Friday, April 27, 2007

Eeffing thieving bastards - you'd actually take money from the disabled?

I read this piece by Fergus Finlay (updated link now in Irish Examiner archive) in in Tuesday's Examiner* and I was positively seething afterwards. I would urge everyone to read Fergus's piece and to raise this on the doorsteps with any and all government reps who will be calling over the coming weeks.

My sister, who is a year, a month and a day younger than me, is intellectually disabled (as if she didn't have enough to put up with being my sister) and lives quite happily in Killarney, in sheltered housing managed by the Kerry Parents and Friends of the Mentally Handicapped who do a fine job trying to ensure that people in Kerry can live as independently and fulfilling a life as possible. Finding a place close to home was a process of years of fighting mainly on the part of my mother dealing with the various bureaucracies of the state, during which she was placed in Devlin, Co. Westmeath, Mayfield Co. Cork, Tralee and now Killarney.

It now appears that the department of health (which has historically dropped the ball on supports for those with disabilities) is planning to implement the same regime of charges for those with disabilities as for the pensioners in residential care. Which means they will charge disabled people for living in residential settings. And charge them out of their disabled person's maintenance allowance. The DPMA is currently €184 per week which is less than an old age non-contributory pension and about the same as the dole. So if you are on the dole, and live away from home the state will pay you a rent supplement but if you make the same attempt to live independently as a disabled person the state will charge you for the pleasure? And, get this, the state is also planning to apply this new regime retrospectively! They are right now sending bills to the parents of people with disabilities looking for back payments. Can you fucking believe it?

You know one of the most stressful things for parents of someone with a disability is the ever present thought of what will happen when you're gone. This is someone that you love with all your heart but you know that unlike your other children who you will also worry about (worrying seeming to be in the very nature of parenting, and is something that you don't realise until you become a parent yourself or see friends become parents) that your disabled won't ever be able to fend for themselves completely and they will always need someone to be looking out for them. And when you're gone you hope that your community will care for them and the state which is the community writ large and the mechanism for expressing that care will do what it can.

I actually genuinely thought that Cowen's efforts, particularly in his budgets , were the sign that the issue of treating people with disabilities fairly, and supporting those organisations that work in the area, was now completely part of the mainstream of Irish political life. I thought despite all the other differences I might have with the guy that here is someone that gets it.

I can tell you now that anyone whether from the revenue or the department of health who tries to take or takes by sleight of hand money from my sister will find me on their door beating their fucking head in with whatever comes to hand. When it comes to my sister I will happily get all Timothy McVeigh on you and your place of work.

As Fergus points out unlike the elderly those with disability will almost certainly never have the chance to be members of the work force and accrue money and assets that might be put into paying for their care. Again, I would urge people to read Fergus's piece he manages to be put it much more than I do.

* The examiner has in the last few years become my alternate to the Irish Times, in large part because you can't depend on the Independent to get the days of the week right.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The dead vote scenario

I posted last May about the possible problems that the excessive amount of 3 seaters in Ireland and FF's dominance of the 2nd seats in such constituencies could pose were their national vote share drop into the mid 30s in terms of percentages. Well, the national vote share scenario may be coming to pass if the MRBI poll is the trend of things. I would expect a lot of senior FF figures who have been asked to share their territory reneging rapidly on any commitments given.

For all the talk about PR being a fair system and proportionate and that ever vote counts, it is all to often overlooked that some votes end up not amounting to be much at all. People readily forget that in multi seat PR-STV elections that there is a significant chunk of votes that is left in the possession of the last person standing without a seat in 3 seaters.

And with a minimal spread of candidates selected to ensure that there is no leakage of votes outside your own party you could see further problems in getting someone who is on less than 80% of a quota elected, especially if their running mate is elected without much of a surplus. This can be almost 20% of the vote in 3 seaters. In 4 seaters this danger figure could be 16% and in 5 seaters 13.3%. In those constituencies the presence of so many other candidates would tend to mean that you should be able to pick up some votes. However in places like Limerick West, and Cork South West it would mean candidates who did relatively well losing out and those are high targets for FG. More significantly it could cause problems for FF in Donegal North East, and Donegal South West, costing them 2nd seats that their high preferences vote share might have lead people to think were safe.

Essentially if the seal on the drum is too tight not alone won't it leak but it won't let in any water either.

In praise of posters

I think too people overreact to the sight of election posters. Maybe it was growing up in town with a big festival (All Hail King Puck) but I quite like the extra colour they bring to most towns. And that goes for all party’s posters. I think that some people are actively seeking out things to be annoyed about. Fair enough to complain when posters obscure road signs or are too low and impede pedestrians and motorists. Other than that I think they are a positive contribution and part of the public aspect of our democracy.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The date of the Irish general election

I believe that Bert will called the election early on Tuesday May 1st, having all the other deputies come back to Dublin for the sitting while the FFers get an extra hour in bed and straight onto the campaign trail. It also means that they don't start the election as they would if they call it this week with the MRBI poll as the first spin of the campaign and it could be a bad one. And the Taoiseach was very insistent about calling it in summer 2007 and the 1st of May is the first day of summer.

After covering myself in such glory with my prediction of the French Presidential election I might be better off keeping my thoughts to myself but sure it is what I reckon will happen.

Oh and the date is probably 24th, but he could even go for the 23rd or 22nd. He did say to Harry McGee that he had never mentioned a Thursday.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Where's Willie?

Strangely, no Willie O'Dea in the Sunday Independent today. Where could he be? Hardly running about taking all these posters like the one to the left with his glorious Leader's name wrong on it could he be?

Or were he and a gang up late into the night removing Noreen Ryan's posters since they don't have anyone's name but her own on them.

Or did my other post touch a nerve at Sunday Independent HQ?

Tim O'Malley and the wife-swapping sodomites

or should that be hill-walking suburbanites? Anyway, junior minister Tim O'Malley has been in the local Limerick Press bemoaning the Labour party's proposal that walking access be granted automatically to land that is not being farmed over 150 metres to hill walkers and their ilk. Strangely, the attack from Tim bemoaned the interests of hill walkers from the suburbs overruling those of rural Ireland. This from a man who comes from and lives in a suburban area of Limerick city.

What makes it all the more odd is that anyone familiar with the lie of the land in Limerick would know that it ain't the most mountainy of places. I had a quick look at my ordnance survey map and barring a few hundred acres of the Slieve Felim mountains (a disputed zone with Tipperary I've been given to understand from my sources with the Premier county regime) there ain't a helluva lot over the suggested height of 150 metres.

So why is a minister complaining about something that isn't going to affect any of his constituents? Perhaps the minister was thinking of the Clare hills which as it turns out are in Clare or maybe he thinks that this is a appropriate topic for him to pronounce on in his capacity as minister for Mental Health. Could he be of the view that hill-walkers are not in the best of mental health irrespective of their physical well-being? Does he think it is grounds for detaining participants for their own well being?

French Election Prediction

I dabble in the punditry business from time to time and since the French are having themselves an election to select a new President, and below are my figures. I suspect that support for Sego is weak and Bayrou will surprise by sneaking past her.

Sarkozy - 26%
Sego - 22%
Bayrou - 23%
Le Pen - 18 %
Rest 11%

Time now is 16.15 GMT