Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

More sponsorship requests: “Blogging the Election” Conference

Sunday, September 10th, 2006

Unlike the my previous chauffeur request, this is genuine. We’ll be announcing a venue and the first speaker for the upcoming “Blogging the Election” conference. It’s a good location and a very good speaker but in order to get the speaker and the venue we need a good bit of money. Catering is another expense are other odds and ends. For this reason Cian outlines what sponsorship “Blogging the Election” needs. Our current estimate is €4500 and so we have 9 €500 slots to be sponsored but a sponsor can sponsor more if they like.

You can contact me directly about sponsorship or email

“ is available for registration”

Friday, September 8th, 2006

*whistles innocently*
Nothing to see here

Conference on Irish Politics and blogging – Oct 7th in Dublin

Friday, September 8th, 2006

Cian, Suzy, Mick and myself have been busy the past while getting a conference together called “Blogging the Election”. Details available over on about this. This is an gig with support from the rest of us. We’d love to see as many people there as can go and that we can accomodate. Please try and encourage any politicians and journalists you know to come along too.

We’ll be using the tag “irishelection2007” to tag all posts that cover this event.

A registration form will go up soon so you can register for the event. Details of guest speakers will appear in due course too.

Update: Coverage on Slugger.

Press release below:

Inaugural conference on blogging and politics to be held in Dublin on October 7th.

The heavyweights of the growing Irish blogging community will mix with politicians, journalists and interested members of the public at an event called “Blogging the Election” In Dublin in October. The event is being billed as an informal meeting and discussion on how new Internet tools like blogging can help and influence the very traditional political process in Ireland.

Politics website will be running the event with the support of political commentator Mick Fealty from website, campaigner Suzy Byrne from and Internet lobbyist Damien Mulley.

Cian O’Flaherty from stated “Irish Politics has yet to embrace and tap into the ability of the Internet to energise interest in politics and political campaigning. The “Blogging the Election” event will explore how bloggers can benefit elections and help shape the future of politics.”

Mick Fealty from Slugger O’Toole added “Next year’s general election holds possibilities for a blogging breakthrough in Irish politics and we will be exploring this issue in depth via experienced guest speakers and by facilitating a series of open spaces in which participants can host their own conversations, probing issues that they are passionate about.”

More information is available from

About blogging and politics:

Blogging has revolutionised online communication in way that few previously imagined. It has allowed intelligent audiences to make faster and smarter responses that often disrupt traditional top down news flows. It puts considerable power in the hands of ordinary citizens to disrupt cosy consensuses of established political and media elites.

In the US, bloggers have shaped some of the biggest news stories and continue to provide a decisive influence, even inside political parties. In Britain, a new breed of aggressive anti-government bloggers has been generating stories that have brought them into the centre of the mainstream establishment, the Deputy Prime Minister the most senior politician to feel the heat.

Questions for the politicians that stop at your door.

Tuesday, September 5th, 2006

I emailed a few irish bloggers asking them to list 1-5 questions they’d ask politicians who knock on their door asking for votes. Not everyone emailed back before this was published so I may add more questions throughout the week.

Treasa Lynch asks:

  1. Are you going to put more funding into primary education, particularly in the area of foreign language teaching and especially in deprived areas?
  2. Do you have a plan to compensate people who are hard hit by a property crash because they overextended themselves by trying to be property investors?
  3. How do you intend to address the fact that women are very poorly covered for pensions, a situation which is exacerbated by the fact that they earn on average less than men in the same jobs, are more likely to be in poorly paid part-time jobs and take long career breaks to care for children or elderly parents? Telling them to save more is a very limited option in many cases because of the less money/less work side of things.
  4. What are your plans for urban development, particularly in the key areas of public transport and funding for same?
  5. How do you intend to address the next recession, given that economic growth tends to be cyclical?

Pat Phelan asks:

  1. Why is the whole economy based on construction?
  2. Why is their no real opposition in Irish politics? (ask the man in the street to name 3 of any parties front bench)
  3. Why don’t we have investment in people strategy?
  4. What’s their parties’ position on Bulgarians and Romanians entering Ireland next year?
  5. What’s their position on social housing?

