Jan 25, 2012

I write letters - internet censorship

Minister Sherlock et al,

I wrote endless letters to members of the former government expressing my opinion on their lack of governance and thought when I voted in a Labour / Fine Gael government, I could focus on growing my small business and would not have to put so much effort into communicating with ministers. Alas I was wrong. I probably should not be surprised.

However, your move to introduce a Statutory Instrument and respond with legislation to the High Court Judgment in the case of EMI and Others Vs UPC. is misguided to say the least. Last week several international websites blacked themselves out because of the same sort of censorship that you are trying to cast over this country. You are on Twitter so I expect you know about it already. If not, do the research. The worldwide protest paused the political moves for the moment. I am bewildered that a Labour minister for innovation would pull such a backward move, especially someone who appears to be able to use a computer.

Let's look at your press release:

could not grant an injunction to prevent infringement of copyright against an information service provider in the context of a transient communication

Because it is against the law. IRMA has already forced one ISP to ban a peer to peer site which was deemed unlawful in another court in the EU and you wish to open the floodgates and support their tiny complaints at the expense of our economy, knowledge, civil and human rights.

the Government is proposing to introduce a Statutory Instrument, to redress the situation highlighted by Justice Charleton, by providing for injunctions for copyright owners against intermediaries whose services are used to infringe their copyright.

Except that's not the whole truth. It is not only those copyrighted items that your Instrument will block but all the tetrabytes of open source and legal material that are free to share. Will judges decide that Twitter is treasonous? Will Green Tea be taken as libel? I find it difficult to credit that you do not see the problem here.

In granting such injunctions the Courts must take account of Court of Justice of the European Union Judgements. They require that a fair balance be struck between the various fundamental rights protected by the Community legal order and the principle of proportionality. That would include, inter alia, the protection of the fundamental rights of individuals who are affected by such measures, the freedom to conduct a business enjoyed by operators such as Internet Service Providers, the protection of private data and right of freedom of expression and information'.

People said it was a terrible day when the troika forced Ireland to accept reality but I was grateful. At last there would be oversight and the government of the day would not get away with the foreign bank transfers and swiss bank accounts that had been the norm up till then. There was no trust in ministers that saved anglo for their personal investments and those of the grassroots of their party. For the same reasons, I am glad that the EU forces this country to uphold its citizens rights when you and your government would trample all over them just as Fianna Fáil always did.

Putting in place immense censorship to protect a minority of business interests is abhorrent. And if the government will do that for the few, what will it do when people want a change. The police already beat seated peaceful demonstrators bloody and repeated and continuously violate international human rights laws for an oil company. Additional overwhelming powers is the last thing we should be giving to the state.

I thought this government was supposed to be to our country's benefit. That you would work for the good of society but "In the Thick of it" you act like your predecessors, rail at them in an empty Dáil and drink with them afterwards in a subsidised bar. What fools we citizens are to believe you could be different. We voted you in and you played us for fools. You will be known as a shortsighted, reactionary, right wing government if you go ahead with this instrument. Aside from the serious issues of civil liberties and the violation of human rights, you will cost us employment, jobs and investment for a law that will not change anything. Anyone with tech savvy can bypass Eircom's supposed block of The Pirate Bay and anyone with google can find out how. You will make life mildly inconvenient for some and at such a price.

Read some legal documents and rulings before you stunt all technological development and innovation

Mór Rígan
Voter and citizen


Nov 13, 2011

How much money did the Irish Government pay to the 7 wonders project?

I just read this piece New 7 Wonders of Nature Controversy by Red Hunt. He describes in detail, the licensing fees that governments have been required to pay to remain in the competition.

The Maldives

  • $350,000 for a platinum level sponsorship licensing fee,
  • two $210,000 requests for gold level licensing fees,
  • a $1million license fee to put the New 7 Wonders of Nature logo on planes,
  • a $1million license fee for their national telecom operator to participate for allowing phone voting and,
  • a request for a ‘World Tour’ stop in the Maldives for the New 7 Wonders delegates to party and enjoy the country at a cost of $500,000.


Indonesia’s Komodo Island entry created controversy when they revealed that New Open World Corporation was demanding $10million in licensing fees, plus $47million to host a World Tour finale for the competition. Apparently the $944,000 they budgeted to promoting and marketing their efforts in the competition wasn’t enough. Tourism officials in Indonesia had never signed any agreement that hinted at such additional, exorbitant costs. When they tried to contact New Open World Corporation by mail, everything bounced back as undeliverable. The disagreements continued for months and Indonesiawithdrew Komodo Island National Park from the competition in mid-August. However, faced with such pressure the New Open World Corporation backed down and Komodo remains as a finalist.


