Government Leaving Down Cork

Within the last 12 months the Government has held one cabinet meeting in Cork City after which the Taoiseach announced that the ‘Government was committed to Cork’. The question is; is the Government really committed to Cork?

At the last general election the Government promised that there would be extra Gardaí on the streets. The Government has yet to follow through with this promise as more and more Gardaí get caught to do more paper work as the ‘PULSE’ computer system is not working correctly.

The Government also promised that the new airport terminal at Cork Airport would have air bridges. The Government have now reneged on this promised and have said that the new terminal ‘may’ have two air bridges. In addition to this the government promised that Cork Airport would not shoulder the debt of the construction of the new terminal when it becomes a separate corporate identity. The Government have now said the new Cork Airport Authority may have to bear part of the debt incurred in the construction of the new terminal.

Then there is the Incinerator in Cork Harbour. The majority of the residents in area are opposed to the construction of the incinerator but the Government is determined to push through with this project despite mass objections. The people of Cork are worried of the possible affects on the health of people in the area due to the emissions from the incinerator.

The there is the Cork University Hospital extension which was left idle for two years. Why? Because the Department of Health refused to pay for the extra staff needed to operate the new facility.

Do these promises and projects show that the current government is committed to Cork? No. What these show are Government promises changed to ‘maybes’ and the pushing through of projects that the people of the area are opposed to. Is this what you do when a Government is committed to an area? The answer No, the people of Cork will very shortly have a chance to show how upset they are with the Government as it is believed that a General Election is due in the next 12 months.

Gay Rights Globally – How do we increase them?

In many parts around the world gay people live lives protected by legislation that outlaw discrimination against them or have to right to get married or register their partnerships, but in many places around there is no such legislation. In fact in some places laws actively discriminate against homosexuals. In Africa 33 states of the 52 on the continent have laws against homosexuality. The punishment for convictions under these laws ranges from a fine in some countries to the death penalty in others. Should this be allowed on today’s world that a government can actively discriminate against a part of its own population?

In recent years they has been a more proactive stance taken by some countries in protecting minorities in countries, especially since they failed to stop the massacre in Rwanda and Bosnia. This has led to interventions to protect the Kosovo Albanians and other minorities being attacked by their own governments. Should this be adopted by countries that have excellent Human Rights laws for homosexuals? Or should economic and political pressure be enough to pressure these countries to change there laws.

The European Parliament has already voted on a resolution stating that that will not support a country’s application to join the European Union if they discriminate against homosexuals in their societies. Should this condition also be attached to trade agreements and countries the EU has dealings with?

There are many countries around the world where it is very dangerous to be a homosexual. These countries include Fiji, Jamaica and many Muslim dominated countries. A country with has very harsh regime against homosexuality is Saudi Arabia where just your sexual orientation, not that you were having a consensual sexual act, is enough to secure a guilty verdict in the Kingdom. Is this a country that the EU or our own countries individually, should be dealing with?

Many peoples irrational fear of Homosexuality should be proven unfounded by legislation to protect against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. This has even been added to the Geneva Convention on Asylum Seekers and is a valid reason to claim asylum. The fact that this agreed by the signatories of the convention means that these countries should be pushing countries with laws against homosexuality into reforming or dismantling outdated legislation against it.

Same-sex Marriage in Ireland?

Will it ever happen?

In recent years same-sex marriages and civil unions have become the norm in many jurisdictions around the world. Within Europe nearly every country has discussed laws dealing with same-sex marriage and civil unions. Belgium, Holland and now Spain all allow same-sex marriages while many other countries allow civil unions or give gay couples some rights. These countries are very varied from France, the UK (next December) to the Scandinavian countries.

In Ireland it is a very different story. Many people are opposed to civil unions as they see it as an attack on the institution of marriage which is protected by the constitution. These groups are mainly very catholic groups who still believe that homosexuality is a sin.

Independent Senator David Norris did introduce a Civil Partnership Bill, as a private members bill, which was passed by Séanad Eireann (upper house of Parliament), but has been suspended by the Government.

Many Irish political parties claim to support gay rights including civil unions. Fine Gael at the last election did include a proposal on civil unions in their manifesto. Fine Gale is one the only openly gay councillor with Peter Kelly on Cork County Council.

The Labour Party is the only political party in Ireland that has an LGBT wing of the party. This gives LGBT Labour Party members a better voice within the party. Sinn Fein to have had proposals for civil unions but with Sinn Fein being republican and ultra Catholic many people are dubious over their efforts to gain votes of the LGBT electorate.

Fianna Fail are very much still under the thumb of the Bishops when it comes to issues of ‘morality’. Many members of Fianna Fail may support civil unions or domestic partnership rights but the party leadership are very wary of upsetting the Catholic Church.

The prospects of Ireland introducing civil unions or domestic partnerships in the near future and very slim, but maybe sometime in the future gay couples will be given rights that bring them closer to the rights enjoyed by heterosexual couples.

