Eurovision Debate, 20:00 GMT. #TellEurope

ED_EBUMembers_logosThe Eurovision Debate takes place tonight at 8pm GMT, 9pm CET across Europe tonight. No this is not a debate on the Eurovision Song Contest but a debate organised by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) between the candidates for the post of European Commission President.

Who’s taking part?

5 candidates are taking part in the debate. They are

  • Ska Keller, European Greens
  • Alexis Tsipras, European Left Party
  • Guy Verhofstadt, Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe
  • Jean-Claude Junker, European Peoples Party
  • Martin Schulz, Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats

The debate will be for 90 minutes and will be moderated by RAI anchor Monica Maggioni. RTÉ’s Conor McNally will be presenting the Social Media aspect of the debate which will be broadcast across 25 countries.

So where can you watch this debate?

Well you wont find it on RTÉ 1 or BBC 1.

The following are showing the debate on TV in English speaking countries (Full list of broadcasters here (PDF))

  • Cable Public Affairs, Canada
  • RTÉ Now News, Ireland
  • BBC Parliament, UK
  • Euronews, International

It can also be viewed on the Eurovision Debate website and followed online with the hastag #TellEurope

Not exactly expecting rating winners are they? Well whatever the viewer-ship, I for one will be watching, will you?

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Ireland ranked 22nd for LGBTI Rights in Europe

rainbow_europe_largeThis week ILGA Europe released its Annual Review of the Human Rights Situation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex People in Europe ahead of International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia on May 17th. As part of this it released a Rainbow Index of countries.

The United Kingdom has topped this Index for the 3rd year in a row. Getting an 82% rating. Ireland however is a different matter ranking 22nd on 34% down 2% on last years index. You may be surprised at some of the countries ahead of us including Albania (18th) and Montenegro (16th).

Russia is, no surprise, 49th and very last on the index with a 6% score.

So why are we so low? Well we lost points for not having Gender Idenity in our equality body mandate. Other issues include Adoption, Marriage, Gender Recognition and employment discrimination in Health and Education.

While the Government do plan or are currently bringing in legisation on these issues. It does show how far we must go to catch up.

For more information check out the full index on ILGA Europe’s Website

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European Elections 2014: Ireland South

European-Elections-2014I recently posted about those seeking election to Cork City Council, I am now turning to the European Elections and looking at who is running the European Elections. First up is Ireland South with its 4 seats. 15 candidates are standing and are canvassing across the counties of Carlow, Clare, Cork, Kerry, Kilkenny, Limerick, Tipperary, Waterford, Wexford and Wicklow for your vote over the last 9 days before the polls open on May 23rd.

The Candidates

Candidates listed by order of appearance on Ballot Paper with links to Social Media Profiles. * denotes current MEP

Richard Cahill, Non- Party

Richard is the only candidate from County Clare running in this election. He has decided not to have any posters. He is from Sixmilebridge and is a volunteer community worker. You can see his Youtube video here.

Deirdre Clune, Fine Gael

Deirdre is one of 3 Fine Gael candidates in Ireland South. She is from Cork and formerly represented Cork South Central in the Dáil. She is a former Lord Mayor of Cork and is currently a Senator where she is Spokesperson on Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation. She can be found on Youtube, Twitter and Facebook

Brian Crowley*, Fianna Fail

Brian Crowley is another Cork candidate hailing from Bandon. He has represented this are in the European Parliament since 1994 making him one of Ireland’s longest serving current MEP’s. He has topped the polls in the past and will more then likely do so again. He can be found on Facebook

Jillian Godsil, Non-Party

Jillian Godsil was in the papers long before she was a candidate. She forced the Government to change the law to allow bankrupts to run in the European Elections. She is a writer by profession and comes from Arklow in Co. Wicklow. Her tagline is “writing my way out of trouble”. She is also running for Wicklow County Council. She can be found on Twitter

Simon Harris, Fine Gael

Simon is currently the youngest TD in Dáil Eireann. He is from Greystones in County Wicklow. He is secretary of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party and a member of the Public Accounts Committee. He was previously a member of Wicklow County Council and Greystones Town Council. He can be found on Youtube, Facebook and Twitter

Kieran Hartley, Fianna Fail

Kieran Hartley is the second Fianna Fail Candidiate in Ireland South. Coming from Kilmacthomas in County Waterford. This is first time running for Elections and is self-employed. He can be found on Facebook.

