Friday, 25 February 2011

Mary Kelly's conviction overturned

Today's good news is that Mary Kelly had her conviction for criminal damage to a US military aircraft (29 January 2003) overturned by the Court of Criminal Appeal in Dublin this morning. This has been revealed by Shannonwatch, the excellent anti-war and human rights group that monitors the foreign military use of Shannon airport.

The original trial was heard in Kilrush and on 4 July 2003 resulted in a hung jury. Subsequently Mary Kelly was tried in Ennis Circuit Court and, on 29 October 2004, she was convicted and sentenced to two years suspended. The appeal against this sentence was heard on 29 July 2008.

It took almost four years for the courts to hear her appeal or facilitate the appeal by producing a full and accurate transcript of her trial.

And it has taken a mere two years and seven months for the three learned judges to deliver their judgement!

What a travesty.

"Justice delayed is justice denied". What excuse is there for this unbelievable delay in giving judgement? For those six and a half years, Mary Kelly has been denied justice .

Yet, having represented herself over all of that time, she sat alone again today to hear the judgement.

That judgement vindicated her. For she has succeeded after a gigantic struggle in forcing the courts to acknowledge that her lone action in Shannon airport on that long night in January 2003 was a good action.

She acted to save lives in Iraq. Our State prosecuted her as a criminal and the State has lost.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Irish Elections - Other Priorities

7. Stand up to Europe. Take their cash, not for the toxic banks, but to regenerate the economy.
New Government, new ball game.

8. Bring back the Freedom of Information Act in its original form.
It was neutered after we gave Shannon airport to GW Bush. Nothing to hide, no fear of free information

9. No to a European Army
Goes without saying. Armies are for killing. No Irish Army, no European Army

10. No to stag hunting
Keep cruel sports out of Ireland

11. Whistle blower's Charter
To end corruption at every level and in every sphere whistle-blowers should be encouraged and protected

12. Encourage small home industries
So stopping the dependence on capitalist multi-nationals

13. Tax the rich more and the poor less.
Start creating an equal society

14. End the party whip system.
Let elected representatives be free to vote according to
their consciences

15. Reform the prison system and then abolish it.
Replace it with a system of restorative justice and probation service

Let emigrants vote for first six years of exile
A new emigrant constituency would elect its own quota of TDs depending on the number of emigrants registered in that new constituency.

17. Investigate all psychiatric hospitals and methods used in them and stop all treatments not acceptable to the patients

18. Remove the blasphemy law.
It is a dangerous and ludicrous anachronism

Sunday, 20 February 2011

The Irish Elections - What I want from the next Government - No 6 Lower the voting age gradually

No 6 Lower the voting age

For years the age at which we were entitled to vote was 21. It is now 18. This means that anyone under 18 has no say whatever in how our country is governed.

Students enter post-primary school at 11 or 12. Who dares to think that the vast majority of those who leave primary school at that age are not mentally capable of a mature decision on how they themselves are governed?

Children's lives are affected by Government decisions. Irish children have been badly served in the past by Irish Governments. Irish children who were abused in institutions had no power to stop the abuse. Irish children have been abused in their own homes. They too had no voice or power. In the words of a glib and dangerous aphorism: Children were supposed to be seen and not heard. Children were battered in State schools by day and night and had no redress. The culture of adults decided and children had no remedy.

Children should be allowed to vote as son as they come to the use of reason.

The sooner the better. There may be difficulties in putting this into practice but no-one better than children themselves to overcome these difficulties.

At the very least the voting age for the next elections, whatever they are, should be reduced to 14. Then to 11. Then to a lower age.

The Irish Elections - What I want from the next Government - No 5 Stop the bullying of children in Irish schools

5 Stop the bullying of children in Irish schools

I have the dubious and onerous privilege of knowing more about the extent of bullying in Irish schools than almost any other person in Ireland.

For four years I worked at the coal face in trying to end bullying in one such Irish school.

Through the Box and Interview method I became aware of the vast amount of often unconscious bullying that plagued the lives of vulnerable children.

Through my website I know that bullying is widespread in Ireland and there is almost nothing effective being done to prevent or end it. I believe too that the incidence of bullying here has almost doubled in the past twelve months.

