Archive for the ‘Features’ Category


Statement from Clare Daly, TD

It has been brought to my attention that some political opponents have been orchestrating a campaign in an attempt to portray me as anti-vaccine on the basis of Written Questions I’ve tabled to the Minister for Health. For the record and for the avoidance of any doubt, my position on vaccination is as follows:

I have tabled approximately 4,500 quesions since this Dáil convened in 2016, and am one of the top questioners of Ministers in the Dáil on a whole range of topics. For example, I’ve tabled over 40 questions on salmon aquaculture since 2016, 30 or more on seagulls, and 62 questions containing the word ‘prisons’ or ‘prisoners’ (and many more on prison issues in general). In the last two and half months alone, I’ve asked at least 14 questions around foster care and residential services for young people.

I fully support vaccination as an important and hugely valuable public health initiative; myself and my family have received every vaccination going (including the HPV vaccination where applicable). However I also believe that to ensure public confidence in such an important public health initiative that TDs should ensure that the Minister publicly address any concerns people might have in an effort to dispel them. Shutting down debate unfortunately leads to a belief that something is being hidden.

In general, we need better public education with regard to medicine and science, and the best approach possible to public health communication. There must also be a no-fault vaccine damage compensation scheme in place to deal with the tiny minority* of persons who do experience side-effects or harms from vaccines (as happened in the Pandemrix case). Such a scheme is in the current Programme for Government, and was recommended by the Oireachtas Health Committee in 2001. The Vaccine Damage Steering Group re-iterated that recommendation in 2009.  The Government has not, to date, acted on this policy, regrettably.

Clare Daly, TD

* Figures from the US no-fault vaccine damage compensation scheme show that for every million vaccine doses eligible for compensation that were distributed between 2006 and 2016, the court compensated one injury victim. Receiving a vaccine is far far less dangerous than staying unvaccinated. The tetanus vaccine, for example, causes a life-threatening allergic reaction in at most 0.0006% of people who get the shot. The U.S. case fatality rate from tetanus, by contrast, is 13.2%.


The forgiveness we received in 1953

bears no comparison to the situation Greece

has put itself in today. Whatever

criticisms might be levelled

at the German governments

of the first half of the last century,

they didn’t waste good money

on crazy schemes to allow

the school caretaker retire at fifty five,

but invested wisely

in long term infrastructure

and engineering projects:

tanks to pacify Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia;

enough gas canisters to almost

carry out their apparently impossible

election promises; V-2 rockets

with ‘England’ written on them.


My predecessor, whatever else

may be said of him, didn’t

squander our nation’s treasure giving

free kebabs and ouzo to officials

of the Ministry of Transport as they woke

from their compulsory afternoon nap,

but shopped around frugally

for enough excellent leather boots

to properly police the streets

of Prague, Cracow, Bucharest, Minsk,

Liege, Amsterdam, Lyon;

after much haggling and complaint

purchased, at ridiculously miniscule prices,

the millions of Stahlhelm helmets

spent in our valiant attempt

to annex the Soviet oilfields in the Caucasus.

Though it didn’t come to exact fruition,

we died trying, and took enough of them with us

to make it almost worth it.


Go cause a nice world war,

my little olive eating friend,

and in its aftermath, we’ll talk.

Play your cards with sufficient insanity,

all across the map, while wearing outfits

of the required eccentricity

and you’ll find our terms

extraordinarily generous.


*term of endearment used to refer to Angela Merkel by her supporters. Means “Mum”.

Environment, Features, Human Rights, International

Students from schools across Ireland are joining the global Schools Strike for Climate Action 

next Friday 15th March. As well as marches in Dublin and Cork there will be strike events outside local authority offices in counties 

from Tralee to Donegal, Meath to Galway, and locally at school gates across the country.

This global strike was called by the 16 year-old schoolgirl
Greta Thunberg who began striking outside the Swedish Parliament last August.
Read More


By Kevin Higgins

after Carolyn Forché


Beamed into one’s living room via satellite,

or framed in syndicated photographs

on the quality papers’ foreign pages, even

their black or missing front teeth

have a strange beauty.


The shanty town dwellers of La Paz,

in their hand woven red and green ponchos,

carry themselves in a fashion

which puts to shame the post office queue

scraggy mother of two,  with change

in her slovenly wallet for lottery tickets,

but not shampoo.


Nothing against the locals.

But even the skeletal colosseum cats have a grace

which the one I ran over on my way

to this morning’s Amnesty

International meeting absolutely lacked.


The ongoing pain of the Yazidi women

and the entire Choctaw nation (every generation)

is best struggled with over a fair trade salad

in one of the more radical tea shops

on Sandymount Strand.


In comparison, one admits,

our local Others – with their dole

day drunkenness, and lack of imagination

which has seen them prosaically wander the roads

these past thousand years – just

don’t cut the whole grain mustard.


When they start mouthing Civil Rights

and municipal water cannon, or

police batons get over enthusiastic

on their irresponsibly positioned skulls,

people like me will feel forced to pass by

on the other side, checking our messages

for pictures of unfamiliars being

deliciously maltreated

anywhere else.