Category Archives: Equality

the flourishing society

175px-Michael_d_higgins (1)President Michael D. Higgins’ speech at the launch of Task’s The Flourishing Society, expresses with clarity how the commitment to equality has been slowly eroded from the EU.

He said “Previous discourse about the future of the European Union that balanced ‘competitiveness’ and ‘cohesion’ has been systematically discarded with ‘cohesion’ rarely occurring in major statements from those who speak of the future of Europe.”

He developed this theme in his address ‘Towards a European Union of the Citizens’ delivered in the European Parliament, Strasbourg, Wednesday, 17th April, 2013.  The speech was responded with both pride and discomfort amongst media commentators and pundits!

why are fairer societies also better at protecting the natural environment?

Why is it that some of the more equal societies are also better at looking after the environment?  Is it equality in itself that brings a greater care for environmental protection, or it is the other way around?  Do strong environmental policies by their very nature necessitate political and societal reforms that bring about a fairer distribution of resources?

The authors of Spirit Level’, Richard Wilkinson & Kate Pickett, highlighted the links between equality and environmental sustainability.  Although their evidence focused on a narrow area of activity, if one looks at EU measurements on compliance it is noticeable how the equal societies identified by Wilkinson and Pickett are also good at implementing EU policy on the environment.  This theme of social justice and environment policies is developed by George Monbiot.  In his article ‘Cold Hearted’ he alerts readers to fuel poverty in the UK and makes a strong case for the need for ‘perfect synergy’ between climate change and social justice policies. Continue reading

Irish culture of subservience

Two excellent articles in the Irish Times this week dealing with the Irish Catholic’s disastrous response to pedophilia,  and how our culture of subservience facilitates poor governance.

On Tuesday Elaine Byrne describes the ingrained culture of subservience we Irish learn from birth.  This culture of subservience gives us the Gombeen man, legislation for charity instead of rights, and a public administration which labels requests for transparency and accountability as a witch hunt.

Today Maureen Gaffney’s brilliant article discusses the Catholic Church and sex.  She describes the church as a homo social institution having “.. all the characteristics of the worst kind of such an institution: rigid in social structure; preoccupied by power; ruthless in suppressing internal dissent; in thrall to status, titles, and insignia, with an accompanying culture of narcissism and entitlement; and at a great psychological distance from human intimacy and suffering”.

Sex Workers rights are Human Rights

Photo by Sarah Stephen published in Green LeftGood to meet up with fellow politicos at the Green Left and Green Party of England and Wales meeting last Friday and Saturday. 

As well as presenting my speech I also attended a meeting and discussion on a review of the party’s policy on legalising prostitution. 

There is a growing concern that the Green Party of England and Wales (GPEW) should it policy to reflect changes to the law in a number of other jurisdictions.  In particular GPEW is looking at Sweden, where a change in policy has dramatically reduced the number of women involved in prostitution and, also reduced trafficking of women and girls into Sweden to work in the sex industry.

There is growing concern that legalising prostitution does not bring about greater security for prostitutes, but instead creates opportunity for greater exploition of young and vulnerable women.

Also the Irish support service for prostitutes Ruhama have again called for users or customers of prostitutes in Ireland to be prosecuted as explained in this report in the Irish Times .

The international sex industry has grown exponentially over the past decade, with the average citizen often unaware that their pension fund may be dependent on profits from the industry.

The sex industry includes pornography, prostitution, clubs and trafficking.   The reality of working in this industry, and what it means for the countless numbers of mainly young women and girls who work in the industry, is something society often does not want to come to terms with or even discuss. 

I believe it is not a victimless industry and any change in legislation must have the protection and  human rights of the workers as its primary and indeed only motivation.