Theresa Heaney, Catholic Democrats (The National Party)

Theresa Heaney is a Housewife from Timoleague County Cork. She has previously ran for the Dáil in Cork South West in 1997 for the National Party getting 5.12% of the vote and in 2002 as in independent polling 1.98%. She is the Chairman of the Mothers Alliance Ireland.

Sean Kelly*, Fine Gael

The 3rd Fine Gael candidate and current MEP. First elected to the European Parliament in 2009. A former GAA President from Killarney, County Kerry, he has been nominated and won MEP of the year from his peers in the European Parliament. He can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Liadh Ní Riada, Sinn Fein

Liahh Ní Riada, daughter of the late Musician Sean Ó’Riada, hails from Baile Mhic Ire in County Cork. She is the Irish Language Officer of Sinn Fein. She previously worked with RTÉ and TG4 as a Director and Producer. She can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Diarmuid O’Flynn, Non-Party

Diarmuid O’Flynn is a sports journalist from Ballyhea in County Cork. He currently writes for the Irish Examiner. He is known for starting the “Ballyhea says no” protests. He can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Peter O’Loughlin, Non- Party

While Peter O’Loughlin is registered as Non-Party is the sole candidate of the National Independent Party who advocate Irish withdrawal from the European Union and were formed early in 2014.

Dónal Ó’Ríordáin, Fís Nua

Dónal Ó’Ríordáin is an engineer from Bandon and this is his first election. This is also Fís Nua’s first European elections. He can be found on Facebook.

Grace O’Sullivan, Green Party

Grace O’Sullivan is from Waterford and is an ecologist. She has been an activist for many years with Greenpeace. She is a former Irish Surf Champion. This is also her first time contesting an election. She can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Phil Prendergast*, Labour

Phil took over this seat following Alan Kelly’s election to Dáil Eireann. She comes from Clonmel in County Tipperary making her the only Tipperary candidate in this election. She is a midwife by training and previously served on Clonmel Borough Council and South Tipperary County Council as an independent. She can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Jan Van De Ven, Direct Democracy Ireland

Jan Van De Ven is an entrepreneur from Avoca County Wicklow. He is the Chairman and Leader of Direct Democracy Ireland. He plans to use eDemocracy to bring decision making back to the people. He can be found on Facebook and Twitter 

Prediction

FF’s Brian Crowley is sure to top the poll and will more the likely be elected on the first count. Fine Gael’s Sean Kelly and Sinn Fein’s will get the 2nd and 3rd seats not sure in what order. Leaving Labour’s Phil Prendergast and Fine Gael’s Deirdre Clune the front runners for the last seat. If I were a betting man, I would but my money on Clune. I cannot see any of the independent or other party candidates getting anywhere close to quota.

The Replacements

As there are no Bye-Elections to the European Parliament following the resignation or death of an MEP there replacement is chosen from the list submitted by parties and candidates at the time of the election. Here are the replacement lists for Ireland South.

REPLACEMENT LIST R.C. (Presented by Richard Cahill)

  1. CAHILL, MARELEN, Sixmilebridge, Co. Clare.

REPLACEMENT LIST F.G. (Presented by Fine Gael)

  1. KELLY, SEÁN, Gortroe, Killarney, Co. Kerry.
  2. CLUNE, DEIRDRE, 144, Blackrock Road, Cork.
  3. HARRIS, SIMON, 79, Redford Park, Greystones, Co. Wicklow.
  4. D’ARCY, MICHAEL, Annagh, Inch, Gorey, Co. Wexford.
  5. BURKE, COLM, 36, Farranlea Grove, Cork.
  6. O’HALLORAN, EMMET, 42 Mercier Park, Cork.

REPLACEMENT LIST F.F. (Presented by Fianna Fáil)

  1. CROWLEY, BRIAN, Maryborough Lodge, Douglas, Cork.
  2. HARTLEY, KIERAN, Ballyboy, Kilmacthomas, Co. Waterford.
  3. O’HIGGINS, ADRIAN, Shellumsrath, Callan Road, Kilkenny.
  4. O’SULLIVAN, NED, Cahirdown, Listowel, Co. Kerry.
  5. DALY, MARK, 34, Henry Street, Kenmare, Co. Kerry.
  6. AMBROSE, SIOBHAN, Dún Mhuire, Melview, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary.

REPLACEMENT LIST C.D. (Presented by Catholic Democrats(The National Party).

