Saturday, December 31, 2005


Anonymous (wink!) wanted to know about the Jamie Shaker...well the jury is still out. I made a dressing tonight for a salad and more of it landed on my shirt, the kitchen sink and the kitchen floor when I shook it. You have to line up the top and bottom correctly and it should stay together while you do the shaking bit. Well I did connect it the right way but it did not stay together. I will keep trying it but the screw top jar is on standby.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Culinary efforts and presents

If you are looking for Rachel Allen's Smoked Salmon Recipe Click here

So I have spent the past two days cooking:-

Christmas dinner for 6, very traditional food,
  • smoked salmon, pate for the fish haters and salad for starters,
  • Turkey, Ham, stuffing, mash, croquettes, 4 different steamed veg and not a sprout in sight, gravy and bread sauce.
  • Desert much later was christmas pudding and custard for some and viennetta for the rest.
  • Cheese board even later still for some - had some divine young Ardrahan cheese - smelly as old sports shoes but delicious.

There is a photo somewhere of the turkey being sliced but it's not really nailbiting stuff.

Today I did a Stephens Day breakfast buffet and tonight I cooked Turkey Curry with the assistance of Jamie Olivers Cook in Curry Sauce recipe.

Now on the presents front I have a load of vouchers for shoes and household goods and one of these:

This is a Jamie Oliver Flavour Shaker - think mini pestle and mortar - will have to try it out a bit more before I give my final verdict - but it made a good french dressing for the salad yesterday, whether it could cope with hard seeds, nuts etc I don't know. (and yes I know a small screw top jar with a lid on it would have done the same thing but its Jamie Oliver and makes noise and looks interesting!)
I also received a pizza plate and cutter set, a oriental dipping set and dips and a copy of Rachel Allen's new book. So lets say the people buying presents know that things culinary will go down well.

However as I have commented on Bibliocook's blog, Rachel Allen does nothing for me at all. Her second series of TV programmes on which the book is based is currently showing on RTE. (sponsored by Spar) And I am sorry but the book is boring, its full of 'you could add this' and 'my brother in law makes a great' that. Rachel is trying to be Ireland's Nigella, and failing miserably. Give me her mother in law, Darina Allen, any day. She knows her food and is passionate about it. Rachel is doing the busy mother with blonde hair and no personality thing.
I intend to keep on cooking over the next week and hope to try out a recipe or two from Roast Figs, Sugar Snow, Warming Food from Cold Climes by Diana Henry which was one of my presents to myself this month. More on that book anon but I hope it gets cold enough for it! :)

Friday, December 23, 2005

Lots of celebrations, another committee and a challenge to identity

So its been 'weddings' and 'marriages' (and lots of quote marks) all week here and over there. Grainne and Shannon stole the show with their registration in Belfast. Elton and David dominated the news yesterday and I watched the goings on live on Sky News. Earlier 3 couples became the first couples to be registered in a joint ceremony in Brighton and it was live on Breakfast TV on the BBC.

Nearly pinched myself to see if I was really watching the proceedings of a same sex partnership ceremony live on the news. It was a really good news day or good news week. There has been very positive coverage throughout and a lot of happiness and general good will.

Yet another committee is formed to look at the matter in the Republic of Ireland. The members of the working group, whoever they may be, will have a reading list to assist them (and hopefully a bit of consultation!!! sees pig flying with rudolf)

And the website of the Women and Equality Unit of the Department of Trade and Industry in the UK which has several useful documents on the practicalities of implementing the Act in the UK.

Finally they need to also read Lotte Jeffs in the Guardian yesterday talking about the impact of all this on couples or partners or fuckbuddies or single queers who don't want to get registered. Also the Daily Telegraph looks at the many thousands of lesbians and gay men who will lose benefits as a result of the new legislation in the UK.

In the 9 years I have been together with my partner I have not been financially dependent on her or her me. We of course share money, pay for different things and for things together but generally maintain our financial independence, there is no joint bank account. I don't know if I would mind if I was to lose income if when we were in a registered partnership (and I am being very very presumptive there). But I do hate the automatic assumptions that are made that I should be dependent on her because she earns so much more than I do - or that if I was not working that I would give her my tax credits, or that I would lose medical and other benefits because she earns to much.

