Category Archives: Misc

Martina Fitzgerald (left at the Fine Gael Think-in at Fota Island in 2014

Anon writes:

This decision by RTÉ [to have Paul Cunningham  replace Martina Fitzgerald as RTÉ News political correspondent] looks terrible and makes no sense. They must have known there would be a huge backlash especially at this time.

My question is this: Am i missing something or did Ms Fitzgerald upset someone in particular or a political party? She seems very polite and cautious and I can’t see why RTÉ would go through all of this.

Anyone?

RTÉ colleagues thought Fitzgerald was going to remain in politics job (Irish Independent)

Rollingnews

From top (from left):  former chairman of INM Leslie Buckley; INM’s largest shareholder Denis O’Brien; IT expert Derek Mizak; former INM CEO Robert Pitt

There were  a number of developments in the INM data breach story over the weekend.

Earlier this year, the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) asked the High Court to appoint inspectors to investigate Independent News and Media (INM), the largest shareholder of which is Denis O’Brien, following protected disclosures made to it by former Group CEO of INM Robert Pitt and former Group CFO Ryan Preston.

This was granted by Mr Justice Peter Kelly in the High Court in September with Justice Kelly appointing Richard Fleck and Seán Gillane to investigate the claims.

An affidavit filed by ODCE director Ian Drennan claimed data involving 19 listed people was removed from the company’s premises in October 2014, taken out of the jurisdiction and “interrogated” by at least six companies external to INM.

IT expert and director of the information security and digital forensics firm DMZ IT Derek Mizak was allegedly involved in this interrogation, along with Trusted Data Solutions (TDS), an American company based in Wales.

The list included Jerry Healy SC and Jacqueline O’Brien SC (both of whom acted as counsel for the Moriarty Tribunal) as well as former INM board members and employees Karl Brophy, Mandy Scott, Vincent Crowley, Donal Buggy, Joe Webb and James Osborne; journalists Sam Smyth, Maeve Sheehan, Brendan O’Connor; and public relations executive Rory Godson.

Approximately €60,000 was paid by Blaydon Limited, an Isle of Man company owned by Denis O’Brien, to Trusted Data Solutions, according to Ian Drennan, the Director of the Office of Corporate Enforcement, in relation to this alleged interrogation.

Separately, the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (ODPC) also announced earlier this year that it would also investigate the alleged data breach at INM.

Yesterday, in the Sunday Business Post, Tom Lyons reported that the ODPC will now widen its investigation into INM to include matters beyond the timespan of the alleged breach.

Mr Lyons reported the ODPC will specifically look at why, in 2015, hard drives of up to six editors in INM were allegedly taken by INM in the middle of the night and copied before being returned to the journalists’ desks before they got into work – while using software to hide the fact data had been copied.

Mr Mizak was also involved in this alleged action.

Mr Lyons reported:

“The decision to search the six computers was requested by INM’s then chief executive Robert Pitt, who was trying to identify who had leaked a memo that his personal assistant had sent to editors. The memo ended up being reprinted verbatim in the Phoenix magazine.

Pitt is understood to have asked that all data be kept on site in INM, and that only the memo be looked for. However, Derek Mizak, a computer expert who carried out the operation with the aid of INM’s own IT team, gives a different version of events. He describes various interactions with Pitt, which INM’s former chief executive is believed not to recall.

Mr Lyons added:

“Pitt is one of two whistleblowers relied on by the ODCE when it successfully argued that High Court inspectors should be appointed to INM. Why the 2015 incident has not emerged in any affidavit to date is unclear.”

In addition, back in 2013, (before Pitt was INM’s CEO) INM’s then chairman Leslie Buckley asked Mizak for a report on emails that were allegedly being sent by a number of INM members – including former head of corporate affairs at INM Karl Brophy and former CEO of INM Gavin O’Reilly – to their private email addresses.

Mr Lyons noted:

“There is no suggestion of wrongdoing in anyone forwarding INM emails to their private addresses, and the media group never took any action as a result.”

Of this work allegedly carried out by Mr Mizak, Mr Lyons reported:

“INM did not ask for an invoice from DMZ. Neither did DMZ bill the listed media company. No written instruction setting out what work DMZ was to do was ever produced. Notes were taken, but these were destroyed afterwards by DMZ as was its practice when jobs concluded.”

