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Before yesterdaySocial Democrats

Taoiseach must clarify inappropriate remarks on the media – Catherine Murphy TD

By briansheehan

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy TD has called on the Taoiseach to clarify his  reported remarks in New York which were critical of the Irish media and RTE’s Primetime in particular.

Deputy Murphy said:
“Leo Varadkar’s reported comments while on an official trade and diplomatic mission are inappropriate, particularly given that his reason for being in New York was related to Ireland’s bid for a seat at the United Nations Security Council.

“Freedom of expression and the need for a free and fair press are core United Nations values. It’s just a month since World Press Freedom day which reminded of us the importance of a free, independent and pluralistic media environment.

“Ireland’s media landscape is under considerable threat due to a lack media plurality. This is because too much of our media is concentrated in the hands of a very small number of extremely powerful individuals.

“It is unfortunate that our head of government chose the occasion of such an important overseas trip to denigrate the Irish media in such an apparently petty fashion, when the more pressing issues of ownership and diversity remain unaddressed. Today’s reported comments once more show a Taoiseach obsessed with media control and spin.”

ENDS
4 July 2018

The post Taoiseach must clarify inappropriate remarks on the media – Catherine Murphy TD appeared first on Social Democrats.

Current model of LPT inherently unfair – Catherine Murphy TD

By ciaraboyle

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy TD has made a substantial submission to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government for use in its current process to review the methodology used to determine local authority funding baselines in order to ensure that the charging model is fair.

Catherine Murphy has researched issues surrounding local government funding and Local Property Tax for many years had her submission reflects a deep understanding of the mechanisms of how the funding streams operate and are distributed.

The results of that analysis point to a significant inequity in the system which ensures that many rapidly developing, often urban, areas lose out to more rural communities because of the way in which the baseline funding amounts are set.

The submission also takes the view that the current system cannot legitimately be deemed a Local Property Tax when substantial portions of the amounts they pay are redirected to other areas.

Catherine Murphy TD said:

“I am regularly approached by people who legitimately ask ‘What am I getting for the Local Property Tax I pay?’ In reality the answer is, very little. The way the funding model is currently designed means that many areas that have experienced significant population growth in recent years have not seen services keep pace with demand and as a result they are significantly disadvantaged when compared to more rural areas.

“Under the current model of LPT Distribution you could be paying significant sums of LPT based on property prices in Fingal for example, and yet find that not only do you have substandard services, but that a large chunk of Fingal’s local authorities income from LPT is actually sent to other counties, with a lesser demand for services, in order to bolster their baseline. It is an inherent unfairness that is built into the system and unless significant changes are made which take account of population changes, demographics and current needs, then Local Property Tax cannot legitimately continue to be referred to as a ‘Local’ Property Tax.”

ENDS

3rd July 2018

The post Current model of LPT inherently unfair – Catherine Murphy TD appeared first on Social Democrats.

Vulnerable Older People Denied Home-Help as Annual Funding Runs Out Due to Inadequate Funding

By barryhayden

Social Democrat co-leader Róisín Shortall TD has today demanded that the Minister for Health urgently deal with the ongoing crisis in older person’s services as the annual funding allocation for home-help hours has already run out and over 6,000 older people are on waiting lists for home-support services nationally.

“It is absolutely shocking that just over half-way through the year that funding for such a basic service could effectively run out when so many people are waiting for services. Many older people need only a minimum amount of day-to-day support that will allow them to live independently. In failing to properly fund these services the government is essentially telling older people that they simply do not care about their needs. A case has been recently brought to my attention where an 80 year old person suffering with Alzheimer’s was approved for home help, but told there was no funding available.”

“Home help support is vital in enabling older people to live independently in their own communities, rather than having to go into a nursing home. Enabling older people to remain at home serves older people best and is also a much more cost effective way for providing services. The government need to make good on their commitment to introduce a statutory entitlement to home-care as soon as possible, but in the meantime they should ensure the existing services are adequately funded.”

Figures obtained by Deputy Shortall from the HSE underscore the cost effectiveness of providing care at home for older people.