I hear a lot of 'with rights come responsibilities' stuff from same sex partnership rights campaigners. However I do see that with rights could come a lack of independence, choice, respect, diversity, and ability to decide what type of relationship many lesbians and gay people have. I don't want my desires and needs for partnership recognition to discriminate against those who wish to live their lives and sexual identity in whatever manner they wish. I think that the debate here needs to include those other voices and broaden the view and understanding of relationships, sexuality, culture and life.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Still Breathing - McDowell Announces Working Group on Civil Partnerships

Group to look at civil partnerships: McDowell
December 20, 2005 12:07
RTE News

The Minister for Justice, Michael Mc Dowell, has said he has decided to establish a working group which will look at the various options in relation to civil partnership. Mr McDowell said he hopes the group will report on the various options available to Government in this area by the end of March 2006. The Minister said the Government would then decide what action to take.
His comments come on the day five same-sex couples were due to take part in Scotland's first civil partnership ceremonies. The first ceremony was expected to take place in Edinburgh this morning.
Three such ceremonies took place in Northern Ireland yesterday. Yesterday's ceremonies were the first in the United Kingdom. The ceremonies begin in England and Wales from tomorrow.

Announcing Parity?

According to the Irish Examiner, there is to be an announcement today from the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Michael McDowell on partnership rights for same sex couples. The minister is due to meet GLEN (the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network) sometime today and the announcement will follow. I am still not holding my breath that we will see proposals that will grant equality (and I am not even talking about Marriage here) for same sex couples and those with children. Well at least I won't suffocate.

Fiona has collated links in the Irish blogosphere on yesterdays Civil Partnership debut in Belfast. It is good to see so much positive comment on it. The earth is still round this morning as we awake and I hope the couple have a great honeymoon!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Weird part 2

To the smart arse who said that some of my weird things are not habits...ok you're right. I'll come back to it later...sigh...

Weird Meme

Ah dear jaysus, there I was this morning thinking that I had not been meme'd yet and thanking the goddess's that I did not have blogging friends who were into Meme's. And the man I thought would be the least into meme's tagged me. So Damien wants me to talk about 5 weird meme's about me.

1. I can touch the tip of my nose with my tounge.(Smutty jokes about lesbians and tounges and flexibility have been heard before in this regard!)

2. I have been a Minister of the Eucharist and Minister of the Word.

3. I have been drunk once in my life (this is not related to item 2 in anyway)

4. I went to Lanzarotte (Canary Islands) for 42 hours for a meeting in 1995.

5. I have visited the accident and emergency of all hospitals in Dublin (including all the childrens hospitals) as a patient. This includes those now closed including Jervis Street, The Richmond and The Meath.

Paying it forward to Morgan, Fiona, Alex, Trish, Bibliocook (how about 5 weird cooking/food meme's?)

Rules of the game:

The first player of this game starts with the topic five weird habits of yourself, and people who get tagged need to write an entry about their five weird habits as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose the next five people to be tagged and link to their web journals. Dont forget to leave a comment in their blog or journal that says You are tagged (assuming they take comments) and tell them to read yours.

Happy Civil Partnership Day!

3 couples are registering their partnerships at Belfast City Hall this morning. Outside Belfast City Hall there are protestors and supporters. Hope the couples have a great day and enjoy their hard won and well deserved rights. Loved the idea of the t-shirts that some were thinking of wearing saying 'Beat Elton to it.' (Northern Ireland is the first place in the UK to have the ceremonies) However I think the first ceremony has a 1920's Bugsy Malone theme. Am off to catch the pictures on Sky News.

Coverage from southern journalists of the event keeps repeating that legislation will be introduced in the Republic next year. Since there has been no consultation by the government with those affected (ie. lesbians and gay men) we can't tell if this legislation will be as encompassing as the UK Civil Partnerships Act. McDowell is the Minister involved - he does not believe that same sex couples want marriage or anything close to it. The last known comments from him talked about a list of rights that couples could pick from - and of course we won't mention the children. As far as I can make out most legislators don't think about lesbian and gay families when talking about partnership rights.

Parity of esteem with our sisters and brothers 100 miles away would be good Minister. I for one won't be holding my breath waiting for it.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Sunday Papers Roundup...

There is much in today's newspapers on the McDowell/Connolly/CPI affair although Stormontgate and the uncloaking (or dumping) of a British spy in Sinn Fein is the story of the weekend.

