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Amnesty Ireland are hoping to host a disco at Dáil Éireann to protest US Vice President Mike Pence's visit to Ireland/

The visit has been moved forward, and Amnesty has began crowdfunding to organise the event in time.

On their crowdfunding page, they said:

“He’ll be in Dublin on the 3rd of September. We want to have a Disco outside the Dáil (at 1pm) in protest. A celebration of all the people that Pence and Trump’s cruel policies are hurting; women, refugees, migrants, and LGBTI people."

They continued;

“We want to show him, and people that support him, that we’re a different country now and that he can’t go back to the USA and say that Ireland supports him, Trump or their policies of hate.

“We’re going to need plenty of colourful banners, a sound system for music, a stage for dancing and maybe even a disco ball! Leftover funds will go to support our other related campaigns.

“And we’re going to invite Mr Pence to our disco. We hope he RSVP’s.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Vice President Mike Pence (@vp) on

Pence is renowned for defending the horrible conditions in US immigrant detention centres recently, and tweeted his excitement at the prospect of celebrating his "Irish roots".

Of course, many Twitter users were highly disgusted at the hypocrisy. His grandfather immigrated to the US from Co. Sligo in 1923, so his anti-immigrant views are even more ridiculous.

Pence’s trip is expected to cost up to €10 million in security costs.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and his partner Matt Barrett attended a breakfast with Pence and his wife Karen, which must have been awkward considering the Vice President’s track record on LGBT+ rights.

Pence voted against hate crime laws during his stint in Congress, and has allegedly endorsed cruel gay conversion therapy. His wife also teaches in a school which refuses to accept LGBTI pupils.

Pence opposed the repeal of the US military’s controversial 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell' policy in 2010, citing that he did not want to see the military become ‘a backdrop for social experimentation’. Wow.

To make Disco at the Dáil happen, donate here. You can find full details of the event here.

Feature image: Twitter/@AmnestyIreland

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Last night, Ireland became just the SECOND country in the world to declare a climate and biodiversity emergency, after the United Kingdom began the proceedings on May 1.

A Fianna Fáil amendment to the Oireachtas report on Climate Action was accepted by the Opposition parties and Government without a vote, which led to this vital development.

Fine Gael's Hildegarde Naughton, who acts as Chair of the Climate Action Committee praised the vote as "an important statement" but stressed that "now we need action."

16-year-old climate change activist Greta Thunberg welcomed Ireland' progress, and posed the valuable question to other countries around the world, "Who is next?" 

The young Nobel Peace Prize nominee has been pivotal in starting the school strikes around the globe to protest government lack of action on ecological breakdown.

Naughton claimed that Minister for Climate Action Richard Bruton would come back with new proposals soon to the Dáil. The Chair also asserted that she looked forward to working "with all parties and none" to scrutinise them.

Eamon Ryan, leader of the Green Party, said tonight’s declaration came under quite“unusual circumstances” after he moved the Fianna Fáil motion into the Dáil without any of their TDs being present in the chamber.

Ryan continued by saying “it will be of little meaning unless we are now willing to act on the recommendations of the Committee.”

He vehemently warned that "declaring an emergency means absolutely nothing unless there is action to back it up. That means the Government having to do things they don't want to do".

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Climate Love Ireland (@climateloveireland) on

Deputy Bríd Smith, of Solidarity/People Before Profit, said she was "delighted" with the declaration, but expressed her concern over whether or not the Government will support her Climate Emergency Measures Bill next month.

The Bill seeks to limit oil and gas exploration. Fianna Fáil climate action spokesman Timmy Dooley moved the amendment, but when the vote came before the House it was put forward by Deputy Ryan,

There were only six TDs in the chamber and none of them were from Fianna Fáil, which speaks volumes. The Green Party Leader stated that, "We have declared a climate emergency in our own Irish way."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Irish Doctors for Environment (@irishdocsenv) on

Ireland has hit the headlines in recent times over our dire attempts to tackle climate change. The nation was ranked the worst in Europe in a report published in December

The Climate Change Performance Index ranked Ireland 48th out of 56 countries, with a score of 40.84. This is dangerously low, considering the EU average is 60.65.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has bluntly referred to Ireland as a “laggard” on the issue, and the country is set to miss emission reduction targets and face significant EU fines as a result.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by schoolCED (@global_climate_emergency_now) on

A Citizens' Assembly will consider the issue of a biodiversity emergency. A United Nations report has only just hit the world, stating that almost one million species are facing extinction because of humankind's damage to the planet.

Sinn Féin's Brian Stanley had also called for a climate emergency to be declared, but there were no Sinn Féin TDs in the Dáil chamber when the amendments were put. The lack of representation from major parties did not go unnoticed.

Feature image: PressFrom

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that he supports President Donald Trump's criticism from the press. 

The remarks were reportedly made at a private lunch held in New York on Monday. 

The event, hosted by Irish Consul General Ciaran Madden, was for young Irish workers across various sectors in New York City.

According to The Times,  when asked what he thought of Trump's attack on the US press, Leo said that the media was not interested in the truth but only in getting a story.

He was particularly scathing of political journalists, who he claimed were more interested in gossip rather than what the Government is actually doing. 

Reportedly a heated exchange followed as other members pointed out that the media had unearthed the Weinstein sexual assault allegations among other controversies. 

Social media had a strong reaction to Leo's comments, as some agreed with the Taoiseach while others were outraged that he had sided with Trump. 

