Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Sense at last on Valentia Station

It's rarely I blog about South Kerry, 'm'áit dúchais' but tonight is genuinely an occasion for celebration for an embattled community. As a local election candidate in the area almost ten years ago I was one of those campaigning against the closure of Valentia coastguard station and the downgrading of Valentia weather station, which is of course based in Cahersiveen and was where my Dad worked for many years.

While we didn't succeed in retaining all the services in Cahersiveen, the coastguard station survived until Minister Noel Dempsey, yes him the Minister who tried to take away Kilkenny's city status and to reintroduce college fees, tried to close the scenic but extremely effective station. Here's what he said in 2007.

"I have confirmed that locating one on the east coast and one on the west coast is the preferred option and that the east coast centre should be co-located with the HQ."

The station has provided a superb service to seafarers for generations and provides invaluable employment to a small fishing community which has been ravaged by emigration and the decline of fishing.

Radio communication has a historic place in the life of Valentia, putting it at the heart of the telecommunications history of the world. It was from just down the road in Knightstown that the first trans-atlantic cable was laid in 1866, sending the first electronic message from Europe to America.
Now the doughty fighters of 'The Island' and their allies all over the Iveragh penninsula have succeeded in defeating yet another Minister. The fact that they had to campaign nationally for ten years will give the lie to claims from both John O' Donoghue and the Healy Rae clan that they were responsible for victory. Instead the people of Oileán Dairbhre should take a bow at having stood up for themselves. Well done also to Tommy Broughan TD who as our communications spokesperson has consistently stood up for the people pf the area. Like us in Kilkenny and Carlow, the people of South Kerry badly need the return of a Labour voice to represent them in Dáil Éireann.
To appreciate the history of seafaring in the area, one only needs to recall the words of that great local poet Tomás Rua Ó Súilleabháin in his famous poem and song over 150 years ago:
'Amhrán na Leabhar'
Go Cuan Bhéil Inse casadh mé,
Cois Góilín aoibhinn Dairbhre,
Mar a seoltar flít na farraige,
Thar sáile i gcéin.
I Portmagee do stadas seal,
Faoi thuairim intinn maitheasa,
D'fhonn bheith sealad eatarthu,
Mar mháistir léinn.
Is gearr gur chuala an eachtara,
Ag cách mo léan!
Gur i mBord Eoghain Fhinn do chailleathas,
An t-árthach tréan.
Do phreab mo chroí le hatuirse,
I dtaobh loinge an taoisigh chalma,
Go mb'fhearrde an tír í 'sheasamh seal,
Do ráib an tséin.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Is Féidir Linn

Sin na focail a d'úsáid ceannaire mo pháirtí, Eamon Gilmore ag deireadh a aitheasc i gCill Chainnigh an Satharn seo chaite. Las sé tine faoi bhaill an pháirtí agus más aon comhartha an méid atáim ag clos ó cháirde agus an pobal, faoin dtír ar fad chomh maith.

We've just finished the historic first ever national conference of the Labour Party in Kilkenny and whar a weekend it was. For me, the most memorable conference speech was that of our last hugely successful leader Dick Spring at the famour 'Bread and Roses' caonference in Tralee in 1989. That was pure theatre with its opera and poetry and its sheer novelty. Saturday's sppech was all about content however, right from the start. The first sentence was 'I want to talk to you about solutions', and that was what he did. You can watch the speech below or read it here.

For my own part, I got to speak in the live RTÉ television debate on Saturday morning and you can see the speech here from the party's very forward looking presence on UStream. I also made the main RTÉ news for my comments regarding Fine Gael's attacks on the public service, and was also delighted to make it onto Saturday View, my favourite RTÉ radio programme, and had the privilege of being interviewed by John Bowman. The soundbite was small for all of us but we were there regardless. The coverage continued today as my comments were covered in two pieces in the Irish Times, one on FG and one on class sizes. and the Irish Daily Mail. More importantly of course on a local level I got to do a good piece with Tom Dowling on the afternoon news show on KCLR FM, our local radio station.

Two highlights of the weekend were the long service awards to Carlow/Kilkenny party members. Two of my favourite Labour women got recognition they deserved. Sadie Kelly was my predecessor on the party's National Executive and played a major part in bringing this conference to Kilkenny, work which I was delighted to continue, while the ever youthful Peggy Kerwick was unfortunately absent but her award was collected by my neighbour and great community activist, Seán. The others were Graiguenamanagh man John Bolger, Borris man Willie Hayes, and the unbelieveably fresh looking Paddy Dowd of Coon in North Kilkenny a 93 year old lifelong activist. All got their awards from one of my heroes, party President Michael D. Higgins TD.

He had previously presented the Jim Larkin justice award to Conor MacLiam, husband of the late Susie Long who inspired us so much in her life and her passing. Conor reminded us that Susie was a great socialist and a huge admirer of Larkin, and of course challenged us to keep alive the issues which tragically led to her death.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Support the Education Cuts Petition

Well done to Maria Parodi, new Labour Party local election candidate in Dublin for starting a comrehensive petition to the Minister for Education Batt O' Thief (sorry O' Keeffe!!) regarding the atrocious education cuts annouced in the budget and unfolding every day.
I'll be proposing the Carlow/Kilkenny motion condemning these cuts at our party conference being held for the first time in Kilkenny this weekend and this debate will be carried live on RTÉ One TV on Saturday morning from 11.00 am to 1.00 pm.
Please sign the petition here
Please also support the National demonstration against the cuts on Sat. 6th. December at 12.00 noon from Parnell Square, Dublin. Let's increase on the 25,000 parents, children and teachers who sent such a strong signal to the Government in Cork last Saturday.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Here comes Barack-the speech of a lifetime

Watching and wishing I was in Chicago-just listened to Martin Luther King's daughter saying that tonight proves that her father's death was not in vain-Oh what a night

Here somes the concession

At last a gracious speech from McCain. How right he is about it being inspirational and how appropriate to reflect on the historical change for African Americans.

Oregon for Obama and the Republicans have got their 40 seats. Interesting to see the crowd booing and cheering Palin-will we see her back in 4 years?

