The Glass Wall

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With the ‘Strike for Repeal’ grabbing all of the headlines this week, it might come as a surprise that the government are essentially on the verge of decriminalising abortion this Tuesday. Yes that’s right THIS TUESDAY!

The Dáil will be meeting on Tuesday evening to discuss an amendment to The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013. Without boring you with the deets this act recognised that in cases where there was a threat to the life, due to suicide, of a pregnant woman, abortion may be used. Was grand when they signed it and people thought “Yay! If I’m going to kill myself the government will let me have an abortion.”

Though the act seemed to be somewhat sound, sadly it was not. Women who apply for the process have to jump through a million and one hoops before eventually being allowed access to abortion. The process has been deemed by all that have gone through it as a horrible ordeal. Noticeably rape and fatal foetal abnormalities were left out of the act and later rejected in a proposed amendment as they were deemed unconstitutional. The act introduced in 2013 was a step forward, but a very minuscule step for women’s rights to bodily autonomy.

All of this is for an article another day, but the main point is the proposed amendment being discussed in the Dáil tomorrow! Currently the act under article 22 titled, with no bias whatsoever, ‘The Destruction of Unborn Human Life’, abortion is criminalised in Ireland. Nothing new there. The penalty for it is a whopping fine and up to 14 years imprisonment. It’s frustrating to think that a woman forced into having a dangerous, shady abortion in Ireland can be put in prison and fined.

Tomorrow evening the proposed amendment will go before the Oireachtas. The amendment will change what the penalty is for having an abortion to “A person who is guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable to a fine of not more than €1.00.” The amendment essentially decriminalises abortion in Ireland by only charging those caught with a fine of €1.

While this is a momentous occasion it’s still not good enough. Whatever side of the Pro-Life/Choice argument you are on, this act along with the 8th Amendment are some of the worst laws the country has ever produced, putting the lives of it’s citizens in serious danger.

If you want to show your support for the Bill head on down to the Dáil tomorrow to this event:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1314001118657921/

Also if you can’t make it shoot your TD an email saying you support the amendment! It needs all the support it can get!!!!!

Also don’t forget the strike for repeal is this Wednesday, with the final recommendations from the citizens assembly being handed in soon the movement needs all the support it gets!

https://www.facebook.com/events/200800163721646/

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With Trump on one side of the pond and Brexit on the other, our Emerald Isle is sandwiched between two of the most vitriolic events unfolding in recent history. The honeymoon period is over for Trump and as for Theresa May, Brexit has stampeded to the headlines of our newspapers for months. Sooooo what does that mean for Ireland, our little island plonked between the two?

Tax Reforms

Ireland’s Corporate Tax is 12.5% and is a haven in Europe for large corporations. From Google to Apple and Facebook who all have Headquarters in Ireland, we home a portion of the the crème de la crème of the business world. Let’s not kid ourselves, along with being in Europe and having an educated work force, our low corporation tax makes Ireland stand tall amongst the other hard ballers in competition for large businesses.

This is about to come into jeopardy by Trump who has promised to lower U.S Corporation tax from a high 35% to a much lower 15% as well as investment in infrastructure. America’s sky high corporation tax has driven U.S companies from the states – to the benefit of Ireland. According to a report by the Irish-American Chamber of Commerce published in 2015, direct investment in Ireland has totaled $277 billion in twenty years. Whoa!!!!

Trumps cut in corporation tax may implement Ireland hugely. If large companies are attracted stateside and get packing, Ireland will see job losses and may be set back to making our own shillelagh’s instead of importing them from China! ( really, you can buy these traditional Irish yolks from ebay imported from China http://m.ebay.com/itm/201758266923?_mwBanner=1 )

The U.K has hopped on the bandwagon of dropping their corporation tax which will plummet to 17% by 2020. Years ago, this low corporation tax would be unthinkable for Britain with such a high domestic market, but in these threatening times, Theresa May (U.K Prime Minister) is trying to keep as much business within her walls as possible and lowering corporation tax is one way to do it.

Currency

The current rate (as of today) is €1 to $1.05. This ain’t good for us folk going on holidays to the States. I’ll put it to ya this way, back in 2010 a euro would be equivalent to $1.40. That means that when you went into Abercrombie, everything was 40% cheaper to buy than it would be in Ireland. Sadly, today it’s a meager 5%. However, it isn’t all bad. It has become significantly cheaper for Americans to come to Ireland. Ireland’s economy is boosted by tourism and according to the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC), tourists spend €1.4 billion while here. That is some dosh! A stronger dollar means more American tourists and that is certainly a good thing.

