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Help-To-Buy Incentive Scheme Is To Be Examined

The current Irish Minister for Housing, Mr Eoghan Murphy, has acknowledged that he will be reviewing the Rebuilding Ireland housing strategy, which could see “The help-to-buy incentive”, geared to encourage first time home buyers, scrapped.

The scheme was first introduced by Fine Gael in last October’s budget, to encourage and enabled first time buyers of new build properties.  Basically, if you were a first-time buyer who either bought or self-built a new residential property between the 19th July 2016 and 31st December 2019, you were entitled to claim a refund of income tax and DIRT paid over the previous 4 tax years.

This new scheme’s introduction now appears to indicate that rather than helping to encourage building, the scheme has in fact pushed existing house prices to reach dizzier heights.

Fears justifiably now exist that if this new scheme were to be cancelled, the effects could cause an even further price amplification; suggesting that the Housing Minister will most likely focus his attentions on how to increase the supply of building stock; latter a strategy which has failed dismally, despite incentives.

It should be remembered that according to the 2016 census, held on the 24th April last year (2016), some 183,000 vacant homes exists around the country, while some 8,000 people continue to reside in emergency accommodation.

Surely it would have been cheaper to pay incentives to 8,000 people to move out of our over-crowded cities, and take up residence in the pure air of our Irish villages and smaller towns, while also partially replenishing our rural population, latter forced to take the boat to find work.

By giving €10,000 and a social house to each family currently residing in emergency accommodation; Mr Murphy can indeed be assured that the promise by former Minister Mr Simon Coveney, (“All homeless families in Dublin will be moved out of hotel accommodation by 1st July 2017.”), will in truth be met by at least the date of August 31st.

Remember Fianna Fáil’s attempts at the movement of departments and power away from a single administrative centre; to other locations. It was called ‘Decentralization’, so why not apply this idea to those forced to reside in over priced emergency accommodation? Remember we are talking about people without homes, not unsackable Civil Servants and their Unions seeking outrageous relocation payments.

But of course it is so important that we do not upset Ireland’s bankers and property developers, after all they have been so considerate of the Irish people!

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Despite Election Promises, No Real Support For Tipperary Tourism

Ireland’s favourite tourist attractions were announced yesterday with Dublin’s Guinness Storehouse emerging, not surprisingly, the No1 favourite. Figures supplied by Fáilte Ireland show visitors to the Dublin Brewery increased by some 10% over the previous 2015 holiday season, perhaps possibly because arrogance amongst its employees is not tolerated and non existent.

In no particular order the Top Five Irish fee-paying attractions during the 2016 Holiday Season were:-
The Guinness Storehouse, Dublin – 1,647,408 (Up 10%)
Dublin Zoo, Dublin – 1,143,908 (Up 3%).
The National Aquatic Centre Dublin – 1,037,992 (Up 4.5%).
Trinity College – Book of Kells, Dublin – 890,781 (Up 6%).
The Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience, Co Clare – 1,427,166 (Up 14%).

In no particular order the Top Five Irish free-to-enter attractions during the 2016 Holiday Season were:-
The National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin – 755,577 (Up 5%).
Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin – 584,856 (Up 20%).
National Botanic Gardens – 583,539 (Up 5.5%).
National Museum of Ireland – 479,261 (Up 4.8%).
Doneraile Wildlife Park, Co. Cork – 480,000 (Up 11%).

And now for the trick question:- “What have 8 out of the 10 attractions, above named, all got in common?”

Think carefully – OK time Up – Answer “All 8 out of the 10 attractions, above named, are to be found in the heartland of Dublin’s city Centre, and most have or continue to received massive government funding.”

Looking at these attractions from a rapidly expiring ‘Rural Ireland’ perspective and working from memory:-

Dublin Zoo, Dublin – 2011 saw the expiry of a once-off €18m State Capital Investment Programme provided first in 2006 for its redevelopment.
National Aquatic Centre Dublin – Built at a capital cost of €62.5 million.
Book of Kells, Dublin – In 2011 Leo Varadkar announced an allocation of €2.7 million in funding for the exhibition of the Book of Kells, to improve public access to the precious manuscript and the overall visitor experience.
National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin – In 2014 €32 million handed over for renovations.
National Museum of Ireland – The annual grant by Government is approximately €13m annually.

See other tourism funding for our States Capital City

Commenting on the list of Ireland’s top attractions, CEO of Fáilte Ireland, Mr Paul Kelly, stated: “Attractions are one of the key reasons why many overseas visitors choose Ireland as a destination, they create the variety of experiences that make for an enjoyable holiday and are the basis of visitor memories and moments to share that are critical to the growth of tourism in Ireland.”

But of course such attractions should ‘create that variety of experiences’ only in Dublin City and County; would you not agree Mr Kelly?

Surely issues here of of disparity, inequality, discrimination or imbalance; call it what you will.

