Twitter = The Modern Machine Gun

The speed at which moral outrage can circle the world can be measured in mouse clicks. Six degrees of separation is all that divides us from Cecil the Lion; that and a few million tweets. For a story that barely grazed the pages of the Zimbabwean newspapers, it had generated an angry online mob complete with death threats within hours. It had swiftly mutated out of social media and mobilised into an on-the-ground band of protestors complete with placards and news cameras. It had even become the source of Jimmy Kimmel’s normally comic opening to his show.

The dentist is in hiding with US police checking out the death threats. There are calls for him to be extradited to Zimbabwe to face criminal charges. He won’t be looking at too many dental cavities for the next little while. His five seconds of fame with Cecil might have put him out of a job permanently.

This is not the first time Man versus the Twitter machine loses. In fact, the solitary human being is no match for the thousands, nay millions, of bullets from self-righteous online activists.   I am reminded of world war one when the machine gun emerged as the deadly killing machine. Even the terrifying cavalry was rendered vulnerable as a single machine gun could take the place of 80 rifles.  Like Twitter the early machine guns often overheated, requiring water or air cooling to stop them from jamming. It was not unheard of for machine gun operators to resort to urinating on an overheating gun in the midst of battle to keep the gun running smoothly. Yet another similarity with mass social media mobs.

It is also interesting to note that the most modern machine gun available at the start of world war one was the Maxim. The inventor, Hiram Maxim, offered his design to the British Army but the British High Command rejected it; officers even felt it to be an inappropriate form of warfare. Sadly for the British Army, the German government had no such qualms and inflicted severe carnage on the British troops as a result.

Twitter can certainly be called an inappropriate form of social discourse.  Like the early machine guns that grouped together for maximum results in impregnable points on high ground, the Twitter crowd gathers together on its high moral ground before launching its deadly attack.

At the end of the day, Twitter relies on its moral superiority for it power. It dispenses with legal rights, principals of fair trial and even the basic rights of an individual caught in the cross hairs. It is akin to a bearded Old Testament warrior claiming an eye for an eye. There is no due process, only moral outrage, and carnage, plenty of carnage.

It can be argued that Twitter is a power for democratising society; it can take down monoliths, behemoths and corporates. Yet, increasingly it seems to reserve its ultimate anger for individuals who break the code. Individuals who are hunted for days without letup, punctured and wounded and if the more extreme edge of the crowd had their way, killed in an even more barbaric manner than Cecil died.

I am against Cecil’s death but I would not see Twitter do the same to the dentist. One is a lion and one is a human being and two wrongs do not make a right.

For where does the outrage stop? First for a lion, then for a giraffe, then for a fox, then for a salmon, then for a fly?  And why not for a human being – can we not reserve some emotion for the thousands of human beings dying in terrible conditions as the world witnesses more displaced people on the move than at any other time in our history.

Twitter as a machine gun is deadly. Twitter as an advocate of change can be even more powerful. It is all about the target.

machine2

 

Trial by Social Media

This article was written on July 9th. It was a tough article to write.

 

Trial by Social Media

A recent high profile video of a young woman with a black eye and her child in the background has gone viral. The young woman, tender and vulnerable, talks movingly about her decision to go public on her beating. She introduces her small child who is playing on the stairs and informs us that she also has a seven month old child by the same man.

Her video has gone viral and she has received widespread praise from women’s groups, individuals and the majority of media outlets. Her injury was allegedly received at the hands of her partner, a man who she tells us that she loved with all her heart. It is a very emotional and moving video.

However, and here I almost hesitate to write, I feel uncomfortable while watching this video. The first reason is that she talks about their life together and the affairs he is said to have had and even the fact that he has fathered other children. These affairs and additional children while horrible to the woman, are not hanging offences. It is not against the law to be unfaithful or indeed to father another child. I feel as though I am in a peep show, watching the intimate affairs of a couple, and it makes me shift uneasily in my seat.

It is enough to know that she has been beaten and was beaten in the past. This is unforgivable and is an offence. The why he allegedly beat her is not important, her coming forward is.

Abuse can only survive where shame and silence prevail. This woman, Emma Murphy, is reaching out to help other women who feel trapped in a violent relationship. She is right on many counts, not least of which is the emotional and mental abuse visited upon her. We know from many reports that domestic abuse victims do not leave for many reasons –fear, worry and often total lack of confidence. Often the direct result of the mental abuse is this inability to leave. The victim over time believes they are in part the cause of the violence, that somehow they are to blame for it.

