A Truly Enriching Sunday Lunch. La Vaqueria Benamargosa Spain.

A fellow customer paused at my table as he passed me, looking around at the other dinners seated at tables in the garden of La Vaqueria he turned to me and said. “It’s like stepping back in time.” He was right and he defined the atmosphere exactly.There is a sense of time-travelling about a Sunday afternoon spent in this Benamargosa restaurant; yet you can’t quite put an era on it, but the feeling of being in a more relaxed and gentle period — perhaps deep in your own memory is almost tangible.

The gardens where the dinners are seated are shaded by tall and leafy fruit trees – banana, avocado and orange. A cockerel checks you out as you enter and then grandiosely announces your arrival. You take your seat, perhaps one drink before perusing the buffet. Soon you are among equally relaxed friends and enjoying the softly playing live music, a revolving ensemble each Sunday.

The food is delicately prepared and presented, an interesting mix of the exotic and wholesome. You make your choices, fill your plate, top-up your drink and return to the garden oasis. To describe the garden as a living work of art is not an overstatement, for it’s that and more. A tranquil place, you sit surrounded by mosaic murals, a fountain, soft laughter and a comfortable clientele.

La Vaqueria began in 2004, it wasn’t built but nurtured and allowed to grow by Su Derrick. The building mirrors her artistic nature. Now managed by Su’s daughter Josie who maintains the ethos of: relaxation, good food, good drink and good company. La Vaqueria also boasts a small yet thriving art gallery and shop. Here Su gives mosaic classes and organises events such as holistic fairs, yoga classes and theme nights; she also undertakes artistic commissions and her original work is proudly displayed in the restaurant.

Definitely a place to visit and definitely a place to while away the time.

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Spain, Europe, Catalonia. What next?


It’s 7:30 Friday morning here in The quiet village of Benamargosa in the province of Malaga, Spain. I’m sitting on the patio of a local village pub. A bar/café which thankfully opens at six, just in time to quell my coffee cravings.Paco the owner normally a jocular man, is not so this morning. He opens at this early hour to cater for the ten or fifteen regulars who stop each morning for a coffee or for an early morning sol y sombra, a potent mix of brandy and sweet anise a drink which could kick-start a Jumbo Jet.

The regulars, who now include me as an accepted fellow among their rank, are on their way to work in the campo.

A Sanguine People

Normally a sanguine group whose conversations, usually centred on this year’s mango or grape crop or last night’s game of dominoes or perhaps the odd bit of village gossip, have changed focus. Now every second sentence I hear contains the word Catalonia. It’s all they talk about this morning and all they have spoken about over the past few weeks. This mornings topic covers last nights riots in Barcelona where upwards of 65,000 people took to the streets to mark Spain’s national day. Two groups of protesters clashed in the city’s streets many were hurt and many arrested.

These Benamargosa people are laissez-faire by nature, content and occupied with getting on with there own lives. But I can tell by the interest shown in the political upheaval a mere few hours up the motorway they are worried.

Fresh in the Memory.

The Spanish Civil War bequeathed Spain a dictator. The Franco era is still fresh in the memory of many and not a pleasant memory at that.

There is a belief — most likely a myth — among expatriates living here, that the reason Spaniards talk so loudly — and believe me they do — is that during the Franco era if you were seen or heard to be whispering you were at risk of being accused of plotting against the regime. This is a country with a complex political past distinctly remembered by its citizenry.

Lest not forget La Transición, as it is referred to in Spain to democracy happened less than four decades ago. The year in which Ireland saw the births of rugby players Shane Horgan and Jerry Flannery and Johnny Giles resigned as manager of Ireland’s football team. Spaniards are very proud of their 1978 constitution and my morning coffee club simply can’t understand why Catalonia would want to secede from such a long sought and fought for democracy; they are bewildered as to why Catalan separatists would flaunt this relevantly recent constitution.

 Uncertainty.