Unfortunately, it works the other way with Britain. With a weak pound it is becoming increasingly more expensive to come to Ireland which will damage our economy. ITIC has said that Brexit will be the largest challenge for Irish Tourism since the crash in 2008 with Brexit causing Irish holidays to be 18% more expensive. If there is a “hard Brexit” meaning the pound weakens further, this is not good news. Again with the implementation of a border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, Irish Tourism is set to have quite a challenge to face.

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Trade

There is no doubt that Britain is Ireland’s most lucrative trade partner. According to British Irish Chamber of Commerce (BICC), trade between the two accounts for 400,000 Irish jobs with trade worth 1.2bn weekly. This relationship is set to come under threat if negotiations between the EU and Britain lead to a hard Brexit. Post the triggering of Article 50 (when they leave the EU), tariffs on imports and exports could be as high as 30%. This will severely damage the booming Irish meat and dairy exports across to our neighbours. With higher tariffs on Irish exports and a weak pound, Irish goods and services will reach sky rocket prices – unless an agreement is made between the two … only the future knows that.

The Single Market

The ‘single market’ is a phrase that has been flung around since the beginning of Brexit. Put simply, the single market allows for the free movement of goods and services as well as labour throughout the Union. This allows businesses and financial firms within the U.K to lap in the luxury of free trade without tariffs throughout all member states and access to the millions of citizens within the Union. According to the Office of National Statistics, 44% of exports go to the EU. With a leave from the single market and an imposition of admin costs/taxes on their exports- this is bound to hurt businesses situated in the U.K.

The European Economic Area (EEA) includes E.U member states as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway who all benefit from free trade. London is a financial base because it is situated in the EEA and thus businesses and banks take use of the single market. If the U.K fail to negotiate an agreement that sees them remain in the EEA, then it is highly likely that relocation will occur to other countries that are still within it.

What does this mean for us? Well, if relocation of business and banks occurs due to reduced access to the E.U market, Ireland is in prime position to benefit from this – making Ireland a financial power-house. (Good news for once eyy!!) According to research from John Ring of Knight Frank agency as part of the Dublin Office Market Review and Outlook for 2017, Ireland could benefit from 15% of businesses relocation post-Brexit with a creation of 13,125 jobs here.

A week in politics can create a lifetime of changes and as negotiations go underway with Brexit and as Trump continues to baffle us all only one thing is certain – our island is bound to be affected by the hullabaloo.

By Seana Davis

 

We live in the era of fast fashion. We have become the ‘I don’t have anything to wear’ generation, we are accustomed to the ‘ah sure it’s only a fiver’ phrase when justifying a new item of clothing. In an increasingly globalised and consumer-based society, it seems that we need to look more closely at the label. Speaking to Aisling Byrne of nu.ethical, she explains fast fashion and its costs, and discusses how we can, as a community, regain control of the fashion industry.

Could you give a brief introduction to nu.ethical, and the basis for starting the project?

Nu.ethical is an ethical and sustainable fashion community that we’ve started in Dublin (2015). The idea is that people can have alternatives to fast fashion, people can still have changing wardrobes, but without the environmental and social costs that come with fast fashion.  Nu.ethical is a fashion community, nu. run events, such as regular swap-shops, and have also created an online platform for sharing and swapping clothes. Through the community, people can use the clothes that they already have in a fun environment, learning more about what you can do to make small changes within the fashion industry, and helping people become more aware. The online forum is a way for new members to swap clothes with their friends, people around them and the wider fashion community. It is a way for people to still reap the benefits from fast fashion without the added costs, both environmental and social.

Can you describe what ‘fast fashion’ is?

A lot of high street brands fall into the fast fashion category. High street brands (think H&M, Zara, Forever 21) have created ‘fast fashion’. Over recent decades, there has been a move towards this new way of shopping. Previously, brands in the fashion industry would have produced Autumn/Winter and Spring/Summer, but it has now developed into the product of 52 seasons a year, with new trends coming out every week. They change the looks constantly, the consumer buys into this and feels a need to keep up with these fast changing trends.

This mass production and mass consumption leads to so many problems along the chain. Workers in the factories struggle to meet deadlines, with more and more pressure being put upon them. Also the designers, who would prefer to have more time to create pieces that they love, and that will last a lifetime, are forced into creating pieces that must get from the drawing board to the shop in three weeks.

The consumer (thats us!) is also isolated from the  products, we are put under increasing pressure to keep up with these fast trends, which obviously has a huge effect on us financially. The pressure to keep up with constantly changing trends. As a collective, let’s take back control of the fashion industry. We are all part of the chain and we all have an impact.

Can we reverse this trend of ‘fast fashion’?

Fast fashion has equalised the fashion industry. It doesn’t really matter what your budget is, you can still find clothes that make you look good, whereas before fast fashion’s growth, it was a class issue. This is one thing that fast fashion has done for us, although we are buying into this corrupt system (in some respects).

