Ireland has elected it’s first gay Taoiseach. His father is from India. His mother is from Waterford. He is the first Trinity graduate to be elected Taoiseach. At 38 years of age Leo Varadkar is the youngest Taoiseach to hold the post. This election is global news. It shows that Ireland is a tolerant place. It might help in our trading relationships with India. The response in Ireland shows that we are more interested in Leo’s policies than in his background. People will argue about politics but Leo’s election shows that we are a tolerant people. During the 19th century the run away slave Frederick Douglas was given sanctuary in Ireland. Daniel Ó Connell was a friend of his. Frederick Douglas liked his time in Ireland. The Irish people treated him with respect as a man. Later on Frederick Douglas went back to America. He supported Abraham Lincoln. After the civil war Frederick Douglas supported the rights of women to vote. Our friendliness as a people goes back a long time.
Around the world people are not allowed to develop their talents to their fullest because of the colour of their skin or their religion or because they are women. Discrimination of any sort weakens society.
Normal politics will resume in Ireland. The political debates will be about policy. The election of Leo Varadkar shows Ireland in a positive light in the world. It shows that despite our other problems that we are a kind people. I do think that while Ireland isn’t a great power like the United States we do have a moral authority that gives us leadership in international politics. Ireland has a proud record in the UN since 1955. Ireland has a proud record as peace keepers in trouble spots around the world from the Congo to Lebanon to the Balkins and beyond. Our foreign policy makes us look good internationally. It has benefits for our trading relationships internationally. Ireland with its image as an honest honourable country with a proud neutral tradition opens doors for us internationally. Our agri food sector is dependent on exports. We Irish have a tolerant tradition. It is a tradition that we can be proud of. I hope that we will continue this tradition in the future.
During the Cold War it was easier to be neutral. A neutral country just didn’t support any of the two Superpowers. Now with different powers seeking supremacy the choices that a neutral country faces is more complex. But Ireland as a neutral country should continue to act morally on the world stage. It has served us well in the past. It will serve us well in the future.
John O Brien.
The results of the British general election are in. The Conservative government hoped that it would have a greater majority in Parliament. It had hoped that this majority would have helped it in its negotiations with the EU over Brexit. Coming into the general election the Conservatives had around a 20 point lead over Labour. The media had demonised the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as a loonie lefty from a bygone era. But as we see from the results of the British general election this plan didn’t develop as the Conservatives had hoped.
The Conservatives wanted this election to be about Brexit. But national security due to the terrorist attacks in Manchester and in London became an issue in this election. The economy was an issue as well. Younger people suffer more due to the present economic policies. They voted in the main for the Labour Party. Theresa May refused to debate with the other party leaders. Jeremy Corbyn had massive rallies. He debated with everyone who wanted to debate with him. The Labour Party produced a manifesto that was costed and it was moderate. In this election the support for the Conservatives was slashed. The support for Labour rose. Theresa May’s leadership is weakened. Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership has strengthened. Another factor that isn’t commented on in the media that much is that the Conservative government wanted to increase the tax on the self employed. The Labour Party successfully resisted this move. This issue shows that the last Conservative government was out of touch.
In the North the Democratic Unionists gained 10 seats. Sinn Féin gained 7 seats. The last seat went to the independent unionist Lady Sylvia Herman. Sylvia Herman was an Ulster Unionist MP. When that party in the past decided to ally themselves with the Conservatives she resigned her membership of the party. She kept her seat in the next election while the Ulster Unionists lost seats. Sylvia Herman is a Labour supporting unionist.
The rise of the SNP was halted in Scotland. The Scottish Conservatives did well in this election. This election showed that the desire for independence has met a setback in Scotland.
The results of this election means that there is a hung parliament. The Conservatives needs the support of others to achieve a majority. The DUP could offer that support.
The other news about this election is the recovery of the vote for the Liberal Democrats. The British government wanted to strengthen its hand in its negotiations with the EU. But the results of this election will mean that its negotiating position has actually weakened.
As the British general election is near and the world news can be depressing I decided to focus on cultural issues in this post. I think that films can be a different experiences if there was no music. If I was making a film the music I would use would be important. Music can make average films special and good films even more exciting. Bad music choices can distract and make a good film look bad. The music in a James Bond film shows the importance of music. Watch a favourite film without the music and you will feel the difference. When films started out they were silent films. The person playing the piano communicated feeling and added to those films. Films are about story. The writing and the acting are important. The music in films tells the story as well in a universal language.
I will await the results of the British general election before I will give my analysis of it. I am looking at donation systems and other ventures. My writing isn’t a hobby, it is an alternative voice. Freelance journalism and freelance writing is a tough business.
John O Brien.
After Manchester we now have the terrorist attack in London. My first thoughts are with the victims and their families in London. These terrorists are not motivated by economics. They are not motivated by Western foreign policy. Major Western countries are allied with major Muslim countries. The terrorist are motivated by a reactionary ideology. The terrorists hate what decent people like about our society. They hate our liberty and democracy. We must embrace our values in a defiant manner. Before we make a judgement about this terrorist act we need to know the facts first.
