Eurovision 2016 – We are off to Ukraine!

Ukraine win the Eurovision Song Contest, JamalaCredit: Andres Putting (EBU)
Ukraine win the Eurovision Song Contest, Jamala Credit: Andres Putting (EBU)

Congratulations to Jamala and the Ukraine on winning the 61st Eurovision Song Contest! This is the Ukraine’s second Eurovision win. They first won the contest in 2004 when Ruslana and her “Wild Dances” stormed Eurovision.

In the best contest in years, Jamala’s “1944”, a song about the deportation of Crimean Tartars by Stalin, showed how a strong song that stands out from the crowd can win the Song Contest.

Petra, Mans and everyone involved at SVT put on an amazing show! I adored the Interval act! Ukraine’s NTU have a tough act to follow!

The voting sequence was fantastic. The new voting system led to real suspense right up to that last moment!

Scoreboard following the Televote
Scoreboard following the Televote
Australia's Dami Im gets 12 points. Credit Thomas Hanses (EBU)
Australia’s Dami Im gets 12 points. Credit Thomas Hanses (EBU)

Going into the televote Australia had a commanding lead of 109 points over the Ukraine. Many thought it would be insurmountable, but Australia were not as popular with the televote as they were with the Juries as they came 4th in that vote.

Seeing Poland jump from 2nd last with 7 points from the juries to 8th place thanks to the televote really shows the beauty of this new voting system!

Russian Entry Sergey Lazarev. Credit: Andres Putting (EBU)
Russian Entry Sergey Lazarev. Credit: Andres Putting (EBU)

Russia narrowly won the Televote as they received 361 points to the Ukraine’s 323 but when added to the televote the Ukraine won with 534 points! 

Ukraine now hold the record for the most points for a Eurovision winner beating Alexander Rybak’s 387 point total for “Fairytale” in 2009. In fact the top 3 this year beat that score!

  1. Ukraine 534
  2. Australia 511
  3. Russia 491

This year was the first year that the winner of the Contest did not win either the Jury or the Televote! The Ukraine finished second in both.

But the Ukraine did win the most Douze points at the contest getting 17. They received 12 points from the 11 Juries, those were Bosnia Herzegovina, Denmark, Georgia, Israel, Latvia, FYR Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, San Marino, Serbia and Slovenia. While Ukraine topped the televote in six countries, those were Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Poland and San Marino.

Russia got 14 Douze Points (4 Jury, 10 televote) while Australia got 12 (9 Jury, 3 televote).

Bloc voting was all over the place. It was near impossible to predict where 12 points were going to go. Norway not giving a single point to Sweden in the Jury vote was a prime example!

They did come 4th in the televote though getting 7 points from Norway.

Russia did win the 1st Semi-Final beating Armenia, while Malta finished in 3rd. While in the 2nd Semi Final Australia beat the eventual winners Ukraine (2nd) with Belgium coming 3rd.

How did Ireland vote?

The Irish Jury wasn’t very good at picking a winner and failed to give the Ukraine a single point!! They in fact ranked it 15th! Belgium got the top marks from the Jury in both the Grand Final and the 2nd Semi-Final. They finished 10th overall. Lithuania, who finished 9th, won the Televote vote for both the Final and the Semi-Final The Irish televote had a bit more sense and ranked it 4th so it got 7 points.

Belgian Entry Laura Tesoro, 10th Credit: Andres Putting (EBU)
Belgian Entry Laura Tesoro, 10th Credit: Andres Putting (EBU)

The Grand Final Irish Jury Vote:

  1. Belgium 12
  2. Bulgaria 10
  3. Netherlands 8
  4. United Kingdom 7
  5. Italy 6
  6. Sweden 5
  7. Israel 4
  8. France 3
  9. Czech Republic 2
  10. Latvia 1
Lithuania Entry Donny Montell, 9th Credit: Andres Putting (EBU)
Lithuania Entry Donny Montell, 9th Credit: Andres Putting (EBU)

The Grand Final Irish Televote

  1. Lithuania 12
  2. Poland 10
  3. Russia 8
  4. Latvia 7
  5. Australia 6
  6. Bulgaria 5
  7. Ukraine 4
  8. United Kingdom 3
  9. Sweden 2
  10. Austria 1

Ireland’s Nicky Byrne who failed to qualify for the final from the 2nd Semi-Final finished 15th with 46 points finishing 1 point ahead of Albania!