“The average weekly cost for home-support services is €160. This is a fraction of the weekly cost of the average nursing home which is over €1,000 per week. Additionally, many older people remain in hospital longer than they need as no home supports are available. An acute hospital bed can cost the HSE approximately €6,000 per week and adds to waiting lists as people cannot return home. It is a complete failure of planning and a waste of resources.”

“Yet again, this is an example of the health services operating a model of care which is unnecessarily expensive while community services are starved of essential funding.”

ENDS

3 July 2018

The post Vulnerable Older People Denied Home-Help as Annual Funding Runs Out Due to Inadequate Funding appeared first on Social Democrats.

Greater urgency needed on equality reforms for LGBTI people

By ciaraboyle

As Dublin celebrates with the annual Pride Parade, the Social Democrats today call on the government to show much greater urgency in driving reforms to improve the human rights of LGBTI people in Ireland.

The party’s co-leaders Róisín Shortall TD and Catherine Murphy TD said it was disappointing, 25 years after homosexuality was decriminalised, that the pace of advances on equality issues has slowed, despite clear evidence that it needs to be accelerated.

Both TDs are taking part in today’s Dublin parade along with SocDems representatives, candidates, members and supporters from around the country.

Deputy Shortall said:

“There has been enormous positive change for LGBTI people and their families in Ireland over the last number of years. But the pace of change is disappointing. Ireland still has a long way to go to ensure that the reality of being an LGBTI person is positive and valued.

“Ireland still ranks just 15th in Europe out of 49 countries for LGBTI rights, with a score of just 52% on the recently published 2018 ILGA-Europe Rainbow Map. This score is the same as last year, which shows that the pace of reform here has come to a standstill while other countries leap frog over us.”

Deputy Murphy added:

“Plans and strategies have no impact on the lives of LGBTI people without the political and institutional will to bring about real changes. Since marriage equality, the urgency has gone out of the reform agenda here at a time when our country should be leading from the front on LGBTI equality – not just at home, but across the world.

“We need to see a cradle-to-grave approach, starting at birth with children and their LGBTI families recognised and catered for, and carrying on through our health and education systems and our workplaces right through to older age when the needs of LGBTI are often neglected.”

ENDS

30 June 2018

The post Greater urgency needed on equality reforms for LGBTI people appeared first on Social Democrats.

Local Election Candidate Selection Process

By barryhayden

At it’s meeting on June 23rd in Galway The National Council adopted procedures for the selection of local election candidates which can be viewed here.

The 2019 will local elections will be a key opportunity for the Social Democrats to grow our base in local communities across Ireland and to offer a positive vision of how local democracy can bring change to people’s lives. We will be contesting as many areas as possible with a broad and diverse range of candidates.

The National Executive has opened up the local election candidate selection process in the following local electoral areas:

Cork:

  • Macroom
  • Cobh
  • Fermoy
  • Bantry
  • Clonakility/ Skibereen
  • Bandon- Kinsale
  • Kanturk
  • Mallow
  • Middleton
  • Cork City South East

Dublin:

  • Rathfarnham Templeogue
  • Firhouse – Bohernabreena
  • Tallaght South
  • Donaghmede
  • Clontarf
  • Balbriggan
  • Rush – Lusk
  • Ballymun-Finglas

Limerick:

  • Limerick City North
  • Limerick City East
  • Limerick City West

Clare:

  • Shannon
  • Killaloe
  • Ennistimon
  • Kilrush
  • Ennis

Galway:

  • Oranmore/Athenry

Meath

  • Laytown-Bettystown
  • Ashbourne

Wexford

  • Wexford Town

Maps showing the boundaries of local electoral areas can be viewed here  and maps of the boundaries in Dublin, Cork City and Galway City are available here.

To express interest in becoming a local election candidate in any of these areas please email cian.ocallaghan@socialdemocrats.ie by 9 am Tuesday July 10th.  Interviews for prospective candidates will take place on Saturday July 14th.

The local election candidate selection process will be opened up in a number of additional areas in July.  If you’ve any questions about the process or would like to discuss the possibility of becoming a candidate and what it involves Cian would be delighted to hear from you.