In direct contrast, victims of domestic violence are often the most resourceful, strong women (and men) you can ever meet. To remain in a place of sometimes daily violence is stressful to a degree equal to that of soldiers on active service. Do not underestimate the power and strength of survivors of domestic violence.

People often ask why don’t the women leave. Why do they put up with it? Ironically this can also come down to strength. Women (and men – I am not neglecting men) do not enter into a violent relationship willingly. Often the violence begins subtly and with large gaps, only over time to become more frequent and more violent. Before the woman knows it, she is in the middle of a crisis and she cannot see a way out.

It is ironic that often the women in this situation do not leave from love. How mad is that? They think that since they once loved their partner that if they stay they can ‘fix’ them. Then a mixture of terror and fear and perhaps babies arrive and their escape routes are destroyed one by one.

In the same way, domestic abuse is accompanied by mental abuse. How else can one human being routinely be violent against another without fear of police intervention? Domestic abuse is rarely about violence or loss of control, it is all about maintaining control over the other person. The same man (or woman) who routinely hits his wife is unlikely to be out fighting with his mates in the pub on a Saturday night. He is not interesting in controlling them – just his wife.

So, I am a big supporter of women who come forward and talk about their experiences, who are strong enough to leave. Who are strong enough to know they cannot fix their partner and that only by leaving can they find a new and safe life for themselves.

The scariest fact is that leaving is often the most dangerous time for women. A study of domestic homicides shows that 75 percent of women were killed as they tried to leave or after they had left.

But I am still uncomfortable about Emma’s video.  I do not doubt that she is telling the truth but I had rather she did it in a format where her ex partner had been tried in a court of law and not a court of social media.

The fact that he raised his hand to her is enough – I believe her. The fact that she is strong to leave – I congratulate her.  The fact that her children will grow up with a violent father – I support her. But I wish she had not tried him on social media where he could not reply.

 

Travel writer, South Africa: Swimming with hippos and other adventures from the veld

In a series of reader submissions to the Irish Times Amateur Travel Writer competition, we meet Jillian Godsil, who finds herself in the midst of adventure on an equestrian safari

south africa

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes, oftentimes, the things you really should do never feature on the average bucket list. For example, it would take a random ideas generator to put hippos and swimming together. The category of ‘swimming with’ usually includes non-violent animals such as dolphins or whales, and maybe sharks but that typically includes a cage or two.

I was on an equestrian safari in South Africa in the Waterberg region when I met my hippos. We had done all sorts of activities on horseback; witnessed giraffes up close, viewed any number of gazelle take fancy and flight, watched pronking sprinkbok with our mouths open (and our mounts firmly on all four legs) and had even ridden in a cloud of wildebeest as they whirled in formation across a dusty plain. We once rode softly past a white rhino and her calf, the quieter of the African rhinos, and she barely looked at the horses and riders as we tiptoed past, trying to balance cameras and click pictures without attracting her attention.

On our last day, we went deep in the countryside on horses that were as dependable as the Bank of England, back in the day when banks could be depended upon. We stopped at a waterhole. My ride decided he needed a little swim himself and began pawing the ground. I jumped off just in time before he rolled in the water. One of my companions said that many horseriders died when they failed to dismount and were drowned under the horse. I’m not sure it was true especially when she continued to tell me about a couple crushed when a male elephant decided to mate with their tiny rental car. Safari myths when told at home are easily scotched; when told in the veld it quite another matter. I gulped my fear, remounted and we carried on.

When we reached the end of the game fence our guide turned back and informed us the unseasonal rains had resulted in higher than normal water levels. We needed to part-walk, part-swim to gain high ground and continue our trek. I looked around at the other members of the group expecting resistance but everyone was simply tying perishable items around their necks. I followed suit, fastening my camera under my chin strap. I must have gone white in fear for an octogenarian lady in our group patted my arm. ‘You’ll be fine.’ She said. ‘Follow me.’