Ireland got points from

  • Australia (Televote 4th – 7 points),
  • Belgium (Televote 7th – 4 points),
  • Denmark (Jury 7th – 4 Points, Televote 7th – 4 points)
  • Israel (Jury 9th – 2 Points, Televote 10th – 1 point)
  • Italy (Jury 9th – 2 points)
  • Latvia (Televote 10th – 1 point)
  • Lithuania (Televote 10th – 1 point)
  • Norway (Jury 8th – 3 points, Televote 9th – 2 points)
  • Poland (Televote 9th – 2 points)
  • Switzerland (Televote 9th – 2 points)
  • Ukraine (Jury 9th – 2 points)
  • United Kingdom (Jury 9th – 2 points, Televote 4th – 7 points)

Adrian Kavanagh has looked into the points in more detail.

So we are off to the Kyiv next year where 7 countries have already confirmed their participation. They will have a hard act to follow after the amazing job done by SVT and the hosts Petra Mede and Måns Zelmerlöw!

I can’t promise this is the last Eurovision post this year as Ireland takes part in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in Malta later this year!

New Irish Government Nominated

newgov2This evening in the Dáil following Enda Kenny’s re-election as Taoiseach. The following have been nominated as members of the Governments for the 32nd Dáil.

  • Taoiseach & Minister for Defence: Enda Kenny (FG)
  • Chief Whip: Regina Doherty (FG)
  • Tainiste & Minister for Justice and Equality: Francis Fitzgerald (FG)
  • Minister for Finance: Michael Noonan (FG)
  • Minister for Public expenditure and Reform: Paschal Donohue (FG)
  • Minister for Social Protection: Leo Varadkar (FG)
  • Minister for Health: Simon Harris (FG)
  • Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport: Shane Ross (Ind)
  • Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine: Michael Creed (FG)
  • Minister for Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht: Heather Humphreys
  • Minister for Communications, Climate Change and National Resources: Denis Naughton (Ind)
  • Minister for Children and Youth Affairs: Katerine Zappone (Ind)
  • Minister for Education and Skills: Richard Bruton (FG)
  • Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government: Simon Coveney (FG)
  • Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade: Charles Flanagan (FG)
  • Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation: Mary Mitchell O’Connor (FG)
  • Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Defence: Paul Kehoe (FG)
  • Super Junior Minister who will attend Cabinet and have special responsibility for disability: Finian McGrath (Ind)
  • Attorney General: Maria Whelan SC

Eurovision 2016 – Semi-Final 2 *UPDATED*

Welcome to my Preview of Semi-Final 2 of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest which takes place on Thursday May 12th in the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm, Sweden. Eurovision is getting that bit closer and its time to look at the contestants!

*UPDATE* Today April 22nd the European Broadcasting Union has withdrawn membership services to Romanian Broadcaster TVR following non-payment of debts totalling over €14.5m (CHF 16m). This means that only 42 contestants will compete at the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest with 18 in each Semi-Final. There is no change to running order.

Semi Final 1 takes place on Tuesday May 10th, check out my preview here.

The new voting system will also apply to the Semi-Finals, but we won’t know the full details of the results until after the Grand Final which takes place on Saturday May 14th. Sweden, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom are automatically qualified for the Final.

19 Countries are competing for the 10 places in the Grand Final available and Irish hopes rest on Nicky Byrne. Hopes will be raised as the United Kingdom will be voting and performing tonight along with Germany and Italy.

Semi-Final 2 seems to be the tougher of the two Semi’s with some excellent songs (and some not so great) from countries who normally do well. Getting out of this Semi will be quite the task for many of the entries and will be dependent on good performances for the Juries and Televoting Public!

So on with the show!

All betting odds are from PaddyPower for outright winner and taken on 20/04/16
Continue reading “Eurovision 2016 – Semi-Final 2 *UPDATED*”

1916 – A proud nation looks back and forward

Ireland-2016-largeThis past weekend Ireland marked the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising. I was lucky that I was able to travel to Dublin for the weekend.

I stayed with a friend in Grand Canal near Boland’s Mill one of the sites of the rising.

