang that committed 7 armed robberies of jewellers in Crete during the summer of 2010. Both brothers were sentenced to 18 years in prison. Since the day of my husband’s arrest, the case against him has been riddled by inconsistencies and just plain illogical accusations that are completely unsupported by any evidence.
Mark’s defence included social welfare records, wage slips, legal affidavits, flight tickets and passport stamps from Ireland, all of which proved irrefutably that he was in Ireland when they said crimes took place. The prosecutor claimed the Irish documents were falsified, a claim accepted by the judge without investigation.
The fact that Irish state and legal documents such as social welfare sign-on sheets and legal affidavits can summarily be dismissed as forgeries in a Greek Court of law should excite the interest of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Department of Social Protection. We are asking the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs to authenticate the documentation and to strongly express our concerns, as an Irish family, regarding the violation of my husbands human rights, to the Greek Government and the European Parliament.
In January 2012, Mark’s defence submitted an appeal to the three-member Criminal Court of Appeals of Eastern Crete, judgment no. 10/2012. The date for the appeal has yet to be confirmed.
The aim of our campaign is to ensure at the appeal the Cretan Court is aware of the outside interest in this case, that my husband is not “just an Albanian” and that if the court acts outside the law again the Irish, Albanian and EU authorities will be watching.
To try put into words the devastation this miscarriage of justice has caused is simply too big of an ask. As Mark’s wife, my life will never be the same again. This has destroyed any semblance of our life prior to the 16th of September 2010. I have lost our home, our business, my chance to start a family, my health, at times my sanity but most importantly I have lost my best friend, my husband. Yes he is still alive, though most of the time it feels like he isn’t, yet I cannot move on with my life in any way, shape or form. The limbo is soul destroying with the expectation that you “should just get on with it“. I – and my family – have been demonised as criminals, along with my husband, who has been deprived of his liberty, dignity and any reason to exist.
To read more about our story, please visit www.justiceformarkandandreas.com . Please support our fight for justice for my family by signing our petition and by contacting your TD and MEP.
Julie Marku 26.5.2012 @freemarku
Sinn Fein on the Political Cycle
November 26, 2012
Sinn Féin offers a very palatable variation of a doomed theme but gone are the days when Sinn Féin offered radical (as they need to be) solutions. A sacrifice to the god’s of electoral success. They shan’t return as the quest for electoral success is one which never ends. By it’s very nature it can never be a means to a revolutionary end.
The vast majority of people who bother to vote will only ever vote for a variation of a theme, never for a new story. Out of fear for the unknown, and because of the manipulation of vested interests. It seems to me that a democracy like ours kills radical thought. Electoral success is like a drug. Once taken you want more and more and will do anything to get it.
A party starts off radical, gets some degree of success. Then the “toning it down” begins. Then the “moderation”, then the “compromise” as the radical “core” principals are diluted and hidden from view in order to “appeal more to voters” – with the reassurance to the party faithful that “once we’re in” they’ll be wheeled back out and implemented.
Then you get more electoral success. As a result you get more people joining this new “moderate” party – people with disdain, or rather an amused tolerance for the “extremists”. These people don’t have the core principals that people who joined years ago would have had. They’ve bought into what you were told was just a “front” for electoral success.
Thus the party has been ravaged from the drug that is electoral success. Much like those distressing “before and after” pictures one sees of people who have taken crystal meth, the party is almost unrecognizable compared to what it once was – look hard and you can see some reassuring familiar features but they are barely visible. There’s just enough there though to delude some of the more gullible “extremists” from the early days. The “decent people still in the party” former comrades would call them.
However most of the “extremists” from the early days have probably done one of three things:
1. Given up on politics and gone home.
2. Joined another party like theirs “used to be” in order to repeat the cycle.
3. Gotten elected or a job within/for the party.
The party is unrecognizable compared to what it once was. The new way is abandoned for a variation of the once despised theme they wanted to do away with. The radical ideas and solutions have been sacrificed in the pursuit of the electoral success needed to implement them.
The Status Quo prevails.
One would almost think the system was designed to insure this.
Saoirse geo Deo 26.11.2012
IKEA and the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – Truth Stranger Than Fiction
November 17, 2012
I am even more impressed by the Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson when I read of this. I have not managed to find an exact reference, but those of you who have read the novels or seen the films will remember the character Wennerstrom, with his criminal activities in Eastern Europe. What follows is not, alas, fiction.
