Diary of A Canvasser: Day Out, Day In

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Well with election coming up, canvass teams have swung into full operation down here in Cork. Last week for the first time I both ended and started my day with a canvass!

This would be something that would seem to be a recurring theme for the election. There goes my lie-ins!

Last Monday (24th January) we canvassed an area of Douglas with Jerry Buttimer. We had a very good response and covered great ground. The issues on the doorstep where very detailed which sent us scurrying for policy documents and the candidate when we weren’t sure of exact details.

This is something I have noticed this time around. People are showing huge interest in the actual policies of the parties! FairCare, newERA and Re-inventing Government all came up on the doors. People seem to moving away from personality politics and hopefully, they will vote for the policies that they wish to be implemented.

The next morning saw me up early, at 7am! To be ready to be collected at 8am for canvassing again with Jerry Buttimer at Union Quay Bridge outside my college. This was the first time I had done an early morning canvass during an general election, I did a few during Lisbon, but that was a different kettle of fish.

The people that morning were a mix of students and professionals and it was a mixed response. Well some people just aren’t morning people. It was fun to canvass one of my teachers who was Dan Boyle’s campaign manager during the European Elections!

All in all in was a good morning and evening. Thank god I am off this weekend to cathc up on my beauty sleep!

Pinning the Blame on the Bankers?

A new crime is set to be established in Ireland if the Oireachtas pass a bill that Senator and Chairman of the Green Party, Dan Boyle, is planning to introduce. This bill would establish the crime of “financial treason”.

He said in a press release (taken from Corkpolitics.ie)

“Among the many reasons why there has been no action taken against known individuals working in Irish financial institutions whose greed and recklessness have brought us to where we are is that properly defined legislation seems to be lacking in defining this kind of white collar crime and fraud.

“I believe that there should be an offence of financial treason, carrying a mandatory sentence and huge fines, that would be applicable to defined individuals working in financial institutions licensed by the Irish State.

“There would be convictions on foot of any decision made knowingly by such individuals that result in reputational damage for the country, an unacceptable economic cost, or a loss of economic sovereignty.

“While much public anger has a political focus, and much of this is justified, the inability to bring to justice those whose self-interest and greed so undermined our national wellbeing, is something that must end, and end soon,”

This is all well and good and of course is populism at the highest order. If this was to be implemented, it wouldn’t change anything. No trials would take place, no fines given and certainly no one jailed.

Why?

Because this law cannot be retrospective. You cannot be tried for something that was not a crime when you committed it. Any trial that did take place would fall, as the “mens rea”, or the criminal intent, would not exist.

Despite this, I do hope this bill passes as it will allow us to hold bankers and others responsible for their actions. Unfortunately there is nothing we can do about the past, unless they have broken existing law.

A Question of Trust?

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Senator Dan Boyle, Chairman of the Green Party, has tweeted the following:

There is a questioning of trust and an adding to uncertainty that is making the basis for being in government much more difficult.

Are we about to see a General Election? Will the Greens pull out?

Reuters has picked up on this story also. I wonder will the EU-IMF be putting pressure on the Greens too stay in government?

Election.ie is rightly asking where is John Gormley during all this?

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FF Senators not happy with Civil Partnership Bill

There was some debate yesterday in the Seanad on the Civil Partnership Bill during the order of business. Fianna Fail Senators Labhrás Ó Murchú, Jim Walsh and John Gerard Hanafin raised objections to parts of the Bill and one called for a referendum. Also Fine Gael’s John Paul Phelan also spoke against part of the Bill.

Senator Ó Murchú claimed that the Civil Partnership Bill 2009 would breach some people’s human rights, he even compared it to the Penal laws! He said

I may have to speak in this House on behalf of Irish prisoners of conscience. The Civil Partnership Bill 2009 provides that a person can lose his or her job or be imprisoned, and that churches and other bodies can have their property commandeered. I do not think that is right in a country that has upheld traditional values down through the centuries, often in the face of oppression and misrepresentation. I do not think it is right that people who in good conscience believe they are upholding the same values should be subject to such a penal code. Many people in Ireland will see this as an echo of the dreaded penal laws. It cannot be correct.