I wonder what licencing fees Ireland was required to pay. Anyone got more info on this?

I'm not one to begrudge spending on tourism projects but if Ireland did pay exorbitant fees, it was a poor investment. Project spending should be targetted not thrown at some private corporation with its own motivation. The lack of contact information on the 7wonders website certainly creeps me out.

Feb 10, 2011

I write letters

Dear Minister Smith,

I will try and restrain the depth of my anger at hearing that you did have permitted GM products into this country. It seems that either you do not understand what drives demand for Irish food products and tourism, or that the government wishes to corrupt the food industry, in the same manner as the economy.

Let me try to explain.

1. People pay a premium for Irish meat because the majority of Irish meat is grass fed, supplemented by hay in the winter. Feeding cattle on maize not only has significant impact on the health of the cattle, but also on the meat of humans. Maize fed cattle are not capable of killing e-coli in the stomach because of a change in acid regulation. E-coli and similar bacteria are passed on to humans, who then have to lie on hospital trolleys or die.

2. The US produces excess corn and no doubt there is pressure on the EU to buy their surplus. The quality of US beef has declined significantly since the switch to maize feeding. The rise in heart disease and obesity can be correlated to the excess maize consumed in American society through poor quality meat and corn syrup. It is an abhorrent system that you have sold the Irish people into.

3. Food tourists come to Ireland because Irish beef is grass fed and are generally free range. The minute you allow GM foods to enter the food chain, you lose significant tourist revenue. Ireland is promoting quality products which is why we have a food export system.

4. If even one GM seed is allowed to grow, it can contaminate the country and all the organic farms.

5. It does not matter whether the GM feed is for a day or all year around. One feed of GM causes the reputational damage.

6. It is this kind of thinking that led to the destruction of Irish railways in the 50s. That also was courtesy of a Fianna Fáil government. Even after the economy meltdown and the cruelty inflicted on this country by your government, I am still amazed that you took such a regressive and economically ignorant decision. It is a kick in the teeth to food producers and towns dependent on tourist trade. It also belies your party's manifesto, because no one will want to buy meat fed on GM maize.

7. I promise my vote to the party that will reverse this decision and will canvass on their behalf. I have CCed party leaders in this email. I want this decision revoked.

I would appreciate the courtesy of a real reply, rather than the standard automatic reply.

Feb 9, 2011

A day is a long time in politics

I wrote another piece for GlobalComment and it was really difficult to reconstruct the sequence of events! The draft version was over 3000 words.


As long as I am running this Government, I will run it as I see fit and as I believe, based on my philosophy.

Brian Cowen, Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) thundered in the Irish Parliament in January 2009. Two years later, he is still Taoiseach but just a shadow of his former self. His personal approval rating is 8%. Many find it amazing that there are still 8% of people who approve of the job he is doing.

January 2011 was a very strange month in Ireland. It kicked off with the publication of a secret book – The Fitzpatrick Tapes by Tom Lyons and Brian Carey, proofed and published in complete secrecy. Sean Fitzpatrick had been one of the poster boys for the boom. As chairman of Anglo Irish Bank, he was friend to politician and property developer alike, dishing out the money with an even hand. But he was also a gambler – Anglo was a festering mountain of debt that has been referred to as the worst bank in the world. As the house of cards was toppling, the Irish Government first guaranteed and then nationalised Anglo. This bankrupted the country. Fitzpatrick was declared bankrupt.

The politicians with whom Fitzpatrick had intermingled so easily, sought to distance themselves from this pariah. Cowen, who was Finance Minister at the time sought to minimise the links between himself and the former banker. Maybe Fitzpatrick was annoyed or vengeful when in interviews for The Fitzpatrick Tapes he revealed that he had had more contact with Cowen than Cowen disclosed to the Dáil (Irish parliament). The meeting that sparked political upheaval was a round of golf and dinner at Druids Glen in Wicklow.

There was uproar. What had Cowen known when Anglo was nationalised? What was discussed during the game? How did the Taoiseach come to be playing golf with the devil of Irish banking?
When the Dáil finally returned to work on 12 January. Golfgate was the issue of the day. The opposition had a field day. There were accusations of cozy and improper relationships with bankers, economic treason and even questions on the golf handicap of the Taoiseach. The government benches were silent. There was no heckling or eye contact or aspersions cast on the characters of members of the opposition. Questions were flung at the Taoiseach which he batted back with the ever ready bat of I-did-nothing-wrong with a side order of bluster.

