Its been quiet here….

UCC Express Logo2So of late its been a bit quiet here on the blog, but then again I haven’t not been writing. I have a few pieces up on the UCC Express Website that may be of interest to some of you. I have also started to write about sport, which is a change for me and an interesting challenge.

Majority of Irish people think the UK should remain in the EU

Refugee Team to Contest Rio Olympics

Florida Key to White House

Independents Slump As Parties Regain Support

Theresa May Set to Become UK Prime Minister while Labour Split Continues

Census Results Presents Constitutional Problems

Podcasts the Express Staff are Listening to

The Irish at Rio 2016

Pro-Choice and Religious: Is it possible?

Irish Paralympic Team Crowdfunding for Rio 2016

All my articles for UCC Express can be viewed here

This is a “momentous” piece of Legislation

Marriage by jcoterhals on Flickr
Image by jcoterhals on Flickr

Last night I attended the GLEN briefing on the Civil Partnership Bill, hosted by the Cork Gay Project and It was a very interesting meeting and I certainly learned a lot! We were given a 3 booklets on the Bill and I am currently working my way through them and they are fascinating. The speakers were Eoin Collins, Director of Policy Change at Glen and Dr Fergus Ryan, head of Law at DIT.

A few things struck me last night during the talks by the speakers. One of those was what they called this bill. They called it “momentous”, “profound”, “substantive” and “the biggest change to family law”. A few other things that caught me were that we must “accept progress along the way” (that’s directed at you Marriage Activists) and that we need to focus on “whats in the Bill” (I got flashbacks to the Lisbon Campaign when that was said).

We are going to get this bill whether we like it or not. But this bill will do a lot for Gay and Lesbian Couples (or same-sex couples as they are called). The bill will confer rights and obligations that are equivalent to marriage. It will help to equal the playing field between same-sex couples and opposite sex couples, who at the moment, even if unmarried are better protected under Irish Law.

Just a quick note, remember that the Civil Partnership scheme in the Bill only applies to same-sex couples, while the presumptive cohabitation scheme will apply to both same-sex and opposite sex couples.

So a quick did you know about the Bill.

Did you know you don’t need to be Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual to enter into a Civil Partnership?Under the bill at it stands the Civil Partnership must be between two people of the same sex and not related (ie: Father and son, or brothers etc)

Did you know you have to take vows under the bill? Under the bill a Civil Partnership Ceremony must take place in public in front of two witnesses and vows must be said.

Did you know Divorce (dissolution) is easier for a Civil Partner? Under the bill to get a dissolution you must be living separatelyfor two out of previous three years. To get a Divorce under marriage you need to living separately for four of the previous five years. There is also no clean break in a Gay Divorce, just like in a Straight Divorce.

There are a few distinctions without a difference between Marriage and Civil Partnerships but legally there is not a whole heap of difference.

But Tax, Social Welfare and Immigration aren’t dealt with in the Bill!

And rightly so. If Tax and Social Welfare were dealt with in this bill it would have to be certified as a money bill. This means the Seanad would have only 21 days to look at the bill and the Dáil can over rule it a lot easier. It is important that the bill is being dealt in the way that is. Provision will be made under the Finance Bill and Social Welfare Bill to make changes.

As for immigration, there is a bill dealing with immigration currently before the Oireachtas. This can easily amended to provide for Same-sex couples.

What is wrong with the Bill?

The bill does have a number of deficiencies. It does not deal with children adequately nor does it deal with citizenship. These can be remedied through the stages of the bill in the Oireachtas and Senators David Norris and Ivana Bacik have committed themselves to putting an amendment on Children forward.

What is right with the bill?

The bill will give more rights in the following ares:

  • Shared Home
  • Visitation Rights
  • Succession
  • Maintenance
  • Equality (introduction of Civil Status)
  • Domestic Violence
  • Right to sue for Wrongful Death
  • Pensions
  • Ethics
  • Tenancy

The bill will amend over 130 pieces of legislation. It will allow the law to play a role when people need it most, on illness, separation and death.

