Its been quiet here….

UCC Express Logo2So 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.

Majority of Irish people think the UK should remain in the EU

Refugee Team to Contest Rio Olympics

Florida Key to White House

Independents Slump As Parties Regain Support

Theresa May Set to Become UK Prime Minister while Labour Split Continues

Census Results Presents Constitutional Problems

Podcasts the Express Staff are Listening to

The Irish at Rio 2016

Pro-Choice and Religious: Is it possible?

Irish Paralympic Team Crowdfunding for Rio 2016

All my articles for UCC Express can be viewed here

1916 – A proud nation looks back and forward

Ireland-2016-largeThis past weekend Ireland marked the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising. I was lucky that I was able to travel to Dublin for the weekend.

I stayed with a friend in Grand Canal near Boland’s Mill one of the sites of the rising.

2016-03-28 16.09.25
Boland’s Mill in 2016

Now before the weekend I wasn’t too gone on remembering an event that didn’t place on this date 100 years ago. But the realisation slowly dawned on me that there was no point in marking the ‘Easter Rising’ a month after Easter if we were to follow the actual date of the Easter Rising. (Plus April 24th is the Census date)

Early Sunday morning I was outside the St Patricks Cathedral where I saw the Colour Party of Óglaigh na hÉireann carrying the flags of the revolutionary bodies.

Inside the Cathedral, while the prevailing sentiment seemed to be that we were marking this event a month early, one of the most poignant moments of the Easter Service was the reading of the names of those of the Cathedral Community who died Easter Week 1916.

485 people died that week due to the uprising, including women and children.

Following the Service I was on St Stephen’s Green where I watched the parade past the GPO. It was wonderful to see the Emergency Services, both state and voluntary being given places in the parade.

1916 Proclamation of the Republic
1916 Proclamation of the Republic

For me the centenary was an inclusive event. What it means to be Irish is not strictly defined and has been widened to include many ‘new’ Irish who have made Ireland home in the past 100 years. It wasn’t just about the events 100 years ago. It was also the events that followed. It was about our eventual freedom, our foundation as a state and how all the followed has been inspired by the Proclamation issued form the GPO in 1916.

The Irish Flag flying outside St Luke's National School Montenotte, Cork
The Irish Flag flying outside St Luke’s National School Montenotte, Cork

I was also lucky to have been involved in Proclamation Day on March 15th in St Luke’s National School where I serve on the Board of Management. This was a wonderful occasion where the yet again the focus was not just on the events of 1916, but of a new Ireland and a new proclamation from the School Children and their hopes for the future of Ireland.

The final show of the weekend, Centenary on RTÉ, really summed up the experience of the weekend. I was so proud to be in Dublin at the weekend, and watching Centenary and seeing the wealth of Irish Talent marking the events of the Irish History was wonderful. It made me proud to be Irish, proud of our History, our culture and our people. It also gave me hope for the future of this proud nation.

If you haven’t seen Centenary, watch it on the RTÉ Player

Finally, like throughout Irish History, we as a people are not defined by a single event. Whether rebellion, civil war, emigration or growth. But what we are is continually inspired by our past. Whether it is our cultural past such as alluded to in Arthur O’Shaugnessy’s poem Ode

We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;—
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

Or the words of the Proclamation issued in 1916 where we continue to live up to the ideals set within it to “guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens” and  “cherishing all the children of the nation equally”

We can be proud of what we have achieved in the last 100 years. Let us now look forward as Proud Irishmen and Irishwomen to the next 100 and live up to ideals of the republic.

IRISHMEN AND IRISHWOMEN: In the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us, summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom.

Having organised and trained her manhood through her secret revolutionary organisation, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and through her open military organisations, the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army, having patiently perfected her discipline, having resolutely waited for the right moment to reveal itself, she now seizes that moment, and, supported by her exiled children in America and by gallant allies in Europe, but relying in the first on her own strength, she strikes in full confidence of victory.