One by one the front runners plunged into the waters and struck out for the far bank. The water was first still and green, then rushed and rippled as rider after rider pushed forward. In all too short a time my friend set off, but not before giving me a kindly glance. I didn’t wait around and kicked on my horse. Together we entered the water and for a period I could not tell if he was swimming or walking through the depths. I leaned forward, trying to take my weight out of the saddle as we moved slowly through the water. It seemed like an eternity but soon I could sense his hooves getting traction on the ground and we were clambering up the muddy bank the far side. I did not have time to reflect on our achievement as the front riders were now cantering along in hock-high water. My mount bucked and took off too. I clung for dear life to the saddle as water and green watery ferns slapped my face while all the time the basking hippos barked gently, only a few feet to our left. I had been swimming with hippos.

Tick Tock

Tick tock

Listen here 

Tick tock

The clock
Stopped

 

The hopes and fears
Of all the years
Were met in Greece tonight

 

Arears Arears
The bankers cheers
And blood crept down the wall

 

A people poised
The choices posed
Not even Solomon could call

 

Under the orb of a constant eye
That counts in coins alone
The ancient cradle of polls and votes
Was backed into corners by suited louts

 

Spotlight of world rights
Erased its autonomy
Off with its head –
Give it a frontal lobotomy
The queen of hearts could not have been as cruel
Please may I have some more – Achtung give it gruel

 

And blood seeped through the ancient stones
As booted bankers stepped over bones
Cracking and crunching the feeble sticks.
And cheering acolytes called them by name
Praised their virtue, passed on the blame
To a faceless race where bewilderment ticks

 

What match is flesh for filthy lucre
What match is right for coins and notes
What match is humanity for the pounds, shillings and pence
Of a world that is not right in the head
Of a world that denies the existence of the heart
Of a world that throws other peoples’ children to the wolves
-Always other peoples until your time is come-
All In the name of filthy lucre.

 

And we cheering the passing of right
Turn a cheek
A blind eye
Cos we’re next to take it up the bum.
Just wait, our time will come.
And who will call our name?

 

@Jillian Godsil

01 July 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Live from the pitch on England/Ireland Soccer Friendly June 6th, 2015

 

LISTEN TO BOTH ANTHEMS HERE

Wayne Rooney is tiny. Really tiny. I stood less than ten feet away from him on Sunday, on the pitch in the Aviva, and I reckoned I was taller than him. When I got home I checked and so I am. But then I reckoned I was taller than most of the Irish and English football players as the two teams lined up before the momentous replay of the friendly match twenty years ago. The original match that was stopped short with rioting.

I was part of the Island of Ireland Peace Choir and we had been rehearsing for the past two months. We had a four part harmony for the British National Anthem and a three part for the Irish. There was no favouritism. We had to play it down the middle, play fair and make sure each team got a rousing welcome.

Jack Chjack charltonarlton, on the other hand, is very tall. He was also very emotional. A little skinny, he has not been well recently apparently. His grin was ear to ear. The crowd, all of the crowd, gave him a standing ovation. He was moved to tears. We clapped hard. The crowd cheered. It was an electric beginning.

 

The grass was wet with sprinklers. We had to duck these earlier. The paint was wet on the grass too. We had to avoid the lines. Do not step on the lines. We had to line up behind the team, smaller than expected up close, and never lose our concentration.

We had practised our unflappable faces. We were to be unstoppable. Regardless of the reaction from the crowd we were to remain fixated on our musical director.

The President, who is, to be fair, football sized, met the teams.  We got into position.

Then, we heard our introduction. We closed our ears to everyone else, looked nowhere else. Took the huge intake of air with which to sing. And sang.

It was the fastest two minutes of my life.  I don’t recall anything going so fast – it was like the final rattle of an examination with the clock racing around to the end point. We were so focused we did not have time to think.

The sound engineers set our volume to high, to stun. And we sung to stun. The BBC said that both anthems were immaculately observed before kickoff. I think there may have been some additional hubris but it counted for very little. The Irish Times said we were set to Spinal Tap 11 stun.

And then it was over. With the blood still ringing in our ears we stopped. Jack Charlton was not the only emotional person on the pitch. We paused. We didn’t want to leave the pitch and then piecemeal we turned and left the ground. We were like survivors, shell shocked and dazed. As we entered the tunnel to leave, the crowds clapped us again, some standing to show their appreciation.

And with our hearts beating, our eyes bright and our cheeks reddened we left the arena. It was without any doubt the most exciting part of the entire day.