People seem to want to constantly change their wardrobes, constantly update it, wear an item a couple of times and then move on to something else. We [Nu.ethical] looked at this and we asked ourselves, how can we make this more sustainable and more ethical? If we can’t do this, then the fast fashion industry is ultimately flawed.

Nu.ethical began looking for solutions. If something has to be worn 30 times in order for it to have a suitable lifecycle, as well as not being harmful to the environment, it can be worn 30 times but that doesn’t have to be by the same person. It seems we need to move towards a more ‘ownless’ society. If you look at sharing economy reports and circular economy reports, this is something that is going to grow substantially in the next few years. Rental systems coming in, driverless cars, etc. Why would you own a dress that you are only going to wear three times? You have invested in this wardrobe, you lose money, and it ultimately becomes waste.

People are curious, we are built to try new things, people love fashion. So how do we do this in a sustainable way? Hopefully brands will wake up, in fact they’re having to wake up because of this conscious consumer mindset thats definitely coming in, people genuinely do care.

You describe the environmental and social costs of fashion on your website, can you elaborate on these? 

It all starts with the cotton and the material, are the farmers paid right? In many cases they are using monsanto seeds, that do not fend off pests, and they’re forced to buy pesticides. This can put a huge amount of pressure on the farmer, who in turn may go into debt. There has been thousands of farmer suicides in India in the past decade alone.

Dangerous conditions in the factories, as well as outsourcing to homes. Although fast fashion brands will say that they’re being made in a certain factory. However, behind closed doors, a lot of the production can be outsourced to women, men and even children beyond the walls of the factory. This is completely unregulated and undocumented. Undocumented wages, unpaid toilet breaks, undocumented overtime.

Toxic chemicals and dyes that are dumped into rivers and lakes, having detrimental effects on our environment. The clothes then get to our shops, then our wardrobes, and after a short lifecycle we put them into charity shops (90% of which are not sold) and are then sent over to developing countries at knock-down prices. This undercuts the local economy and then the small local shops and artisans in the local economy go out of business. All of this waste ends up in landfills in the countries that never wanted the clothes to begin with. It is a destructive, unsustainable chain.

Social issues include issues with unions, with what workers can and should be paid and the conditions that they should be working in. A label that reads ‘Made in Italy’ could mean that it is only fitted or tailored there, not necessarily manufactured there. It is so difficult for the consumer to be informed when so much of the fashion industry is undocumented.

 Fashion and activism, do you think fashion can have an impact in regards to social issues?

Fashion is like your second skin, it can say so much about you, what you stand for and what you don’t stand for. Brands like TOMS, is a brand that has beautiful products, and also has a beautiful social and ethical mindset (purchasing a pair of TOMS helps provide shoes, water, and other health and sanitation services across the globe). Of course, on the other side of that, a lot of brands also ‘greenwash’ their products, that seems to be what millennials want.

The black ‘Repeal’ jumpers, for example are really important in movements, they have created a community. The Repeal jumpers are also ethically produced and approved. A bond is created between strangers passing each other on the street. With sustainable fashion and sustainable brands, clothes and fashion become much more than just bits of material. Fashion can have a message, and it should. People create art when they stand for something, through dance or through music, so why not through fashion?

Do you have any tips that people can follow in order to take some steps towards being more ethical in regards to fashion?

-Next time you need something to wear for a night out, just ask yourself ‘do I have it?’, and if not, does someone else have it? Can you borrow it?

-If you have to go out and buy it, try choose an ethical brand

-Think about what you are buying

-Will I wear this 30 times, and if not, will someone else? Can I share this with a friend?

-Buy something because you know that you’ll keep wearing it, buy something that will last

-Look at your wardrobe, look at what you have and what you don’t have

-You may find that you have 8 pairs of jeans, 2 pairs could do the same thing

-Think about ‘doing more, with less’

-Nu.ethical run swap shops once a month, where you can swap your pre-loved clothes for some new ones

-Be more conscious, be more aware and try think about the costs behind that label

nu.ethical are available online and offline. Nu. are providing amazing alternatives to fast fashion from the swap-shops they run regularly to the online community they are developing. They are all about swapping, sharing, creating, repairing and generally having fun with fashion, with ethics and sustainability at their heart. We need to take back control of the fashion industry as a community, and as a community we can and will do better. 

Nu. are starting a wardrobe trial, where you can share clothes with your friends, people in your college, school or area, and the whole Nu. Borrowing, rather than buying means you can get some great pieces, without the financial, social and environmental costs! (sounds great really!)

