Wednesday, October 26, 2011
By Wayne Doyle
Backpage.com is America’s number one online platform for advertising sex with minors. Despite letters from over 51 law offices to Village voice media outlining over 50 cases in 22 different U.S states, the media company refuses to prevent the adverts being placed.
Backpage.com’s terms and conditions clearly highlight that advertisements of such a nature impede and violate the company’s T&C’s. “Village Voice Media executives are fully aware that their site is used as a platform for child sex trafficking, but have done close to nothing to stop it” stated change.org , an organisation Petitioning against this gross and inhumane sex trafficking ring.
Norman Barnes was arrested in Massachusetts, within ten days he had already made €17,000. He made this large sum of money by forcing a 15 year old girl to have sex with up to eight men for ten days. The truth is, he couldn’t have done it without Backpage.com, which is owned by
Village Voice Media.
“Village Voice Media earns $22.7 million a year from its adult services ads on Backpage.com, which it may have to shut down completely too effectively prevent the site from being used as a platform for selling sex with children” stated change.org.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Cristian Fernandez is only 12 years old. And if Florida prosecutor Angela Corey has her way, he'll never leave jail again.
Cristian hasn't had an easy life. He's the same age now as his mother was when he was born. He's a survivor of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. In 2010, Cristian watched his stepfather commit suicide to avoid being charged with abusing Cristian.
Last January, Cristian was wrestling with his 2-year-old brother, David, and accidentally broke David's leg. Despite this, their mother left Cristian with his brother again in March. While the two boys were alone, Cristian allegedly pushed his brother against a bookcase, and David sustained a head injury. After their mother returned home, she waited six hours before taking David to the hospital. David eventually died.
Now Cristian is being charged with first degree murder -- as an adult. He's the youngest person in the history of his Florida county to receive this charge, and his next hearing is scheduled for tomorrow.
Melissa Higgins works with kids who get caught up in the criminal justice system in her home state of New Hampshire. When she read about Cristian's case, she was appalled -- so she started a petition on Change.org asking Florida State's Attorney Angela Corey to try Cristian as a child. Please sign Melissa's petition immediately before Cristian's hearing tomorrow.
As part of his prosecution, Cristian has been examined by two different forensic psychiatrists -- each of whom concluded that he was "emotionally underdeveloped but essentially reformable despite a tough life."
Cristian has already been through more than most of us can imagine -- and now the rest of his life is in the hands of a Florida prosecutor who wants to make sure Cristian never leaves jail.
The purpose of the juvenile justice system is to reform kids who haven't gotten a fair shake. If Cristian is sent to adult prison, it will be more than a tragedy for him -- it will also be a signal to other prosecutors that kids' lives are acceptable collateral in the quest to be seen as "tough on crime."
Cristian's next hearing is in just 24 hours. State's Attorney Angela Corey needs to know that her actions are being watched -- please sign the petition asking her not to try Cristian as an adult:
This story was sent by a friend, neither I or my blog claim any attribution to the above story.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
By Wayne Doyle
Alone in the destitute trenches of Vietnam, young and terrified, the thoughts of getting home alive a constant tormentor. With the whistles of bullets and cries of pain screeching throughout the open air, this was hell on earth for any man. For 64 year old Sergeant Joe Williams a Vietnam veteran whom served for his country between 1967- 1970 as an EF Sergeant, this wasn’t the case. Joe states “I fear for my life now simply because I am homeless and a small portion of the youth today have no respect for people like me. I fear for my life just as much now as I did in Vietnam, I’m just facing a different type of violence, a violence that could easily be avoided.
The coalition of homeless veterans in the United States claims between 130,000 and 200,000 veterans are on the street in any one given night. A further 23 per cent of the homeless population throughout America is made up of soldiers, men and women alike whom so desperately fought to protect their country. An astounding 47 per cent of these are from the Vietnam era alone. Of those soldiers 89 per cent received an honorable discharge for their time served.
Peering through his smoke stained spectacle lens’s Mr. Williams States “ they wanted me to go back, I said no, no way, I served my three years and wanted to be home with my family”.
“ I now live on a non service pension from the American government of $985.19 cents per month. To be honest, I’m barley surviving. I don’t do drugs or have a problem with alcohol, so why is it so difficult to get my own place”. The Army doctor’s evaluation of Mr., Williams stated that he couldn’t be granted the full service pension of $2,500 because his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was non-service related. PTDS is a severe anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to any event that results in physiological trauma, the US Army stated that Mr. Williams suffered PTDS from his own personal life, states a depleted looking Mr. Williams.
Adam Wawrynek whom assists Mr. Williams and many other Vietnam veterans alike, is working on getting Mr. Williams accommodation. Mr. Wawrynek was unavailable to comment. “ he is a Good man, he has been trying to help me out, and other places just tell you one thing and do something else. Paper work is so strict now a days, it ends up sitting on peoples desks and they don’t feel the need to hurry”. Mr. Warwrynek works for Vietnam Veterans, he doesn’t work with them, States Mr. Williams.