2016-03-28 16.09.25
Boland’s Mill in 2016

Now before the weekend I wasn’t too gone on remembering an event that didn’t place on this date 100 years ago. But the realisation slowly dawned on me that there was no point in marking the ‘Easter Rising’ a month after Easter if we were to follow the actual date of the Easter Rising. (Plus April 24th is the Census date)

Early Sunday morning I was outside the St Patricks Cathedral where I saw the Colour Party of Óglaigh na hÉireann carrying the flags of the revolutionary bodies.

Inside the Cathedral, while the prevailing sentiment seemed to be that we were marking this event a month early, one of the most poignant moments of the Easter Service was the reading of the names of those of the Cathedral Community who died Easter Week 1916.

485 people died that week due to the uprising, including women and children.

Following the Service I was on St Stephen’s Green where I watched the parade past the GPO. It was wonderful to see the Emergency Services, both state and voluntary being given places in the parade.

1916 Proclamation of the Republic
1916 Proclamation of the Republic

For me the centenary was an inclusive event. What it means to be Irish is not strictly defined and has been widened to include many ‘new’ Irish who have made Ireland home in the past 100 years. It wasn’t just about the events 100 years ago. It was also the events that followed. It was about our eventual freedom, our foundation as a state and how all the followed has been inspired by the Proclamation issued form the GPO in 1916.

The Irish Flag flying outside St Luke's National School Montenotte, Cork
The Irish Flag flying outside St Luke’s National School Montenotte, Cork

I was also lucky to have been involved in Proclamation Day on March 15th in St Luke’s National School where I serve on the Board of Management. This was a wonderful occasion where the yet again the focus was not just on the events of 1916, but of a new Ireland and a new proclamation from the School Children and their hopes for the future of Ireland.

The final show of the weekend, Centenary on RTÉ, really summed up the experience of the weekend. I was so proud to be in Dublin at the weekend, and watching Centenary and seeing the wealth of Irish Talent marking the events of the Irish History was wonderful. It made me proud to be Irish, proud of our History, our culture and our people. It also gave me hope for the future of this proud nation.

If you haven’t seen Centenary, watch it on the RTÉ Player

Finally, like throughout Irish History, we as a people are not defined by a single event. Whether rebellion, civil war, emigration or growth. But what we are is continually inspired by our past. Whether it is our cultural past such as alluded to in Arthur O’Shaugnessy’s poem Ode

We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;—
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

Or the words of the Proclamation issued in 1916 where we continue to live up to the ideals set within it to “guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens” and  “cherishing all the children of the nation equally”

We can be proud of what we have achieved in the last 100 years. Let us now look forward as Proud Irishmen and Irishwomen to the next 100 and live up to ideals of the republic.

IRISHMEN AND IRISHWOMEN: In the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us, summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom.

Having organised and trained her manhood through her secret revolutionary organisation, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and through her open military organisations, the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army, having patiently perfected her discipline, having resolutely waited for the right moment to reveal itself, she now seizes that moment, and, supported by her exiled children in America and by gallant allies in Europe, but relying in the first on her own strength, she strikes in full confidence of victory.

We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible. The long usurpation of that right by a foreign people and government has not extinguished the right, nor can it ever be extinguished except by the destruction of the Irish people. In every generation the Irish people have asserted their right to national freedom and sovereignty; six times during the past three hundred years they have asserted it in arms. Standing on that fundamental right and again asserting it in arms in the face of the world, we hereby proclaim the Irish Republic as a Sovereign Independent State, and we pledge our lives and the lives of our comrades-in-arms to the cause of its freedom, of its welfare, and of its exaltation among the nations.

The Irish Republic is entitled to, and hereby claims, the allegiance of every Irishman and Irishwoman. The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past.

Until our arms have brought the opportune moment for the establishment of a permanent National Government representative of the whole people of Ireland and elected by the suffrages of all her men and women, the Provisional Government, hereby constituted, will administer the civil and military affairs of the Republic in trust for the people.

We place the cause of the Irish Republic under the protection of the Most High God. Whose blessing we invoke upon our arms, and we pray that no one who serves that cause will dishonour it by cowardice, inhumanity, or rapine. In this supreme hour the Irish nation must, by its valour and discipline and by the readiness of its children to sacrifice themselves for the common good, prove itself worthy of the august destiny to which it is called.