For their trial the need people to send in photos of 5 items of clothing that you are willing to share, you’ll be invited to the online platform and can access all of the clothes available. To find out more, just fill out this google form and Nu. will send you an email with all the information you need: (Get swapping and sharing!) https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScqyC8eB_XCtwj-X5GreYEuCNkAWyHS7mei5ddCNG_4bDdchw/viewform

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nustartup/ or @nustartup

Instagram: @nu.wardrobe

Website: www.nuethical.com

Louise Conway speaks to Aisling Byrne (nu.ethical)

 

During the time I spent with Suas Educational Development in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India, I was exposed to a broad cross-section of the complex society of the country. We got to know students, business professionals, rickshaw pullers, IT workers, street vendors and of course the children we taught.

Throughout my childhood, I was afforded a comfortable existence and an environment which enabled me to achieve to my potential in school – as is the case for a lot, but not all, Irish students. In part due to some innate egotism we all have, in tandem with support from teachers and my parents, I left school after my Leaving Certificate believing my good results were exclusively due to my hard work and commitment. Witnessing the barriers faced by the children we worked with in a marginalised community outside of Delhi offered me a unique perspective on my good fortune and provoked me to reflect on the inequalities faced by those in the lower social strata of developing countries, as well as their analogues in the western world who similarly are victims of circumstance.

Experiences in India

It is difficult for us to genuinely fathom the hardships faced by some of these children. One student of mine, Azad*, caught my attention on the first day with both his interpersonal skills and intelligence. At the age of eleven, Azad was amongst eight and nine year olds in his class. I could not understand why he was in this younger class group given his overtly obvious intelligence and confidence. Slowly, I began to see beneath his veneer of charisma and jocularity to observe a child under enormous stress. A recent migrant to the area from a small rural village, he periodically missed days of school – working in a local hotel to help support his large family. This was a child with unique emotional intelligence and maturity, one who grieved enormously for a young girl electrocuted outside of school one morning – an event to which other students reacted with childish curiosity and a lack of understanding. Through very little English, he lamented the loss of such a young child – not a family member, not a neighbour, but a fellow human. Yet, Azad’s sporadic attendance at Raina Shine NGO-run school means that he will have much difficulty in his attempt to move into a mainstream institution and stay in education after the primary stages.

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Ireland

Obviously we can all plainly see the obstacles placed in Azad’s path, but more insidious hurdles impede the successful completion of second level education to youths across Ireland. Systematically down through the years opportunities have favoured the privileged. Up until recently, a significant proportion of schools offered places based on prior attendance by family members. What to the middle class may have appeared as a legitimate means to stemming the gross swelling of school numbers, proved ultimately inhibiting to those who did not have educated family members. This categorically punished those who were already at a disadvantage.

Even more subtle barriers to equal access and completion of basic education exist in many complex guises. Although our educational system has undoubtedly improved, many parents have a severely negative perception of school – seeing it as a hostile institution which discriminated against them. These residues of friction seep into the mindsets of their children and precipitate in low attendance and concentration. This is not to blame the parents, as their memories of school and monotonous rote learning are valid – but we have developed to focus more on the students and their needs since. Perhaps adopting a more parent-centric model may enable us to further cut drop-out rates, which thankfully are now at an all-time low. I am aware of a number of schools which now consider this a fundamental tenet of promoting retention of students. Regular adult classes (such as yoga and art) and meetings to culture parent inclusion in education have proved successful, but are not found in enough schools. Students are still falling through the cracks.

During my time in Raina-Shine school in Noida, India, I saw students voraciously devour their school provided lunches daily. For many of them, they may not eat again before the following school lunch. We may all like to believe that this is an issue that we can ‘tut’ about, comfortably thousands of miles from developing countries, but it is not. Children are going to school hungry in this developed country as well. Unable to concentrate through the hunger pangs, can we truly expect these children to achieve their potential? Organisations such as Barnardos are doing all they can to reach these children in under-privileged schools with their Breakfast Clubs, however funding is of course a limiting factor. In conjunction with this, we all have to appreciate the kaleidoscope of backgrounds from which students in all schools come, deprivation is not always geographical.

Through the concerted action of a range of organisations, we can evolve the Irish system into a more inclusive model. Suas is one of those organisations, running a fantastically successful literacy programme in disadvantaged schools throughout the country. In tandem with this, their work abroad impacts significantly on the prospects of hundreds of children every year.  I hope that we can all recognise that dreams and potential are not bound by nationalities, and we must all do our bit to support a two-pronged approach, working at home as well as internationally to strive for equal access to education.

*Pseudonym used

By Tom Farrell

When you think of Africa two images spring to mind. One is of a Savannah filled with wild animals, like the opening to the Lion King, with maybe a few tribal people having a bop in the background. The second is of a war torn, famine plagued festering shithole. Just type in ‘Africa’ to Google images and see what pops up.

While there are places on the continent that somewhat resemble these two images they are largely untrue.

This huge and diverse continent with a massive population is cast as one country in disarray in the minds of too many people, including the former President of America (George Bush).

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The question remains then why do we think of Africa this way if it’s not true?