The post Local Election Candidate Selection Process appeared first on Social Democrats.

Dearbhla Mealy discusses what Pride means to her

By barryhayden

Hi all, My name is Dearbhla, I identify as queer. That is I identify with the whole LGBTQ+ community rather than defining myself within it. That is what family means to me during this Pride season. The family of the LGBTQ+ community.

Community and ‘family’ continues to be a struggle for LGBTQ+ people. As a nation we are emerging from a culture of oppression and violence, the effects of which still linger. The act of reaching out and searching for each other is still a scary endeavour but thankfully it is getting easier and easier. The appearance of social media in our lives has removed so many barriers for us and has enabled us to grow and develop in unprecedented ways. Finding your people has become as easy as typing ‘queer’ into the facebook search bar.

As a community, however, we are still incredibly divided. The different letters don’t always talk to each other and really don’t always listen to each other but this is changing. Solidarity is becoming a defining feature of our community and we are evolving into a family.

But we are not there yet. There is plenty of work still to be done in making all spaces open and welcoming to every member of the community without loosing our own unique identity. As a solid body we must all fight for recognition of alternative genders and trans healthcare, we must all stand together against hate crime not just homophobic hate crime but racist hate crime and any other form of it.

LGBT rights do not stand independent of the rights of other groups. If we are to have equality it is equality for ALL

The post Dearbhla Mealy discusses what Pride means to her appeared first on Social Democrats.

Stephen O’Loughlin discusses what Pride means to him

By barryhayden

As we are in the year of the 35th pride march in Dublin and 25 years of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the Republic of Ireland, it’s good to reflect on our past and on the treatment of our citizens.

Picture a 14-year-old boy in the metamorphosis between childhood and manhood; 2 television stations to choose from – RTE1 or RTE2; in a Catholic state going to a Catholic school run by the Christian brothers; in a working class area where both state and church demanded authority and trying to think of a way to escape mass every week;  the angelus ringing on the television at 6 o’clock to remind us what we were; kneeling down to pray at his bedside before he goes to sleep asking God to mind his family and not let him die and go to hell.

This was 1993 and opinions were rife on the abolition of sodomy. You couldn’t escape teachers or priests on the news on TV informing you of the consequences of gay men sodomising each other.

This same year, Mary Robinson, our very own first female President, met with the celebrated Mother Theresa; a mass grave was uncovered at a Magdalene asylum of fallen women down the road in Drumcondra; up the road was a church-run boys home where you were sent if you did anything wrong; people were murdering each other on religious grounds in the North of Ireland; Niamh Kavanagh won the Eurovision – for which everyone was allowed stay up a bit later and, if you were lucky, got a treat; the treaty of Maastricht takes effect and we are becoming more European. A massive oil spill off Scotland threatens wildlife; there seems to be war everywhere including in Ireland and in Bosnia; Bill Clinton orders a missile assault on Iraq which is very scary as the whole world could end; and then it was heaven or hell for “you boy”.

 

All the messages that stuck, all the signals that were given, seemed at the time to reinforce be the way things are and always will be. But we grow and learn and demand it not be.

We look back and celebrate decriminalisation. But let’s not forget the effects it had on people in the discussions before and after the change, and look at who was given authority and platforms to speak about such things.

Like I’m sure young people will be watching the behaviour and attention regarding a “gay” wedding cake or politicians who won’t accept marriage equality in the North of Ireland. We as adults are letting these messages affect how a 14-year-old in Northern Ireland is learning about themselves.

I would ask people to demand civil rights for the people of Northern Ireland. We cannot or should not stand idly by and let some people deny the rights of any other person who happens to be different.

We must also remember those who have not been mentioned but lived out in the open regardless of the cost, and who  normalised being gay. They paved the way. They were the courageous ones who lived their lives openly rather than hide away quietly. And also remember those who did not make it or suffered from cruelty or stigmatisation or rejection.

In the winning of the marriage equality referendum and the Repeal the 8th referendum, we saw that people standing up and vocalising the wrong done to citizens of this Republic created change. We saw that we are stronger when we stand together. People of every persuasion came together. People were optimistic, and took power and gave it back to the people.  It showed a new type of politics, and demonstrated an optimism for a fairer and more progressive Republic.