Signed on Behalf of the Provisional Government.
Thomas J. Clarke,
Sean Mac Diarmada, Thomas MacDonagh,
P. H. Pearse, Eamonn Ceannt,
James Connolly, Joseph Plunkett

“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!

Diary of a Canvasser – Entry 1 #MarRef

2015-03-21 12.10.26So the Marriage Equality Referendum is starting to get going campaign wise. While we are 62 days out from the referendum on May 22nd, some campaigns have started.

YesEquality Cork is one of the groups that have started, with canvassing beginning on St Patricks Day before the Parade  and evening canvasses also.

Today was my first proper canvass with YesEquality Cork (as I had to go to work on St Patricks Day). We were joined by the INTO LGBT Group and Teachers for Marriage Equality as we set up shop on Paul St.

2015-03-21 12.11.55

As the sun was shining everyone was in a good mood. We had a great crew of canvassers. We met a varied group of people and the majority were quite positive towards us.  But with 62 days to we cannot be presumptive in any way, shape or form.

One lady stood out to me today. She was 86 and made a bee-line for me. I must admit I was expecting an ear bashing. Instead it turns out she was Women’s rights campaigner for all her life. She strongly believed in Equality and as a person on the ‘Left’ she would definitely be voting Yes on May 22nd! Not just for herself and her generation, but also her 23 year old grandson who is Gay! Now that is words a canvasser loves to hear!

canvass equality
Author with 86 year old equality campaigner, photo courtesy of Ken Curtin.

 

For many young people we canvassed it was an open and shut case, they were voting yes, no question about it. Same with two ladies who worked in a cafe who called me over to say they were having a rant and “people should be allowed do want they want”. They were delighted to see us out campaigning for it.

We did of course come across a few No voters, who it must be said, were very respectful, apart from one Lady who decided to shout “No, you should be ashamed of yourselves”. But I was pleasantly surprised we didn’t hear a lot of that!

There is a still a long way to go to ensure that this referendum passes on May 22nd, but today for me was a great start!

If you want to get involved with the campaign, join your local YesEquality Group, and if there isnt one locally why not get a group together and set one up! Its by working together we will ensure Equality for all couples in Ireland!

For those of you unsure what the #MarRef in the title is about, it is shorthand being used on Twitter.

Cork Pride AGM and Preparing for Marriage Equality Referendum – Cork

Two events of interest to the LGBT Community are coming up in Cork.

pride15The first is the Cork LGBT Pride AGM.

Thank you to everyone who shared their feedback with us in the Cork Pride 2014 Survey, your options and suggestions are greatly appreciated and will help us ensure that the festival is one the whole Cork community can be proud of.

If you would like to get involved more with Cork Pride, we are hosting our AGM on the 19th of January at 7pm in the Cork Gay Community Development offices at 8 North Mall, Cork City, for directions please see https://goo.gl/maps/yaOrx

This is the first of two meetings. At this meeting Officer reports will be presented and those who wish to get involved can get a better idea of the roles.

 

The second “Preparing for Marriage Equality Referendum – Cork” is organised by GayCork.com and Fine Gael LGBT. It takes place on February 5th at 8pm on in the Gresham Metropole Hotel.

Panel Speakers:

* Minister for Justice & Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD
* Dr Conor O’Mahony, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, UCC
* Laura Harmon, President USI (Union Students Ireland)
* Brian Sheehan, Director of GLEN

The aim of this public meeting is to encourage people of Cork to become involved in building a winning referendum campaign.

This is of course very important for us who want a Yes Vote in May!

YesEquality

Water – The straw that broke the camels back?

One of the major comments about the Irish people during the recent financial crisis and recession, was that there was no vocal, angry oppoistion on the street. This was a major factor in much instability faced by other countries faced with tough decisions because of the financial crash.

But why in Ireland, just as the recovery is starting to gain momentum, are now the Irish people protesting on the street?

Major protests are planned for today around the country against the implementation of water charges. The past number of weeks have been dominated by stories about Irish Water, its excesses, its board, the protests at installations and of course bonuses.

It is harder and harder for anyone to defend the mishandling of Irish Water, whether as a Government party supported or you see the need behind the introduction of water charges.

Irish people over the last number of years have made monumental sacrifices. Some have lost jobs, others seen the young people in their family leave for a better life elsewhere, while others have taken jobs they never thought they would do. We have seen higher taxes with USC, property charges and a range of other measures to shore up the Public Finances.

