radegund: (poitiers)
I like Avaaz. Today's campaign is focused on getting GAP to sign a strong fire safety agreement in Bangladesh. The shareholder meeting is tomorrow, it seems.

For pig iron, here's what I wrote to the CEO of GAP:

Dear Glenn Murphy,

You and I, we live in a world where we can go to work every day without fearing for our lives. Our physical safety, as workers, is deemed important by our society.

But the people who make our clothes don't live in that world. They put their lives at risk every day to earn a living.

This is wrong.

Did you know that clothing workers have been exploited throughout human history? From the slave weavers of ancient Crete to the cottage knitters of Victorian Scotland, the people who dress the elite have been treated as expendable. Out of sight, out of mind.

But just because exploitation is traditional does not mean it's justifiable. You, sir, are in the amazingly fortunate position of being able to take a simple, concrete action to shift the balance a little - just a little. Just enough to lessen the mortal risk the garment workers of twenty-first-century Bangladesh put themselves in every day so that you and I can enjoy getting dressed in the morning.

Please sign the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement. There is no moral alternative.

Sincerely,
Moi
radegund: (Default)
TheJournal.ie had a piece yesterday about Amnesty's ad campaign for an equal health system in Ireland.

(Incidentally, for me, this comment on that article sums up exactly why a one-tier, free-at-point-of-access health system is really the only defensible approach: "...as soon as rich people have to avail of the same services as the rest of us you’ll be amazed how quickly it gets sorted.")

So I went to sign the petition, and ended up finally writing something that's been brewing for months.

And this is what she said... )

I wonder will it be read?

I've sent an edited version as a letter to the Irish Times, which is probably still too long to print, so I thought I'd just publish it here too. You know, for closure.

It's worth noting that until [livejournal.com profile] ailbhe and I were discussing my A&E experience I had no idea how low the cut-off point for a medical card actually is. If I'm reading the Citizens' Information figures correctly, a 40-hr/week job at minimum wage puts you over the threshold unless you have 3+ children and no other household income (if you're under 66, that is).

Anyway. Go and sign the petition, if you're in Ireland.

If you're not in Ireland, feel free to gnash your teeth at our iniquitous set-up.
radegund: (real radegund)
I've seen various hand-made Lisbon posters around the place, but I think this pair, from near my house, take whatever biscuit might be going:

cut to save your screens from the horror )
radegund: (swans)
As many of you know, the big news in Ireland today is the publication of a long-awaited report by the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse.

Thousands of children were tortured, raped, and otherwise abused in Irish institutions (reformatories, orphanages, industrial schools, institutions for children with disabilities, ordinary schools) during much of the twentieth century, mostly by members of the Catholic clergy. If you can stomach more detail, this Irish Times article gives a summary of the report's findings, together with links to two opinion pieces.

The whole thing is sickening, of course, but the message that really stands out for me is that the abuse was absolutely endemic in the system - not aberrational, but an artifact of the scornful contempt in which the Irish Catholic Church and the officials of the Irish State apparently held the public (in general) and their children (in particular) during that period. These unimaginative, self-congratulatory patriarchs cared nothing for children, whose fate was of no consequence as long as the desired social hierarchy could be maintained.

Meanwhile, another report appeared this week, published by the Irish College of Psychiatry, which illuminates the shameful state of mental health services in this country. It's called A Gloomy View, and I can find very little coverage of it online. (It gets a mention three paragraphs from the end of this Irish Examiner article.) I bring it up because I heard an interview about it on Newstalk the other day, which highlighted (among other issues) the fact that we have, it seems, nowhere to accommodate children with severe mental health problems. They are STILL, in the twenty-first century, routinely placed in adult psychiatric wards. This fact has been haunting me since I heard it - it's such a jaw-droppingly inappropriate thing to do, and there's so little excuse for a society that has enjoyed the prosperity we have in the past decade not to have FIXED IT, already.

I never suspected Ireland of having a huge amount of genuine respect for children as people, but it's sobering to encounter two such stark illustrations of the problem in the space of a few days.

All of this has made me go back and reread Ursula K. Le Guin's disturbing short story "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" (PDF here; be warned, it's not an easy read). I've always understood it as a fable about social privilege on a global scale, but in modern Ireland, this week in particular, a literal reading is horrifyingly close to the bone.
radegund: (stone-sparkles)
I woke up this morning with a sense of excitement and relief.