Senator Walsh made a contribution making the case for a free vote, this was backed by Fine Gael’s Senator Joe O’Reilly. Senator Walsh said:

It is difficult, however, to ask any Member to abrogate his conscience with regard to matters which he – or she for that matter- feels are issues of conscience that are not for compromise in their view. Several issues will emerge, not just civil partnership but also embryonic stem cell research, pro-life and abortion issues. There is a ream of social issues which will have huge impact on the development of our society. We need to be careful. Those who have a view contrary to a liberal agenda being pushed by others have a right to a free vote on such issues as have people outside the right to exercise freedom of conscience.

Senator Hanafin called for a referendum and a free vote on the Civil Partnership Bill,

I call for a debate on the matter raised by Senators Ó Murchú and Walsh on the rights of people who will find themselves in extreme and difficult circumstances should the Civil Partnership Bill pass. The reality is there are people like myself who have difficulty with the Bill. As chairman of the Green Party and someone very much involved in the programme for Government, I ask the Deputy Leader again for a referendum such that the question can go to the people. Does the public seek a situation whereby a same-sex, sexual relationship has a higher standing in law than that of brothers, sisters, brothers and sisters or friends who live together in an ordinary way? Should such a relationship be put on a higher plain? I do not believe it should be nor do I believe that anyone who feels the same as I do should be discriminated against for that belief. With this in mind, I ask again for a referendum and, in particular, for a free vote when the situation comes to this House.

Senator Phelan also called for a free vote, not to criminalise registrars for non-performanace, and for brothers and sisters to be included

I have a reservation about the Civil Partnership Bill, which can impose a criminal sanction on a registrar who does not perform his or her role. I agreed with the decriminalisation of homosexuality ten or 20 years ago. Criminalising registrars for non-performance of their function is not a correct step in any legislation. I often disagree with Senator Hanafin but I strongly agree with him on this matter. I know so many brothers and sisters in my area who live together and never married. I am sure you also know of such people, a Chathaoirligh. I do not object to granting rights to couples, whether of the same or the opposite sex. However, people who are living together in a loving but non-sexual relationship, perhaps brothers or sisters, should not be discriminated against.

Also in the debate some interesting remarks were made by Senators Liam Twomey and Paul Bradford of Fine Gael.

Senator Twomey made this contribution,

With regard to the Civil Partnership Bill, how would people feel if members of my profession or the nursing profession decided not to treat patients on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation or religious persuasion? It would be completely unworkable. Members who are making speeches in this House must be a little more practical in their comments. Not agreeing with carrying out abortions or conducting embryonic stem cell research should not be put in the same category as treating patients who have a different religious persuasion, sexual orientation or gender. The same applies to nurses. We must clearly separate these issues and not muddy the waters with such talk either inside or outside the House.

Senator Bradford commented on the reaction to some statements and called for a fair and balanced debate,

I note the preamble on the Order of Business to the debate on the Civil Partnership Bill and the level of discomfort caused by certain comments made by some of my colleagues. I am not so intellectually superior to state anybody’s comments were misguided or erroneous and I am disappointed Members’ views were described as such. I do not live on a plane of such moral or intellectual superiority that I would describe anybody’s views as misguided. I hope we will have a tolerant debate when the Bill is before the House. It will be an interesting test of the House, our agenda and society. We claim to live in a liberal republic, but I have never encountered people as illiberal as those who refuse to accept other persons’ points of view as being equally balanced and fair.

There was a presentation of views by Senators Walsh and Ó Murchú. Perhaps there were others but, unfortunately, I did not hear all the other Members’ contributions. I was interested in the level of discomfort they appeared to cause on all sides of the House. The forthcoming debate on the Civil Partnership Bill must be fair and balanced. People not only have a conscience but a right to their conscience and we must try to ensure the debate is calm and fair. I look forward to presenting my views and some proposals as to how we can accommodate people’s conscientious difficulties. I hope that when a Member stands to express a different point of view, it will not be in a land of mutter, tutter, Twitter and discomfort. Our so-called liberal republic should also be a tolerant republic in which people can express their views without being derided and accused of being misguided and erroneous.