We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible. The long usurpation of that right by a foreign people and government has not extinguished the right, nor can it ever be extinguished except by the destruction of the Irish people. In every generation the Irish people have asserted their right to national freedom and sovereignty; six times during the past three hundred years they have asserted it in arms. Standing on that fundamental right and again asserting it in arms in the face of the world, we hereby proclaim the Irish Republic as a Sovereign Independent State, and we pledge our lives and the lives of our comrades-in-arms to the cause of its freedom, of its welfare, and of its exaltation among the nations.

The Irish Republic is entitled to, and hereby claims, the allegiance of every Irishman and Irishwoman. The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past.

Until our arms have brought the opportune moment for the establishment of a permanent National Government representative of the whole people of Ireland and elected by the suffrages of all her men and women, the Provisional Government, hereby constituted, will administer the civil and military affairs of the Republic in trust for the people.

We place the cause of the Irish Republic under the protection of the Most High God. Whose blessing we invoke upon our arms, and we pray that no one who serves that cause will dishonour it by cowardice, inhumanity, or rapine. In this supreme hour the Irish nation must, by its valour and discipline and by the readiness of its children to sacrifice themselves for the common good, prove itself worthy of the august destiny to which it is called.

Signed on Behalf of the Provisional Government.
Thomas J. Clarke,
Sean Mac Diarmada, Thomas MacDonagh,
P. H. Pearse, Eamonn Ceannt,
James Connolly, Joseph Plunkett

G-Everyone, Cork

Mashable have come up with a great idea to coincide with the G-8 Summit in Lough Erne Golf Resort, Enniskillen, Northern Ireland on the 17th and 18th of June. Mashable have challenged its members on to host a G-Everyone in their local community and I have decided to try and do it!

So what is it?

Organized through Mashable’s Meetup Everywhere platform, G-everyone meetups will take place on the eve of the G8, a forum of the world’s eight wealthiest Western countries. The goal of G-everyone is to make the G8 more accessible, and to brainstorm ways to solve the world’s most challenging problems.

G-everyone will provide an open dialogue around the G8’s core themes of “Open Economies, Open Governments and Open Societies.” Mashable will crowdsource the best ideas and thoughts from our community via Meetup Everywhere, and report back to the leaders at the G8.

The G-everyone conversation will happen during a 24-hour global meetup on Monday, June 10. To organize or attend a meetup, register on Mashable‘s Meetup Everywhere community.

So the Meet-Up in Cork is planned for 7pm on June 10th. I am currently working on securing a venue.

The topics to be discussed on the night are:

  • How can innovation stimulate your local economy?
  • How can technology make your government more open?
  • How can online communities help build healthier societies?

As you can see there is something for everyone!

Mashable promises that  they “will gather global data from the G-everyone Meetups through +SocialGood and report back on the themes and ideas emerging around the world. The initial G-everyone themes will be shared at a series of high-level meetings in London during the G-8″

If your interested shoot me an email Stephen(at)stephenspillane(dot)com and I will let you know what the details are as soon as I know. Also if you have any ideas on a location or know people that should be involved do let them know!

Its only by coming together and sharing ideas that we can make the world a better place.

The G-everyone Meetup is brought to you by the Social Good Summit partners: Mashable, 92nd Street Y, the United Nations Foundation, the United Nations Development Progamme and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


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The Elephant in The Room, No Longer that Invisible?

The issue that normally simmers away in the background of Irish politics has taken the headlines again today thanks to an interview in the Irish Times about the the death of a mans wife. The man is Praveen Halappanavar and he was talking about the death of 31 year old Savita Halappanavar, a dentist in Galway, following a miscarriage. She had attended the hospital complaining of back pain and they discovered she was miscarrying. She had then requested a Medical Termination but it was refused “because the foetal heartbeat was still present and they were told, “this is a Catholic country””.

She spent 2 and half days in agony until the foetal heartbeat stopped. She was then transferred to the High Dependency Unit and then the Intensive Care Unit before dying of septicaemia on the 28th October.

This is shocking!

This should never have happened!

I have previously called the abortion the political debate the Elephant in the Room, but following today’s news adding to the ABC v Ireland case further demonstrates the need for an Abortion Act in Ireland.

In a strange co-incidence the Minister of Health received the Report of the Expert on the ABC v Ireland yesterday evening. The Government will soon have to make a decision on this and the sooner the better.