Mr. Williams Speaks of New York City Rescue Mission, which was the first homeless shelter in New York City in 1872. It provides warm meals, clean beds, and clean clothes. Space is limited and if you don’t arrive before 6 :30pm, you cannot enter. “ even if you do arrive in before then, your still not guaranteed a bed. You have to enter a bed lottery and hope and pray that if that person doesn’t arrive for their bed, your ticket gets pulled.
Homelessness is a real problem with real consequences for people such as Mr. Williams, these men and women offered the lives for America, the land of opportunity, the land where all man and women alike are equal. These are just some of the superior labels associated with this great nation. It time to step up to the plate and protect and help people such as Mr. Williams because this country is forever indebted to them.
Saturday, July 2, 2011
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
In Sweden, IKEA's factory workers are paid $19 per hour and get five weeks of paid vacation every year. In America? Not so much.
IKEA's Swedwood plant in Danville, Virginia is the most dangerous plant in the wood furniture industry -- workers there have suffered more than 1,536 days of lost work due to accidents on the job in a 30-month period. According to the LA Times, IKEA's Danville workers are paid as little as $8 an hour and face racial discrimination from their managers. Workers often find out on Friday night that they'll be forced to work for the entire weekend -- and if they can't make it, they face disciplinary action.
In Sweden, IKEA's factory workers are unionized, which is one reason they receive better wages and have a safer workplace -- but the company is going all out to prevent American workers from receiving those same rights and protections. Please sign the petition to tell IKEA to give its American workers the freedom to organize.
The workers in Danville have filed for an election to start a union of their own -- the election could come as soon as six weeks from now. But rather than pay its workers fair wages, Swedwood pays the notorious union-busting firm Jackson Lewis thousands of dollars a day to hold mandatory "captive audience meetings" with the Danville workers. At these meetings, the Jackson Lewis associates inundate the workers with anti-union propaganda and veiled threats that are backed up with random firings.
Here's the good news: The publicity surrounding this organizing drive has already made a difference -- last month, Swedwood announced that Danville workers would no longer be forced to work mandatory overtime. But Liz Cattaneo of American Rights at Work stresses that continued public pressure is extremely important: "If IKEA thinks the public isn't paying attention, they're going to play hardball … throughout the election process - which could mean more firings and more union busting."
Now that the workers have filed for a union election, you can bet IKEA will redouble its efforts to squash their rights. They need our support now more than ever.
Please sign the petition to tell IKEA's head of Corporate PR that we are paying attention, and we expect IKEA to treat its American workers just as well as its Swedish workers
The following script was sent to me by a friend and I do not claim any publishing rights. Content is for information purposes only.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Monday, May 9, 2011
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Thursday, April 14, 2011
By Wayne Doyle
Ever since the foundation of the state in 1922 when Ireland gained its independence from England, there has been this secrecy DNA fibre which has been passed from generation to generation within Dail Eireann. The Irish state has never been in favour of the public viewing of documentation and monitoring the on goings within dial Eireann. During the 1922 civil war decisions were taken by the Irish government and emergency powers were passed in the Dail. These decisions included execution, censorship and internment. A serious level of secrecy was instilled over those horrifically dark days. The cabinet decisions and true account of the on goings in 1922 have never fully been released and some records which have been released are causing public uproar.
However, on the flip side of this gold shiny coin, Ireland is one of a small number of countries to maintain a democratic government consistently. How democratic of a society we actually were, and still are, remains to be seen. The freedom of information act was a major pillar within Irish society when it was enacted in 1922. For the first time in Ireland’s political history, the public could question senior representatives about expenditure and the effectiveness of their particular role. However in order to gain a sufficient understanding of the complex, multi-dimensional aspects and the sheer level of secrecy within Irish government before the bill was introduced, we will look at Ireland before the Freedom of information 1997 and highlight some key aspects which contributed to the delay of freedom of information in Ireland.
The first means of redress for those who wanted greater access to this information came in 1980, with the Ombudsman Act, which allowed individual citizens to have their grievances against government departments and local authorities investigated by impartial officials from the Office of the Ombudsman. While not directly concerned with Freedom of Information, this Act put the everyday practices of state bodies under public scrutiny. (Bull, Newel, 2003)
Until recently anybody who requested information, questioned the authorities, or their ability to do their job, would be seriously marginalised and frowned upon by the main pillars within the political sphere in Ireland. This involved the church of Ireland, the Gardaí and also the Irish government themselves. Representatives that we pay and are obliged to have the public’s best interests at heart, hiding, avoiding and manipulating the truth for well over five decades. It wasn’t until the 1980s that some progress was made as several pieces of legislation had managed to pass through the Dail without contamination. This legislation gave more access and more accountability to the public through state information. In the 1990s the country was shown a real need for accountability and transparency in relation to the on goings in Dail Eireann.
