Eurovision 2018: Semi-Final 2 Preview

Semi Final 2 of the 63rd Eurovision Song Contest takes place on Thursday 10th of May in Lisbon, Portugal. 18 countries will be competing for the remaining 10 places in the Grand Final on Saturday 12th of May where they join the hosts Portugal and the big five, (UK, Germany, Italy, France & Spain) along with the 10 qualifiers from Semi Final 1 on Tuesday.

France, Germany and Italy will also be voting in this Semi-Final.

All odds are from paddypower.com as taken on 09/05/2018

1 – Norway (NRK) – Alexander Rybak -“Thats How You Write A Song” – 7/2
Debut: 1960
Wins: 3 (1985, 1995, 2009)
Worst Result: Last (1963– nul points, 1969, 1974, 1976, 1978– nul points, 1981– nul points, 1990, 1997– nul points, 2001, 2004, 2012)

Alexander Rybak is back at Eurovision, after winning the contest in 2009 he is hoping to win it again! And he could! ‘That’s How You Write A Song’ is a catchy pop song. While the violin is not as prominent this year, don’t worry I am sure you will hear it. Definite qualifier and a great start!

2 – Romania (TVR) – The Humans – “Goodbye” – 300/1
Debut: 1994
Wins: 0
Worst Result: 22nd (1998)

A nice pop-rock entry here from Romanian band The Humans. The five-piece band seemed to have crafted a Eurovision Ballad but made it a bit rocky. I hope this qualifies.

3 – Serbia (RTS) – Sanja Ilić & Balkanika – “Nova deca” (Нова деца) – 300/1
Debut: 2007
Wins: 1 (2007)
Worst Result: 11th (2013 – SF, 2017 – SF)

Serbia have only missed out on qualification last year,  they finished 11th, so they will be hoping to finish at least one place higher and qualify this year. This year they are sending a folk-inspired pop song by Balkanika whose mission is ‘to preserve, revitalize and modernize Serbian medieval and Byzantine music traditions’. This is certainly an entry that merges the old with the new and could qualify.

4 – San Marino (SMRTV) – Jessika feat. Jenifer Brening – “Who We Are” – 500/1
Debut: 2008
Wins: 0
Worst Result: Last (2008- SF, 2017-SF)

San Marino has only qualified for the final once since debuting at Eurovision in 2008 and that was in 2014. This year they are sending Jessika from Malta and Jenifer from Germany to attempt to get them to the Grand Final. This is an upbeat pop song that stands out with previous entries and has that Eurovision feel, plus there are robots!

5 – Denmark (DR) – Rasmussen – “Higher Ground” – 80/1
Debut: 1957
Wins: 3 (1963, 2000, 2013)
Worst Result: Last (2002)

I normally have a soft spot for Danish entries to Eurovision and this year is no different. This folk-pop song from Rasmussen is easy to listen to and could qualify. I shall be hoping for it to!

6 – Russia (C1R) –  Julia Samoylova – “I Won’t Break” – 150/1
Debut: 1994
Wins: 1 (2008)
Worst Result: 17th (1995)

After the shenanigans with their entry last year I am not a fan of Russia and this year they are sending Julia again. I’m not sure if Eurovision fans will be more forgiving than me. I know Eurovision isn’t supposed to be political, but its hard for me to not be with Russia this year! It is a good pop song though, so don’t be surprised if it qualifies.

7 – Moldova (TRM) – DoReDoS – “My Lucky Day” – 30/1
Debut: 2005
Wins: 0
Worst Result: Last (2014 – SF)

Moldova are bringing an uptempo Balkan pop song to Eurovision. DoReDoS is a trio made up of Marina Djundiet, Eugeniu Andrianov, and Sergiu Mîța. Moldova finished 3rd in Kyiv last year and will be hoping for a good result again this year.

8 – Netherlands (AVROTROS) – Waylon – “Outlaw in ‘Em” – 150/1
Debut: 1956
Wins: 4 (1957, 1959, 1969, 1975)
Worst Result: Last ( 1958, 1962 – nul points, 1963 – nul points, 1968, 2011 – SF)

Waylon took part in Eurovision in 2014 as part of the Common Linnets and is back this year with a country pop song. It’s the only country song in this years contest so it does stand out, but has country’s moment at Eurovision passed?