Senator Jerry Buttimer (Fine Gael) asked when the Bill was going to make it to the Seanad. Also Senator David Norris (Independent) called on Senators Ó Murchú, Hanafin, Walsh and Mullen to vote against the Bill like he is doing, he on the issue of Children.

Senator Dan Boyle (Green Party) had this to say in his response to the debate

With regard to the pre-debate on the Civil Partnership Bill and the issues raised by Senators Ó Murchú, Walsh, Hanafin, O’Reilly and Phelan—–

…..

In that regard, I point Members to the comments of President John F. Kennedy on defined political practice. He distinguished between the holding of personal religious beliefs and issues of conscience and the responsibilities of a public representative of all the people. When we debate this Bill, those principles should help to inform it. There is already legislation with which many of us would have conscientious issues. As people who form the law and have a responsibility for law already enacted, we have a responsibility to act on that conscience in a legal and responsible way for all the citizens of the country. I look forward to that debate. It is a necessary debate and must happen. I will share my views with those who are expressing concern on conscientious grounds.

The Civil Partnership Bill could be in for a bumpy ride when it gets to the Seanad.

The full debate can be read on Kildare Street here and here

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Sargent in trouble now

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So now Trevor Sargent is accused of acting improperly in a criminal case. The Minister of State is the latest in a long line of accusations to have hit the Government. The latest of course being the resignation of Willie O’Dea.

While many would have assumed the Green Party were above all this type of stuff but it turns out, being in Government with Fianna Fail may have taught them some bad habits.

If Sargent was still the Leader of the Green Party there would be calls for his resignation, but as he isn’t I don’t think there will be that much pressure. Of course FF may ask for his resignation to get back at the Greens for forcing O’Dea out, but then that would be hypocritical in the extreme!!

Fine Gael’s Charlie Flanagan has called for his resignation, and the Green Party Chairman, Dan Boyle,  is defending him saying

“I know he’s a decent and honourable man and he’ll act accordingly.”
So there will be no tweet looking for his resignation!
Trever Sargent will make an statement on the matter this evening in the Dáil.
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7 Irish MEP Candidates sign the ILGA Pledge

ILGA-Europe (International Lesbian and Gay Association – Europe) have a petition for MEP candidates on its website.

ILGA-Europe is calling upon candidates for the European Parliament elections 2009 to sign this pledge to promote equality and to combat discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression in their role as member of the European Parliament.

The 7 Irish MEP Candidates are:

  • Nessa Childers (Labour – Ireland East)
  • Pronsias De Rossa MEP (Labour – Ireland Dublin)
  • Mary Lou McDonald (Sinn Fein – Ireland Dublin)
  • Dan Boyle (Green – Ireland South)
  • Susan O’Keefe (Labour – Ireland North-West)
  • Alan Kelly (Labour – Ireland South)
  • Joe Higgins (Socialist Party – Ireland Dublin)

Fair play to them for signing it. Susan O’Keeffe’s comment was really touching:

NO MORE PLEDGES

I PLEDGE TO WORK TOWARDS THE DAY WHEN NO MORE PLEDGES LIKE THIS ONE WILL BE REQUIRED. WE ARE EQUAL AND THAT’S ALWAYS WORTH FIGHTING FOR.

(Caps aren’t mine)

She makes a good point.

See who signed in your country

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Ireland South – The Candidates

As most of you know, Cork is part of the Ireland South constituency for the European Elections. This compromises of Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford. In the last elections in 2004 Ireland South returned 3 MEPs. In 2009 it will also return 3 MEPs.

In 2004 the following were elected:
Brian Crowley (Fianna Fail/UEN)
Simon Coveney (Fine Gael/EPP-ED)
Kathy Sinnot (Independent/IndDem)

This year sees a few changes as Colm Burke replaced Simon Coveney as MEP following Simon’s re-election to the Dáil. Also following this years elections Fianna Fail will change party groupings from UEN to ALDE.

So who are the 09 Candidates?