There are many protests being planned in Cork there is one tonight (7pm outside Opera House) and on Friday (1pm on Daunt Square)

There are also protest in Dublin (tonight and Saturday), Galway (Saturday), Belfast (Thursday 15th) and London. More details being added to Una Mullally’s blog on the Irish Times.

As a Country we have had 20 years to sort this out. Government’s of all hues have failed to sort out this issue. Its time our Government legislated for this. Hopefully they will be shamed into acting after this.

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A Moral Campaign – But a good idea?

Is prostitution illegal in Ireland? Well kind of, Wikipedia puts it as this:

Prostitution in the Republic of Ireland is, itself, legal, but most activities associated with it (such as soliciting in a public place, operating brothels, and other forms of pimping) are illegal.

This is due to the Criminal Law Sexual Offences Act of 1993, which made soliciting illegal. But should prostitution be made fully illegal? Should the Swedish Model, which criminalises the buyers of sex, be implemented here?

It should be according to the “Turn off the Red Light Campaign“. While any attempt to stop human trafficking, whether it involves sex work or any sort of labour, is laudable, will this cause more issues then it will solve.

The Turn off the Red Light campaign is taking a complete moral stance on this believed that anyone paying for sex should be criminalised, but will that stop it?

Since the crack down on prostitution since the 1980’s prostitution has not decreased in Ireland, but simply went under ground. The Gardaí no longer know who works in the area, the sex workers are now less empowered. They are forced to work in massage parlours where they no longer can negotiate favourable terms and conditions for themselves.

While there is no doubt that Human Trafficking is a major issue and needs to be tackled, how is lumping trafficked and non-trafficked women together for a moralistic campaign going to make life easier for either group.

We must face facts. Some people want to work as a Sex Workers, some people want to use the services of Sex Workers, why do we want to stop that? Who are we to say it is wrong if it is all consensual? I am not going to.

In Europe Prostitution is legal and regulated in the following countries:

  • Austria,
  • Germany,
  • Greece,
  • Hungary,
  • Latvia,
  • Netherlands,
  • Switzerland,
  • Turkey

But most countries fall into the same category as Ireland, they include; Armenia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Only 3 countries have implemented the Swedish Model of criminalising the buyer of sex, they are Sweden, Iceland and Norway.

So which is the way to go? Should we be focused more on protecting those who are sex workers? Should we not be taking steps to empower them? Or will be drive them further under ground and into the arms of criminal gangs who commit crimes such as Human Trafficking.

If this campaign is successful it will certainly put sex workers civil, human, safety and health rights at risk. Is that really a good idea?

Check out the following websites:


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An bhfuil Bród agat?

Tonight while visiting the parents I stumbled upon Bernard Dunne’s Bród Club on RTE One. The was random in itself as my parents were in Lisvernane, Co. Tipperary who won TG4’s G-Team last Friday (aired Sunday on TG4) at the weekend and had been talking about the language. While I am far from fluent in Gaeilge Bródclub and the conversation on G-Team has managed to get me back thinking about how I use the cupla focal myself.

I mainly use it in my own head or when alone! Its not that I am embarrassed or neirbhiseach, but I simple don’t use it in public. But that is going to change!

I have signed up to Bród Club and I have pledged to use my cúpla focail. The campaign is to encourage everyone to use their cupla focail and they hope to get 100,00 people signed up!

I’ve dug out the Foclóir Póca and the Buntas Cainte to remind me of the words I do know and using the Bród Club website to find ways of using it with the weekly ask!

So why not sign up? Follow on Twitter, and like on Facebook?

Show bród in your language! Sign up and have spraoi le gaeilge!

Wave Change Cork

Wave Change Participants

Over the 12th and 13th of November I spent time in the Cork School Music on the Wave Change  programme from Social Entrepreneurs Ireland which I blogged about here. Over the two days there were speakers, such as Bill Liao and Myles McCorry of Bike Pure.

We also had workshops on online and offline communication as well as some activities to get us thinking and learning about our skills.

There was also a great opportunity to brain storm our ideas and help each other with our projects. A lot was learned during these sessions!