Uachtarán Obama

A big hour ahead the lads say on CNN. Aren't they right that it would be magic if Hawaii put him over the top to win particularly after his Gran's death yesterday. And how right this latest comment about how amazing a path it is over 5 years to go from hardly known senate candidate to President of the US. Finally Gloria is honest enough to say that age was a factor and the mad choice of Sarah Palin. Maybe the Irish media including Myers and George Hook will admit that she's a head-case.

Yahoo-Virginia goes Democrat after 44 years. That's a real breakthrough.

Yeeees-CNN call it for Obama-he's the New President of the most powerful country of the world. 44 years after the murder of Martin Luther King it has happened. All the racist naysayers and cynics have got their answer and our faith in humanity is restored. Here's to the US reclaiming its place in decency and humanity. Tears in my eyes but feck it. The opnly day that compares with this night was Mandela's release. Well done to great people like Samantha Power who knew how great this man is.

A Úachtaráin Obama, fáilte romhat agus go n-eiri leat!

207 votes in-getting there

63 votes to go in electoral college. This could be over by 4 all things going well. 67% of Latino vote going to Obama according to exit polls after all the nonsense about Latinos not coming ftrom Clinton to Obama. Even in Florida, he's getting 57% of Latinos including the Cuban immigrants-that's some going.
Come on let's be having Florida and put us out of our misery.
Texas called for McCain-would have been nice to bring it back blue but not tonight.

Now we're motoring-Ohio in

Looks like it's President elect Barack Obama. The great folks of Ohio came through for Obama and CNN are talking about McCain needing a miracle. They've switched off the telly at McCain campaign HQ and the lovely people at Fox TV are looking very glum indeed. Happy Days-so far!! Poor old Hank Williams Jr. gets to entertain at the Repuublican wake-give me the Bosss any day.

Senate Majority-Will they make it magic 60?

52 Senate seats called now. First Democratic majority for a while. If they get 60 life will be a lot easier for Obama. Hopefully they'll get there.

Pennsylvania In-Time to start the celebrations!!??

Can we start to breathe easily at last? Obama is predicted to take Penn State the first of the biggies and is leading in a few of the other crunch states. It looks like all my hopes of the last few years are coming true and that we will have Change at last. It also look like the Senate will come solidly blue at last too. Obama Abú. Here with Gary and Fionn and a big jug of coffee-burgers and bud have been consumed and Mar and Mark chickened out and hit the bed. Come on now give us Florida and Ohio. Still I'm not going to bed till McCain concedes-I remember 2000!!

Friday, October 31, 2008

The lads on tour-the evidence

Here's the evidence that the Kilkenny Labour lads were on tour last night. Gary Lynch and Declan O' Hanrahan are the best campaign workers you could wish to have and here they are campaigning against this miserable Government. We also attended the debate in Dáil Éireann. The only thing I'd change in the future is making sure we leave in time to get to Jo'burger, the best burger joint in the capital.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Green Party Hypocrisy on class sizes

Having just returned from Dublin and the well attended demonstration on the education cuts, I think you deserve to see this campaign ad from the Green Party- the party who couldn't bother to turn up to listen to the Labour Party motion in Dáil Éireann tonight. Listen to the young girl's first priority for her future.

The phrase "You can't handle the truth" comes to mind!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Budget Fun and Games

It's just like the good old Frank Hall days- the Minister for ruin comes in and tells us that they're all taking a 10% pay cut. I wouldn't mind taking a drop of 10% if I was on a quarter of a milliion a year. Now we're getting it though 2.5% increase in education and then a rise of €7 in pension payment. A fuel allowance incerase to a miserable €20 per week and for an extra 2 weeks-so much for tackling fuel poverty.

An end to the over 70's automatic medical card and cuts in entitlements to childrens allowance. On third level fees we'll wait for Batty Batt's report before they reintroduce fees!! Yet another focussed review of public service staffing.

A reduction in the number opf army barracks- I hope Kilkenny is not one. An end to decentralisation for Kilkenny I'd guess- a review in 2011! Three years away. So much for Charlie McCreevy's balloney in the chamber a few years ago.

Voluntary redundancy in the HSE- I'll bet it won't affect Brendan Drumm's cronies in senior management who got huge bonuses this year for doing very little.

Now for the green bit- a scheme to make houses warmer-to be welcomed for sure but how far will €20 m go? A carbon budget whatever that is form Gormless tomorrow. Won't hold our breath that that will have much exciting in it.

Now the real meat-taxes!

1% on all of us up to €100 k and 2% beyond that. An increase in VAT to 211/2%- now that will hit all lower income people disproportionately.

Air travel tax of a tenner-another five hours of free press coverage for Michael O' Leary's rantings coming up. 50 cent extra on the fags.

Mortgage interest relief up 5% for first time buyers-welcome for them and no harm to FF's building buddies either. No talk of measures to save young couples from the banks though.

Stamp duty on commercial property down from 9% to 6%-WHY??? Tax incentive to promote cycling to work and punishment for provision of car-park places. Bet that won't impact on the Leinster House car-park.

Local Government-€200 charge on all holiday houses and second houses for local Govt. About time! Is this the reintroducation of property tax or rates by stealth?

Agus ag deireadh-"Is ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine!". What a joke-not a mention of making the muti-millionaire off-shore billionaires behave like patriots and pay their tax to their own country. How ironic that Lenihan calls for a call to patriotic duty and abuses the memory of the Blasket Islanders in the process.

Watching Alan Kelly reacting for Labour. Nothing on Broadband- spot on!

50 cent on bottle of wine. Not sure about that one as all my friends will know!!

Increase in tax bands pathetic. €250 million for school buildings-will it be transparent or politically controlled and leaked on a drip-feed as Hanifin did?

Reaction from Vincent de Paul says it all-3% increase in pensions- increase in VAT as I said earlier on will hit the poorest hardest.

The real Michael Noonan is back-how did the FG handlers manage to destroy him when he became leader? Spot on on nursing home costs of additional €12,000 for those in nursing homes and real impact of removal of medical card over 70.

