Government Is Slowly Eroding Irish Neutrality

charlie-flanagan-3-390x285We read today that independent TDs Mick Wallace and Clare Daley were arrested by airport police in Shannon airport after to breaching a perimeter fence . Their aim was to try to inspect two US military planes to ascertain whether they were carrying weapons, which they believe would breach our neutrality. Clearly they went about this knowing they had no legal basis to gain access but as we know in Ireland protests seem to be the only way to raise awareness of issues like this.

The government will no doubt label it a “stunt” for media coverage during the Dáil break, but it raises issues about Ireland’s neutrality, especially with the current situation in Palestine and Ukraine ongoing.

Ireland’s neutrality only allows it to participate in UN mandated peacekeeping operations and prevents Ireland becoming a member of NATO, which means Ireland only co-operates with NATO through the Partnership for Peace framework which Ireland joined in 1999.

It was previously established that the US had used Shannon for rendition flights and it has long been suspected that it has also been used for stopover and refueling for aircraft carrying arms to hot war zones. As with any agreement the scope of this sometimes gets stretched and reinterpreted. One might wonder if the government believe that what the PPf defines as helping in “logistics” in “peace missions” could be reinterpreted to allow moving weapons to any warzone that NATO deems covered by the UN. We think that is stretching it a bit but to this day their is still no oversight of what goes on.

Government need to stop fudging. Ireland’s constitution states we are neutral full stop, we can’t be “a bit neutral”. Hence government cannot breach that constitution, it is there to restrict them after all.

This brings us rather interestingly up to today’s events. This morning Charlie Flanagan, Ireland’s new Foreign Affairs minister, said on his way to an EU meeting of foreign ministers, that Ireland supports phase 2 sanctions against Russia over Ukraine. Now this is where is gets sticky because sanctions are in fact an act of war in their own right; and this puts Ireland in a difficult constitutional position. It also sees the government of “neutral” Ireland siding with NATO in what the man in the street can deduce from the immediate, somewhat frenzied and unreasonable rantings of US politicians, to be a  push to commence another hot war zone, this time with Russia. So what on earth does neutrality mean any more to the Irish government?

There seems to be a logic disconnect in the department of foreign affairs when it comes to supporting their “friends” above taking time to find the truth, and also abide by the constitution and the rule of law. As we have seen in the even more frenzied orgy of media coverage over the recent plane crash in Ukraine, evidence does not seem to be particularly important to politicians when there is a larger goal at stake. The behavior of the media has been utterly shameful and so blatantly devoid of reasonable journalistic rigour over this terrible air disaster. We have endured 4 days of headline accusations that, when you read behind the banners and between the lines, are based on nothing more than speculation and hearsay and a complete lack of hard evidence. Yet all this time Russia is the only country calling for an international investigation into the crash by ICAO, the United Nation’s International Civil Aviation Organisation, not the actions of a guilty party and yet neutral Ireland springs into action with NATO. Where is the rule of law in all of this, or is promulgating war via media the new norm?

It is also notable that Charlie Flanagan’s reasoning for his support lacks credibility when he cited the “support for democratisation of Ukraine” and a stand against “Russian aggression” as Ireland’s and the EU’s reasoning behind these sanctions. It seems to have evaded Charlie and the media that Ukraine was already a democratic country, it had a democratically elected government and president, it had united people who wanted a Ukraine with both Russian and Ukrainian ethnicity, independent and not solely tied to either Russia or the EU; well it did until the west supported an armed takeover of that democracy by a militarised group that has it’s history rooted in past support for the Nazis, who also happen to support allegiance solely with the EU. Yet our government support this as democratisation,  and criticise Crimea where they had a peaceful referendum to decide their future rather than a military coup; and this is somehow Ireland being neutral?