The Sunday Independent are as to be expected pro McDowell and continuing their oppostion to Connolly and the CPI. Maeve Sheehan writes on more allegations about Connolly's background in a group called Revolutionary Struggle in the early 1980's.

   THE former journalist accused by the Justice Minister of involvement in a plot to train Farc rebels for cash, was arrested in connection with the shooting of a British executive in Trinity College, Dublin, in 1981.

Gene Kerrigan does however question McDowell's motives and ascribes the minister with the title 'Sean Doherty with a Dublin 4 Accent'.

   It will be a long time before the Provos can be confidently dismissed as a threat to law and order. But threats come in various shapes, and State power is so awesome that the need for it to be exercised with restraint, not on speculation but against clear and present danger, is imperative.
   This doesn't look like a stalwart minister defending democracy. It looks like the sometimes boastful, sometimes furtive lurches of an excited man. A man flooded with the thrill of the hunt. The exhilarating thrill that comes with the unconfined exercise of power.

   Sean Doherty with a Dublin 4 accent.

Kevin Rafter writing in the Sunday Tribune reports on the refusal of McDowell to release the passport photograph which accompanied the alledged passport application.

   However, when asked for a copy of the photograph, a spokesperson for McDowell said, "its release now would not add anything. It would be gratuitous to do it now."

In a second piece Rafter examines the cold feet some Fianna Fail TD's are having over the incident. (Registration required.) Niamh Connolly writing in the Sunday Business Post sums up the weeks events and she takes the temperature of both Fianna Fail and opposition TD's on the matter.

Michael Clifford's piece on the situation questions McDowell's judgement, movtives and performance in the matter in the past week. (Read it here, registration required)

Vincent Browne writes in the Sunday Business Post on the McDowell and Progressive Democrat agenda to close the Centre for Public Inquiry. Tom McGuirk's piece in the same paper is a panto script featuring Michael the Amazing Minister.

Lots of column inches but everyone still waiting on Connolly's next move. Updates later when and if I make it through the rest of the papers/websites.

Tech talk

So someone talk to me about tags and stuff and how to do it and why etc.? Technorati ones and otherwise? Or point me in the direction of something not too techy to read about it all.
In other news I now enjoy the wonders of wireless broadband. Why did I wait so long for such blissful surfing freedom!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

He Shoots...He Scores...Twice!

Just spent the morning reading and watching Liverpool play in the Club World Championships. (worthless money making mini tournament in Japan between winners of various continental club championships)

Anyway Peter Crouch scored twice making it 3 goals this season. He is the most awkward, unlikely, ungraceful footballer I have ever seen. But he scored, and 'the pool' are in the final on Sunday.

(And apologies to the gay male readership (and non soccer commited dykes) for another soccer related post! Unless you find Mr. Crouch vaguely attractive - and then I would have to question your good taste index!)

Ford's Reversal

Mental Meanderings had us thinking about Ford and its new straight outlets only advertising policy in the USA. Acceding to a threatened boycott from the American Family Association, Ford said that it would no longer sponsor lgbt events or advertise in lesbian and gay media outlets.
The repsonse to this announcement was swift, leaders of 17 lgbt organisations met with Ford on Tuesday and tonight Ford announced it was going to continue advertising and sponsorship and apolgised etc. etc. In fact Ford would not only be advertising its high end products in the Jaguar and Landrover ranges but will also run coporate ads for the Ford brand in these outlets. Americablog, who was running the blog/internet campaign to tell Ford what lgbt's and their supporters thought of them, has the full text of Ford's letter to lgbt groups here.
The matter received huge coverage in the USA and The Daily Show even included it in sketch which you can view at Crooks and Liars.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Hi Hi

Hello to the CPI based staff member reading the blogs today. Sorry for your trouble and I hope some money is found somewhere for the work to continue or Chuck changes his mind. Sam Smyth is promising some new stuff on this story in tomorrows Independent - he was on Newstalk with Eamon Dunphy this morning...and it does not sound like Connolly will be happy about it.

Thoughts before bedtime

So the CPI were about to investigate the Minister’s new prison site at Thornton Hall, you know the one that has cost €33 million before a brick was laid. The one where vastly increased amounts of money were paid per acre compared to similar land sales nearby. The Minister did not like that.