We must now demand equality for all people of this island, as you now may know how good and empowering it feels to be treated equally in the law. Whether it be north or south, able bodied or disabled, young or old, we must keep moving forward and show compassion to all our citizens regardless of difference.

This would be my Republic of Equals.

The post Stephen O’Loughlin discusses what Pride means to him appeared first on Social Democrats.

Minister Confirms Review of PCP Car Financing System – Consumers Must Be Cautious Say Social Democrats

By ciaraboyle
Social Democrats Consumer Affairs Spokesperson Anne-Marie McNally has warned customers to be cautious when entering into PCP contracts for car finance and ensure they fully understand the terms and conditions they are entering into.

Ms McNally said that sometimes the lure of what appears to be relatively cheap monthly repayments can often obscure the real costs involved and leave people with significant debt.

A recent Parliamentary Reply received by Ms McNally has confirmed that PCP financing is becoming an increasingly important source of finance for new car purchases and as a result the Minister has commissioned Mr Michael Tutty, a former Regulator and Second Secretary to the Department of Finance to carry out an independent review of the current PCP market and regulatory structure with a view to identifying and addressing any consumer protection gaps which may exist.

Ms McNally said:

“Increasingly people are entering into PCP contracts for new cars without fully realising or appreciating the significant financial burden the overall agreement represents. Recent figures from the Central Bank of Ireland show that the average value of such contracts has increased from circa €15,000 to over €23,000 in the last few years.”

“It is important for consumers to look at the overall finance cost and to be aware of the significant final payment that will fall due at the end of the PCP agreement – usually three years. While three years may seem a long way off when purchasing a new car, it really is not a lot of time to accumulate what can often be a very significant amount of cash which will be required to complete the contract when the three years expire.  There is the potential for consumers to find themselves locked into a rolling PCP contract because they cannot afford to complete the contract thus simply rolling from one contract to another in a cycle of overhanging debt.

“PCP can be attractive and can most certainly be a great option for someone in the market for a new car but I would urge consumers to go into any such contract fully aware of the terms and conditions and to be comfortable that they will not find themselves trapped in a cycle of debt at the mercy of a finance company.”

29th June 2018

ENDS

The post Minister Confirms Review of PCP Car Financing System – Consumers Must Be Cautious Say Social Democrats appeared first on Social Democrats.

Sharon Nolan explains what Pride means to her

By barryhayden

Pride is about remembering the history of our community and being unashamed of who we are. It’s a space, a feeling – and not something that can be bought or sold. It’s where we can move out of heteronormative expectations and embrace our queerness. Our progress today is built on the shoulders of the activists who came before us, who paved the way for change.

As a bisexual woman, I struggled for years on self-acceptance and trying to find my feet in the wider LGBT+ community. I found my home and my voice in Bi+ Ireland – a grassroots organisation supporting and building community spaces for the wider bisexual community. Through the marriage referendum and further political activism, I knew I found my calling! I’m excited to be a Social Democrats member where we can campaign, educate and build policies around improving the lives of LGBT+ people.

Ireland has already changed so much for the better regarding LGBT+ rights, but we still have much to fight for. Marriage equality and gender recognition were only the beginning!

Many of the changes our community are still fighting for include – access to PrEP, reforming trans healthcare, improving the existing gender recognition legislation, gender-inclusive abortion legislation, supports for LGBT+ migrants, removing the MSM blood ban, inclusive sex education, enacting hate crime legislation, and much more.

Let’s continue to work to make societal and institutional homophobia, biphobia and transphobia a thing of the past.

The post Sharon Nolan explains what Pride means to her appeared first on Social Democrats.

Cian O’Callaghan discusses what Pride means to him

By barryhayden

I went to my first Pride in 1995 when I was still in school and I had just turned 16. It was just a couple of years after decriminalisation and already at that stage you could see a growing confidence in Dublin’s LGBTI community.

I was very lucky to have a family that had raised me with inclusive values, so when I realised that I was gay at the age of 13, I was very comfortable in my own skin. As I came out my friends in school were very supportive of me and this made a world of difference to me.