He might have gotten away with it too but as it happens, there was another TD (MP) at present at Druid’s Glen that day. Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin of Sinn Féin had been attending a wedding at Druid’s Glen that day. He pinned the Taoiseach with the simple question of who else had been in the company.
Cowen was forced to reveal that in addition to Fitzpatrick, Alan Gray – a member of the Board of the Central Bank and Gary McGann – former Anglo director, had joined them for dinner. Cowen maintained that there was no discussion of the bank or its financial difficulties. He was not taken at his word.

Government backbenchers were furious. The Green Party, junior coalition partners stated that it was not Sherlock Holmes, and would to continue in Government. The Minister for Tourism was trice asked whether she had confidence in Cowen and trice did she dodge the question.

For a few hours, Cowen looked sure to resign. There was a Fianna Fáil (majority coalition party of which Cowen was the president) parliamentary party meeting the next day and when it was postponed by a few hours, rumours were rife that Ireland would finally be rid of the most unpopular Taoiseach in its history. Reports that TDs were packing stationary into their cars surfaced which is apparently a sign of an imminent election.

But it was another false dawn. Cowen would spend some time consulting with the party, catharsis indefinitely postponed while Fianna Fáil navelgazed. Labour tabled a motion of no confidence in the Government but timing ensured that it could not be taken for another week.

After consulting with the parliamentary party, Cowen came out fighting. To quell doubt, he proposed a motion of confidence in himself as leader of the party, to be taken in the following days. Just three hours after Cowen’s announcement, Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin declared his intention to vote against Cowen because “very survival of the party is at stake”.

And it is always all about the party. The motion of confidence was not about the state of the nation but about the state of one political party. Most of the Fianna Fáil Party did not declare one way or another but Martin’s position had support.

The day of the vote of confidence dragged for what seemed like forever. Even the staid media outlets were repeating speculation and rumours. Finally the doors to Leinster House opened to declare that the party was now united behind Mr Cowen and that the issue of his leadership and been “clearly and definitively” dealt with. It was like a body blow. How could even the Fianna Fáil TDs support this man? Martin resigned as Minister for Foreign Affairs.

It seemed we were stuck with Cowen for another while at least but the next two days brought a few developments. A total of seven senior ministers resigned and the situation came to a head on “Unholy Thursday” when the Tánaiste (Deputy Leader) could not say who lead the Ministery for Justice. The Dáil had to be suspended following rowdy protests from the opposition leaders, until Cowen could be found to explain what was going on. Article 28 of Bunreacht na hEireann (the Irish Constitution) states that the Government must not be smaller than 7 members or larger than 15 members and Ministers were rapidly disappearing.

Finish reading here

Jan 24, 2011

Pure motives? "Even wisdom has to yield to self-interest"

It seems that just about every member of government is claiming the virtue of pure motives, unsullied by dirty self-interest. From Conor Lenihan's uncontrolled outburst on Vincent Browne last Thursday to Paul Gogarty on Morning Ireland.

I don't buy it obviously. Not only because both the maFFia and the Greens have used the financial crisis to advance their own interests but also because we have been consistently lied to. If you cry wolf...

Napoleon said "men are moved by two levers only: fear and self interest"; G'Kar said "the galaxy is run by enlightened self interest"; but I think de la Rochefoucauld said it best “Self-interest speaks all sorts of tongues, and plays all sorts of roles, even that of disinterestedness”.

The best we can hope for is enlightened self interest and neither Gogarty or Lenihan junior strike me as being particularly enlightened.

Dec 16, 2010

Brady, the paedophile protector, condemns abortion

From the IT

In a statement tonight, Cardinal Seán Brady said the judgment "leaves future policy in Ireland on protecting the lives of unborn children in the hands of the Irish people and does not oblige Ireland to introduce legislation authorising abortion".

He said profound moral and legal issues were raised by the ruling. "The direct destruction of an innocent human life can never be justified, however difficult the circumstances. . . . No law which subordinates the rights of any human being to those of other human beings can be regarded as a just law."

Says the man who covered up child rape and protected serial paedophile Brendan Smith. I think we've heard enough from you Brady. You do not get to have an opinion on this.

Am amazed that as a celibate male you seem to think your view on this issue matters. Fuck off already.

As for

The direct destruction of an innocent human life can never be justified, however difficult the circumstances

except, it seems when priests rape children and people like you cover it up.

Pro choice forever!

