“Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

It’s not very often I find myself as an Irishman quoting Oliver Cromwell, but the latest revelations on Donald Trump’s relationships with and views on Women give me no choice. I am a firm believer in the party system, and believe that true debate of ideas and polices make the eventual winner of an election a better one as they have been tried and tested.

In the US Presidential Election this year there is no true debate. One side have detailed policies and ideas of the future, the other feeds off the anger of those left behind, both economically and socially, but has no true plan to fix what ails them.

Gage Skidmore (Flickr)
Gage Skidmore (Flickr)

In the past I have supported (from afar) candidates from both major parties in the United States. This year, I have made no secret of my support of Hillary Clinton and now I feel that if this election is to be a true election, with debate on ideas and policies then Donald Trump must resign as the Republican Nominee for President and be replaced with a candidate with true conservative credentials and the ability to lead the country. Whether that is his running mate Governor Mike Pence or another Republican such as Speaker Paul Ryan that is an issue for the Republican National Committee.

Mr Trump has proven time and again that he does not have the temperament or the ability to lead a country. He has maligned Women, Immigrants, the Disabled and Muslims. He has continued his candidacy through events which would have felled better men, but as he knows no humility and has surrounded himself with ‘Yes Men’ he has continued his campaign.

Mr Trump’s comments about women in the Hot Mic episode is a description of Sexual Assault. Nothing else. It is not locker room banter. It is not excusable for any man, whether a “star” or not to treat a women in the way Mr Trump describes.

America deserves better than Mr Trump. America deserves a debate on its futures and the ideals its holds dear. America deserves a better candidate for the President then the current Republican Nominee. America deserves a real apology from Mr Trump, not an apology that turns political by drawing in President Bill Clinton. That is not a true and real apology.

With less than a month to the Election Day on November 8th and Early Voting begun in a number of states, a solution is needed urgently. Mr Trump if he has any humility would resign as the nominee and withdraw from politics. I for one do not see Mr Trump displaying that type of humility, or humility in any form. He has failed to do so throughout this campaign.

All this brings to mind another quote, one from Joseph Welch in response in Senator McCarthy during the Army hearings. “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

I fear that along with humility, Donald Trump does not have any decency and it would be a tragic day for America were he to be elected to the highest office in the United States of America.

Its been quiet here….

UCC Express Logo2So of late its been a bit quiet here on the blog, but then again I haven’t not been writing. I have a few pieces up on the UCC Express Website that may be of interest to some of you. I have also started to write about sport, which is a change for me and an interesting challenge.

Majority of Irish people think the UK should remain in the EU

Refugee Team to Contest Rio Olympics

Florida Key to White House

Independents Slump As Parties Regain Support

Theresa May Set to Become UK Prime Minister while Labour Split Continues

Census Results Presents Constitutional Problems

Podcasts the Express Staff are Listening to

The Irish at Rio 2016

Pro-Choice and Religious: Is it possible?

Irish Paralympic Team Crowdfunding for Rio 2016

All my articles for UCC Express can be viewed here

Orlando – A Gay Christian’s response

pulese“I’ve been waiting all week for this. A Saturday night out with the boys. Maybe I’ll meet someone. Always a chance of that in Pulse”

Replace ‘Pulse’ in the above with any gay club or bar in any city around the world and that is probably the thoughts of some those there. It’s normally similar to mine on Friday or Saturday night out in Cork.

But for those attending Pulse in Orlando, Florida on Saturday night, it all ended so differently, so tragically. when a gunman opened fire and killed 50 people, and injured countless others. Members of the LGBT*Q Community, just like me.

It’s hard to figure out mu feelings on this. I’m hurt, angry, heartbroken, shocked, vulnerable and sad. I’m angry that this could happen. That someone could target people just because of who they are, who they love, how they were created.

But we cannot respond in kind. We cannot blame a particular religion, or all religions, for one man’s actions. We must be better than this. If we react to hate with hate, then hate wins. Martin Luther King speaking in 1963 said

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction … The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.

lgbt half mastWe must now reach out the hand of comfort to out LGBT*Q Brothers and sisters in Florida who are hurt, grief-stricken, and scared. We must reach out to those who mourn the loss of family friends and friends. We must also look out for those in the world-wide LGBT*Q Community for whom the fear of attacks, rape and murder are a daily fear.