Yes the constitution could be changed — it has been before — to allow for a properly administered regional referendum; there is a great distrust of the October 1st vote and its result. A national referendum would need to be held to allow Catalan to hold a regional one; this would likely fail. Even if successful and an independent state was formed what then? Would the European Union accept a newly formed and separate entity? Unlikely, the EU simply can not afford to support or allow an independent Catalonia to economically thrive as it currently does. Catalonia’s economy accounts for 19% of Spain’s GDP. The regions economic output is greater than most countries in Europe — on a par with Finland and Portugal. If Catalonia were to secede from Spain would it spark similar movement by the Basques? Would it lead to Ireland rethinking its EU membership to allow us foster closer ties with our closest and biggest trading partner Britain? Would it strengthen a Scottish independence push? Would it signal the end of the European Union? Many questions with no immediate or simple answers.

A future of political uncertainty is the only certainty in Spain and perhaps Brussels this morning.

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Limerick Dog’s in-depth look at how provincial Irish newspapers covered the Catalan referendum.

“Jaysus Dad! What the feck did we do now?”  

“What do you mean Odes?” Says I, only half-listening.

“I’m talking about the whole Catalina referendum, aren’t they looking for independence from Spain — I mean, it’s like we just moved to Spain and now a rake of them want to feck off and start their own country without us. You have to admit it looks a bit too coincidental, doesn’t it?”

“I see your point Odes, but I think it’s more complicated than that. In fact I’m fairly confident that at least this time it’s nothing to do with either of us.”

“Are you sure Dad? Look what happened when we left Ireland and suddenly the N.Ireland power sharing thingy went belly-up.”

“I see what you mean alright Odin, but I’m also fairly sure that this time we didn’t do nothing to influence or cause the event. Not like the Brexit yoke which came about as a direct result of you biting Prince Charles on his arse, when he and Camilla visited Dublin. But if the Catalan crisis is anyone’s fault you can bet it’s yours.”

“Jaysus Dad! You’d want to watch the auld double negatives. Anyway you can also bet your bottom dollar I ‘didn’t do nothing’ this time. I mean in all fairness you have to admit I’ve been fairly well behaved since we got here. Haven’t I?”

“Well behaved my arse Odin. How about yesterday morning outside the café? Remember when I left you for a pure minute and went across the road to see could I get a copy of the Limerick Leader in the kiosk place.”

“That wasn’t me Dad — seriously that woman at the next table, ’twas herself that peed all over the place, not me. But being a gentleman I took the blame. Anyway did you get a copy of the Leader?”

“Nah Odes, your-man — the Spanish young-fella laughed at me and said ‘Jaysus señor nobody reads that auld shite out here in Spain. I’ve plenty of copies of the Limerick Post though.”

“Did you get a copy Dad?…give us a look.”

“Nah, I left it Odes, I picked up the Waterford News and Star instead — there’s great coverage of the Catalan referendum in this weeks edition.”

“What’s the referendum got to do with Waterford Dad?”

“ ‘Tis their editor Odes seemingly she spend a wet weekend in Barcelona years ago and fancies herself as more Spanish than Spanish Onions or that fishy stew thing they cook.”

“Here Dad pass us over that copy of the Sun. I likes the crossword, so I does…”

“Fair enough Odes but I’m keeping page three….”

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A short story before bedtime: Dublin Streets

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First abandoned, then rescued and loved:

First abandoned, then rescued and loved, a look at animal rescue in Axarquia.

Ever since wolves began to follow prehistoric and nomadic man from camp to camp, scavenging his leftovers and eventually becoming domesticated, humans have had a special relationship with dogs. They’ve hunted for us, protected us and become our best friends. We however haven’t always treated them fairly. Dogs stray and are abandoned far too often. Ger Leddin looks at the work of Axarquia Animal Rescue and speaks to some of that organisation’s volunteers, those who deal with abandoned and stray dogs here in Andalusia every day of every week 

AAR is an animal rescue group in Andalusia. A registered charity, set up in 2011 in response to the ever increasing amount of strays roaming these streets. It is run and staffed by volunteers, animal lovers who give of their time, energy, experience but most importantly their love for animals.

Liz Pusey is one such volunteer. Liz, in her still soft Northern Irish accent, told me that after four and a half years living and working in Germany both she and her husband followed their dream to move to Spain. She has volunteered with AAR for the past five years. Her initial contact with the organisation came about when a friend asked her to foster, for a short period, Harvey a German Shepherd cross, who then only a new born pup, had been dumped on the side of the road.