Between newspapers, economists, television, job, stress, depression, I haven't had a lot of time to blog. It's not for want of topics but there is a listlessness to writing about Ireland. The people are shackled to a four year plan negotiated by an illegitimate government known to be corrupt. I can barely afford heating since the last budget and everything seems hopeless. There needs to be a new way but vested interests maintain the status quo. But today there is an issue that I still feel passionate about - a woman's right to choose to terminate her pregnancy. 

Women have been terminating pregnancies for centuries. There are a number of fascinating books on the subject and one truth emerges in all societies studies, both ancient and modern is that prohibition of abortion does not lower the number of actual abortions. Prohibition of abortion just drives people into debt, illness and death.

So why can't government inject a soupcon of pragmatism into the debate. Legalising abortion saves lives - real lives, the lives of humans already in existence. Exchanging one life for a potential life is a bad deal. Why gamble with life already in existance?

I'm pro choice. It's my body and my health. But pro choice is so much more than just pro abortion. It's sex education. It's birth control. It's the price of condoms. It's that forced pregnancy is a human rights violation. Ireland has some of most expensive condoms in Europe. In 96, I got my first sex ed class, wherein the lecturer declared that men would only marry virgins, and spent the rest of the time talking at yes about our first periods. At the age of 17 this was six years too late.

A Red C poll in January of this year found out that

Some 60% of young people want abortion legalised here, it has emerged.

According to a Red C poll in today's Irish Examiner, 10% of 18-34 year olds have been involved in a relationship where an abortion took place.

It pays to be pragmatic. Legalising abortion saves women's lives. The thing is that women will have abortions regardless of the law because each person knows what is best for their situation.

Adding spice to the conversion

Ireland claims to be pro-life but Ireland isn't pro life. Ireland is caught in a Catholic ethos despite the revelations of those pulpit preachers. It's the old story of keeping up appearances. Isn't that why so many girls and women ended up in Magdalene laundries where they worked without pay until they died. No boys or men were similarly imprisoned for the crime of having sex or getting raped or being considered too pretty.

Ireland doesn't care about children. That much is clear from the Ryan Report, the Murphy Report, and the revelations about "care" of children by the HSE. Hundreds of children were buried in unmarked graves after being beaten to death. Where is the outcry? Hundreds of thousands of children were sent to hell in the industrial schools. People knew and did nothing. Doctors, nurses, gardaí and families knew what happened and did nothing. Everyone is shocked now that denial is no longer an option. But the state continues to negotiate with the 18 orders. They negotiate with child abusers and rapists. Few criminal charges have been brought.

I've been raped twice. If I had fallen pregnant you can be damned sure that I would have made sure that I had the choice whether to continue the pregnancy. If I would have to, I would beg, borrow or steal the money to travel to France to get an abortion.

One in every four children will experience sexual abuse. One in every three women under the age of 40 will be raped. To force these women and children to continue a pregnancy through rape is to retraumatise her and re-enforces the commonly held view that women and girl's lives are of lesser importance than a fetus. Forced pregnancy is a human rights violation.

Today's ruling, at least, forces the government to legislate for the Supreme Court decision in the X case. So little by little we chip away at misogynistic old laws. Maybe, eventually, we can value women and our decisions.

Nov 20, 2010

I, for one, welcome our new ECB overlords

Last weekend, it was painful to watch government ministers lie through their teeth. Everybody knows they lied. Everybody knows that Ireland needs assistance from the EU. Everybody knows the government is corrupt and incompetent.

This week, I continue to be flabbergasted at the maFFia's response to being caught out lying. Reducing the debate to technicalities is obfuscating the issue. There are two types of lies - commission and omission. Commission is saying an untruth. Omission is hiding a truth. Perhaps they technically did not tell untruths but they have been continually hiding the truth. That is lying.

Instead they aggressively ask members of the opposition what would they do. That's totally irrelevant. It doesn't matter. The issue is that the Cabinet has conspired to cover up criminal activity. How much did they know and when? They will not answer. How much personal money did the Cabinet have in Anglo Irish Bank? That has not been answered. We need justice. But the DPP will not act. The president will not act.

The feeling in my belly is repugnance. I feel the darkness inside threatening to come out. Every time I hear another FFer lie, I have to stop myself from flinging the radio across the room. I know they are unshameable. I know a guillotine would bounce off their necks. And despite all they have done, I know there are people in Ireland who will always vote locally not matter what the Party does. I know the Greens have sold out. I know the Director of Public Prosecutions is a political office. I know the DPP never prosecutes FFers even when they lie under oath. So what can I do? I march. I question. I talk to ministers but none of that changes anything.