The Beef tribunal was set up in the 1990s to show that a partnership based on favouritism between Albert Reynolds and Larry Goodman whom was for a long time Ireland’s biggest exporter of beef; “nicknamed the beef baron” Mr Goodman had caused massive irregularities in the beef industry. Thee beef tribunal report in 1994 created difficulties within the newly formed government of Fianna Fail and labour as members of each of the party questioned each other’s credibility. The ministers refused to answer on the grounds of cabinet confidentiality and the matter was taken to the Supreme Court, which ruled that cabinet secrecy was a constitutional principle. Lohan, Hannigan, Conrad, Jackson, 1996, p8
Testament to the secrecy and mis-conduct within the Irish government was the comments made by PD leader Des O'Malley. “I've a lot to say but I'm saying none of it.”
With a new coalition in government the then Minister of State, Eithne Fitzgerald of the Labour Party, began investigating legislation that would lead to greater public accountability. She wrote of, “turning the culture of the Official Secrets Act on its head”. Mrs Fitzgerald believed there was a greater need for transparency within Irish politics. Public representatives should be held accountable for their actions, and their motives should be questioned by the public, because after all that is how a democratic society remains purified or in Irelands case becomes purified. For the First time with Irish history there was legislation that could protect but also hold individuals responsible for gross misconduct within Irish society. The Freedom of Information Act, 1997, gave the citizen three new rights – to see official records, correct personal information and be given the reasons for public decisions.
In 1997 after vast and much needed progress in terms of freedom of information in Ireland, the Freedom of information act took an unprecedented attack from the Minister for Finance Charlie McCreevy. In a premeditated showcase of power, the minister had handicapped the bill. Mr McCreevy stated that this was in a bid to cut costs in the finance section. Two restrictive steps were taken which would see applications for information half within the following two years of the bills implementation. One amendment was the fees to access non- personal information. Whilst the current charge for access to the documentation is only 15 euros, the researcher will also be charged a further 20.95 euros for every hour that is spent retrieving the work, even if the documentation you receive is not what you were originally looking for. Anybody looking to access material under the freedom of information act will pay anything in excess of 200 euros per application.
The second amendment made the freedom of information act in 2003 was that cabinet papers were to be held for a period of ten years. The original duration of holding cabinet papers was 5 years. Now that a new government has been elected what changes can we expect? Each party pitched its vision to us as voters through many keywords such as transparency, honesty, integrity and the ability to affect change.
This is exactly what the voter wants to hear, because Irish society is in great need of some honesty and integrity and above all leadership. Ireland needs somebody who can implement positive change and policies from the top down. Fine Gael have outlined the following
A New Freedom of Information Act
Fine Gael wants to reverse the restrictions that Fianna Fail has placed on Freedom of
Information in Ireland
It has two main goals:
• Short term: To provide a mechanism whereby the Citizen could access both personal
and non-personal information.
• Long-term: To fundamentally change the relationship between the State and the
Citizen as a result of the legislation.
Fine Gaels proposals seem to be very attainable, but also will have a positive effect on the general public as a whole. It seeks to gain the trust of the citizen again which is definitely as step in the right direction. It remains to be seen if the legislation is introduced. The coalition between the Labour party and Fine Gael means a middle ground may be found between the two political parties. The Labour party introduced the freedom of information act initially. As stated before this was a milestone in terms of Irish politics.
• Public bodies must be held accountable to the public and that accountability requires openness
• Freedom of information has brought about more open government and better administration of public services.
• Fianna Fáil attacked the principle of Freedom of Information by introducing a prohibitive fee structure. The watering down of the Freedom of Information Act, along with the rise in number of quangos, served to build a barrier between government and the public.
• The Labour Party in government will foster a spirit of transparency, accountability and good governance. We will reinstate and extend the Freedom of Information Act and pursue an agenda of Open Data.
Labour also speaks of data and how it influences a great amount in our lives and the need for accountability and transparency on a daily basis. The need for the immediate release of truthful data which is being collected on a daily basis. Data is collected to improve the services and life of the public not to alienate them. Upon further research it must be noted the difficulty in obtaining information in relation to Fianna Fail and Sin Fein’s stance on the Freedom of information act.
Sinn Fein Believes
Sinn Fein’s Deputy Leader Caoimhghín ó Caolain stated “The current political system is dominated by special interests, corrupted by clientelism and dynastic politics, and resistant to change. The Oireachtas has consistently failed to exert sufficient scrutiny over the government and public bodies.
