20 July, 2007

Go West

Well, we're taking Seamus Brennan's advice. He appealed to Irish People "to hold their nerve" in the face of the current weather and to holiday as planned in Ireland this late July and August, according to the Irish Times today.

The cottage had been booked for the last six months, an cursa Gaeilge criochnaithe, agus taimid ag dul siar amarach le trí seachtaine.

May the weather be gentle on us.

19 July, 2007

That other election, again

Members of the Irish Senate are selected by three different methods. An Taoiseach directly nominates 11 members, NUI and Trinity graduates elect 6 between them, and councillors and members of the Oireachtas (incoming TDs and outgoing Senators) elect 43 members. It could be quite an interesting election this time round as the Government may have a slim enough majority.

Councillor Tom Kivlehan pointed out to me a curious aspect of the Senate Election. Each ballot is marked with a unique number on the back. Before I told him my number, he was able to guess it to within a few numbers. You can see the full list of 1096 electors here, but it seems that the identifying numbers aren't completely random.

I spoke with Deirdre Lane, Clerk of the Seanad yesterday and she tells me that they start with a random number, and then every thirty or forty names they add a few numbers to the series to put you off the trail. It still seems to me though that anyone with a sense for numbers and a copy of the electoral roll can identify a ballot from the back with a fair degree of accuracy, particularly if they are from a larger Party and had access to several electors' numbers from their ballots.

The rules for the conduct of Senate Elections state shown in the First Schedule of the 1947 Senate Electoral (Panel Members) Act emphasise the need for secrecy, but it seems to me to be easy enough to come close to identifying the elector from the number on the back of the ballot. Although the 'precautions for preservation of secrecy' in the Second Schedule states under 13 that "...ballot papers shall so far as it is practicable be kept face upwards..." it does seem that parties and candidates have a good sense as to who voted for whom. You would expect a good level of party allegiance in all of this, and this makes it easier to find out where most of the votes are coming from, but perhaps the individual ballot numbering should be made 'more' random in future.

Incidentally the Panels that select the candidates under this Act could perhaps benefit from a review. I've nothing against the Irish Greyhound Owners and Breeders Federation, the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders , or even the Vintners Federation of Ireland , but maybe we need to reflect more of the creative, urban, environmental, and small business side of modern Ireland in the nominating bodies.

16 July, 2007

On the Senate Trail

I'd be a Green Reform Candidate voter myself on the NUI Panel, and unlike Kevin Rafter in yesterday's Tribune, I will not be selling my votes to the highest bidder. No, I'll be giving Martin Hogan my number one vote on the NUI Ballot sheet.

The five ballot papers that I'm entitled to as an elected representative landed on the desk the other day, but the pleas and supplications have been arriving for months now. Whatever about Francie O'Briens's pens which I've mentioned before, I was a tad surprised at the offer from Luke Moriarty. He tells me in the accompanying letter that he is impressed with the hard work and dedication that I display everyday in my role as a public representative, but a voucher for two night's accommodation at the Moriarty Group Hotels - including breakfast? Please, you're spoiling me. We're all used to chocolates from the other Mary White (not our own) , but this is another league altogether. My copy of Iris Oifigiúil from the 29th June tells me that Luke is nominated by the Irish Hotels Federation. For a moment I thought this was some sort of a stunt by Luke Flanagan, but no, apparently Luke Moriarty does exist, and is running for office. There is a touch of the rotten borough about it all, and this form of inducement rules the bearer of such gifts out, as far as I'm concerned.

There are some great candidates running though, I've a lot of time for Mark McSharry, Ivana Bacik, Rosaleen McDonagh, Dominic Hannigan and Colm MacEochaidh. Let's hope they clear the hurdles and make their way into the Senate this time round.

13 July, 2007

Water is Precious


...Provided that you have a sense of humour. I took this pic of a water conservation banner half covered in water hanging off the side walls of the Liffey Quays this morning in the lashing rain. The light patch to the right of the leaflet was rain water pouring into the river from a pipe half-way up the Quays wall, though the image quality is a bit under-pixellated on my camera phone.

One of those days, I guess. Friday 13th, full moon this evening and as anyone in LH2000 can tell you the constituents go crazy if there's a full moon.

Well, if I was running a water conservation campaign I'd make damn sure that I booked the slots in combination with a rain gear or cinema blockbuster campaign . That way if the heavens opened they could pick up the tab and run their own campaign, and there wouldn't be egg on any one's face.

In fairness the Dublin City Council campaign is a good one, but I'd hope that we could do more at national level to reduce water consumption. We could change the Building Regulations to bring in low-flow nozzles on taps and dual flush toilets,which would be a practical step towards reducing water use in new buildings. It seems crazy that the four County Councils in Dublin are thinking of building a pipeline to the Shannon or the Boyne. I'm with Mary O'Rourke on this one when she says hands off our water. I'm not sure that her Arcadia would quite become the arid desert that she claims, but who knows what water extraction, along with climate change might bring. Of course the city fathers and mothers are working on on reducing leaks as well, though I'm not sure if the translation of their literature into Arabic was the wisest use of resources, a touch of selling coals to Newcastle there.

Unless we can get our own leaks under control we shouldn't contemplate spending a fortune on pipelines halfway across the country.