Elections – don’t you just love ‘em!

The elections were some craic though weren’t they?  The tension, the drama, the pontificating experts, the cliff-hanger outcomes, the grey stoic faces of the vanquished, the whoops of joy from the victorious. Live theatre at its best. John Bowman was happy as a child on confirmation day, Noel Whelan was making wild predictions then betting against himself! And the parties? FG are a chastened lot, the people having sent a warning shot across their bows. And yet they have suffered nothing worse then some flesh wounds – nothing broken. Expect the internal grumblings to grow louder. Labour cannot understand how it is that they can be so misunderstood. Cannot the people see that they – Labour – are of the people, that anything they have done has been for the people. And this is the thanks they get! They have swallowed hard and begun the process of atonement in delivering the head of their leader. Expect to see further efforts to make amends and win back favour at the expense of the working relationship built up with their partners in government. FF are quietly happy with themselves. Who would have thought that forgiveness would come so soon? Just like old times. And sure won’t the best always rise to the top! Part of the next government? Eamonn Ó Cuiv says he can work with SF. And how about SF’s performance in the elections? A master class, that’s what it was, north and south. Their most impressive performance yet. Truly they are of the people, the face of modern Ireland. They may not yet have been bloodied in battle, their policies may be still be very much works-in-progress (that’s being kind!), their past something which still leaves many uncomfortable. And yet. They are on the march. A nation once again. Then there were the “Others”. Collectively they had a field day taking seats all over the place. Of these “Others” People Before Profit were particularly big winners. They may come across as a pretty disconsolate lot. That was before the election. Now they are happy, happy, happy. Bet they are hoping the government keeps on bringing in taxes! It’s all one big game.

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Health Service is still not working says departing Hiqa head

We all know that there are major problems with our health service – long waiting times, shortage of senior doctors, unreliable ambulance service, cost overruns, withdrawing of medical cards from needy families, etc. We know that some of this may be put down to austerity measures brought in by the Minister for Health. Today we read in The Irish Times in a piece by Paul Cullen that the departing head of the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) says the health service is failing patients. According to Cullen, Dr Tracey Cooper reckons that ‘the health service lacks accountability, is not sufficiently patient focused, fails to learn from its mistakes and “doesn’t know how many patients it is killing and harming”‘. She goes on to say “we haven’t cracked the paradigm that ‘actually, it’s about the patient, not the people working in the system’.” Cooper also says that there are no consequences when the system fails a patient or, generally, when something goes wrong. http://www.irishtimes.com/news/health/health-service-failing-patients-says-departing-hiqa-chief-1.1808738

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National Biodiversity Week, May 17-25

Media,22594,en This week (May 17-25) is National Biodiversity Week. There are events happening around Ireland to try encourage us all to get out celebrate the great outdoors.

“National Biodiversity Week provides us with lots of great opportunities to get up close and personal to nature. Explore and enjoy our unique landscapes, from beaches and bogs, to rivers and urban canals, to forests and mountainsides. It’s amazing what you can discover, even in a familiar place!”
Wexford is spoiled for choice when it comes to biodiversity-rich areas of great scenic beauty whether that be a stroll on the beach, a riverside walk or maybe a trek up the Blackstairs Mountains.
Maybe try this: Jamestown Nature Reserve, Oylegate, “a working farm and nature reserve in Wexford that fosters and explores the wonder of natural diversity”. See more at www.jamestownnaturereserve.com.
It’s worth mentioning that Wexford Tidy Towns has a big biodiversity push on this year with its “Bee Friendly” project. The aim is to get us all to plant bee-friendly plants in our gardens. Any garden centre can you advise you or you can find an easy-to-follow guide at www.wexfordtidytowns.com. Be sure to pledge your support to the “Let’s Bee Friendly” campaign on the Tidy Towns website! And if the kids are slow to get the message tell them that if there were no bees there would be no chocolate!
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Grace will work for “a politics of the common good”

At the recent launch of the Green Euro election manifesto, candidate for Ireland South, Grace O’Sullivan, said: “The Government are not listening to the people, and it continues to place an undue burden on the most vulnerable in our society.

