Ni Neart Go Cur Le Cheile

When I watched the first of TV3’s new format People’s Debates with Vincent Browne I admired the courage of the station in attempting to give equal voice to ‘ordinary’ people as to elected politicians and aspiring politicians.  However I did feel that there was a lot of shouting and not a lot of coherence.  So when the second one was announced as being a women only debate on the subject as to whether or not we had yet achieved ‘liberation’ I wasn’t overly enthusiastic. 
But being me and afraid I might miss something, a character trait (flaw?) that has kept me on Twitter for six years, I rocked along to the magnificent HD studios in Ballymount last Wednesday. 
As someone who is a member of the National Women’s Council and also involved with the Women on Air group, I was immediately surprised that I didn’t know more than a handful of the women present.  As I took my seat in the studio I wondered if there was some kind of snobbery at work here.  There weren’t many (if any) TDs at the first People’s Debate and there was not a sign of a woman TD last Wednesday either.  I know we don’t exactly have a lot of female TDs but I was disappointed that not one had shown up.
I enjoyed the evening very much.  There is something very …. I am slow to say special…but it is special when a group of women come together.  Perhaps it’s the very different energy, the different dynamic. 
I was struck by the humour of the evening and also by the very articulate contributions from almost every woman who spoke.  There was passion too.  And believe me there were all points of view in the studio… from very Catholic women to women who were very vocal campaigners for liberal abortion. 
I am aware from the commentary on Twitter afterwards that some women felt their voices weren’t heard and that is a shame but I guess an inevitable fact at any event. 
But I felt that there was a tangible willingness in the studio for women to listen to each other.  It was said time and time again that true equality is about choice.  And this is something I have written about many times.  But more than choice I also think that in order for the cause of feminism to move forward we women must be tolerant of views that run completely to our own.
Abortion is possibly the most divisive of these issues but there are others too. It is vital that as women we realise that to move forward we must all stand together.  We must park our differences and our battles over issues such as abortion.  I understand that abortion is something many feminists will say is fundamental to our freedom as women… but if we continue to insist on all women signing up to that agenda we are doomed to failure.  There are also very feminist women who do not support liberal abortion laws.  That does not make them less of a feminist.
Equality is indeed about choice but it is also about tolerance.  We are not a homogenous group – we are as different as we are the same. 
As the debate wound to its conclusion two things were clear to me.   The new Irish women – many of whom on the night were African had so much to add to our conversation about equality.  Their voices were such a welcome addition and they brought wonderful insights to the debate.  The other thing that came up time and time again was the ‘work of caring’.  Until we as a nation value the work of caring and until it is subsidised by our taxes we will never be fully liberated.
Exactly 100 years before we gathered in a TV studio in Ballymount, a group of women met in Wynne’s Hotel in Dublin and founded Cumann na mBan.   I have no doubt that these women were equally full of passion and enthusiasm for their cause and the cause of national freedom.  But in the end they were divided, like the rest of the country on the issue of partition and the Treaty.  And so the cause of Irish women’s liberation ground to a halt.
There is a lesson there for women of 2014.  Some issues will remain divisive for years to come.  Don’t let that force us apart and therefore delay our full liberation for another century. 
Ni neart go cur le cheile

I CAN SEE THE FUTURE – ITS FULL OF GLADIOLI


Yesterday I tweeted something reflecting my frustration with the man who may well be our next Taoiseach, Enda Kenny. His reluctance to engage in the leader’s debate tomorrow night on TV3 with the bulldog of Irish journalism, Vincent Browne leaves me breathless…. with anger. He is looking to be elected to the most powerful job in the land at a critical time in Irish history and he won’t go into a TV studio because he has a problem with Vincent Browne.

Vincent Browne’s interviewing tactics can definitely be suspect at times, but he often is reflecting the anger that most of us, the people of Ireland feel at the moment. His late night programme is also now one of the pillars of Irish Current Affairs viewing.

We desperately need to feel that our next leader will have balls of steel and a natural drive to place the good of this country above all else, during their term of office. If the polls are right, we are about to elect Enda Kenny into this office. A man who at best is holding a grudge and at worst is afraid of what Vincent Browne may expose.

Last week this photo of our leader in waiting appeared in all the national papers. It is a brilliant photo and at first glance gave us all a great laugh. But take a close look at it again. Enda is wearing an expression that is vaguely familiar. Yep, it is one worn by President George Bush. That same unsure, rabbit in headlights, shifty look that Dubya often exhibited. The look that says “I’m about to be found out any minute.” It’s a look that inspires hilarity not confidence. And I am not going to even begin to analyse the look on the unfortunate dogs face. That dog is capturing the emotion that many of us are feeling… the sense that it all is going wrong and we are powerless to stop it.

