Tuesday, July 31, 2007

UN Council authorizes large force for Darfur

By Evelyn Leopold
"UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Tuesday to authorize up to 26,000 troops and police in an effort to stop attacks on millions of displaced civilians in Sudan's Darfur region.....The resolution allows the use of force in self-defense, to ensure freedom of movement for humanitarian workers and to protect civilians under attack.
But the measure, which has been watered down several times, no longer allows the new force to seize and dispose of illegal arms. Now they can only monitor such weapons..............................."

Read the full story: Reuters Africa
Hopefully this is an indication that the UN will discharge its responsibilities. However the fact that the new force cannot cannot seize or dispose of illegal arms seriously weakens the intent of the UN resolution.

Ireland -Miami Showband Massacre Anniversary

Today is the 32nd anniversary of the Miami Showband massacre. On 31st July 1975 the UVF staged a fake UDR roadblock and stopped the Miami Showband's bus. They loaded a bomb on board, intending to detonate it later to make it look as if the band was transporting bombs.

However it went off prematurely killing 2 of the UVF men. Other members of the UVF shot dead 3 of the band members. This is known as the "Miami Showband Massacre"

The UVF killed Fran O'Toole, Brian McCoy and Tony Geraghty. Stephen Travers was seriously wounded.
The Miami showband was one of Irelands premier bands.
Irish-Showbands.com is a website of outstanding merit. Make sure to pay a visit.

Darfur-The World's Shame

In excess of 400,000 Darfurians have been murdered. 2.5-3 million people have been dislocated.This is a state sponsored genocide perpetrated by the Northern Arab elite -in power- in Sudan. The Janjaweed ( Arab militia) backed by its Arab masters has engaged in a massive campaign of murder rape and pillage. Thousands of women -both young and old- have been raped. Young children have been thrown into fires and burned to a cinder.

Largely the world stands idly by. In the US a huge 'Save Darfur' campaign has developed. Placards have appeared saying 'Out of Iraq into Darfur'. Some companies such as Siemens AG and Rolls-Royce, have already cut their ties to Sudan. States such as Oregon, California Vermont, Illinois, Connecticut and Maine – have passed resolutions divesting state funds.It is expected that another 10-15 states will follow. Universities, such as Harvard, Stanford, Yale and the University of California system, have also passed divestment measures.

The US and British Governments have made an effort to tackle the Butchers of Khartoum. However their efforts are not sufficient. They must exert greater pressure. What has the EU or Irish Government done about Darfur? It is time for EU governments including the Irish Government to get off the fence. Shame on the EU. Shame on Russia and China. Shame on Arab states. Extreme pressure must be exerted on China and Russia to withdraw support from the mass murderers of Khartoum. China has blocked decisive action by the UN. Vladimir Putin can assert Russia’s moral authority in the world by a principled stand on Darfur. Assets of senior government officials in Khartoum must be frozen . These leaders must face trial at the International Court of Justice. It is time to send a much larger international peace keeping force.

A US Senate committee is expected to vote Thursday on a plan to divest state pension funds from companies that do business with the government of Sudan. For details read

Taliban claim to kill 2nd South Korean hostage in Afghan standoff

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – A purported Taliban spokesman claimed the hardline militia killed a second Korean hostage Monday because Afghanistan failed to release insurgents from prisons. Government officials said they hadn't recovered the body and couldn't confirm the claim.......
San Diego Union-Tribune

Monday, July 30, 2007

US Politics-Condi For President????

Fred Thompson is expected to announce in September that it is his intention to seek the GOP nomination for President. However there are also several campaigns underway to convince Condoleezza Rice to run in 2008.
Rice2008.com states "We are convinced 2008 will be the year a woman wins the White House. We cannot allow that woman to be Hillary Clinton. Dr Rice has the experience, temperament credibility and leadership skills needed to lead the country in these trying times".
This is a very impressive website.
Run Rice 2008 also argues strongly for a Rice Presidency.
Rice is suspect on the abortion issue. She needs to take a firm pro life stance.

US in $43bn Middle East Arms Deals

Washington - The United States announced a proposed $13bn military aid package for Egypt and a $30bn package for Israel on Monday, along with plans to provide such aid to Saudi Arabia and Gulf states. Read full report in NEWS 24
How will Iran react?

