Thursday 18 January 2018

Senator Catherine Noone

A mature debate for a mature society 

The Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution has sat for three months to give careful consideration to a Citizens' Assembly report and recommendations on a contentious amendment which recognises the equal right to life of a mother and unborn child. The Oireachtas committee invited contributions from an array of opinions, such as medical and legal experts, on what is undoubtedly one of most intractable issues faced by this or any other society. There are few people necessarily comfortable with the concept of terminating a pregnancy, but...

Brexit talks will now move onto phase two after an agreement.

Progress on Brexit to be welcomed 

The joint report from the negotiators of the European Union and the United Kingdom Government on progress during phase one of Brexit highlights up front and centre the caveat that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. When the initial euphoria fades in relation to the progress that has at last been made, this caution should be borne in mind. That is not to say that the progress negotiated last week should not be warmly welcomed, not least because the agreement reached points in the direction of a soft Brexit which would represent the best outcome for Ireland, North and South.

'A functioning democracy needs serious radio and TV stations, and also broadsheet and indeed tabloid newspapers, the pitch upon which the political game is played, as it were.' Stock Image

Time to level the media playing field 

The European Broadcasting Union has announced a new campaign called 'Keep Media Good', which is designed to demonstrate the positive impact public service media has on societies. And so say all of us. This was the first time public service media organisations across Europe, including RTE and TG4 in Ireland, came together to champion public service media in the face of a proliferation of fake news, political imbalances, disputes over funding and the rise of online streaming giants. These combined trends, it was said, "distract" from the fact that public service broadcasting is one of society's...

'Surely the people of Northern Ireland deserve better than this. If they do, they must vote for it' Photo: ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images

Northern Ireland deserves better 

The failure of the main parties in Northern Ireland to reach agreement to restore the Executive and Assembly is a damning indictment of the outdated form of politics as still practised by the tribal forces of Sinn Fein and the DUP almost a full 20 years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Worse than that, their failure raises the prospect that Northern Ireland is now an entirely dysfunctional political entity incapable of sustained self-governing for the benefit of its long-suffering people.

Forecast: Map showing predicted path of Ophelia

Ophelia warns us to act on climate 

Hurricane Ophelia represents the latest severe weather warning in Ireland in recent times, the impacts of which have been quite devastating in large parts of the country, notably along the western seaboard and in the flood plains along the River Shannon. At this stage, meteorological experts are uncertain as to when and how Ophelia will hit, but there is strong evidence from weather forecast models that its remnants will track close to or even over parts of Ireland tomorrow and Tuesday. While it was not possible at the time of writing to quantify the exact timing, or the...

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Budget presents real opportunity 

When the 'confidence and supply' agreement which underpins the Fine Gael-led minority Government with Independent TDs was first negotiated with Fianna Fail there were many who felt the arrangement would not last the test of time, and yet the Government is two weeks from introducing its second Budget. The stability of the current arrangement, while not always solid, seems more secure than this time last year and, whatever its undeniable faults, that is to be welcomed.


Time for reality check on Brexit 

The niceties of political language dictated that Ireland and the European Union welcomed the widely anticipated Brexit speech of British Prime Minister Theresa May in Florence last Friday. But the reality is that, 16 months on from the referendum and six months since the Article 50 resignation letter, her government has yet to even correctly interpret the will of the UK people, let alone outline a coherent direction now the decision to exit the European Union has been made.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe Photo: Tom Burke

Housing is now a Budget priority 

The Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe, last week announced his intention to repay early, and in full, the outstanding programme-related International Monetary Fund debt of around €4.5bn and the bilateral loans from both Sweden and Denmark, amounting in total of €5.5bn. In doing so, he said Ireland greatly appreciated the support and assistance from the IMF and the "European partners", which was provided at a time of great uncertainty for Ireland and which was key to our path to recovery: "Their support, friendship and solidarity will not be forgotten," Mr Donohoe said, in a...

Gerry Adams Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

Hard truths for Adams and SF 

For a political party which espouses the need to tackle disadvantage, unemployment and inequality and to improve the quality of life and standards of living for people across Ireland, Sinn Fein is doing a remarkable job in refusing to take the opportunity to do just that, on two fronts: its immediate rejection of Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster's proposals to recommence Stormont negotiations and its continued insistence that it will not take its Westminster seats at a time when such electoral influence could temper the worst excesses of Brexit.

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Homeless stories show crisis must be tackled 

Imagine a little boy of nine years of age, unable to walk, being housed in a guest house, with steps. He falls constantly; his mother has a bad back from having to lift him, and he feels twice as bad, for he can see the pain written into the lines of her face. You don't have to imagine because this is one of the stories in our Dublin of 2017. Stories that would have fit neatly into the pages of Charles Dickens in 1843. Recognising every statistic is a human story, the Inner City Helping Homelessness campaign 'My Name is' includes pictures of some of the 3,000 children who are homeless here.