Come Out and Vote!

to_vote_logo_largeTomorrow the Local and European Elections take place in Ireland. Polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm.

These elections will be the last Elections held before the planned referendum on Marriage next year. It is therefore very important that candidates who support the LGBT Community in Ireland are supported at the polls tomorrow.

To help find out who is supporting the community. ILGA Europe have asked candidates to sign the Come Out 2014 Pledge. Signatures were gathered from across Europe with 1,156 candidates taking the pledge. Also check out the Youtube Video

In Ireland 19 out of the 41 candidates have signed it. All 6 Fine Gael candidates have signed the pledge as have the 3 Labour and Green Party Candidates.

Surprisingly Lynn Boylan is the only Sinn Fein signatory on pledge and Mary Fitzpatrick is the only Fianna Fail signatory. These are both Dublin Candidates and it is also important to not that Dublin has the highest number of candidates who have signed it with 8, followed by South with 6 and in Midlands North West only 5 candidates have signed it.

Dublin

  • Lynn Boylan (SF)
  • Nessa Childers (Ind)
  • Emer Costello (Lab)
  • Mary Fitzpatrick (FF)
  • Brian Hayes (FG)
  • Paul Murphy (Socialist)
  • Eamonn Ryan (Green)
  • Brid Smith (PBPA)

Midlands North West

  • Mark Deary (Greens)
  • Marian Harkin (Ind)
  • Lorraine Higgins (Lab)
  • Jim Higgins (FG)
  • Mairead McGuinness (FG)

South

  • Deirdre Clune (FG)
  • Simon Harris (FG)
  • Sean Kelly (FG)
  • Diarmuid O’Flynn (Ind)
  • Phil Prendergast (Lab)
  • Grace O’Sulliavan (Green)

In the local Elections no such pledge exists, but a number of candidates up and down the country have shown their worth on LGBT issues. Whether by marching in Gay Pride Parades, being the Grand Marshall on some occasions. Supporting the LGBT groups within their parties and their communities. Sometimes it just supporting the events and individuals. Either way do take this into account when you vote tomorrow.

Ensure you vote goes to someone who will support you, who ever you are!

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European Parliament Elections 2014 – Ireland

This year will see the 28 member states of the European Union going to the polls between the 22nd and the 25th of May to elect a new European Parliament. In Ireland this years elections will see a big change on the 2009 elections due to boundary changes and the change in the Political landscape since that election.

Constituency Changes

A number of changes to the European Parliament constituencies was needed following Ireland’s reduction of seats to 11 following the accession of Croatia last July. The Constituency of Ireland East was abolished. Dublin stayed a 3 seat constituency. Ireland South gained Clare from North-West and gained Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford and Wicklow from the abolished Ireland East and is also now a 4 seat constituency. A new 4 seat constituency of Ireland Midlands-North-West was created including all of Ireland-North West and the remaining counties from Ireland East namely Kildare, Louth, Meath and Offally.

Political Changes

With Fine Gael and Labour now in power it will be a different dynamic then the past elections during Fianna Fail led Governments. With Labour expecting to lose a number of seats in the Local elections, its two remaining MEP’s look vulnerable, as neither of them have been elected. Fine Gael would do well to hold their 4 seats, though they may have their eyes set an that extra seat in Ireland South.

Fianna Fail who claim to be resurgent will also hope to gain back a seat in Dublin but could face difficulty with Brian Crowley in Ireland South who has the worst attendance record among Irish MEP’s. But with the larger constituency they have a chance to bring in new blood and could score a surprise.

The Socialist Party will be hoping to hold on it’s seat in Dublin, but its bizarre use of Paul Murphy posters throughout the country during the Fiscal Treaty referendum rather then on focusing them on Dublin was a strange tactic. They will be lucky to hold this seat as both Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail are likely to take the seat.

Sinn Fein who currently are unrepresented in the European Parliament will hope to change this following its performance in the last General Election. They must certainly have an eye on a seat in each of the constituencies but being realistic they should be happy with 2 (Dublin and South).

The Greens in this election will be fielding token candidates. I cannot see them getting elected anywhere. They may do well in there traditional areas (Dublin and Wicklow) but with both Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein taking the Labour votes, I don’t see enough left over for the Greens.

Ireland currently has 2 independent MEP’s, Marian Harkin and Nessa Childers. Marian Harkin is a well respected MEP in Ireland and further afield and normally has a decent vote in North-West. The addition of the Eastern Counties could benefit her and certainly keep her in contention as the addition of an extra seat should also up her chances.

Nessa Childers is a different story. She was elected as a Labour MEP in Ireland East and has confirmed that she will not be running as an S&D candidate in Ireland South

While the expansion of the constituency and the extra seat may help, I dont see it having the same effect as with Marian Harkin.

