Last Friday the House of Bishops of the Church of England published a report entitled “Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations“. It runs to 19 pages and was eagerly awaited by those of us interested in the debate on LGBT+ relationships in the Anglican Communion. The report will be the subject of a ‘takes note’ debate at General Synod in February.
I for one am despondent due to its tone and content. It suggests no change for the church nor does it paint a path forward for anything to change. The language is non-inclusive and full of otherness. It talks of “Same-Sex Attraction” rather than Same-Sex Relationships. It complete ignores Bisexuality.
Now I am not a stake holder in the Church of England, but I am part of the wider Anglican Communion. I have been lucky to make friends in the Church of England, Gay and Straight. I am part of organisations for LGBT+ Christians in the UK and Ireland. Seeing this report and seeing the pain of my LGBT+ Anglican siblings in England is heart wrenching. I cannot remain silent and want to point you in a few directions where people have written responses to the report and some give ideas for going forward.
the build up for Eurovision has really begun this week as we are about 100 days from the start of Eurovision Song Contest 2017 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Yesterday the Logo and slogan for the 62nd Eurovision Song Contest were announced and this morning the semi-final allocation draw took place.
43 countries will take part in this years contest which sees Portugal and Romania returning to the contest, while Bosnia & Herzegovina withdraws due to financial issues at its national broadcaster.
Australia return for their 3rd appearance at the Song Contest which will take place at the International Exhibition Centre in Kyiv on the 9th, 11th and 13th of May.
The logo and slogan this year are for the theme “Celebrate Diversity” and this is something close to the heart for many Eurovision fans. The logo is based on a Namysto, a Ukrainian bead necklace which was used as a protective amulet and symbol of also builds on last years theme of “Come Together”
Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest, Jon Ola Sand said: “The notion of celebrating diversity builds on last year’s theme of ‘Come Together’ and is at the heart of Eurovision values: it is all-inclusive and all about countries around Europe, and beyond, joining together to celebrate both our common ground and our unique differences, as well as some great music”.
He continued: “Incorporating this beautiful and meaningful logo based on a traditional amulet gives not only a sense of history and heritage but also a modern look and feel. As the production grows from these themes, we are very much looking forward to seeing what is sure to be a fantastic event in May.”
This morning the draw took place for the Semi-Finals. Countries were drawn for which half they would be in, as the running order will be decided by the production staff. 18 Countries will compete in Semi-Final One, while 19 will compete in Semi-Final Two. 10 countries will advance to the Grand Final on May 13th where six countries are pre-qualified. They are the host’s Ukraine and the Big Five countries, France, Italy, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom.
Semi-Final 1 May 9th
Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom will vote in this semi-final
Semi Final 2
France, Germany and the Ukraine will vote in this Semi-Final
I’m looking forward to this years contest! Look out for more posts on the contest as we get closer to May!
I’m fed up with politics these days.
I’m fed up of the shouting on Twitter and Facebook.
I’m fed up of people playing the man not the ball.
I’m fed up of people being cut down because you disagree with them on one issue, while agreeing with them on many more.
I’m fed up.
Why do we think we can win arguments by shouting on social media, or only dealing with those we agree with creating our own echo chambers?Why do we think that certain issues are defining issues, then ignore them after a month? Why do we only complain, yet never offer solutions?
This is why I’m fed up.
Politics has changed. Its changed into something I no longer recognise. I used to feel at home in the political sphere, staying up at night discussing issues, disagreeing with friends and family, yet always having respect.
The respect is gone.
Now I don’t feel at home talking politics. While I’m still interested and always will be. I’m not as comfortable discussing issues. Why? Cause more and more people are appealing to opinions rather than fact. To populist causes rather than solutions that will work.
We need to get real.
Yes, things aren’t great for a lot of people. Can they be fixed overnight? No. We need to engage. We need to talk, debate and argue to discern the best course of action for those who need the most action.
All parties and those not members of parties are guilty of this.
We are too quick to judge, quick to argue, yet not quick enough to consider. I too am guilty of this. But its something we all need to do.
I find myself on a political island, assailed by both the loud right and the loud left. I find myself defending views that I thought were widely held and see friends who I used to have debates and political disagreements with on this same Island having the same problems. How did it come to this?
