Connemara Potential For Seaweed Investment

(left to right) Cllr. Paul Hogan, who chaired the Sinn Fein alternative budget meeting in Athlone, with guest speaker, Senator Trevor O’Clochartaigh

Sinn Fein Senator Trevor O’Clochartaigh believes there is potential in investment in the western region in businesses as diverse as high quality broadband and seaweed cutting.  O’Clochartaigh spoke to irishsmokefill after a Sinn Fein meeting in Athlone on the party’s alternative budget.

“I have been doing a lot of work in the last couple of months on seaweeding, and we have Arramara, a seaweed cutting factory in Connemara, which was in state ownership for many years, and it was handed over to Udarus na Gaeltachta about 5 years ago, but it had never been developed to its full potential,” said Senator O’Clochartaigh, after the meeting this week.  “A number of different companies are looking at it at the moment, and the seawood cutters are the type of guys who have worked on building sites, and were plasterers and plumbers, and many of those don’t have regular employment at the moment.”

He also said there is a potential around new media, and the Connemara politician commented that the mobile phone coverage in his area is “patchy,” and while there was a rural broadband scheme there he claimed it’s not delivering.

“Cultural tourism would also be a major thing that needs to be developed, but we really need to look at the likes of being able to cut seaweed in sustainable ways and to develop other forms of environmental activities, like setting up farming co-ops,” said Senator O’Clochartaigh.

Nicky McFadden Leads Charity Fashion Show

Nicky McFadden TD

Motor Neuron Disease Research will be one of the benefitting charities from an event that will see political household names like Pearse Doherty, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, Colm Keaveney, Averil Power, Marie Louise O’Donnell and many others hitting the catwalk as ‘models’ next Tuesday night, 27th November, at the Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin. The other benefitting charities, from the fashion show will be, Action Prostate Cancer Research and Br. Kevin Crowley’s Capuchin Day Centre for the homeless in Dublin city centre.
Longford/Westmeath Fine Gael TD, Nicky McFadden was diagnosed with motor neuron disease earlier this summer, and is organising the fashion show with Minister Jimmy Deenihan and stylist, Marietta Doran. Many of Ireland’s fashion designers including Philip Treacy and John Rocha will be showcasing their collections on the night. Joining the politicians and models on the catwalk will be RTE’s rugby analyst, Brent Pope, Dublin footballer, Alan Brogan, GAA All Star and Paul Galvin.
Tickets for this Oireachtas Christmas Charity Fundraiser are currently available from the Shelbourne Hotel, and from Bernadette in Minister Deenihan’s office, at Dail Eireann, at a cost of €60 per ticket.

Clare Daly To Re-Enter Abortion Plan


United Left Alliance TD, Clare Daly told irishsmokefill that she intends to re-enter plans to legislate on the ‘x case’, this week.

She is moving the plan following the tragic death of a pregnant woman early in November.

Deputy Daly previously put forward a private members bill in April 2012, alongside colleagues, Joan Collins and Mick Wallace, and it was rejected then by 109 votes to 20.  Twenty years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that a woman should be allowed an abortion in Ireland in the event of a mother’s life being in danger. However this was never followed up by government legislation.

“If the government don’t act in the next week or two, we’ll push the button ourselves,” said the ULA politician.  “Opinion is shifting now, and the last time we brought up the private members bill, Labour said they would support it, but were waiting for the expert group to come back.  Some Fine Gaelers spoke against it, and some are now reconsidering it.  I think it’s necessary to have this.”

Fianna Fail abstained in the April vote and Sinn Fein voted with it.

The Dublin North TD said that there is too much uncertainty, and that there has to be legal protection.

“I hope the government will act, but I’m not hopeful that they will, so the onus will be on ordinary citizens, who have been outraged on this, to keep up the pressure,” said Deputy Daly.

Also, Sinn Fein is putting forward a Private Members bill, calling for legislation on the x case.  Voting is expected on Wednesday night, 21/11/2012. 





Take From €64 Billion For Ireland’s Homeless – SF Councillor

“Some of the €64 billion that is going into the banks is private debt, and some is sovereign, and some of that could be used to help community services that need support, including the homeless,” said Athlone’s Cllr. Paul Hogan, who took part in a Simon Community sleep-in on a damp November night.

“Homelessness is a big problem in the midlands, and the Simon housing unit is packed to capacity, and a soup kitchen opened in Athlone last week, and there is a demand for it,” said the Sinn Fein councillor, who took part in the Kilmartin roundabout sleep-in.  “I volunteer in the local youth cafe, and there were some young men under 21 years of age there, who found themselves homeless.”

Cllr. Hogan who at age 24, in 2007, was Ireland’s youngest mayor, said that politicians should take lead roles in working to resource and fund Simon.  He said politicians should be out on the street, helping people in distress.

“It’s great to see Mayor Jim Henson here tonight, but the problem is there are not enough of us working to help people with all of our might,” said the Sinn Fein councillor.  “Politicians pay should be cut, and high earners should have their wages capped at €100,000.  Those are the type of people who need to take the hit.”