We simply have to look at how Africa is portrayed by the media.

Shaping Our Perceptions

Like most I had the Trocaire box in my house over Easter and never really thought much about it. A few coppers here or there is gonna help feed the starving babies in Africa. But the images on the front helped shape what I thought Africa was like.

If you don’t believe me, remember that Christmas belter ‘Do they know it’s Christmas?’ from Band Aid. Think about the lyrics, they’re ridiculous. The aim was to provide support for the famine in Ethiopia. 1 out of the 54 countries in Africa. Yet when they sing about it they get mixed up and call Ethiopia, Africa. The continent is painted as dystopian nightmare: “where nothing ever grows, no rain or rivers flow“. It’s the most patronising thing that Bob Geldof has done, which is saying a lot. For a lot of people this was the most prominent portrayal of Africa in their lives.

So it’s no surprise that we all think of Africa in this way, because it’s all we’re ever shown. The negative side.

But there’s something missing.

Exclusion

All the messages were told about Africa are coming from people who aren’t African, and in some cases have never even visited the continent. Take Band Aid for example. Can you name any African Artist featured on the track? No? Because there are none. Partly because they weren’t asked and partly because what African person in their right mind would sing this shite?

The fact that Africans have no means of representing themselves to us in the privileged West directly affects the relationship between us. Taking away the right of someone to tell their own story lets others manipulate it to justify their own ends. We see this all the time in the marketing of NGOs. We’re shown images of people in terrible conditions and are lead to believe that donating some money will help save Africa. A few quid here or there will feed the emaciated child on the cover of the Trocaire box. Calling up Band Aid to donate will save Africa (or fuel Geldof’s ego). But it won’t.

These messages perpetuate the story of the White Saviour. Those in the West sweeping in to help feed and save the barbaric and savage Africans, who can’t be left to their own devices for a second.

This is all bullshit. It’s extremely condescending and just wrong.

Africa is a continent not a country. It has the most countries out of all the continents and the second most people. It’s extremely diverse, from huge industrial cities to small farms.

Here’s a few pics of what Africa that you might not get from the media:

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Accra, Ghana

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Coast of Djibouti 

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Zanzibar, Tanzania

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Women in Nigeria

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Eyl, Somalia

If you want to find out more about the positives in Africa visit:

http://africasacountry.com/

Consent is a pretty well defined term, isn’t it – ‘to give permission for something to happen’ – then what’s the issue here, why are so many Irish third level institutions recently asking their students to attend workshops on the term? It’s because with sexual consent there are no textbook-hard-and-fast rules on what the verbal and non-verbal indicators are for granting permission for sexual advancement, each situation has to be assessed individually – and it’s that grey area that these workshops wish to address.

 A recently released EU study showed that 21% of the Irish surveyed said that “having sexual intercourse without consent may be justified in certain cases”, examples of said situations were being drunk/on drugs, voluntarily going home with someone after a night out or wearing provocative clothing. I personally read that as being roughly 1 in 5 people in Ireland that currently have a distorted view on consent.

 Over the past year, third level Student Unions across the country have begun to offer sexual consent workshops to their student population to address issue of sexual assault in Ireland, but even more so the issue of understanding when sexual consent is and isn’t being given. Trinity held a pilot workshop for their first year students in their halls of residence as part of their orientation last September, and after an attendance of over 400 students they now plan to offer college wide workshops.

 Other Irish Students Unions have followed Trinity’s suit and proposed consent workshops, however in the last few weeks both UCD and UL have had to cancel their proposed workshops due to lack of interest. Are workshops an effective medium to tackle the issue? It’s perhaps too much to expect the students who don’t have a grasp on consent to voluntarily be seen not understanding it.

 While this is the first year that these workshops have been rolled out in Irish universities, Oxford has been running them for 6 years with this last year being the first year that they were mandatory for all incoming first years.

“Mandatory consent workshops” – the irony of that statement can clearly be seen but is there a necessity to it? Is it condescending to lecture young adults on whether they know what ‘yes’ and ‘no’ mean or is it a conversation we need to have to ensure that the narrow line of sexual consent is understood by all?

 In another attempt to engage the student body in a conversation about consent, last year Trinity’s Student Union launched a campaign with the video ‘What is Consent’ which highlighted the verbal and non-verbal indicators when it comes to sexual consent. This could be a more effective medium to engage students into reflecting on the matter than a simple attendance at a workshop. Visual campaigns are certainly a great start to get the mind thinking on the topic, but I can’t help but think that proactive conversation and scenario based discussions to outline indicators of consent and non-consent can add to a spectrum of tools that can help minimise sexual assault in young people.

By Aisling Kelleher

Palestine Solidarity week has kicked off with an impressive and fervent display of solidarity. As we find ourselves living in an age in which student activism is too often cast down as fleeting and self-serving, organised protest is a rare sight in Trinity Arts Block- at least it was, until today.