The weekend was extremely enjoyable and the fact that everyone there was there to take part and learn meant that we all took something from the weekend.

This weekend sees the Dublin weekend happens and in Galway on the 21st and 22nd of January.

Wave Change

Are you aged between 18-25? Do want to see Social Change in Ireland? Do  you want to change something in Irish Society?

Check out Wave Change. Wave Change is a new programme being launched by Social Entrepreneurs Ireland for 18-25 year-olds who believe that they have a role to play in building the Ireland we all want to live in and who want to have a stronger voice in society.  The programme provides training, development, seed funding and networking opportunities to help make this a reality.

They are kicking off the programme in November 2011 with Wave Change Weekends in Cork (November 12&13), Dublin (November 26&27) and Galway in mid-January 2012.

If you like what happens at the weekend you can apply to join a group of 30 for a 10 month programme beginning in February 2012. Which will include:

  • A series of 5 skills-based training weekends from February 2012 in areas as wide-ranging as journalism and social media, lobbying and advocacy,  research & evaluation, idea generation and project planning, with support from expert practitioners  working in the field
  • Coaching in individual and group-focused development
  • Support and advice in setting up an idea,  project or campaign
  • Seed funding to help launch a Wave Change idea
  • Individual networking and development opportunities on issues of interest chosen by the participants

Applications for the Cork Weekend close on October 21st. If you want to take part in the 10 month programme, you must attend one of the weekends.

Today I met with Linda and Fiona of Wave Change and it sounds like an interesting idea. The Programme would be major benefit for anyone interested or working in social change in Ireland. These skills are crucial for young people who want to make changes to Irish Society!

So what are you waiting for? Check out their website, and apply!

They are also on Facebook and Twitter!

We need to change how we refer to people with disabilities

11th Special Olympics World Summer Games
Image via Wikipedia

On Wednesday I found this post by a parent of a child with disbilities trying to get people to stop using the “r-word” on twitter. It documents the responses she got, some make fun, but others take her point. We need more people like her! That post brought a tear to my eye. I rarely use the word, and now I will endeavour to use it less.

Then while going through my news feeds I discovered this story on the Irish Examiner, its sub heading was “HE won gold in the Special Olympics but is classed a “lunatic”.”

This post was about our legal system and how it classes people with mental disabilities as a “person of unsound mind”. How demeaning is that? How old fashioned is that? Why do we allow our legal system to still use terminology like that? Why is the Lunacy Act 1871 still in force?

Can we not move on with the times and treat people with disabilities with respect and allow them to represeneted fully in law.

I hope the new government will take on board this and attempt to change how we refer to people with disabilities within in our legal system as that may help  change how the rest of society treats people with mental disabilities. It baby steps, but every little helps.

The European Year of the Volunteer 2011

2011 has been designated the European Year of the Volunteer by the European Union. This is following a campaign led by Marian Harkin MEP (Ireland/ALDE). She worked with the unofficial “EP Volunteering Interest Group” to lobby the Parliament, the Council and the Commission on this initiative.

Volunteering is very important in many Member States. Across the EU 92 to 94 million adults are involved in volunteering in the EU. That is 23% of all Europeans over 15 years of age. But is that enough?

Also it varies widely among the member states. In Austria, Netherlands, Slovenia, and the United Kingdom have volunteering rates of over 40%. In Denmark, Finland, Germany and Luxembourg volunteering is between 30%-39% of over 15 year olds. Estonia, France and Lithuania have rates between 20%-29%. In Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Ireland, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Romania, Sweden and Spain it is between 10-19%. And in Bulgaria, Greece, Italy and Latvia volunteering is at less then 10%.

While each country does have different definitions of volunteering and some have legal definitions, the disparate figures go to show that volunteer in most member states could do with a helping hand.

This is especially important in our current economic times as volunteering can add to GDP. For example, volunteering accounts for between 3% and 5% of GDP in Asutria, Netherlands and Sweden. In Ireland it contributes between 1-2% of GDP. This is a resource that we can build on and may help us overcome some of our difficulties.

There are a number of websites out there to highlight the year,

So get out there, and volunteer. Help make a difference to someone else’s life and your own!

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