Liz Pusey.

At first Liz needed to bottle feed Harvey and over the weeks he learned to trust her and built up his strength. Liz told me, “yes it was hard to let go when Harvey was allocated his forever home with a family in Wales, but it’s what we do.” She said. Liz still keeps in touch with Harvey’s new family via social media and enjoys watching him grow up, even if it’s from afar.

Liz who grew up on a farm always had a love and a respect for animals. “My home is like a mini zoo, I keep and look after: cats, dogs, birds and we even have numerous tortoises.


Liz manages the AAR charity shop on Avenida Andalusia in Torre Del Mar, administrating the receiving of donations and their eventual resale. The resale of: clothes, books, DVDs, jewellery and anything else that can go towards funding the work done by AAR.

She is disappointed by the lack of local or indeed national government help and aid and even more so when 25% of their profit is clawed back in taxes instead of being available to help the animals. “Dog welfare is not high on the Spanish Government’s agenda,” she sighed.

Both Liz and Maria Wood, who is AAR’s transport manager, agree that the problem with abandoned dogs is epidemic in Spain. They both also agree that there is what seems to be a cultural mindset, a difference in Spain in the way some dogs are cared for. “Perhaps it’s the tradition of keeping working dogs here in Spain?” Liz reflected. “It’s as if a dog needs to have a specific value before it’s well looked after. It’s different than in the U.K. Where dog’s are seen more as pets and companions, a part of the family and where dog rescue organisations are in the main adequately funded.”

Maria told me that a large proportion of AAR’s resources go towards rehoming dogs to Britain and other European countries. The charity advertises the dogs which are available for adoption mainly through social media. If a particular interest is shown by a family in a dog then the new owners are vetted for suitability by the use of a network of AAR contacts or perhaps a local vet. The animal is delivered to its new home within the U.K. using a certified and regulated transporter under the TRACES — TRACES is Trade Control and Export System EU — system.

“This is expensive, it can cost up to €280 to transport a dog to the U.K. and up to €100 to fly to other European destinations. That’s why fundraising is so vital to us,” Maria said. “Between vet fees, food and shipping it’s becoming difficult to carry out the work that we do. We can spend in the region of €4000 a month on vet and kennel bills alone — the need is that great.”

Liz made the observation; “what we are really trying to do is work ourselves out of a job. It would be fantastic if there was absolutely no need for us.” But unfortunately there is a need, since it’s formation six years ago, AAR through its shop and it’s market stalls and from the public’s donations have funded the rescue of and homed over 1700 dogs. Dog’s who have become loved and a part of families here in Spain, the U.K. and Europe.

I have a dog, he’s my constant companion, he loves me and I him. I’ve always loved dogs and the ones who are no longer with me: Blitz, Freya, Husky, have added immeasurably to my life. Dog’s can be man’s best friend they deserve our protection and kindness. They have been at our side since our beginning, we can’t just abandon them. That’s why the work of organisations like AAR are so necessary and deserve our support.

 Following last years massive success when more than €3000 was raised towards helping animals, AAR are holding their unique family fun annual dog show on Sunday 22 October 2017 at Puerto Niza, Benajarafe. Classes can be sponsored by businesses and by individuals for €30. A great opportunity to support a great organisation.

For more info email axarquia-rescue@hotmail.com. Or visit their website on http://www.axarquiaanimalrescue.com/index.php

And on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/

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Ireland’s Cliffs of Moher: Wild and Beautiful.

 

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If you had Theia’s —the Titan goddess of sight — eyesight on a good clear day, you could stand at the edge of the Cliffs and see Newfoundland. For you are truly standing at the very edge of Europe. The Cliffs of Moher mark the boundary of a continent; the next landmass is the New World. The Americas lie 3,161 kilometres west with nothing in-between save for the North Atlantic Ocean.

Formation:

Formed 319 millions of years ago during what geologists’ term the Carboniferous period, the Cliffs were initially inland mountains. The landmass then stretched further out to sea. The Aran Islands were part of the mainland and dinosaurs were yet to roam the earth. Rising sea levels eroded the land; oceans were formed and the Cliffs of Moher became Europe’s threshold.