But on the other hand we must also reach out the hand of understanding to our Muslim Brothers and Sisters here and the US as they face the inevitable backlash due to one man’s actions.

We in the LGBT*Q Community must continue to stand tall, roar loudly to be treated equally, demand our place in the Public Square, and not bow our heads in shame because of who we are pr who we love. We must do this, not just for ourselves, but those worse off. The members of the LGBT*Q Community who still live in countries where it is illegal to be gay, for LGBT*Q Muslims, and for LGBT*Q Refugees.

Those of us in religions must continue to work hard to ensure an affirming welcome for all in our churches, temples, mosques and synagogues. This work isn’t easy, nor should it be. But we cannot put limits on God’s love that is open to all.

Vigils are being held in Ireland this week in remembrance for those who died. Tonight In Dublin Belong To, GLEN – GAY AND LESBIAN EQUALITY NETWORK and Transgender Equality Network Ireland are in Bernardo’s Square (beside City Hall on Dame Street, Dublin 2) at 6.30pm Monday and also in Tralee tonight at 9pm in the Square.

In Galway on Wednesday in Eyre Square organised by Amach and also in Cork on Wednesday.

Further Reading:

Thoughts on Orlando – UCC Express Editorial

Queer Muslims exist – and we are in mourning too – The Guardian

Taoiseach’s Seanad Nominees announced

Seanad_Alan-BetsonThis evening the Taoiseach’s 11 nominees to Seanad Eireann were announced. They are as follows:

  • Paudie Coffey (former Senator, Dáil Deputy and Minister of State)
  • Joan Freeman (Founder of Pieta House)
  • Michelle Mulherin (former Dáil Deputy)
  • Ray Butler (former Dáil Deputy)
  • Frank Feighan (former Senator and Dáil Deputy)
  • John O’Mahony (former Dáil Deputy)
  • Dr James Reilly (Former TD and Minister)
  • Billy Lawless (advocate for Irish immigrants in the U.S.)
  • Colette Kelleher (CEO Alzheimers Ireland)
  • Pádraig Ó Céidigh (Businessman)
  • Marie-Louise O’Donnell (Former Senator)

Joan Freeman, Colette Kelleher and Pádraig Ó Céidigh were all nominated by the request of Fianna Fail.

One are that has been completely overlooked is that now Tipperary is the only county in Ireland which does not have a Fine Gael national representative. This will make it hard for Fine Gael to regain a seat in this constituency.

The first meeting of the new Seanad will take place on Wednesday 8 June at 3pm.

Ministers of State Announced

ministersofstate2016Today an Taoiseach Enda Kenny announced the appointments of Junior Ministers which were agreed at Cabinet today. They are as follows

  • Minister of State for European Affairs, Data Protection and the E.U. Single Digital Market– Dara Murphy, Cork North Central, (Departments of the Taoiseach, Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Justice and Equality)
  • Minister of State for Financial Services, eGovernment and Public Procurement – Eoghan Murphy, Dublin Bay South, (Departments of Finance, and Public Expenditure and Reform)
  • Minister of State for Tourism and Sport – Patrick O’Donovan, Limerick County, (Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport)
  • Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal – Damien English, Meath West, (Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government)
    5. Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs and Natural Resources – Sean Kyne, Galway West, (Departments of Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht, and Climate Change, Communications and Natural Resources)
  • Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture – Andrew Doyle, Wicklow, (Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine)
  • Minister of State for Employment and Small Business– Pat Breen, Clare, (Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation)
  • Minister of State for Training and Skills – John Halligan, Waterford, (Departments of Education, and Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation)
  • Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People – Helen McEntee, Meath East, (Department of Health)
  • Minister of State for Health Promotion – Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, Offaly, (Department of Health)
  • Minister of State for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief– Sean Canney, Galway East, (Department of Public Expenditure and Reform)
  • Minister of State for the Diaspora and Overseas Development Aid – Joe McHugh, Donegal (Departments of the Taoiseach, and Foreign Affairs and Trade)
  • Regional Economic Development – Michael Ring, Mayo, (Department of Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht)
  • Minister of State for Communities and the National Drugs Strategy– Catherine Byrne, Dublin South-Central, (Health, and Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht)
  • Minister of State for Justice with special responsibility for Equality, Immigration, and Integration – David Stanton, Cork East, (Department of Justice and Equality)