Unlike the terrible plane crash in Ukraine, over which Ireland jumps in with two feet before any real evidence is presented amid the war drum beating of NATO, on another front Charlie Flanagan seems to be much more “neutral”. His statements on the Israeli actions in Palestine, and more notably the recent attack on Gaza, are much more conciliatory; not wishing to take a stand on any particular side. Though the tenure of his statements are generally more favourable towards Israel and fail to recognise the disproportionality of the suffering, or the full history of the 70 year conflict beyond the last two weeks. There is no condemnation, no expulsion of diplomats, no cessation of trade, no sanctions at all even though the UN and Amnesty have both derided Israel’s disregard for civilian casualties, collective punishment of a population, during their bombardment of Gaza as contrary to international law and a war crime; even though the evidence is so real you can watch the destruction live on television.

We appear to have a serious problem of double standards, an failure to understand history, and a severe logic deficit in our department of Foreign Affairs; and all the evidence points to Ireland’s government behaving as just another proxy state for US foreign policy.

Ireland is constitutionally neutral, but we can take unilateral action in defence, we can make unilateral declarations of support or condemnation, but we must make those decisions based on international law and proper evidence, not fall into line when the clamour of a colonial superpower tells us to, nor should we fall in silently behind an EU foreign policy statement. Charlie Flanagan you are bound by oath to respect our Constitutional neutrality, please do so.

 

The post Government Is Slowly Eroding Irish Neutrality appeared first on Direct Democracy Ireland.

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Oireachtas Committee Report calls for increased funding to SMEs

16th July 2014

Fine Gael TD for Kildare North, Anthony Lawlor, was today (Wednesday) involved in the publication of a Report on Access to Finance for SMEs by the Joint Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, of which he is a member. The report recommends making the process more transparent with access to finance more readily available across the banking sector.

“Small and medium businesses are the backbone to our society and have suffered severely during the recent economic downturn. Despite protestations by the banking sector that money is readily available to SMEs, it is clear that an over reliance on bank loans and overdrafts is a problem facing most companies, with very few alternatives to banks for which to apply for funding. Furthermore, cumbersome paper work and long waiting time for loan approvals are seen as major deterrents.

“For the last few months, stakeholders across the business and banking sectors have met with the Committee to inform members of their experience of finance available to small and medium businesses. The most glaring outcome of these hearings was the divergent opinion between the banks and the SME representative groups in relation to bank lending. It is clear that the reality on the ground as expressed by businesses is very different to that claimed by the banks. The Committee therefore is calling for an independent verification of lending rates across the banking sector, with the Central Bank the appropriate body to carry out these checks and balances.

“Along with this suggestion, the report makes in total 25 recommendations including:

It should be mandatory for banks to provide detailed written explanations as to why a particular application for credit has been turned down.

Loan applications should be dealt with by banks within a specific timeframe and a response should be provided within two weeks at the latest.

There must be greater supports for small businesses to improve their financial literacy with particular emphasis on the drafting of business plans.

Credit Unions should have a greater role in local job creation and in supporting SMEs.

Alternative sources of funding should become available to SMEs such as crowdfunding

“As a member of the Committee I will continue to press for all the recommendations as outlined in the report to be implemented and am willing to meet with local businesses to hear of their ongoing experiences.”

ENDS

Notes the Editor: Report can be accessed here:

 

http://bit.ly/1r3Eubr

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Coveney Makes An Honest Mistake – Yes You Do Pay Twice !

Water going down a plugholeThis morning on the Newstalk Breakfast Show (@20.30 mins) Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney made what we kindly term “an honest mistake”. What we really mean is that he was “mistakenly honest”. We are sure his bosses will not be pleased to hear him reveal to the public that:

“…at the moment Irish taxpayers are paying about 1..2 billion euros for the cost of water, water is not free at the moment…”

This is contrary to the usual media spin that tries to convince people they have been getting it for free, or if someone won’t pay the new charges they would be getting it for free. They use this lie to set groups of people against eachother with the lowest of all dividing tactics, the “why should they not pay their water tax if I have to?” argument; regardless of it being a false argument where the real uniting argument should be “why am I or any of us paying at all?”