A Gift From the Gods:

The Titan goddess Theia is also fabled as being the goddess who endowed gold and silver their brilliance and being the mother of Helios the Sun. To sit relaxed at the cliffs of Moher watching the golden sunset in the west silhouette the Aran Islands 14 kilometres North West is surely to enjoy a gift from the gods.

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The Cliffs of Moher are Ireland’s premier natural tourist attraction. With 1.5 million visitors every year enjoying the gentle cliff-side stroll meandering toward O’Brien’s tower — built to allow Victorian tourists to sip tea and enjoy the views extending to Loop head and Kerry to the South and Galway Bay and even Connemara to the North West. The cliffs at O’Brien’s Tower fall vertically to the Atlantic Ocean 214 meters below.

The cliffs are home to 30,000 pairs of nesting birds including: Fulmars, Kittiwake, puffins, guillemot and razorbills. The area was designated a Special Protection Area (SPA) for Birds under the EU Birds Directive and lucky observers may view endangered bird species like choughs and peregrine falcons.

Feral goats, Irish hares, badgers and foxes play shyly among the unique Burren flora.

Looking out over the wild and majestic Atlantic Ocean, dolphins and basking shark swim by while grey seals rest on the rocks and sea stacks that dot the cliff base.

The original Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience project was the recipient of a €10million grant under the Failte Ireland Tourism Capital Grants Scheme which was part of European Regional Development Fund grant aid under the National Development Plan that ran to 2006.*

This expenditure saw the building of a premier self-guided visitor centre — the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience; a sensitively designed and built, eco-friendly interpretative centre housed in an adjacent hill. This unique building contains audio visual displays, information points, restaurants and shops that add to the total visitor experience.

Mysterious-Cliffs-of-Moher-George-Karbus

A visit to this most western boundary of Europe allows not only an appreciation of the past but also an appreciation of nature its sights and its sounds, the wild and the beautiful.

 

* source Katherine Webster Director – Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience

Images courtesy of the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience

http://www.cliffsofmoher.ie/

Disclosure: The author Ger Leddin was once employed by Clare County Council which has a significant interest in the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why Love one but hang another?

galgos copyThis opinion piece contains some graphic and horrifying pictures of cruelty perpetrated on dogs. Sorry but it does happen and it’s time to wake up to it.  

I have a dog and he is my best friend. Where I go he goes, when I eat he eats, when I sleep he sleeps. He loves me and I him.

People tell me he’s “only” a dog; doesn’t speak, doesn’t understand, is only interested in his basic drives of: prey, food, sex and warmth.

Nonsense, Odin my two-year old German Shepherd is typical of all the dogs I have been lucky enough to call friends down through the years. Blitz, Freya, Husky, all now sadly gone, all different breeds, all different temperaments but all similar in the love, loyalty, and the unbridled faithfulness they shared with me and I with them.

Was I just lucky enough to have dogs that loved me and let me love them, were they the only dogs in the world ever to have shared feelings with me? I don’t think so.

Ask any person who has been lucky enough to share their lives with a dog and they will all tell you the same thing. That it’s one of the greatest bonds known to man.

This is why I was so upset and horrified when I was told recently of a practice — allowed to continue and encouraged even, by a European Member State — just down the road from where I live (Olhao, Portugal)  less than forty minutes drive, in neighbouring Spain. The “sport” of using galgos (greyhounds in English) as hunting dogs is cruel enough but the treatment of these animals by galgueros their Spanish owners/trainers is horrific.

This misguided sense of machismo allows for the torture and death of more than 50,000 harmless dogs each and every year.

Traditionally in Spain dogs are only used for one season then cruelly put down.

Being “put-down” in Spain is not as what the term euphemistically means in Ireland, Britain or most other civilised countries. In Spain disposing of retired dogs or those which embarrass their “Macho” owners by under performing in hunting are killed in retribution for the “shame” they bring to the galgueros. Not for these the euthanasia of a vets syringe but a cruel and atrocious torture and slow death.