Water seems to be different. Why does a water utility need our PPS number? Why do we need to pay for our meter to be read if we are moving out? Why will callouts cost so much? Why will staff be paid bonuses when there is no benchmark for improvements?

There is a range of questions there that have no satisfactory answers. That has led to some misinformation, confusion and anger among ordinary Irish people, which I have not seen in my lifetime.

This is a wake up call for the Government and Irish Water. When dealing with the public you need to be open and honest. Only ask for the information you really need.

While I will not be protesting this weekend, I have some sympathy with those who do and believe the Government need to take a look again at Irish Water.

Otherwise this Government will face one of the biggest actions of Civil Disobedience this country has ever seen.

Who Dares to Speak of Homophobia – Speech

IDAHOTThis is the Speech I gave at St Annes Shandon for International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia on May 18th as part of Cork LGBT Awareness Week.

“On November 13th, 1895, I was brought down here from London. From two o’clock till half-past two on that day I had to stand on the centre platform of Clapham Junction in convict dress, and handcuffed, for the world to look at. I had been taken out of the hospital ward without a moment’s notice being given to me. When people saw me they laughed. Each train as it came up swelled the audience. Nothing could exceed their amusement. That was, of course, before they knew who I was. As soon as they had been informed, they laughed still more. For half an hour I stood there in the grey November rain surrounded by a jeering mob.

For a year after that was done to me I wept every day at the same hour and for the same space of time.”

This is a statement by one of history’s and Ireland’s greatest playwrights Oscar Wilde, referring to his arrest for “gross indecency with men,” a charge for which he was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison. I use his poignant statement not only to illustrate how far the world has come in treating LGBTI people with dignity and equality, but also to show how far we still need to go and why it is important for Days like International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia to exist.

The Collins dictionary defines Homophobia as an “intense fear or hatred of homosexuals or homosexuality”. To most of us it is through direct actions we see homophobia. Whether it is in direct discrimination, a beating, a mugging or even a murder. But as Oscar Wilde’s quote shows, it does not have to be a direct action, it can be standing on the side-lines and laughing as much as doing something.

We all have a responsibility, as an individual, as a community and more importantly as a community of faith in this place to be a place of welcome, to ensure we do not stand on that platform and laugh, that we stand next to that person being jeered and give them comfort. Is that not what Jesus would have done?

That is not an easy thing to do. Society and the church in many cases seem to be more interested in trivia then doing the work of God. Recently the Right Reverend John Gladwin, the retired Bishop of Chelmsford spoke of this in St Paul’s Cathedral.

“In 1933 Dietrich Bonhoeffer arrived in England to pastor the German church. His opening sermon in the Sydenham congregation was a response to the question on his mind, ‘why does the church seem so dull, preoccupied with trivia?’ This is what Bonhoeffer said:-

It is because we like too much to talk and think about a cosy, comfortable God instead of letting ourselves be disturbed and disquieted by the presence of God – because in the end we do not want to believe that God is right here among us, right now, demanding that we hand ourselves over, in life and death, in heart and body and soul and mind. (Bonhoeffer and Britain by Keith Clements. CTBI)”

I suppose this is where I lost interest in the church I was raised in. It did have a cosy, comfortable view on god. As long as you went to mass every Sunday, went to confession, abstained from meat on certain days, you would be ok. There was no challenge, there was no conviction.

This led me to stumble into St Fin Barre’s Cathedral in 2009 for an IDAHO, as it was then, service that included the Bishop. The welcome, the conviction and true belief shown on that night is what has led me to here before you on this Service for IDAHOT. A member of St Anne’s Congregation, it’s Select Vestry, a Minister of the Eucharist and representing it on Diocesan Synod. I feel very privileged to have been welcomed into this church, this place and this community as an equal and allowed to take on these roles within this Church.

St Anne’s has led the way on this Island as an inclusive church and has inspired many other churches to stand on its conviction and be inclusive and a welcome to “whoever you are, and where ever you are on your journey in faith”.