There are many steps we would take to restore confidence and trust in political leadership in Ireland”. Sinn Fein has highlighted that they are clear on the intrests of the public with a promise of dimantaling the ‘golden circles’ with have been created and maintained by particular political parties. Tranacparency and accouintability again came to the fore as the public finances have become very topical in this particular general election. In relation to the freedom of information act 1997, sinn fein have clearly outlined there intentions such as
• A reverse the dilution of the Freedom of Information Act brought in by Fianna Fáil and extend the operation of the FOI Act to include a wider range of bodies, including NAMA. Sinn Féin would introduce legislation to protect whistle-blowers and establish a
register of lobbyists.
• We will change the law to allow for the impeachment or removal of from the Dáil of anyTD involved in corruption, deliberate misuse of public money or fraud. We will make whatever legislative change required, going after and securing for the state the personal assets of those developers and bankers involved in NAMA and the bank bailouts.
Fianna Fail seem to have missed the importance of the Freedom of Formation Act as there is no clear reference (except for a measly five lines) made to reform or the implementation of new legislation anywhere in there manifesto which couldn’t be found on their website but could be found on RTE’s website. Fianna Fail’s manifesto seems to be a very poor effort in trying to reassure the Irish republic that they have an understanding and the ability to empathize what the people of Ireland want and need.
Fianna Fail spoke of significant strides which been made in recent years to open government to citizens which by any stretch of the imagination is laughable. Outlined in in the manifesto is pure contradiction in relation to reforms to the Freedom of information act. Fianna Fail declared:
• We support the automatic publication of all granted Freedom of Information requests online save in limited circumstances concerning personal data.
• We will formalise the requirement that all data gathered as a result of publicly-funded research be made publicly available in a data archive. In addition, the outcomes of publicly-funded research programmes must be made freely available save where there are specific commercial intellectual property issues.
The current legislation in and around Freedom of Information under fourteen years of a Fianna Fail government has not strived to implement any such reforms. Instead it has strived to hinder, hack and dismantle any of the above reforms. The freedom of Information Act is badly damaged and fractured in many ways, however with the removal of charges and correct implementation, the information provided could not only create jobs but contribute to the recovery of the economy. The Labour party and Fine Gael have clearly outlined how they will go about implementing and creating an effective freedom of information act, based on accountability, transparency and accessibility which is well overdue and a much needed change within Irish politics.
Monday, April 11, 2011
By Wayne Doyle
An investigation into the effect of the recent budget cuts on Wicklow students has revealed deep flaws within the education system in County Wicklow with over half of applicants for government assistance rejected.
Currently under half the applications made to Wicklow VEC requesting financial assistance are rejected.
In 2007 only 36 per cent of the applications made were financially assisted. Shockingly this is the case from 2004 to present with a mere 38 per cent of applicants given some or full financial assistance.
The proposed budget cuts in September 2011 will effectively cripple students whom are already struggling in and around the Wicklow area. Students in local schools have voiced their concerns in an independent survey with over 75 per cent of students expressing concerns about financial pressure.
An astonishing 62 per cent stated they would have had a better chance in college if they had attended between the years 2006-2009.
Political parties such as Fine Gael and Labour continue to speak about “The Knowledge Economy”, but the fact is that the factual information being provided is far from the much talked about Knowledge Economy.
Recent cuts which will come into full effect from next September have been branded "A sneaky change of the qualifying criteria for grants will means that many students living in Bray, Greystones, Kilcoole, Enniskerry and Delgany will experience a cut of about 50% in their grant from the next college year.
When you add this illogical change in criteria to the increase in the college registration fee which this Government has also presided over, it is clear that Wicklow students and their families are being left with a huge financial burden by this outgoing Government," stated Councillor Harris.
Government investment in this crucial field has fallen from 5.2 per cent of GDP in 1995 to just 4.6 per cent last year. Scandinavian countries, meanwhile, spend more than 7 per cent.
The sample schools which were questioned in areas such as student progression to third level of education obtained. Three of the schools whom cannot be named couldn’t provide any record of their students progressing to third, with the principal of one school stating that there “was never a record of any form kept”.
In response the Department of Education queried “Well what you want that for”, and “I will check with supervisors and email you”, bearing in mind the information sought was simple explanatory figures.
A Source in The Higher Education Authority who wishes to remain anonymous stated that “the figures and information records for the Wicklow area among the worst he/she has seen. The Numbers I have here in front of me are so small you could probably easily identify the individual’s, so for that reason I would be cautious as to how you use this information”.
It is the secondary schools and the college’s responsibility to ensure the information is logged with the HEA. Information that should be accurately logged by the department of education is only being done for the leader schools.
Employees whom questioned the destination of the information required advised that “in order to get the information you seek you might have to go through the freedom information act “.
However, when a manager or supervisor was requested Mrs Blaithin Dowling Finance Unit of the Department of Education and Skills, assisted with the required documentation, explaining that the query “should have been dealt with more efficiently”.
Funding is divided into two subheads which are explained below, which doesn’t give an accurate reading or provide the transparency which is evidently needed.
