Friday, October 25, 2019


Aristides, when ostracised from Athens wrote his own name on an "ostraka" or pottery shard
voting slip.

Two Fianna Fáil TDs ( “Soldiers of Destiny” Irish parliamentarian representatives.) pulled a voting “stroke” on Thursday 17th October last when one stepped out of the chamber to take a phonecall and his colleague stepped in to cast (along with his own) six of the next scheduled voting calls of his departed friend. Both should be ostracised from Dáil Éireann, thereby giving full expression to the etymological origins and voting intent of that word. 
The duplicity exhibited by the two TDs in addition, however, casts a naked light on the democratic deficit that also exists in the oversight of other and allied procedures of the Oireachtas. In particular the shoddy attention that is given to the formal incorporation into our lives of numerous Statutory Instruments, many of which are propagated by the devolved ministerial power of Henry VIII clauses in primary legislation but also by the devolved powers of secondary legislative bodies such as the Irish Medical Council. These Statutory Instruments, those that must be laid (published) before the Oireachtas, are only debated, if such a rare decision to do so is made, during Private Members’ time and thus in practice are generally ignored by TDs, especially those leaving the chamber to take phone calls, give radio interviews or engaging in swapping seats. The great democratic reassurance offered is that all Statutory Instruments may be challenged in our Courts, a challenge of course that will be subject to enormous legal costs and the regulations imposed by more Statutory Instruments such as those issued by the Superior Courts Rules Committee, another devolved legislative body. 
A "recently departed... to take a phone call" ghost of
voting past!

The circumvention of our oversight procedures is not just to be found in the irresponsible behaviour of two TDs but is symptomatic of a disease of deceit eroding our democratic process.  

We need to rewrite the rules.

Friday, October 11, 2019


Driving home on a cool, blustery autumnal Friday the light was fantastic around the Blackrock diving platform in Salthill, Galway, defining it against a solemn sky and shimmering sea. I stopped the car, got out with my camera and while wandering around the "rock" your man suddenly appears: lithe, retro swimming trunks, smiling, at ease; goes to top platform, builds up speed, and I'm thinking a straightforward jump and ready the camera, but then.... he launches upwards, arcs into the most beautiful, precise back somersault, neck extended to spot the surface, back curved and arms like angel wings. He is into and out of the sea in an instant.

A sublime moment of skill and savoir-faire. Your own fears, failures and frustrations of the week gone by evaporated by the splash. And the good things remembered, the spontaneous exuberance and beauty of the dive a reaffirmation of life. I searched, as you sometimes do on a Friday afternoon, for a deeper meaning still, wanting to extend it. I said to him in passing, "You spent more time in the air than in the water", looking for an entre into the "true" explanation of the moment, seeking a distillation of its essence. My shivering "guru" smiled. "The water's bloody cold," he replied as he got dressed and left with as little sense of entitlement as he arrived with. 

Blackrock Diving Platform, Salthill, Galway, Ireland