At the beginning of this LGBT Awarness Week, Bishop Colton, who was guest of honour at the opening reception backed this up by saying

 

Many of you see the Pride flag when you come into the church, some of you may have even spotted it on the tower – thanks Brian!, but I do encourage you to look at the back of the church on your way out and read the mission statement. The last few lines sum up to me so much of my faith

We are committed to a Church that conveys the Christian message in signs and symbols, especially in the sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist. We are committed to taking all people seriously – married and single people, gay and straight, those who have a natural faith and those who struggle with belief. We are committed to identifying and affirming what is good and identifying and opposing what is evil, and living as best we can in the confusion in the middle.

This is the last event of Cork LGBT Awareness Week, and the LGBT Community in Cork is very lucky to have such supportive agencies in Cork who come together once a year to raise awareness in our city and county about LGBT issues.

This along with Pride and the services here in St Anne’s mark us, as a city and church, quite different from anywhere else. We as a city and church should take pride in what we do. People do recognise this. Last November I had the honour of representing Loafers in the Mr Gay Ireland competition and it was very obvious how highly Cork is viewed across the LGBT Community in Ireland

While we can be proud of all the work done, we must not rest on our laurels as there is still a lot to be done.

I know, as do many of you, of people in this city or even ourselves, who have been shouted at, kicked and beaten here in Cork because of who they are and who they love. In 2014 this is no longer acceptable and needs a community response.

When we hear people belittling those in the LGBT community we need to stand up to them. When people within the LGBT community hate on those within the community we need to stand up to them. We as a community need to stand together, with our allies in the wider community.

We should not allow ourselves to squabble between Gays and Lesbians, between Queers and Bisexuals, between Trans* and Cis-gendered, young or old. Yes we all have different needs and issues but sometimes we do need to all come together, recognising our differences but acknowledging that working together we can make a difference to all of us.

Tackling Homophobia in schools and in our society, fighting for a yes vote in next years referendum, ensuring that Gender Recognition Bill is fit for purpose, making sure that supports exist for LGBT people in Rural Ireland, raising awareness of the Gay Blood Ban, making certain that older members of LGBT community will be treated the same way as their straight family and friends and in general being there for each other. As the American Christian Right would call it that is the Homosexual Agenda in Ireland. Not exactly the downfall of society, now is it.

This week ILGA Europe an Association of LGBT Associations in Europe published its Annual Review and Rainbow Index. In it Ireland was ranked 22nd of 49 countries. This may surprise some of you. What would surprise you more is some of the countries ahead of us. Croatia, Montenegro and Albania in the Balkans, and Estonia, Czech Republic and Slovenia in Eastern Europe are all ranked ahead of us.

While the UK, Belgium and Spain top the list it is no surprise to see who is at the bottom of the list, Russia is 49th on the list with Azerbaijan, Armenia, Monaco and the Ukraine. While we are fighting for more protections for our community here in Ireland, the LGBT Communities in those countries have little to no protection. I believe that we in Ireland owe a duty to them. To get involved in campaigns, to raise awareness of the situation in these countries, whether it is through All Out or Amnesty International or one of the many other Human Rights organisations. We cannot and should not remain completely focused on Ireland but show our solidarity with LGBT people in Europe and around the world who are in much greater danger then us.

The Church of Ireland is currently having a conversation on Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief. This conversation looks set to go on and on according to the recent reports at this year’s General Synod. We in this Diocese will also be having a meeting at some stage, I am told, on the issue also. That is what makes this day and the events in Newry, Dublin, Waterford, Limerick, Belfast and Derry/Londonderry so important. Its not that these services happen, but that they keep happening, is what gives me hope. The work of Changing Attitude’s Ireland and many individual LGBT Christians in Ireland constantly challenge and remind the wider Church of their responsibility to the LGBT Community.

Going back to the Bishops Speech at the beginning of this week, he made a point that resonated well with me and might with you also.

I want, therefore, to encourage especially those gay and lesbian people who are involved in church life, or who once were, to engage with the debates many churches are having at the current time. [As] Shirley Temple Bar tweeted: ‘Sharing LGBT stories is an important step on the road to equality.’ I agree with that, and I ask you not to give up on religion and religious institutions.

It is essential that your voices and experiences are heard and listened to.  More important, it is vital that you do not let people drive you away.  The loving welcome and inclusion of you is not theirs to take away: that love, that inclusion, that welcome, that belonging are God’s gift – God’s grace – offered to you as much as to anyone else.

I finish with some words from the Benedictine blessing which is often said in this place,

May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you really CAN make a difference in this world.

Because he has, and you can.

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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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