He goes on to say:

“…and so what we’re trying to do is move from using general taxation for water to a user pays principle ,whereby the families and the people that use most water have to pay the most for that…”

So Simon is confirming that they are simply moving from one method of payment to another method of payment. So we presume that means we will all be getting a reduction in our taxation equivalent to what we pay for water under the old method, totaling €1..2 billion in tax savings for the domestic water users.  After all if we change from paying our electricity on a 2 monthly bill to a prepaid meter we don’t keep paying the 2 monthly bill aswell. That would be fraud by the supplier wouldn’t it, and you can’t bring fraud before a court ?

Central taxation has always paid for the water supply since the inception of the state. In fact there were three previous attempts to introduce water charges that failed but resulted, in lieu, in increases in other taxes to cover the cost. We didn’t see any of those increases returned either.

So it is refreshing to finally hear some honesty from a government minister, even if it was a mistake. DDI demand the government come clean on this issue of double taxation, grow a backbone and stop extorting money from the people to pay back an illegal odious debt to their banking masters.

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Local Justice Experiment Could See A Change In How We Deal With Antisocial Behavior

dailinternalFollowing on from our article on the things happening in the Oireachtas on Wednesday it is good to see Cormac O’Keefe of the Examiner going into the order of business and picking up on this story that also interested us.

It covers a call from the Oireachtas Justice Committee to trial a new local community court to deal with (minor) local offences.

The courts system is very alien and detached, and this trial may give the opportunity to communities who know the offender in their community to devise different kinds of reparations that will yield the best results.

One thing DDI espouses is local responsibility for local issues, so by extension local justice may also produce better local results. If someone is judged by their peers and feels any kind of social responsibility to their home and local community then the possibilities for successful reparations are better. It also opens up the system to restorative justice where offenders can add something back to their community or to the victims of their offence. This it is believed increases the chance of rehabilitation and reinforces responsibility for ones actions.

We would support a trial of this idea but of course with very strict monitoring to establish what if any are the potential pitfalls and where it could possibly be subverted or impure an individuals rights.

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Fresh faces in Cabinet welcome

Friday, 11th July 2014

Fine Gael TD for Kildare North, Anthony Lawlor, has warmly welcomed the new Cabinet as announced by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD, today (Friday).

“Today we see a number of younger, newly elected Deputies taking their seat at the Cabinet table for the first time, which can only bring a new and revitalised look to the Government. The addition of two new women to our Cabinet sees the highest number ever of females in the history of the State taking the reigns at government departments.

“I am particularly delighted that four of our new government ministers were only elected to Dáil Éireann for the first time in 2011; Paschal Donohoe, Heather Humphreys, Alex White and Alan Kelly. This shows a commitment by the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste to allow new blood and fresh ideas to play a role in the formation of Government policies.

“I am also delighted that a number of portfolios have been changed within the existing ranks of the cabinet, such as Health, Foreign Affairs and Children & Youth Affairs. The experience of Ministers Varadkar, Flanagan and Reilly will revitalise these Departments.

“In terms of the Ministers remaining in their Departments, there is no doubt that Ministers Noonan, Bruton and Howlin have done an amazing job at turning our economy around and creating jobs. I am delighted that they can continue in their endeavours. Since her entry to the Department of Justice in recent months, Minster Fitzgerald has been a steady hand and I have no doubt that she will continue to show strength and introduce reform to our justice system. Minister Simon Coveney has been a breath of fresh air in the Department of Agriculture and I am certain that he will add the same enthusiasm and thoroughness to the Department of Defence.

“Since our new Tánaiste was elected last week, Minister Joan Burton has proven that she will work closely with the Taoiseach for the better of our country and will continue her great work within the Department of Social Protection. I am looking forward to working with the new Ministers over the next eighteen months continuing the improvement in our economy, to ensure that all sections of our community feel the benefit of the economic turnaround”.

Ends

 

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