on the Seanad referendum

I’m deeply concerned about the order in which we do things in this country. Enda Kenny has given us an opportunity to abolish or retain the Seanad but without the sense of reforming the Dáil first. Given that the Seanad provides some oversight and debate, it seems to me that if you want to get rid of it, you’d sort out the Dail and oversight requirements in that chamber before you get rid of the Seanad. I fear that if we get rid of the Seanad before we sort out the Dail reforms, we will never see the Dail reforms.

In normal circumstances, I don’t understand why we can’t have the Dail reforms first and I don’t see any discussion of that with Fine Gael and Enda Kenny. Enda is refusing to debate the issue with opposing politicians which is – in my opinion – not really the actions of a genuine leader with his heart behind his policy. All they are doing is bleating about saving money, but the figure they have put forward, they cannot actually stand over.

A lot of the argument appears to centre around the notion of “I don’t know what it’s for therefore it’s a waste of money”.

Well I don’t know what a lot of things are for but that doesn’t automatically make them a waste of money. The sad part is, this is used in an argument in a country which is simultaneously boasting of its high rate of education. I am at a loss to support the idea that we are such an educated nation when many of our debates take place on a massively superficial level and are often coloured by a culture of envy.

I am voting against the abolition of the Seanad. In my view, Fine Gael and Labour, and the other supporting parties, Sinn Féin, the Socialist Workers Party, have singularly failed to make a rational case to abolish it. It’s incumbant on them to do so, to change the status quo. If their argument amounts to, grosso modo, “it costs money and I don’t know what it’s for” plus “it’s elitist” when there are simple solutions to both issues a) education and b) universal suffrage, then I do believe the rational response is to reject the referendum.

The Black Valley in the snow

Back earlier in the year, Peter Cox was posting photographs to his twitter feed of shots he had taken when there was a particular quantity of snow in Kerry and I promised myself then that at some stage this year, I would make my way to his gallery and buy myself one of those prints. I don’t really like buying prints over the internet – I like to actually see and respond to them first. But I did love his snow photographs.

A couple of weeks ago, I got to drop into his gallery in Killarney and look at his photographs. It is a gorgeous gallery of photography, beautifully lit, and with some stunning photographs. He has a gorgeous one of the Fastnet, and some lovely photographs of the area around Killarney, and Iceland and various other places he has been.

I eventually chose to buy this photograph although there was one other that I thought I would prefer in the flesh, so as to speak which I may yet purchase in the future. When I have a house and walls to hang these things on.

If you’re in Killarney, I strongly, strongly recommend you take a look in at Peter’s gallery – it’s in the middle of the town and you can’t really miss it. Ireland is a much photographed country. I’m not going to say we are fortunate to live in such a beautiful part of the world because in my experience, outside the cities, most parts of the world are inherently beautiful. A lot of cities are as well but from a scenery point of view, nature always has something to give. Peter’s photographs of the southwest are amongst the best I have seen.

Something new

I know. It’s a banal kind of a headline. Headline writing has never by my strongest suit.

Last week I registered at University College Dublin as a full time student for a taught Masters in Science in computer science. Yes, yes I did.

I am incredibly lucky. I found myself at a confluence of time where I a) was able to leave work to do this b) able to fund it for one year and c) was given a place on the course to do it.

Not a lot of people are so fortunate, not when they are my age anyway.

My life has changed a lot and despite a lot of unknowns, such as what the weather will be like in January, and how long I will cope with the idea of getting two buses to college every morning instead of driving for 15 minutes, I am incredibly relaxed about this. And very happy.

I’m not really into termtime yet – lectures start on Monday so it’s all going to be terribly exciting, and no doubt, a complete shock to start dealing with studying and assignments again on a full time basis rather than on a when I have time after work basis. There is a lot of autonomy here, and a huge onus on myself to achieve what I want to achieve.

I’m focusing on data analytics and if you’ve any vague interest in this, I’ll occasionally be blogging on that and related tech matters on this other blog which I have.