“A historic day” – A Look back on a campaign

2015-05-17 11.51.40Its been awhile since I blogged and I only managed one post here during the referendum campaign itself, I felt I was playing a greater role through working with the amazing team in YesEquality Cork and Faith in Marriage Equality.

It was very tough campaign, but the result was phenomenal.

But not only was the result phenomenal, but the volunteers were phenomenal. Having been involved in Referendums and Election Campaigns in the past, I have never felt part of something bigger then me, or been involved in something that would have such a profound impact on me.

Across the campaign I was blown away by the enthusiasm of those involved in the campaign, not only from the LGBT Community but from those who were not going to be directly effected by this vote, but that they were doing it for friends, for family members or because they believed it was the right thing to do.

The Community though were by far the stars for me. It has always been described as a community, but I must say, despite having involved in Cork Pride and other groups, I never felt part of ‘community’. That changed in this campaign. They stood up, went outside their comfort zone and got involved.

2015-05-14 11.08.43At the beginning of this campaign I was worried about this. How do we get those who’s idea of a community was a pub, out campaigning. But I didn’t need to worry. Once the campaign got going they were there. They were helping prepare for canvass’s, they were answering phones, making badges, knocking on doors. The passion, the importance, the integrity, it just blew me away.

Across the country from Donegal to Wexford  people stood up to be counted. They campaigned Monday to Sunday, sun-up to sun-down, and convinced the people on the ground on how important a Yes Vote was.

And it worked. It worked hugely. The Yes Campaign managed to catch the imagination of the electorate and that was evident in the result.

On the campaign, it had some of my best and some of hardest canvasses that I have ever did.  It was often though going on the door, basically asking for my right to Marry, but some nights the reaction was just mind-blowing. Some nights the reaction wasn’t great, being told to “f**k off” or that is what “unnatural”, but the nights I was hugged or rewarded big smiles did make it worth it.

2015-05-18 19.44.42I also had some first’s in the campaign. Publishing my first Election Material, a faith based letter giving out at churches across Cork (Big thank you to YesEquality Cork for this!), and running the tally in Cork City Hall. Of course I was well used to canvassing, I had never led canvass’s before so this was another ‘first’, but one that many in this campaign can share. It was amazing out on the ground with YesEquality Cork which can be seen in all the Selfies from the campaign trail!

The result though was better then anything I ever expected. A 62% yes vote was out of this world and better then I ever expected. As anyone who say me on the day of the results (and the days after) knows how emotional I was and its only now that I was feeling ok enough to write this without crying!

What we did, as a campaign, as a country, was historic. We made many people’s hopes possible. We completed a path, that many before us laid. We can be very proud of what we did, while there are still many equality issues in Ireland to be fixed, this is one less issue.

I know I can’t wait for Cork Pride this year!

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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Fine Gael launches a Facebook Campaign

As the election was announced yesterday, I noticed messages appearing in my Facebook feed like this one:

It would seem that Fine Gael have launched a facebook widget which is linked from their website.

It is an interesting move from the party and I wonder how it will play out on Facebook.

I myself am a bit sceptical because it seems to be trying to use American Campaign techniques, and I am not sure how it will go down. It also is not very interactive. It seems to be more broadcast then conversation which engagement with social media should be. But I am open to be proven wrong on this.

There is also a grassroots campaign with Twibbons putting the Fine Gael star on peoples  profile pictures. So far 121 people have added it to their profile.

I wonder which of the two campaigns will be more successful?

Conservative Ads

Conservative Party logoImage via WikipediaThe Conservative Party in the UK have launched a new Advertising campaign on “Labour’s Debt Crisis”. According to the Conservatives Shadow Chancellor each child born in Britain will owe £17,000. I must say it is a fantastic campaign. It really hits the point on UK Debt. I agree with John over on Semper-Idem that FG need to be developing campaigns like this. The Budget campaign that they did before Christmas is something that could easily be further developed into this. Anyway check out the videos below.