Waterford -Cork SHC Quarter Final - Reaction

Reaction to the Waterford-Cork game has been hugely positive. Jim O Sullivan in the Irish Examiner referred to the game as "an epic Guinness All-Ireland hurling championship quarter-final". Michael Moynihan and Donal O Grady were similarly enthused.
In the Irish Times Tom Humphries states "Ah! A game which pushed up the heart rate and nourished the soul....The skills and commitment were remarkable but it was the character of the sides that lifted the match to the realms of the breathtaking....." Martin Breheny in The Irish Independent stated that "It was a fitting finale to what was the best game of the 2007 Hurling Championship so far, brimming with energy, effort and enthusiasm and decorated with the highest skill levels which enthralled the crowd all day.
In the circumstances, it would have been roughest of justice had either side lost."
Hopefully International TV channels will take an interest. There must be a huge international audience for hurling if marketed correctly.
According to ENN RTE does not have broadcast rights to stream GAA matches outside the island of Ireland, and the blocker ensures the match cannot be viewed on computers abroad, based on IP address.
Setanta Sports has acquired worldwide rights to broadcast GAA matches live outside Ireland.

President Hillary Clinton-A Threat to Ireland's Prosperity

The following is taken from a recent address to the Fermoy Enterprise Board by Professor Leonard Wrigley:
"The main drivers of the Celtic Tiger growth were the hugely profitable subsidiaries of some 600 US high technology enterprises such as Microsoft which came to Ireland in the 90s to exploit a then new provision in the US Corporate Tax Code which allowed US corporate tax to be avoided till the profits were actually returned to the USA.
That particular US corporate tax provision will certainly disappear if as is likely Hillary Clinton is elected US President in November 2008 ,for with Hillary Clinton will come her present economic adviser namely Harvard professor Lawrence Summers a famed economist who is most hostile to the existing US Corporate Tax system with its tax avoidance provisions for US multinationals.
For Ireland this change in US tax provisions has serious implications for we will lose not just the US subsidiaries, our most important economic drivers but also the basis of our present economic strategy............"
Source-Avondhu Newspaper.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

All Ireland Senior Hurling Quarter-Finals at Croke Park

In the first game Limerick had the edge on Clare. This game was not played at the same intensity as the Waterford- Cork game. However Limerick will secretly fancy their chances against the winners of the Waterford- Cork replay. Andrew O’Shaughnessy notched some great scores for Limerick.
In the Waterford-Cork game we had a display of champagne hurling from both teams-with beautiful striking and superb scores. Ken McGrath, Tony Browne, Stephen Molumphy, Dan Shanahan, Paul Flynn and John Mullane were among the Waterford stars. Donall Og Cusack, Sean Og O'Hailpin and Niall Ronan starred for Cork. Waterford had some bad wides.
Long range frees should be dropped into the square. They also need to minimise the number of frees conceded. In the dying moments of the game referee Brian Gavin awarded a free from which Waterford scored. Cork protested strongly. The referees decision was correct as Donall Og Cusack deliberately lay on the ball. According to the rule book this is an automatic free. There are no ifs no buts.
Hopefully Waterford can win the replay.
The winners of the replay must then face Limerick on the following Sunday. Certainly not a nice prospect for a tired team.
Ireland Online

The Changing Face Of Ireland

Ireland is now a multicultural society
Foreign nationals accounted for more than 10% of the population in Ireland, according to the latest Census figures .
More than 25% of all black people living in Ireland were born here.
The Census also reveals that the Asian population in Ireland has risen to 52,345. Almost 60% of those live in Dublin. There were 419,733 non-Irish people surveyed out of a population of 4,172,013.
The highest proportion of non-Irish nationals came from the UK at 112,548, with the next highest being the Polish community with 63,276 and 46,952 people describing themselves as Asian, with people from Africa accounting for 35,326.
The Polish language- closely followed by Chinese-is one of the most widely-spoken languages in Ireland after English and Irish: There are over 63,000 Poles resident in Ireland according to the 2006 census
The main religions are Catholicism (86.8%) Anglicanism (3%) Moslem (0.8%) Christians Unspecified (0.7%) Orthodox (0.5%) Methodist (0.3%).
Clearly Irish politicians and planners face huge challenges to integrate the immigrant population and to prevent the development of ghettoes. We can learn from mistakes made in the UK and France.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Hostage Crisis-Taliban hold Koreans in Afghanistan

The Taliban has demanded the release of insurgent prisoners in exchange for the South Korean hostages, who were captured on July 19. One of the original 23 captives-Kim Sun-il - was murdered on Wednesday.The South Koreans, including 18 women, were kidnapped while traveling by bus on the Kabul-Kandahar highway, Afghanistan's main thoroughfare. The
Koreans are believed to be volunteers for a Christian Church group.

All Ireland Senior Hurling Quarter-Finals at Croke Park

In a shock result Wexford defeated Tipperary. The three game marathon between Tipperary and Limerick finally took its toll on the Premier county. The writing was on the wall for Tipp at half time as Wexford could have scored three goals in the first half. Wexford players tended to over carry the ball and played very little ground hurling. One of the major flaws in Wexford's game is the tendency to pick the ball at all costs. More ground hurling and combination play would improve Wexford's prospects.
In the game between Kilkenny and Galway the standard was far superior to that of the first game
There was brilliant combination play on both sides.The Cats finally overpowered Galway.
Kilkenny are odds on favourites now to win the All Ireland. However an observant referee could award more frees against some Kilkenny defenders who have a tendency to nudge the forwards just as the ball drops.
Kilkenny's speed of striking, wrist work and combination play is a joy to watch. The Cats will take some beating.