It was only when I got to UCD that I realised just how lucky I had been, as I heard horror stories from other students. I met people who had been rejected by their families and others that had been beaten up and physically attacked by strangers for being gay.

The people that have inspired me over the years are the countless people who came out and had the courage to be themselves long before the political establishment rowed in behind them. They led the way by showing tremendous bravery, good humour and resilience.  Through their courage they helped transform people’s lives replacing lonely cold greys with vibrant diverse rainbows.

Happy Pride!

The post Cian O’Callaghan discusses what Pride means to him appeared first on Social Democrats.

Tomás Henegan explains what Pride means to him

By barryhayden

Since the 1980s, Ireland has witnessed huge changes in how our country treats its LGBTQ people: from the decriminalisation of sex between men, to marriage equality, to the Gender Recognition Act and the ending of the lifelong blood donation ban for gay and bisexual men.

I’m proud to stand as a successor to campaigners like David Norris, Lydia Foy, Katherine Zappone and Ann Louise Gilligan, who all fought in courtrooms for their right to be treated equally under the law. But we still must fight for equality.

Gay and bisexual men still face a 12-month unscientific, irrational and discriminatory blanket ban on donating blood in Ireland. Under Fine Gael, this discrimination has been repeatedly brushed under the carpet and ignored — until faced with a legal challenge. It shouldn’t have to be that way.

Both the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister Simon Harris must face up to this issue without further delay. As a member of the Social Democrats, I’m proud to stand with my party during this season of Pride celebrations and protests and call for an end to the blanket ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men. We are not equal yet, but we are getting there.

The post Tomás Henegan explains what Pride means to him appeared first on Social Democrats.

Sarah Durcan explains what Pride means to her

By barryhayden

25 years on from decriminalisation of homosexuality in Ireland, I’m thinking of the enormous contribution that LGBTQ+ people have made to Irish society, and especially in the area of arts and culture. Working in the arts for most of that time, I’m fortunate it’s never been an issue for me to be out at work, I’ve always felt welcome and included. Often our artists lead cultural change for the rest of society. It’s right to celebrate this anniversary – we’ve come a long way since then – but in that celebration we mustn’t get complacent.

 

While we have rights in principle, still many don’t get to fully enjoy those rights in practice. I’m thinking of the young people who still experience bullying; the families who can’t travel together, or be properly recognised by the State, because promised legislation has not been fully enacted, and I’m thinking of all those who still can’t be fully themselves in their working lives.

 

I’m proud to be involved in the organisation of the first International LGBTQ Pride in STEM Day on the 5th July, because I want the security I feel working in the arts to be extended to those working in science and technology, so there are no boundaries to creativity and innovation in any field. In our celebrations we honour the struggle of those who fought for our rights in the past, by continuing to uphold and improve the rights of all LGBTQ+ today and tomorrow.

 

The post Sarah Durcan explains what Pride means to her appeared first on Social Democrats.

Public Meeting – A Site of Conscience – The Magdalene Laundry and Dublin’s Inner City

By barryhayden

A public meeting organised and hosted by Social Democrats city Councillor Gary Gannon will explore the idea of a ‘Site of Conscience’ at the former Seán McDermott Street Magdalene Laundry, which risks being sold by Dublin City Council and turned into a hotel.

The meeting will take place at 7pm. tomorrow, Thursday 28th June, in the Belvedere Youth Club on Buckingham Street.

The event will include local historians, musicians and activists.

Speakers will include: Maeve O’Rourke, Senior Research and Policy Officer, Irish Council for Civil Liberties; Sian Muldowney, Coordinator of ICON – Inner City Organisations Network; and Deirdre Cadwell, a Magdalene survivor.

Councillor Gannon said:

“This promises to be a moving night with emotional and sometimes difficult topics and exchanges as our city confronts how to commemorate its dark past and not sweep it under the carpet.

“The recent gathering in the Mansion House of survivors of the Magdalene Laundries was a cathartic event and the first time the women themselves were given an opportunity to voice their opinions on how to remember their experiences.