Subhead D.6 Annual Grants to Vocational Educational Committees - this caters for pay and non-pay grants. Subhead F.2. - Second Level Schools - Building Grants and Capital Costs. Additionally depending on educational activity from year to year other payments may issue from programme subheads in the Department's Vote to cater for ad hoc expenditure.
The Department's supplier payment history for the year 2005 to 2009 indicates that the following cumulative amounts were paid to Wicklow VEC.
The payments below were made to Wicklow VEC between a January to December basis.
The amount of students whom received part of or a full grant Form Wicklow VEC
2004 2258(applications made) Grants Received 865
2005 1779 769
2006 1927 736
2007 1997 726
2008 `1402 827
2009 Not available
The graph above provides a clear illustration that students progressing into third level education are steadily declining. Colleges whom run programmes such as HEAR, New ERA and other equal access programmes are facing an uphill battle with helping students from ethnic minorities or financial difficulties progress to third level.
“Current student and students looking to progress to third level have always faced difficulties these are just some aspects of college life which challenge students”.
In conclusion to this investigation it must be noted, the current government is not investing in education in the Wicklow area to the extent it should. We have young very capable individuals being turned away by the system, a system with false promises and depictions.
It is time for representatives of the Wicklow area to address the current problem before it spirals out of control. How can we insist we provide equal opportunities to all when over half of potential gradates do not get the assistance they need. Currently one can only conclude the knowledge economy doesn’t exist and never did.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
My Name is James. I am Twenty one years old. I suffer from anxiety and depression. James has taken the first positive steps in tackling his mental health problems in a mature and responsible way. Research has shown that over half of student would rather tackle depression on their own as a pose to speaking with friends or family members about mental health issues. Mental health problems such as depression are very common and the chances are you or someone close to you has or will experience depression during their lifetime.
Upsetting events or situations derail the regular routine of an individual, leaving then saddened and with a sense of isolation. This is only the beginning of the process; problems will escalate as the desire to remain stagnant in time takes hold. You will begin to feel as if the world is passing you by as all efforts to continue daily tasks eludes you. Driving you further and further into a shell of negativity and despair.
Share the burden and remove the stigma from mental health problems in Ireland today. Mental health issues are easily dealt with one you acknowledge the problem and speak about it. The feeling of despair and isolation can engulf you with doubt and restlessness which will inevitably become too much for you on your own if you do not know how to handle it. Society and individuals need to promote understanding and compassion when dealing with depression. We as a society need to promote awareness and tackle problems such as mental health issues head on.
In the current economic climate students are especially vulnerable to periods of depression, anxiety and worry. Firstly: everyone experiences times in their life where they think they can no longer cope with the pressures of daily life. Mental health is both complex and multidimensional and consists of many layers.
Depression does not simply arrive one day and go in a week or two. There are currently 300,000 people in Ireland who are experiencing some form of depression as you read this now. Depression is the steady increase of anxiety and pressure, and once this becomes too much for the individual, rational thinking and actions evaporates. “It’s something that nobody wants to talk about, I was afraid to bring it up with any of my friends in case they thought I was being a drama queen”.
Sometimes life becomes too much. Sometimes young adults cannot deal with mental health problems easily. Students and young adults tend to ignore mental health issues and opt for going it alone. Friends and family should promote speaking about mental health issues amongst each other, we as a society need to break the mould; we need to welcome discussions and problems amongst young people. As Harry Truman former president of the United States once said “the buck stops here”. We need to take action if any kind of halt is brought to the stigma associated with mental health issues. Times have changed dramatically but still youngsters and adults alike refuse to speak openly. I would urge anybody feeling under down, exhausted or consumed by daily life, to stop and acknowledge that maybe you’re not ok, and that is perfectly fine and easily rectifiable once the correct steps are taken.
Symptoms of depression are :
Find it harder to make decisions
Find it difficult to preform daily tasks
No interest in daily life
Loss of desire to succeed
A feeling of isolation and defeat
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
The inevitable has occurred. Eamon and Enda begin there marriage in politics with a positive attitude, which is something we currently are no that used to.Many people are skeptical and believe that it wont be an effective change. Alot of the information being provided at the moment is either very academic or not explanatory enough for us as citizens. One thing though is for certain, for the next five years a coalition between Labour and Fine Geal is set and will implement savage budget cuts and a dramatic change in Irish politics. Lets weigh up some of the main issues that will be dealt with over the coming year.
Pushing through real public sector reform.
Renegotiating the interest rate on the Eu bailout
Privatization of key state assets
reducing the country day to day expenditure without raising income tax.