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Government Mistakes. You Pay

Fine Gael has launched its winter campaign against the Government and shows no sign of resting on its poll poistion. The campaign aims to highlight the governments mistakes and Fine Gael’s alternative to the budget. The campiagn consists of a website with online videos, regional meetings and asking people for there say.

Speaking on the launch of the campaign Fine Gael Leader, Enda Kenny said

We want to hear what the public have to say about the future direction for our country. We have set out an alternative to the current Government’s approach based on tough but fair policies that protect the vulnerable in our society but tackle wasteful and excessive spending. This campaign exposes the Government’s failings in the recent Budget and promotes our better alternative. It also allows for both virtual and actual interaction between our Party and the public. We look forward to meeting thousands of people around the country over the coming weeks as we organise our public meetings, but we also look forward to getting reaction to our campaign online at our campaign website www.FairerBudget.com.

Commenting on the campaign, Deputy Leader and Finance Spokesman Richard Bruton said:

The recent Budget from this Government risks turning a recession in to a depression. It was ill-conceived and made fundamental errors in the way it was framed. Current spending continues to increase at an unsustainable rate while capital spending has been cut. Pay costs continue to rise for existing staff numbers yet front line services are cut for the most vulnerable. The Fine Gael approach would give our small businesses a chance to trade their way out of trouble and would also have better protected the more vulnerable members of our society. This campaign will, I believe, help promote that message to a wide and diverse audience.

Strangely enough there is no meeting for Cork City. Must get on to public reps about that! Do have a look about the website.

What Better Deal?

This originally appear on the The Political Gay on GayCork.com

Sinn Fein’s main message at this point in the Referendum campaign is to Vote No to get a “Better Deal”. But what is this “Better Deal”. According to a Sinn Fein Ad in today’s Indo it is to:

* Secure a permanent Irish Commissioner
* Copper fasten key strategic veto’s on public services, taxation and international trade
* Stop Irish rates of pay and conditions being undercut
* Protect neutrality and oppose the imposition if increased military spending
* Stop using taxpayers’ money to fund nuclear power
* Main the absolute right of Irish citizens to have the final say in any significant changes to EU treaties
So SF give 6 things and none of them can be done. People forget that this is Plan B. Plan A was the European Constitution. There is no “Better Deal”! But lets look at what SF are looking for?

1. Secure a permanent Irish Commissioner
We voted to get rid of this under the Nice Treaty. This is not an issue with Lisbon, we as voters have already accepted this.

2. Copper fasten key strategic veto’s on public services, taxation and international trade
The veto is retained on the second two and the first does not come under a competence of the EU, so a non-isue with this treaty.

3. Stop Irish rates of pay and conditions being undercut
This arrives from an EU Directive already in place about foreign Sub Contractors. Our Government has already agreed to this and is due to be implemented soon here. Voting No to Lisbon will not change this.

4. Protect neutrality and oppose the imposition if increased military spending
We ain’t Neutral, we are non-aligned. No Neutral country would allow another have a veto over its use of military (Five countries have this power over Ireland). Also Neutral states, proper ones like Sweden and Switzerland, have large well equipped armies capable of defending the state. Our Defence Force does need investment! I dealt with the question of Irish Neutrality here

5. Stop using taxpayers’ money to fund nuclear power
Good old EURATOM makes an appearance at number 5. We signed up to this, again we cant change it!

6. Main the absolute right of Irish citizens to have the final say in any significant changes to EU treaties
We will have this right whether we Vote Yes or No. As all states will have to ratify future treaty changes in accordance to national procedures. In our case a referendum!

As you can see all 6 are either impossible to achieve or already there. So what is the “Better Deal”? The Lisbon Treaty

Vote Yes on June 12th

Back on the Canvass

This was originally posted on The Political Gay on GayCork.com

Yes, I know I’m barely back a week and I am out canvassing. Nothing new there really.

I spent Friday evening and Saturday morning canvassing Mahon Point Shopping Centre, we then moved onto the City Centre for part of the afternoon (before the Match of course).

This is the first time I am canvassing (or even voting) in a constitutional referendum so it’s all new and interesting for me.

