Monthly Archives: March 2014

Senator Mark Daly and Fianna Fail candidates in the Killarney Electoral Area campaign for the return of Killarney’s second emergency ambulance.


Following the RTE prime time special on the Ambulance Service Senator Mark Daly and Councillors John Joe Culloty as well as the Fianna Fail Candidates in the Killarney Electoral Area are calling on the National Ambulance Service to honour their commitment to review the ambulance service in Kerry.

Representatives from the HSE’s National Ambulance Service and senior HSE management met with GPs, public representatives and community groups in South Kerry on the 3rd of September 2013 to update them on plans to modernise the National Ambulance Service operations in the region. At that meeting the National Ambulance Service and senior HSE management gave a commitment that they would meet with all public representatives and review the effect of the reduced service on the people of Kerry with in 6 months this has not happened.

“the effect of the loss of the 2nd emergency ambulances based in Killarney as a result of the cuts to service following the meeting in September 2013 has been disastrous. Lives are being put at risk” said Senator Daly “we now have a situation of critically ill people and road traffic victims waiting hours for an ambulance to arrive, in some instances the tow truck arrives before the ambulance”

The Fianna Fail candidates in the Killarney Electoral area Councillor John Joe Culloty, Councillor Anne McEllistrum, Niall Kelleher, John O’Shea are campaign for the return of the 2nd emergency ambulance to Killarney. Todate they have distributed 20,000 leaflets informing the people of the area of the risk to lives caused by the loss of ambulance. The reinstatement of the ambulance will be the centre of the local elections in the Killarney local election area.

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Conservative Media Shocked Biden Considers Undocumented Immigrants Americans

Conservative media outlets are attacking Vice President Joe Biden over his recent statement that he believes undocumented immigrants are “already Americans” and they “are just waiting, waiting for a chance to be able to contribute fully.” This sentiment is hardly controversial since, as the Pew Research Center notes, nearly two-thirds of undocumented immigrants have lived in the country for at least a decade, and for many, the United States is the only home they have ever known.

During a speech at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Summit on March 27, Biden argued that “if you really want a game-changer, the single most important thing we can do for our economy, for America’s future, is pass immigration reform now,” and stated:

BIDEN: Eleven million people living in the shadows I believed are already American citizens. Teddy Roosevelt said it better. He said Americanism is not a question of birthplace or creed, or a line of descent. It’s a question of principles, idealism and character.

These people are just waiting, waiting for a chance to be able to contribute fully, and by that standard, 11 million undocumented aliens are already Americans in my view. All they want — they just want a decent life for their kids, a chance to contribute to a free society, a chance to put down roots and help build the next great American century. I really believe that. That’s what they’re fighting for.

He went on to laud immigrants, noting: “It takes a whole hell of a lot of courage” to move and go to America to chase a better life.

The remarks were highlighted by a number of conservative outlets, including Breitbart News, Fox Nation, and, which claimed that this was proof of Biden’s “indifference to legal proceedings” which the outlet stated “shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering the unlawful actions and factual errors made by his boss.” Townhall added that “trivializing the laws of the United States is no way to foster law-abiding citizens.”

In an article on the remarks, The Washington Times wrote that Biden, who is “already known as a habitual blurter of the near-nonsensical and politically befuddling — may have one-upped himself this week with a somewhat shocking statement on illegal immigrants.”

After airing an edited clip of Biden’s remarks, Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade claimed the vice president’s staff would have to engage in some type of “damage control,” with co-host Steve Doocy saying that undocumented immigrants would then “go out and vote.”

The Pew Research Center estimates that nearly two-thirds of undocumented immigrants have lived in the country at least a decade, 35 percent for 15 years or more. Moreover, nearly half live in families with children younger than 18.

Discussing a study that found that Hispanic immigrants are assimilating just as quickly if not faster than previous waves of immigrants, The Washington Post noted that “[t]here just aren’t any differences to be found” between the two groups’ rate of assimilation.

This isn’t the first time Biden has made comments likening undocumented immigrants to Americans. In December 2013, the Associated Press reported:

Vice President Joe Biden says Congress has a moral and economic imperative to offer a pathway to citizenship for 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally.

Many of them, he says, “are already Americans,” whether they’re here legally or not. He says immigrants simply want a decent life for themselves and their children, just as his great grandparents did.

Biden’s comments came in a speech to Pennsylvania political leaders gathered in New York on Saturday.

That same year in March, he said the same thing to a group of Irish-Americans. From IrishCentral:

Joe Biden s said the 50,000 undocumented Irish should to be brought “out of the shadows,” and they and other “undocumented” in the US “should be entitled to earn a path to citizenship.”

“They are Americans but they are not citizens — they are undocumented. We need to find a fair and effective and decent way to take them out of the shadows,” Biden said.

The system was broken, he said, and “needs to be fixed.”

Biden’s speech to an audience of 300 Irish American leaders was a direct challenge to them to get involved in the issue. As such it was a very brave clarion call by a leading Irish American who did not fear to push his own ethnic group to do more on the controversial issue.