Niall O’Dowd, editor of the Irish Echo believes that Atlantic Philanthropies could be giving the money back to the CPI – if the CEO changes maybe?

There is also increasing speculation that many journalists and legal academics are afraid to comment publicly on the issue for a number of reasons. Frank Connolly’s family links to Sinn Fein, and the Minister’s bullying tactics and their impact on funding, careers and other employment related issues.

Earlier this year the minister threatened RTE and Prime Time in particular after they reported on Thornton Hall.  So an investigative programme is threatened by the Minister and an organisation which tries to investigate has been shorn of its funding because of the Minister’s campaign and interference.

His colleagues in government support him because they don’t like Frank Connolly not only because of his alleged Sinn Fein links but because he investigates things (them!) and writes about them. As I said in an earlier post many of McDowell’s government colleagues don’t believe in a group of citizens setting up a body funded by ‘foreign’ money.

This rampage through rights not only of Connolly but of democracy and free speech is an issue which deserves full ‘investigation’. McDowell cannot be allowed to go into the Dáil and not answer some questions because he over-answered others.

I don’t believe anyone, other than the government, thinks that Frank Connolly is or has been a threat to the state or that the term subversive can be applied to him. The Minister believes that he does not have to provide evidence and that if he believes it to be true and says so, then that is it. Read the transcript of the Statement and questions in the Dáil here.

Another interesting thought, if McDowell was found to have been telling fairytales, breaking the law and generally stitching Connolly up and interfering in the running of an NGO (and it’s a very big if) would we be facing a general election? Could the PD’s stay in power with Fianna Fáil?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Ireland's dual systems of Justice

All I can keep thinking about is GUBU, (no, not the pub, or Sarah's GUBU - worth a read!, but the other GUBU) tapped phones, Sean Doherty and the bad old days. Yesterday's interview by McDowell on the News at One filtered through to me about 3.30, I could not believe what I was hearing - he admitted leaking documents to the Independent. (You can read the transcript of the interview in the Indo here -registration required).
He's lost the plot thought I, yeah everyone knew he leaked them to Sam Smyth but he's going round bragging about it? So now we have two justice systems - the one organised by the DPP and McDowell's version. If there is not enough evidence to prosecute under the DPP's version and the constitution don't worry Michael will fix it, use Dáil privilege and his friends in the meeja.

Red Rover has an excellent post on the issue, and I'm off to listen to Vincent Browne who I missed last night and can only imagine how compelling he was in full flight. Listen to Fergus Flood's interview on Morning Ireland on the RTE website later on today if you get a chance. Update: Listen to it on Real player here.

Reaction to what McDowell had said was slow but after this morning's radio I predict that one should tune in to the new Oireachtas Live about 2.30pm this afternoon as this might just get a little interesting.

Ah yes the Minister that the gay community (the mostly male version) decided to invite to open the lesbian and gay film festival. Ok so I don't like him, and now have more reason not to like him and his policies now. It would help if Connolly was more forthcoming or someone produced something else to illuminate the situation and help McDowell on his way back to the Law Library or the house in Roscommonn. However I fear this matter is one that excites the journalists and the Anti-McDowell faction, the public won't and don't understand it. By the time the Anorak gets up and backs him later on today it might all be over.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Shopping rage...

There I was thinking I was lucky to have some work this week. However so far today I have missed my footing twice on an escalator. (stayed upright!) and the queues for the tills are horrendous. (And I have had to queue) Don't they all have somewhere else to be on a Monday afternoon, 2 weeks before xmas.?

One thing I would say is please let older people have more time at a till, let them jump queues and stop tutting when they get confused about their PIN number. The bitching I heard from waiting customers about one woman in her 70's who was spending longer at a till today was horrendous. She had bought one item and had a query about another, so between the paying and the asking and the getting of the second item and then paying for that she took a while. But there were 3 other tills open, the queue moved quick enough and wait another 40/45 years and it could be you. Or will we still be queuing in shops 2 weeks before xmas buying things for people we don't want to really give pressies to and stuff they don't need anyway.

What's the world talking about?

This month the Happy Feminist is hosting the Carnival of Feminists. This is a snapshot pulling together the best/most interesting or thought provoking of feminist blogging at the moment. Given the debates amongst Irish bloggers of late it might be interesting to read some other feminists blogging about things including (but far from only) 'why I'm a feminist'.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Friday night cat blogging

Nothing special this week, just hanging out in the kitchen with me and the mobile phone camera. He looks so grown up now. He has stopped biting, well almost!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Winter food...