  1. BENNIS, NORA, 16, Revington Pk, Limerick.
  2. CAREY, MARGARET, Horse & Jockey, Thurles.
  3. MAHON, ELIZABETH, Rathmines, Dublin 6.

REPLACEMENT LIST S.F. (Presented by Sinn Féin)

  1. GOULD, THOMAS, 121, Cathedral Road, Cork.
  2. O’LEARY CHRIS, 17, Loughmahon Road, Mahon, Cork.
  3. FUNCHION, KATHLEEN , 28, Whites Castle, Knocktopher, Kilkenny.

REPLACEMENT LIST D.O.F. (Presented by Diarmuid Patrick O’Flynn)

  1. FITZPATRICK, FIONA, Pike Farm, Charleville.
  2. MOLONEY, PATRICK, Broghill, Charleville.
  3. RYAN, PHILLIP, Shinanagh, Ballyhea.

REPLACEMENT LIST F.N. (Presented by Fís Nua)

  1. NUTTY, BEN, 34, Sweetbriar Terrace, Lower Newtown, Waterford.

REPLACEMENT LIST G.P. (Presented by Green Party/ Comhaontas Glas)

  1. NOONAN, MALCOLM, 35, Fr. Murphy Square, Kilkenny, Co. Kilkenny.
  2. MANNING, CORMAC, 36, The Meadows, Classes Lake, Ballincollig, Co. Cork.
  3. RYDER, MARY, 17, O’Connell Avenue, Turners Cross, Cork.

REPLACEMENT LIST L.P. (Presented by The Labour Party)

  1. WALSH, DECLAN, Oldenburg, Lower Road, Cobh, Co. Cork.
  2. KANE, ADRIAN, 42 Idaville, Old Blackrock Road, Cork.
  3. SHORTT, CLLR. TOM, Walnut House, Browns Quay, Thomondgate, Limerick.
  4. Ó HÁRGAIN, CLLR. SEÁN, Sceilig, Green Hill, Kilkenny.

REPLACEMENT LIST D.D.I. (Presented by Direct Democracy Ireland).

  1. BURKE, LOUISE, Ballygahan Lower, Avoca, Co. Wicklow.
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Phil going for the “Pink” vote

We are all fairly used to seeing adverts when we open up Apps these days, but one popped up today that made me take notice. An ad for a European Parliament Candidate on a gay “dating” app. None other than Labour’s Phil Prendergast, who replaced Alan Kelly following his election to the Dáil, and is running for re-election in Ireland South.

Phils Grindr ad

Now for me Gay men aren’t normally the best at going out and voting, going by my friends. But then again, has anyone else really targeted them outside of the odd advert in a Pride brochure?

It will be interesting to see if it will make a difference. But strategically I think it done to far out from the election to make a difference.

 

 

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ECI: Let Me Vote

Let Me Vote is a European Citizens Initiative that aims to solve one of the Democratic Deficiencies in the European Union. This ECI calls for the right to vote of EU Citizens to be expanded from just the right the vote in Local and European Elections to National Elections in the Member State in which they reside.

The ECI was launched by Europeens Sans Frontieres. (Website in French)

This is the one issue that the European Union has not managed to sort out since the introduction of European Citizenship. Its stated objective and goal is:

To strengthen the rights listed in article 20§2 TFEU by granting EU citizens residing in another Member State the right to vote in all political elections in their country of residence, on the same conditions as the nationals of that State.

The goal of the initiative is to develop the political dimension of the European project by reinforcing citizens’ awareness that they share a common destiny. It would have the following effects: – To enhance the concept of European Citizenship; – To facilitate freedom of movement within the EU; In addition, it could contribute to remedying the loss of voting rights presently experienced by a significant number of EU citizens who are long-term residents of other Member States.

This is a great ECI and certainly is highlighting a massive issue within the EU. It certainly highlights the anomaly within the EU where Irish Citizens resident in the United Kingdom have the right to vote in Local, National and European Elections and the right that UK Citizens have in Ireland to vote in Local, National and European Elections. Surely this should be the norm between EU member states and not the exception.

Your voting rights should be allowed to move with you through the European Union just like the rest of your rights. This is especially true for countries such as Ireland where citizens abroad are not allowed to vote. Hopefully this ECI will change this and may encourage states that currently do not allow diaspora voting to look again at the issue.

I for one whole heatedly support the Let Me Vote ECI and urge you to read it and sign it here!

For more details see the following links:

I do plan a number of posts on ECI’s I find and I certainly wont agree with them all!

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Time for A Federal Europe?