Others have also made remarks recognizing that for many undocumented immigrants, their home is the United States. During an interview with the Miami Herald in August 2013, Tea Party Republican Rep. Steve Southerland noted that young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children consider the United States home. He stated of one undocumented immigrant he met: “We have to make sure that a young person like that has a way. This is his home. We have to make sure that he has a way to be legitimized as a citizen.”

Jim Wallis, the president and founder of Sojourners, reiterated that fact in a op-ed, writing: “Young people, who came here as children, live as ‘illegals’ in the only country they have ever known as home.”

A June 2012 Time magazine cover depicted this sentiment exactly using the headline, “We Are Americans*: Just not legally”:

When journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, who wrote Time’s cover story, revealed in a June 2011 New York Times article that he was undocumented, he wrote: “I grew up here. This is my home. Yet even though I think of myself as an American and consider America my country, my country doesn’t think of me as one of its own.”

The White House and other immigrants’ rights organizations have referred to undocumented immigrants as “aspiring Americans” in the hopes of gaining support for comprehensive immigration reform.

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Obama endorses House Democrats Immigration Reform

Barack Obama

President Barack Obama formally endorsed a long-shot legislative gambit from House Democrats aimed at forcing a vote on comprehensive immigration reform as he blamed House Republicans for stalling an overhaul.
In a three-paragraph statement, Obama said he “applauds” the strategy from Democrats to use a discharge petition to get a vote on immigration reform legislation. A successful petition needs 218 signatures — a threshold all but certain to not be reached.

“Immigration reform is the right thing to do for our economy, our security and our future,” Obama said. “A vast majority of the American people agree. The only thing standing in the way is the unwillingness of Republicans in Congress to catch up with the rest of the country.”

Obama’s statement — released the same day that the discharge petition was filed — is unusual. The White House did not release similar statements when House Democrats deployed the tactic on two occasions this year to raise the federal minimum wage and extend unemployment insurance.
A discharge petition forces House leaders to put legislation on the floor for a vote. It needs a majority of House members, or 218 signatures, to succeed. Such efforts are rarely successful because signing the petition is considered a sign of disloyalty for a member of the majority party.
Even if all 199 sitting Democrats endorse the immigration discharge petition, it would still need 19 GOP signatures.
Though they have hinted at the effort for weeks, House Democrats on Wednesday formally launched the discharge petition effort to force a vote on a sweeping bill much like the version that passed the Senate, except that it scales back its so-called border surge provisions. During an outdoor rally in unusually frigid and snowy March weather, a slew of House Democrats and immigration activists urged support for the legislative strategy and pressed for a floor vote on reform.
“Every day that you refuse to act is another day that 1,100 families are torn apart by senseless deportations,” said actress and activist America Ferrera in a message directed at House Republicans. “So we are here, demanding a vote for the families dreading that knock on the door, hoping and praying that they will not be one of the 1,100 today.”
On Wednesday, aides to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) noted comments made by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) earlier this month, acknowledging that Democrats will not secure the necessary signatures. Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said simply: “We agree with Rep. Pelosi.”
Still, Democrats hope the existence of a discharge petition keeps focus and pressure on House Republicans on immigration. The strategy also takes some attention away from the scrutiny and furor that Obama has recently faced from Democratic lawmakers and activists over the rising number of deportations under his administration.
And some activists were highly critical of the Democratic discharge petition, calling it nothing more than a political stunt. The three Republicans who have co-sponsored the House Democrats’ immigration bill have all said they won’t sign it.
“House Democrats should focus on pressuring the White House to halt deportations and provide administrative relief for our families,” said Cristina Jimenez, the managing director of United We Dream, a nationwide coalition of immigrant youth. “They cannot simply seek political cover by gathering meaningless petition signatures while standing on the sidelines and refusing to take action to ease the suffering in our communities.”

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The Government must work on issues for the Irish Overseas including Voting Rights and Immigration Reform for the 50,000 Undocumented Irish in the US


LAST NIGHT, British royalty held a reception for the Irish in Britain in celebration for their contribution to the life of the United Kingdom. The reception was held as part of the lead-up to the state visit of President Higgins in April.
There is a strange irony that this reception was held on the evening that the Government here showed the same people the cold shoulder. Yesterday should have been the day that the Government announced the extension of voting rights to the Irish abroad. How ironic that the British should recognise the value of the Irish diaspora to them on the same evening we ignore them here once again.
On November 26, the Constitutional Convention recommended that a referendum be held on extend voting rights in Presidential elections to Irish citizens in Northern Ireland and to Irish emigrants abroad. That was four months ago today, meaning the Government has let the recommendation go without responding to it in the timeframe it set out for itself.
The Oireachtas resolution that established the Convention gave a four-month timeframe for the Government to respond to each recommendation. That was an important provision. Its inclusion was to ensure that reports of the Convention weren’t left to gather dust like so many reports before them. It was particularly important for reports of the Constitutional Convention because the Convention was made up of 66 ordinary citizens who gave up their time for no personal reward and engaged in good faith with politicians in a process of deliberation.
It’s important for us all because the question of voting rights for the Irish abroad is one that touches at the very core of what it means to be a citizen and how we see ourselves in our democracy.
Our democratic revolution