 “I hear the same disillusionment from people across the ten counties of Ireland South – that those in difficulty are still being left behind. This is not good enough. I want to work to secure a fair recovery for all.

 “I have fought for over 35 years of my working life against injustice. I want to bring that fighting spirit to Brussels on behalf of the people of Ireland South, to work for a politics of the common good, not just for the few. One which cares for all our people and looks towards the next generation. The Greens are the only party with that vision and the capacity to deliver.”

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Cllr Danny Forde – working for Wexford

Danny Happy2As Cllr Danny Forde faces into the final few weeks of campaigning before the elections he has taken time out to tell us how he feels he can make a difference. Forde has been getting a very positive reaction on the canvas trail. However, he says that there is a palpable sense of anger towards politicians of all persuasions, a sense that a promise made is a promise waiting to be broken, and that, for the majority of politicians, party will always come before country. “People find it hard to trust politicians,” he says.
Cllr Forde says he will not make promises he cannot keep and will always act in a responsible and transparent way for the good of his constituents. “My priority,” he says, “is to make Wexford a better place to live, shop and work.” Here are some of the ways he hopes to do this:
 Preparing for the Upturn
- with house prices on the way back up, what chance that we return to the reckless speculation and poor planning of the boom years? How do we prevent young first-time buyers from getting priced out of the market? How do we include a safety net to ensure vulnerable families do not end up in  hotel room or, worse, out on the street? I stand for sustainable development and transparency in the planning process; I also stand for the right of everyone to have a roof over their heads.
 Build Smarter, Save Money!
- yes you can save on energy costs while also being kind to the environment!
- we can lead the way by starting on social housing and public buildings.
 Better local services … and less roads to no where!
- ensuring that you get better value-for-money from your Council. Whenever hard questions need to be asked, I ask them!
 Better support for town centre business
- getting the message out that Wexford is open for business!
- you pays your money, you deserve better. Your Council needs to work harder to make Wexford a more attractive place to work and shop.
 Make it easier for new business set-up
- putting in place the conditions to make Wexford more attractive to new business,  encouraging inward investment, ensuring meaningful handholding of start-up business.
- especially target I.T., services, local producers, “green” jobs.
 Think Local, Buy Local!
- especially when it comes to quality fresh food produced locally. 
- Let’s make the route from producer to consumer as short as possible so the producer not only gets most of the price paid, he can also keep his prices down. 
 Rosslare Harbour – “Get the Harbour back on track”
- this is our gateway to the EU and it is not fit for purpose. Reversing years of neglect here must be a priority.
 Develop brand “Wexford” 
- on land, on sea, lets push “Destination Wexford”!
- good for tourism, good for business.
 Speaking up for communities
- every voice deserves to be heard. If you have an issue you are passionate about talk to me!
 Making Wexford a bike-friendly town
- let’s take a lead from the Dutch and make cycling the default mode of transport around Wexford.
- develop a Wexford bike self-service rental scheme. What better way to get around!
 Working to make Wexford an all-ages-friendly zone.
- Easier to get around, safe and always welcoming; more activities for teenagers; nurturing respect for the elders in our community.
 Focus on the arts
- better support for local arts groups;
- recognition of the part the arts can play in giving young people a constructive and rewarding outlet for their creative energies;
- acknowledge and reward excellence in the arts.
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With elections looming Labour’s Joan Burton breaks her silence!

Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton finally decides enough is enough and she is making a stand. She wants no cuts to her department’s budget. We read in the Indo that the Minister “launched a scathing attack on a number of her Fine Gael Cabinet colleagues”.  So you see she is on our side after all. (http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/joan-burtons-gloves-are-off-over-welfare-reform-plans-30242290.html)

Some of the comments to the piece would suggest a degree of doubt on this:

“Isn’t it totally amazing that Labour are finally making a ‘public’ stand like they did before the last election, right before the next elections. I know that some cynics may question Labours ‘line in the sand’ after the ‘Frankfurt vs Labour’ slogan, but this time they swear it is different. You would have to be a cynic to not believe them.”

“Ms Burton hacked away with a disorganised and crazy axe for the past few years – but says no more hacking (for now) because there are elections. The basis of Irish political thinking has always been just to lie low for a while after the faux pas and the people will forget soon enough. Let’s hope the mentality and education of the Irish voters has improved.”