Is it education? Populism? Or is it for some people when they are fed up they lash out?
We can do better.
We all can do better.
I’m not leaving politics, but I am leaving any hopes I had of a political career. I am not able. Somethings are more important. But I have a voice and I will use it. I will support the causes I care about and I will remain a member of Fine Gael.
It’s not very often I find myself as an Irishman quoting Oliver Cromwell, but the latest revelations on Donald Trump’s relationships with and views on Women give me no choice. I am a firm believer in the party system, and believe that true debate of ideas and polices make the eventual winner of an election a better one as they have been tried and tested.
In the US Presidential Election this year there is no true debate. One side have detailed policies and ideas of the future, the other feeds off the anger of those left behind, both economically and socially, but has no true plan to fix what ails them.
In the past I have supported (from afar) candidates from both major parties in the United States. This year, I have made no secret of my support of Hillary Clinton and now I feel that if this election is to be a true election, with debate on ideas and policies then Donald Trump must resign as the Republican Nominee for President and be replaced with a candidate with true conservative credentials and the ability to lead the country. Whether that is his running mate Governor Mike Pence or another Republican such as Speaker Paul Ryan that is an issue for the Republican National Committee.
Mr Trump has proven time and again that he does not have the temperament or the ability to lead a country. He has maligned Women, Immigrants, the Disabled and Muslims. He has continued his candidacy through events which would have felled better men, but as he knows no humility and has surrounded himself with ‘Yes Men’ he has continued his campaign.
Mr Trump’s comments about women in the Hot Mic episode is a description of Sexual Assault. Nothing else. It is not locker room banter. It is not excusable for any man, whether a “star” or not to treat a women in the way Mr Trump describes.
America deserves better than Mr Trump. America deserves a debate on its futures and the ideals its holds dear. America deserves a better candidate for the President then the current Republican Nominee. America deserves a real apology from Mr Trump, not an apology that turns political by drawing in President Bill Clinton. That is not a true and real apology.
With less than a month to the Election Day on November 8th and Early Voting begun in a number of states, a solution is needed urgently. Mr Trump if he has any humility would resign as the nominee and withdraw from politics. I for one do not see Mr Trump displaying that type of humility, or humility in any form. He has failed to do so throughout this campaign.
All this brings to mind another quote, one from Joseph Welch in response in Senator McCarthy during the Army hearings. “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”
I fear that along with humility, Donald Trump does not have any decency and it would be a tragic day for America were he to be elected to the highest office in the United States of America.
So of late its been a bit quiet here on the blog, but then again I haven’t not been writing. I have a few pieces up on the UCC Express Website that may be of interest to some of you. I have also started to write about sport, which is a change for me and an interesting challenge.
“I’ve been waiting all week for this. A Saturday night out with the boys. Maybe I’ll meet someone. Always a chance of that in Pulse”
Replace ‘Pulse’ in the above with any gay club or bar in any city around the world and that is probably the thoughts of some those there. It’s normally similar to mine on Friday or Saturday night out in Cork.
But for those attending Pulse in Orlando, Florida on Saturday night, it all ended so differently, so tragically. when a gunman opened fire and killed 50 people, and injured countless others. Members of the LGBT*Q Community, just like me.
It’s hard to figure out mu feelings on this. I’m hurt, angry, heartbroken, shocked, vulnerable and sad. I’m angry that this could happen. That someone could target people just because of who they are, who they love, how they were created.
But we cannot respond in kind. We cannot blame a particular religion, or all religions, for one man’s actions. We must be better than this. If we react to hate with hate, then hate wins. Martin Luther King speaking in 1963 said
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction … The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.
We must now reach out the hand of comfort to out LGBT*Q Brothers and sisters in Florida who are hurt, grief-stricken, and scared. We must reach out to those who mourn the loss of family friends and friends. We must also look out for those in the world-wide LGBT*Q Community for whom the fear of attacks, rape and murder are a daily fear.
But on the other hand we must also reach out the hand of understanding to our Muslim Brothers and Sisters here and the US as they face the inevitable backlash due to one man’s actions.