“There is now an opportunity to create something meaningful on the Seán McDermott Street site which is the last laundry in the ownership of the State.”

What: Public meeting – A Site of Conscience -–The Magdalene Laundry and Dublin’s Inner City

When: Thursday 28th June 7p.m.

Where: Belvedere Youth Club, 41 Lower Buckingham Street, Dublin 1

ENDS

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Liz Bourke explains why she is proud to be a SocDem this Pride

By barryhayden

My name is Liz Bourke. I’m a bisexual genderqueer woman (which means I feel comfortable with the pronouns “she” or “they”) and a member of the Social Democrats. I use the term “queer” to refer to myself, because it’s a word that’s broad enough to encompass many complicated feelings about gender identity and sexual orientation.

I was born in 1986. I don’t remember a time before the decriminalisation of homosexuality in this country, twenty-five years ago this year. I do remember a time before I knew I was bisexual. Many queer people figure out their orientation in their teens. For me,  it wasn’t until my late twenties that I had a framework within which to understand myself. It wasn’t until I saw queer women on television shows, and the Marriage Equality Referendum forced openness onto many more people in this country, that I was able to come out to myself.

Pride makes me nervous. I don’t enjoy crowds. But it matters, because Pride is as much a challenge as a celebration. We’ve come a long way in 25 years, but there are still challenges to meet: this country need proper hate crimes legislation, better inclusion of queer people at all levels of the community, better support for LGBTQ people who come here seeking refuge from persecution in their own countries, where — like for example in Chechnya — gay men are at high risk of murder and queer women at high risk of so-called “corrective” rape; and better support for trans people, who as a community experience some of the highest levels of suicide and poverty not just here, but across the world.

My girlfriend and I got engaged this year. There are plenty of people — like Pope Francis —  who still believe we’re not capable of being a real family. That none of queer people are. Our challenge is to do the hard, day-to-day work of building a country where every kind of family is safe and welcome.

I believe the Social Democrats will do this kind of work. That’s why I’ll be with them, not just on Pride, but every other day of the year.

The post Liz Bourke explains why she is proud to be a SocDem this Pride appeared first on Social Democrats.

New Garda Commissioner needs fresh senior management team to lead reforms

By ciaraboyle

The Social Democrats have congratulated the incoming Garda Commissioner on his appointment – but cautioned that an entirely new senior management team must also be recruited to lead reforms to address deep-rooted cultural problems within the force.

The party’s co-leader Róisín Shortall TD said:

“I congratulate Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris on his appointment at this crucial time when An Garda Síochána faces significant reforms and awaits the proposals of the Commission on the Future of Policing. I wish him well in the role and expect that he will draw on his extensive experience with the PSNI which itself has undergone radical reforms in recent years.

“It needs to be stressed that the crisis of confidence facing An Garda Síochána cannot be tackled simply by recruiting a new Commissioner and then continuing on with business as usual. Putting a new person at the head of a dysfunctional organisation without addressing the causes of the deep-rooted cultural problems within the force is a recipe for disaster.

“It is clearly time for exceptional measures, starting with the recruitment of a whole new senior management team, some of whom should also be recruited from outside this jurisdiction. That team’s role should be to bring about a fundamental change in the present culture of the Garda Síochána and to oversee a step-change in how the force operates and is managed.  Senior gardaí should be invited to reapply for their current positions within a reformed force and if necessary, some of them should be given an opportunity to take early retirement.

ENDS

26 June 2018

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US embassy officials must be summoned to hear Ireland’s condemnation of torture of immigrant children

By barryhayden

Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall TD has called on the government to summon US embassy representatives to relay to the Trump administration Ireland’s condemnation of its policy of forcibly taking children from their immigrant parents.

Deputy Shortall said:

“It has been deeply disturbing to see the reports and footage emanating from the US in the past number of weeks. Children being forcibly taken from their parents, kept in cages with foil for blankets. Immigration officers being told not to comfort or hold distressed children calling for their parents. Parents not being told when, or indeed if they will be re-united with their children before they are deported.

“The United States, a developed nation, with which we share historically strong links, is engaging in the deliberate traumatisation and abuse of children in order to deter immigration and asylum seeking. This is torture and it is unconscionable.”