Customary in parts of Spain “not to waste a bullet”

It is customary in parts of Spain “not to waste a bullet” on these animals, instead they are routinely subjected to the sadistic rituals of being dragged behind cars, burning with acid, burying alive or what is called in this sub-human culture, the piano-dance.

The Piano-Dance involves hanging the dog by its neck, the animal’s feet just touching the ground and forcing the dog to perform a macabre and fruitless effort as it struggles vainly to maintain breathing. Tens of thousands of dogs are butchered in this fashion in the fields and woods of Spain every year.

galgos 2

 

The Legal situation:

The Spanish Animal Welfare Act (32/2007) concerns itself with animal welfare and provides for penalties against those found guilty of animal cruelty. However, the Act is framed for the protection of animals kept for economic purposes and explicitly excludes animals kept for hunting or pets.

Regionally all of the seventeen autonomous regions of Spain have adopted legislation concerning animal welfare but again these regional laws also fail miserably when it comes to the protection of galgos which are in this instances considered “animales de renta” (animals of use to people), and excluded from the protections afforded to companion animals thus the galgos are not protected by either Spanish national or regional laws.

The Irish connection:

In November 1999 The Guardian reported that “nearly all the greyhounds exported into Spain come from Ireland.” Public Affairs Editor Anthony Barnett, wrote that,

“Often the dogs travel in horrific conditions, being kept on trucks for several days with little water or food. Many suffer from dehydration before they get to Spain where they are then caged in tiny kennels with poor lighting and no bedding. Many are injured but are kept racing till they can hardly run.”

galgos

 

Cop-out:

The Irish Greyhound Racing Board is a commercial semi-state body part fund through grants from the Irish Government. They claim that the export of greyhounds into Spain has been banned since 1991, however Barnett reports that an Observer Investigation uncovered that an IGB employee had been working hand in glove with Spanish buyers and acting as an agent in Ireland responsible for buying greyhounds intended for export to Spain. The Board have commented that this man was acting in a private capacity.

On October the 27th 2014 the French Gendarmes Maritimes and Port Surveillance platoon at the Cherbourg Ferry Port discovered the bodies 11 greyhounds which had tragically died due to suffocation in transit on an Irish Ferries vessel The Oscar Wilde.

An Irish Ferries spokesperson said they were unaware the dogs were being transported in the vehicle.

In November 2016 I travelled from Ireland to Cherbourg along with my German Shepherd Odin, using a different ferry company. On our windscreen I was required to display a “Dog on board” card issued by the ferry company. Odin spent the twenty one hour crossing in the relative comfort of the on-board kennels and I had free access to visit, feed and walk him on deck.

I did however notice that the van stowed immediately in front of my jeep contained a number of greyhounds bound for the continent. I wrongly assumed that these dogs would be housed in similar kennels. Not the case; they spent the crossing caged in a cramped and unventilated Hiace.

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On the 19th of May 2016 the Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD, told the Dáil (Irish Parliament) that 44 Irish dogs had been exported to Spain during 2015 — similar figures are expected for 2016 — and that he endorses the view of the Irish Greyhound Board that all owners involved in the export of greyhounds to only export to destinations that provide the expected levels of care and management as defined in the IGBs Code of Practice for the welfare of greyhounds.

The cruel and horrendous practices carried out by the galgueros of Spain can in no way be considered as complying with any reasonable standard of care and proper management.

Picking up the pieces:

The issue was raised recently by Socialist Party TD Paul Murphy who said animal rescues all over the Ireland “who are surviving on paltry grants and fund raising are the ones picking up the pieces from the greyhound industry.”

Figures from 2006 and reported by the Journal.ie showed 4,481 litters were registered. With an average of six pups per litter, would make a total of more than 31,367 dogs. Only 23,700 of these were registered to race.

This leaves more than 7,500 greyhound puppies ‘missing’, along with the 8,000 dogs a year that are retired from the industry.

Figures show that these dogs do not end up in rescues or re-homed, “many end up shot or beaten over the head, then thrown into a pit or quarry.” Murphy a former MEP said.

The Irish Government grand aid the Greyhound Board to the tune of sixteen million euros per year. This money — from the Irish taxpayer — goes to an organisation which is failing in it’s duty of care to the animals it is charged with protecting, perhaps it is time for politicians to rethink grant allocations.