The Islamic State is a fascist state. It is a dictatorship. Women are regarded as the property of men. Gays are murdered. Slavery is practiced. Rape is sanctioned by it’s leadership. It is a puritanical regime where the joys of life are banned. ISIS is on the brink of defeat. The brave and freedom loving Kurds especially its women fighters have achieved great victories against ISIS. The Iraqi army are defeating ISIS. On the brink of defeat ISIS is attacking European countries.
Let free humanity embrace what ISIS hate freedom, democracy, feminism, reason and equality.
John O Brien.
After the terrorist attack in Manchester other issues in life seem less important. But life has to go on. The national media is focused on the Fine Gael leadership election. But I believe that the issue of the sale of the AIB shares is an important issue facing the nation.
The Irish Labour Party believes that selling of the AIB shares to pay down debt is a wasted opportunity. The party believes that the government should seek a dialogue with Europe to insure that this money could be used to invest in the nation. Instead of borrowing the money to invest in the nation we could use the money raised to benefit the nation. A growing economy would allow us to pay the debt at a later date. Labour seeks practical solutions to the management of the economy. Ideological blindness doesn’t resolve economic challenges.
The Labour motion was passed in the Dail. The Social Democrats, Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein have questioned the government’s decision to use the sale of AIB shares to pay down the debt. Despite the democratic decision of the Dail the Minister for Finance has decided to go ahead with the government’s original decision. There is an online petition to support the Labour Party’s motion. I signed the petition myself.
Our schools, healthcare and transport needs to be invested in if we want a balanced growth in our economy. We have an opportunity to do this. It would be a shame if we as a nation were to let this opportunity go.
The views in this article are my own personal views. The official views of the Labour Party are on its website.
John O Brien.
When the agricultural community is reported in our media we sometimes forget that agriculture doesn’t just affect farmers. The agricultural economy involves the workers who works in Dairygold etc. We can be blinded by the appearance of hi tech foreign companies in Ireland to the fact that Ireland is a major player in the food industry. It is also an important player in the export of food. As an example around 90% of Irish beef is exported. Ireland is a major exporter of beef. The Kerry Group is one of the major food ingredient companies in the world.
Since Ireland joined the EU in 1973 our dependence on the UK market has fallen. But Britain is still a major market for Irish exports. It is also true that Ireland is an important market for British exports as well. The North has become an important issue in the negotiations between the British and the EU. The only land border between Britain and the EU will be the border between the North and the South. The border will become the land border between the EU and the UK. The Irish government is hoping that it can make the border as soft as possible. They hope that the EU would recognize that a hard border in Ireland could negatively affect the peace process in the North. The Irish government is also worried that a hard border between Ireland and the UK could badly affect the Irish economy. A hard border could have a severe impact on the export of our agricultural goods. Farming organizations and others have warned about the dangers of a hard border on its industry.
The IFA has stated that Brexit is the greatest challenge to Irish farming and the agri food sector since the foundation of the state. According to the IFA Britain is Ireland’s largest export market for food and drink. 40% of Irish food exports go to the UK. The IFA believes that the Irish government needs to insure that the UK market remains as open as possible for the export of Irish food and drink.
The Irish food sector provides hi tech good quality jobs in native companies. Our agricultural sector is an important part of our economy. We also have seen when the economy collapsed after 2008 that our exports were a bright light during that dark time. Our exports helped us survive and grow.
I believe that our agricultural sector is important but it is a neglected part of our economy. I hope that negotiations between the EU and the UK will benefit the Irish economy.
The results of the 2nd round of the French Presidential election are in, Emmanuel Macron beat Marine Le Pen. France now faces more elections. The parliamentary elections will show if President Macron can gain a majority in parliament or he could be a lame duck President. There were voters who voted for Macron because the alternative was the leader of the National Front. The National Front is seen by many people as a neo fascist party.
Emmanuel Macron is the youngest leader of France since the time of Napoleon. He is only 39 years of age. This is the first election he contested. But Emmanuel Macron has been involved in politics before. He was a Cabinet Minister in Francois Hollande’s government. He has also been a banker as well. Macron was a member of the Socialist Party. Then he became an independent. To run in the Presidential election he set up his own movement. It is stated that he is a neo liberal. His past history could suggest that he might be a moderate social democrat. His choice of Prime Minister and his choice of Cabinet will show what economic philosophy guides him. Emmanuel Macron is some kind of liberal. What type of liberal is he? His programme seems to be all things to all people. But we do know he is pro European. A Macron France will be a strong supporter of the EU.
People have raised his past enjoyment as a banker as a sign of his economic outlook. But we have an example of Warren Buffett in the United States who believes that the rich should pay more tax. Warren Buffett is one of the richest people in the world. I am confused by Emmanuel Macron’s economic philosophy because he was a Socialist Party member. He also served in a Socialist government. He introduced controversial labour reform laws.
Political debates can obscure the important role that economics play in politics. The past post war consensus was replaced by neo liberalism. Neo liberalism with its policy of deregulation has suffered due to the banking collapse. And yet in the political field it hasn’t been challenged successfully. Alternatives to neo liberalism has grown in recent years. The rise of nationalist parties and politicians like Donald Trump proves this point.
Can France and the world move towards a better future? The policies of Emmanuel Macron will reveal if he is a leader of a new economic model. There was hope that President Hollande was going to change things. But after Hollande’s term was up most French voters regard his term in office as a disappointment. After his term is up Macron might suffer the same fate as Hollande.
John O Brien.