IKEA has apologised for using political prisoners and convicts, arrested by the Stasi in East Germany, as workers in its furniture factories in the ‘70s and ‘80s. It was one among many manufacturers who used forced labour.
Stasi Prison at Berlin
The apology follows on the publication yesterday of a report by Ernst & Young who examined 80,000 pieces of evidence from the German historical files and carried out approximately 90 interviews with IKEA employees, prisoners and witnesses.
Johan Stenebo, a former senior executive at the company, published a book, The Truth About Ikea, in 2010 which examined the practices of the company. In it he mentions the German links of of the founder, Ingvar Kamprad and of his father who is described as ‘a tough Nazi’
Vigil for Savita Halappanavar
November 14, 2012
Vigil for Savita Halappanavar, Dail Eireann, 14. November 2012
C. Flower 14.11.2012
In light of the recent Supreme Court ruling it’s worth returning to an unreported Dáil exchange from July. There were already questions regarding leaflets and speeches carried on stabilitytreaty.ie but this one looks difficult for the Government to put themselves at arms length.
In response to questions on his department spend on consultancy an Taoiseach told the Dáil that QTS were engaged to carry out a risk assessment and update the Department’s 2011 health and safety statement at a cost of €1,271 while Towers Watson facilitated a series of workshops in responses to the Civil Service organisational review programme coming to €12,100.
He concluded the total spend by his Department to date in 2012 on consultancy is €21,074.
After some toing and froing regarding the shortfall we were told an EU communications contract was given to a media and public affairs consultancy firm to deal with the EU affairs and co-ordination division of the Department of the Taoiseach starting 28 March.
The contract was 60 days. A month ahead of Referendum Order being signed and concluding on the Sunday prior to voting.
At first the Dáil was told
it was about the key message to be communicated during Ireland’s Presidency of the European Council and associated preparations.
Which was over nine months away, and
had nothing to do with the referendum issue.
When pushed by Mary Lou McDonald on the aligning dates he confirmed
there would have been some advisory work done in respect of the Government preparing for the referendum.
Micheál Martin then pressed the Taoiseach as to why he avoided the EU communications contract in his initial response.
I am saying the Taoiseach excluded that information in the beginning. There was an attempt not to mention it, although I do not know why. The Taoiseach just did not mention it; it is not included in the answer. We are, at least, entitled to receive answers to the questions we ask. I hope there was not an attempt to bury the information because of the sensitivities associated with European issues and the referendum.
Kenny first told the Dáil he forget to read page 3 of the three-page response before going on to say page 3 got stuck to page 2. The circus continued as we now had a figure closer to €32,000, rather than the ”total” €21,074 initially outlined.
The Ceann Comhairle who in fairness has shown himself to be fairer then his predecessors in this case had long sensed danger and made several attempts to rule questions out and move things along “in fairness to other deputies”.
Gone is the usual lame quip and non answer we are use to with Kenny. He was genuinely trying to pull a fast one for whatever reason and is caught out.
Two interesting issues here, first if there was nothing untoward Kenny had no reason to exclude the EU PR contract. The unusual level evasiveness would suggest otherwise.
Second is the farce that played out is surely bread and butter to PolCors who were hardly absent when Enda, Micheal and Mary Lou were in the chamber.
The only mention in any paper was two solitary lines at the end of a piece in the Irish Times on Reilly’s advisers.
The Fianna Fáil leader raised the issue during a question on the cost of consultancies to Mr Kenny’s department. The Taoiseach said consultants were engaged only when necessary.
The cost of consultancy to the Taoiseach’s department to date in 2012 was €21,074.
The wrong figure reported by the Irish Times is one thing but if pages getting stuck together isn’t a Dáil Sketch then what is?
The McKenna judgements states
The public purse must not be expended to espouse a point of view which may be anathema to certain citizens who, of necessity , have contributed to it. No one would suggest that a Government is entitled to devote money from the exchequer in a direct manner in the course of a general election to secure its re-election. The position of a referendum is not any different.
A €19,803 contract from the Department of Taoiseach would suggest otherwise.
DR. FIVE 12th November 2012
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“Corruption in Ireland 1922-2010 – A Crooked Harp” by Elaine Byrne
November 12, 2012
I finished this book recently and I’m still scratching my head wondering why it was written. Essentially it’s a meander around the various tribunals of enquiry that have been held over the years with little comment on anything else. There isn’t much that I could see in it that isn’t in the public domain already and Prof. Byrne doesn’t add any great insight or new understanding to the events she covers.