Richard Waghorne asks:

  1. Will you support further tax cuts?
  2. Will you keep Ireland open to the US military?
  3. Will you insist any new money for the health service be given only in parallel to the introduction of private service provision?
  4. Do you agree that social partnership needs to be scrapped?
  5. Can you promise, with no ifs or buts, that there are no circumstances in which you would enter government with Sinn Fein or govern relying on their votes?

Conor O’Neill asks:

  1. What are you practically doing to encourage decentralisation?
  2. What are your specific plans to reduce our dependence on oil (no vague claptrap)?
  3. When are you going to ban untrained drivers off the roads and put a formal state-directed driver training programme in place that involves qualified instructors, minimum hours, night driving, motorway driving and graphic videos of real drunk driving carnage? Untrained drivers includes everyone in the country who never had to sit a driving test.
  4. What are your specific plans to reduce farmers’ reliance on subsidised commodity goods and move them to higher margin, commercially viable, value-added food production?
  5. How do you intend to address the catastrophic collapse in the numbers of people doing science and engineering at 2nd and 3rd level and the embarassing number of people failing ordinary level maths?

Simon McGarr asks:

  1. Are you in favour of ID cards for all citizens?
  2. Are you in favour of mass surrvelliance of citizens, a la data retention?
  3. Did you spend the last 30 years justifying murder on the basis that your politics was more important than the dead people’s lives?
  4. If you were getting my No. 1 preference, who do you think I should give my No. 2 to and why?
  5. Can you give me an example of an immoral state behaviour, and what you’d do to change it?

Conor Power asks:

  1. Are you going to lower the legal voting age so I can actually vote?
  2. What are you going to do to improve Ireland’s stance on broadband, since we are a knowledge based economy after all…
  3. The current government seems to have an issue with throwing money at projects which don’t work (PPRAS I think is the name) and a Port Tunnel that leaks, will your party be doing the same?

Claire Wilson asks:

  1. What does your party intend to do to about the difficulties for the average person to get on the property ladder?
  2. What plans does your party have to eliminate over-crowding in hospitals? Do they include any initiatives to modernise the way pre-natal care is administered?
  3. How is your party different from all the other parties?
  4. What steps would you take to stamp out all corruption from your government agencies (planning in particular) and to introduce a more transparent environment?
  5. Tell me why I shouldn’t emigrate?

Twenty Major asks:

  1. We all know politicians are shifty, crooked bastards. Voting for one over the other is like being asked to choose between eating dog poo and hippo poo. What makes you less of a shifty, crooked bastard than your rivals?
  2. Do you accept that the toll bridge on the M50 is not only causes massive problems to traffic but that it is also the single biggest rip-off in this country today? Please explain why a private company is creaming up to €30m a week when the road has been paid for many times over. Also, if elected would you campaign to abolish the toll bridge thus freeing up traffic and giving people back hours of their lives every week?
  3. Do you think immigrants from non-English speaking countries should be required to take a mandatory course in the basics of the language?
  4. In Europe you can get beer anywhere. In Ireland we have to go to pubs. Would you stand up to the powerful but massively cunty vintners and introduce the café bar licences that would enable our society and culture to develop? Also, please get rid of the ridiculous closing times for bars and nightclubs, would you?
  5. Can you please ban Brian Kennedy, Damien Rice and Ryan Tubridy?

Fiona de Londras asks:

  1. Are there any parties that you would not go into coalition with and why?
  2. Does your party support same-sex marriage or partnership rights? If so, how high up the negotiation agenda for coalition is it? If not, get away from my house you bigot.
  3. If elected Minister for Justice what constitutional amendments would you like to see introduced?
  4. What do you believe the role of a parliamentarian is?

Suzy Byrne asks:

  1. Their views on same sex partnership recognition.
  2. Should there be a seperation of Church and State in the provision of first and second level education? How would this be achieved?
  3. Gender equity in sports grants allocations – Why isn’t there an Irish version of Title 9?
  4. The Metro in Dublin – doesn’t Dublin and its environs need more buses/trains rather than a lot of holes being built underground in the city centre that will take 15 years to complete.
  5. Reform of the Seanad – talked about so much but nothing done. What are their views on the upper house and its potential in public policy debate?

