Sunday, July 30, 2006

Vote for Michael and the other Politicians

The rogue in the middle is Senator Michael McCarthy, Labour's bright hope in Cork South West. This week however, he's starring as part of 'The Politicians' in You're a Star Charity special on RTÉ One TV channel, along with Billy Kelliher, Fianna Fáil T.D., Dan Boyle T.D. of the Greens, and Sen. Frank Feighan of Fine Gael. Tonight the lads sang the Monkees 'Daydream Believer'. The voting has just finished. The lads did really well and have got through again, topping the poll tonight. If you want the lads to win, keep supporting them by phoning 1513 7127108 or text politicians to 53600. You'll also be supporting one of my favourite charities the Irish Hospice Foundation.

Support Vigil against Israeli Bombings

I wasn't able to make the demonstrations in Dublin yesterday against the Israeli actions in Lebanon. I'm delighted that our party was so well represented, and I fully support Trócaire, and the Irish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign in their efforts to bring the Israeli Government to their senses.

Trocaire has called for a demonstration in front of the US Embassy at 6.00pm, with Michael D. Higgins as one of the main speakers. If you're in Dublin, please get along.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Shell chun Sáile-Shell to Sea Campaign Hits Town

Wednesday night saw the Shell to Sea campaign hit Kilkenny as they try to renew awareness about the Mayo campaign. One of the five men jailed last year for attempting to prevent an overland high-pressure gas pipe being run through their small Gaeltacht community was guest speaker. Myself, Cllr. Malcolm Noonan of the Green Party and Sinn Féin's Kathleen Funchion also spoke alonside teacher Micheál Ó Seidhin.

It was a privilege to speak alongside Micheál, whom I described genuinely as one of the bravest people I have met. He is also witty and exceptionally knowledgeable, and he got away with something I never would-speaking for an hour and twenty minutes!!

The continuing scandal of the situation in Rossport was outlined by him. I was able to set the context thanks to an excellent briefing from Tommy Broughan T.D., our spokesperson on Energy, who Micheál praised for his, and our, consistent support and work on the campaign. I hope that Tommy gets his head when we return to Government and that we sort out this mess for once and for all. I also hope that we reverse the Fianna Fáil/PD sell-out to the multinationals and follow the Norwegian example of controlling our natural resources for the benefit of our own people.

If you want to learn more about the campaign visit the Shell to Sea website, or view the superb report by the Centre for Public Enquiry here. The quality of that report shows why the centre was hatcheted by Michael McDowell. While I have my reservations about Frank Connolly, we need an independent body like this to help us all keep a close eye on the golden triangle which will be camped in the tent at the Galway races next week.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

No Paseran-Let us remember 70 years on.

Thanks to Comrade Séamus Ryan, Cllr. in Waterford whose excellent blog reminds me that today marks the 70th. anniversary of the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. Recently, the legendary Mick O' Riordan who was honoured by the Labour Party a number of years ago died. I was privileged to know Mick in Dublin in my Labour Youth days, and he'll be missed. Local member and very important one at that, Gary Lynch travelled for Mick's funeral in Dublin. Unfortunately, work meant I could not make it.

Let's remember today the members of La Quince Brigada, or the Fifteenth International Brigade, a group of Socialist and
Republican volunteers who travelled from Ireland and many of whom lost their lives defending the Republican Government. They were to be unsuccessful eventually in the face of Franco, who plunged Spain into 40 years of dictatorship. Now that we are in the era of balance however, it must be recognised that many who travelled on the Blueshirt side under the command of Eoin O' Duffy, were also idealistic young men who believed they were saving the world from Communist dictatorship (the suppport of Stalin for the struggle in Spain gave meat to this argument).

Meanwhile, I came across a number of Kilkenny names of the International Brigade on an excellent website this morning. If anybody who knows anything about these men, I'd be delighted to receive any information about them:George Browne, Manchester-Kilkenny, Seán Dowling, Castlecomer or Denis Holden, Carlow

Meanwhile, here's the words of my party piece, the best Irish song about the International Brigade, although it's short on the Déise names, I'm told

Viva La Quince Brigada by Christy Moore

Ten years before I saw the light of morning
A comradeship of heroes was laid.
From every corner of the world came sailing
The Fifteenth International Brigade.
They came to stand beside the Spanish people.
To try and stem the rising Fascist tide
Franco's allies were the powerful and wealthy,
Frank Ryan's men came from the other side.

Even the olives were bleeding
As the battle for Madrid it thundered on.
Truth and love against the force af evil,
Brotherhood against the Fascist clan.
Vive La Quinta Brigada!
"No Paseran" the pledge that made them fight.
"Adelante" was the cry around the hillside.
Let us all remember them tonight.

Bob Hillard was a Church of Ireland pastor;F
rom Killarney across the Pyrenees he came.
From Derry came a brave young Christian Brother.
Side by side they fought and died in Spain.
Tommy Woods, aged seventeen, died in Cordoba.
With Na Fianna he learned to hold his gun.
From Dublin to the Villa del Rio
Where he fought and died beneath the Spanish sun.