9 – Australia (SBS) – Jessica Mauboy – “We Got Love” – 66/1
Debut: 2015
Wins: 0
Worst Result: 9th (2017)

This is not Jessica’s first time at Eurovision, she sang as part of the Australian inspired Interval Act during the 2nd Semi Final of Eurovision in 2014. But this time she is back and is representing Australia in competition. This only Australia’s 4th entry to Eurovision and they have consistently placed in the top 10 and this pop entry could do it again for them!

10 – Georgia (GPB) – Iriao – “For You” – 500/1
Debut: 2007
Wins: 0
Worst Result: Last (2014 – SF)

While the title is in English, don’t be confused the entire song is in Georgian. Iriao are an ethno-jazz band whose entry is very distinctive. Will it appeal to Eurovision Jurors or viewers is hard to tell. It is a very melodic song that I do find myself nodding along to.

11- Poland (TVP) – Gromee feat. Lukas Meijer – “Light Me Up” – 200/1
Debut: 1994
Wins: 0
Worst Result: Last (2011 – SF)

From Georgian Jazz to some Polish Dance Music, this distinct change in style could help or hinder both of these entries. This entry has already topped the charts in Poland and is certainly a summer dance track. I can see this going down well in the arena in Lisbon!

12 – Malta (PBS) – Christabelle – “Taboo” – 200/1
Debut: 1971
Wins: 0
Worst Result: Last (1971, 1972, 2006)

And from Dance to Pop! Malta keeps the uptempo sound going with this pop anthem entry. I normally enjoy Maltese entries to Eurovision and this year is no different. I will be rooting for this on Thursday!

13 – Hungary (MTVA) – AWS – “Viszlát nyár” – 100/1
Debut: 1994
Wins: 0
Worst Result: Last (2008 – SF)

Hungary change it up for us again bring us some ‘post-hardcore‘ (?) punk rock. Eurovision doesn’t normally go for heavy rock (Lordi being the exception in 2006), so this may be one of the eight entries that does not qualify tonight.

14 – Latvia (LTV) – Laura Rizzotto – “Funny Girl” – 250/1
Debut: 2000
Wins: 1 (2002)
Worst Result: Last (2009 – SF, 2010 – SF, 2013 – SF, 2017 – SF)

Latvia brings us a pop song from 23-year-old Brazilian Singer/Songwriter Laura Rizzotto. ‘Funny Girl’  is an emotive pop song which could deliver on the night. But will it be drowned out?

15 – Sweden (SVT) –  Benjamin Ingrosso – “Dance You Off” – 16/1
Debut: 1958
Wins: 6 (1974, 1984, 1991, 1999, 2012, 2015)
Worst Result: Last (1963 – nul points, 1977)

This was 20-year-old Benjamin’s 2nd attempt to represent Sweden at Eurovision and this year won the Swedish National Final Melodifestivalen. This is a great relaxed pop tune for Sweden. It’s in the top 10 in the betting and it certainly could be heading for a top 10 finish.

16 – Montenegro (RTCG) – Vanja Radovanović – “Inje” – 500/1
Debut: 2007
Wins: 0
Worst Result: 22nd (2007 – SF)

Montenegro have only qualified for the final twice since their début, and Vanja is unlikely to make it the third time, despite entering this pop ballad

17 – Slovenia (RTV SLO) – Lea Sirk – “Hvala, ne!” – 500/1
Debut: 1993
Wins: 0
Worst Result: Last (2013 – SF)

This is a great pop song from Slovenia’s Lea Sirk which translate as “No Thanks!”. ‘Hvala, Ne!’ has reached the top 20 in Slovenia, but Slovenia hasn’t appeared in the Grand Final since 2015. This could do get to the Final on a good night for them!

18 – Ukraine (UA:PBC) – Mélovin – “Under The Ladder” – 125/1
Debut: 2003
Wins: 2 (2004, 2016)
Worst Result: 24th (2017)

Last years host Ukraine have yet to miss a Grand Final and this Electro pop entry certainly has what it takes to get to the final. This should finish the show on a high note and make sure the Ukraine’s qualification streak continues.

So do I think will qualify for the Grand Final? In no particular order the ten qualifiers are…

  1. Norway
  2. Sweden
  3. Moldova
  4. Romania
  5. Denmark
  6. Austrailia
  7. Poland
  8. Malta
  9. Latvia
  10. Ukraine

Semi-Final 2 takes place on Thursday 10th and will be broadcast on RTÉ2 and BBC4 as well as on Youtube.

Eurovision 2018: Semi-Final 1 qualifiers!

Photo by: Andres Putting

The show has just ended in Lisbon on the first night of Eurovision and the following ten countries have qualified for the Grand Final on Saturday night.