A peaceful protest was organised by Students for Justice in Palestine condemning the reception of the Israeli Ambassador Ze’ev Boker in Trinity College Dublin. The event arranged to host Mr. Boker in the Thomas Davis Theatre at 7pm which was advertised as an opportunity to gain a “unique insight into a well-known delicate situation” on the Facebook event page, was first delayed and eventually cancelled due to the resonant chanting of the protesters outside the lecture hall on the basis that the provision of such a platform to the Ambassador was an imbalanced approach to the current regime of illegal settlement and discrimination in occupied Palestine.

From the river to the sea, PALESTINE WILL BE FREE!

Almost as soon as the chanting began, curious onlookers began to gather around the demonstration. Occupied by the energy emanating from the protesters, observers began adding their own voices to the chorus calling for Justice in Palestine. A small assemblage of high-vis jackets announced the arrival of Trinity security, who grouped on one periphery of the congregation, observing tersely. Unphased, if not more driven, the chanting demonstrators bolstered each other in a circle formation outside the door of the event.

One, two, three four: APARTHEID NO MORE!”

The Students for Justice in Palestine campaign has called on the international community to take a non-violent Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) stance against Israel on human rights grounds. Trinity College Dublin continues to have research associations with Israeli institutions that whitewash and enable Israel’s persecution of the Palestinian people – despite the fact that the college has formally opposed the Apartheid regime in South Africa. Nelson Mandela himself has drawn parallels between the South African Apartheid regime and the current situation in Israel.

Five, six, seven, eight, ISRAEL IS A TERRORIST STATE!

Discrimination against Palestinians is a fundamental element in the maintenance of the Israeli regime, and many would argue that it is an illegitimate state. Zionists envisioned Israel as a ‘true’ democratic state, which was impossible while Palestinians still lived there. The result was mass expulsion and the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. Massacre and the threat of massacre drove the Palestinian people out of their land. Today there are roughly 5 million displaced Palestinian refugees (and their descendants) in the world.

“From Ireland to Palestine, BORDER WALLS ARE A CRIME!”

The planned event follows Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent meeting with President Trump, the legitimacy of whose administration, it could be argued, is similarly illegitimate. Just two days after Trump’s inauguration Israel announced plans to build almost 600 new settlement homes in occupied territory, which would suggest confidence in a more pro-Israeli policy stance, and persisting institutional backing of Israel.

As it became apparent that Mr. Boker would no longer be making an appearance, a small group of advocates for the event began to cry out “Freedom of Speech” in retaliation to the protest. The volume and gusto of the BDS chanting only increased in reaction to their presence; the protest gaining momentum in the face of contention. The event organisers were drowned out by the overwhelming calls of “Freedom for Palestine”. They eventually dispersed.

Calling for freedom of speech strikes me as an ironic argument, considering the powerful position that Israel occupies today was established and is maintained through the systematic silencing of Palestinian voices, and this is the very transgression that the solidarity succeeded in fighting tonight.

There’s a host more events organised for this Palestine Solidarity Week! Check out the Students for Justice in Palestine Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/apartheidfreecampus/

By Lily McSweeney

 

Unless you have been living under a rock, it is unlikely that you have avoided hearing about the housing crisis and the role vulture funds have played. But what exactly is the story with vulture funds?

Technically, they are comprised of hedge funds and private equity firms who invest in ‘distressed securities.’ They have earned the unpleasant moniker ‘vulture’ owing to the fact that they are primarily interested in spotting weakness and hidden value in poorly performing property and business loans. Vulture funds swoop in and buy in bulk at hugely discounted rates. Their business plan is simply about profit maximising and Ireland has proved to be rich pickings as a result of the combined effects of the banking crisis and property crash.

The most well-known funds include Cerberus, Lone Star, Goldman Sachs and Blackstone. They then use special purpose vehicles as tax efficient or tax neutral companies who manage the assets in Ireland, such as Promotoria Finn and Tanager. The Great Irish Sell-Off revealed that vulture funds have bought over 9000 residential mortgages and €200bn worth of property and business loans over the past few years. Astonishingly, this figure is larger than Ireland’s total national debt. A number of customers of these funds appeared on the programme and described in harrowing detail how difficult it was to deal with them and how little these funds cared about the individual circumstances of the debtors involved.

Arguments are made that Vulture Funds were necessary to help the distressed Irish economy submerged within a deep recession. These funds took a high risk and invested in Ireland Inc at a time when no one else would. But at what cost? It is widely reported that many of these funds are paying very little by way of tax, in some instances just €250 a year. UCD School of Social Policy research estimates that €500m has been lost to the exchequer over the last few years due to loopholes exploited by the funds. With the property market continuing to heat up, it would seem the only losers here are the Irish people.