This bill is needed now. It would be cruel to dismiss it for something that we might get further down the line. That is the problem we don’t know when, we don’t how, and we think a referendum will be needed. Could you imagine the COIR posters if there was a referendum on Gay Marriage??

This is one of the biggest reforms of family law to be undertaken in Ireland. Hopefully this bill will start a train of reform in Irish Family Law, which is sorely needed!

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Lisbon – Round II

EU Flag + Gay UKImage by stephen.spillane via FlickrSo the stage is being set for us to vote on the EXACT same treaty again. Granted the only difference is that the member states will agree not to limit the number of EU Commissioners. The other changes will be copper fastening what we already have. A protocol on Abortion (Attached to Maastricht!), Military (Attached to Nice after Nice I) and Tax Sovereignty which is in all the treaties! Really come on like! How stupid do the government think we are? While I love Europe and the EU and all the good it does it, I am not voting for this treaty unless our Government and specifically our Taoiseach shows some leadership!

Martina Devlin has an excellent column in todays Indo on Brian Cowen’s lack of leadership especially in comparison to Gordon Brown who “transformed himself into a phoenix among politicians, emerging gloriously from the ashes of his career after bold steps to tackle the banking meltdown”. Which is true and opinion polls have shown that with a marked decline in the lead the Tories have over Labour.

The same cannot be said for Brian Cowen and Fianna Fail here. When ever there is an announcement all that follows is confusion and blame games. No one in this country will take the blame. When it was obvious to the dogs on the street that the Lisbon Referendum was going to fail, Brian Cowen decided to blame Fine Gael and Labour for not pulling their weight when it was obvious Fianna Fail TD’s and suppporters where not canvassing (I didn’t get canvassed by any ‘Yes’ group).

Though I am suppportive of the European Project, I am more supportive of Democracy and think unless there is substansive change to the treaty I shall be voting no.

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A reason to Love Cork

City Quarter, Cork
I love Cork and I am very patriotic about my home town, and events on Saturday made me love it even more. At the weekend my boyfriend was up from Kerry and he stayed around town on Saturday and we met up for lunch. At all times I was with him in town we were holding hands. Did we get a reaction? No

Russ and I

In fact most people registered no reaction especially Irish people. A few people stared and in fact two girls said “eww gays” and then burst out laughing! This is a major reason why I love Cork. I never get hassle about being gay or holding hands with guys. I have gotten hassle in other places, notable Dublin and Koeln, where I was shouted at, but it comes with the territory. (‘Queer’ in Dublin and ‘Schwule’ in Koeln).

Lots of foreign people ask me what it is like to be gay in Ireland and I must say being gay in Cork is grand as most Cork people don’t give a toss! Which is also an attitude I have!

So I LOVE Cork!

Not in a Million Years!

Every time there is an election I always give Fianna Fail a look to see if I would give them a preference and next year in the Local’s and Europeans a fairly high preference is on offer due to the fact there is only one FG candidate in Cork South Central LEA and Ireland Euro South constituency, but after yesterdays budget not in a million years will Fianna Fail get a preference, no matter how measly from me. The Greens and PD’s (if they are still around) can go look somewhere else too, unless they get a backbone. Not only have FF lowered my take home pay by 1% (I’m on minimum wage ffs) but all my costs will rise because VAT is going up, road tax is going up, petrol is going, flights are going up among lots of other things (oh and wine, but not beer and spirits? would love to know the reasoning behind that). Also I see they are bring in College fees by stealth, increasing the registration fee by €500. this year the registration fee for UCC was €1050 (it was €750 when I started many moons ago (4)), so that lessens the likelihood of me returning to a HEI as I have to pay fees for the first two years.

The over 70’s medical card is a scandal, it doesn’t effect me personally but I do have elderly relations. It annoys me so much. I pity any one from FF or the Greens who knock on my door next year, as it’s not only me who will be giving them a piece of my mind!