A cook rather than a chef, I heard Diane on Today with Pat Kenny this morning and this book will be on my list for xmas. Can the cookery book shelves take the strain!?!


I may not be Germaine Greer, and I'm not a fat-man-bashing-lesbian (although I've known one or two). But I do believe I have choices and rights which cannot
be denied to me Just Because I'm a Woman.

So writes Winds and Breezes in her contribution to the women blogging in Ireland debate.

Remind me that this is 2005 someone. Why are straight women compelled to assert their sexuality? They have centuries of heterosexual privilege but still feel threatened by us or superior to us. While the lesbians marched against rape, in favour of divorce, rights to choose etc., began the rape crisis centres, refuges and other services for women in the 70's, they did so in solidarity with their heterosexual sisters. Heterosexual feminsts de-dyked the women's rights movments fairly swiftly. Now the imagery of modern feminism is interpreted by some as anything but lesbian instead of anything and everything including lesbians. And then there is the impression that lesbians are involved in man bashing.

By the way no felines were injured in any manner in the writing of this post. I just am interested by the rush to dyke bash or dyke distance in 2005. And yeah I know I said lets talk about getting more women into blogging and we'll get there yet but it might be interesting to reflect on the anti-lesbian discourses in the interpretation of feminism.

Investigating the State and the State investigating you

Mary Harney today took the opportunity to comment (last 3 minutes of the interview) on her concerns about a group of citizens being established to conduct investigations into public affairs and being funded from outside the state. This was interesting on the day following the withdrawal of said funds from the investigative body where her colleague the Minister for Justice was instrumental in the potential demise of the Centre for Public Inquiry (CPI).
Atlantic Philanthropies has provided significant funding to the non governmental sector in the Republic and Northern Ireland in the last number of years. Without the funding much of the so called fourth level sector in higher education would also have collapsed. Is Harney also now questioning this funding also the support given to human rights groups, restorative justice movements and Traveller organisations to name but a few of the beneficiaries?
There is something very fishy about the way in which the Minister of Justice, Equality and Law Reform revealed information from a Garda investigation to the Irish-American philanthropist and funder of AP, Chuck Feeney. Frank Connolly, executive director of the Centre for Public Inquiry was questioned about using a false passport and accompanying his brother Niall to Columbia to meet FARC guerrillas. No proceedings have been taken yet against Frank Connolly, yet the Minister uses Dáil privilege to make allegations about his conduct. All they are are allegations until proven. Connolly has a long track record in investigation of government and other institutional corruption and would have not been a friend of Fianna Fail or now it seems the Progressive Democrats.
The Irish Independent have been on CPI's back and also Chuck Feeney's (founder of Atlantic philanthropy) since they began funding this body.
Harry Browne writing in Village Magazine recently revealed that
'Providence Resources, controlled by Tony O'Reilly, the owner of Independent News and Media, is the largest Irish company involved in offshore oil and gas activity and controls significant acreages off the west coast and in the Celtic Sea.'
The Centre for Public Inquiry published a report on safety concerns in the Corrib onshore gas system.
Many western nations have private centres and foundations who investigate issues and publish reports and inform the public, politics and the media. Ireland gets one and in the 10 months since its inception the PD's, the Independent group and others have led the campaign to stop its work and get the funders to withdraw their funding. Senator John Minihan began theattack in February by questioning the need for 'a privately funded investigative centre that would parallel the work carried out by state funded institutions and agencies.'
Minihan said that he thought we had enough agencies of investigation that the public could contact if theybelieved matters needed investigating.
Funny that since February we have heard much about Garda corruption, through the Morris Tribunals, and seen where many who usually do the investigating have been setting up members of the public in order to feather their own beds. The ombudsman has on numerous occasions queried the impact of the new legislation controlling access to the Freedom of Information Act, the Planning acts and most recently the problems with access to rights granted under the Disability Act 2005.
Another anti-corruption busting organsiation recently established in Ireland is Transparency International. From it's website we learn:

The Irish chapter of TI was launched last December. Its board includes people from the world of business, civil society and politics, including Garret FitzGerald , Tom Arnold of Concern and economist Colm McCarthy . The NGO will not investigate (My emphasis) corruption but plans to undertake anti-corruption research and lobby government on legal and institutional reform.