It’s not hard to figure out that I am European Federalist. I hope that some day there will be some sort of European Federation, which manages to bring all the people closer together. But how will it happen and are current ideas holding this up?

One of the biggest threats to a Federal Europe is this idea of Budget commissioner with the ability to veto budgets of member states. Could you imagine this happening in any federal state? No way! As Jan Macháček writing in Prague’s Respekt states

If individual states in the U.S. were ordered by a central authority to rubber-stamp the financial budgetary rules and budget advice sent to them (i.e., change their own constitutions), to submit their budgets to Washington for approval even before they voted on them themselves – and then send them back for inspection (which is the principle of the European fiscal compact), it would lead to a revolt and the American federation would break up.

But as also pointed out building a federation also takes a long time and the American one was only completed in the 1930’s!

But how are we going to build this federation?)

One idea was floated in Milan’s Il Fogio by Lucio Caracciolo. He suggests a referendum across the 27 (soon to be 28) member states on the issue of more integration, not a treaty text.

The time has come to ask Europeans if they want to bring their country into a union – yes or no. By referendum. And not by one of these national consultations in which the voters of a Member State approve or reject (in the latter case, voters are called to the polls solely to approve the text) a treaty that is unreadable and, therefore, that remains unread.

This referendum among the twenty-seven Member States of the European Union (from next year, twenty-eight), which should take place at the same time and under the same rules throughout the European community, would pose the fundamental question: “Are you for or against the emergence of a European State comprising all member states of the European Union or of some of these states (specify which)?”

This would be a good idea. While it would be a consultative ballot, the power of this on European Leaders would be immense. The appetite for further integration would be quite obvious and ensure countries that want it can move forward. This would have important outcomes for the future of the European Project and how much support exist for a “Federal Europe” among Europhiles!

Whatever the outcome, we would finally have a clear picture of the degree of Europhilia among Europeans. Which is something that the Europhiles have always carefully avoided. It should, however, be clear by now that if we can one day unify Europe or a part of Europe for good, to make of it a force for democracy in the world, it will happen only on the ashes of Europeanism. On the ashes of its complacent paternalistic reflexes and its fundamentally elitist and undemocratic culture. The result is that, 55 years after the Treaty of Rome, not only do we not have a unified Europe, but we are exciting base emotions and tearing out the liberal and democratic roots of its member countries.

Of course it will be a tricky road. As Jan Macháček points out that identity is what will hold this back, something I have long said also.

Critics of federalism argue that the very idea is naive, and even dangerous, because there is no European political nation. An American is first an American, and only then from Minnesota. A German is first a German, and only then a European.
The emergence of a European identity, however, can be “artificially” promoted and accelerated. This and that may help here and there: direct election of a European president, an Institute of European citizenship, some minimum common European tax, and so on.

But at the end of the day I agree with Claudio Magris writing in the Corrierre Della Sera, it is a long hard road, but it will be worth it.

The establishment of a real European state is the only way to ensure that we can look forward to a worthwhile future. The problems we face are not national, they are of concern to us all. It is ridiculous, for example, to have different immigration laws in different countries, just as it would be to have different rules on migration in Bologna and Genoa. Furthermore, a genuine European state would result in significantly lower costs by, for example, doing away with the expense of endless committees, agencies and parasitic institutions.
Europe is a great power, and it is painful to see it reduced to bickering, or worse still, to the timid powerlessness of a building residents’ meeting. If it is to really become an entity that is able to punch its weight, the European Union will have to establish a decisive and authoritative government, give up on wooly ecumenisms, and abandon any reluctance to confront those who keep their own houses in order by dumping rubbish on their neighbours. No doubt it will have difficulty assuming a role of unshakeable authority, but if the European Union continues on the dangerous course on which it is currently embarked, its days will be numbered.
For the first time in history, we are attempting to build a large political community without recourse to the instrument of war. However, the rejection of war implies the need for a functional authority, and it is in this context that hesitancy is not democracy, but rather its death. It is natural for believers in Europe to feel dejected and uneasy, as I did on that in evening in Madrid, when faced with the spectacle of a European unity that is crumbling and fading away. However, that does not mean that we should surrender to melancholy. We have not been brought into the world to indulge our moods, or to give into gloom like so many small-minded sufferers from indigestion. No matter how we feel, we must continue to work for what we believe to be right, or at least for options that we believe to be better, with the stubborn conviction of “non praevalebunt”, they shall not prevail.
We must be prepared to fight against the evils of pessimism and weariness, which are continuing to gain ground. However, that is not to say that we cannot acknowledge the discrepancy between our terrible era and the aspiration for unity in the great professions of faith written by Europe’s founding fathers. As Karl Valentin, the great cabaret artist who inspired Brecht, liked to put it: the future was better in those days.