Well the following are the list of official candidates I can find for the Ireland South Constituency (mainly found via Eurvote.org)

Brian Crowley MEP – Fianna Fail
Brian Crowley was first elected to the European Parliament in 1994. He is currently Co-President of the UEN. He served in Seanad Eireann prior to being elected as an MEP.

Colm Burke MEP – Fine Gael
Colm Burke is a former Lord Mayor of Cork and represented the North West Ward of the City on Cork City Council. He was co-opted onto Simon Coveney’s seat in 2007.

Dan Boyle – Green Party/An Chomortas Glas
Senator Dan Boyle is the current Chairman of the Green Party as well as being Deputy Leader of Senad Eireann. He served as TD for Cork South Central between 2002 and 2007. He is the Green Party Spokesman on Finance and on Social and Family Affairs. This is his first attempt at a European Election

Kathy Sinnott MEP– Independent
Kathy Sinnott was elected to the European Parliament in 2004. She is currently Co-Chair of the Independence and Democracy Group within the Parliament. Prior winning her seat in the Parliament, she ran in the 2002 General Election in Cork South Central and narrowly missed out on a seat.

Alan Kelly – Labour Party
Senator Alan Kelly was elected toe Seanad Eireann in 2007 on the Agricultural Panel. He is from Nenagh in County Tipperary. He is Labour’s spokesperson in the Seanad on Tourism, Finance and Local Government. This is first contesting a European Election.

Sean Kelly – Fine Gael
Sean Kelly was President of the GAA from 2003 to 2006. He previously ran for Fine Gael in the Local Elections in North Kerry and failed to be elected. This is his first attempt at a European Election.

Toireasa Ferris – Sinn Fein
Toireasa Ferris was co-opted to Kerry County Council in 2003 (to replace Martin Ferris TD), she won relection in 2004. She was Cathaoirleach of Kerry County Council from 2005-2006. This is her first attempt at a European Election.

So that is all the declared candidates for Ireland South. If you know of more let me know! I will be doing a more in-depth look at the candidates and where to find them online over the next few weeks!

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

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Why I love David Norris


During the debate on the Order of Business an argument broke out between Senator Dan Boyle (Green Party) and Senator Jerry Buttimer (Fine Gael) on the issue of Cork Airport. Senator David Norris (Independent) quip is the reason why he is in the house and why he should remain there! There are tears in my eyes! I wish I was there, though I would have been kicked out of the gallery.

Senator Dan Boyle: The House can have a valuable debate on this to support the cause. (Hes talking about the Olympics here)

The second debate I call for has more local significance, although it has national importance. A report has just been produced on the national aviation strategy, particularly on Cork Airport and its relationship with Dublin Airport. It was compiled by Mr. Peter Cassells on behalf of the Government. While it attempts to employ the wisdom of Solomon in dealing with the problem—–

Senator Jerry Buttimer: The Green Party in Lisbon—– (had me giggling, but not too much)

Senator Dan Boyle: —–there are wider issues that need to be debated in this Chamber.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Is the Senator supporting the Government?

An Cathaoirleach: Senator Boyle without interruption.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Is the Senator supporting the Government?

Senator Dan Boyle: I am surprised the Senator even needs to ask that question.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Is the Senator reneging on the people of Cork?

Senator Dan Boyle: Am I not sitting on this side of the Chamber?

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Is the Senator turning his back on the people of Cork?

An Cathaoirleach: Senator Boyle without interruption.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: He is turning his back on the people of Cork.

An Cathaoirleach: Senator Buttimer should not be interrupting.

Senator Dan Boyle: There is a certain Senator who sometimes believes a meeting in this Chamber is a meeting of the Cork GAA county board. There should be a better sense of decorum.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: What is wrong with the GAA? The Senator was never involved so he would not know about it. The Senator should not be denigrating Cork. He is in enough trouble as it is.

Senator David Norris: Could someone tell me what is the GAA? Is it a political organisation? (Was laughing so hard, tears were flowing down my face!)

An Cathaoirleach: The Senators should speak seriously on the Order of Business. I ask Senator Boyle to continue without interruption.

Norris for Life Senator!!!