So FF/Greens, don’t even bother asking me for a vote next year!

I didn’t realise how much of an idiot Biden actualy is until now!

So every one has heard that Joe Biden, the Democratic VP nominee is a little gaffe prone but after reading Ann Coulters review of the debate he is more then prone! if Palin had made basic mistakes like this, people would be calling for her head! A few examples:

About Lebanon:

“I said and Barack said, ‘Move NATO forces in there. Fill the vacuum, because if you don’t, Hezbollah will control it.'” This is madness — Lebanon is not a NATO country, nor had any NATO country been attacked by Lebanon.

About Afghanistan:

“With Afghanistan, facts matter, Gwen. … We spend more money in three weeks on combat in Iraq than we spent on the entirety of the last seven years that we have been in Afghanistan building that country.”

According to the Congressional Research Service, since 9/11, we’ve spent $172 billion in Afghanistan and $653 billion in Iraq. The most money spent in Iraq came in 2008, when we have been spending less than $3 billion a week. So by Biden’s calculations, we’ve spent only about $9 billion “on the entirety of the last seven years that we have been in Afghanistan building that country.” There isn’t even a “9” in $172 billion.

About the Office of the Vice President:

Biden also gave a long speech at the debate on vice president Dick Cheney’s “dangerous” belief that “he’s part of the legislative branch.” The great constitutional scholar Biden cited Article I of the Constitution as proof that Cheney “works in the executive branch” and has “no authority relative to the Congress.” Biden huffily added: “He should understand that. Everyone should understand that.”

Palin would have had to deny that Alaska is a state in the union in order to say something comparably stupid.

Article II, not I, describes the executive branch. Someone tell Biden, who is supposed to be a lawyer. Apart from getting the Articles of the Constitution mixed up, what on earth does Biden mean when he says that the vice president “has no authority relative to Congress,” apart from breaking ties?

The Constitution makes him president of the senate every day of the week. I realize that Biden may not be able to count to two, but Article I says the vice president is president of one of the two houses of Congress — the one Biden is in, for crying out loud — which is what you might call “authority relative to Congress.”

Please let someone have sense in the mainstream media and start pointing these stupid gaffes out!

Full Article

Another opinion poll….

This time Ireland! Its an interesting one too.

The Party Breakdown is as follows

Fianna Fail 36% (down 4)
Fine Gael 28% (up 3)
Labour 9% (down 1)
Sinn Fein 9% (down 1)
Greens 7% (no change)
PD’s 3% (up 1)

(June poll available here in PDF)

In another question in the poll 50% of people are not confident that the government can get the economy out of the current downturn.

Its nice to see FG up and FF down below the 40% (the polled 42% at the last General Election), also these polls are leading us into the local and european elections next year.

The PD’s being up is a bit strange considering while the poll was being carried out, the leadership decided they were not politically viable. Then again the fact the PD’s were in the media a lot over the grealish debacle raised their profile. But where will that 3% go is the question on everyone’s lips?

RTÉ Story – Poll shows fall in support for Fianna Fáil
Sunday Business Post – Sharp fall in support for Fianna Fáil as economy slumps
Irish Election – Fianna Fail Down in Business Post Poll

Some recent good reads

Here are some books that have been keeping me company over the last few months

Moments That Changed Us Moments That Changed Us by Colum Kenny

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book is a must for anyone who is interesting in the changes that have made Irish society what it is today. From the divorce and abortion referendums to the court cases that changed how we viewed things. An excellent read.

An Utterly Impartial History of Britain: (or 2000 Years of Upper Class Idiots In Charge) An Utterly Impartial History of Britain: by John O’Farrell

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Like History? Like comedy? Then this is for you. This book mocks its way through 2000 years of British history mainly to prove that the British aren’t British but a hodgepodge of invaders and who ruled by alot of idiots from 45 BC right up to 1945. An excellent read that had me in stitches at times.