Many Irishmen heard the call of Franco.
Joined Hitler and Mussolini too.
Propaganda from the pulpit and newspapers
Helped O'Duffy to enlist his crew.
The word came from Maynooth: 'Support the Fascists.'
The men of cloth failed yet again
When the bishops blessed the blueshirts in Dun Laoghaire
As they sailed beneath the swastika to Spain.


This song is a tribute to Frank Ryan.
Kit Conway and Dinny Coady too.
Peter Daly, Charlie Regan and Hugh Bonar.
Though many died I can but name a few.
Danny Doyle, Blaser-Brown and Charlie Donnelly.
Liam Tumilson and Jim Straney from the Falls.J
ack Nally, Tommy Patton and Frank Conroy,
Jim Foley, Tony Fox and Dick O'Neill.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Getting Rid of the Graffiti

Just back from helping the local committee who try to keep the city in ship-shape, better known as 'Keep Kilkenny Beautiful' to try and get rid of the graffiti which some of our geniuses in town have decorated our public buildings with.

Next Wednesday, the 26th of July, Kilkenny will be visited by the judges of the Entente Florale competition. This is one of Europe's most important environmental competitions and allows us to claim a major title which would attract additional tourists to our city. The Council have done fantastic work improving the public spaces in the city, and local businesses and voluntary groups have played their part in filling window ledeges, hanging baskets and even floating water beds on the river with flowers.

Unfortunately much of the route which will be walked by the judges has been targetted by graffiti artists in recent months. Today we painted over much of this so-called art. Hopefully it won't be targetted tonight by the vandals. Well done to the local committee for all their efforts.

On a related topic I have proposed a motion which would see a public graffiti wall in the city, which would allow a dedicated space for this work. It also calls for a crackdown on illegal graffiti though. It will hopefully be debated at September's Council meeting.

For more on the Entente Florale visit the Council's excellent website with its cool interactive route map here

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Rattlebag Petition Hand-Over and First Day's Blogging

Today was the day out in the 'Big Smoke', as we used to call it in the Kingdom. The reaction to the petition I organised a few weeks ago has been fantastic. It's not often that your heroes personally endorse a campaign you launch, so when I saw the names of Paul Brady, Freddie White, Mary Coughlan, Hughie O' Donoghue, Aidan Quinn and loads of others supporting the campaign to keep the Rattlebag programme on Radio 1, it lightened the heart. More importantly as a Councillor was the great reaction from ordinary listeners (and voters!!) to the campaign.

It was even better that I could persuade my all-time favourite Irish artist, Bobby Ballagh, one of my all-time favourite singers. Liam Ó Maonlai, and Tania Banotti, representing the Theatre companies of the country to come along with me and hand in the petition. Unfortunately, RTÉ seemed to feel that these well-known figures would damage them from a publicity point of view, so they refused to let them in with the petition.

We had the mad situation of taking our publicity shots which you'll see here tomorrow, on the footpath outside the station. Even more worrying was the comment made by another artist that 'Today's petition is tomorrow's blacklist'. This shouldn't be the way in a National broadcaster, ach sin an saol.

In we went then to meet Ana Leddy, Head of Radio One and Lorelei Harris, head of Arts Programming. Jack Wall T.D., Labour's spokesperson on the arts played a blinder. He really articulated the importance of the programme to ordinary people, for whom it gave a great sampler of the arts, and stated that it was Labour's clear view that the programme should stay in the middle of the day, rather than be shifted to 11 at night.

I emphasised the importance of the programme to artists. Liam had told me that it was a great way of plugging new projects, shows or other events, and that you could see people turning up who had heard the work discussed on the show. We were reasonable in agreeing that some element of later programming could be a good idea allowing late night reviews on opening nights of movies, plays etc. but again pleaded for the afternoon slot be left alone.

Ana is a tough lady, and gave the clear impression that 'the lady's not for turning'. What she was outlining was an afternoon show in which Derek Mooney and company will reach into local communities meeting the characters and reporting on local events. Ironically, she's a sister of an old friend and student union colleague, Giollaiosa Ó Lidheadha.

One straw in the wind was the fact that the women told us clearly that they had been following the petition closely. Those who campaign online should take note of this. It's hard to know what will happen as a result, but I have a feeling that RTÉ will have to give in eventually and keep a real arts programme on the air.

In the papers today, the coverage focussed on John Kelly's axing from the Mystery Train programme and the even crazier decision to drop the Audioscope programme aimed at those with hearing impairment. Just our luck that that would hit the headlines today.

Meanwhile, thanks a bunch to Liam for the great chat afterwards and reminiscing on college days (He even remebered that I had given the Hothouse Flowers their first ever paying gig, playing to 40 people for about £100 for the band-at most!). To Bobby who is the bravest and most forthright person I know in Irish public life. We were members of the Reclaim the Spirit of 1916 campaign in the early 90's, organising the commemoration of the 75th anniversary. I was delighted to tell him about the official commemoration I initiated in Kilkenny on Easter Saturday.

Finally to Tania, who really is a chip off the old block. Her support in the past week has been magic, particularly her article in the IT on Saturday. The theatre operators and groups of Ireland are lucky to have such a live-wire in their corner. If she decides to follow Mam and Auntie into politics, I hope she picks a real left of centre party!! Sorry I forgot I'm not supposed to insult our 'pardners'. All in all a good morning's work. It's great to be back campaigning again-sure we might occupy the place the next time!!