Eskoot Adventures (1) – Here comes the future

I have been lucky enough to have been given the use of an E-Skoot (pictured below) for a couple of weeks and I’m going to document my experience of using it here. You can view the official site for E-Skoot by clicking this link Electric Scooters, which will give you an idea of what this vehicle can do.

But that website will just show you the product. On Liversalts, you’re going to get the chance to see how I experienced E-Skoot, and the things that it allows you to do. I think it will cause a major change, a revolution in fact, in transport in Ireland. Continue reading »

May the Force pay the Old Bill?

I was down in Galway a few weeks ago to appear on television arguing the ‘No’ side of the Presidential age referendum. That turned out to be good fun – especially scaring the colour out of my friends’ faces when I told them I was arguing for the ‘No’ side as detailed here.

It turned out to be an interesting debate and I was wowed by the professionalism and attention to detail shown by the UTV staff. They really do an excellent job in directing the debate and keeping it relevant and balanced. Continue reading »

Don’t kid around with the Presidency

I have been having quite an amusing week. I had been asked to go on a TV panel discussion on UTV to argue the case for a ‘No’ vote in the upcoming referendum on lowering the age requirement for the President to 21, but for fun I left out which referendum vote for which I was putting the ‘No’ case, leading to much hilarity.

Many of my friends blanched at the news, and I could see their anger rising as I cheerfully kept up my enthusiasm for a ‘No’ vote. Of course, I couldn’t continue this charade very long – partly because I am just not that funny, and partly because I feel I have a moral obligation to try to persuade as many people as possible to vote ‘Yes’ on marriage equality. Continue reading »

Yes and No

The N11 road is one of my major routes. When I don’t take public transport, it’s my main road into Dublin, as it is for anyone travelling from Wicklow and Wexford to the City Centre, along with the caravan of southside commuters.

As such, it is a highly visible spot for poster campaigns and every election, the N11’s lamp posts are covered in exhortations to vote this way and that, though I doubt it has much effect on voters. Postering is a way of showing your political strength more than anything else.

Continue reading »

Quality of our debate determines outcomes

The title of this post may seem esoteric and academic but it is one of the most important factors in determining our quality of life in Ireland. And I don’t mean some intellectual or abstract quality – I mean things like the lifestyle we live, the quality of our health service and the rights we enjoy.

In Ireland, debate for its own sake has always come second to winning the argument. The loudest, shoutiest, most insistent voice gets its way almost all the time. Making sense does not have to be part of that volume of self-righteousness.
Continue reading »

Shaming and the modern Pillory

“We’ve given the word ‘mob’ a bad name”, says Dr Hibbert sadly in one of the Simpsons’ episodes. It’s knowing irony, because the type of mob in which he is participating – armed with pitchforks and burning stakes – is a throwback to medieval times and the worst of group-think and public shaming. We don’t have those angry mobs anymore, randomly imposing vigilante justice on their neighbours, and when we do, the police intervene.

But the human tendency for public shaming and victimisation goes on. We do that now – as we do many things – on social media. And when that victimization happens, it can be devastating for the individual involved, and totally out of proportion to their ‘crime’.

Continue reading »

Hostages to pharma fortunes

It would seem that if the moral dilemma between death and life-saving drugs can be made acute and public enough, the government is compelled to pay any price charged – even if it means reducing other health services to other vulnerable people.

After the Health Service Executive agreed this week to provide the Soliris drug to patients suffering from rare blood conditions at a cost of €430,000 per patient per year, the HSE’s chief executive Tony O’Brien called the cost of the drug ‘astronomical’, while the Minister for Health, Leo Varadker, has said that the drug is ‘not cost-effective’ at that price. Continue reading »

Charlatans, crooks and chancers on the Liveline

The radio show ‘Liveline’ is a barometer of the Irish day. Sat snugly in the after-lunch snooze period, it either facilitates that slumber, or raises the eyelid of the nation with indignation or empathy. It has achieved enough fame (or should that be familiarity) for parody, and yet it sticks to the same formula every day. There is no attempt to think of anything new on the ‘Liveline’ – the gameplan is the plain people of Ireland, speaking their minds, on the issues of the day.

And yet. And yet. There is a large and growing constituency of people living in Ireland who would consider themselves to be average and normal, but they are not represented in the national conversation, as it is conducted by the presenter of Liveline,  Joe Duffy. That group can be classified in various ways, but the simplest and crudest would be those people that don’t find Brendan O’Carroll to be particularly funny, or those that don’t spend their days longing for former great days in the poverty-striken tenements of ‘Dubbalin in the rare ould Times‘.

Continue reading »

Why don’t we vet Government Ministers?

When Leo Varadker made his sexual orientation public last week, a brief and transient thought flashed through the minds of his party colleagues, the media and the general public – does the fact that he is gay prevent him in any way from doing or holding his job as Minister for Health?

Thankfully, we now live in an Ireland that doesn’t discriminate politically between people based on the gender of people to whom they are attracted, and we have all moved on. But Mr Varadker’s announcement raised a few more fundamental questions. Continue reading »

Leo is Gay – why it matters

There are probably five or six gay people working as TDs in the Dail, but maybe as many as 15 or 16 – given that it’s hard to estimate and define ‘gayness’ as opposed to bisexuality or once-off encounters. An ERSI survey in Ireland reported that 7.1% of men and 4.7% of women reported having a homosexual experience in their lives, but only 2.7% of men and 1.2% of women self-identified as being gay. Which proves that some people have a problem with that definition.

This is one of the difficulties of defining people by their sexuality. Sexuality is a spectrum for many people and an evolving identity. That is why it is so important that Health Minister Leo Varadker has chosen to ‘come out’ as a gay man. Continue reading »