Labour Mayor Homeless For A Night

Mayor Jim Henson, Cormac Lally of Athlone Simon Community and Cllr. Paul Hogan at the Simon sleep-in at the Kilmartin Roundabout shopping centre in Athlone.

Athlone town’s mayor, Jim Henson became homeless and spent approx 12 hours of a November night at the Kilmartin’s roundabout shopping complex.  He was supporting the local Simon Community, and mingled with the many volunteers who also showed solidarity with the homeless community, on the damp and soaking night.

“It’s a very sad reflection on society that we came from such a boom, and still there are homeless people, and more and more people are susceptible to homelessness,” said Mayor Henson, who is a member of the Labour party.

The Mayor agreed that the government could do more to help the homeless and said that the problem is not necessarily on the surface, and that homeless people are not always out sleeping in a cardboard box.

“Everyone has a basic right to shelter and a standard of living, and this is still a country with a wealth, although not huge wealth,” said the Athlone Mayor.  “But there should be a bottom line, where we don’t go beyond that line, and before we pay anybody back we should look after our own first,” said the Athlone Mayor.

Bertie Loved the Construction ‘Buzz’

Former Minister, Mary O’Rourke and Minister Frances Fitzgerald at the launch of O’Rourke’s autobiography, ‘Just Mary’.

Bertie Ahern loved the construction ‘buzz’.  I remember one day, as I was coming out of the lift on the fifth floor of Leinster House with him, he drew me to a window and said, ‘Look at the number of building cranes there are out there,’ – there were perhaps 20 or so on the horizon – ‘Isn’t it wonderful?’ Yes of course it was – it meant full employment and, as the construction taxes kept coming in, much of the consequent spending was good social spending.  But the difficulty was that at a crucial point, no one shouted ‘stop’ on construction, and spending got out of control, and policies became increasingly wayward.

From Mary O’Rourke’s autobiography, ‘Just Mary’.

Political Author, Noel Whelan talks to irishsmokefill

Mary O’Rourke and Noel Whelan at the book launch of ‘Just Mary’ at National Library, Thursday, October 18th

Author, Noel Whelan who comes from the Fianna Fail gene pool said that the Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll is good for the party’s morale, but they have to be careful, and keep it in context.

“Sinn Fein got a rise and bounce during the Lisbon referendum, and Fianna Fail will be relieved now, and will draw comfort from the fact that they have stopped falling, and that they are starting to go upwards,” said Noel Whelan.  “They have got more assertive in Dail debates, and Billy Kelleher was very strong on the Reilly issue.  They have stopped the fall, and jumped a bit, but it still would be fanciful to see them back in the short time, anywhere like where they were.  Even in two elections, it would be ambitious.”

He also said to irishsmokefill that it would be “presumptuous of Fianna Fail to think they will automatically and inevitably grow, because the government are unpopular, and that aint going to happen.”

“Labour are at their natural 12% and got a bounce because of Fianna Fail at the last national election, but they will struggle because of new competition from Sinn Fein.  The party (Labour) management has been chaotic of late, at least around Nessa Childers and Phil Prendergast,” said Whelan.  “Fianna Fail needs to be ruthless in advance of the local elections, and completely gut their tickets and lineups, and start with active energetic faces, male and female, more female than male.”

Noel Whelan is author of ‘Fianna Fail – A Biography of the Party’.

Political Commentator, Drennan talks to irishsmokefill

 John Drennan, who writes for the Sunday Independent, spoke to irishsmokefill last week, about the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll.  He said that the more the voters see of Sinn Fein, the less they like them.  The party dropped four points to 20%, in the poll.

“Fianna Fail are half way there now, they started off at the General Election on 16.8%, they have got to 21%, and they are half way to where they have to be, to be a 54 seat party,” said Drennan.  “Labour is on 12%, which is good for them, because their support is concentrated in Dublin.  That’s a good result for Labour.”

John Drennan is author of ‘Standing By the Republic – 50 Dail Debates That Shaped the Nation’

Micheal Martin talks to irishsmokefill

The Fianna Fail leader said the October Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll which put the party at 21%, up four points since the last such poll in May, is “a welcome trend,” but the party’s focus is on “restoring trust with the Irish people.”

“We are not that focussed on short term opinion polls,” said Micheal Martin TD.

He spoke to irishsmokefill, at Mary O’Rourke’s book launch in the National Library on October 18th.  He said that they have a long journey ahead of them, and the party’s main focus is on the Local Elections 2014.

“That would be a major milestone for us, we are working to attract new people into the party, younger people, more women, in addition to those we already have,” said the Fianna Fail leader.

He said he regrets the abolition of town councils, as planned in the new government plan.

“Democracy is important and we should not be so willingly removing levels of democracy, because town councils are about people getting together and helping their community,” said Micheal Martin.  “We should not lose sight of that.”