Mr Lyons reported that INM declined to respond to questions as to why “it had not told the High Court so far about all of its interactions with Mizak”.

He also reported:

“INM is on notice from a number of parties who wish to find out what happened to their data, including Brophy, [Joe] Webb, Gavin O’Reilly and the journalist Sam Smyth.

“A number of former staff, including various journalists, have also written to the company to try and find out if their data was looked at. Much remains to unravel as the ever more disturbing investigation rumbles on.”

Chateau intrigue: Inside the INM data saga (Tom Lyons, Sunday Business Post)

Investigation into INM data deepens amid fresh privacy concerns (Tom Lyons, Sunday Business Post)

Previously: Look Hack In Anger

From top: Cows cool off in County Cavan last Summer; Bryan Wall

Late last month the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) published a report that once again details the deleterious effects that humans continue to have on the biosphere. The report details the increase of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere which, they state, “have reached another record high”.

In their press release they wrote that “Since 1990, there has been a 41% increase in total radiative forcing — the warming effect on the climate — by long-lived greenhouse gases.” Of this, C02 makes up roughly 82% of this increase.

WMO Secretary-General, Petteri Taalas, pulled no punches and was quoted as saying that “Without rapid cuts in CO2 and other greenhouse gases, climate change will have increasingly destructive and irreversible impacts on life on Earth.”

Of course, this is not news, especially not to the world’s climate scientists and members of the public who have followed the science reporting on the issue. Nonetheless, his warnings must be heeded.

Our window of time to make real changes is rapidly closing, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently declaring that we have twelve years at most to limit the effects of climate change.

Even limiting warming to 1.5 degrees would still have far-reaching consequences for the planet and us, however. Mass extinctions and die-offs will still take place even if warming is kept to the 1.5 degree limit, just at a lower rate.

Extreme and unseasonal weather will be the norm and droughts and flooding are likely to be commonplace. Warming higher than 1.5 degrees will amplify all of these aspects of climate change. And the fact of the matter is that we are currently well along the path to hurtling past the 1.5 degree limits.

Six years ago the World Bank was warning that an increase of 3.5 to 4 degrees was more likely. This would result in an overall 4 to 10 degree rise in temperature over land, meaning that “the coolest months are likely to be substantially warmer than the warmest month at the end of the 20th century.”

In the Mediterranean, for example, this would mean a 9 degree warmer month of July than the warmest July today. Today, at current rates, it is projected that by the end of the century the temperature will be 4 degrees higher, a massive failure on our part to ensure our survival as a species and the planet.

The world economy will be on the verge of collapse, food shortages will be commonplace given the failure of crops, and millions of deaths due to the increased temperatures will be unremarkable.

This summer saw widespread water shortages here due to the extreme temperatures, a timely reminder that we are not immune to the effects of climate change.

Yet, one would be forgiven for thinking otherwise given the fact that successive governments have been blasé regarding their concern for the environment and climate change in general.

The government’s current Chief Scientific Advisor, Professor Mark Ferguson, recently told the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Climate Change that “no crisis that was ever predicted in human history has come to pass.” He would also ask the committee to “not necessarily demonise oil and gas”.

In his comments to the committee he also made note of the rise of carbon capturing technologies, advocating their use even though their mass viability is decades away.

Also timely was that during the heatwave the Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC) issued its annual report on the effectiveness of Ireland’s climate change policy.

The CCAC’s press release opened with the statement that “Ireland is completely off course to achieve its 2020 and 2030 climate change targets.” The report also noted that one of the largest contributors to our greenhouse gas emissions comes from agriculture.

Emissions from this area increased by “4.5% relative to 2014”, with the expectation that these levels will continue to rise. It was pointed out that an increase in the number of dairy animals used in farming is responsible for the rise in emissions, with an increase of 25.1 per cent since 2011. Likewise there has been a rise in the number of non-dairy cattle, with an increase of 8.9 per cent since 2011 being noted.

On a similar note, according to a report issued by the World Resources Institute (WRI) last week, “major climate changes will make it impossible to grow certain crops.” What makes this even more concerning is that “Consumption of ruminant meat (beef, lamb, and goat) is projected to rise 88 percent between 2010 and 2050.”