“Thanks for sharing that with us, Joan. It’s really great news. And the fact that you’ve finally broken your vow of silence naturally has nothing to do with the minor matter of imminent elections and Labour’s resolute march into Armageddon? No? Of course not! We know you for one have no Rabbitte-esque tendencies, you know, that nasty habit where one promises certain things before elections and does the polar opposite afterwards.”

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‘Kick up the arse’

I read in www.thejournal.ie that, on the subject of the first pre-election opinion poll (the Irish Indo’s Millward Brown poll), a Fine Gael party source has described it as “a long overdue kick up the arse”. http://www.thejournal.ie/european-election-opinion-poll-labour-1436968-Apr2014

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Duncan Stewart decides not to run for Europe and gives support to Grace

Duncan Stewart has decided not to run in the upcoming European elections opting, instead, to give his full support to the Green Party’s Grace O’Sullivan. http://greenparty.ie/news?n=393

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Danny Forde to run for Council again

Danny Happy2

Green Party Councillor Danny Forde has been confirmed as the party’s sole candidate in County Wexford in the upcoming local elections. Having just completed his first term as a Councillor Danny has built up a reputation as a hard-working, no-nonsense politician.  He has been something of a reforming voice in the Council Chamber during his term. That said, the resistance to change he has found among some of his fellow Councillors has often left him wondered why they are there at all!

Councillor Forde has a number of areas he is particularly passionate about: all thing MARITIME – he wants to see our fishermen getting better support from the government and the EU; also under “maritime” he wants to see ROSSLARE HARBOUR brought into the 21st century – the neglect there has, he reckons, been criminal; supporting LOCAL FOOD PRODUCERS – they need effective local markets through which they can sell their produce and deal directly with the shopper; updating the WEXFORD TOWN & ENVIRONS DEVELOPMENT PLAN so that the area can be better prepared to deal with the improving economic climate, and, on the planning front, have effective policies in place to deal with the effects of climate change (such as increased flooding, coastal erosion); as part of development plan reforms he also wants to see greater efforts made to REJUVENATE WEXFORD’S TOWN CENTRE (incentives and reliefs for local business setup, over store living, etc); a huge fan of local music and theatre Danny welcomes the continued support the Council gives to WEXFORD ARTS CENTRE and other local arts outfits – he vows to push for even GREATER SUPPORT FOR THE ARTS; Wexford relies in a big way on TOURISM – Danny is committed to pushing for a greater commitment by the Council to this sector which still does not get the attention it merits.

Bringing tourism and matters maritime together Forde particularly wants to see renowned explorer Robert McClure commemorated in this, his home county, for his achievements in showing that the North West Passage could be sailed and for being the first person ever to circumnavigate the Americas. The obvious way to go about this, he says, is to establish a new MARITIME MUSEUM at the Ballast Office at Crescent Quay where McClure, Admiral John Barry, William Lamport and others could be honoured.

A committed ENVIRONMENTALIST, Forde vows to continue in his efforts to keep the County GM-FREE. He applauds Wexford Town’s decision to promote the importance of BIODIVERSITY though the “Let’s Bee Friendly” project. He wants to ensure that it is made as easy as possible for the county’s farmers to GROW ORGANIC – this includes providing them with market outlets for their produce.

Finally, there is one issue which has been exercising Cllr Forde over the past couple of years – the reluctance by the HSE to act to deal with a TOXIC MEDICAL WASTE DUMP on the grounds of the old County Hospital. With a number of residents living right beside this dump, and their properties prone to contamination from the dump, Forde is committed to getting the HSE to face up to approaching this mess in a responsible way.

So there you have it – that’s Cllr Danny Forde in a nutshell! If you like what you have read we ask you to give Danny your NUMBER 1.