Some were quick to jump to his defence, saying, ''you can criticise the media while supporting free speech. Taoiseach's points taken out of context imo.''

Others were not so understanding, stating that the whole episode was a ''strange, unsettling criticism of the media by our Taoiseach.'' 

According to RTE News, NUJ Irish General Secretary Seamus Dooley said it was ''bizarre'' that the Taoiseach would side with such a divisive political figure. 

Leo later said that his comments were ''taken out of context.''  

A spokesperson said that the Taoiseach "believes that a free, fair and balanced press is a cornerstone of our democracy".

Judging by the furore on Twitter, it seems like Leo might have a bit more explaining to do…

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Last night, the Domestic Violence Bill passed its final stages in the Dáil, putting in place important measures that will aid victims of psychological abuse. 

This move follows a recent report from Women's Aid that they received 10,281 disclosures of emotional abuse during 2017. 

In order to help the victims of such abuse, some of this law's key measures include improving courts access for victims and criminalising controlling behaviour. The bill still has to go back to the Seanad before the President can sign it into law.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan says that the Domestic Violence Bill is one of the most important pieces of legislation passed by the Oireachtas in 2018.

"The new offence of coercive control sends a clear consistent message that non-violent control in an intimate relationship is criminal," he told BreakingNews.ie.

"The effect of such behaviour may be as harmful to victims as physical abuse because it's an abuse of the unique trust associated with intimate relationships."

Women's Aid Director Margaret Martin commended the passing of the new legislation, and the light it sheds on the fact that abuse goes beyond the physical.

"It's really important that there is move away to understand that domestic violence actually includes so many different forms – whether it's physical, emotional, sexual or financial," she noted.

"An awful lot of people, they may never be physically abused but they may live with the high level of fear and threat and control and I think it's great to see that that's now going to be an offence."

Fianna Fail TD Jim O'Callaghan says that this is also a teaching moment, and more needs to be done to educate young men on how abusing women is unacceptable.

"The only way we are going to be able to resolve the problem and ensure that domestic violence is reduced is through a legislative response – we have that here, but also we need further responses," he observed.

"We need in particular to be able to educate and inform young men of the unacceptability of using violence against women."

We are heartened to hear that the Domestic Violence Bill will help victims of abuse receive the protection and support they need.

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This morning, while those of us in relationships received love nots and cards from our signifiant others, a different kind of Valentines Day card was being delivered to Dáil Éireann.

Time Travellers for Choice, a branch of the Abortion Rights Campaign, donned their historical costumes and presented themselves on Kildare Street with a card highlights that what Irish women want for Valentine's Day, and have wanted for centuries, is the right to choose. 

Holding the card emblazoned with an image of two love birds perched side by side, campaigner Lute al Raad cut a striking figure in her Suffragette costume and Repeal sash. 

'We are from the Abortion Rights Campaign, and in particular today we are Time Travellers for Choice so we are a project under the Abortion Rights Campaign and we are here to deliver Valentines cards to politicians,' Lute told SHEmazing.

'Its our pro choice Valentines Card, which says "This Valentine's Day, give them what they really want… Bodily Autonomy."'

The demonstration comes as a reminder that 100 years after Irish women gained the right to vote, we are still campaigning for the right to make private, personal decisions about our lives and our health.'

It reminds us that while we may have secured right to vote 100 years ago, we're still centuries behind in the area of abortion rights. 

With the referendum looming in may, you can donate to The Abortion Rights Campaign here.

 

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A debate on the Tuam babies scandal was scheduled to kick off at 10am this morning, however the debate was delayed as not enough TDs showed up for the meeting. 

Oireachtas rules state that 20 of the 158 elected TDs must be present for a debate to occur, meaning the meeting started behind schedule as the Dáil waited for others to show up. 

Once the debate began, Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone issued an apology to the victims of the scandal, and told TDs she will consider including all residential Irish institutions in the current inquiry.

Twitter and Facebook users quickly became aware of the dwindled numbers of TDs present, and they definitely were not impressed by the government's percieved dismissive attitude towards the issue. 

Many Facebook users are demanding a list of the officials who did not show up to be published, so that they can officially complain to their elected representatives.

"Where can you see a list of those who did attend so we can email those from our constituency who are supposedly meant to be representing us who did not show up for this debate. I'm totally disgusted by this," said one. 

"What the hell needs to happen for them to turn up? A debate on cutting their expenses would have it jammed. Just furious."

"It's because they don't care! They don't care when it happened why would we think they care now! By the way they sleep very well at night in case anyone is interested," commented another outraged citizen,on a Facebook post about the debate.

"Aw well it's not as if it's water charges just dead babies, sure we wouldn't bother marching for that," said another. 

Katherine Zappone labelled the issue “a scandal of huge proportions.”

 

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Medicinal marijuana legislation has passed the second stage in the Dail without a vote and is on course to be legalised by Easter next year.

The law would allow doctors to prescribe the plant as a natural pain reliever to people suffering from chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia.

The Health Minister Simon Harris indicated he would not oppose the bill, but suggested that changes should be made before it's published.

The Bill is expected to be supported by a majority of TDs.

 A survey by Rec C found that over 90% of Irish people support the legalisation of the drug on medical grounds.

Irish people took to Twitter to show their support for the Government’s decision, with many using the hashtag #MakeItMedicine.

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