Update on the Draft Constitutional Treaty for the European Union

Austria – Parliament (Approval by the Nationalrat 11 May 2005. Approval by Bundesrat 25 May 2005)
Belgium – Parliament (Approval by the Senate: 28 April 2005. Approval by the Chamber: 19 May 2005. Approval by other Assemblies expected within the next weeks.)
Cyprus – Parliament (Approval by the House postponed to 30 June 2005)
Czech Republic – Possible Referendum (June 2006?)
Denmark – Referendum 27 September 2005
Estonia – Parliament
Finland – Parliament (Auitumn 2005)
France – Referendum (Referendum 29 May 2005 negative (NO: 54,8%; turn out: 70%) (to be officialy confirmed))
Germany – Parliament (Approval by Bundestag: 12 May 2005. Adoption by Bundesrat: 27 May 2005.)
Greece – Parliament (Approval by Parliament: 19 April 2005)
Hungary- Parliament (Approval by Parliament: 20 December 2004)
Ireland – Referendum likely to be held in October-November 2005
Italy – Parliament (Approval by the Chamber on 25 January 2005 and by the Senate on April 6th.)
Latvia – Parliament (Approval by the chamber on 2 June 2005)
Lithuania – Parliament (Approval by Parliament 11-11-04)
Luxembourg – First vote of the Chamber on the approval of the treaty foreseen in mid-June. Referendum on 10 July 2005 (adoption of the specific law related to the organisation of the referendum adopted by the Chamber on April 12th) Second vote of the Chamber: after the referendum
Malta – Parliament (Vote of Parliament expected in July 2005)
Netherlands – Referendum 1 June 2005 negative (61,7%, turn out : 63%) (to be confirmed later)
Poland – A referendum could be carried out on 9 October 2005 along with presidential elections
Portugal – Referendum (Referendum likely to be held in October 2005 along with the local elections)
Slovakia – Parliament (Approval by Parliament: 11 May 2005)
Slovenia – Parliament (Approval by Parliament: 1 February 2005 )
Spain – Referendum (Referendum 20 February 2005: 76,7% in favour. Turnout: 42,3%. Approval of the Congress on 28 April. Approval of the Senate on 18 May 2005)
Sweden – Parliament (Ratification Bill should be presented to Parliament in Summer. It could pass in December 2005)
United Kingdom – Referendum (Ratification expected in first half-year 2006.Legislation for referendum shelved after French and Dutch results)

Given the failure of the French and Dutch to approve the European Constitution, how far does Europe need a Constitution?

I was very disappointed to hear the results of the referenda in France and the Netherlands. I believe that the European Union needs a constitution to codify all the treaties and set out the powers of each of the institutions.

Europe needs a constitution. When you look at organisations that have constitutions they are many and diverse. From local sports clubs to countries, constitutions lay out the basic rules and procedures for the running of the organisation.

Currently the rules and regulations of the EU are contained in many treaties beginning with the Treaty of Rome and the other treaties. Other regulations are the result of compromises and have never been written down. A constitution would clearly lay out the role for every institution of the EU.

In this constitution I would like to see the EU set out the basic human rights that every EU citizen should have. I also think that the constitution should contain a role for national parliaments. This constitution would clear up a lot of confusion that many citizens encounter when discussing the EU.

Crime and Punishment: Is capital punishment the answer to reducing crime ?

No, capital Punishment is not the answer to reducing crime. I personnaly am against capital punishment because it is murder at the hands of the state, which is still a crime in the eyes of God.

Just look at states that have capital punishment, 38 states of the USA and the federal government allow capital punishment. Only recently did they stop the executions of minors.

The 12 countries with the most executions in 2004 were:
China – 3,400+
Iran – 159+
Vietnam – 64+
USA – 59
Saudi Arabia – 33+
Pakistan – 15+
Kuwait – 9+
Bangladesh – 7+
Egypt – 6+
Singapore – 6+
Yemen – 6+
Belarus – 5+

These countries, apart from the USA, are not the most the most respected of countries internationally due to their from of government or lack of respect for Human Rights. This shows the kind of countries that use the death penalty and crime is not abating in them!

EU Constitution – Greece!


Greece has been the latst country to ratify the European Contitutional Treaty. See below for a rough idea on the progression in other Memeber States.

Austria – Parliament
Belgium – Parliament
Cyprus – Parliament
Czech Republic – Possible Referendum (June 2006?)
Denmark – Referendum 27 September 2005
Estonia – Parliament
Finland – Parliament (Auitumn 2005)
France – Referendum (29 May 2005)
Germany – Parliament
Greece – Parliament (19 April 2005)
Hungary- Parliament (Approved 20 December 2004)
Ireland – Referendum
Italy – Parliament (Approved 7 April 2005)
Latvia – Parliament
Lithuania – Parliament (Approved 11 November 2004)
Luxembourg – Consultative Referendum 10 July 2005
Malta – Parliament (July 2005)
Netherlands – Consultive Referendum 1 June 2005
Poland – Probable Referendum
Portugal – Referendum (October 2005)
Slovakia – Parliament
Slovenia – Parliament (1 February 2005)
Spain – Referendum (Passed 20 february 2005, 76.7% Congress on 28 April. Senate June 2005)
Sweden – Parliament (December 2005)
United Kingdom – Referendum (2006?)