Labour's Reaction

Here's Eamon Gilmore's reaction-captures much of my own anger:

This is a budget that mercilessly targeted middle-income families, protected the interests of the super-wealthy and failed to take any significant steps to protect the poor and the vulnerable in the face of the worst recession facing this country for decades. Despite the fact that we are seeing the most serious increase in the numbers out of work ever recorded, there was not a single initiative in the budget to reverse the trend of job losses or to put people back into work or into education or training. The people who will suffer most as a result of this budget are typically the nurse, the teacher, the office manager, the skilled tradesman, the small builder: people struggling to make ends meet, to pay the mortgage each month, to cover the cost of childcare or sending a child to university, to meet the cost of drugs for a sick child. These families will pay more in tax and will have to pay more for a range of public services – and the full extent of these additional charges will only become clear over the next few days. The Social Welfare package is only about half that announced in last year’s budget and it is clear that those at the bottom will fall even further behind. While inflicting the maximum possible pain on middle income, working families, Mr. Lenihan has done little or nothing to ensure that the super wealthy, who have made vast fortunes over the past decade, the make the contribution they should to economic recover.

Back to the action
Richard Bruton is right-not a thing for reducing class sizes.
Here comes Joan Burton-how right she is-'Nightmare on Merrion Street'. Right too that it's an old-fashioned Haughey budget.
Nothing to get people back to work or retraining. Into the bonfire goes Social Justice-nothing for childcare for young parents-cutting ot back slowly but surely. No pre-school education left behind after the boom.
Minister won't feel the pain of ordinary working people-too right. Impact of medical card cuts-hospital charge up from €66 to €100.
€2 increase for fuel-the price of a box of firelighters! €16 for a bag of coal and only €20 in total. Well done Joan.
"The fundamentals of our economy are strong!".
She remembers it right and we are fed up of this Government taking no responsibility for the ,ess we are in. We know that it can't be good enough to say that the International crisis is at fault for the mess while Fianna Fáil were totally reponsible for the boom.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Reflections on my own campaign

It's time for us all to look at the way the Lisbon campaign panned out. First off the margin of the local vote was a small victory. To be one of only ten constituencies to vote Yes, if only by a margin of four votes at least gave us the satisfaction of quietening the Shinners at the count centre.
For my own part I was happy to be complimented on local radio as having run the best campaign in Kilkenny. I had a highly visible poster campaign in the city area, and dropped over 4,000 leaflets into most houses in the city. I managed to canvass almost 1,000 houses while doing a number of public street events also.
I was happiest with the photo opportunity I organised where Labour, Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Green party politicians came together to support the treaty.
To the negatives, the complaints from some about my poster design were valid. This was a National design, and the prominence of the Yes message was too small. The posters also failed to hit the simple message strategy that much of the No campaign did.
On reflection, we did spend far too much time on the defensive and teams which defend too much generally lose the game.
The failure to restate the gains we have made from EU membership, and the bravery to seek those benefits for other newer members was a mistake. The Yes campaign lacked a vision, a positive message to enthuse people. Many of those who we eventually persuaded to vote Yes did so reluctantly.
Finally, the campaign never showed serious intent. Brian Cowen's exhortations to his party to fight for the treaty like it was a General election just never happened. In our own party too, it was difficult to get members active. Maybe we all presumed thatthe voters wouldn't ' do Nice' on us and themselves again.we should never take them for granted again.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Bronach ataimid- a bad day's work

Rarely have I felt as depressed as I do today by a political decision. After three weeks of postering canvassing texting blogging and harrassing I have to reflect on the will of the Irish people. As a democrat I will defend the right of the people to make what I consider to be a disastrous mistake but I really am at a loss as to what will happen next.
There is a flippancy and even a bit of arrogance in our presuming that 'they'll put it right' and that we'll get another chance to prove ourselves 'Good Europeans' but I get the feeling watching EU leaders over the past 24 hours that we may have tested their patience once too often.
As a socialist and trade unionist I am appalled that Irish workers have given Margaret Thatcher and the European right the biggest political victory of this generation. The Social Charter has been the holy grail of the left and European Trade Union movement for all my adult and took twenty years to make it into the laws of Union. I hope Jack O' Connor, SIPTU and the so-called left-wingers in Sinn Fein and the Socialist party can find a way of explaining to my children how they talked their way out of the best list of workers rights ever secured for our community.
The ball is now in our court however and a few important questions now need to be answered:
1. Do we really want to be part of the EU or not. Being so while thinking we can reject complex treaties painstakingly negotiated by all the national Governments including our own doesn't sit well with that assertion.
2. What does democracy mean to us? The idea that we must uniquely insist on holding referenda every few years on complex agreements and reject them because 'I don't understand it' is puzzling to the citizens of the 26 other democracies who gave their elected Governments the right to interpret the treaty as being in their best interests. Are their politicians better or more trustworthy than ours? I for one am fed up of listening to people condemning our politicians yet walking out blindly as they did a year ago and putting them back into office.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Reasons to be Positive-Why Vote Yes on Thursday

Just my own story to start off with. In 1986 as Deputy President of the Union of Students in Ireland,I opposed the Single European Act, the first EU refendum in which I had a vote. I was convinced by the neutrality argument in particular, believing the stuff about a European army being created any day now!- See how much the message has changed?
Two things happened after that. Firstly I moved back to rural South Kerry in 1991 and began to see the reality of EU funding. As a community activist I saw the transformation for local communities brought about by funding through initiatives like the LEADER programme, which my wife managed in the area. The insistence by the EU on genuine community consultation and empowerment was totally different from National Government approaches. The EU really believes in 'bottom-up' development and the principle of subsidiarity or the making of decisions at local level,a message the people of disadvantaged communities were starving to hear.

Also at around the same time I watched along with the world as the people of Bosnia and Kosovo were slaughtered in one of the worst genocides of the 20th century, while we stood by along with the west, crippled by our so-called neutrality. I believed then and do now that our neutrality should be a force for good, not a Pontius Pilate reason for sitting on our hands while innocent people die, and yes if that means that we as Europeans should have a peace-keeping or even intervention force to prevent genocide, that's ok by me. Try reading Samantha Power's wonderful yet disturbing book on genocide if you need convincing.

Since Maastricht then I've been enthusiastically in favour of deepening European unity and will continue to fight for the world's most successful peace process in history.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

To the wire- less than 2% in it now.