Jillian Godsil

Island of Ireland Peace Choir

 

 

 

Want to feel invisible? Try hunting for a job at 50

invisible

 

 

 

 

 

First printed in the Irish Independent, May 5, 2015

and featured on The John Murray Show on May 8, 2015 – invisible at 50 podcast.

Oops, it happened again. There I was, casually sauntering along through life, sending off job applications and foolishly expecting a reply but nothing happens. Not so much as a ‘Thank you’.

How had it come to this? When had I morphed from experienced professional to an unwanted ‘has-been’? Had it happened overnight? Well, it certainly feels as though I have become an overnight failure. Yesterday, my years on this earth promised experienced, talented, sought-after skills. Today, it appears those same years have somehow put me into a new, unemployable category.

I can’t even boast grey hair talent as I am not that old. Instead, I exist in a dark limbo-land of invisibility.

Welcome to the new 50. We are suckered into believing that 50 is the new 40; that because we still fit into our skinny jeans, still hang out in trendy cafés, still listen to cool music, that we are part of thriving culture, but when it comes to applying for jobs, that date of birth is the kiss of death.

I have to agree in part; when I look at the year I was born – 1965 – it does seem very last century. It is very last century, and it smacks of maidens at the crossroads, reeling in the years and cups of tea in the kitchen.

But we were sold a promise that age could be pushed out down the track and youth held firmly in hand.

So having done all that, it is a shock to discover that while we may think we are young and desirable, the job market has quite different ideas.

I first got an inkling of this new reality a couple of years ago, while still skirting on the right side of 50. I saw a number of interesting positions advertised on the Twitter #jobfairy feeds and, updating my CV, I sent off an application or two. Then I sat back and waited. And I waited.

Now, in fairness I did have some other pressing items requiring my attention; home repossession, divorce, business failure, changing the law and running for the European parliament, but none of those activities were ever going to bring in moolah.

I played my cards and waited to see what I could salvage from the fires of my career.

I should also add that I have a very fine corporate CV. I have worked for the most prestigious banks, PR companies, software houses and multinationals. I have held very senior positions and have excellent referees. Only no one has ever called.

Being busy at the aforementioned activities, this lack of attention went largely unmissed. I was busy fighting fires left, right and centre and did not notice immediately the silence. It was only after the elections last year, when I put my best foot forward and started in earnest to become gainfully employed that the empty space in my postbox became glaringly apparent.

For one role, I double-checked the requirements for the job against my skill sets. I ticked every box with honours. I sought advice from a friend who reviewed both and agreed that I was perfect for the job – on paper anyway.

So, thus emboldened, I wrote to the chairman of the organisation asking, in polite terms, why I was not even called for interview. We ended up in a needle exchange of emails, becoming increasingly more tense as they went, before he finally said he was not obliged to tell me anyway and terminated the communication.

So I was no better off than before, I was unable to say why I had not even warranted an interview and I had also effectively closed any chance of a job in that organisation ever again.

It happened again last week. Great job, interesting, fitting in with my newly minted Masters in Screenwriting, but nothing, not even an interview.

What does it take to get an interview in this town? I am upbeat, I am highly qualified and I have international experience.

Oh, but I forgot to say that I was born 50 years ago, I have been mostly self-employed and ran my own businesses and, yes, I’m a woman.

Pass the invisibility cloak, why don’t you.

Irish Independent

 

Please Sir, can I have some less?

cat lady

On February 17, 2014 I became the first female bankrupt under the new Insolvency laws in Ireland. I didn’t arrive at this point lightly. It had been a very torturous six years leading up to my finally appearing in the High Court and standing up briefly while I was adjudicated bankrupt by the judge. Along the way I had lost my husband to divorce, my home to repossession and my business to bailiffs. I had accumulated debt in the same way an elderly lady accumulates cats. At first there was only one or two to feed, and then before I knew it, I had a house full of the meowing buggers. No one was more puzzled than I about the straitened circumstances in which I found myself. And no one is more puzzled than I about my inability to extract myself from the same mess. I have been playing a waiting game, with a timetable set by the government and at a cost that goes beyond my €200 per week job seekers allowance.