What you can do?

Please share this piece with your local public representatives and the relevant political party spokespersons some of whose email addresses follow. It just takes a cut copy and paste.

michael.creed@oir.ie  Michael Creed Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine,

eamon.ocuiv@oireachtas.ie  Mr. Éamon Ó Cuív Fianna Fail Spokesperson on Agriculture

paul.murphy@oireachtas.ie  Parliamentarian

martinkennysf@gmail.com  Sine Fein Spokesperson on Agriculture

willie.penrose@oireachtas.ie  Labour Party Spokesperson on Agriculture.

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Home thoughts from abroad on homelessness

homeless manOlhão, the Algarve 8:00 in the morning and the temperature is already at about 20°c. This man (photographed) obviously spent the night sleeping rough on the streets of Olhão. While the temperature here last night was around 14° you could say he is “luckier” than those forced to sleep rough on Irish streets where it was about 8° and raining.

Hypothermia can and does kill. You have only to remember the unfortunates we read about far too often in Irish papers whose bodies are found in derelict buildings, parks and even on the streets outside Leinster House. Hypothermia is often likely to be a contributing factor in the death of these people.

I was living on the Algarve the morning another body of a homeless person was discovered in Ireland. I had just arrived here. I was trying to get used to the glorious weather, the beaches, inexpensive food and wine, making new friends and enjoying a comfortable new stage to my life. While I was doing this, people were shivering on the streets of Ireland narrowly avoiding death each night.

There are far too many living on the streets of Ireland. Figures collected by Focus Ireland show that last Christmas there was 142 people sleeping rough. Some of these people do so by choice, giving up on society and for what ever reason they take to the streets. Many others are forced to live on the streets without option due to the haphazard response of an inept government pandering to the selfish needs of wolfish financial institutions and allowing this blight on our society to continue.

People are sleeping rough, sleeping in cars or what is facetiously referred to as couch-surfing. Again Focus Ireland estimates that 7148 Irish people and families are homeless. They live in hostels and emergency accommodation. The figure has increased by 40% since last year, a statistic which shows all too well the ineptness of the Government’s range of policies designed to “tackle” homelessness.

We are heading into spring. Most minds will be diverted away from the issues surrounding homelessness and rough sleeping but as night follows day, winter will come around again and more people will die cold and alone on Irish streets.

It can take only thirty minutes to die from hypothermia. Your body starts to shiver uncontrollably trying to maintain some body heat from the muscular shaking. You will become dizzy and disorientated.

The onsets of the affects of hypothermia are cumulative. Your body will divert blood flow from the extremities to the vital organs in an attempt to protect them. This will make the extremities even colder. Your heart will pound as its rate increases, your breathing will accelerate, and you shiver uncontrollably.

Because of the increased blood flow to the vital organs you will need to urinate, soon you will lose control of your bladder. You will be so cold that you won’t be able to move. Lying there in a ball you will be confused and disorientated as your brain shuts down. Your feet and hands turn blue; your heart rate will suddenly alternate from rapid to extremely slow as you start to hallucinate, lose your memory and suddenly and paradoxically you will become very hot as your organs shut down as you die.

It’s easy when you’re living abroad to pontificate on the rights and wrongs of Irish society but perhaps being removed from the every- day life of home allows one the opportunity to focus sharply. As a society we can not allow people living on the streets to die. It is our duty to protect the vulnerable. If new hostels need to be built, build them. If more NAMA buildings need to be occupied, even if only to make a statement, do so. If an inept government needs to fall, let it. But do it now don’t wait until next winter comes around. By then it will be too late for some.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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An open letter to Sean Spicer, White House Press Secretary.

sean-spicer-cartoon-luckovichAn open note to Sean Spicer, Press Secretary to Donald Trump.

Sean please excuse my expletives but what the fuck are you and your dick-head boss at?

I notice from reading your bio some interesting details, for example: when you were a student in 1993 you wrote an angry piece for the College Voice, so angry and venomous in fact that the paper by-lined you Sean Spincher. This college nick-name stuck and is credited in part with explaining your contentious relationship with the media. I also note that actor and satirist Trevor Noah has likened you to “an air freshener in a bathroom which just makes things worse.”