At the late Tony Gregory's funeral I mentioned the subject to Enda Kenny and he agreed with me that the excellent Department Guidelines (1993) should not remain as mere Guidelines to end bullying but should have the force of law.

Some members of the Oireachtas made valiant efforts to get Minister Mary Hanafin to meet me to make a presentation on the method that had been proven to work. They were; Joe Higgins (Socialist Party), Finian McGrath, (Independent) and Jan O'Sullivan (Labour Party).
The Minister did not meet me. She deputed her private assistant to have a look at a printed copy of my submissions. In the Dáil she granted that the Box and Interview method was one that Boards of Management could use.

I am asking the next Government :
1 to make the Department Guidelines (1993) law
2 to recommend the Box and Interview method to schools
3 to seriously tackle the bullying culture with all their might.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Irish Elections - What I want from the new Government - No 4 Stop the US or any other military from using any of our airports for war purposes

No 4: Stop the US from using Shannon airport for the purposes of war in Afghanistan

No army personnel should be allowed to travel through Irish airports for the purposes of making war.

Since the Fianna Fáil Government allowed George Bush's army to use Shannon civilian airport to wage war on Iraq, millions of troops have passed through Shannon to kill people in Iraq and Afghanistan, essentially making Ireland a participant in war.

Up to that point we had not been participants in war. On a day of shame we surrendered our neutrality. Those of us who opposed this madness were told that we needed the United States. If we didn't support Bush's evil and immoral killing in Iraq, we would lose untold jobs in Ireland.

Our masters supported Bush but we also lost jobs. Not only that but we have lost our economic independence. We are in a depression. Hundreds of thousands are forced to emigrate, mortgages are gone through the roof, suicides are sadly far too common. The EU and IMF are the new masters of Ireland.

We chose immorality and immorality has let us down.

Now we should choose to do the right thing for once and say to the United States; "You are engaged in an immoral and useless and unjust war in Afghanistan. We are a neutral nation. We will no longer allow you to use our airports to engage in war."

Irish Elections - What I want from the new Government - No 3 Abolish the Army in its present form

3. Abolish the Irish Army

Every army that I know of either conscripts or entices young, impressionable and eager people and then teaches them how to kill other humans.

The Irish Army to its credit does not conscript, it merely entices.

But then it teaches its new young soldier members the art of killing other humans. Male and female are taught how to kill. They are trained to obey an order to kill if it comes from a "superior " officer. They are also trained not to feel compunction about such killing of humans.

All of which is, of course, totally immoral and reprehensible.

Abolish the killing army, stop arms deals, get rid of killing weaponry and use the barracks, the facilities and the personnel to form a non-violent defence force that would be pro-active in keeping people safe in their homes and also taking part in rescue and emergency operations.

Friday, 18 February 2011

The Irish Elections - What I want from the next Government - No 2 Take back our natural resources from Shell

2. Take back our natural resources

In North West Mayo, Shell are enjoying the protection of the Irish State as they erect and develop a refinery for our offshore gas that has been given to Shell for nothing.

I want the next Government to take back these natural resources from Shell and use the wealth to get us out of our economic crisis.

Is it fair and right that we should do this? Of course it is. The Fianna Fáil Government reversed a law that had been in place to facilitate the giving away of the gas. A Fianna Fáil minister gave it away for nothing . We don't know if he himself was paid a price. Why should the people of any country be deprived of the benefits of the wealth of the country because of the action of one suspect politician? Why should a suspect company like Shell benefit from such a shady deal to the detriment of the nation?

Is it possible to to do this? Yes it is. A new Government can stand up to Shell and take back the ill-gotten goods. They can use the State's human resources - resources which up to now have been used to guarantee Shell's ownership of part of Mayo and its offshore - to take over that area in the name of the State, evict Shell non-violently and compensate them for work done.

Take back our resources in our name. Don't compound and copper-fasten the errors of Fianna Fáil.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The Irish Elections - My List of wants: No 1. Stop the corruption in the Irish Courts

No 1 Stop the deep-seated corruption in the Courts, the Judicial system and the Judiciary.

It has been my fate to have seen some of this corruption taking place in court rooms that I have visited as a human rights activist over the past four years. When this corrupt system gets its stranglehold on a victim it doesn't let go. It chokes the victim mercilessly to death.

What happened to the McBrearty family and Frank Shortt in the 1990s is happening now in Dublin to other people to my certain knowledge.