 

I should like to first say now that which I wanted to say to the Judge. I didn’t ask to be bankrupt. I hadn’t been reckless. I hadn’t even borrowed more than 40percent of the value of my assets. Truth be told, I hadn’t even been the primary borrower leaving that to my would-be developer husband, before he vacated the country, his family and the debt through the one year system in the UK. And that is where the rub lies. Not with my ex, for I cannot blame anyone for that choice but me, but with the system.

Bankruptcy is not for the ridding of debt. Bankruptcy is for the means of recovery.

Let that thought sink in. Anyone who looks bankruptcy in the eye will understand me perfectly – and indeed some 448 other poor unfortunates travelled this path last year, the first year of the new, so-called progressive Irish Insolvency Laws. By the time the Russian roulette option of bankruptcy is on the table, the debt is almost immaterial. The cupboard is bare, the possessions pawned, sold or lost and the stones beaten for non-existent blood. It is the personal financial cliff from which we are about to the thrown. The debt left behind is the least of our worries; it is the crashing waves below that occupy 100 percent of our attention; we want to survive the fall and swim again, perhaps even, DV, to safety.

When I became bankrupt last year I had a meeting with The Insolvency Service. I was in the almost pre-euphoric state before the jump (or push). It was only afterwards that the cold reality of my situation sunk in. Whatever debts I had accumulated prior to that date, February 17, were erased. Whatever debts I might accumulate in the coming years were all my own. These two pillars of reason seemed balanced and fair. Then crash, I hit the cold water, whatever assets I might accumulate would be taken off me and given to my creditors. And not only would they be taken over the three years of my sentence, if I was successful in gaining employment again, the Insolvency Service could and indeed would (they stressed this point) get a judgement against future earnings for the next five years. So, I was looking into eight years bobbing around in the cold water, if bobbing was the action that might describe my sorry state.

I have spoken with PIPs up and down the country since this time. They all, to a professional, advise their clients not to get any work during this enforced sentence. So, in one fell swoop not only are people denied the real object of bankruptcy – that of recovery – the country is also penalised as many entrepreneurs idle away some of the prime earning years of their life. There is another consideration. When I became bankrupt, I was too broke to avail of the Insolvency Service, I was below the agreed government subsistence allowance. So, any degree of tiny, meagre measure of success on my part would be taken from me.

I hit a significant birthday last month. I’d like to say it was forty but I have to say it was the new forty, ie fifty. I’d like to think I have a good few earning years left in my career but instead I am looking in retirement with no ballast behind me, I shall remain in the pauper stakes. I want to work. I want to earn. I want to put right the financial circumstances of my life but the option of recovery is so far removed from me as to make it a fiction.

Bankrupts need to be allowed to recover. And that can only happen when the Irish Government replicates the effective laws from our nearest jurisdiction. That way, everyone benefits, even the banks.

cat woman

 

 

Now this is the kind of cat lady I want to be!

TEdxTheHighSchoolDublin – April 18, 2015

TEDx is coming to a Dublin secondary school for the very first time. The High School, in Dublin 6, has secured the prestigious licence from the global innovation platform, and will run the first secondary school TEDx conference on Saturday April 18th, from 12-4pm. The conference is being organised by two teachers, Eoghan Keegan and Sarah Garnett, and seven pupils.

logo

The organising team comprises of fourth and fifth year students Alannah O’Reilly, Kate Hunter-Hanley, Jason Cosgrove, Aela O’Flynn, Grainne Dowling, Abigail Nolan and Ellen Galvin.  The media team, responsible for recording the event on the day, is made up three other fifth year students – Kirsty Leith, Conor Ryan and Ethan Jones.

 

The external speakers are:

  • Mary Aiken, Director of the RCSI CyberPsychology Research Centre
  • Colm O’Gorman, founder of One in Four, former senator, and current executive director of Amnesty International in Ireland
  • Arthur Godsil, Educationalist and former Headmaster of St Andrews College, Blackrock
  • Dr Gary McDarby, CTO of Fifth Province Ventures and Co-founder of Camara
  • Jillian Godsil, past pupil of the school and former European Parliament candidate
  • Jane-Anne McKenna, Director of Médecins Sans Frontières, Ireland
  • Niall Harbison, founder of ‘Lovin’ Dublin’.
  • Mark Griffin, junior doctor, writer and director.
  • Lucy Masterson, co-founder of Hireland and Director of Innovation at Social Entrepreneurs Ireland
  • Chupi Sweetman-Pell, Irish jeweller and entrepreneur.