Irish Times-Clarification re Ronan Mullen

Thanks to Angelo for drawing my attention to the following clarification in todays Irish Times:
"Madam, - Your report of Rónán Mullen's Seanad election victory (The Irish Times, July 27th) claimed that Mr Justin Barrett, "a former Youth Defence spokesman", was among our supporters at the count centre. This is not true. Mr Barrett was never part of our campaign and to our almost certain knowledge he was not present at the count. - Yours, etc, Dr ANDREW O'CONNELL, (Rónán Mullen Campaign Manager), Lucan, Co Dublin. The error is regretted. - Ed, IT."
Angelo also states:"What a lie! I was at the count for 3 days and Justin Barrett was never there, not even for a minute. Ronan Mullen has no connection with him. Barrett is a fascist, Mullen is a Christian Democrat who attracted votes from right and left. He wouldn’t have been elected without transferred votes of left wing electors. Shame on the Irish Times."
I believe that Ronan Mullen will be one of the star performers in the Senate. He is more than the intellectual equal of Norris or Bacik. I have always regarded him as a Christian Democrat. As an NUI elector he represents my views on the abortion issue.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Irish Senate-Conservative V Liberal

The NUI electorate has chosen two conservative Senators and one Socialist. Ronan Mullen is a conservative on social issues and strongly opposed to abortion. Fergal Quinn is also conservative and opposed to abortion. Joe O Toole is a Socialist. The TCD electorate chose Shane Ross, Ivana Bacik and David Norris. Bacik and Norris are pro abortion. Expect heated debates on abortion as Ronan Mullen clashes with Bacik and Norris. The Irish Times reports that - “At the count his supporters included his parents, sister, nephew, his cousin Michael (a Fine Gael councillor), Prof Binchy and Justin Barrett, a former Youth Defence spokesman."
Whether the Irish Times likes it or not Ronan Mullen is representative of the views of the NUI electorate on the abortion issue. Any campaign launched in the Senate by Norris and Bacik -to promote abortion- is doomed to failure.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Tour De France-Body Blow

As the Tour De France lurches from crisis to crisis its long term viability has come into question as sponsors seek to distance themselves from doping scandals that bedevil the Tour. Professional cycling has reached a watershed. Has the time come to discontinue the Tour?
Read more here.
Just a day after star Alexandre Vinokourov tested positive for a banned blood transfusion, the Tour also lost the man who most believed would be wearing the yellow jersey down the Champs-Elysee. "Michael Rasmussen has been sent home for violating (the team's) internal rules," Rabobank spokesman Jacob Bergsma told The Associated Press by phone. Read the full story here.
CBS News

Irish Senate-Its Time for Coffey

Cllr Paudi Coffey (FG) has been elected to the Senate. He was elected on the Industrial and Commercial panel. This allied to the re-election of Senator Maurice Cummins is a huge boost for FG in the Waterford constituency.
Bertie Aherne may yet nominate Ollie Wilkinson (FF) to the Senate. This would give Waterford three senators.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Monsoon Rains-Southern Asia

Monsoon rains and typhoons have left a trail of destruction across Pakistan, Bangladesh and India. Over 700 people have died in Pakistan and India. In Pakistan an estimated 1.5 -2.2 million people have been affected.
Please consider donating to Concern.

Fireworks Display -Cappoquin, Co.Waterford, Ireland

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Medical Workers freed by Libya arrive in Bulgaria

In 1999 five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian medical doctor were charged with intentionally infecting 400 Libyan children with H.I.V at the Benghazi Children’s Hospital where they worked. Benghazi is Libya’s second largest city.
The Libyan leader, Col. Qaddafi said that the nurses were agents of the CIA and Israel’s intelligence agency, the Mossad.The release comes at the end of eight years of imprisonment, alleged torture to extract confessions, three trials, and two separate death sentences. Bulgaria consistently claimed that the medical workers were not guilty. Physicians for Human Rights and the International Federation of Health and Human Rights Organisations (PHR/IHFFRO) and Amnesty International had long maintained that the medical workers were innocent. The US France and the EU exerted strong pressure on Libya. Libya finally relented and agreed to release all six. There were emotional scenes at Sofia airport -this morning-as the plane touched down.
New York Times

CNN/YouTube Debate-Reaction

Barack Obama performed very strongly in the debate. He indirectly attacked Hillary Clinton on several issues. He scored a direct hit on the Iraq war issue. His was a triumph of style over substance. Democrats present scored the debate for Obama. Joe Biden displayed a sound grasp of the issues. A Democratic ticket of Clinton/Obama or Obama/Clinton is a strong possibility.