Any Government worth its salt must stop it NOW.

I have placed this at the top of my list because it is a hidden and sinister corruption in one of the two most powerful pillars of the State, namely the Judiciary, the judicial system and all its adjuncts.

I want the next Government and every candidate who stands for election to promise that when the State through its agents, the Garda Síochána, is found to have fraudulently prosecuted an innocent citizen, the same State will not use all of its immense power in the courts to further aggravate the damage it has already done to that innocent citizen or twist the knife within the wound it has so unjustly inflicted on that citizen.

That is what is happening in the Irish judicial system at present. The courts, the Courts Service, the Garda Síochána, members of the legal profession have been used to save the face of the perpetrators of the injustice and relentlessly hammer the innocent citizen who would dare to use the same courts to try to get justice or compensation for the criminal wrongdoing which the State has perpetrated.

All of this is carried out in the name of the tax-payers and the Irish people whom the State represents.

The State prosecutors and their helpers within the courts system are getting away with serious wrongdoing. The judges do not prevent the wrongdoing. They did not prevent it in the McBrearty and Frank Shortt cases. Only a brave woman whistleblower stopped the rot. Without her the judicial system would have continued to fail the wronged McBrearty family and the wronged Frank Shortt. They and their families would be carrying the weight of the criminal framing inflicted on them to this day, if they had managed to live.

A Judicial Council with teeth must be set up immediately to monitor the judiciary and prevent corruption. A forum other than the courts must be set up to deal speedily with the wrongdoings of the courts themselves. Judges should not be selected through patronage however well disguised but elected on merit. Before election they should be knowledgeable, not just in law and logic which should be taken for granted, but also and above all in ethics.

At present, the ethics dimension is apparently lacking, big time, within the judicial system.

I would like a change in the Constitution to allow the people to elect the judges from a panel of candidates put forward by a cluster of citizens, say 100 or so, who have nominated them, as election candidates are nominated.

Friday, 11 February 2011

The Irish Elections - What I want from the next Government

The canvassers have not got anywhere near me and I can't talk to them face to face so I am telling them here and now what I want from the newly elected.

My list will not be the expected one. "Job creation" will not be the top priority because everyone knows this already.

The deep malaise that has blighted our little country had been festering for many years.

There was corruption in almost every level of government, local government, administration, planning, agencies of the State, the Judiciary and its own agencies. There was also gross inefficiency and arrogance. And there were false promises on Europe not just from Fianna Fáil but also from Fine Gael and the Labour party..

All of these have contributed in spades to our present impasse.

I want to see an end to this corruption, inefficiency, arrogance and deceit at the same time as I want to see better conditions of living for all of us.

In the following pages I will outline what I want to say at the door to the canvassers

Thursday, 3 February 2011

The Irish Elections

The 30th Dáil ended with a whimper and a long drawn-out groan.

It drew its last breath on the first day of February, St Brigid's Day, the first of Spring.

The fear expressed on this site at the beginning of the tenure of the Government in place was not just realised, it was surpassed outlandishly.

The Fianna Fáil/Green Party Government bowed to the Banks' demands, rewarded their corruption by bailing them out, brought in the EU and IMF so handing over the fiscal command of our nation to our new masters in the most abject manner.

We are no longer a sovereign nation.

Brian Cowen resigned as leader of Fianna Fáil under internal pressure. He named a day for the elections for 12 March 2011. But when he tried to make new Ministers in his last days of Government the Green Party were outraged and he had to move the date forward to 25 February 2011. He remains Taoiseach although Micheál Martin is the new leader of the party.

A new Finance Bill has been passed into law putting enormous burdens on the poorer and more vulnerable strands of our society - even the blind have been hammered.

The ultra-rich will remain ultra rich when they have paid what to them is a miserable pittance.

Support in the polls for both Fianna Fáil and the Green Party has shrunk significantly. The pundits as of today are forecasting a Fine Gael/Labour Party coalition with Fine Gael having the most seats.

The same pundits are forecasting that Enda Kenny will be the next Taoisech although for a while they were betting on the Labour leader Eamon Gilmore.

Latest state of the parties:

Fine Gael 33%
Labour 24%
Fianna Fáil 15%
Sinn Féin 12%
Green Party 01%