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Wexford Tidy Towns launches “Let’s Bee Friendly” project

Bumblebee-on-thistleWexford Tidy Towns launches its “Let’s Bee Friendly” project this Thursday, April 10 at 7pm in Wexford Town Library.
“Let’s Bee Friendly” is an exciting biodiversity project, developed in association with Wexford County Council, to generate greater awareness of the importance of bees as pollinators and what we can do to make their job easier. We are reliably informed that this launch will be short and, of course, sweet! Tea/coffee served … and, one can only hope, honey waffles! Everyone is welcome to attend. www.wexfordtidytowns.com/biodiversity/bees

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Green EU candidate visits Wexford

Grace O’Sullivan, Green Party MEP candidate for Ireland South, visited Wexford last week for the first formal visit of her campaign. With a jam-packed schedule O’Sullivan hardly had time time to draw breath between meetings, walkabouts, photoshoots and a visit to the local radio station.

The popular Tramore-based environmental activist knows she has her work cut out ensuring she is first to get her nose across the finish line in her bid to get to Europe, but she says she is up for it. And, as her background shows, if there is one thing Grace relishes it is a challenge!

The mother of three is a former national surf champion greatly respected by her peers for her fearlessness and skill. No gnarly “humpback” was too big, no “tube” too long and, if she was seriously pumped, a spot of aerial “hobble bobble” was not out of the question! Far as she was concerned – the bigger and scarier the waves the better. The still super-fit Grace still takes to the waves whenever she can albeit now it is strictly for fun. With the decision to throw her hat into the political ring, and in the process enter waters which one imagines are no less shark-infested, Grace now plans on generating some waves of her own!

Having spent over ten years on Greenpeace ships, including the Rainbow Warrior (blown up by French Secret Service in NZ), Grace is an internationally renowned environmentalist. She describes her activism as fighting injustice against the environment and communities. She claims to be contesting this election to ensure that the environmental rights and concerns of her community are represented on the European stage.

While Grace may be a seasoned campaigner she is relatively new to the political game. Until the leader of the Green Party Eamonn Ryan approached her with the suggestion that she be the Green Party’s EU candidate in the Ireland South region she had not given serious thought to standing for election. By her own admission she has a pretty jaundiced view of most politicians finding them to be short-sighted, self-serving, talk-the-talk “yes” men! If she disagrees with your viewpoint she will waste no time in letting you know – even party leader Eamonn Ryan has, on occasion, found himself been put straight!

It is this refreshing straight-talking honesty and continuous striving for sustainable solutions that Grace hopes will get her to Europe and will stand to her when she gets there. Deeply principled and hard-working she hopes to use her lifetime of environmental campaigning and activism as a springboard to ensure that Ireland South is properly represented in Europe.

While in Wexford she met a couple of dynamic and influential women who have altered, for the better, the arts and cultural scene in Wexford. Elizabeth Whyte, CEO of Wexford Arts Centre, brought Grace up to speed on the current state of the arts in Wexford and how the Arts Centre is making a difference. The Blue Egg Gallery’s Mary Gallagher explained how her small-is-beautiful, focus-on-excellence and attention-to-detail approach has helped her gallery achieve the success it has.

Grace, accompanied by Green Councillor Danny Forde, engaged with a number of business people on her walkabout hearing of issues that, at this stage, we in Wexford all know so well. She was able to tell them that the same issues are evident everywhere she goes from Kerry to Waterford and from Clare to Wicklow. Protecting the high street and helping indigenous industries are a priority for O’Sullivan.

The morning itinerary included a trip to Wexford Opera House where Grace met staff and was given a guided tour of the World famous theatre. The view from the top floor over Wexford Harbour led to Grace bringing her retinue for a stroll along Wexford’s fabulous quay front. Her eagle eyes were drawn to the flood barriers at the rear of Shaws. She surmised that, given projected rises in sea level over the remaining years of this century, they might just be high enough to keep out the worst of the storms.

From there Grace, along with fellow Green Trevor Sargent, went on to join Alan Corcoran at South East Radio. A wide-ranging interview covered everything from clean energy, to “green” jobs, low standards in high places, shoddy political practise, and how the present government has undone much of the good brought in by the Greens in government. The party’s poor performance in the last general election was, of course, raised and dealt with in very strong terms by the former Minister for Food. Mr Sargent said that, unlike other parties, we have the courage of our convictions and are not afraid to put country before party. That, he said, is why the Greens agreed to enter government and why they subsequently paid such a heavy price. He went on to say that FG and Labour could, if they had wished formed a government coalition back then but they, putting party before country, declined to do so.