Deputy Shortall added:

“The net effects of Trump’s shocking xenophobia can be seen in the emboldening of racists and right-wing populists closer to home. Political leaders in Hungary, Italy, Poland and other European states have drawn inspiration from Trump’s immigration policies.

“We ourselves are not immune and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our own appalling legacy in the form of direct provision. I reiterate my call from last week that this system be abolished.

“Representatives from the US Embassy must be summoned by Minister Coveney so our condemnation of these policies can be made clear to them and relayed to Washington D.C.

“In particular, I would ask government ministers, some of whom enjoy a close relationship with the speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, to express their abhorrence of these policies.

“I do not believe that the Trump administration can be shamed or embarrassed into action. The man leading it is incapable of shame. However, if the Republican Party has any shred of decency left, or any respect for the functioning of US democracy, they cannot allow this appalling situation to continue.”

ENDS

20 June 2018

The post US embassy officials must be summoned to hear Ireland’s condemnation of torture of immigrant children appeared first on Social Democrats.

Social Democrats co-leaders withdraw from MacGill Summer School due to lack of gender balance on panels

By ciaraboyle

The Social Democrats co-leaders Catherine Murphy and Róisín Shortall have said they will withdraw from their respective panels at this year’s MacGill Summer School unless significant changes are made to the gender-balance of panels across all sessions.

Deputies Murphy and Shortall said they had accepted places on panels but at that time were not aware that the programme for other sessions was predominantly male.

Both leaders said they were surprised by the organiser’s claim that it was hard to find people with the right aptitude, obviously referring to women.

Catherine Murphy said:

“I find the comment from the organisers about it being ‘difficult to find people with the right aptitude’ quite offensive when the implication is obviously that that is the reason more women are not invited to speak at the event. That is simply not true or else the organisers have conducted a very limited search.

“There is an abundance of articulate and well-informed women that could have been approached to participate and weren’t. I cannot in good conscience take part in an event that has so blatantly disregarded the importance of equal female participation and for that reason I will withdraw from the session I was due to speak at unless significant changes are made across the programme.”

Róisín Shortall said:

“Irish politics has come a long way from the male pale and stale boys club that it traditionally was. High-profile events like MacGill have a responsibility to reflect that change but also to recognise the wealth of fantastic and informed female voices across Irish public life.”

ENDS

20 June 2018

The post Social Democrats co-leaders withdraw from MacGill Summer School due to lack of gender balance on panels appeared first on Social Democrats.

SocDems call for renewed commitment to services to protect and empower LGBTQ people

By barryhayden

Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall TD has called for a renewed commitment to delivering tangible services to protect and empower members of Ireland’s LGBTQ community.

Speaking on the 25th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality, Deputy Shortall paid tribute to campaigners including Senator Norris, former President Mary Robinson and former Minister for Justice Maura Geoghegan Quinn who brought forward the legislation in 1993 to allow for decriminalisation of homosexuality and an equal age of consent.

Deputy Shortall said:

“Decriminalisation, marriage equality and discrimination protections are the bare bones of what LGBTQ people needed in terms of ending legal discrimination. If the government is serious about protecting and empowering this community, it needs to focus on concrete and tangible issues and service provision.

“Self-congratulatory speeches in the Dáil chamber today will do nothing for people less than a kilometre away in the Baggot Street MSM Health Clinic. This is a facility that is unique in Ireland in the services it provides to men who have sex with men – but is literally falling down around the ears of the staff and patients.

“Today’s speeches do nothing to address the frankly baffling ongoing lack of progress on hate crime legislation which makes it difficult to track and prevent homophobic and transphobic crime. They do nothing to reassure people who are now being affected by the stalled commencement of sections of the Family and Relationships Act, which is causing untold distress and anxiety for LGBTQ people raising children.

“Our contributions do nothing to reassure transgender children that their voices will be heard in the review of the gender recognition legislation, or those waiting on lists for endocrinology services.  Our speeches will do little for those who are buying PreP online and hoping it won’t be seized by customs, which is particularly galling given the alarming rates of new HIV infections being reported.”