What a system- the gap between Clinton and Obama is now just 20,000 votes and we're waiting for Lake County beside Chicago to decide whether Obama can make it a really unexpected double tonight. CNN and Fox both saying he can win it in theory. If he does it will be a huge shock and the Rev. Wright's apparent attempts at sabotage will not have worked. One interesting figure is that only 10% of Indiana's voters are black. For Obama to even come close to winning in a 90% non-black state is astonishing after the recent race controversy.

A cliffhanger-now who can't 'close the deal'?

3 hours after the polls closed in Indiana and Hillary hasn't 'closed the deal', as she accused Obama of failing to do in recent weeks.Looks like Obama is winning North Carolina by up to 20%, while the gap in indiana is down to 4% or just over 30,000 votes. It's fascinating to look at the polls in recent months in Indiana . Obama only led there briefly and only by a maximum of 5%. On the other hand Clinton led just three weeks ago by 16% in one poll. Obama's speech was fighting and answered some of the nonsense about his lack of patriotism. It also looks like the Rev. Wright stuff doesn't seem to have stuck. Could well be that tonight's the night the 'Comeback Kid 2' came unstuck.

Back on track-again

North Carolina is in and Barack Obama is back on track. Fox news and now CNN are calling North Carolina tonight for Barack Obama. They're also saying that Indiana is too close to call. He's won another major state, albeit a heavily black one. If he can keep it tight in Indiana, this race is still his to win. The other interesting thing from the exit polls tonight is that large numbers feel Hillary Clinton has been making unfair attacks in both states. Interesting night ahead!

On a related topic, saw a magic North Carolina group called Chatham County Line at the Rhythm and Roots festival at the weekend. If you've never been to this festival, you need to get here for the May bank-holiday weekend next year(remember the bank holiday the Labour Party gave you when we were in Government!). Wel done to John Cleere and company for a great weekend's music.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Nice coverage for the Blog

There I was last week wondering if in the eyes of the local journo's I had actually been at the Borough Council meeting, let alone lead a few important debates from the chair as acting Mayor for the night. Lo and behold, the roundabout overcame the swings yesterday and today with lovely pics from the opening of the coolest mart in the country at Cillin Hill, about which I shall write again, decent coverage of my raising of the disturbances to local communities, particularly in the Outrath area from so-caled 'Boy Racers', and best of all a smashing article by Katherine Blake in the Kilkenny People about politician's websites.

Katherine, who has her own website, gives me the 'Best Councillor's award' for this here Blog, and brought a few visitors in the past few days.
Giving credit where it's due by the way, hats off to a hugely improved Kilkenny People website. For a long time the doyen of the local media had a pretty difficult to negotiate site, which was often weeks out of date, but now it looks a whole lot brighter, and has all this wekk's contents already. The local free paper, the Kilkenny Advertiser has had a fabulous site since its launch, featuring the Pagesuite digital issue. Of course it makes all its money from advertising, where the People still has good old-fashioned paper sales as part of its revenue stream.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Amhrán an Nóimead-Léimigi thart a phleidhci

Seo amhrán na bliana domsa gan dabht agus clár teilifise na bliana chomh maith. Is brea liom, Deasún Mac an Easpaigh! ar aon nós agus tá a chlár 'In the name of the Fada' i mbéál gach éinne a bhuaileann tú leo.

Without Des Bishop's version of 'Jump Around'is proving to be the hit of the century so far in the teanga Gaeilge. Here he is performing live at the Oireachtas, a long way from the Oireachtas I remember. Lean ort Des, and get this single out soon. It's available as a free download on his website by the way, and here's the lyrics too. Bain sult as agus 'Leim Thart'

Léimigí Thart- Des Bishop

Dún do chlab, dún do bhéal
Éist le mo scéal, má cheapann tú go dtuigeann tú, tá tú ag cur i gcéill,
Tá mé ag dul go nua Eabhrac, ceangal mé le slabhra,
Goile a mhac, ná bí (ag caint anseo???) i lár an tsamhraidh
(súistí búistín buaille beag a phústín???)
ná bí i do phleidhce, nó gheobhaidh tusa léice
Níl mé ag iarraidh a' éisteacht le do chac-bó
damhsa damhsa gan aon stró
buachaillí gránna, cailíní boga dána
Ní thugann mise aird ar na gardaí síochána
Ag an gCeathrú rua, Amach anseo faoin dtuath
léim anois léim anois léim anois go luath
má tá sé mícheart, má tá sé mícheart, is cuma liom, is cuma liom,
léimigí thart!

léim thart! léim thart léim thart! léim thart léim thart! léim thart
Fág seo, éirigh as do pholl is léim thart!

Léim, léim, léim , chuile duine léim, léim, léim, gach duine léim, léim, léim, chuile dhuine léim, léim, léim

freastalóidh mé thú ar nós John McEnroe
má shiúlann do bhean suas, buailfidh mé an hó!
Cá bhfuil do chlann, cá bhfuil do chairde, cá bhfuil an ceol, (suas in airde???)
Agus díreach (ar do thuiscint, tá mé ag rith???)
Má fheiceann tú mise, (b’fhearr duit???) bagairt a rá
Mar tá mé ar nós Tom Cruise sa scannán sin top gun
Ní stopadh tú mise leis an Shotgun!
Má dhéanann tú 's cuí go luath
Agus beidh tú i do staic
Ní éiríonn tú arís go deo, sin an craic
Anois mo stór, éist le mo ghlór,
amach ar an urlár ar nós Peigín leitir mór
má tá sé mícheart, má tá sé mícheart srl

Is mise an fear is fearr, so tá mé thar barr,
Ní fheicfidh tú mise i mo sheasadh (as an lár???)
Ná ag an deireadh ach an oiread an taobh eile don droichid
má thagann siad chomh fada liom, cuireadh mise iad,
amach ar an bportach, agus iad ag baint mhóna,
Déardaoin, De hAoine, De Satharn De Domhnaigh,
Suas suas ‘s síos agus ar ais arís,
Dún do straois, tá sé salach agus clúdaithe le smaois
(Do héadan bheidh caillte , an teallach sin duitse???),
Fainic thú féin nó ní thógfaidh mé uaitse
Má tá sé mícheart, má tá sé mícheart srl

Tá mo homies as Conamara
M'abhailies, m'abhailies as Conamara

Muintir na Gaeltachta, agus muintir na hÉireann freisin, tá an réabhlóid ag teacht go luath

Sin é, sin é, sin é , sin é [TRÉIG]

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Samantha explains on Comedy Central-'Sorta'

Here's a great piece of fun from Comedy Central where the great Samantha Power gives her first interview after the 'Monster' controversy. As usual, she comes out shining. Looking forward to the new book.