Ah so that's alright then!!!!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Engine is derailed

So Ivor resigned or was kicked and was allowed to say he resigned to save face. His interview on Pat Kenny this morning was insufferable - listen here. Loads of stuff of having to consider his position for the good of his family who were now being dragged into it etc. etc.
What I am surprised at (and maybe should not be given it involves Fianna Fáil) is that it took until 2005 for stories about Ivor to get out beyond Donnycarney. Obviously I can't repeat the many others I know about him here (See who's been reading her Digital Rights Ireland pamphlet!). But his constituency operation was definitely a solo run rather than party run machine, it was always a tight race out there. Taxi drivers were significant as was in party faction fighting. There have not been many mentions in the profiles and column inches of his race politics flurries either on issues of asylum and immigration.
Of course he will probably top the poll again in 2007, 3 seater and all. However maybe the sources for the stories in the last few weeks (which must be close to home given the details) have only just begun?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

This pic will be in your papers tomorrow...

(note the John Paul Construction sign over his left shoulder - pic taken in 2002)

Farewell Ivor...we knew too much about you....

Yesterday's Equality, todays human rights and dignity

As others have noted the UK Civil Partnerships Act went 'live' yesterday and in about 2 weeks there will be the first pictures of same sex couples having registered their relationship. However yesterday morning Matthew Roche and Christopher Cramp received special permission to have their 7 year relationship registered immediately. Today, one day after they were registered as a couple, Matthew died of lung cancer.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Move along there now, time please....

Lets not mention the war. The blogwar that is or the disagreement or whatever you would like to call it. Those of us who are Feminists are and those who are not aren’t – am sure the nots could spend all day tying themselves up in knots but I prefer to watch paint dry.

Could those of us interested talk about ways in which to encourage more women and other underrepresented groups to blog? Well?

Friday, December 02, 2005

The source for the copping out comments....?

I think this is the article that influenced Mary Robinson's recent concerns on educated women 'copping out' of the workplace in the USA. I am not sure if other people have sourced this already or if the MSM in Ireland had already noticed it. My MSM reading is very limited these days. (quelle supris!) Anyway the article may interest some and help see where MR is coming from.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Gobbing with pride....

Ah Dermod...thanks for all the spitting, can I offer you a drink?

In the name of all those queers who have lived good lives as priests, nuns, bishops and popes down the centuries, who have eased the lives of the flocks they have served, I spit on this document. In the name of all those queers who have been parents and godparents to children down the centuries, living and breathing examples of “spiritual fatherhood”, I spit on this document. In the name of those priests I have fucked and been fucked by, I spit on this document. In the name of the priest I might have become, had I not been infected by fancy modern notions of respect for myself, and respect for my truth, and respect for my own spiritual path, I spit on this document. In the name of those countless kids in Catholic homes who have been, and are now going to be even more infected with concepts of dis-ease and dis-trust and dis-like, of dis-may and dis-gust, for themselves and for others, I spit on this document.

You can read and listen to the full post here, its worth it!

What it doesn't say in the Papers

Today’s Village and Phoenix magazines make for very interesting reading on the role of the media in the Irish Ferries ‘dispute’.

Earlier this week I noted the removal of Gerald Flynn as the correspondent covering the dispute for the Independent group of newspapers. It now seems that Justine McCarthy has had a column on corporate greed spiked and also been informed she will no longer be writing a column in the Saturday Independent. An emergency meeting of the NUJ chapel at Independent Newspapers has been called.

It is also now clear that there are crossovers between the board membership of Independent group and Irish Continental Group who own Irish Ferries. Smelling a rat yet? I hope so.

Paddy Prenderville, editor of Phoenix, and Roy Greenslade (Professor of Journalism in London City Univeristy) were speculating on this situation on Eamon Dunphy’s show on Newstalk this morning (podcasts available on Greenslade examined the coverage of the dispute in the Irish Times and the Irish Independent whilst Flynn was writing on the dispute and found little difference in the reporting. Prenderville does not believe that the Examiner or the Irish Times will comment on the interference of the board in the coverage of the story or the decisions made by the Irish Independents new editor.

