Irish people

Autumn Scenes At Glendalough – Ripples Through Time ?

2009-12-07:   The beauty of the Irish countryside is hard to beat.  A few dry days are all we need … and to be able to see the sun occasionally !   Make that … more than occasionally !!

Colour photograph of 'Upper Lake at Glendalough' - Autumn Scene.  Click to enlarge.  Photograph taken by CJ Walsh.  2009-10-26.

Colour photograph of ‘Upper Lake at Glendalough’ – Autumn Scene. Click to enlarge. Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2009-10-26.

It is breathtaking to imagine the Climatic & Geological Upheavals – hundreds of thousands of years ago – which created the Valley of Two Lakes: ‘Gleann Dá Locha’ in Irish, or ‘Glendalough’ in English.

Colour photograph of 'Autumn Trees' at Glendalough, County Wicklow, Ireland.  Click to enlarge.  Photograph taken by CJ Walsh.  2009-10-26.

Colour photograph of ‘Autumn Trees’ at Glendalough, County Wicklow, Ireland. Click to enlarge. Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2009-10-26.

 It is comforting to know that we once had – hundreds of years ago – a Better System of Irish Law: ‘Féineachas’ in Irish, or more commonly known as ‘Brehon Law’ in English.

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Genuine Social Partnerships – A Necessary Enhancement for Dysfunctional Institutions of National Governance ?

2009-06-03:  Since 1987 … Ireland has had continuous, and a quite positive, experience of National Economic Partnership Agreements

 

1987-1900     Programme for National Recovery (PNR)

 

1990-1993     Programme for Economic & Social Progress (PESP)

 

1994-1996     Programme for Competitiveness & Work (PCW)

 

1997-2000     Partnership 2000

 

2000-2003     Programme for Prosperity & Fairness (PPF)

 

2003-2005     Sustaining Progress

 

2006-2015     Towards 2016

 

But … where is the Social Progress ?   Where is the Fairness ?

 

 

 

In 2009

 

We – the People of Ireland – face a different reality … a twilight zone of interlinked, seemingly insurmountable challenges at national level.

 

This time around, the challenges are not just economic in nature … but social, environmental, institutional, political, legal and judicial.

 

The key to meeting these challenges … a stark realization that our Institutions of National Governance are in dire need of change, re-organization … and urgent enhancement by genuine Social Partnerships … a large scale effort requiring creativity and innovative strategic thinking …

 

 

[ The following text, intended for application in the European Union, was drafted in 2003. ]

 

 

Recalling(1) that direct and meaningful consultation with people, partnership between all sectors of society, consensus, transparency, institutional openness, and political accountability, are essential elements in Social Wellbeing for All – a Social Partnership is a collective of groups and individuals, i.e. the social partners, business, industry, civil society and experts, which acts as a ‘catalyst’ in enhancing and broadening implementation in an area of human and/or social policy.  Set out below are a number of Guideline Principles which should be actively considered as a basis for their establishment and operation within the European Union (E.U.) …

 

1.         Common Aim, Agenda & Objectives of a Social Partnership

Although of a voluntary and self-organizing nature, specific commitments should be made by partnership participants to co-operate together around a common aim, agenda, and a set of objectives with targets;  these core elements should evolve over time.

 

2.         Respect for International Law, Peace & European Values

A respect for International Law, Peace and European Values – Human Dignity, Human & Social Rights, Equal Opportunity, Social Justice & Solidarity, Sustainable Human & Social Development – should underpin all partnership activities.

 

3.         Vertical Co-Ordination of Activities

Mobilizing latent social capacity for translating policy into tangible results, partnerships should act in accordance with E.U. Law;  they are supplementary to, and not a surrogate for, Institutional competences at Union, Member State, regional and local levels.

 

4.         Horizontal Integration of Outcomes

Partnerships should coherently integrate ‘social’, ‘economic’, ‘environmental’, ‘institutional’ and ‘political’ aspects of Sustainable Human & Social Development in all outcomes.

 

5.         Multi-Sectoral & Multi-Disciplinary Participation(2)

Partnerships should adopt a widely multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary approach, and should proactively involve significant actors within the boundary of its remit – in order to more readily achieve a ‘balanced’ horizontal integration, and a timely realization, of outcomes.