Cleese offers Obama his talents

John Cleese today offered Barack Obama his talents as a speech writer. Here's his previous major input into politics- a weird and wonderful broadcast forthe SPD/Liberals in 1987. What about drafting him in Eamon?

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Time for a decent bus service to Cork-Join the campaign

Since my wife began working in Cork last year and a number of students have contacted me, I have been looking at the public bus service to Cork from Kilkenny and vice versa. Putting it mildly, the service is poor. As a supporter of public transport, I believe it is crazy for our national bus company to effectively make it more difficult to travel by public transport than by car.

Because of our mad radial train service where all lines radiate from Dublin and there are no connections in between, getting from Kilkenny to anywhere except Waterford and Dublin and points in between is not an option. To get to Cork or Kerry for instance you have to find your way to Thurles to the nearest train connection.

Back to the bus service which is the only option to Cork, the timetable is extraordinary. From Monday to Saturday, the fastest bus journey is 2 hours and 50 minutes, and that's only once a day in the morning. It arrives in Cork at 9.50 am, too late for work or for any half-conscienscious students. The other three journeys take between 3 hours and 5 minutes and an extraordinary 3 hours and 50 minutes.

At the weekend it's worse with the fastest journey taking 3 hours and 5 minutes, this the Sunday evening service most likely to be used by students. The reason for much of this is the decision to route the journey through rural South Tipperary. Putting it bluntly, the service is used to provide the people of Clogheen and Ballyporeen with a service. As a long-time rural activist I always support the provision of rural services, but surely it makes no sense to divert what should be an inter-city bus route through a rural hinterland, thus losing business in the process.

The campaign to change this begins now. I have just launched an online petition campaign to support a motion I have placed before Kilkenny Borough Council, calling on Bus Éireann to substantially improve the service. Please sign the petition here, and encourage your friends to do so also. If you're a UCC student, or a CIT student or you travel to work in Cork or from Cork to Kilkenny, please support the campaign. You could take up a petition in your college or workplace. I will begin campaigning amongst existing bus users this weekend. Please spread the word today

Na Maoinigh Ann Aris-On March Munster

Ar aghaidh le fathaigh na Mumhan. Cad é mar bhua nGloucester tráthnóna?Ach go háirithe b'é fear Chill Chainnigh agus iar-scoláire Ghaelscoil Osrai, Ian 'Skinny' Dowling ó Bhóthar Chaisleáin an Chumair a chuir seasmhacht le imirt an fhoireann leis an úd iontach a bhfuair sé sa chéad leath.

Onwards then to the semi-final against Ospreys or Saracens. Any tickets going a begging? Enjoy the night in Gloucester ye lucky Red Army.

Friday, April 04, 2008

He goes at last-Ahern not a corrupt man?

So here's the faces of Christmas past and Christmas present. Bertie Ahern finally called it a day yesterday. I had done the Late Night Live programme on Newstalk the night before which proved to be great fun and a lively debate. Unfortunately it's not podcasted on the Newstalk site. Presenter Declan Carthy opened by telling the nation that Bertie had won another major victory in the highcourt in oreventing the Mahon Tribunal from accessing some of the information about his finances. Having criticised Burke and Haughey previously for impeding and delaying the workings of previous tribunals, he had resorted to the same tactics himself and seemed to have succeeded. Declan's question though was simple. "Why is he doing this-what does he have to hide??"

Looks like Bertie copped this also in the last few days, and finally decided to do the right thing. I called publicly last September for the Taoiseach to resign, as I felt he was not being upfront with us as voters. In fact, I think Ahern got away with murder from the day he did his 'Cry me a river' routing with Brian Dobson on RTÉ television. I don't know what Dodson is like, but I do know that if Olivia O' Leary had conducted that interview, Ahern would hardly have survived till the last election, and we would likely have a different Government by now.

So what's Ahern's legacy? There's no doubt that he did a lot of good, particularly the cmpletion of the Good Friday Agreement negotiations ten years ago. He also presided over a Government in very fortunate economic circumstances. Pointing out that Ruairi Quinn left McCreevy and Ahern the first budget surplus for almost two decades is not taken well by FF's experts on thier 'Economic miracle'. The hard question though is what hos Government chose to do with such riches. The legacy of the self-proclaimed socilaist however has been one of extraordinary wasted opportunity, a growing divide between rich and poor, a third world health system, and now a floundering economy.

There's no doubt he was likeable, and worked hard at projecting the ordinary man image. I for one think he has been a poor Taoiseach, and that history will treat him a lot less kindly than the rose-tinted glasses of the past twenty four hours. Slán abhaile Bertie-bain taitneamh as an ciúnas.

Monday, March 31, 2008

On National Airwaves-Joining the Newstalk team on Tuesday night

Tomorrow night I'm on the national airwaves again for a full programme as a panel guest. The 'Late Night Live' programme is one I listen to regularly, particularly since Vincent Browne left the Radio 1 planet. I'm delighted to take part in this lively programme with Declan Carty in the chair.

The other guests tomorrow night are Tom Cooney of UCD and Tina Leonard of the European Consumers Centre in Dublin. Should make for a lively time from 10 pm to 11.30 pm. Do join in to comment for good or bad.

Well done to health marchers-Only the start

I couldn't make it to the Health service demonstration on Saturday in Dublin due to family commitments but hats off to those who took part. The Health Service Unions represent those who work at the coal face of Irish health every day. They took the initiative on Saturday, and were joined in strength by the Labour Party and others on the left.

The highlight of the day I believe was the speech by Kilkenny resident Conor MacLiam, husband of the late Susie Long whose tragic death brought so much of the injustice and inequlaity of the health servie to the fore. Conor gave a fantastic interview on the Sue Nunn show on KCLR local radio this morning, and made it clear that he believes that this campaign should continue. I hope to be there next time, and we owe that to Susie and all those who have suffered at the hands of this unjust system.