We in the LGBT*Q Community must continue to stand tall, roar loudly to be treated equally, demand our place in the Public Square, and not bow our heads in shame because of who we are pr who we love. We must do this, not just for ourselves, but those worse off. The members of the LGBT*Q Community who still live in countries where it is illegal to be gay, for LGBT*Q Muslims, and for LGBT*Q Refugees.
Those of us in religions must continue to work hard to ensure an affirming welcome for all in our churches, temples, mosques and synagogues. This work isn’t easy, nor should it be. But we cannot put limits on God’s love that is open to all.
This evening the Taoiseach’s 11 nominees to Seanad Eireann were announced. They are as follows:
Paudie Coffey (former Senator, Dáil Deputy and Minister of State)
Joan Freeman (Founder of Pieta House)
Michelle Mulherin (former Dáil Deputy)
Ray Butler (former Dáil Deputy)
Frank Feighan (former Senator and Dáil Deputy)
John O’Mahony (former Dáil Deputy)
Dr James Reilly (Former TD and Minister)
Billy Lawless (advocate for Irish immigrants in the U.S.)
Colette Kelleher (CEO Alzheimers Ireland)
Pádraig Ó Céidigh (Businessman)
Marie-Louise O’Donnell (Former Senator)
Joan Freeman, Colette Kelleher and Pádraig Ó Céidigh were all nominated by the request of Fianna Fail.
One are that has been completely overlooked is that now Tipperary is the only county in Ireland which does not have a Fine Gael national representative. This will make it hard for Fine Gael to regain a seat in this constituency.
The first meeting of the new Seanad will take place on Wednesday 8 June at 3pm.
Today an Taoiseach Enda Kenny announced the appointments of Junior Ministers which were agreed at Cabinet today. They are as follows
Minister of State for European Affairs, Data Protection and the E.U. Single Digital Market– Dara Murphy, Cork North Central, (Departments of the Taoiseach, Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Justice and Equality)
Minister of State for Financial Services, eGovernment and Public Procurement – Eoghan Murphy, Dublin Bay South, (Departments of Finance, and Public Expenditure and Reform)
Minister of State for Tourism and Sport – Patrick O’Donovan, Limerick County, (Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport)
Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal – Damien English, Meath West, (Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government)
5. Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs and Natural Resources – Sean Kyne, Galway West, (Departments of Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht, and Climate Change, Communications and Natural Resources)
Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture – Andrew Doyle, Wicklow, (Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine)
Minister of State for Employment and Small Business– Pat Breen, Clare, (Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation)
Minister of State for Training and Skills – John Halligan, Waterford, (Departments of Education, and Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation)
Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People – Helen McEntee, Meath East, (Department of Health)
Minister of State for Health Promotion – Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, Offaly, (Department of Health)
Minister of State for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief– Sean Canney, Galway East, (Department of Public Expenditure and Reform)
Minister of State for the Diaspora and Overseas Development Aid – Joe McHugh, Donegal (Departments of the Taoiseach, and Foreign Affairs and Trade)
Regional Economic Development – Michael Ring, Mayo, (Department of Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht)
Minister of State for Communities and the National Drugs Strategy– Catherine Byrne, Dublin South-Central, (Health, and Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht)
Minister of State for Justice with special responsibility for Equality, Immigration, and Integration – David Stanton, Cork East, (Department of Justice and Equality)
These appointments are in addition to the three Ministers of State who were appointed when the Government was formed – Regina Doherty, Finian McGrath and Paul Kehoe.
The total number of Junior Ministers now stand at 18. Of those 3 are Independent TDs (Finian McGrath, John Halligan and Sean Canney) and the other 15 are members of Fine Gael.
Congratulations to Jamala and the Ukraine on winning the 61st Eurovision Song Contest! This is the Ukraine’s second Eurovision win. They first won the contest in 2004 when Ruslana and her “Wild Dances” stormed Eurovision.
In the best contest in years, Jamala’s “1944”, a song about the deportation of Crimean Tartars by Stalin, showed how a strong song that stands out from the crowd can win the Song Contest.
Petra, Mans and everyone involved at SVT put on an amazing show! I adored the Interval act! Ukraine’s NTU have a tough act to follow!
The voting sequence was fantastic. The new voting system led to real suspense right up to that last moment!