There will also be five student speakers, who completed auditions within the school to speak at the event. Those speakers are Ifedayo Akinsuli, Ben Scallan, Jack Scollard, Emily Clinch and Sarah Webb. Their topics will cover sport, science, feminism and sociology.

Founder Keegan commenced teaching at The High School five years ago and has extensive experience in national and international event management and participation through his experience with the European Youth Parliament, between 2005 and 2009. He has also been involved with international sessions of the Model United Nations, since joining the school.

The genesis of the TEDx conference came through the TED-Ed Club which Keegan set up after attending a summer course in the Innovation Academy in UCD.  “The TED-Ed club proved an interesting platform to introduce students to TED. It gave them the opportunity to research and present their own ideas in a variety of formats. However, it did not take long before students wanted to take the next step and organise their own conference. We formed a committee before Christmas and have been working towards the  conference ever since. It is a very exciting challenge and we are confident this will be the first of many,” says Keegan.

Principle Andrew Forrest praised the team for securing the licence. “We are very proud to be the first secondary school in Ireland to undertake this challenge,” he said. “We look forward to this becoming a regular fixture in the school’s calendar.”

Tickets are limited to 100 people and are sold on first come first sold basis, costing €15 for adults and €10 for students.  They are available through the official event’s email: tedxhighschool@gmail.com. The videos will be posted online after the event.

Follow on Twitter or on Tumblr

The Tricolour

The Irish Tricolour, with its distinctive stripes of Green, White and Orange, is often viewed as a militant flag, a direct contrast and challenge to the British Union Jack and owned solely by one tradition in Ireland – the nationalist Catholic community. In fact, its origins could not be further from the truth and there is currently a movement to rehabilitate its image and indeed to encourage its widespread use in the same way that Americans, of whatever ethnicity, fly their national flag in backyards across the States.

tricolourThe Irish Tricolour was first flown in Waterford by Thomas Francis Meagher on March 7, 1848, at the Wolfe Tone Confederate Club at 33 The Mall. This was also of significance as Wolfe Tone a century before had fired up a movement that said: ‘Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter all unite under the common name of United Irishman.’  Meagher had just returned from France and wanted to realise a vision of a New Ireland from the wreck of the old sectarian Ireland. The band of white in the flag was the symbol of peace to join Irish Catholic with Irish Protestant and to forge a new unity and brotherhood between the two sides in a country that had been desecrated by the Great Famine.

 

Meagher went on to take part in the Young Ireland Famine Rebellion and subsequently sentenced to death for treason. This judgement was parleyed by Queen Victoria into deportation to Tasmania from which he escaped and moved to America. There Meagher continued to make a difference and this time joined the Union in the American Civil War. He raised a full company to fight with the 69th Infantry Regiment and went to head up the Irish Brigade. As a result of his involvement, the 69th Regiment became known as the Fighting 69ners. Following the war he was appointed Governor of Montana where he was institutional in bringing that territory towards statehood – the grant of which only happened twenty years after his death.  He is commemorated by statutes both in his native Waterford and in Helena, state capital of Montana.

A great orator, when he brought the flag to Ireland in 1848 he said:

…I trust that the old country will not refuse this symbol of a new life from one of her youngest children. I need not explain its meaning. The quick and passionate intellect of the generation now springing into arms will catch it at a glance. The white in the centre signifies a lasting truce between the “orange” and the “green” and I trust that beneath its folds, the hands of the Irish Protestant and the Irish Catholic may be clasped in generous and heroic brotherhood…” 

thomas meagher

But it was not until 1916 that the Tricolour was flown again, this time when it was raised at the GPO in Dublin during the Easter Uprising and it was not until 1937 that it was formally adopted as the national flag.

 

 

Six years ago visionary local historian James Doherty from Waterford recognised the significant of the Tricolour, its history and the links with the 69th Infantry Regiment in New York. The 1848 Tricolour Celebration Committee was established that reached out to the 69th Infantry Regiment which resulted in a delegation arriving in Waterford to cement the connections. Every year since, a delegation arrives and Meagher, the Tricolour and the 69ners are celebrated. This year, Waterford went one step further and on Thursday March 12 renamed the river Suir bridge the Thomas Francis Meagher Bridge. The river Suir bridge was completed in 2009, is part of the N25 Waterford bypass and the longest single-span bridge in the Republic .