Both O’Sullivan and Sargent felt that the party was now resurgent and winning back support. Sargent spoke about the need to focus, now more than ever, on clean energy and environment even as we strive to create more jobs. Grace O’Sullivan spoke about how much she has been influenced by her campaigning days with Greenpeace, and especially how her eyes were opened during her time in the Arctic Circle. She intimated that with her track record, knowledge and zeal the region could be sure of a strong voice in Europe.

Interview over Grace and Trevor Sargent met with traders at the Farmers’ Market and The Bullring Market. Needless to say she was as happy as a pig in manure to both places, as was Sargent, as both are big supporters of locally produced organic foods and crafts. Cue photoshoot!

Grace’s final engagement of the day was a meeting, accompanied by Cllr Forde, with residents of Glenbrook estate who have, for some time, been pushing for official action to be taken on an illegal and potentially hazardous medical dump on the nearby grounds of the old hospital (see piece at www.wexfordgreenparty.com). She promised to do what she could to get the authorities to treat this matter with the urgency which it requires.

Grace O’Sullivan returns to Wexford later this month.

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Glenbrook residents fear for their health because of old hospital dump


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Glenbrook Estate lies in the shadow of the old Wexford hospital. Unfortunately for its residents it also sits right next to a dump they did not know about  on the old hospital grounds. Suffice to say that they know now! Those residents whose houses back on to the dump have found various medical waste items in the soil. And analysis has shown up dangerously high levels of toxins in soil samples tested. Are they concerned? You bet they are – you certainly would not want to be eating carrots grown in those gardens. It would appear that the authorities have not been bending over backwards to meet this matter head on and deal with what looks like a potentially hazardous situation. The Green Party’s EU candidate Grace O’Sullivan joined Cllr Danny Forde at an on-site meeting with residents last Friday. She was genuinely shocked, and moved, at what they had to tell her. She has vowed to do whatever she can to progress the matter and arrive at a satisfactory solution.

 

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Green’s EU candidate, Grace O’Sullivan, checks out flood defences in Wexford

danny, grace, trevor at barrier

Grace O’Sullivan, Green Party candidate for Europe in Ireland South, joins Cllr Danny Forde and Trevor Sargent at a retail unit’s flood barrier on Wexford’s quay front. Look at the height of it! Yet three of the highest recorded tides in the port of Wexford have happened in the past 15 years.  So perhaps those flood barriers need to be that high. Next time you drive along the quays in Wexford keep an eye out for these barriers and let the efforts of this one retailer pause and wonder if, as sea levels continue to rise, we may yet be looking to the Dutch for much more extensive flood controls along our water front.

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Grace O’Sullivan is the Green Party’s EU candidate in Ireland South

graceGrace O’Sullivan is the Green Party MEP candidate in Ireland South.  The popular Tramore-based eco-activist knows she has a tough job crossing the line first but she is up for it. And anyone that knows her knows that this is a gal who likes a challenge!

The mother of three is a former national surf champion. Far as she was concerned – the bigger waves the better. Now she plans on generating some waves of her own!

Having spent over ten years on Greenpeace ships, including the Rainbow Warrior, Grace is an internationally renowned environmentalist. She describes her activism as fighting injustice against the environment and communities, and is contesting this election to ensure that the environmental rights and concerns of her community are represented on the European stage.

Grace represents those who hope for a better future that is supported by sustainable principles, and she hopes to use her lifetime of environmental education and activism in supporting Irish people and Green issues.

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Green Party feeling confident following successful convention

There was a great sense of renewed optimism at the recent Green Party convention held in Dublin. If we can take even a hint of this with us on the election trail we should be looking good in May. Bring it on!