The EU constitution tough passage through Europe expected.

With referendums coming up in Ireland and the UK, will they be passed? The UK is looking unlikely, but could Ireland have a repeat of the Nice debacle?

With 4 countries (Hungary, Slovenia and Lithuania passing the treaty in parliament and Spain by referendum) there are still 21 countries to go with referendums in 8 more countries will it be passed and more importantly do we need an EU constitution???

A new opinion poll today shows that France is looking less likely to pass the constitution then thought in previous polls. But when have polls been completely accurate?

Italy has been the latest country to ratify the treaty. It passed the treaty in parliament on the 7th of April

Austria – Parliament
Belgium – Parliament
Cyprus – Parliament
Czech Republic – Possible Referendum
Denmark – Referendum 27 September 2005
Estonia – Parliament
Finland – Parliament
France – Referendum 29 May 2005
Germany – Parliament
Greece – Parliament
Hungary- Parliament (Approved 20 December 2004)
Ireland – Referendum
Italy – Parliament (Approved 7 April 2005)
Latvia – Parliament
Lithuania – Parliament (Approved 11 November 2004)
Luxembourg – Consultative Referendum 10 July 2005
Malta – Parliament
Netherlands – Consultive Referendum 1 June 2005
Poland – Probable Referendum
Portugal – Referendum October 2005
Slovakia – Parliament
Slovenia – Parliament
Spain – Referendum (Passed 20 february 2005, 76.7% YES)
Sweden – Parliament
United Kingdom – Referendum 2006?

Click the link below for more information on the draft constitutional treaty

Deciding life and death, should euthanasia be legalized?

Euthanasia arouses huge debate in today’s society. It has divided the United States of America. I believe that euthanasia should be legalized, in certain circumstances. If the person as no chance of recovery and the family and/or next of kin agree, then euthanasia should be allowed. The guidelines for euthanasia should be very strict and decisions should be allowed to be contested in court. Euthanasia should not be performed if a person has announced or stated that they are against euthanasia.

Euthanasia is legal in very few places. Euthanasia is legal in Belgium and the Netherlands, and doctor assisted suicide is legal in Oregon, USA. The debate surrounding euthanasia will last for decades as people wrestle with their conscience on whether it is right or not. Personally i believe that a person is ill and has little and/or very low chance of survival then having made their own decision when they are diagnosed with the disease they are suffering from, then eutanasia should be legal.

Electoral Systems used Today

There are six different types of electoral systems used in today’s democracies. They are split into two broad categories; majoritarian and proportional systems.

Majoritarian Systems
First Past the Post (Single Member Plurality)
Second Ballot
Alternative Vote/Supplementary Vote

Proportional Systems
Alternative Member System
Proportional representation Single transferable Vote
Party List

First Past the Post (FPTP) – Majoritarian
This system is used in the United Kingdom, Canada, USA and India.

The country is split into constituencies of equal sizes. Each constituency has one representative in the assembly creating a strong link between the area and it’s representative. Strong, effective, stable single-party government are normally formed. Small extremist parties rarely win seats under this system. To get elected a candidate just needs to get the majority of the votes, this leads to a lot of wasted votes as the person elected might only get 26% of the vote.

Second Ballot – Majoritarian
This is mainly used in France and the Ukraine.

There are single member constituencies with single-choice voting. After the first ballot if no candidate has an overall majority, a second run-off ballot is held between the two leading candidates. Candidates are forced to have a broad appeal to get elected.

Alternative Vote (AV); Supplementary Vote (SV) – Majoritarian
Used in Australia (AV) and in the United Kingdom (London Mayor (SV)).

There are single member constituencies and electors use preferential voting. . The winning candidate must have 50% of the vote. This system is fairer than the second ballot as it stops candidates from forming deals.

Additional Member System (AMS) – Proportional
Used in Germany, Italy, Russia, New Zealand, Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly.

A percentage of the seats are filled by the FPTP system. The rest of the seats are filled by a party list system. This allows a constituency to have its own representative from one party and vote for a another party to govern.

Proportional Representation: Single Transferable Vote (PRSTV) – Proportional
Used in the Republic of Ireland and in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

There are multi-member constituencies (up to five seats) in which parties can field as many candidates as there is seats. Candidates are elected when they reach a quota. Having several representatives means constituents can choose who to take there grievances to.

Party List System – Proportional
Used in Israel, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland and various other European States.

The entire country is treated as one constituency. The voters vote for the party of their liking. The party list system is the most proportional system used as if a party gets 45% of the votes it gets 45% of the seats.