I’m Interested, and I Object

I’ve avoided this subject until now…

Israel, the Palestinian people, and the land in the West Bank.

On Sunday, it was reported that Israel intends to expropriate the largest single area of West Bank land in decades – almost 1000 acres in a settlement bloc near Bethlehem.

Hot on the heels of the recent conflict and thousands of deaths, it undermines the chance of successful dialogue between the Israelis and Palestinians. It’s antagonistic, against the spirit of the ceasefire, and contrary to the ideal of a two state solution. No ‘new horizon’ or ‘a better future for all’, just provocation and the possibility of peace pushed further away, again.

It also contradicts the message that Israel’s issue is with Hamas, and not the Palestinian people.

So why do it?

During operation ‘Protective Edge’ Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s popularity was up around 80%, however that dropped to 32% when it became apparent the operation had achieved little. The PM now finds himself having to appease his critics, and the result is a large scale land grab.

This political knee-jerk is just another step in the wrong direction. It impedes progress, denies equality, further threatens freedom and security, and continues down the path of never-ending violence. True leadership would set out a vision for a workable future where compromise is central.

The propaganda from opposing sides is also tiresome so i’ll just say the Palestinians are not ISIL, the Israeli people are not today’s Nazis, and despite the Israeli embassy warning “Israel today, Dublin tomorrow”, rockets are not heading over the Irish Sea and ‘terror tunnels’ won’t be popping up under Grafton St anytime soon. The $100,000,000,000+ US tax/wealth export hasn’t bought peace, and the same can be said about AIPAC’s driving influence on US/ME foreign policy. I don’t expect the next $100 billion to change things either.

Propaganda campaigns are about reinforcing positions rather then looking for alternatives, and they use words to mask actions. Intended to polarise and protect vested interests, they are often best ignored.

Israel has allowed 45 days for interested parties to object to the land expropriation. Just a single voice, but in the hope of some steps in the right direction…

“I’m interested, and I object”

Rose of Tralee 2014


Big congratulations to Maria Walsh, Philadelphia, this year’s winner of the Rose of Tralee.

Maria Walsh Rose of Tralee 2014

Well it’s that time of year again and it’s all abuzz in Tralee. Dáithí is showing his feathers and the Roses are blooming! Paddy Power has Anna Geary, Cork, up there among the favourites:) but Kerry have high hopes for their lass Mary Hickey as well.


So will it be Anna, Mary, Teresa from Laois, or maybe Nancy ‘Boyce is my choice‘ (North Carolina) or… oh I don’t know. How does Paddy put odds on the ladies anyway? What do they know that we don’t? Does someone actually apply mathematical science to the Rose of Tralee! Still i’m sure you’ll agree they’re all lovely, and we wish them a great time and the best of luck.

Patrice McGillycuddyAbu Dhabi

Patrice McGillycuddy
Abu Dhabi

Sarah HinesArizona

Sarah Hines

Michelle PriorBoston and New England

Michelle Prior
Boston and New England

Miriam SmythCarlow

Miriam Smyth

Joanne O'GormanClare

Joanne O’Gorman

Anna GearyCork

Anna Geary

Natalie KellyDarwin

Natalie Kelly

Aoife BroderickDerby

Aoife Broderick

Tamara PayneDonegal

Tamara Payne

Allis HughesDubai

Allis Hughes

Róisín LyonsDublin

Róisín Lyons

Nicola CorcoranGalway

Nicola Corcoran

Claire CurranKentucky

Claire Curran

Mary HickeyKerry

Mary Hickey

Teresa BrennanLaois

Teresa Brennan

Zara HealeyLeitrim

Zara Healey

Niamh BerginLuxembourg

Niamh Bergin

Mairead HusseyManchester

Mairead Hussey

Lisa BazolaNew Zealand

Lisa Bazola
New Zealand

Nancy BoyceNorth Carolina

Nancy Boyce
North Carolina

Claire  ReganNottingham

Claire Regan

Sinéad LehanePerth

Sinéad Lehane

Maria WalshPhiladelphia

Maria Walsh

Ashlinn O'NeillQueensland

Ashlinn O’Neill

Michelle KellyScotland

Michelle Kelly

Sarah HarringtonSouth Australia

Sarah Harrington
South Australia

Kathryn Anne BergmanSouthern California

Kathryn Anne Bergman
Southern California

Imelda FinneganSydney

Imelda Finnegan

Cyndi CrowellTexas

Cyndi Crowell

Katie BlundellToronto

Katie Blundell

Allison WetterauwWashington DC

Allison Wetterauw
Washington DC

Catharine JoyceWestern Canada

Catharine Joyce
Western Canada

PS: note to judges – North Carolina… ah go on ;)

There’s no place like home

Níl Aon Tintéan Mar Do Thintéan Féin
By Kate O’Shaughnessy.