Curly K asks:

  1. Why are toll roads becoming more and more common – they are in effect another form of tax on road users?
  2. Why has no concerted effort been made to plan new developments properly, insisting on proper social and physical infrastructure (schools, roads etc.) before allowing huge housing estates?
  3. What considerations are now being put in place to avoid problems (such as those experienced in Britain currently) with regard to proper intergration of migrants into Irish society in the future?

Cian Boland asks:

  1. Would their party ever go into a coalition with Sinn Fein?
  2. What are they intending to do about alternative energy sources such as wind power if they’re elected?

Steven Day asks:

  1. Will you support the mention of God, in the Christian sense only, in the draft European Constitution?

Sarah Carey asks:

  1. I think the state should buy the primary schools from the churches and religious education should take place outside schools. Would they support that?

James Corbett asks:

  1. What are you doing to make broadband universally accessible in this area?
  2. What are you doing to protect my digital rights?
  3. What are you doing to promote the production of green energy in the locality (wind, biofuels, wood chip, etc)?
  4. What are you doing regarding the waste situation? Why not attract an incinerator to the locailty and show we’re not nimbies here?

An anon person asks:

  1. Will you go into government with Sinn Fein?
  2. Are you going to reintroduce college fees?
  3. Are you going to properly empower local government? Do you believe it should be empowered?
  4. Why isn’t Ireland’s military properly funded and unable to effectively protect the state with specific regard to airspace?

Auds asks:

  1. Would you go into government with Sinn Fein?
  2. Do you think that the Crisis Pregnancy Agency, set up to reduce abortions, should be funding agencies that do abortion referrals and what other alternatives to abortion are needed?
  3. Whatcha gonna do about the brain drain of Irish doctors abroad for training – a trend set to continue if the EWTD is brought in without increasing training/number consultants?
  4. Do you believe that Irish neutrality is a good thing?
  5. Will you provide more places for the training of Irish doctors so there are more doctors, better service and less hours for junior doctors?

Brian Greene asks:

  1. RTE via Free to Air Satellite (to see their eyes glaze over)
  2. Will you reconstitute your party such that it has a ‘right of recall’ where the electorate can remove a sitting politician for breech of promise or drunk driving etc. (to see the uncomfortable twitch like they really need to take an immediate toilet break and leave my door step)
  3. Will you or your party actively campaign for the closure of Sellafield and not support the nuclear industry by stealth. (to find the PD among them)
  4. How did you and your party vote on the double tax bin charges (to see how good they are at lip sycn lies)
  5. Why is it that a school of over 400 under 12’s only has free psychological assessment for 2 students per year? (becasue its a
    genuine question)

Stephen Boyce asks:

  1. Will you do anything to clean up the Civil Service?
  2. Why can so many incompetent people keep their jobs and instead of being fired for being rubbish they are just moved to the Tax Department?
  3. How is that a department such as the Tax Office can have a 10 week delay in processing peoples claims back but most people only have 2 weeks to pay up to the for anything that they owe?

Keith has a bazillion great questions.

Treasa followed up with more questions too.

Declan also has some questions.

Laura too has questions.

Minutes from joint Oireachtas Committee on broadband

Saturday, September 2nd, 2006

Below are the minutes for the joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications meeting on their broadband report. They dragged in E-net, Smart Telecom, BT, eircom, ComReg and Noel Dempsey and subjected some of them to a very tough line of questioning. Word doc version of this.

The most interesting section for me is when Isolde Goggin, John Doherty and Mike Byrne are questioned. We have our regulator telling an Oireachtas Committee that our line failure rate is in line with the rest of Europe and that us and Northern Ireland are pretty much the same for line failure. That’s an outright lie. Why is our regulator lieing to the Oireachtas?

They go on to protect eircom by saying they are fulfilling their licence obligations for the only national wireless broadband licence despite the fact 200 people or less use the service and the service is not advertised. If you ring eircom they won’t sell you the service either. They say it isn’t available to you in your area. ComReg won’t publish a map of where this service is available despite it being a requirement of the licence agreement. Compare that to Chorus who had their licences for wireless broadband removed and more recently ComReg taking the 3G licence back off Smart Telecom.