A Short History of Nearly Everything A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Interested in Science? Then read this. An excellent book that will have you wishing you studied science instead of politics in Uni! (For a few moments anyway!) It answers all the question from across the realms of Science, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Geology. Packed full of useless information to amaze your friends, such as “Did you know the entirety of Yellowstone National Park is a Volcano?” (Well really a hotspot). Bryson is unbeatable with his writing and makes science something really interesting and funny! He not only charts the discoveries but also the people behind them and his descriptions are fantastic! Well worth the read, makes me yearn for the school laboratory again.

View all my reviews.

What Ireland Needs: An Abortion Act

Okay so the title of this post is a bit of a headline grabber but bear with me as this is not a pro-choice or pro-life rant but a discussion on the legal situation of abortion in Ireland. I recently read a book where this is brought up and hence this post. The book in question is “Moments that Changed Us” by Colum Kenny ( link)

Article 40.3.3 of Bunreacht Na hÉireann (Constitution of Ireland) states:

3° The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.

This subsection shall not limit freedom to travel between the State and another state.

This subsection shall not limit freedom to obtain or make available, in the State, subject to such conditions as may be laid down by law, information relating to services lawfully available in another state.

According to the case Attorney General vs X [1992] IESC 1 Chief Justice Finlay states

I, therefore, conclude that the proper test to be applied is that if it is established as a matter of probability that there is a real and substantial risk to the life, as distinct from the health, of the mother, which can only be avoided by the termination of her pregnancy, such termination is permissible, having regard to the true interpretation of Article 40,s.3, sub-s. 3 (Quoted above) of the Constitution.

Of course this means that the Oireachtas should set out legislation how this procedure should be allowed take place in Ireland instead of forcing the mother to travel abroad for a termination which can legally under the constitution take place in Ireland. Unfortunately under the Offences against the Person Act, 1861 there is a penalty of life imprisonment for any person who carries out an abortion even if this abortion is allowed by the constitution. As you can see there is a case for the changing of the 1861 act least alone that is does need updating.

While I am not an expert in law or medicine I do not like to see ambiguities in the law, especially when it comes to life. The sooner our politicians wake up and amend the Offences against the Person Act, 1861 or try again to amend the constitution we are stuck with this ambiguity of the law.

Me and Religion

Well the whole atheism thing hasn’t exactly worked and I’m giving up on being a Bright. Though I am not going back to Christian let along Catholic. I have recently come a cross a new religion (both to me and it is fairly new in religious terms also). What is that faith? Bahá’í.

Bahá’í teachings appeal to me and Shoghi Effendi has summed them up and I cannot disagree with them.

The independent search after truth, unfettered by superstition or tradition; the oneness of the entire human race, the pivotal principle and fundamental doctrine of the Faith; the basic unity of all religions; the condemnation of all forms of prejudice, whether religious, racial, class or national; the harmony which must exist between religion and science; the equality of men and women, the two wings on which the bird of humankind is able to soar; the introduction of compulsory education; the adoption of a universal auxiliary language; the abolition of the extremes of wealth and poverty; the institution of a world tribunal for the adjudication of disputes between nations; the exaltation of work, performed in the spirit of service, to the rank of worship; the glorification of justice as the ruling principle in human society, and of religion as a bulwark for the protection of all peoples and nations; and the establishment of a permanent and universal peace as the supreme goal of all mankind—these stand out as the essential elements [which Bahá’u’lláh proclaimed].

So it kinda does sound all wishy washy but I recently got a book in Waterstones and it explains it all. I recommened it to anyone interested in Bahá’á or religion in general. It is “The Baha’i Faith: A Beginner’s Guide – Beginner’s Guide” by Moojan Momen.

I am currently learning alot about the religion thanks to a book given to me by a friend. It is “Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era”, so far an interesting read but it is competing with other books at the moment so must concentrate on it.

Anyway thats an update on me and the religious front. Incidentally the Baha’i Holy Places in Haifa and Western Galilee have been inscribed as UNESCO Cultural Sites.