Monday, July 23, 2007

CNN/YouTube debate-Live

At 7 p.m. ET Monday the Democratic candidates for president will face questions sent in via YouTube. Then, on September 17, the Republican candidates will participate in the second CNN-YouTube debate.

Senate Election Count-Ireland

The count for the Senate election is under way. This will conclude on Friday. It is time for the Government to take hard decisions in relation to the Upper House. It is unlikely that any Government will abolish this political dinosaur. Meaningful reform is a sine qua non. The Senate electorate is unrepresentative as it consists of councillors and university graduates from the NUI and TCD. It is time to grasp the nettle and adopt the following reforms.
  • The Senate must be invested with meaningful powers. As it stands it is largely toothless. A powerful Senate committee could be invested with powers to block wasteful spending proposals emanating from the Lower House.
  • The national electorate should choose the Senate.
  • Dail and Senate elections should be held simultaneously.

The message is clear. Reform the Senate or else abolish it. As presently constituted it is undemocratic and a waste of tax payers money.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Bowman on Sunday

The programme on RTE Radio One provides a window into Irelands past. This mornings programme was champagne journalism. It dealt with sculptor Seamus Murphy and the Shannon Hydro-Electric Scheme of 1926. Bowman is primus inter pares.

The Irish Economy

According to Pat Leahy in the Sunday Business Post ,Finance Minister Brian Cowen has issued a stark warning to Ministers to curb public expenditure growth. This is a repeat of 2002. Prior to the 2002 General Election public expenditure escalated at an unsustainable rate. In 2001 it was 17.6% and 2002 it was 14.8%. Finance Minister of the time Charlie McCreevy in the immediate aftermath of the election slammed the brakes on public expenditure. He introduced public expenditure cuts and stealth taxes.
In the run in to the 2007 General Election once more the Government purse strings were loosened. In 2006 public expediture rose by 10.5%. Growth for 2007 could be 13%.
The formula is clear. Allow huge rises in public expenditure prior to General Elections. This increases the well being of the electorate and wins elections. Once the election is over hammer the voters. They have short memories.
This policy has worked wonders for Fianna Fail.
Read Sunday Business Post article

Saturday, July 21, 2007

US Politics

Both President George W Bush and Vice President Cheney are beset by health problems. This will sap the energy of an administration already under pressure on Iraq. George Bush -at record levels of unpopularity in the opinion polls-needs to develop a coherent strategy for disengagement from Iraq. Bush is correct not to set an exact date for withdrawal.
Hillary Clinton appears to have the edge so far on Barack Obama in the race for the Democratic nomination for 2008. Obama is charismatic but lacks depth in policy matters. John Edwards is seen as well meaning but rich and out of touch with the general body of the electorate. So far the Democtats have the edge in fund raising.
On the Republican side Rudolf Giuliani is now the front runner. But Giuliani is pro abortion. McCains campaign seems to have bombed. It is doubtful if either could defeat Clinton. Mitt Romney who was formerly pro abortion has now adopted a pro life stance. He is distrusted by conservatives. However waiting in the wings is former Senator Fred Thompson. Over 50,000 Americans have signed an online petition urging him to stand. The race for the Republican nomination is wide open.
Thompson could be a dark horse. He is conservative and seen as anti abortion. This would weld together many strands in the Republican Party. Thompson however has critics also within the Republican Party. Age could also pose problems.

The Republicans could win the Presidency in 2008 with a Thompson like candidate .
  • Clinton is vulnerable on Iraq having flip flopped on several occasions.
  • Clinton is pro abortion.
  • A Thompson like candidate would be seen as pro life. This would galvanise conservatives
  • Ralph Nader may run, siphoning off mainly Democrat votes.
  • Michael Bloomberg mayor of New York has resigned from the Republican Party and may run as an Independent. He is pro abortion and would seriously damage Clinton. He would take some Liberal Republican votes also.
  • Democrats in the House have shot themselves in the foot having voted down the John Doe amendment. This would protect the public from being sued for reporting suspicious behaviour that may lead to a terrorist attack. The Republicans can now paint the Democrats as soft on terrorism.
It is possible that a younger conservative candidate than Thompson could yet emerge for the GOP. It is early days yet.

John Barrys Blog

Welcome to John Barry's Blog

This blog will deal primarily with Irish political issues. I have long believed that the greater the diversity of comment the stronger our democracy. On occasions analysis may be quite trenchant. I also intend to range over cultural aspects of Irish society. Sports such as Hurling and Rugby Union -primarily but not exclusively-will feature from time to time. International politics will also figure.
The photograph is that of Main Street, Lismore, Co. Waterford. (Richard Webb-(copyright)