Many question why the banks are selling off their distressed loans to these funds at huge discount but refuse to engage with customers before this regarding any form of debt forgiveness. The moral hazard card is always pulled out when this issue is raised. The banks maintain that strategic default would result. However, it can be clearly established whether a borrower is in genuine financial difficulty or not by assessing their income, expenditure and individual circumstances. State agencies such as MABS could be used to intervene and mediate where a bank suspects that the debtor is deliberately and intentionally defaulting. Unfortunately, common sense appears to have no place in this story.

Families all across Ireland are feeling the harsh effects of vulture funds. Many have already lost their homes and thousands more know that they will be facing homelessness imminently. It is little wonder that they feel abandoned and let down by the state. With rents at all-time highs, social housing lists surpassing the 100,000 mark and the courts already overwhelmed with repossession orders, it is surely high time the government should intervene and take action. While the financial cost might be more easily calculated, the human cost in this story is simply immeasurable and the repercussions will be felt for generations to come.

By Carly Bailey

Depending on which echo-chamber of Facebook you live in, you may already have heard a lot about divestment. You’ve probably seen the term used recently in relation to Deputy Pringle’s divestment bill which has just passed through the Dáil. But if you’re here, you want to know more about it actually means. So this is the crash course:

Divestment 101 – History of the Movement

Divestment is a form of social activism through which individuals and organisations indicate their ethical disapproval of certain companies or industries by removing assets from them. The approach is two-pronged, intended to starve the target of funds and to remove their social license as investment is also often seen as an endorsement. In the past it has been used by the anti-apartheid movement to put pressure on the South African Government, and to show disapproval of the tobacco industry by defunding advertising campaigns. Ireland and Irish institutions have a history of divestment, being both the moral objector and, in certain cases, the target. In the 1980s and 1990s, Northern Irish companies that had not adopted the MacBride Principles –  a set of 9 principles to promote employment equality – were targeted by investments bans and selective purchasing legislation from American states. In October 1998, this became federal law. And last year, the Irish Strategic Investment Fund sold its remaining investments in tobacco manufacturing.

Divestment 102 – The Fossil Fuel Industry

In what is claimed to be the largest and most rapid divestment movement in history, the Fossil Free movement has so far resulted in almost 700 institutions – with a collective value $5.44 trillion – divesting from the fossil fuel industry. While pledges range from avoiding coal and tar-sand industries only to complete fossil fuel divestment, the collective message is that it is wrong to wreck the climate and it is wrong to profit from that wreckage. So far, institutions committed to divestment include the Church of England, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund. In December of last year, Trinity College Dublin joined the growing list of colleges and universities such as Oxford and Stanford in pledging to redirect the €6.1 million of its endowment fund that it had, directly or indirectly, invested in fossil fuel companies. This was the result of a yearlong, student campaign by Fossil Free TCD. NUI Maynooth has also adopted a fossil-free investment policy, and student-led divestment campaigns are active in NUI Galway and Queen’s University Belfast. The argument for fossil fuel divestment claims, not only the ethical ground, but that market volatility, narrowing margins and the potential for legislation against the industry make it an unwise investment.

In January, the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill passed through the Dáil without the support of Fine Gael in a 90-53 vote. If it is successful in the committee stage, the bill will pass into law and the Irish Sovereign Investment Fund – worth €8 billion – will be divested from the fossil fuel industry. The bill was brought forward by independent TD Thomas Pringle and supported by Trócaire, Friends of the Earth and An Taisce.

By Lorcan McLaren

Brian Cronin interviews Razan Ibraheem for the Ithaca Diaries.

Razan Ibraheem is a Syrian woman living in Ireland. Razan has overcome significant obstacles and challenges to lead a highly successful life. A journalist with Storyful – and formerly of Facebook – she has spoken in front of the likes of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, President Michael D Higgins, and the UN in Geneva. She was awarded the Irish Tatler Woman of the Year 2015, and has a Masters from the University of Limerick. Her story is one of adversity, a vision, and ultimately triumph.

 

Whether concerned parents or the Catholic Church in Ireland like it or not, the young people of Ireland are going to ride each other. You can avoid talking to kids about it, but it really doesn’t do anyone good.

Sex Ed in Ireland is completely out of touch. On one side kids and teens are taught next to nothing in schools about sex, the catholic church still as pervasive as ever in Irish schools. We’re given the bare minimum in education – “penis goes womb, baby comes” out as James put it. Devoid of talking about anything other than the scientific side of things, the Irish are ultimately left stunted when it comes to the having safe sex. On top of that sexual identity is rarely ever addressed, but that’s a discussion for another day.

On the other side of the coin there’s no escaping sex in the media. We’re constantly being told that we should be having sex by reality TV, ads, and the internet. A lot of young people see porn as educational. Getting the ride on the reg is coveted by all, and with Tinder and Grindr it’s easier than ever.