Lets be under no illusion these a major issues that need to be addressed but also the public needs to brace itself for serious taxation. I would be tempted to follow in the footsteps of Argentina, and just tell the IMF , we simply cannot afford to pay the money back. Its a deal that will cripple the graduates and children of Irish society for the next decade.Why hasn't anybody been held accountable for what went on in the banking sector for well over ten years? Why haven't the hard working people of Ireland been handed these culprits who are responsible for the hardships people are experiencing? The new expenditure cuts outlined will see the wages of Doctors, Consultants and Judges slashed in a bid to save 2 billion which has been set by the IMF. A Referendum will be held in a bid to lower the bills of the public sector in the coming weeks. Fine Gael has promised to keep taxes low even though we are paying a ridiculous amount already, with a bigger emphasis on spending cuts. A national spending review is currently being set up in order to identify failed projects. The Coalition has promised a lot of changes , we will have to just wait and see exactly how effective and true to their word the newly elected government will be. A lot of what is being promised was promised in the last election, and yet the same problems are still evident throughout Irish society such as Homelessness, social exclusion , elitism and over indulgence at the top level. Its time to bring the Country back to the People, and make living in Ireland special again. We have lost something special within Irish society during this despicable fiasco, something which unfortunately might be gone forever.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Thanks Again ,
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
What a Weekend in Irish Politics. The inevitable has occurred with the complete decimation of Fianna Fail. The anger could be seen throughout the country but no one could have predicted such a display from voters as FF hit an all time low, Eamon De Valera will be turning in his grave. As the newly elected Fine Gael and Labour open crunch talks today, the big question still remains. Can the two parties set aside there difference's and indeed form a coalition in the interest of the country.The party leaders met last night for a period of 80 minutes in Leinster House to begin to hammer out a foundation on which both parties can operate on. Both parties must note that time is of the essence as Europe applies the pressure to conclude a deal within the coming days. the public made it clear they never trusted a single party government and to be honest I would be of a similar opinion, but a coalition between two political parties whom have extremely different policies will be extremely difficult.The general consensus from the public people seems to be : a fresh start and a new begging, a glimmer of hope begins to flicker in the distance. The candle which was effectively blown over by Fianna Fail seems to be upright again and trying to reignite itself. Watch this space.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
I’m sitting here thinking what I can productively do for an investigative journalism assignment. I am cautious that I might come across left wing sometimes so I want to broaden my view and use factual information to back up my theories in relation to the topic of choice.
I have decided to investigate the impact of the recent budget cuts on education in the Wicklow Area and what implications these cuts will have in the coming years.
I believe that education is an extremely important pillar within society and in order to maintain a healthy flourishing mind one needs to continuously look to educate oneself. Obviously for a young teenager this is the last thing on their mind and understandably so, but if we can stress and show the importance of education in the long term development of a young mind we will be taking a giant leap in tackling some serious social problems. The focus of my investigation will be on how the cuts will impede on the progress that has been made and could have been made. I hope you find this interesting.
I will keep you updated on my finding.
Monday, February 21, 2011
Alone and afraid they sleep. With their bodies shaking vigorously, their bodies numb, they toss and turn in the hope of gaining some warmth from their actions. Being homeless means a lot of depravation and hardships, many of which we as a society can prevent.
When you finish up in work this evening and return home, kiss your wife and see your kids spare a quick thought for those on the streets. We all take so much for granted, even the smallest of things like placing your feet in front of the fire whilst you eat a warm meal. But for many people in Dublin and the surrounding areas this is a dream, something which unfortunately eludes them time and time again.
In Dublin City alone there are an estimated 70 people without a bed tonight. In arctic conditions such as the ones we are currently facing, conditions in which someone could lose their life in.
It’s Friday night in Donnybrook village. A man who sits on the compacted ice with only a thin blanket and piece of cardboard gives me the sharpest look, a look which won’t be forgotten. This look made me feel his pain. We have spoken before as the man often comes into my workplace, guilt and sadness spreads like wildfire throughout my body. Complaining about the bus being delayed puts this person’s problem into context for me.
Whilst I give the man a coffee, I feel a little bit better, but not much. For me it is easy to return home to a warm house. But what will become of him? What will be the implications of him sleeping in this doorway tonight?
“I didn’t commit any crime or anything like that, just unlucky. I had a fight with my da one night when I was about 13 and the rest is history I suppose”.
We share a conversation as my bus hasn’t arrived yet and is delayed for some time. Plumes of smoke pass my face and my nose starts to run. The cold is nasty. It’s minus 7 and its only eight o clock. “I have slept everywhere in Dublin to be honest, as a mixture of laughter and chesty coughs emerge”.
The deprivation in this mans eyes was frightening, his eyes are reflective and filled with sadness for all to see. It is hard to imagine there are many more men and women in the exact same situation as Paul around the city tonight. “I would love to be able to start all over again, like to be able to go to college and wear nice clothes like, people think that I am doing this because I am lazy or something, I’m not.
“Man this is my last Christmas on the street I swear to god. Sometimes I can make a few quid begging and I would choose drink over smokes like because with the drink you can sleep a bit better. Getting a smoke of someone is handy enough as well, you might as well forget about getting a drink of them though”, he states as he manages another unhealthy chuckle.