I do intend to follow the elections here, especially the European elections. Expect more constituency level posts as the Parties confirm their candidates.

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Pollwatch: Sunday Business Post/Red C April 29th

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 16:  Garda traffic cones...
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 16: Garda traffic cones prevent parking in central Dublin in advance of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh's visit on May 16, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. Dublin is preparing for the Queen and Duke of Edinbugh's historic visit tommorow, the first by a monarch since 1911. An unprecedented security operation is taking place with much of the centre of Dublin turning into a car free zone. Republican dissident groups have made it clear they are intent on disrupting proceedings. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

Yesterday’s Sunday Business Post had a Red C poll on the treaty referendum and on party support, so it made for interesting reading on the way home from Dublin (hence why this post is late). On the treaty it has shown some slight movement and it is the same story with party support.

The headline figures on the treaty are:

  • Yes 47% (-2)
  • No 35% (+2)
  • Don’t Know 18% (nc)

When the Don’t Know’s are excluded the figures are:

  • Yes 58% (-2)
  • No 42% (+2)

With the changes all within the margin of error, it is still all to play for. And with the campaign getting officially underway today expect a lot more polls!

In terms of party support the figures are as follows:

  • Fine Gael 32% (-2)
  • Labour 14% (-1)
  • Fianna Fail 17% (+1)
  • Sinn Fein 19% (+1)
  • Others 18% (+1)

All the changes again are within the margin of error.  So no major changes. Interesting to note that Government Parties support is down, while opposition is up. But with no major changes its hard to make any long term predictions on it.

Fine Gael LGBT to Launch this Weekend

On Saturday 28 April a Fine Gael Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender group will be launched in Dublin in the Ely Gastro Pub.

The event will be addressed by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald TD.

In it it’s launch event on Facebook it explains why it is being set up,

Fine Gael is an inclusive party and has a commitment to a just society and a fairer Ireland. Now we are taking the next step.

Fine Gael LGBT is an inclusive group for party members who share a common goal of promoting full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in our party, in our country and in our world.

Membership is open to all members of Fine Gael regardless of orientation.

Fine Gael LGBT aims to;

  • provide a welcome and inclusive forum for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members of Fine Gael;
  • promote equality within Fine Gael including encouraging the adoption of equality policies as party and Government policy;
  • be a visible sign of the inclusivity and modernity of Fine Gael and in particular encourage members of the LGBT community to join and become active participants in our party.

For more see the Facebook page and the event page.

I am glad to see Members of Fine Gael spear heading this making it a ground up initiative. It now means Labour and Sinn Fein are no longer the only parties with an LGBT section, meaning that Fianna Fail are the only major party without an LGBT grouping.

I must say I am looking forward to this.

Pollwatch: Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI April 19th

There is a poll in today’s Irish Times by Ipsos MRBI on the upcoming referendum on Fiscal Compact. The headline figures are

  • Yes: 30%
  • No: 23%
  • Undecided: 39%
  • Not voting: 8%

When the undecideds and those not voting are excluded it buts the sides on the following:

  • Yes: 58%
  • No: 42%

Interestingly Fine Gael voters are the strongest supporters of the treaty with 54% in favour. There is 9% against and 34% undecided.

Fianna Fail voters are next strongest supporters with 41% saying they will vote Yes, 20% No and 36% undecided.

Labour Party have the most undecideds and is behind Fine Gael and Fianna Fail in terms of voters who will back the treaty. 33% in favour of the treaty, 17% against and 46% undecided.

The No vote have the strongest support from Sinn Fein supporters and supporters of small parties and independents with 48% intending to vote No, 12% Yes and 33% undecided.

Munster has the highest Yes vote and Connacht-Ulster the most against. Dublin is neck and neck between the two sides meaning that the treaty could be won or lost in Dublin.

This campaign is going to be a massive task in convincing the undecideds and neither side can be complacent on their support. With the polling Day on a Thursday it will be a case of trying to get out as many voters as possible.

USI facing a membership crisis?

Disclosure: I served on the USI LGBT  Campaign between 2006 and 2008

Reports have surfaced that two Dublin Colleges are mulling their membership of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI). Both Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and University College Dublin (UCD) have issues with current USI Policies and Campaigns according to a post on Studenty Dublin.

According to the post  TCDSU president Ryan Bartlett is seeking a referendum on the Union’s affiliation with the USI. Bartlett’s main criticisim focused on the planning and co-ordination of the ‘Stop Fees, Save the Grant’ campaign last year. He said “The national protest didn’t receive enough attention earlier on, which caused logistical difficulties and difficulties with getting the message out there to students and really getting students to understand what the issues were what solutions were available and what the plan of action was.”