Labour Leader Eamon Gilmore also joined the ongoing weekly picket at the Mater Hospital in my old constituency of Dublin Central. Most importantly, the picket highlights the apalling conditions in the A&E department in the hospital. My late brother in law Gregg Flannery passed away in that unit three years ago, and if ever I needed a clear example of the disgrace of the system, it was the sight of his family members sitting on plastic chairs in the hospital yard in the time of their greatest distress because there was nowhere for them inside.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Join the Health march on Saturday

This Saturday, March 29th there will be two major Health Rallies in Dublin City Centre and in Tallaght.

The Tallaght Hospital protest is at 1pm but if you're a Labour member or supporter in the neighbouring constituencies you can come at 12.30pm to the County Hall, Belgard Square North (adjacent to gate of Tallaght Hospital)

The National Rally takes place in Dublin City Centre. All Labour members and supporters are to meet at 2.30pm at the very latest at the Garden of Remembrance, Parnell Square.

This is one of the most important demonstrations possibly sine the anti-war demo's of 5 years ago. Let's turn up the heat on Harney and Ahern.

Sign the Tibet petition

Just got this message about an Internet petition on the attacks on Tibet by the Chinese Government tonight. Read ot please and try to sign up.

Von: Ricken Patel - Avaaz.org [mailto:avaaz@avaaz.org]
Gesendet: 27 March 2008 12:00
An: a9509611@yahoo.de
Betreff: Tibet: 4 days left!

  Dear friends,

We reached our target! In just 7 days over 1 million of us have signed the petition calling for human rights and dialogue in Tibet--the fastest growing internet petition in history. As the crisis continues, it's time to deliver our petition and make sure Chinese President Hu Jintao hears our voices.

An International Day of Action has been declared for Monday, March 31st. On Monday, thousands of people in cities across the world will march to Chinese embassies and consulates, and stack hundreds of boxes containing our petition outside them. 1 million signatures makes a mountain of boxes--it will send a powerful global message.

We have just 4 days left until the petition delivery. Could we get to 2 million signatures in 4 days? We can do it--if every one of us recruits at least one more friend to sign the petition by forwarding the email below.


Dear friends,

After decades of repression, the Tibetan people are crying out to the world for change. The Olympic spotlight is now on China, and Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama is calling to end all riots and violence through restraint and dialogue.

China's hardliners are lashing out publicly at the Dalai Lama--but many Chinese leaders believe dialogue is the best hope for stability in Tibet. The government is right now considering a crucial choice between repression and dialogue that could determine Tibet's--and China's--future.

We can affect this historic choice--President Hu Jintao values China's reputation, and he needs to hear from us that the 'Made in China' brand and the upcoming Olympics in Beijing will succeed only if he chooses dialogue over the hardliners' repression. An avalanche of global people power is moving to get his attention. In just one week, over 1 million people have signed our petition, which will be delivered in rallies at Chinese embassies worldwide on Monday--click below to join the global outcry, and then forward this email to friends and family right away:


China's economy is dependent on "Made in China" exports that we all buy, and the government is keen to make the Olympics in Beijing this summer a celebration of a new and respected China. China is also a sprawling, diverse country with much brutality in its past, so it has good reasons to be concerned about stability--some of Tibet's rioters killed innocent people. But President Hu must recognize that the greatest danger to Chinese stability and development today comes from hardliners who advocate escalating repression, not from those Tibetans seeking dialogue and reform.

The Tibetan people have suffered quietly for decades. It is finally their moment to speak--we must help them be heard.

With hope and respect,

Ricken, Pascal, Graziela, Iain, Paul, Galit, Milena, Ben and the whole Avaaz team

Here are some links with more information on the Tibetan protests and the Chinese response:

Reuters reports unrest continues:

China allows first journalists back into Lhasa, monks speak out:

Europe and the US step up calls for dialogue:

Prominent Chinese Intellectuals call for fair approach to Tibet:

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Happy to meet -Sorry to part

Here's a little pic I took today on the Blackberry outside Barnstorm's wonderful kids theatre in Kilkenny. One of my favourite groups was the wonderful Horslips from the 70's and 80's This is one album I don't own however, and must buy. The person who dumped this might have had good taste but should have held onto this one.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Bumped off by Paisley-Learning about media operations

Really funny day last Tuesday. I turned up to Lyrath Hotel at lunchtime with Caoilfhionn and her friend Alan, because the Irish Hotels Federation wanted two kids to promote their great new initiative to provide decent healthy food for kids, as an alternative to the chips and sausages, chips and fish fingers etc. diet which has been the bain of all us parents' lives.

Dressed as I was for a gardening session at school, I was fairly shocked to deiscover that RTÉ wanted to talk to me as a parent. Anyway, we ploughed on, and all were happy with the short interview with the two kids and myself. Unfortunately, the start of the 6 o' clock news on Tuesday evening featured the breaking news that the 'Big Man' Ian Paisley had announced he was standing down as leader of the DUP. The end result of course was that he occupied half the Six One news and the 9 o' clock news and we got 'bumped off' as the journo's would say.

Try explaining that to an eleven year old. Her reply was 'That bloody Paisley!' Her late great-grandfather would be proud of her! Just for the record, here's the piece which made RTE's great News2Day, the kids news programme on The Den.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Twelve in a Row-Vermont in for Obama

Here we go again. Tonight's the night when we see the real picture. Having lived in New Hampshire for a little while back in the student summer, it looks like the nice people of Vermont have done what was expected. By the look of the exit polls, he's taking the white voters there comfortably, and doing very well with women. Twenty minutes to go to close of Ohio which will really tell what's happening.

Great profile of Samantha Power that magical woman who stunned St. Canice's cathedral in August in the Irish Times today. Forget the national security advisor job Samantha-what about the Phoenix Park instead, and then the top top job in the UN?Here's a really bad mobile pic from that great night.