So where does that leave us? We want to have a load of sex, but are uneducated and uninformed. It’s really no surprise that there’s a HUGE rise in STIs in Ireland over the past decade. Some stats to scare the shite out of you: the number of reported cases of Gonorrhea increased fourfold and syphilis and chlamydia doubled in the past decade (2004-2013). In 2016 they continued to increase. This is fucking nuts considering 60% of Irish people said they’d never been screened for an STI.

One person doing the job of the government is James Kavanagh. He has tens of thousands of followers on social media and has been using his position to educate people on sex. We had a chat with him about it.

When asked about where the idea came from James told us it stemmed from an article he read on providing classes on life skills in school.

“On the school curriculum there’s a lot of useless stuff. People need to be taught skills that will actually be of use to them later on in life”

“Sex Ed was shite when I was in school. We were taught the very basics, all very scientific. Penis goes in the womb, baby comes out. I thought that it must have been improved from when I was in school, but 99% of the responses said it’s still crap.”

The HUGE amount of responses James received were mixed. They ranged from questions about safe sex to teachers getting in touch about their classes.

“A lot of people didn’t even know you can get STIs from giving head, which is completely mad. I had a few people snapping saying I was lying”. Outrageous, we know…

“I had teachers get in touch with me too. Some said that they wanted to teach a more comprehensive class on it but that their hands were tied by the school board. A few teachers said that they had given their students great classes.” On top of this Childline centres started receiving hundreds of calls from concerned teens who taught they might have STIs.

The way Sex Ed in Ireland is taught really needs to change. Instead of promoting abstinence, young people need to be taught how to have sex in a safe way. “It’s absolutely bonkers that in some schools you have a nun come in, who’s never got the ride in her life, to teach about sex.”

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“There’s a total lack of organisation on how it’s taught.” James used the recent outbreak of gonorrhoea in University of Limerick to highlight this.

“Basically, a load of first years came in and were having unprotected sex… because they weren’t taught how to have safe sex… It led to a massive out break of gonorrhoea on campus”.

The Minister for Education is putting the health of Irish young people in danger by not having a universal curriculum for Sex Ed in schools.”

James has linked up with letsgetchecked.com who provide discreet and easy to use checks for STIs.

James ultimately wants everyone to know about safe sex. “It’s all about having sex in a healthy way. It doesn’t matter who you are or who you’re riding you should know how to have safe sex”.

If you haven’t been checked in a while or ever, please go out and get it done. It’s a bit awkward but it’ll save you a nasty rash down the line!

Follow James on Snapchat: @Jamesksnaps

For more info on Sexual health go to: letsgetchecked.com

Our Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/TheGlassWallIreland/

By Ciaran Boyle

The Citizen’s Assembly is tasked with deliberating a range of issues facing Irish society today. Since October 2016, they have met four times to deliberate the first item on their agenda, the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution. The Assembly is made up of ninety-nine registered citizens (the lads in the pic above), chosen randomly to fairly represent the Irish electorate. It is meant to be independent of the government- there are no politicians among the group. The members deliberate under chairperson Ms Justice Mary Laffoy, who was elected to the position by the government.

Soooo basically a load of randomers are thrown into a room to decide recommendations to give to the government. It’s a way for the government to kick the can down the road a bit on their decision on when to hold the referendum on the 8th Amendment.

endakenny         Enda ya cheeky bollocks

The general public were given the opportunity to make personal submissions to the Assembly (the deadline for which has now come and gone). At the discretion of the chairperson, special interest groups are also allowed to present to the assembly. The group is also informed by an expert advisory group on details of the Eighth Amendment and its ramifications. During the last three meetings, a wide range of medical experts and practitioners have presented papers, you can read them all on the Assembly’s website.

The Assembly must finish their report on the issue of the Eighth Amendment before they are allowed to move on to the other issues they have been asked to consider (these include: how we best respond to the challenges and opportunities of an ageing population; fixed term parliaments; the manner in which referenda are held and how the State can make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change). Their report will be to the Houses of the Oireachtas and each aspect will be deliberated and debated. If the Assembly recommends that the Constitution be amended and the government accepts this, they will announce a timeframe for the referendum to the public.

There has been some criticism of the Citizen’s Assembly. Some people have pointed out that the Assembly could exclude the viewpoint of those unable to afford time off work to attend meetings. Others think that the creation of a Citizen’s Assembly in the first place is a way for the government to stall on making a decision about the Eighth Amendment, which they would argue is well overdue. On the other hand, the Assembly could be viewed as an exercise in democracy, it offers a platform for everyone’s voice to be heard. At their latest meeting, members read over a selection from the 13,500 submissions that were sent in by the public.

By Alice Quinn Banville.