    These appointments are in addition to the three Ministers of State who were appointed when the Government was formed – Regina Doherty, Finian McGrath and Paul Kehoe.

The total number of Junior Ministers now stand at 18. Of those 3 are Independent TDs (Finian McGrath, John Halligan and Sean Canney) and the other 15 are members of Fine Gael.

Eurovision 2016 – We are off to Ukraine!

Ukraine win the Eurovision Song Contest, JamalaCredit: Andres Putting (EBU)
Ukraine win the Eurovision Song Contest, Jamala Credit: Andres Putting (EBU)

Congratulations to Jamala and the Ukraine on winning the 61st Eurovision Song Contest! This is the Ukraine’s second Eurovision win. They first won the contest in 2004 when Ruslana and her “Wild Dances” stormed Eurovision.

In the best contest in years, Jamala’s “1944”, a song about the deportation of Crimean Tartars by Stalin, showed how a strong song that stands out from the crowd can win the Song Contest.

Petra, Mans and everyone involved at SVT put on an amazing show! I adored the Interval act! Ukraine’s NTU have a tough act to follow!

The voting sequence was fantastic. The new voting system led to real suspense right up to that last moment!

Scoreboard following the Televote
Scoreboard following the Televote
Australia's Dami Im gets 12 points. Credit Thomas Hanses (EBU)
Australia’s Dami Im gets 12 points. Credit Thomas Hanses (EBU)

Going into the televote Australia had a commanding lead of 109 points over the Ukraine. Many thought it would be insurmountable, but Australia were not as popular with the televote as they were with the Juries as they came 4th in that vote.

Seeing Poland jump from 2nd last with 7 points from the juries to 8th place thanks to the televote really shows the beauty of this new voting system!

Russian Entry Sergey Lazarev. Credit: Andres Putting (EBU)
Russian Entry Sergey Lazarev. Credit: Andres Putting (EBU)

Russia narrowly won the Televote as they received 361 points to the Ukraine’s 323 but when added to the televote the Ukraine won with 534 points! 

Ukraine now hold the record for the most points for a Eurovision winner beating Alexander Rybak’s 387 point total for “Fairytale” in 2009. In fact the top 3 this year beat that score!

  1. Ukraine 534
  2. Australia 511
  3. Russia 491

This year was the first year that the winner of the Contest did not win either the Jury or the Televote! The Ukraine finished second in both.

But the Ukraine did win the most Douze points at the contest getting 17. They received 12 points from the 11 Juries, those were Bosnia Herzegovina, Denmark, Georgia, Israel, Latvia, FYR Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, San Marino, Serbia and Slovenia. While Ukraine topped the televote in six countries, those were Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Poland and San Marino.

Russia got 14 Douze Points (4 Jury, 10 televote) while Australia got 12 (9 Jury, 3 televote).

Bloc voting was all over the place. It was near impossible to predict where 12 points were going to go. Norway not giving a single point to Sweden in the Jury vote was a prime example!

They did come 4th in the televote though getting 7 points from Norway.

Russia did win the 1st Semi-Final beating Armenia, while Malta finished in 3rd. While in the 2nd Semi Final Australia beat the eventual winners Ukraine (2nd) with Belgium coming 3rd.

How did Ireland vote?

The Irish Jury wasn’t very good at picking a winner and failed to give the Ukraine a single point!! They in fact ranked it 15th! Belgium got the top marks from the Jury in both the Grand Final and the 2nd Semi-Final. They finished 10th overall. Lithuania, who finished 9th, won the Televote vote for both the Final and the Semi-Final The Irish televote had a bit more sense and ranked it 4th so it got 7 points.

