Category Archives: Social Commentary

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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Voting Rights for the Irish Diaspora?

Voting booth
Image via Wikipedia

The Irish Left Review picked up on an EU survey by on emigrant voting rights. Ireland is the only country in the 20 surveyed to have to voting rights for Diaspora or plans to bring it in. Greece is being forced to bring it in after a ruling by the ECHR. Will an Irish emigrant bring a case to try and force Ireland to change? Shouldn’t we change anyway?

European Country – Vote at national elections?
DENMARK – (YES) but with many restrictions
GERMANY – YES – but only within countries of Council of Europe
GREECE – NO (subject to change following recent European Court of Human Rights decision)
UNITED KINGDOM – YES (Voting right is lost after 15 years abroad – this time limit is being challenged by a Spanish-based UK citizen.)

Being one of the only countries in the EU not to offer this right to its citizens, means we are not treating our emigrants with the respect they deserve.

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But what about the straights?

Cohabitation vie professionnelle et familiale ...
Image by gelinh via Flickr

A lot of the talk surrounding the Civil Partnerships Bill is concentrating on the aspects concerned with the rights of gay partners. For a change it is the consequences for hetrosexual (and homosexual may I add) of the other part of the bill to do with cohabitation is being largely ignore.

Carol Coulter had a very good analysis is yesterdays Irish Times about this. It is well worth reading.

This bill will affect more peoples lives then you think. I personally know plenty of people that this act will affect. Make sure you know what it does.

Relationships are about to get more legalistic. Is that what we want?

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