So the reaction. On Friday the reaction to us (campaigning for a Yes Vote, juts in case you are unsure) was fairly balanced Yes/No wise, with the Yes being slightly ahead.

Saturday was quieter on reaction from both sides but most people seamed happy to take a leaflet on the Treaty.

What annoyed me was people who said they didn’t know anything about the treaty yet refused to take some literature to actually read up about it.

What I don’t get, is people who disagree with you who decide to rip up the leaflet in front of you. Its so heart breaking…. NOT. Get a life like, give it back if you don’t want it, save the environment and all that!

The funniest thing that happened to me (Strange things always happen to me canvassing!) was that a woman passed me and then came back ( I didn’t hand her a leaflet or attempt as I had been dealing with someone else) and told me I would regret supporting the treaty as under the Treaty of ROME, not Lisbon, that the EU would take over our land, I would be conscripted into an EU Army (I won’t, I’ve done my service, if it was being brought in, which it is) and that the EU is being run by the Freemasons. I was like “huh?”, No, I’ve read the Treaty’s (Rome, Nice and Lisbon) and that does not come under them, as Rome was an economic treaty.

Another elderly gentleman gave out to me as the Treaty does not mention God. Why should it? It’s an intergovernmental treaty!! Then he mentioned abortion, which is covered by a declaration under the Maastricht (or was it Amsterdam) Treaty, and the EU will not be telling us what to do on it!

Neutrality also came up on the canvass, a young man asked be it as a “straightforward Question” to which he wanted a “straightforward answer”, he did ask in a nice way. I of course set the record straight for him. The triple lock will still be in place when the treaty passes (or fails). Also the Seville Declaration attached to the Nice Treaty safeguards our right not to take part in a common defence pact.

Right that’s all for now. I am attending a Rally on the Lisbon Treaty on Thursday at 8pm in the Imperial Hotel and I will post my reaction to that also

YFG Posters to "Excite Electorate on Lisbon Treaty"

So remember the competition that I mentioned John over at Semper Idem blogged about? Well we have the results of it.

And the press release accompanying them claims the following

YFG President, Barry Walsh said: “Young Fine Gael does not propose the young people of Ireland support this Treaty purely on the basis of past economic and social benefits to Ireland. Rather, we believe it should be supported because of the real potential it offers to further improve the prospects of the young people of Ireland and Europe. The benefits to young people are clear.

My Opinion?
I dont like them! I prefer the posters we had for Nice, they were more sutle and interesting and werent so blatant! I know this was a open competition but come on people get your mind out of the gutters!

Some other reactions to the poster campaigns.

Green Ink has a fantastic pic over on IrishElection. Damien Mulley has a few interesting links on other peoples opinions and rejigs on it!

Young Fine Gael Aim to Excite Electorate on Lisbon Treaty – YFG PR

Me Not Meth – New Campaign in Ca

Via gay news blog

California drug officials launched an $11-million barrage of billboards, bus wraps, cable TV ads and a website Thursday aimed at discouraging gay men from using methamphetamine, an illegal stimulant linked to risky sexual behavior and the spread of HIV.

The Website is an excellent resource and the TV ad is very good. I’ve posted about Cystal Meth, or ‘TINA’ or whatever you want to call it, before and again these are worth a look.

Of course the most interesting and horrify part is the stories of people affected of the drug. Please take the time to look at this website

Meth Facts
Methamphetamine is a stimulant that affects the body’s central nervous system. Commonly known as “crystal,” “speed,” “meth,” or “Tina”, methamphetamine is an off-white, odorless crystalline powder that tastes bitter and easily dissolves in water. Methamphetamine may be smoked, snorted, injected or swallowed.

Meth FAQ
What are the short-term effects of methamphetamine use?
Methamphetamine increases energy and suppresses appetite. It slows digestion and increases alertness and concentration. The effects last from 6 to 12 hours or more. Depending on how much or how long one uses, one can become easily agitated, which can sometimes lead to violent behavior. Methamphetamine, like cocaine, strongly activates the reward and pleasure systems of the brain, particularly three important brain chemicals called neurotransmitters: dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. As a result, methamphetamine elevates mood, induces euphoria, increases alertness, reduces fatigue, increases energy, decreases appetite, increases movement and speech, and/or provides a sense of increased personal power. However, the drug eventually “hijacks” this reward and pleasure system. Methamphetamine increases blood pressure, heart rate and sweating, and causes anxiety, irritability, insomnia, paranoia, and sometimes even psychosis. Once the high wears off, mental and physical exhaustion set in, often with a deep depression that sometimes includes thoughts of suicide.

