Gillian Brien Ep.55 #NewPolitics

‘Old politics’ and the cosy relationship between our government and a billionaire tax exile was back(sort of)in the headlines this week. In this toxic environment who’d want to be a politician? Step forward Community Activist, Youth Work Manager with (LGBT Youth Group)Belong To Youth Services and People Before Profit candidate in Dublin Central, Gillian Brien. She came into the tortoise shack to tell us how she wants to get into politics to punch up, not cosy up. We believe her, you will too.

Ruth Fitzpatrick #BitShookTBH Ep.54

Social Media can be a bit of a dark place. But today’s guest in the tortoise shack, writer and activist Ruth Fitzpatrick(@RuthieFizz)is a colourful and creative social media phenomenon. Her twitter threads, using animal pictures and childlike language to explain the most difficult of subjects are must reads. Ruth, as you will hear, is way smarter than the average Bear, nose. Give this woman a book deal!

Karl Callan #LadsForChoice Ep.53


The referendum to Repeal the 8th amendment isn’t a vote to stop abortion coming to Ireland. It is already a reality here. It is a vote to take it out of the shadows and treat women as individuals and not as vessels. Director, Writer and Activist Karl Callan’s short film, Repeal punches you in the gut and shows that reality in 12 minutes. We also have that MANEL discussion on why men need to get out, support and vote in this crucial referendum. You can watch the film here.
#Together4Yes

John Connors #BringingHumanRightsHome Ep.52

Award winning actor, writer, director and activist, John Connors came into the tortoise and shared his thoughts on the section of society most disadvantaged(as per Social Justice Ireland), Travellers. We talk about discrimination, the challenges facing Travellers, the need for real equality and why culture and the arts still matter. Strong language and mature themes.

Kathy D’Arcy #Autonomy Ep.51


It was an incredible momentum shifting week in the Repeal the 8th referendum. So we were delighted to be joined in the tortoise shack by Chair of the Cork Together For Yes Campaign, Activist, Author and Editor of the book, Autonomy, Kathy D’Arcy.
This conversation covers real stories of how the 8th amendment impacts everyone in Ireland and how to deal with THOSE posters.
You can donate to together for yes here. And you can get the book here.

We’re with Jan

The following is a statement from our friend and activist, Janet O’Sullivan.

Peter Matthews used his elected position to perpetuate abortion stigma, which studies have shown has a negative effect on mental health of those who have had an abortion. I am one of the over 170,000 women who have had to make that journey, and who are directly affected by abortion stigma. I am always glad when one less person, especially one who had been elected to represent some of those 170,000 women, is no longer in a position to perpetuate that stigma.

However, as I tweeted at the time, I am sure his family misses him. I never celebrated or rejoiced in Peter Matthews death, it is an appalling thing to suggest I did. I hope that John McGuirk’s insistence on dragging this up at every available opportunity, when given a platform, has not prolonged their grieving.

For the last 8 months I have been under sustained attack from Mr McGuirk on social media, I have had to block his twitter account, he has also used his appearances on national television to harass me and now via press releases. I find this to be most distressing especially as his most recent attempts have included Minister Josepha Madigan and the Together For Yes Campaign.

I am not going to be silenced in speaking about having had an abortion and why we need to vote yes to repeal the 8th amendment in the run up to the 25th of May. I refuse to let those who oppose compassionate health care which is much needed in Ireland try and dictate how I campaign over the coming weeks.

Yours Sincerely

Janet O’Sullivan

Catherine Murphy #WeAreBetterThanThis Ep.50


For our 50th guest the tortoise shack is delighted to host TD for Kildare North and Co-Leader of the Social Democrats, Catherine Murphy. This wide ranging conversation covers Siteserv, Anglo/IBRC, the INM data breach, Denis O’Brien and above all else, Catherine’s desire to support a politics that serves the people and not just the vested interests.