The really stinking thing about this whole issue? The establishment of an in house investigation into Flynn’s writing on the dispute. The membership of the investigation committee being the same as that investigating the Liam Lawlor debacle. And it is thought that no heads are going to roll on the rubbish printed about the circumstances of Lawlor’s death.

Disability, Charity and Rights

I was surprised at my reaction to Fiona’s posting about a concert in aid of Enable Ireland that she was attending. I apologise for the reaction – however it could have been a lot worse.

It made me realise that issues around disability and particularly reflections on the social model of disability and the disabling society rather than the disabled person are very much absent from the public sphere.

I suppose in my circle of friends, particularly disabled friends, we would not be seen dead (or alive) at a EI event or indeed at the fundraising event of any disability service provider – especially those in the disability industry who pay lip service to disabled people – their service users (or clients or whatever the nice term is these days).

These organisations often do not have disabled persons as board members. If there are users on the board they are often only one or two in number and they are often there for show and window dressing. The organisations fundraise in a variety of manners which in fact embarrass disabled people and often remove any notion of rights as charity and goodwill takes over.

The disability industry in Ireland is frequently unchallenged but is very powerful and has access to huge amounts of state and private sector funding and media outlets as they ply their troth, tell the sad stories or indeed the inspirational ones of Mary who can lift her head, write her name or make her own way to work in a sheltered workshop where she gets 10 euro a week on top of her social welfare benefit cos it’s called training. (god that is a long sentence but you get my meaning)

As many people with disabilities have communication difficulties, these organisations speak on behalf or disabled people or use parents as advocates. Parents whose perspective is not the same as the disabled person.

Some of the largest disability organisations in Ireland (and I mean organisations for disabled people rather that of disabled people) run large workshops (oh they are now called enterprises to make it look good) for so called rehabilitation where disabled people work filling contracts for multinational companies. This could be cooking, filling boxes, printing or other menial work

I work for a service provider (not a workshop provider) which has disabled people working in several key areas and also people with disabilities on the board. It’s a membership organisation, and so members elect reps to the board. It is far from perfect but members direct a lot of the work and consultation actually means that and user led means user led.

This group does fundraise – it uses members to fundraise by bucket collection and through the sale of pins etc. And staff are also asked to fundraise. I refuse to participate on the rights not charity principle.

The Disability Act (2005) provides for advocacy. Suddenly many of these organisations are using advocacy as a buzz word, employing advocacy workers and setting up focus groups. There is money in advocacy. But why is this so new? Weren’t these groups providing services for disabled people, campaigning for rights, marching and lobbying? Well often mini-busses of disabled people are filled and arrive at marches or meetings as part of a day out for the lads. No consciousness raising work is done with those in the bus before hand. Actually what might be happening is that the people working with the service providers are campaigning to get the money to keep their jobs or create other positions in the industry.

The expectations of disabled people in Ireland are very low. Accessing a service is seen as such a victory that looking beyond that on how the service is run and what one really would like to do with one’s life is a fairytale. Speaking out against abuses and being patronised could lead to a loss of benefits or other unfair treatment. The role of the church in many of these groups continues, the habits and collars might be missing, but the patronage of the bishop and the enforcement of mass attendance for many continue.

This year we had exposes on Leas Cross and the care of older people. It was a revelation. We need similar exposes on the running of residential and non-residential services for people with disabilities.

We need to stop having awards ceremonies for companies who are simply obeying the law by employing people with disabilities.

Organisations providing services should have quota’s of people with disabilities on their boards and should be employing people with disabilities throughout their organisation (and not just on reception!!!)

The state need to look at the size and role of the organisations they fund. Are the services growing too fast and too big? Are in fact the closed spaces of the last century being replicated in semi-open spaces run by the so-called voluntary sector?

And those of us in other minority communities need to be asking other questions before we put money in a bucket. Is there sex education in their education and health education programme? How inclusive is this education? Are LGBT service users provided with information and support? How does the organisation support LGBT staff members?

As both a disabled person and a service user I regularly ask myself questions as to the policies that influence services that I receive and employment and service policies in my workplace. I love advocacy – that is real empowering advocacy work, advocacy that is user led and well funded and that means something and actually changes things. So far this year I have not applied for work in organisations that don’t have disabled people at all levels of their organisation. And I don’t want to be campaigning for change wherever I work either. If it’s not there at the start I don’t want to know about it.