Jaysus-too close to call in Ohio. RTÉ reporting earlier that Clinton had pulled ahead in last polls in Ohio, maybe up to 8% ahead. Now CNN saying it's 'competitive'. Long few hours to go methinks.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Cleaning up and helping out-Robertshill the spot

It's great when neighbours get together and do things for themselves. The Robertshill estate on the Western side of Kilkenny city has had more than its share of detractors over the years, most of the coverage it gets being pretty unfair. It's one of the biggest private estates in the city area, mostly made up of starter homes and medium priced apartments and homes.

The quality of finish in the estate is not the best and the residents have long been frustrated at a number of issues including a lack of adequate parking, speeding traffic, poor landscaping and consistent problems with illegal dumping and rubbish.

Fair play to my colleague, Cllr. Malcolm Noonan, who helped the residents organise a meeting with a view to setting up a formal residents association. I missed the first public meeting, but I hope to be there this Wednesday night when the group formalises itself.

Meanwhile, Malcolm, along with Cllr. John Coonan and I came along to give a practical hand out with the greoup's first activity-a clean-up of the estate on Saturday morning. A group of about forty people gave up their Saturday morning to sweep the roads and paths, remove the weeds and get together for a chat in the process.

It was great to see many of the non-national residents, who are often criticised for neglecting the homes they rent or own, playing their part.

Hopefully it's the start of many days of co-operation to come. By the way, thanks a million to the lovely lady who provided the welcome tea and coffee at the end.

Here she is with the equally lovely John Coonan who needs all the publicity he can get!

Computer says I'm a socialist-Phew!!

Well thanks be to God for that. Just when I was beginning to believe the propaganda-only joking! Seriously take the test for the craic, and see how you get on. Just watching Gay Mitchell on Q&A-don't think he'll be in the same corner as me-I hope!!

You are a

Social Liberal
(68% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(13% permissive)

You are best described as a:

Socialist (13e/68s)

Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also : The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Have to moderate comments due to crap!!

Sorry folks but I'll have to moderate comments from here on. Don't know about other bloggers but this one has been targetted by some pretty nasty spammers and spyware stuff in past couple of weeks. If you're reading this spammers, lay off please.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Meeting the Milk Cart

Here is the ultimate childish comedy fan's pic. On the road to Callan on Thursday, Fionn, Caoilfhionn and I came across the wonderful milk-cart from Fr. Ted-remember the manic scene with Fr. Dougal driving the cart around like a demented lunatic á la the movie Speed.

The cart is being pushed around Ireland to raise funds for Downs Syndrome Ireland and to mark the 10th anniversary of Dermot Morgan's death, and is getting a fantastic reaction everywhere.

Here's the famous clip that you shoud remember-what magic it was, and do support the lads and lassies organised and sponsored by Paddy Power bookmakers when they come to a place near you.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Potomac night-Yes he will again

The night of the states around the Potomac area has started well with Obama cruising to a clear win by the look of it-he's on 61% to Clinton's 38% so far. CNN now saying it'as 1,164 to 1,159 delegated but the lead of only 5 is down to her lead in Super-delegates. He's won 19 to 14 states so far, and as he says it's 'coast to caost, sea to shining sea'. Dsitrict of Columbia with no exit polls and only a tiny amount of votes in.

CNN saying McCain just barely winning Virginia.

It's just happened he's pulled ahead by 2 delegates-including the Super delegates. In fact he's 1,104 to 834 ahead on the pledged delegates. That's almost 20% ahead. Great quote from Donna Brazille on CNN- "he's moved from the Starbucks latte types to the Dunkin' Donuts types".
Here come's Hilary-looks a bit rattled to me. Hammering the vets support, and now the young democrats. She's in El Paso-the real one now, not Dundalk.
'All hat, no cattle', is she off again on inexperience? Trying to answer the charges of having done little in early life. Kept it relatively clean so far, I think not for long though!
Here it goes-he's taken Maryland as well, as we expected. And McCain for republicans. It's beginning to feel like we might be looking at these faces until November. Once again it's a state where Obama's overturned a big Clinton poll lead.
And now DC (75% to 23%!!!) as well-his line is great- we have won DC but we won't stop till we have real change in Washington DC.
He's taking the battle direct to McCain now-that's what I call confidence, and what a crowd. Tonight he decidedly looks like the real deal!
A $4,000 tuition grant but only for students who commit to community and voluntary service. I wonder how that would play with the gang in the student bars tonight.

The video for me-what ya think?

Thanks to politics.ie for this one. I don't have the metal hand, but the vertically challenged bit does count. Meanwhile I'll be on p.ie and blogging here tonight on the US stuff. A rotten dose of the flu has me up and coughing my way through the night.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Best political video of all time?

Recently some of us were reminiscing about the famous Eoghan Harris videos for the Mary Robinson presidential campaign. The best of these was the Nessun Dorma video in grainy black and white. Doesn't seem to be available on net-anyone got it anywhere? I've never seen one as good as this one however. Here we see of stars including Scarlett Johansson, John Legend, Herbie Hancock, Kate Walsh, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Adam Rodriquez, Kelly Hu, Adam Rodriquez, Amber Valetta and Nick Cannon. All this is produced by will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas, and the son of the legend, Jesse Dylan.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Damien does it-well done old school-mate

For a very small post-primary school we haven't done too badly. Tonight the latest school star steps forward. Damien Foxall of Caherdaniel was a couple of years behind me in Waterville Vocational School, with less than 100 other students. Like his Dad Roger, and his wonderful late Mum Susan, Damien had an incredible love of the sea, living as he did just yards from the pier at Bun a' Bhaile, in the townland of the family of our other great sportstar, Mick O' Dwyer. Ever since then, he's been a star on the rise.

Tonight in Barcelona, Damien and his fellow skipper Jean-Pierre Dick won the first ever double-handed round the world race. It's an incredible achievement and one that all of us South Kerry people are delighted with and proud of. Enjoy the steak and chips Damien, and if you get to read this, go around the corner to Set Portes and have a paella on top!!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

On we roll!

Obama gets Alabama according to Fox, although they hedged their bets for a while CNN much slower with these calls. According to polls Clinton was 3 points up here during week. Looks like Niall O' Dowd will struggle fot the 17 wins he was looking for tonight. The shake-out of the delegates will be more important. Hillary can win Massachusetts but Obama can still get nearly half the delegates there.