I have no doubt that we will entertain the world if Enda becomes Taoiseach. George Bush did provide plenty of laughs. It’s all very funny when it’s the leader of another country, even leader of the most powerful country in the world. But we are depending on our next Government to lead us back out of this black hole of recession and debt as quickly and painlessly as possible. It therefore it most definitely not at all funny for the electorate.

Which brings me back to Twitter. One of my British twitter friends (@whyjay99 should you wish to follow her), on seeing my Enda tweet enquired if I meant Edna as she had never heard of the name Enda. There followed a lightbulb moment when I glimpsed our future.

That’s where we are going I’m telling you. Our next Taoiseach shall be christened Dame Enda Kenny. The man who, like the antipodean character who describes herself as a Superstar Housewife, thinks he’s a superstar politican! A misguided man who very possibly will sweep into power on wave of votes the likes Fine Gael haven’t seen in years. And he will think it is because we love him. Get your gladioli ready people!

p.s. I should point out that I am not affiliated with any political party! I have yet to decide how I will vote!

MOON MAYHEM


On Wednesday last, 19th January, I got up at 5am. I headed straight for the kitchen for a glass of ice cold orange juice to wake me up. As I arrived downstairs I wondered who had left what light on. The kitchen was glowing in the darkness of the pre dawn. I suspected a laptop or muted TV. But no. Directly above one of the roof windows January’s Wolf moon was spilling ivory light all over the floor and up the walls.

An hour later I was walking down South Anne Street and again the moon called to me as she sailed slowly over the Westbury Hotel lending the silent city an air of magic. I stopped to honour her magnificence and attempted to capture it on my phone camera. I wondered what the moon was trying to say to me.

My early morning interview on Newstalk Radio done, I headed back towards Grafton Street in search of breakfast. As the moon sank slowly out of sight ahead of the rising winter sun, radios were beginning to pick over the previous nights drama in Dail Eireann, where Brian Cowen had won the vote of confidence in his leadership of Fianna Fail. Michael Martin’s challenge had certainly never looked very threatening. He had cut a lonely figure in a bare hotel room at his press conference. In fact Fianna Fail’s efforts to oust its leader was like watching a tribe of pygmies trying to down a bull elephant with bows and arrows.

The only talking point on Wednesday morning was Mary Hanafin’s apparent crisis of conscience or confidence which led to her picking up an arrow and launching it gently in the direction of the bullish Cowen. Even for a girl it was a rubbish throw and its only effect was to make her look very silly indeed.

Delivery trucks lined up on Grafton Street and the street echoed with the sound of shutters being raised signalling the beginning of the day’s trade. I left to head back to my normal life and Wednesday routine.

As evening fell, Grandmother Moon rose into the sky again, looking even more powerful and beautiful. Her round face seemed to wear an enigmatic smile as she presided over more mayhem. By 9pm the first of a waterfall of resignations was announced as Mary Harney bade farewell to her inglorious tenure as Minister for Health.

By 11pm, the moon was high in the sky and three more ministers vacated their positions. Our Government seemed to be melting in the moonlight.

By the time I awake on Thursday morning the moon is low in the Western sky and wearing a warm buttery rich hue. I am sure she winks at me as I try once more to capture her last moments of stunning beauty.

In Dail Eireann chaos has descended as Biffo attempts to promote lesser spotted TDs into ministerial roles. It was clearly seen as a political stunt to provide some much needed positive PR to elected representatives before they have to knock on doors around their constituencies and it backfires spectacularly. The Green Party throw a spanner in the works. At around the same time it seems that the comatose front bench finally wake up and their barely hidden anger is captured by the amazed political hacks who witness it. There are even reports of Mary Hanafin using the ‘f word’. The day ends with a reduced cabinet double jobbing all over the place.

By Thursday night, Fianna Fail seems to be eating itself. Conor Lenihan gives a stunning performance on Vincent Browne’s programme as he sells both his leader and his brother up the river. His anger explodes causing his face to glow crimson as he attempts to give birth to his new self right there on live TV.

As I head to bed, I search the sky for the moon. She is invisible under a thick blanket of cloud. But I hear her message. Her work is done here…. for now.

Goddess Moon, Grandmother Moon – symbol of feminine power and energy is now waning. But she will be back again in 28 days. I can’t wait.

Photo by Paul Sherwood http://www.sherwood.ie