Belgian Entry Laura Tesoro, 10th Credit: Andres Putting (EBU)
Belgian Entry Laura Tesoro, 10th Credit: Andres Putting (EBU)

The Grand Final Irish Jury Vote:

  1. Belgium 12
  2. Bulgaria 10
  3. Netherlands 8
  4. United Kingdom 7
  5. Italy 6
  6. Sweden 5
  7. Israel 4
  8. France 3
  9. Czech Republic 2
  10. Latvia 1
Lithuania Entry Donny Montell, 9th Credit: Andres Putting (EBU)
Lithuania Entry Donny Montell, 9th Credit: Andres Putting (EBU)

The Grand Final Irish Televote

  1. Lithuania 12
  2. Poland 10
  3. Russia 8
  4. Latvia 7
  5. Australia 6
  6. Bulgaria 5
  7. Ukraine 4
  8. United Kingdom 3
  9. Sweden 2
  10. Austria 1

Ireland’s Nicky Byrne who failed to qualify for the final from the 2nd Semi-Final finished 15th with 46 points finishing 1 point ahead of Albania!

Ireland got points from

  • Australia (Televote 4th – 7 points),
  • Belgium (Televote 7th – 4 points),
  • Denmark (Jury 7th – 4 Points, Televote 7th – 4 points)
  • Israel (Jury 9th – 2 Points, Televote 10th – 1 point)
  • Italy (Jury 9th – 2 points)
  • Latvia (Televote 10th – 1 point)
  • Lithuania (Televote 10th – 1 point)
  • Norway (Jury 8th – 3 points, Televote 9th – 2 points)
  • Poland (Televote 9th – 2 points)
  • Switzerland (Televote 9th – 2 points)
  • Ukraine (Jury 9th – 2 points)
  • United Kingdom (Jury 9th – 2 points, Televote 4th – 7 points)

Adrian Kavanagh has looked into the points in more detail.

So we are off to the Kyiv next year where 7 countries have already confirmed their participation. They will have a hard act to follow after the amazing job done by SVT and the hosts Petra Mede and Måns Zelmerlöw!

I can’t promise this is the last Eurovision post this year as Ireland takes part in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in Malta later this year!

Eurovision 2016 – The Grand Final!

eurovisionwinnersTonight the Grand Final of the 61st Eurovision Song Contest 2016 gets under way in Stockholm. 26 countries have made it to the final. 10 from each of the two Semi-Finals and 6 who are automatically qualified. The hosts Sweden, and the Big Five France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Semi Final 1 Results
Semi Final 2 Results

The Semi’s produced some interesting results, with Greece and Bosnia Herzegovina missing out on qualification for the first time since the introduction of the Semi-Finals. While the Czech Republic qualified for the final for the first time since they joined the contest in 2007.

The running order was released yesterday morning and the Juries voted last night. Tonight is up to us!

What we know about tonight is that we have a wide-ranging interval act that includes Justin Timberlake! I’m sure SVT will put on a show to remember! I can’t wait!

Mans-Zelmerlow-Petra-Mede-2016-Eurovision-Song-ContestSVT along with Petra Mede and last years winner Måns Zelmerlöw have kept us entertained all week and we expect the same tonight!

But the big question is, who will win the Eurovision Song Contest 2016? Lets have a look.

First we have the no-hopers. These countries while having good songs and performances are missing that magic component to be a Eurovision Winner. This year they are:

  • Azerbaijan
  • Czech Republic (the dreaded 2nd starting position)
  • Germany
  • Georgia
  • Croatia
  • Poland
  • Lithuania
  • Cyprus
  • Spain

The next group are all possible top 10 finishers but will more then likely finish outside the top 10.

  • Hungary
  • Belgium
  • Israel
  • Sweden
  • Latvia
  • Austria
  • United Kingdom

That leaves a possible Top 10?

  • Russia
  • Australia
  • Ukraine
  • France
  • Bulgaria
  • Netherlands
  • Armenia
  • Malta
  • Italy
  • Serbia

But who will win?