  1. Austria
  2. Estonia
  3. Cyprus
  4. Lithuania
  5. Israel
  6. Czech Republic
  7. Bulgaria
  8. Albania
  9. Finland
  10. Ireland

Out of the 10 I predicted, I thought that Belgium and Greece would get through, but I am delighted to see Albania and Ireland (of course!) go through to the Grand Final!

This means we say goodbye to Azerbaijan (who also say goodbye to their qualification streak), Iceland, Belgium, Belarus, Macedonia, Croatia, Greece, Armenia & Switzerland.

During the after show press conference the qualifiers picked their starting half for the Grand Final

1st Half

  • Austria
  • Albania
  • Estonia
  • Lithuania

2nd Half

  • Bulgaria
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Finland
  • Ireland
  • Israel

See you on Thursday for Semi-Final 2!

Eurovision 2018 – Semi-Final 1

So its been awhile since I have blogged here and even longer since I have written about Eurovision but look out! I am back! And its Eurovision Week!!!

Tonight in Lisbon the Jury Semi Final 1 is taking place while the live show takes place tomorrow Tuesday 8th.

Speaking of the Juries, there is a slight change in the weighting of individual jury rankings this year and should make the contest fairer.

19 countries are taking part in Semi Final 1 which looks set to be one of the best Eurovision shows ever! As well as the 19 entries, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom will be voting.  Only 10 of the entries will make it through to the Grand Final on Saturday and join Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom, France, Italy and Germany along with the 10 qualifiers from Semi Final 2 on Thursday night.

So let’s take a look at the entries.

All odds are from paddypower.com as taken on 07/05/2018

1 – Azerbaijan (İTV) – AISEL – “X my Heart” – 125/1
Debut: 2008
Wins: 1 (2011)
Worst Result: 22nd (2014)

X my Heart (pronounced cross my heart) is a great song to start the show. Azerbaijan have consistently sent great songs and since joining the Eurovision Family have never failed to make it to the Grand Final. This year is no different as this dance-pop song should easily qualify for the Grand Final.

2 – Iceland (RÚV) – Ari Ólafsson – “Our Choice” – 500/1
Debut: 1986
Wins: 0
Worst Result: Last (1989 – nul points, 2001)

Iceland are still waiting for their first win at Eurovision and haven’t qualified for the Grand Final since 2014, and this year they are sending 19-year-old Ari Ólafsson to try to win. This is very much a pop ballad which is very easy to listen to. But with the strength of competition in this Semi-Final, it could struggle to qualify.  It is one to listen to and enjoy though!

3 – Albania (RTSH) – Eugent Bushpepa – “Mall” – 500/1
Debut: 2004
Wins: 0
Worst Result: 17th – SF (2007)

This is the type of entry I love Eurovision for. Eugent’s ‘Mall’ mixes traditional influences with classical rock. While you won’t be rocking out to this you certainly will enjoy listening  to it. One of the one’s I hope will get to the final, where Albania hasn’t been since 2015.

4 – Belgium (VRT) – Sennek – “A Matter of Time” – 50/1
Debut: 1956
Wins: 1  (1986)
Worst Result: Last (1961, 1962- nul points, 1965- nul points, 1973, 1979, 1985, 1993, 2000)

This year it is the turn Flemish broadcaster in Belgium VRT to pick the entry for Eurovision and they have chosen singer and songwriter Sennek who co-wrote this entry with Alex Callier and Maxime Tribèche. This is another type of Eurovision I love, it has Orchestral pop, soul and electronica influences. Belgium has qualified for the final every year since 2015 and I think this will continue and possible end up a top 10 finisher at the Grand Final.

5 – Czech Republic (ČT) – Mikolas Josef – “Lie to Me”– 11/1
Debut: 2007
Wins: 0
Worst Result: Last (2007 – SF, 2009 – SF nul points)

This is the Czech Republic’s 7th entry to Eurovision since their Debut in 2007 and it is by far their best!! Having only appeared in the Grand Final once, back in 2016, Lie to Me is a fun foot tapper. While Mikolas has made headlines due to a back injury suffered due to a fall in rehearsals, the 22 year certainly has a bright future ahead of him no matter what happens at Eurovision.

6 – Lithuania (LRT) – Ieva Zasimauskaitė – “When We’re Old” – 80/1
Debut: 1994
Wins: 0
Worst Result: Last (1994 – nul points, 2005 – SF)

This is a beautiful song from Lithuania’s Ieva who won her ticket to Eurovision on her fifth attempt! Ieva, who is 24, previously entered the Lithuanian National Selection in 2013, 2014, 2016 & 2017. This is wonderful pop ballad and should easily qualify for the Grand Final. Its one of my favourite entries.