Órla Hegarty #HousingCrisis Ep.49

When we started our series on the housing crisis DIT Housing Lecturer, Lorcan Sirr, told us we MUST speak to today’s guest in the tortoise shack, Architect and UCD Lecturer, Orla Hegarty. Mel Reynolds said if we could hand the reins of the Department of Housing over to her for a few hours we’d be on the road to tackling the crisis.

If anything, the lads understated her ability!

Where is Citizen No.1?

The following was submitted by Eeekkk, a very concerned citizen!

I have e-mailed the newsdesk of the indo for years and years and years on many many subjects. I sent e-mails of all sorts not just ‘PRESS RELEASES’. Would I have legs to sue for breach of my privacy cos copies of those mails were shipped outa the country to lands unknown?

I mean I don’t even have to show a financial loss to seek compensation?! See pic above! I don’t have a different set of rights to Bruce Arnold or Geraldine Kennedy?! Right!?

I am in all likelihood one of tens of thousands of citizens in same position. How much money do INM have? What does that come out to divided by ten thousand? Or one hundred thousand? Too late for privacy so yeah – I’d take dollars instead. Even if it was five dollars – or even the price of a newspaper.

I mean the data was taken abroad – that is what it says in the papers. All of it. The e-mail archive of INM.  Maybe nobody came across me in the archive or searched for me or anyone I corresponded with in the archive – but ‘abroad’ to me means in reality the equivalent of ‘disclosed’. I mean – I know that it has passed through the hands of six companies abroad. But it is really very very hard to know who these companies are, who they work for, who and what impact the disclosure of my data might have in the future if somebody that hires one of them runs new searches.

Let’s do a thought experiment. Has data been disclosed if (1) it is handed by one of two parties who are corresponding to a third party abroad in an envelope essentially? Or is it only disclosed if and when (2) a third party (abroad) sits down and opens it?

I think it is (1) above. I think a child would tell you that. I think a test case is needed here. I think that – even though I also think it is too late to get my privacy in my correspondence back. The damage is done. Smoke can’t be put back in a bottle. Even Big Brother can’t do that.

Scary on the eve of a referendum. Scary in the present context. I mean a person centrally involved in this story paid shitloads to have a Vatican Chapel done up and he and another big bunch of ‘citizens’ got their names on a creepy plaque! (see image next page) He has a LOT of data!

Step forward Citizen No. 1.

Don’t get angry with Pig Brother – get even.

Rough Translation “That the injustice of time may be rendered obsolete’

Submitted by Eeekkk

It’s an Emergency

This is from last September. The situation has only deteriorated since. But the solutions are available. They are doable. Now they’ve admitted it’s a national emergency the government can finally take the matter seriously.

There was an interesting development in how the Government has decided to handle (spin) the housing crisis this week.

Following a raw and at times brutal Morning Ireland interview with a homeless Secondary School student named ‘Amanda’, the Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy, rather than feel ashamed decided he’d side with the poor girl.

Mr Murphy said:

“The piece that was broadcast this morning on Morning Ireland is probably one of the most important contributions to this debate that we’ve heard in the past number of months.

The bravery that they had this morning to come out and tell the country about their particular circumstance was very brave but very important for people to understand what these families are facing.”

The family tragedy compounded by a Minister who is calling this crisis a debate. The time for debating is long gone. It is time for action, real decisive action.

Campaigns like #MyNameIs have raised the consciousness of the general public and the sense that more must be done is palpable.

In reality we have the means to take much more ambitious steps than the planned 23,000 social housing homes by 2021.

More importantly, even with this limited plan, who will be held accountable should this target not be met? Given that only 22 of the 1,500 promised by next year have been completed to date, can we believe in any new plan? Where is the accountability?

The lack of accountability in Ireland undermines many facets of our society. But to just focus on housing we can identify the problem quite quickly.

Unlike many other European countries, including Belgium, France and the UK, housing is not a right in Ireland.

In Ireland, under the 1988 Housing Act, our citizens run into a verbal wall.