Netherlands, Serbia and France (OGAE Poll winner) are dark horses and if they get the backing of the fans across Europe they will win. But the real competition is between Russia, Australia and Ukraine. I’m not going to call a winner, but its going to one of those three!

Who do you think will win?

The 61st Eurovision Song Contest will air at 8pm on RTÉ One with Marty Whelan and on BBC One with Graham Norton. I shall be on the @UCCExpress Twitter account with some observations!

 

Eurovision 2016 – Grand Final The Running Order

svteurovisionLast night after the Qualifiers Press Conference where starting half’s were drawn SVT announced the running order for the Grand Final on Saturday night.

Belgium, Bulgaria, Australia, Israel, Poland were drawn for the first half while Georgia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Serbia, Latvia were drawn for the second half.

The full running order was proposed by the shows producers at SVT and approved by the EBU Executive Supervisor, Jon Ola Sand and by the Chairman of the Reference Group, Dr. Frank-Dieter Freiling.

  1. Belgium
  2. Czech Republic
  3. The Netherlands
  4. Azerbaijan
  5. Hungary
  6. Italy
  7. Israel
  8. Bulgaria
  9. Sweden
  10. Germany
  11. France
  12. Poland
  13. Australia
  14. Cyprus
  15. Serbia
  16. Lithuania
  17. Croatia
  18. Russia
  19. Spain
  20. Latvia
  21. Ukraine
  22. Malta
  23. Georgia
  24. Austria
  25. United Kingdom
  26. Armenia

The Czech Republic get the dreaded 2nd position, no country has won the contest from this position.

Following the semifinal’s, I for one am looking forward to see what SVT, Petra and Mans have in store for us on Saturday night!

Eurovision 2016 – Semi Final 2 Results

semi2qualifiersThe Second Semi Final of the 61st Eurovision Song Contest took place tonight in Stockholm and what a Semi it was. From start to finish, Petra Mede and Måns Zelmerlöw but on an amazing show. Well done to the host broadcaster SVT, I’m really looking forward to Saturdays show! (I especially liked Mans here…)

The show started off with an amazing opening act on “What is Eurovision?” Do watch it, it reminded me of the interval act from 2013, the Swedish Smörgåsbord  also starring Petra.

We also got a bit of history of the Eurovision Song Contest in the form of Numbers which amazed the nerds like me…

So on to the qualifiers. The ten countries that made it to the Grand Final are:

  • Latvia
  • Georgia
  • Bulgaria
  • Australia
  • Ukraine
  • Serbia
  • Poland
  • Israel
  • Lithuania
  • Belgium

So hard luck to Ireland, Switzerland, Belarus, FYR Macedonia, Slovenia, Denmark, Norway and Albania who don’t make it through.

For those wondering I got 9/10 again on my predictions! Damn you Georgia!

We shall find out the running order for the final tomorrow ahead of the Jury Final tomorrow night. Join me again on the @UCCExpress Twitter account for some views and opinions on the final which will air at 8pm on Saturday Night on RTÉ One with Marty Whelan and on BBC One with Graham Norton.

 

Eurovision 2016 – Semi Final 2 Predictions

eurovision-rte-1Tonight the second Semi-Final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2016 takes place in the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm, Sweden. Another 18 countries are battling it out for the remaining 10 places in Saturdays Grand Final.

Tonight of course is a big night for Irish Eurovision fans, as Nicky Byrne will be flying the flag for us and performing 7th tonight.

As well as the 18 countries taking part, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom will be voting. We will also get to see snippets of their rehearsals after the voting window has closed.

Here’s a reminder of what we will be seeing tonight and here’s the preview I wrote

So who will qualify?

In no particular order

  • Bulgaria
  • Australia
  • Serbia
  • Latvia
  • Israel
  • Ukraine
  • Lithuania
  • Poland
  • Belgium
  • FYR Macedonia

Do you agree? Let me know your predictions in the comments!

Eurovision Song Contest Semi Final 2 will be shown tonight at 8pm on RTÉ 2 with Marty Whelan or on BBC 4 with Scott Mills and Mel Giedroyc

I shall be tweeting from @UCCExpress throughout the show.