Maybe, perhaps, perchance, or possibly our five county elected TD’s, namely Mr Jacki Cahill, Mr Mattie McGrath, Mr Michael Lowry, Mr Alan Kelly and Mr Seamus Healy, might like to raise this issue in Dáil Éireann. Maybe, perhaps, perchance, or possibly they could be reminded by their local supporting Co. Councillors, before they themselves go skiving off on holidays, having achieved absolutely nothing for their county since last election day, Friday 26th February, 2017.

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Should Unclaimed Bodies Pass To Anatomy Departments

American-born feminist, theologian and independent politician, Katherine Zappone, Minister for Children, referred in the Dáil yesterday to the 474 “unclaimed infant remains” which were transferred from mother-and-baby homes and related institutions, to medical schools in Irish Universities. Same were transferred into the anatomy departments of Irish medical colleges here in Ireland right up to the mid 1960’s.

The Minister stated she wished to offer solidarity and a personal apology for the wrongs that were done to those affected.

‘Resurrectionists’ on the ‘Graveyard Shift.’

While apologies and offers of solidarity are all very well, one must ask the questions:
(1) Were there any laws broken when such transfers of unclaimed infant remains were transferred from these homes to Irish Universities?
(2) Do we now need to change or update existing law with regard to such matters?

In 2017 we must consider ourselves as living in more enlightened times. We learn that today, Friday 10th March 2017, that what is described as a highly original and thought-provoking exhibition of human anatomy will come to Dublin for a limited time only. Yes it is the ‘Human Body Exhibition’, which also features the bodies of genuine humans. The specimens featured were donated in accordance with Chinese law to the Dalian Hoffen Biotechnique Laboratory, which conducts research into plastination and provides specimens to medical schools.

This exhibition the purpose of which we are told is to further educate, is expected to run for six months and the promotions company founded by Eamonn McCann and Denis Desmond (MCD), have sent invitations to medical schools and primary and second-level students. Tickets however are priced at €14 for adults and €8 for children.

This exhibit has indeed attracted criticism since it is not possible to attest as to whether any of the specimens voluntarily donated their bodies, or whether they are instead the misappropriated remains of executed Chinese political prisoners, latter who had not given their consent to have their bodies shown, following their execution.

Should the Irish people at this time be upset by the arrival of this “highly original and thought-provoking exhibition of human anatomy”, in light of the 474 “unclaimed infant remains” similarly transferred from mother-and-baby homes to Irish medical schools between 1940 and 1965 ?

Prior to the Anatomy Act of 1832, the only legal supply of corpses for anatomical purposes were those condemned to death and dissection by the courts who were often guilty of harsher crimes. However those sentenced by Courts did not provide enough subjects for medical schools / private anatomical schools. During the 18th century hundreds had been executed for what we regard today as trivial crimes, however by the 19th century only about 55 people were being sentenced to capital punishment on an annual basis.

As many as 500 dead bodies were needed annually due to the expansion of the medical schools. Interfering with graves was not a felony, rather a misdemeanour in common law and therefore only punishable with imprisonment and a fine, instead of transportation or execution. Thus the trade of Body Snatching became a sufficiently lucrative business with the authorities tending to ignore what they considered a necessary evil.

The business of ‘Body Snatching’ became so prevalent that it became necessary for relatives and friends of deceased persons to watch over bodies until burial, and then to keep watch over the very grave itself to halt violations. Mortsafes, (a framework of iron bars placed over grave sites) and Iron Coffins, where affordable, had to be used frequently.

Graves were dug quite shallow and ‘Body Snatchers’ or ‘Resurrectionists’, as they were known, would dig at the head end (West) of a recent burial, using wooden spade (quieter than metal implements). On reaching the coffin, they broke the side open before placing a rope around the corpse and dragged it out. Stealing jewellery or clothing would cause them to be liable to a felony charge, so in many cases they were careful not to steal either.

Resurrectionists were also known to hire women to act as grieving relatives and claim the bodies of the dead from within poorhouses. Often poorhouses received a small fee from undertakers, or resold the bodies (especially those with no family) to doctors. Women also attended funerals acting as grieving mourners to ascertain any future hardships these Body Snatchers might later encounter during disinterment. Even bribed servants would sometimes offer body snatchers access to their dead master or mistress lying in state; the removed body would be later replaced with suitable weights in closed coffins.

Remember in more recent times the huge furore over Irish human tissue banks and the  removal of organs retained for further examination and sometimes subsequently used for educational and research purposes, dealt with by the Dr. Deirdre Madden Report on Post Mortem Practises & Procedures.

Enough with the apologies and offers of solidarity; our legislators now need to sit down and ask the question: “Do we now need to change or update existing law with regard to such matters?”  We as a nation can no longer afford the costs of day after day public enquiries, followed by the inevitable compensation claims in an attempt to remove our guilt, especially with regard to matters of Church and State, and which once were seen as being morally quite acceptably, by Irish Society, all those decades ago.

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Mother & Baby Homes Commission Of Investigation

It was confirmed on March 3rd 2017 that the skeletal remains of baby’s, infants and toddlers, which lay unknown and in many cases forgotten for decades, have been finally uncovered on the site of a Mother and Baby Home in Tuam.