Monday, August 28th, 2006

A while back I created feeds for every TD in the country. Well, now myself and the amazing Rob Synnott have created a handy aggregator for all these details. It’s called Politics In Ireland. It updates twice a day. Maybe it’ll update more frequently the closer it gets to the election. I hope this compliments the already great politics sites that are out there.

The front page lists results for all TDs. But to give users even more choice you can also view results for just the TD themselves, or everyone in their party or everyone in the constituency they’re in.

You don’t even have to visit the website if you don’t want to as every section has an RSS feed that you can subscribe to.

And there’s more. You can also display the results on your blog or website using a simple bit of javascript like below:

<script src="">

More examples here. Working sidebar feed on Rob’s blog.

Simply replace the id number (172 in this case) with the id number of the page you want to display. For all results just leave the id blank.

Please do remember that the site is in Beta so think of it as this: Politics In Ireland

More features will be added in the future as we have time and resources. We hope you find it useful. Feedback will be greatly appreciated. I’d like to thank John Breslin for creating the site logo and massive thanks to Rob for putting in a huge amount of work and for being very patient with my whims and requests. You rock Rob!

French Political Party offers free blogs to all members and free blog training

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

This is what I’m talking about. Via Loic is news that Nicolas Sarkozy’s right wing party UMP is giving away Tyepad blogs to all members for a year and they will also provide training on how to blog. They also have an initiative for podcasting. Very clever.

The only Irish political party that seems to have a HQ approved blogging programme is Labour. (Who must really love my tough love attitude towards them. No coloured garments will be mentioned in this post.) Still, it seems to be in beta at the moment and it’s mostly councillors that are blogging but thank goodness they are genuine in their messages. There are a few other politicians from other parties who blog but I don’t think it is due to encouragement from the core. I have to say well done to them for their fresh thinking and reaching out to web users. Wouldn’t it be nice if a political party encouraged their members to blog by providing blog space?

It would be great of some blogging company had an Irish representative who’d set up the blogs for all these members. Or set up special blogs for this party so that the template would have links back to the party blogs on the sidebar. Anyone know of such a person? 🙂 Once the blogs are set up then it’s a matter of training. There are a few people training people to blog around the country. Why not have classes in various catchment areas. Hell, I’m happy to provide training to people in the Cork area if the party provides a space to do it.

What’s the selling point? Well, with all your members blogging it means the web is going to be awash with political opinion guided by your ideals. Because they’re blogs and they all have their own unique audiences it will have wider reach into a non-poltics obsessed audience. The key I guess is not to force all members to just discuss party issues. Blogs will encourage all members to share their opinion and put their thoughts down into written form, allowing them, in a sense, to polish up their own beliefs. It can also be a great way of fact-checking the opposition and guiding new party policies.

How far away are we in Ireland to see this happening or will it ever happen? Maybe it’ll be superceded by something else?

Expenses for TDs and Irish Senators

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006

The expenses for TDs and expenses for Irish Senators were taken from a 230 page document I got from the Oireachtas. God bless the FOI process. I think the Examiner or Indo were the ones to first request this and so all I did was rerequest it and the really helpful people in the Oireachtas Press Office went and got it for me. Thanks to those in there! You can download the document and the other accompanying documents here. I’m certain that a lot of the information in those documents can be analysed and patterns taken out of them. Anyone want to do a google map plotting the amount of time present in the Dáil compared to mileage expenses claimed?

Irish Bloggers will not influence the election

Wednesday, July 12th, 2006

This is a continuation of a rant from the previous post. I don’t have a lot of love for any party or politician in this country. None of them really care and all of them are now part of a broken system they all first want to fix and suddenly become part of, making it even worse. It amazes me that people who have all these ideals still consider voting for any party and that some voters have this really stupid fucking attitude of “well they’re not as bad as the other party.” “Not as bad” isn’t what or who should be running our country.

Simon has a post on the next election here. Auds has a reply too. Simon says it’s time for change and to vote the current Government out. I think the time has run out on ALL parties. They all need to be voted out of office. Reboot the political system in Ireland. The others will get in and fuck things up just as much. Still I also abhor the fact that voters will keep the Bertie show in office because Enda and Pat are clowns and will make it worse.

