As the 2016 General election got underway lobby groups had already set out their stall in terms of what they do and don't want to see in government policy. IBEC (the Irish Business and Employers Confederation) have launched their manifesto and have begun hosting political debates in plush surroundings. One of their most prominent calls to politicians is to leave the universal social charge untouched, not abolished, not reduced, and not modified to relieve lower earners from paying it.
The USC is often described in the media as Ireland's most hated tax, and it's easy to see why this might be so, it's applied to even those who are not earning enough to pay tax, or support themselves and their families.
The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill published in November 2015 contains proposed measures to criminalise the purchase of sex, an approach inspired by legislation undertaken by countries such as Sweden, Norway, Iceland and in Northern Ireland which frames itself as a “progressive” move, often referred to as the “Swedish Model”.
Minister of state Aodhan O Riordan claims that removing those selling sex from the 1993 criminalisation act will help vulnerable workers to report violence and misconduct and thus stay safer at work. Yet according to sex workers themselves, only 2% agreed that criminalising clients is a good idea (as interviewed for the Queen’s University Belfast report, 2014).
Yesterday evening we were at Connolly station in Dublin to cover a performance renouncing Ireland's anti abortion laws, this was one of a number that was happening in cities across Ireland to mark St Bridget’s day. “St Bridget is one of four Irish saints who “are recorded as openly and miraculously carrying out abortions”, the feast day was the pre-Christian festival of Imbolg (meaning ‘in the belly’).”
The performance as you’ll see in the video collectively confronts the themes of censorship, self censorship through art, action, performance, conversation and camradery. The location at Connolly is one of the transport hubs through which many of the 12 people who have to leave Ireland every day to access abortion in the UKL and beyond pass.
On the merits of Squatting as a tactical response to the permanent housing crisis.
Oxfam has just released a report that shows global inequality has escalated rapidly over the last 6 years. The particular measure they used is a very important one. First they calculated the wealth held by the poorest 50% of the planets population, which is about 3.6 billion people. And then they asked how many of the richest people held the same amount of wealth.
We awake to news that more towns in Ireland are under water due to storm flooding. And that perhaps the sea ice at the north pole might melt due to temperatures rising above zero. The first story is given a lot more prominence in Irish media than the second but strangely at the same time another story is being celebrated. The start of yet more greenhouse gases being pumped out of their safe place far below the sea off the Irish shore to be processed and then released into the atmosphere via the Corrib refinery.
A 21 year old women in Co Down has been charged with 'using a poison to procure her own abortion', that is using the Mifepristone and Misoprostol pills which are legal across most of the EU but illegal in Ireland, north and south. Under the 1861 act in the north she faces life in prison if convicted, in the south under the legislation recently introduced by the Labour Party and Fine Gael she would face 14 years in prison.
Reading through the mainstream media coverage of the climate negotiations in Paris (CoP21), one could hardly understand the event as anything other than ‘a real turning point in human history’ (Irish Times). The heroic work of the French delegates had achieved ‘the world’s greatest diplomatic success’ (the Guardian), indeed the deal was not short of ‘a major leap for mankind’ (quote from summit leaders). Yet in reality our leaders have signed a deal guaranteeing climatic destruction!