The official website for the Mother and Baby Homes Investigation can be found HERE

Those involved in the investigation, on behalf of the Commission of Inquiry into Mother and Baby Homes have stated that a significant number of children’s remains, dating back to the years during which time the home remained operational, have been located. Some infants are thought to have passed on from debility suffered at birth, while others succumbed to respiratory infection and premature birth.

It is understood that these young infant victims could have also died in a number of cases from influenza, while measles and chickenpox could have contributed to death in others.  Just a small number of deaths were possibly attributed to malnutrition, while health issues; trivial in today’s world, such as ear infections, skin diseases, and whooping cough also contributed; as did meningitis, gastroenteritis, convulsions, congenital heart disease and congenital syphilis.

Certainly tuberculous bacillus (TB) was rampant during this period, with children making up more than half of the victims. This highly infectious disease thrived in crowded situations and in poorly ventilated buildings even in the country. It was not until the 1950’s that TB began to decline and by the 1970’s it had almost completely vanished from our shores.

Surely it must be observed as somewhat strange (or perhaps even hypocritical), that on reading this sad and most disturbing news, so many of the commentators on the Tuam babies scandal who remain rightly concerned about a respectful burial for these human remains; same also want to remove the existing constitutional protection and the right to life, from their modern day colleagues with fatal foetal anomalies, or limited prospects of a full life-span, or conceived as a result of rape or incest. Remember the report of the official Commission of Investigation mentions that the sample of remains that they examined range from 35 foetal weeks to 2-3 years, which would seemingly include still-born and perinatal infants.

While we remain arguing over what road we should take with regard to our future unborn children, we, over recent years, have shown similarly total disregard for those vulnerable and let’s admit that in today’s Ireland we can no longer place blame on the ‘Great Famine’, the Church and the Nuns.

Following the closing of the home in 1961, all records then held were handed over to Galway County Council. Were Galway County Council not aware of the burial grounds before any planning permissions for housing were granted in that immediate area?

Following the painstaking research undertaken by historian M/s Catherine Corless, the names of some 796 children who died in the Tuam institution between the years 1925 and 1960 inclusive, can be found hereunder.

Continue reading Mother & Baby Homes Commission Of Investigation

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Repealing The Eighth Amendment

“It’s just one man’s opinion, but it’s my opinion and I reserve the right, above all others, to hold that opinion.”

The movement to ‘Repeal the Eighth Amendment’ is certainly gathering momentum, and various categories of unborn babies are facing an increasing prospect of being legally aborted within Ireland. The law already allows the abortion of the children of suicidal mothers (subject to certification by three professionals that the case comes within the parameters of the Protection of Life in Pregnancy Act 2013), and the danger of abortion is extended by the same Act to children of mothers whose lives are in danger from the pregnancy in the opinion of two professionals in ordinary cases, or just one in emergency cases.

Ms Justice Mary Laffoy Chairperson of the 100-member convention taxed with considering issues including the Eighth Amendment.

The protagonists of the ‘Repeal’ campaign aim to further extend legal abortion in Ireland to other tragic cases, for example, unborn children suffering from a fatal foetal anomaly, anencephaly, various chromosomal or genetic anomalies, and to children conceived through rape or incest. Other ‘Repealers’, depending on the extent of their liberalism, would extend a right of abortion to the mothers of any or all children regarded by their mothers as flawed, unhealthy, unwanted or inconvenient.

It is argued by the protagonists of the ‘Repeal the Eighth’ that this repeal will free the legislators from the restrictions of the Eighth Amendment and enable them to enact laws to cater for these needy cases. But the question remains ‘will it’?

Where do lawmakers get their authority to enact laws anyway? Most people and most democratic constitutions would say that the power of the legislature to make laws comes to them from the people. But are there limits to the powers the people may grant to the legislature? The theory of parliamentary supremacy (or “legal positivism”) would hold that there is no limitation on the laws Parliament may enact. As Sir Leslie Stephen explained in this theory in his book ‘The Science of Ethics’: “If a legislature decided that all blue-eyed babies should be murdered, the preservation of blue-eyed babies would be illegal”.

But differently from many other constitutions, the Irish Constitution in Article 6 says that “All powers of government, legislative, executive and judicial, derive, under God, from the people…”.  These words “under God” were deliberately added to ensure that the Irish constitution would not be guilty of the absurdity to which the theory of absolute parliamentary supremacy leads. The Dáil is not omnipotent, but is subject to the law of God.

The awkward fact for atheists, agnostics, the lapsed, and those in the Dáil who haven’t read article 6 of the Irish Constitution, is that those who did write it and the majority who enacted it in 1937, mostly believed in God, and gave the Dáil no power to enact laws which are contrary to the law of God. When God said “Thou shalt not kill”, the consequence of Article 6 is that no TD, no Seanadóir, no Judge, no Doctor shall kill or authorise the killing of any innocent unborn child.

So, surely before they repeal the eighth Amendment (or Article 40, s.3, 3° which it inserted into the Constitution), abortion advocates need to surely repeal or amend Article 6, and also perhaps paganise or at least de-Christianise that Preamble to Bunreacht na hÉireann whose first words are “In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority…”.

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