The Department of the Environment estimates that in 2005, there were 2,399 homeless households in Ireland, with a further 9,212 households living in unfit accommodation, overcrowded accommodation or involuntarily sharing accommodation.
The Department of the Environment also estimated that 25,045 people were not reasonably able to meet the cost of their accommodation.In Dublin the number of homeless adults in March 2005 was 1,552 with 485 homeless dependents (22 of these dependents were over 18 years of age) across 1,361 households. 43 per cent reported being homeless for more than three years. There were 185 rough sleepers with the remainder staying in emergency or insecure accommodation. In this assessment there was a ratio of 2:1, men to women, among those who reported themselves as homeless. 46 per cent reported their age as between 26 and 39 years old. Single person households form the vast majority of those experiencing homelessness.
Philip is an alcoholic but has been in permanent accommodation for over two years now. “Ah its great having my own place around family and all, I still have a problem with drink which I’m trying to sort out at the moment. This drink racket isn’t easy, people think it is, but it’s worse than most addictions.
Philip was sleeping rough in Dublin city for over five years until a family member decided to help him clean himself up. “I talk to a lot of the lads I slept with on the streets, there all great people like, just unfortunate”.
“I travelled to Dublin a couple of days ago and seen a couple of people I knew. It’s so cold at the moment and I know what it can be like out there so I offered them a place to stay. The County Council wont be to happy if they find out, but I don’t care, I feel sorry for them and I know what they are going through, it’s a tough life out there on the streets and dangerous.”
There are many agencies which are available to a person experiencing homelessness such as Focus Ireland, The Simon Community and Merchants key. However with the upcoming budget these institutions and the work they do is under serious threat.
These agencies are pivotal in combating homelessness which is currently on the rise.
As a society especially at this time of the year, we should all make a special effort to help out the homeless. It doesn’t have to be large sums of money, or giving up all your time. All types of help is positive help, let it be big or small.
Glaring suspiciously at the black iron piece on one wall which had three symbols formed from brass, I wondered about its significance. First the ship, symbolizing deportation to Australia; then the "auld triangle", formerly used by the prison chief to summon the prisoners to meals, etc. The final symbol was a cross, which represents the prisoners executed here during the 1916 rising. Greeted with a firm handshake and stern smile Stephan Langton of the Irish Prison Services introduces himself.
Enclosed in a tiny cell originally designed for one inmate, is three prisoners, some of whom are imprisoned for public order offences such as being intoxicated in a public places, or inability to pay fines. Unfortunately for these prisoners, this means sleeping side by side with some of Irelands toughest criminals. This wasn’t the democratic society depicted to the outside world.
Mount joy prison was built in 1850 and is the primary committal prison in the state for adults 18 and over. It was designed by prison architect Joshua Jebb. Mountjoy was originally built with the view of it providing a first stop for men. Then they would later be transferred first to Spike Island, and later, Van Diemen’s land. However this is not the case as Mountjoy is currently over capacity and is ready to burst at the seams. The current number of inmates stands at 850 prisoners. This prison was only built for 454.
In a Sociological and Criminological Profile conducted by Mr. Paul O’Mahony in 1997, he concluded that the majority of prisoners in Mount Joy Prison are mainly young male offenders. Further more, the prisoners all have common fibers which attribute to the reason as to why they have ended up in prison. The vast majority of prisoners in Mountjoy prison haven’t completed any state examinations, and originate from five main postal districts situated in Dublin. Among his findings Mr. O’ Mahony also states:
The mean age for the total sample of 124 prisoners was 28 years and the age
range was between 19 and 58. Approximately 38% of the total sample were
under 25 years and about 69% were under 30. Only 6% were over 40 years
Only 20 of the achieved sample (of 108 prisoners) had ever been married
and only 9 of these were still married at the time of the survey. However, a
further 46% of the prisoners had been in a common law relationship. For
46% of this common law group the relationship had already ended.
Only 3 prisoners had current addresses outside of Ireland. A further two
prisoners had addresses in Northern Ireland. Of the remaining 99 prisoners,
only 12 were from outside the Greater Dublin area. Almost all of the Dublin
prisoners were from areas characterized by a high proportion of corporation
housing and often by the prevalence of opiate drug abuse and high levels of
long term unemployment.
“Things haven’t changed dramatically within the prison over the past number of years, however we have made great progress in terms of hygiene in and around the prison,” stated Mr. Langton. Prisoners have no other option but to use a steel bucket as a toilet and later dispose of this at an arranged time every day. However some prisoners have stated that because of the lack of sanitary disposal facilities they are sometimes forced to put their daily secretions and feces into bins on the prison landings. This simply cannot be tolerated as it is inhumane and also very unhygienic. In a damming report in 2009 by Inspector of Prisons, Judge Michael Kelly stated “this practice is simply inhumane and degrading for prisoners….. I have witnessed liquids leaking from bags being carried by prisoners to collection points within the prison.”