 

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And Estonia makes 11

Financial Transaction Tax campaign
Financial Transaction Tax campaign (Photo credit: Leonardo Domenici)

Late yesterday, Estonia joined the 10 countries that plan on implementing a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT), due to the lack of agreement on implementing an EU wide Tax.

The 11 countries who will implement the tax next year are:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Estonia
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain

According to Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso

“This tax can raise billions of euros of much-needed revenue for member states in these difficult times. [..] This is about fairness – we need to ensure the costs of the crisis are shared by the financial sector instead of shouldered by ordinary citizens.”

But where will this money go? One suggestion is that this tax revenue would go into a Eurozone budget as all 11 countries use the Euro. While Development NGOs argue that the revenue should go towards those most in need in developing countries.

The Tax this has a way to go before it comes into force, and still has to be approved by the majority of Member State’s at council level as well as the European Parliament.

The EU-wide tax was shelved following opposition from Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom, who fear being at a disadvantage in the absence of a World-Wide Tax.

More states can still sign up to this, but until details on the amount of tax charged on financial transaction and where the revenue goes is agreed, it is doubtful if the number of states involved in this enhanced co-operation will increase..

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European Commission Seminar, UCC, 2 October

Interesting things often pop into my inbox, so here is one for all of you with interest in the EU and Economic Policy. I will be there, so do say Hi if you attend!

The European Commission Representation in Ireland invites you to an evening seminar on‘European Economic Policy – What’s in it for Ireland?’

Featuring presentations from local and national economic and political experts, this public event will provide you with an opportunity to voice your opinions and ask any questions you may have about the current economic situation. This event will take place from 6.30pm – 8.30pm on Tuesday, 2 October on the University College Cork campus.  Further detail, including information on the guest speakers, will follow shortly.  In the meantime, please RSVP to events@europeanmovement.ie or call 01 662 5815 to reserve a place at this free event.

I will update this once the speakers are confirmed.

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European Democrat Students launch ‘Knowledge is Power’ campaign

Logo of the European Democrat Students

The European Democrat Students (EDS) yesterday launched their “Knowledge is Power Campaign”. This campaign encourages EU political leaders to prioritize efforts on higher education and research funding. EDS urges leaders to introduce stimulus packages for the higher education sector, which is an important factor to help boost economic recovery in Europe.

The EDS emphasizes the importance of having a good education system for our future generations, and wish to encourage politicians to invest more resources in higher education and research. The EDS strongly believes that Europe 2020 is the fundamental guideline for all 27 Member States and thus, endorse the principle of a knowledge-based economy where higher education is a central pillar for sustainable economic growth.

EPP President Wilfried Martens strongly supports the EDS initiative: “the EPP believes that know-how in societies is central to economic growth and job creation, so we must create the best conditions for transforming them into knowledge-based societies. To reach this fundamental objective of the EPP, we strongly support investments in research and innovation. Ultimately, the economic success of Europe will be determined by the extent of the financial commitments allocated to these pivotal sectors of the economy. Europe must become a knowledge economy.”

This campaign is EDS’ first Internet based campaign and consists of several online films and an online petition available at eds-knowledge.eu. With the petition, the EDS wants to reach out to young Europeans and thereby send a bold signal to Europe’s policy makers that young people in today’s Europe believe that we have to invest more in Europe’s future.

So sign the petition, like on Facebook an follow on Twitter!

EDS is the official Student Organisation of the European People’s Party.

Ireland to vote on Fiscal Compact

Enda Kenny (left), Leader of Fine Gael, at the...
Image via Wikipedia

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny today announced in the Dail that Ireland will hold a referendum to ratify the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union otherwise known as the Fiscal Compact.

This will be one of three referenda held in Ireland this year. The other two will be on the long awaited Children’s Rights Referendum and on abolishing the Seanad.

The decision to hold a referendum has been welcomed across the political spectrum, though also drawing battle lines with Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fail in favour of ratification and Sinn Fein, the ULA and some of the independents.

According to a poll in last months Sunday Business Post by Red C suggested that 40% of voters would vote in favour while 36% would vote against. Interestingly enough 24% did not know how they would vote.

So it is all to play for