 

6.         Openness, Transparency & Accountability(2)

Partnerships should be operated in an open, transparent and accountable manner – and in good faith, so that ownership of the partnership process and its outcomes are shared equally by all participants;  its activities should be accessible to the public.

 

7.         Effectiveness & Coherence(2)

Partnership performance, outcome coherence and implementation effectiveness should be regularly reviewed against objectives, targets, and overall impact on the common aim.

 

8.         Funding Arrangements

Funding arrangements for partnerships should be clearly identified, should not give rise to conflicts of interest, and should be accessible to the public.

 

9.         Freshness & Self-Renewal

Efforts should be made by participants to retain a spirit of freshness and self-renewal in a partnership;  new participants should be welcomed, and research given a high priority.

 

10.      Progress & Future Growth

The operation of a partnership is an iterative process;  precise and accurate feedback from outcome implementation is essential for its progress and future growth.

 

 

Notes:

 

(1)  See Appendix II of the European Charter on Sustainable Design & Construction, adopted in Dublin on 6th November 1998.

 

(2)  See also EU Commission Communication COM(2002) 704 final, issued in Brussels on 2002-12-11: ‘Towards a reinforced culture of consultation and dialogue – General principles and minimum standards for consultation of interested parties by the Commission’.

 

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Remembering Easter Monday, 1916, in Dublin

2009-04-13:  On the Monday following Easter Sunday, in 1916 … the initial phase of the Irish Revolution was signalled by reading the Proclamation of Freedom in front of the General Post Office (GPO) on Dublin City’s main street, O’Connell Street … then called Sackville Street.

 

Some years ago, when visiting the graves of the Revolution’s Executed Leaders in Arbour Hill Cemetery, just a short walk from where I live … I was drawn to read that same Proclamation which is inscribed, above their graves, in stone.  The words are rousing … as they were meant to be at the time … but also inspiring for today.

 

The Proclamation begins …

 

IRISHMEN AND IRISHWOMEN:  In the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us, summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom.”

 

… and, further on, continues …

 

” The Irish Republic is entitled to, and hereby claims, the allegiance of every Irishman and Irishwoman.  The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally, and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past.”

 

 

I wonder how many of our politicians, or senior civil servants … or our bankers … our business and religious leaders … have ever taken the time to read and understand those words ?

 

We are not yet ‘free’ !

 

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National Disability Authority – Viable ?

2008-12-12:  Further to the much regretted resignation of Mr. Niall Crowley, the Equality Authority’s Chief Executive, on the evening of 11th December 2008 … and meditating on the poor protection of human and social rights in Ireland …

 

It was interesting to listen to Ms. Angela Kerins, Chairperson of the National Disability Authority (NDA), giving sincere and earnest interviews in the media, a few weeks ago, about the possible amalgamation of the NDA into a larger, but single, Rights & Equality Organization.  [She also holds the Chair of the Equality Authority.]  

 

The question which I have been asking myself for a number of years is: “Does the NDA serve the best interests of the Irish Disability Sector ?”.

 

Back in September 2005, for example, I drafted a submission on behalf of FireOx International, SDI’s Fire Engineering Division, concerning the Department of the Environment, Heritage & Local Government’s Outline Disability Sectoral Plan (2004) … and its serious omission of any consideration of ‘fire safety for all’ in buildings.

 

Commencing the Submission, I stated …

 

The 2005 Disability Act (Number 14 of 2005) is a deeply flawed and inadequate piece of legislation; and every individual and/or organization associated with its inception and development should be thoroughly ashamed.  It is an outrage, and a national disgrace.

 

In particular, we do not understand why every Board Member of the National Disability Authority has not already tendered his/her resignation.  We demand that this should now happen, and without any further delay.”

 

See the full 2005 FireOx International Submission.

 

 

Earlier this year (in April 2008), when reviewing a new National Disability Authority Publication: ‘Promoting Safe Egress and Evacuation for People with Disabilities’, I discovered – much to my great surprise – that the authors of the document, White Young Green Consultants (Ireland), had cut some corners and used copyrighted material developed by FireOx International for their commercial gain … without any permission.  This was later acknowledged by the National Disability Authority.

 

This NDA Publication also has many technical errors.

 

Maybe … it is Ms. Angela Kerins who should have resigned long ago … and not Mr. Niall Crowley ?

 

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