Look at all the comments in the blog posts above and how already the lines are drawn and the bitching has started between bloggers. Change will never happen with politicians the way they are and bloggers who debate politics with childish and immature attitudes and who get personal and very pathetic after two comments. Lot of political bloggers have political aspirations whether they admit it or not and want to make changes. They can make things change because they have the key element of passion but until they stop attacking each other, the current political system will remain no matter which party is in charge. Nobody takes nitpickers seriously and yet so many bloggers seriously nitpick.

If bloggers think they have the ability to make changes then they need to mature a hell of a lot and stop acting like jerks to each other and to the greater world. I wouldn’t vote for any politicians and I certainly wouldn’t vote for any of bloggers either to run a country or advise on it. Write as many articles as you want, create as many websites as you want but until as a collective bloggers mature, they have no chance of influencing the political establishment to change.

We may point to Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes and I like how Guido irks so many because of his readership as Jeff Jarvis points out but taking down someone that needs to be taken down is not enough. All that does is make the rest cover their tracks more. There’s less than a handful of bloggers who have actually contributed to real life campaigns and initiatives to make changes. I respect them and will allow them to influence me. The rest I see as spoiled kids stamping their feet when not getting their way. Until that changes then blogging for change will be futile.

Hmm, have I insulted enough people with this post?

Edit: More commentary from: The InFactahnistas, John Timmons, Richard Waghorne , Adam Maguire, Adam Maguire again, Tom Raftery, Suzy Byrne, the lovely Auds ,Simon the Dosser, a great post from Treasa and one from Fergal Crehan.

Labour consider inviting bloggers to the Ard Fheis. Oh how terribly nice of them!

Tuesday, July 11th, 2006

One of the things that annoys me about is the fact those that post on it also post their thoughts on their own blogs so you see the same post replicated throughout the Blog O’Sphere. I find it probably cheapens the site as the content isn’t unique. Anyway, now I’m doing the same as I’m replicating comments I wrote on it. Adam Maguire reported that Labour is considering inviting bloggers to their Ard Fheis. Here were my thoughts and I’ll add more to the end of it:

Wow, they’re going to give bloggers doggie treats in the form of invites. Are we worthy? I’d much rather Labour and every other party listen to people whether they be pensioners, craftsmen, yachting folk, bloggers or teens.

however we can normally only invite people from the mainstream press as we know who they are

To me that reads “We’d rather invite people who will toe the line or whose reactions we can predict when we feed them the usual PR shite.” It also seems to me that they don’t understand what bloggers are. Bloggers are not journalists. We are not paid to write stuff on something we don’t give a damn about.

I’m sure they’d rather not invite someone that listens to one of them up at the podium and instantly blogs “Man that guy is just bullshitting”. Labour and all the rest don’t give a flying fig about people though. What they and the rest care* about are voters. Voters are not the same as people in their eyes. How about Labour actually listens to people and not pander to voters? The fact Labour have to make a conscious decision and change some bloody policy to “invite” bloggers means they are well and truly STILL NOT GETTING IT.

Here’s a free consultation: Enable the Ard Fheis with free net access and free power strips for those with laptops. Don’t invite bloggers, enable people to comment via their own laptops at the event, via forums and via genuine blogs from Labour. If bloggers are there then good, if not that’s fine too. But that’s just a start. Engage with people using all forms of media, not just blogs. Blogs you don’t control and forums you don’t control. Listen to what people care about and have issues about. Forums, blogs, emails and so forth. And for the love of christ stop with the Joan Burton press releases dressed up as blog posts and spamming

Do what Dave Winer suggested too. Pick a bunch of people and get them to blog about issues they think are important. People, not voters. And certainly not the party hacks/labour apologists who are so blind that they can’t see their party has things that need to be fixed like every other human created organisation.

*where care is the action of appeasing** those that will grant them power.
** where appeasing means using any and all honest and disonest means to placate someone

Just so we’re clear I don’t hate the Labour party, I just hold them at the same level as the rest of the parties in this country. Low.