Going into the televote Australia had a commanding lead of 109 points over the Ukraine. Many thought it would be insurmountable, but Australia were not as popular with the televote as they were with the Juries as they came 4th in that vote.
Seeing Poland jump from 2nd last with 7 points from the juries to 8th place thanks to the televote really shows the beauty of this new voting system!
Russia narrowly won the Televote as they received 361 points to the Ukraine’s 323 but when added to the televote the Ukraine won with 534 points!
Ukraine now hold the record for the most points for a Eurovision winner beating Alexander Rybak’s 387 point total for “Fairytale” in 2009. In fact the top 3 this year beat that score!
This year was the first year that the winner of the Contest did not win either the Jury or the Televote! The Ukraine finished second in both.
But the Ukraine did win the most Douze points at the contest getting 17. They received 12 points from the 11 Juries, those were Bosnia Herzegovina, Denmark, Georgia, Israel, Latvia, FYR Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, San Marino, Serbia and Slovenia. While Ukraine topped the televote in six countries, those were Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Poland and San Marino.
Russia got 14 Douze Points (4 Jury, 10 televote) while Australia got 12 (9 Jury, 3 televote).
Bloc voting was all over the place. It was near impossible to predict where 12 points were going to go. Norway not giving a single point to Sweden in the Jury vote was a prime example!
Ooooh, Sweden and Norway have fallen out! This is HUGE! Sweden u ok hun?
Russia did win the 1st Semi-Final beating Armenia, while Malta finished in 3rd. While in the 2nd Semi Final Australia beat the eventual winners Ukraine (2nd) with Belgium coming 3rd.
How did Ireland vote?
The Irish Jury wasn’t very good at picking a winner and failed to give the Ukraine a single point!! They in fact ranked it 15th! Belgium got the top marks from the Jury in both the Grand Final and the 2nd Semi-Final. They finished 10th overall. Lithuania, who finished 9th, won the Televote vote for both the Final and the Semi-Final The Irish televote had a bit more sense and ranked it 4th so it got 7 points.
The Grand Final Irish Jury Vote:
United Kingdom 7
Czech Republic 2
The Grand Final Irish Televote
United Kingdom 3
Ireland’s Nicky Byrne who failed to qualify for the final from the 2nd Semi-Final finished 15th with 46 points finishing 1 point ahead of Albania!
So we are off to the Kyiv next year where 7 countries have already confirmed their participation. They will have a hard act to follow after the amazing job done by SVT and the hosts Petra Mede and Måns Zelmerlöw!
I can’t promise this is the last Eurovision post this year as Ireland takes part in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in Malta later this year!
Tonight the Grand Final of the 61st Eurovision Song Contest 2016 gets under way in Stockholm. 26 countries have made it to the final. 10 from each of the two Semi-Finals and 6 who are automatically qualified. The hosts Sweden, and the Big Five France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.
The Semi’s produced some interesting results, with Greece and Bosnia Herzegovina missing out on qualification for the first time since the introduction of the Semi-Finals. While the Czech Republic qualified for the final for the first time since they joined the contest in 2007.
The running order was released yesterday morning and the Juries voted last night. Tonight is up to us!
What we know about tonight is that we have a wide-ranging interval act that includes Justin Timberlake! I’m sure SVT will put on a show to remember! I can’t wait!
SVT along with Petra Mede and last years winner Måns Zelmerlöw have kept us entertained all week and we expect the same tonight!
But the big question is, who will win the Eurovision Song Contest 2016? Lets have a look.
First we have the no-hopers. These countries while having good songs and performances are missing that magic component to be a Eurovision Winner. This year they are:
Czech Republic (the dreaded 2nd starting position)
The next group are all possible top 10 finishers but will more then likely finish outside the top 10.
That leaves a possible Top 10?
But who will win?
Netherlands, Serbia and France (OGAE Poll winner) are dark horses and if they get the backing of the fans across Europe they will win. But the real competition is between Russia, Australia and Ukraine. I’m not going to call a winner, but its going to one of those three!
Who do you think will win?
The 61st Eurovision Song Contest will air at 8pm on RTÉ One with Marty Whelan and on BBC One with Graham Norton. I shall be on the @UCCExpress Twitter account with some observations!