10.—(1) A housing authority may, subject to such regulations as may be made by the Minister under this section –

make arrangements, including financial arrangements, with a body approved of by the Minister for the purposes of section 5 for the provision by that body of accommodation for a homeless person,

provide a homeless person with such assistance, including financial assistance, as the authority consider appropriate, or

rent accommodation, arrange lodgings or contribute to the cost of such accommodation or lodgings for a homeless person.

2. A request for accommodation may be made to a housing authority by or on behalf of a homeless person.

The blocker in the system is a small word that covers all manner of excuses. The word is ‘may’; as in the housing authority may or it may not do a,b,c or d.

It is not compulsory, and if it is not compulsory then there is no accountability.If there’s no accountability then there’s no repercussions for missing targets. Until may becomes must and the power to act become a duty to act then nothing will change.

This emergency didn’t sneak up on us either. It is the result of decades of bad planning and even worse policy making. We have gone, progressively since the 1970’s, from State provision to a combination of NGO and Market provision.

Both are failing – for different reasons. The NGO solution is common – the UK for example has a similar situation, with the important distinction that the State in UK decanted housing stock progressively to the NGOs, thereby providing a balance sheet base from which the NGO’s could leverage collateral to fund future housing stock.

The NGO model is endemic in Irish Social policy – the same approach applies in Health, Disability Services and in the past in areas such as industrial schools.

Whatever about its origins – a pauper State seeking access to property and services from institutions such as the Church, it now represents either an abdication of responsibility or, worse, an adherence to Victorian attitudes to relative poverty and provision, in one of the wealthiest countries in the world.

Without diverting from the current crisis, this needs to be reassessed in all areas of Social policy.

Given the intolerable crisis we have today – 8,160 people(now 9,800) homeless and nearly 3,000 children(now 3,800) – anything less than “The State Will Provide” response from the Government will not suffice. Even if we are to only do so on a temporary basis until the crisis has abated.

There’s nothing in EU Law that forbids a country from acting to protect its citizens. Therefore it follows that there is nothing in EU Law (including the Debt to GDP rules) that can prevent the government from raising money to build social housing.

The “off balance sheet” argument is a red herring. They raised over €5bn to pay off the IMF. To not do the same for our citizens is an indictment of Right Wing slaves to the “free” market ideology. It is an indictment of us as a society and a country.

It is within our powers, as the 14th wealthiest country in the world, to build 10,000 social houses in the next 12-18 months. Any legislative roadblocks can and must be given the NAMA treatment.

Exceptional times call for exceptional measures.

If we can create NAMA overnight, ignoring legislative processes, to stop a Bank crisis and we refuse to do the same for our citizens then any plans from the Third Emergency Housing Summit are only window dressing.

The pressure is on, Fine Gael are rattled by claims that their ideological blindness to the less well off in our country have exacerbated this crisis.

Campaigns like #MyNameIs have embarrassed them and stung a Taoiseach obsessed with his image into action. This action must happen now and it must be on a scale that dwarfs the current 2021 plan.

Time is of the essence here. While things are bad they are about to get much worse. There’s 14,367 Buy To Let Mortgages at repossession stage.

There is no incentive or reason for the Vulture Funds that own these properties to rent them to the social housing/homeless part of the market. This will be like throwing petrol on a bonfire unless our government turns “may” into Must.

We have the means, the finance is available and the solutions are simple:

Make the provision of housing a right, at least until the crisis has abated.

Use the NAMA exceptionalist model to protect the citizens.

Commit to building 10,000 social houses in the next 12-18 months.

Make the Departments accountable and have repercussions for failure.

Incentivise/Legislate that the Vultures make their properties available to the Social Housing schemes.

Introduce a retrofit scheme for the approximately 900 units sitting vacant in Dublin.

Streamline the planning process.

Incentivise the use of over-shop-accommodation for the Air BnB market.

Deliver, deliver, deliver.

Fine Gael are 84 years old today. The Taoiseach used this occasion to remind people that he wants “to build a Republic of Opportunity”.

Well Leo, it’s no good waiting for opportunity to knock when you don’t have a front door. So get building.

Tony Groves