What are the long-term effects of methamphetamine use?
Methamphetamine causes long lasting changes in brain chemistry, particularly in the pleasure systems of the brain. These changes impact abilities such as memory, judgment, and reasoning. Other long-term effects include extreme cravings for the drug and dreams of use. These brain changes do not disappear quickly after you stop using methamphetamine and are important factors leading to relapse. However, these conditions improve with extended discontinued use of the drug through treatment. The sooner a user gets into treatment, the better, and the longer a user stays in treatment, the greater the chances that treatment will be effective.

What are some physical signs that someone is using methamphetamine?
Common signs that someone is using methamphetamine include teeth grinding, obsessive picking of the face or body, hallucinations (in what one sees and hears), euphoria, extreme energy, inability to sleep for days, dramatic weight loss, paranoia and violent behavior.

Is it possible to overdose from methamphetamine?
Yes, one can experience overdose from methamphetamine use. Death from a methamphetamine overdose is associated with kidney failure and collapse of the circulatory system. A large percentage of patients who die usually have symptoms of coma, shock, inability to urinate, and muscle twitching.

In addition, methamphetamine use can cause an increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and vascular constriction. These symptoms may cause heart problems, stroke, and kidney failure.

How is methamphetamine produced?
The process for making methamphetamine is potentially explosive and produces toxic byproducts. The main ingredients used in the process are ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, which are chemicals found in common cold and allergy medicines. Methamphetamine is manufactured using toxic chemicals such as lithium from batteries, bleach and drain cleaner, paint thinner, lye, red phosphorous and iodine crystals.

What can one expect when coming down or withdrawing from methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine withdrawal, or “crashing,” symptoms can last from days to weeks and involve loss of energy, depression, fearfulness, prolonged sleep or difficulty sleeping, shaking, nausea, sweating, hyperventilation, increased appetite, irritability and drug craving.

Why is there an association between methamphetamine and HIV?
The association between methamphetamine and HIV transmission is related to 1) the tendency of users to engage in unprotected and uninhibited sex while under the influence of methamphetamine among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (G/B/MSM) and 2) the risks associated with injection drug use for those who inject methamphetamine.

In terms of sexual transmission, many G/B/MSM who are methamphetamine users may not use condoms and may have sex with many different partners while experiencing the effects of the drug. Sexual activity on methamphetamine can be rougher and can last longer. This increases the likelihood that a condom breaks or a sexual partner experiences injury during intercourse, which in turn increases the risk of HIV infection.

Another contributing factor is that G/B/MSM who use methamphetamine have a higher rate of HIV prevalence than those who do not use methamphetamine. Different studies have found that gay men who use methamphetamine are two to four times more likely to be infected with HIV. For those infected with HIV, methamphetamine use can lead to a lapse in HIV medication regimens, weight loss and vitamin depletion. Use also decreases the sleep essential to maintaining the immune system and causes a drop in T cells and NK cells.

Negative Campaigning

Yesterday I showed my opinion on negative campaigning today breakingnews.ie have this story

US strategists hired to fight dirty election for FF and FG

Ireland’s two main political parties have reportedly both hired US spin doctors to help them conduct their upcoming election campaigns.

Reports this morning say Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have hired teams of American strategists to advise them on how to secure victory.

The development is prompting fears of a negative and personalised election campaign similar to those becoming commonplace in the United States.

Yesterday, the Progressive Democrats attacked Fine Gael over a poster campaign it is planning to launch against Minister for Justice Michael McDowell.

The posters accuse the minister of presiding over a massive increase in crime while claiming that “Everything is just great”.

Well its going to be a long, dirty slog!