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Wexford that bit smaller following recent storms

While the west of the country got absolutely hammered during the recent storms Wexford also finds itself counting the cost with major coastal erosion all along our coast. Green councillor Danny Forde was shocked at the damage inflicted on the dune systems from north of the county right down to Ballinesker. His Facebook page links to a brilliant but shocking series of pictures www.macodaphoto.com .  Danny features in the current issue of the Wexford Echo speaking on the subject. Don’t see a link to the article on The Echo website yet. There is, however, a piece there by Dan Walsh looking at the potential costs resulting from the storms:  www.wexfordecho.ie/2014/01/13/north-wexford-storm-damage-bill-region-e1-million

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No Incinerator for Poolbeg

The government has just stated that Poolbeg in Dublin will definitely not be getting an incinerator. So €100m later and years of bullyboy tactics by Dublin City Council the penny has dropped. Our own John Gormley, as Minister for Environment, repeatedly pointed out the folly of this proposed incinerator and the undemocratic way in which it was been foisted on the people of Poolbeg. At the same time he was responsible for getting Ireland to get serious about recycling domestic waste so that now most of us use green and brown bins along with our non-recyclables waste bin. The decision to introduce those recycling facilities came at the same time that Labour, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail voted for incineration. What those other parties didn’t expect was that Irish people would take to recycling in such a way that there was no need in the end for the incinerator. The decision not to go with this incinerator marks a small but important victory for common sense and sustainability over short-term thinking and improper bureaucratic control. The Green Party’s Malcolm Noonan is delighted that we have finally begun to see the light on how we deal with our waste saying “We cannot burn away our waste problem or export it”.  He goes on to say that “our waste stream is a valuable resource and we can create sustainable employment if we develop waste solutions which are also environmentally responsible. We have the technological know-how to extract valuable metals and other high value items, while organic waste can be used to provide materials which support agriculture and energy policy. ”

While we welcome the decision not to proceed with the Poolbeg incinerator we know from the current controversy over the humungous consultancy fees paid out by Irish Water that old habits die hard. And the media has been having a field day reminding us of other similar abuses of public monies. Here is just one example from The Examiner: http://www.irishexaminer.com/viewpoints/ourview/public-spending–scandalous-waste-of-our-money-244778.html

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Farewell to Niamh

Wexford Greens are sad to see New Ross Councillor Niamh Fitzgibbon leave our ranks. Niamh has just announced that she will be running for Fine Gael in the upcoming local elections. We realise that this must have been a difficult decision for Niamh to have to make as she has been a very active and loyal Green Party member up to now.  The Green Party’s loss is Fine Gael’s gain. Niamh is a hardworking grass-roots politician and we are sure that, regardless of which colours she is wearing, she will serve her constituents well.

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Our Leader is not happy with Labour!

  Green Party leader Eamon Ryan is not happy. Of Labour in power he has this to say: “Broken promises and missed opportunities”.
  Over the last two and a half years, he says the Labour Party has had to break every false promise they made to the Irish people about what they would do if they were to form a government. “The most obvious of these is their faithful adoption of the economic strategy that had been set out by the previous administration and their careful adherence to implementing it line by line. Their worst deceit has been to victimise and single out the young people of this country, who have borne the brunt of increased college fees and slashed grants, savage social welfare cuts, and the abject failure of Labour to provide any substantial protection to our education system while they are in power.”
  He goes on to say that Labour has no desire, and has made no effort, to reform our tainted and inefficient political and administrative systems. As regards the huge energy and climate challenges facing us Labour, he says, is happy to continue in a “Crisis? What crisis?” mode. 
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The Girl Against Fluoride

calendar_bannerAisling FitzGibbon, aka ‘The Girl Against Fluoride’, is taking legal action against the Irish Government to end the policy of mandatory water fluoridation of public water supplies.  Despite the fact that there is a growing body of scientific evidence pointing to the harmful effects caused by ingesting fluoride the Irish government has just said, again, that it has no intention of doing anything about a practise which it considers to be safe and in the best interest of the people.  As Aisling says “we are one of the world’s sickest nations” thanks to fluoridation of our water especially when it comes to diseases such as dementia and alzheimers.  And this does not look like changing any time soon as the three main parties – FF, FG and Labour – are all in favour of the current policy. Aisling plans on going all the way to the High Court with her case. She reckons that carries a price tag of around €30k. You can help by visiting her site and buying one of her Girl Against Fluoride Naked Calendars. You can also buy a reverse osmosis water filter through a link on her site and she gets a portion of the fee.  http://www.thegirlagainstfluoride.com

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