Deputy Shortall acknowledged progress over the past two decades, but said stigma remains and rears its ugly head in many ways.

She added:

“Verbal and physical intimidation of LGBTQ people continues, Homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying is rife in our schools. Outmoded sex and relationship education that is of little use to LGBTQ people is still the norm. Most tragically, the rates of self-harm and suicide in this community remain alarmingly high. The number of transgender individuals who have engaged in self-harm in particular is stark with one report suggesting that upwards of 80% of members of this community have experienced suicidal ideation.

“I raised the issue of the poor placing of Ireland on the 2017 European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association “Rainbow Map” with the then Minister for Justice in October of last year. Of 49 countries, Ireland placed 15th in terms of the rights and freedoms of LGBTQ persons. I would hope that the government, being led as it is by an out and proud gay man, would reflect on this fact and recommit itself to making Ireland a world leader for protecting and enhancing the lives of LGBTQ people here at home.

“We have come a long way since 1993, but we still have a long way to go and more must be done to ensure that our LGBTQ family and friends enjoy full and equal rights as citizens.”

ENDS

19 June 2018

The post SocDems call for renewed commitment to services to protect and empower LGBTQ people appeared first on Social Democrats.

Government’s economic priorities divorced from reality of crises in society and economy

By barryhayden

Today’s Summer Economic Statement is another squandered opportunity by the government to shore up our tax base and invest now to tackle the enormous pressures facing our economy and society, the Social Democrats said today.

The party’s co-leader Catherine Murphy TD said diverting some corporation tax into a ‘rainy day fund’ at a time of unprecedented crisis in housing shows the extent to which the government is divorced from reality around us.

Deputy Murphy said:

“The Minister for Finance has set up a rainy day fund to reach €3bn by the end of 2021. Does he not get it that the rainy days are already here? We have shamefully high numbers of homeless children and families and a chronic shortage of affordable homes that pose a real risk to our economic prosperity and competitiveness.

“Why are we even talking about a rainy day fund when we have 5,963 adults and 3,689 children waking up in homeless accommodation and such a chronic shortage of homes to buy or rent that Google is snapping up entire developments to house its workers?

“It makes absolutely no sense to establish such a fund when the country faces EU environmental fines due to the lack of investment in transport alternatives and energy efficiency. We need to spend now to save later in areas such as housing and climate.”

ENDS

19 June 2018

The post Government’s economic priorities divorced from reality of crises in society and economy appeared first on Social Democrats.

RTÉ Investigates highlights need for Waste Regulator

By ciaraboyle

Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy has once again highlighted the significant issues in relation to how waste is handled in this country. In advance of tonight’s RTÉ investigates programme on the waste industry and illegal dumping in Ireland, Catherine Murphy said this issue has been brewing for some years now and with mooted changes to waste charges the problem is likely to worsen.

Deputy Murphy has raised this issue both in Parliamentary Questions and in the Public Accounts Committee over the past few months and has called for the establishment of an office of a Waste Regulator because according to Deputy Murphy the entire sector is extremely weak when it comes to regulation.

Deputy Murphy said:

“I have no doubt that tonight’s programme will highlight the rogue actions of a number of waste companies and once again highlight the need for strong and robust regulation of the sector which has consistently been weak. Waste companies in Ireland have been essentially allowed to operate to their own agenda for far too long and in a sector that is poorly regulated, you will unfortunately get rogue companies exploiting that lack of regulation.

“The problem of illegal dumping is only going to continue to grow as we currently only have 5 landfill sites nationwide – 4 of which are in Leinster- and that number is set to reduce in future years. Currently the only other option is the Dublin incinerator and over-reliance on this facility brings with it significant congestion issues and an over-reliance on the already congested Dublin road network.

“The Social Democrats have called for a Waste Regulator. Currently the whole area is extremely weak on regulations and there is very little onus on waste companies.  Waste companies are free to take decisions without any regulatory body assessing that decision and its impacts in the wider policy context.”

ENDS

18th June 2018

The post RTÉ Investigates highlights need for Waste Regulator appeared first on Social Democrats.

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