7 – Israel (KAN) – Netta – “Toy” –  2/1
Debut: 1973
Wins: 3 (1978, 1979, 1998)
Worst Result: 24th (2007 – SF)

The Israeli Broadcasting Authority shut down last year following reforms of the public broadcasting in Israel and Israel is now represented by KAN. This is one of this years top songs and is seen as the one the beat! And its easy to see why! It has topped the chart in Israel and it could do the same at Eurovision. A great pop song! I expect to hear this played in night clubs in Europe whether it wins or not!

8 – Belarus (BTRC) – Alekseev – “Forever” – 80/1
Debut: 2004
Wins: 0
Worst Result: 22nd (2006 – SF)

For this years entry Belarus have sent 24-year-old Alekseev with a synth-pop love song called ‘Forever’.  The song which has charted in the Ukraine and Russia could find it hard to qualify as neither of those countries are in this Semi-Final, but I think song could still qualify as it is a song that will people will like.

9 – Estonia (ERR) – Elina Nechayeva – “La Forza” – 11/2
Debut: 1994
Wins: 1 (2001)
Worst Result: Last (2016 – SF)

Estonia have decided to send a song in Italian, an usual choice but not unheard of, especially when you hear this beautiful operatic pop song. I do expect spectacular staging for this entry going by the national final. This instantly reminds me of Melana Erman’s 2009 Swedish entry ‘La Voix’ which was in English and French. That finished in 4th that year, could Estonia see a top five finish or their 2nd win at Eurovision?

10 – Bulgaria (BNT) – Equinox – “Bones” – 12/1
Debut: 2005
Wins: 0
Worst Result: 19th (2005 – SF)

Bulgaria who were runner’s up last year and back and they are hoping to do well again. Equinox are a five-piece band made up of Bulgarian singers Zhana Bergendorff, Georgi Simeonov, and Vlado Mihailov, and American singers Johnny Manuel and Trey Campbell. This is a pop love song that should do well and could possible be a dark horse, will Eurovision be heading to Bulgaria? Only time will tell! They want to win!

11 -Macedonia (MKRTV) – Eye Cue – “Lost and Found” – 250/1
Debut: 1998
Wins: 0
Worst Result: 16th (2011 – SF, 2013- SF)

This is another song that is going to be a guilty pleasure from Eurovision (it joins a long list!). With EDM and reggae influences this is a great entry from Macedonia and could be great fun on the night. Vocally strong and modern this could surprise us and qualify!

12 – Croatia (HRT) – Franka – “Crazy” – 200/1
Debut: 1993
Wins: 0
Worst Result: 16th (2007 – SF)

It’s at this point of the show we realise how tough it will be to pick 10 songs to qualify! This is fantastic pop entry from Croatia’s Franka which has reached number 2 in the charts in Croatia. This for me is 50/50 on whether it will qualify.

13 – Austria (ORF) – Cesár Sampson – “Nothing But You” – 80/1
Debut: 1957
Wins: 2 (1966, 2014)
Worst Result: Last (1957, 1961, 1962- nul points, 1979, 1984, 1988- nul points, 1991 – nul points, 2012 – SF (Nul points also in 2015 along with Germany))

This is a great entry from Austria. This is a soulful R&B inspired song with a gospel flare. It is one that has quickly grown on me. While its only been 4 years since Austria won Eurovision, this is one that could do very well, if it gets to the final.

14 – Greece (ERT) – Yianna Terzi –  “Oniro mou” (Όνειρό μου) – 66/1
Debut: 1974
Wins: 1 (2005)
Worst Result: 16th (2016 – SF)

‘Oniro Mou’ which translates as My Dream is this years Greek entry and it has already topped the chart in Greece. This pop song is certainly what you expect from Greece. It’s very easy to listen to. It could be a top 10 finisher, I don’t think it will be Greece’s second win at Eurovision

15 – Finland (YLE) – Saara Aalto – “Monsters” – 40/1
Debut: 1961
Wins: 1 (2006)
Worst Result: Last (1963 – nul points, 1965 – nul points, 1968, 1980, 1982 – nul points, 1990, 1992, 1996, 2009, 2015 – SF)

Saara Aalto previously tried to represent Finland in 2011 and 2016 and finished in 2nd both times. She may also seem familiar as she was in the 13th series of X Factor UK where she also finished as runner-up! 2018 is Saara’s year with this amazing pop entry! ‘Monsters’ is one that will get you dancing, it has reached 14 in the Finnish charts so far, can it do better at Eurovision?