DSCN7025

I was privileged to be part of the Island of Ireland Peace choir (formerly the Waterford Omagh Peace Choir) that sang at the Gala Dinner and subsequently at a formal military ceremony attended by full military honours and ambassadors, including this year Kevin Vickers, the Canadian Ambassador to Ireland. You may recall Kevin as he was the sergeant at arms that single handed stopped the lone terrorist attack on the Canadian Parliament last year.  Standing at well over six feet tall, Kevin commended the choir following its performance during the dinner. Our rendition of Oh Danny Boy had moved him to tears. The following day he joined in our singing, becoming an honorary member of the choir.

DSCN6955

 

Colonel Jim Tierney spoke at the dinner. He spoke in Gaelic, translating it afterwards into English for the non-Gaelic speakers and into English for the Gaelic speakers! He spoke about the impact of political correctness on the history of the Regiment. For much of the last quarter of the last century, the emphasis on diversity did not allow for the celebration of ethnicity. It was not until the Regiment got an invitation to come to Waterford five years ago that the links were refreshed and the Regiment had an emotional home-coming to Waterford. He and his men fully embraced the connection and wished to see it continue and grow year on year. He also spoke of the role of Irishmen in the American Civil War. Recent historians are now estimating that more Irishmen fought in the American Civil War than in World War One, with Meagher being an inspired leader, seeking justice for the repressed.

This talk was given in the Granville Hotel, originally the birthplace of Meagher and was a fitting location to lead such a tribute. And as for the breakfast – I am sure that Meagher would have been impressed with that too. A choir can only sing on its stomach and we sang like canaries after that!

One final interesting fact: the Tricolour when first flown outside 33 the Mall was raised back to front with the orange band next to the flagpole. The 1848 Tricolour committee spoke with the Irish Department of Defence for permission to re-enact this mistake but permission was refused. For those of you in the military you will already know the reason for refusal – a national flag flown upside down or the wrong way around is an international symbol of disaster or distress. And we were far from that in Waterford at the weekend.

Interesting links:

The Island of Ireland Peace choir in practice before the Gala Dinner

A RTE compilation

The Tricolour site

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Woman who challenged law on bankrupts standing in elections wins costs

First printed in The Irish Times on February 24, 2015

Jillian Godsil found to have been ‘directly instrumental’ in bringing about a change in the law

jillian godsil

jillian godsil

 

 

 

 

 

A woman has been awarded the costs of her legal challenge which prompted legislation allowing undischarged bankrupts to run for Dáil and European elections.

Jillian Godsil — an Independent who stood in the European and local elections last May on an anti-debt platform — had asked the Supreme Court to award her the costs of herHigh Court challenge which was withdrawn when the Government changed the law. A three-judge Supreme Court unanimously ruled she is entitled to her full High Court costs. She was also awarded her costs in the Supreme Court.

Following the withdrawal of her action when the law was changed last year, the President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, said she was only entitled to the administrative outlay costs, including stamp duty on filing documents.

Giving the Supreme Court’s decision awarding her all her costs, Mr Justice William McKechnie said Ms Godsil had been “directly instrumental” in bringing about a change in the law relating to bankruptcy which had stood since 1923. While such a result was not without precedent, it must surely be unusual, he said.

He could not see why “costs should not follow the event”, a standard phrase in law which means the loser pays the costs.

Given the facts of this case, and the absence of any disqualifying conduct or factors, he could not find anything which “either in justice or in logic would justify anything less than a full cost order in this regard”.

It was not necessary to address Ms Godsil’s argument that she should get costs because the case was brought in the public interest, Mr Justice McKechnie said.

Ms Godsil’s home in Wicklow was repossessed in 2013 and she applied to be declared bankrupt in February 2014 but found this disbarred her from running in the European elections, although not in the locals. She polled 9,179 first preferences in the IrelandSouth European constituency and 193 in the Baltinglass local election area.

In her appeal to the Supreme Court, she argued the Government had given no indication it would rush through a change in the law or even indicated it was considering such a change. As a result, she had to bring her legal challenge. Costs should also be awarded to her because the case was taken in the public interest, she claimed.

The State opposed her costs application saying she “waited until the last minute” to bring her challenge. The Government had moved expeditiously to change the law, it was also argued.