“I’m not convinced that the “Stop Fees, Save the Grant” campaign has represented Trinity students and other colleges seem to have accepted that there is a different sentiment in Trinity. This means that students have to ask whether or not they want to continue being represented by USI.”

The post also raises specualtion about UCDSU’s financial difficulties which could see it withdraw from USI.

This year also sees University College Cork (UCC) hold its triennial referendum on USI membership. With only the current President of the SU and the Vice President not seeking election they could be left thin on the ground in what could be a tight vote.

It will be a tough year for USI if any of the three colleges dis-affiliated and it could be in dire straits if all three  leave and join the University of Limerick and the Cork Institute of Technology outside of USI.

Wave Change Cork

Wave Change Participants

Over the 12th and 13th of November I spent time in the Cork School Music on the Wave Change  programme from Social Entrepreneurs Ireland which I blogged about here. Over the two days there were speakers, such as Bill Liao and Myles McCorry of Bike Pure.

We also had workshops on online and offline communication as well as some activities to get us thinking and learning about our skills.

There was also a great opportunity to brain storm our ideas and help each other with our projects. A lot was learned during these sessions!

The weekend was extremely enjoyable and the fact that everyone there was there to take part and learn meant that we all took something from the weekend.

This weekend sees the Dublin weekend happens and in Galway on the 21st and 22nd of January.

The Count 2011!

 

DUBLIN, IRELAND - OCTOBER 03:  An election wor...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Its all over. The candidates can lie in this morning as its now the turn of the political hacks who all across the country will be turning up to the count centres across the 43 constituencies to start tallying the Presidential Election.

The boxes will be opened at 9am when the votes will be sorted and tallied. Then the Votes for the presidential election will be sorted. Once sorted the votes will be counted and the result sent to Dublin. We wont have a first count result until all constituencies have reported. We then move on to the second count etc until a President is elected.

Once we have a President elected, the attention will then turn to the referendums. I am assuming they will do in numerical order with the 29th Amendment on Judges Pay (#JPREF) first followed by the 30th Amendment on Oireachtas Investigations (#OIREF).

After the referendum results have been announced the count in the Dublin West by-election will get under way and bring the counting to a close.

I myself will be in the Concert Hall in Cork City Hall helping out with the tallying in Cork South Central (#CSC) and Cork North Central (#CNC).

I will be posting updates on twitter! So keep an eye on the #aras11 and find your constituency tag here

Wave Change

Are you aged between 18-25? Do want to see Social Change in Ireland? Do  you want to change something in Irish Society?

Check out Wave Change. Wave Change is a new programme being launched by Social Entrepreneurs Ireland for 18-25 year-olds who believe that they have a role to play in building the Ireland we all want to live in and who want to have a stronger voice in society.  The programme provides training, development, seed funding and networking opportunities to help make this a reality.

They are kicking off the programme in November 2011 with Wave Change Weekends in Cork (November 12&13), Dublin (November 26&27) and Galway in mid-January 2012.

If you like what happens at the weekend you can apply to join a group of 30 for a 10 month programme beginning in February 2012. Which will include:

  • A series of 5 skills-based training weekends from February 2012 in areas as wide-ranging as journalism and social media, lobbying and advocacy,  research & evaluation, idea generation and project planning, with support from expert practitioners  working in the field
  • Coaching in individual and group-focused development
  • Support and advice in setting up an idea,  project or campaign
  • Seed funding to help launch a Wave Change idea
  • Individual networking and development opportunities on issues of interest chosen by the participants

Applications for the Cork Weekend close on October 21st. If you want to take part in the 10 month programme, you must attend one of the weekends.

Today I met with Linda and Fiona of Wave Change and it sounds like an interesting idea. The Programme would be major benefit for anyone interested or working in social change in Ireland. These skills are crucial for young people who want to make changes to Irish Society!

So what are you waiting for? Check out their website, WaveChange.ie and apply!

They are also on Facebook and Twitter!

We The Citizens

We The Citizens launched today. Its an interesting idea that is trying to get people to stand up and get involved to change Ireland.

They plan to hold a National Citizens Assembly in June following events in n Kilkenny, Cork, Galway, Athlone, Letterkenny and Dublin. I shall be attending the event in Cork.

We The Citizens plans on keeping the pressure on politicians to reform our country for the better and ensure that they keep their promises. It will be an interesting experiment.

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMccXZ-HfMU’]

Those involved make for quite an impressive list. It will be interesting if they can get ordinary people involved or will it just be political hacks like myself.

Lets see where it goes from here.