I think this is a sign of the extent to which I am living in an Empire.

Good bye, George W. Bush. It's been emotional.

Good luck, Barack Obama. You won't be the paragon I'd like you to be, but you couldn't possibly be anything but an improvement.
radegund: (Default)
I only stayed up until about 2:00 last Wednesday morning, and Niall went to bed a bit after 3:00. By then Obama's election was pretty much a done deal. The sense of relief was - even after everything - unexpected.

I have vivid memories of 2000, obviously, but also of 2004: I slept upstairs, waking every few hours to feed a ten-week-old Oisín; Niall came up every time he heard the baby stir to whisper me a status report. I started out quite hopeful, on the basis of the exit polls, and the picture got bleaker and bleaker as the night wore on. In the morning, I thought, "My baby will be four before that dangerous fucker is out of office."

And now he's GONE (OK, will be, come 21 January next). The Bush era is OVER.

Almost anyone would have been an improvement. To have it be someone as impressive as Obama appears to be is ... quite something.

Huh. I didn't even mean to write all of that. I came here to post two links that caught my attention today:

1. David Crystal analyses Obama's victory speech for style.

2. Bádhraic Ó Bamaigh. (Warning: your brain will melt.)
radegund: (Default)
1. From the Irish Citizens Information website
(Maternity Benefit page)
You will be disqualified (or banned) from receiving Maternity Benefit if during the time for which your Benefit is payable you engage in any employement [sic] or work other than domestic activities in your own home.

Ahahahaha! I'm not even going to touch that one. I'm just putting it out there, in all its pristine glory.

2. From the Social Welfare application form for Maternity Benefit, MB10, part 8
28. What is your spouse's or partner's full name?
29. What is their PPS Number?
30. Is your spouse or partner in employment?
31. What is their gross weekly income?
'Gross income' is their pay before tax, PRSI, union dues or other deductions.
If they are earning less than €280.00 a week, please state their gross weekly income and send in their last 6 payslips, as you may get a higher rate of payment.
...

Their? Is this an autopilot-style error (writer is used to drawing up forms to be used by both sexes), or does it mean that same-sex partnerships are somehow recognised by the Maternity Benefit people? (Genuinely curious: if you know, please tell me!)

Or is it all about the "may" in that last sentence? There's no indication of how they decide whether to pay you a higher rate (and it isn't mentioned on the Citizens Information site). I wouldn't be surprised if only married couples were entitled to it - and I'd be very surprised if same-sex couples were. But then why collect the information from everyone? If my spouse or partner earns more than €280.00 a week, it doesn't seem to have any bearing on my benefit entitlement. (I mean, for instance, do they cross-check this declaration against Niall's Revenue file?)

Hmmmmm.

Straws

May. 25th, 2007 11:02 am
radegund: (Default)
Courtesy of My Man on the Inside, three rumours from the RDS:

1. McDowell in trouble: polling 50% of what he did last time in the inner-city boxes.

2. Mary-Lou unlikely to make it.

3. FF/Green looking possible.

(Meanwhile, my underslept Oyster is glued to Bob the Builder, so it's radio coverage for me for the nonce...)
radegund: (Default)
[To anyone unaware: we voted in our general election yesterday.]

My favourite politics geek set off at 8:00 this morning to cycle to the RDS, where he has a ticket to the count courtesy of someone off the Internet. He roused me gently before he went with the MARVELLOUS1 news that an exit poll shows FF on 41%. (Actually, it's 41.6%, according to Newstalk.)

OH WELL. At least we have PR. It's all about the transfers.

It doesn't seem to matter what they do, does it? We still reward them by showering them with our votes. Well, not we, in this household. And I suspect, not many of youse either. In fact, I don't believe I know any avowed FF voters. Presumably this is because I haven't paid attention, but I'm reasonably sure that nobody in my usual social circles leans that way.

I hate this bit. At least when the count is well under way there's some sense of purpose, action, cheer or disappointment.

Here, have something to distract you. [livejournal.com profile] niallm read this little vignette out to me and [livejournal.com profile] erisian the night before last, and it made us laugh a lot - if somewhat funereally. An FF canvasser goes beyond the call of duty. (I'm particularly amused by the URL.)

1 Sarcasm.

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radegund

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