This is an absolute disgrace within Irish prison regulations and something fast needs to be done if we are to avoid catastrophic levels of drugs, riots, and even murders within the prison. However Mr Langton is confident the new Thornton Hall prison, which is currently being built in Dublin will keep moving despite the country being in arguably the worst economic decline in the history of the state. “It’s a necessity and it most definitely must go ahead,” said Mr. Langton
In 2004 the minister for justice stated that the first 400 cells will be built in four years time and that the prison will have 1,400 cells for 2,200 prisoners. So if this is to be the case we should see the first 400 prisoners moved from Mountjoy prison to Thornton Hall in the New Year. In the same statement Dermot Ahern described Thornton Hall as the cornerstone of the Government’s prison policy.
If the new prison isn’t complete within the next year we could see further outbreaks of violence within Mountjoy, as it simply cannot house the ever increasing numbers through its gates. In October 2005, a prisoner set fire to his cell but it was quickly taken under control. In May of 2006, A 22-year-old prisoner in was treated for a stab wound to his neck at Dublin's Mater Hospital. No weapon was ever found and no arrests were made. In March 2007 another man was attacked by up to four prisoners and stabbed repeatedly in the upper thighs.
In recent times staffs have been attacked with one prison officer getting slashed across the face leaving him permanently scarred. These are just some of the forms of violence as a result of prisoners’ anger at the conditions in which there are living. When asked about the relationship between prisoners’ and prison officers Mr. Langton stated “I reckon that there is a very, very good relationship between prisoners’ and staff members, but on both sides there are always a few who are not very nice to each other….. Not every prison officer is going to get on with every prison officer.”
Mountjoy has become a battle ground for survival amongst prisoners’ and prison officers alike. The violence the prison is seeing now will only continue to get worse until the real problems of living conditions and security measures are addressed. It is a 19th century prison which is detaining 21st century prisoners. Mayhem and chaos will always prevail.
Hygiene conditions in Mountjoy Prison “are not as bad as they used to be, but overcrowding is a massive problem,” according to Mr. Stephan Langton of the Irish Prison Services Visiting Committee.
Mr. Langton stated that conditions are “improving” despite an independent report in 2009. The report stated that Mountjoy Prison’s sanitary system was dehumanising and inhumane.
Mountjoy prison has been immensely criticised in areas such as violence, overcrowding and massive drug problems within the prison over the past two years.
Last month the violence within Mountjoy erupted, and tensions at the prison still remain high. The violence escalated after a prisoner was refused admission into the recreational area. He later returned with more inmates armed with snooker balls and cues, and carried out his attack.
Four men were injured in the riot but did not sustain life threatening injuries. An officer was struck violently in the head with a snooker cue and another officer was viciously hit also in the head with a snooker ball. The culprit received a nine month concurrent sentence for his involvement in sparking the riot.
“Prisoners sophistication in areas such as concealing drugs is overwhelming, we have discovered drugs placed under the seal of envelopes, and placed within clothing, but we are happy with the progress made in combating these problems,” stated Mr. Langton.
Mr. Langton stated that he has proposed “low risk prisoners being incarcerated during the day, and being aloud to go home in the evening to their families,” to the Law Reform Commission. This could considerably reduce the over crowding problem within the prison which was originally designed for 454 prisoners but detains 850.
The Government are aware of the problems which are evident within Mountjoy’s male prison for some time. Thornton hall, which is currently under construction in North County Dublin, is expected to ease overcrowding issues. It is aimed at providing a better infra-structure for prisoners and prison officers.
The Minister for Justice Mr. Dermott Ahern has said that he is determined to see the project through which is estimated to cost the taxpayer €400 million upon completion.
Thornton hall prison will replace Mountjoy Prison within the next number of years. When the prison which is being built in three phases, is complete there will be 1,400 cells with just one inmate to each cell. Mountjoy currently has up to four prisoners to each cell.
The government had hoped that the funding of the new prison would come from the sale of Mountjoy prison, but with the cost of property at an all time low it’s unlikely the sale of Mountjoy will be enough to cover the cost of Thornton Hall. The purchase of the site took place in 2005 and cost the government €30 million.
Fine Gael Spokesman for Justice and Law Reform, Alan Shatter T.D., stated that the type of money wasting and time delay that has characterized the Thornton Hall project from the start makes it difficult to believe any timeline or financial estimate this Government puts forward in regard to building the prison.
“This Government’s ability to waste taxpayer’s money is astounding. Over €42 million has been spent on the Thornton Hall project with almost nothing to show for it. The Thornton Hall project was started in 2005 but the tender for building it will not be put out until next year,” stated Mr. Shatter.
According to the Minister it will be next year before the walls around the prison are completed, and 2014 at the earliest before the first prison buildings are finished. The project which is to be completed in a phased approach was originally though to be complete by mid summer of this year.