I hate violence. I've survived violence. I've seen the results on violence - one of my jobs included organising documents and photographs of human rights violations. I have had guns pulled on me. I hate violence but I am being to wonder about the application of violence. The government will not resign. The DPP will not prosecute current and former members of the government that are directly responsible for the economic crisis. Peaceful public protests resulted in brutal retaliation by riot police.  I don't think violence but ultimately solve anything but it is the only way to unembed these disgusting corrupt gombeens?

I am glad the ECB is here. I am glad the IMF is here. I am glad that we finally have some adults in charge of the books - adults that have not been infected with parish pump politics and gombeenism; adults who won't be here long enough to be corrupted by the vested interests; adults who can take mature decisions; and adults who did not have to censor the media and lie to the public.

I don't mourn for our loss of sovereignty. Sovereignty is worth jack shit when the country is broke. I mourn the loss our values in our society. I mourn that people voted Fianna Fáil and thus allowed the FFers to squander the country's wealth by buying the last two elections. I mourn that Irish people voted in a government that always put their party first. And when people reply about there not being any alternative, I want to scream. First of all, we don't know how an opposition coalition would have acted in their place and secondly it is irrelevant. Why continue to vote for someone you know to be corrupt when there are other candidates on the ballot paper?

We need an election. And then we need to overhaul the entire government and senior civil servant institutions. When that is done maybe we can grow up as a country, have politicians who stand for something besides self-interest; and leave civil war politics behind for good.

Nov 10, 2010

Students protested, gardaí brutalised and the media covered it up

Last Wednesday 25 000 students marched on the Dept of Finance to protest the proposed doubling of "registration" fees. Various news outlets reported that Eirigi and extreme lefty organisations attacked gardaí and spoiled the day for everyone. Gardaí reported injuries.

Irish Times

Gardaí began removing protesters they had previously trapped in the lobby. There were physical altercations between them and a female garda was struck. Some protesters put up strong resistance to gardaí, kicking out as they sought to remove them. Some of the protesters exited the building with evidence of a beating on their faces... One hoodie-clad youth alongside picked up a piece of timber and threw it at the foyer, from where the protesters were being removed


When those pensioners stood up to a Government threatening them with cuts they were regarded as being brave and merry. Yet when students embark upon the same journey they are branded as disgraceful and violent.


A number of people were injured during scuffles with gardaí on Merrion Row, while three gardaí received medical attention after being injured by objects thrown by protestors. One garda was admitted to hospital with a broken nose, the other two gardaí were treated at the scene for minor injuries.


Witnesses said a brick and eggs were thrown at the building and that a group of about 15 students made it inside. Gardaí later ejected them.

USI president Gary Redmond condemned the violence loudly and on every media outlet he could get on. And the whole thing was dismissed.

Until modern technology showed what actually happened. YouTube videos show the excessive violence used by the gardaí. Violence starts about 3:00

If you don't want to watch them all, here are some stills













There are plenty of questions that need answering.

Why did the riot police advance on a peaceful crowd?
Why did gardaí bludgeon people sitting on the ground?
Why were horses raced into a departing crowd?
Why did the media not mention the police brutality?
Why did the media focus only on the eggs thrown by the students?
Who authorised excessive force?
Who is making the incompetent decisions?

Who seriously sends riot police, K9 units, mounted gardaí and guards on wheels into a non attacking crowd? That often lead to deaths and serious injuries. Clearly the powers that be have been anticipating a rioting populace. This time it was students protests hikes in registration costs. What will happen when it is a group of people who have nothing left to lose, can't feed their families and have been evicted?

Fachtna Murphy should not be allowed to retire. He should be fired by the Minister for Justice. But the Irish government does not read the writing on the wall. The fundamentalist Minister for Justice is too busy passing restrictive, mediaeval blasphemy laws.

In Thud, Terry Pratchett, now the adjunct professor in the School of English in TCD, wrote quite a bit on the relationship between the police force and the people

You see your people looking at you and wondering whose side you're on, yes? Well, you're on the side of the people, which is where the law ought to be. All the people, I mean, who're out there beyond the mob, who're fearful and puzzled and scared to go out at night. Now, funnily enough, the idiots who're out there right in front of you getting their self-defence in first are also the people

The people that the gardaí were battering and brutalising are the same people whose human rights they are supposed to uphold, at least according to section 2 paragraph 7.1(c) of the Garda Síochána Act of 2005. So much for the Guardians of the Peace.

ETA: Obviously, this does not refer to all the gardaí who upload the law and work with people.