The most corrupt relationship in the country since independence has been the one involving politicians and other agents of the state and the Catholic Church. At its worst it led to politicians, educators, Gardaí and the judiciary facilitating and concealing the rape and torture of children for decades but sadly, Byrne doesn’t explore this at all.
Neither does she examine the relationship between the media and politicians. Media organs are owned or controlled by wealthy and powerful people and she would have done a great public service had she shone some light on the extent to which governments have served the interests of that group in return for favourable coverage.
It may be that the book was rushed out to capitalise on current public interest in political corruption but that doesn’t justify the many errors it contains. For instance, the Ministers and Secretaries act is referred to as the Ministries and Secretaries act and the IDA is called the ‘Irish’ rather than the ‘Industrial’ development Authority. When she tells us that Denis O’Brien is a ‘Corkyman’ we can assume she means he’s from Cork but it’s anyone’s guess what she’s trying to say when she claims that “In many ways he is a synonymous public figure…”
As a scholarly work it lacks the academic crispness of Claire Hamilton’s The Presumption of Innocence in Irish Criminal Law’ or the narrative fluency of Joe Lee’s ‘Ireland 1912-1985’. It’s unambitious in scope, clumsy in execution and peppered with irksome little errors. My advice would be, give it a miss.
Baron Von Biffo – 12/11/2012
Crooks, Carpetbaggers and Ireland’s Sovereignty – Changing the Paradigm
November 10, 2012
At the risk of being tedious once again on the subject of history there are plenty of examples of small nations using their brains to balance competing powerful dynamics around them. The island and city states between ancient Greece and Persia being one historical example.
Ireland has one good natural industry which provides a national income stream and that is agriculture and its related exports. There is another provided by our location that is criminally underutilised and that is ‘blue farming’ or sustainable marine farming. We’re not short of raw material there either. Other than that, it has a high profile in the world for tourism – an industry that has been known to be abusive to its potential customer base in the past, it has to be said. Most of the ‘service’ sector of the Irish economy is fake – an accountants’ trick.
We have no reason by our location to come into conflict with the BRIC countries. It should be perfectly possible for us, provided we form the habit of thinking along these lines and drop the insecure paranoia about how close to Berlin or Boston we happen to be on any given day, to be able to steer a path for ourselves.
We have the worst of all worlds at the moment – no self-governance over finance, the balance of trade destroyed because we are exporting large sums of money regularly out of the Irish economy to pay currency gamblers and their mates abroad, a financial centre which has no interest in paying any kind of meaningful rent to be in the country and serves only to distort the domestic economy, a professional class incapable of undertaking any national project without robbing as much of whatever budget can be robbed and an utterly dull secretariat convinced of its own importance but unable to take on any major initiative without expensively buying in ‘expertise’.
Mineral wealth – corrupt backhander deals enriching state negotiators with the result that that potential income stream has been delivered to looters.
Ireland desperately needs a serious insurrection and a unilateral nationalisation of resources plus a policy of refusing to sell off other assets with the threat of default if the vultures demand such sales. For the first time in its history Ireland has a nuclear deterrent and that is around the possibility of taking the Euro area down by pressing the button marked ‘default’.
Our servile policies in this area maintained by a group of carpetbaggers called politicians result only in us being treated as the servant in the room. Looking ahead – who is going to respect Ireland in negotiations when we have our political leadership being patted on the head with his little photo on the front of a corporate rentboy publication and the designation ‘European Servant of The Year’?
History again – sovereignty is never achieved or held without demanding and insisting on it. There are no examples anywhere of a country being handed its self-determination as a gift by other nations and power blocs. It is something that has to be fought for and held. Germany and the EU are not some fine day going to say ‘good lads, here you go, you’ve been very good and now off you go and enjoy yourself’.
Anyone who thinks Ireland will emerge as a sovereign nation again at some point given current conditions is a fool of the very worst kind. The paradigm must be changed, whatever the pressures against. Failure to insist on sovereignty over time will result only in servitude.
Captain Con O’Sullivan 10th November 2012
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An Taoiseach and Minister Deenihan Dec. 2011: Photo: Merrion.ie
The ‘Articles of Agreement for a Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland’ were signed by both delegations at 2.15 am on the morning of 6th December, 1921. An ultimatum was delivered by Lloyd George to the delegates in which they were faced with the option of either signing the text of the Treaty as it stood or refusing to sign and face the consequence of an immediate resumption of war.