It was perhaps with a sense of naivety that the authors of the Programme for Government called the general election of 2011 a “democratic revolution”. But that is what happened. Not in the ballot box but in an on-going process of change in the public mind.
The human and financial cost of the financial crisis — and the realisation that ultimately we will be left holding the can for mismanagement of the State — has caused us to rethink what the State is and the scope of control and visibility we have over it.
This rethinking can be seen in goings on such as the Constitutional Convention. For example, another recommendation of the Constitutional Convention (one that the Government has left unanswered since August last year) is to introduce a means for citizens to propose legislation and call referendums directly. The action plan from the Open Government Partnership to make government more transparent and accessible is another example.
Where does votes for the Irish abroad fit into this?

By our own words and actions, we acknowledge the contributions and interest the Irish abroad have in the State. When the crisis began to pinch, we were quick to look to the diaspora for a helping hand through the shakedown of the Gathering and the Global Irish Economic Forum. Famously, we are happy to wear the green and shuffle up to Irish communities around the world on St. Patrick’s Day for the access they give us to political and business leaders around the world.
If the crisis has taught us to appreciate a fuller understanding of what it is to be a citizens and what it means to be engaged in the democratic life of our State, we cannot continue to see our relationship with the diaspora in narrow and ad hoc terms. The fullness of the People who form the State and who put their shoulders behind it must be acknowledged.
Moreover, the returned spectre of emigration has reminded us that an interest in the management of the State doesn’t end when a person departs from Dublin or Shannon. Sadly, once again, we all know people forced to emigrate through an economic necessity brought upon them by government mismanagement. Their interest the in State and in its recover, so that they may some day return, cannot be said to be anything less than genuine.
That they are gone, for now, is bad enough. Is it really necessary that they must be shut out too?
Moderate recommendation

The recommendation of the Constitutional Convention is very moderate. While other countries give nationals abroad voting rights in law-making bodies, the Convention recommended only that Irish citizens in Northern Ireland and the Irish abroad should be given voting rights in Presidential elections.
The President is the only office of State directly elected by all of the People. The President promulgates all laws on behalf of the People and receives foreign diplomats and figures as the head of the Nation. As such, the Convention’s recommendation can be viewed as one step in a journey towards a fuller acknowledgement of a more engaging idea of Irish citizenship and of the place of the global Irish community among our nation.
In the early stages of that journey, do the Irish abroad not deserve an answer from the Government to the Convention’s recommendations? Or will the Government repeat the old pattern of neglect and discount? Are we happy to leave it to others to acknowledge their contributions and for us to take from them only when it suits?

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Group of Meath Students Create Great Initiative to Raise Organ Donation Awareness


ONE GROUP OF students from Kells have created an education pack to raise awareness of organ donation throughout schools in Ireland.
The girls from Eureka School in Kells, Co Meath first came up with the idea in transition year as a Young Social Innovators project.
They created an education pack to educate people in school about organ donation so people could then make an informed decision on whether or not they wanted to be organ donors.
One of the students, Clare Bradley, explained that a neighbour had died and donated their organs and it started a conversation in the class.
We realised that not many people in our class knew about organ donation so we carried out a survey and found that generally young people aren’t educated about it.
“There is a box on your driving license to say whether or not you want to be an organ donor but if you’re not aware of it you’re not going to tick the box”.
The class won the Young Social Innovators of the Year 2013 award with this project.
They then worked to turn it from a concept into a reality and got funding to implement it.
Their transition year teacher, Colette Cronin told,
“Ten of the girls continued to work on this project although they are now in fifth year starting to study for their leaving cert.
The girls worked in their own time, after school and during holidays to get this pack complete. They’re so passionate about this project.
Bradley said one of the reasons the group is so passionate about it is because guest speakers who had donated or received organs came in to speak to the class.
We heard from both donors and people who received organs, one woman whose son had died and his organs were donated also spoke to the class. It really showed us the importance of organ donation.
Organ Transplants
Last year was a record year for organ transplants in Ireland, 294 organs were transplanted compared to the previous record of 275 in 2011.
The Irish Kidney Association said,
The generosity of the 86 deceased donors and their families in 2013 dramatically altered and saved the lives of 245 people.
The group of girls from Eureka school hope that students across Ireland will now be more aware of the need for organs and that the education their information pack provides will mean thousands more people will donate.
Student Clare Bradley said,
90 per cent of people are in favour or organ donation, they just don’t get around to it. It’s not something you put on your ‘to do’ list.
“Nobody likes talking about death but if we get people talking about their plans regarding organ donation, it has a ripple effect to family, friends and the wider community”.
The information pack will be officially launched at a YSI event in the Mansion House in Dublin on 25 March where Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, will be presented with a copy of the DVD.
The packs will then be rolled out to schools across the country during organ donor awareness week, which runs from 29 March – 5 April.

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