As is referred to in the report, beef, for example, “is resource-intensive to produce, requiring 20 times more land and emitting 20 times more GHGs [greenhouse gases] per gram of edible protein than common plant proteins”.

If people were to limit themselves to roughly one and half hamburgers per week, it “would reduce the GHG mitigation gap [the 1.5 degree limit of warming] by half”. Clearly, then, taking a long and hard look at the content of our diets is something that we all must do and must encourage others to do.

Alas, the farming lobby is notoriously strong and conservative, thus ensuring that any attempts to limit cattle and sheep farming will be met with strong resistance. E

ven the appearance and popularity of non-dairy alternatives has the farming community and the dairy industry worried.

In a recent interview, Zoe Kavanagh of the National Dairy Council declared that the Irish system of dairy production, given that it is based on grass, “demonstrates the highest of standards… in terms of care for the environment.”

She also accused the “rejectors” – i.e., those who promote the use of non-dairy milk and cheeses  – of being “sinister” by “deliberately targeting young impressionable teenagers and scaring them.”

Obviously this “care for the environment” is at odds with the science on emissions produced by the farming industry.

And the truth regarding climate change is, unfortunately, scary. Unless something drastic is to happen in the next few years, we are well on our way to shooting past the 1.5 degree limit that has been agreed to.

Governments have been slow to react and corporations and industries have gone on the offensive in order to negate any green initiatives which may undercut their profit. If anything could be a better example of the psychology of the profit motivation in the late capitalist era it is the fact that companies would rather make just a bit more profit than try to save the planet that they rely on for their very existence.

If change is to happen, it is likely to come from people taking matters into their own hands and advocating and pushing for it themselves.

Cutting down on our dairy and meat consumption can have a huge impact considering it is something that is relatively easy to do.

If we simply defer all decision-making regarding the environment to governments and their patrons in industry and corporations, the status quo will remain and we will have doomed ourselves and our children.

Bryan Wall is an independent journalist based in Cork. His column appears here every Monday. Read more of his work here and follow Bryan on twitter:  @Bryan_Wall

Top pic by Lorraine Teevan

Keano, of FRO Films, writes:

Given the annual controversy surrounding “Fairytale of New York”, I imagined what the lyrics might sound like by 2020, once all problematic language is removed.

Previously: F Sharp


Results from a poll commissioned by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (click to enlarge)

Today is International Human Rights Day.

To mark the day, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has released the findings of a poll of 1,200 people in Ireland.

The Amárach Research poll found, among other things:

“82% of people generally, and 89% of 18-24-year olds believe that housing should be considered as a human right. 63% of people generally, and 78% of 18-24-year olds believe that a right to housing should be entered into Ireland’s Constitution.”

Read the poll’s results in full here

Saturday.

GPO, O’Connell Street, Dublin 1.

Scenes from the Make Our National Maternity Hospital Public protest at the Spire…

….Meanwhile, this morning:

The St Vincent’s Healthcare Group (SVHG) has said the Sisters of Charity will have no role in the new National Maternity Hospital when it moves to south Dublin.

A spokeswoman for the healthcare group said: “The Religious Sisters of Charity announced in May 2017 that they were withdrawing from St Vincent’s Healthcare group.

They resigned from the board at that date.

“We are now working towards giving effect to their decision.

In fairness.

Sisters of Charity to have no role in new National Maternity Hospital (Newstalk)

Rollingnews

Nineteen years ago today, the weekly rates of State allowance for people living in Direct Provision were set by Government officials.

The rates were IR£15 (€19.10) per adult and IR£7.50 (€9.60) per child.

Since last August 2017, the rates were increased to €21.60 per child and adult.

This morning law lecturer at University College Dublin Liam Thornton launched a new website which, for the next year, will make available key documents on the system of direct provision obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

Mr Thornton writes that the project will explore:

Making available previously unreleased documents on the creation of the system of direct provision. Contextualising the significant milestones as regards the creation and operationalisation of the system of direct provision.

The arguments engaged in between Government Departments and officials as regards responsibility for the system of direct provision.

The role of the narrative of reform, something ever present within governmental discourses on direct provision.

The negation of law and legalism until July 2018, and explaining the limits of law and human rights discourses in challenging direct provision.

Exploring Direct Provision

Liam Thornton