Recently my native county of Wexford enjoyed some overdue victories in the GAA’s Senior Hurling Championship. I phoned home match day. My father was preparing to hit the road to Nowlan Park in Kilkenny to watch Wexford take on the Deise in an eagerly awaited clash of the ash. I boasted to him about my impending trip to Japan. He simply replied “But Kate, where else in the world would you want to be today but here?” He was right. I would have swapped my airplane ticket to Japan for a ticket to that game in a heartbeat. It got me thinking.

Looking out at the Great Wall of China

Looking out at the Great Wall of China

Kate O'Shaughnessy

I am currently in my fourth year living away from Ireland. The first two I spent in Australia, and I am now residing in South Korea. I work here as a TEFL teacher. South Korea is a country that has seen a huge rise in the number of Irish citizens coming to teach here in recent years. Some for travelling/experience opportunities but the dominating reason being “there’s nothing back home”. Well, that’s not entirely true for me. For me, my life is back home.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Korea. It is, simply put, a great place to live. I like my job, I like eating out every night of the week, paying 2% tax, free trips to the doctor and dentist, I like the fantastic public transport and, I like embracing another culture so different to my own.

Indeed this is the happier side of the expatriate life. This is the side that we see splashed across Facebook and Twitter. This is the “living the dream” aspect that is reflected in the statuses that fill up our news feed everyday.

That’s a huge problem with social media. It is designed to allow you to portray a picture of the life you want, not necessarily that you have. It doesn’t always convey the reality. There is a dark side in being an expat too but who wants to publicly admit that sometimes, their lives are a bit shit? I feel the Irish like to save face a lot of the time especially when it comes to emigration. Whatever they’re doing, it is better than home. All of us twenty-somethings have sacrificed so much to live the lives we do abroad. I’ve missed my sister’s wedding, funerals, hen parties, Christmases and loved ones getting engaged. Happy moments that I would loved to have been a part of and some sad ones I ought to have shared. I haven’t seen my best friend in over two years and due to her residing in Australia and me residing here, we won’t meet again until at least Christmas 2015.

When your circle of friends are each experiencing their own new unique adventures in Hong Kong, Sydney, London and Toronto, it can be a challenge to find common ground. Our chats are no longer about our plans to do things together but memories of the past that we share. Being an Irish expat is now the theme that unites us.

The toughest challenge for me is the instability of one’s friendship circle. Sure, it is easy to find a dozen people to party it up with you at the weekend; it is not so easy to find someone you could call at 2am if you needed help. Friendships seem flimsy at times and almost temporary. Everyone has an expiration date be it because of visas, contracts, adventure seeking in other countries or duties back home.

I am not trying to slander living abroad. I definitely am not. Perhaps I felt it important to write this to those in Ireland who haven’t left. The people you see who comment “I am sooooo jealous” under the Facebook photos of somebody climbing Sydney’s Harbour Bridge or diving the Barrier Reef. Sometimes, we are soooooooo jealous of you too. The classic case of the grass is always greener on the other side. Those who have left have not turned their backs on Ireland. In the end, Bondi Beach is not Salthill, The Statue of Liberty is not the Spike and Wimbledon isn’t Croke Park.

Níl aon tinteán mar do thinteàn féin.

Minister for the Diaspora, Jimmy Deenihan, and a renewed diaspora relationship

Jimmy Deenihan, Diaspora Minister Jimmy Deenihan was recently appointed as the first Minister of State for the Diaspora and has been quick to say that “to implement a new strategy I have to move very fast.” With a maximum of 20 months in office before the next general election the focus is on priorities and what is achievable.

The Minister has already indicated one area he is considering; an online register where emigrants hoping to return could submit details of their skills, however this is a bit vague and as yet difficult to determine how it would be employed.

How Ireland can better engage with its communities abroad also appears to be part of the remit, as well as welfare support for vulnerable and elderly Irish abroad, business and tourism schemes, and social-media initiatives to engage younger emigrants.

There are also a number of legacy areas which will presumably be joining the in tray, and compiling the list it becomes apparent the Minister has a fair bit to think about:

- Emigrant Voting Rights
- Undocumented Irish (US)
- Forgotten Irish (UK)
- Emigrant Support Programmes
- Global Irish Economic Forum
- Global Irish Network
- National Diaspora Centre
- Emigrant Register
- Diaspora Tourism
- Evolving Diaspora Engagement

How much can be delivered within 20 months? Maybe one or two key areas combined with a couple of quick wins, and at this point it’s tempting to get into previous commitments and the pros and cons of each particular topic. A better approach however might be to consider the longer term. A new diaspora policy is due to be published in the coming months and hopefully this will communicate a vision, an overall strategy, and a path to deliver that strategy effectively. It should ideally be cohesive enough to outlive the life of a government.

By all means, yes, some quick wins, but given that the revised policy will shape future engagement it is probably the most important aspect of his tenure. If the Minister can set strong foundations for a renewed diaspora relationship, that transcends the term of political office, it will be solid progress.