Kansas called for Obama too now on CNN. They're saying no major lead for either tonight. CNN now calling both Mass and Jersey for Clinton. Final delegates will be vital here.

North Dakota to Obama now also. Small states coming his way, but needs a biggie. Connecticut would be nice-nose just in front there.

Yippee-Connecticut just called for Obama by Fox. Very close but polls had her ahead by 3 but that's gone. CNN now calling Connecticut(although close) and Kansas for Obama- seven states out of the 24 tonight in his box already.

Another big one in now. Obama wins Minnesota-88 delegates to play for there.

Arizona and California called for Clinton. As Seán Óg Ó Ceallacháin would say-'Sin a' bhfuil de chúrsai spoirt'. Here's to seeing the number of delegates stay close, and for Missouri to come in next hour. Meanwhile it looks like Obama has won 14 out of 24 states tonight. He needed one of NY, NJ or Cal, but hopefully there's still a lot to fight for-"Yes we can-maybe!!"

Let us know what you think

Plenty of visitors here tonight. Give us a few comments-come on!!

Here it comes-9 states come in

Now let's see the real action, 9 states to come in and about to be called on the basis of the polls-let's see Jersey and Massachusetts. CNN going Republicans first- He gets Illinois, but loses Oklahoma, both as expected. They're not calling anything else yet. Come on, give us the big ones!!

Georgia called now-again no surprises. Polls giving Obama 50-34% beforehand.

Here comes Arkansas-Clinton takes it-no surprise again, and Huckabee, former governer here takes it. She takes Tennessee also as predicted. CNN saying she's holding in Clinton country.

Fox calling Massachusetts for Clinton but CNN not doing so yet. They're giving her NY though-huge one that she would have been shocked to lose.

Obama wins Delaware-only 23 votes in total but still! Fox now calling New Jersey for Cinton-looks like it may be going her way!!! She's holding in the biggies so far!

Good start to long night

First state called and it's Georgia to Obama. No surprise in a win for him here but the scale might be important. Polls gave him 50-34% lead but some exit polls have it at 64-30%. Let's wait and see but this news could boost him in West where polls open for hours yet.

Meanwhile the most mind-blowing moment of the campaign so far was this week's edorsement of Obama by the Kennedys-the royal family of bothe Democratic and in many ways American politics. Teddy Kennedy's speech was magic, but for me it was Caroline's speech as John F's daughter which really hit home. Have a look here and see what you think.

Tickets in the paw

Got em-thanks be to God and Willie-Meighan that is! At 9.03 yesterday, got the magical 4 tickets for Clapton at the Live at the Marquee festival on June 20th. To the wiseguy in Cork that suggested he should be playing in old folks homes I say come along and see this sixty-something do things with a strat that the young lads can only dream about. Roll on June and a chance to see the king of the blues up close and personal.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Waiting for God-ohhhh

Must be mad. On my ownio here in Kieran Street in early morning and it's all Peter Aiken's fault. You see he's got God to come to Cork. I know Cork people all think they're God already but this time it's the real thing and he hasn't played in Ireland for nearly twenty years. I refer of course to Eric Clapton. Everybody has one teenage musical hero, and this is mine. I've only seen him live once and that involved a trip to the wonderful Royal Albert Hall in London in 2001. Now there's a chance to see him in front of just 5,000 peoiple at the Live at the Marquee festival in Cork this June. Failing that it'll be Malahide Castle the following day, but a chance to see Clapton in such a small venue doesn't come along too often. Anyway it looks like he'll be the only one playing in Cork this year!!!

So here goes. Another two hours to wait for the magical Willie Meighan ar the magical Rollerrcoaster Records-the best little record shop in the East. No other lunatics joined me yet, but there will be more to follow I'm sure. Can anyoine get us a coffee please?

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Getting the basics wrong-give people OT

Figures I've got today from my old constituency colleague and our current health spokesperson Róisin Shortall TD show an outrageous 1,363 people in Carlow/Kilkenny, including 364 children are waiting for occupational therapy while eight OT posts remain unfilled in the area. Occupational Therapy is a crucial part of the treatment of people with disabilities and mobility difficulties, yet Mary Harney, Minister for Health and Brendan Drumm, as the boss of the HSE can decide to just not fill jobs which provide this basic service to people who really need it.

I've already highlighted the effect this has had on services like the provision of cervical smear tests for women. Why is it that we care so little about such basic services. The so-called agenda for change in the health service has left us with precious little change in the top-heavy administration, but is having a serious impact on services for ordinary patients.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Past the 4,000-Keep Visiting

Great news for the ohargain blog. You and your like-minded or equally inquisitive spirits have brought the visitor figures to this site to 4,000. Just as interesting is where you're coming from. The past week for instance have seen 54 visitors from Ireland(Hi to my Borough Council colleagues who drop in occasionally!), 15 from the US, doubtless because of the Obama blogs, and 11 from the UK. Further afield there are 2 each from France, Canada and New Zealand, while my South American regular visitor seems to be in Argentina these days!

Anyway thanks to all for visiting, and 'tar ar ais go minic', come back regularly please.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Change in the air-Obama does it in Iowa

This politics thing is insane. Here I am, back from the Kingdom, having had a politics free fortnight and a great time with Mar and the kids and my parents. Yet here I am at almost three in the morning, watching the intrigue of politics three thousand miles away. From the day three years ago when I picked up Barack Obama's book in an airport in San Francicso, I've been hugely excited by this extraordinary young African American Democrat. I have believed that he can give Hilary Clinton a real run for her money in the Democratic primaries.
In the last ten minutes it's becoming a reality. Both CNN and our beloved Fox News have just called the state for Obama, with an astonishing 7% lead over John Edwards and Clinton. He now has 37%, to 30% each for the others. The turnout is huge, and a real indication of hope is that the number of young people turing out is the best in years.
On RTE's Primetime programme tonight, Samantha Power, that magical Irish woman who packed St. Canice's Cathedral in August called it like this. The infectious enthisiasm she had then and now may just prove right. For those of us enthusiastic about how new ideas and a lack of sticking with the old ways of doing things in politics, a guy who has only been a Senator for three years but who's now threateningfto become the US' first ever black President breathes life into politics. Roll on New Hampshire!