16 – Armenia (AMPTV) – Sevak Khanagyan – “Qami” (Քամի) – 250/1
Debut: 2006
Wins: 0
Worst Result: 12th (2011 – SF)

‘Qami’ which translates as Wind is this years Armenia entry. Armenia has only missed the Grand Final once, in 2011, but with the strength of the entries in this semi final, Sevak may find it hard to qualify with this pop ballad.

17 – Switzerland (SRG SSR) –  ZiBBZ – “Stones” – 300/1
Debut: 1956
Wins: 2 (1956, 1988)
Worst Result:  Last (1964 – nul points, 1967 – nul points, 1974, 1998 – nul points, 2004 – SF – nul points, 2010 – SF, 2011, 2015 – SF, 2016 – SF)

ZiBBZ are brother and sister Corinne “Coco” Gfeller (vocals) and Stefan “Stee” Gfeller (drums, keyboard). Stones is pop rock entry which stands out in this Semi-Final. Switzerland has only qualified for the grand final twice since 2007 (2011 & 2014) and with this Semi Final will they qualify? It’s highly unlikely, but surprised do happen at Eurovision!

18 – Ireland (RTÉ) – Ryan O’Shaughnessy – “Together” – 200/1
Debut: 1965
Wins: 7 (1970, 1980, 1987, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996)
Worst Result: Last (2007, 2013)

Ireland holds the record for the most wins at Eurovision, but recently have struggled. Ireland hasn’t been since at a Grand Final since 2013. This song is one that has grown on me since I first heard it. The video, which was filmed in Temple Bar, is also beautiful. It’s unlikely to get to the final, but I will be hopeful for 25-year-old Ryan O’Shaughnessy!

19 – Cyprus (CyBC) – Eleni Foureira – “Fuego” – 8/1
Debut: 1981
Wins: 0
Worst Result: Last (1986)

The final entry in this Semi Final is from Cyrus who have qualified to the Grand Final in 2015, 2016 & 2017. This years looks to continue that pattern with this Mediterranean inspired dance entry from Eleni Foureira. This is a great song to finish on and should be remembered easily by the voting public and juries and see it easily into the Grand Final. Cyprus have yet to win Eurovision, could this be dark horse?

So who do I think will qualify? (in no particular order)

  1. Israel
  2. Estonia
  3. Austria
  4. Belgium
  5. Czech Republic
  6. Finland
  7. Bulgaria
  8. Lithuania
  9. Greece
  10. Cyprus

Semi Final 1 takes place at 8pm on Tuesday 8th of May and will be broadcast on RTÉ 2 and BBC 4.

The Church of England and THAT House of Bishops Report

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.

Fr Pip – The old order. The C of E, LGBT and holding on.

Quiet Vicar – Chasing Shadows…..and getting very cross with the House of Bishops

Miranda Threlfall-Holmes – Sex and the bishops

Jayne Ozanne (Statement) – Unbelievable, Unacceptable and Ungodly.

Rachel Mann – More Dust: Personal Response to the Statement on Sexuality

Kelvin Holdsworth – How to change the Church of England – a quick recap

Good luck to all. I pray that you will eventually succeed!

I’m Fed Up

i-can-t-keep-calm-i-m-fed-upI’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.

8803e3a7b39eb8592f3ccee708ac5bf9We 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?

745119212-luke-lirot-quote-it-is-not-a-perfect-world-but-we-can-do-betterWe 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.

But I am FED UP!

“Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

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.

Gage Skidmore (Flickr)
Gage Skidmore (Flickr)

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.

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

Orlando – A Gay Christian’s response

pulese“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.

lgbt half mastWe 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.

Vigils are being held in Ireland this week in remembrance for those who died. Tonight In Dublin Belong To, GLEN – GAY AND LESBIAN EQUALITY NETWORK and Transgender Equality Network Ireland are in Bernardo’s Square (beside City Hall on Dame Street, Dublin 2) at 6.30pm Monday and also in Tralee tonight at 9pm in the Square.

In Galway on Wednesday in Eyre Square organised by Amach and also in Cork on Wednesday.

Further Reading:

Thoughts on Orlando – UCC Express Editorial

Queer Muslims exist – and we are in mourning too – The Guardian

Taoiseach’s Seanad Nominees announced

Seanad_Alan-BetsonThis 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.