Sean you claim Irish roots, please don’t further embarrass your Irishness by condoning not confronting your master’s madness.
This latest stunt of banishing respected long-standing media Such as: CNN, the BBC, The New York Times, The LA Times and others from Whitehouse is madness even during the darkest days of Charles Haughey’s strangle hold on Irish politics would P.J. Mara (Irish Government Press Secretary 1987-1992) have attempted such an affront and Mara could have taught any hack a trick or two in his day. Even Alistair Campbell in the run up to the Iraq invasion managed to keep cordial relationships with the press corps.

While it is accepted that a government press spokesperson will spin the truth, nowhere in any democracy would the exclusion of large sections of the established press be excluded even as you put it they report “alternative facts.” That is their job their function, their reason for being.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy speaking to the American Newspaper Publishers Association in New York April the 27th 1961 put it best when he said:

“No President should fear public scrutiny of his program. For from that scrutiny comes understanding; and from that understanding comes support or opposition. And both are necessary. I am not asking your newspapers to support the Administration, but I am asking your help in the tremendous task of informing and alerting the American people. For I have complete confidence in the response and dedication of our citizens whenever they are fully informed.”

On a final note could you ask your boss to recall the oath he took On January the 22nd this year, to serve and protect the American constitution that includes the first amendment to the same constitution guaranteeing freedom of the press?

“Ensuring that there is no prohibition on the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press.
” First amendment to the American Constitution.

May I also draw your attention to the following quote:

“We have a respect for the press when it comes to the government, that that is something you can’t ban an entity from. I think that is what makes a democracy a democracy versus a dictatorship.”

Now let’s see who said that? Oh yeah, you did a few weeks ago. Jaysus doesn’t time just fly in politics.

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Gay Taoiseach may meet homophobic President.

img_0202No matter what you say about Enda Kenny, you have to admit he’s been around a long time. A TD since 1975 and leader of Fine Gael since 2002. Many people write him off as a gormless twit — I’ve been guilty of harbouring and voicing that opinion myself on a few occasions – but you don’t last 42 years dancing with the wolves of Leinster House without learning a few survival skills.
But let’s face it Kenny’s time is running out, the knives are being sharpened and it looks like the mutton is being prepared for the slaughter. How long will it take to rid us of this incompetent incumbent? Well, it’s difficult to put an exact time frame on a new Taoiseach taking office, Firstly Enda will need to resign, an election will then be called, under FG rules this election must take place within twenty days – longer if agreed by the executive – so in practical terms we are highly unlikely to see a new Taoiseach before the first of April. This time span would see Kenny take the annual trip to Washington and present his bowl of shamrock to America’s Tulip.

 Gay Taoiseach?

Paddy Power bookmakers are giving 4/6 odds on favourite Leo Varadkar becoming the next leader of FG and next Taoiseach. Interestingly Míchael Martin is at 2/5 to be Taoiseach after the next election so poor Leo may barely get his seat warm before it’s back to the opposition benches for him.
But let’s say he pulls it off with a little help from his friends, cosies up with Howlin again and the rattle tattle band and retains the job, how will he cope with our friends across the Atlantic?

Trump:
Almost from the day of his (Trump’s) inauguration there have been calls for the implementation of the 25th amendment to the American constitution allowing for the removal of the President, There has also been talk of impeachment which could also lead to Mike Pence replacing Trump sooner rather than latter.
In a “what-if situation” the 17th of March 2018 could conceivably see Varadkar travelling to Washington to meet and greet President Pence.
How would this sit with Taoiseach Leo?
Varadkar bravely came out and declared himself as a gay man on national radio in January 2015, showing a keen perception and duty of transparency in connection with the marriage referendum being debated at that time.
Pence on the other hand has been actively involved with the diminishing of LGBT rights through out his political career. As Governor of Indiana he introduced and signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act which permits discrimination against LGBTs so as not to “violate” sincerely  held religious views. As a Congressman Pence consistently voted against every pro-gay measure introduced to Congress.

I wonder what Taoiseach in waiting Leo will make of that.

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