Careful communication a 'disease of the Left'

"Have you ever heard Eamon Gilmore tell a joke?" asked An Phoblacht's Robbie Smyth at a political discussion at the Pearse Centre yesterday evening. Notwithstanding Gilmore's 46% approval rating for Taoiseach in Donegal this week, Smyth said that the Labour leader is "not a great communicator" and described both Gilmore and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny as "careful, controlled, and muted". By Alison Spillane. Additional reporting by Malachy Browne

Mr Smyth was speaking at a public meeting entitled 'Ireland in Crisis: Challenging the Consensus'.

Horrific abuse but children remain voiceless

Barnardos CEO Fergus Finlay last night launched a scathing attack on the government over the children's rights referendum. By Alison Spillane.

Speaking at a public forum in Liberty Hall theatre, Mr Finlay (pictured) referenced the Ryan report, the Ferns report and the Roscommon child abuse case saying what all the victims had in common was the fact that "nobody ever listened to them, they had no voice".

Positive view of austerity could help turn Ireland around

Irish people can use the current crisis as an opportunity to effect positive and lasting change on our society, a public forum heard last night. By Alison Spillane.

Speaking to a packed auditorium in Liberty Hall theatre, Fintan O'Toole said, "We [Irish citizens] have the capacity to imagine a political project for ourselves".

Irish parliamentary system is 'a parody of democracy'

Irish people need to dispense with any vestige of hope they have in the governing culture, Prof Diarmaid Ferriter of UCD said at a lecture yesterday evening, quoting from Fintan O'Toole's new book.

Speaking at the launch of O'Toole's book, Enough is Enough: How to Build a New Republic, Ferriter said that the title's approach was necessary in order to tackle the social and economic problems facing the country. Ferriter said that if some of the ideas in the book appear radical it is because they are being considered in an Irish context.

SF reveals €7.6bn stimulus plan as part of budget proposals

Today Sinn Féin launched its budget proposals for 2011, which includes a €7.6bn economic stimulus package over three and a half years. Funding for the stimulus plan would come predominately from the National Pension Reserve Fund (€7bn) with the remainder being raised through tax increases and cost-cutting measures in areas such as healthcare and education. By Alison Spillane.

Among the measures proposed are the introduction of a higher rate of income tax (48%) on earnings in excess of €100,000 and an income-linked wealth tax of 1% on assets of over €1 million, excluding farmland.

Ireland's future can be bright, despite challenges ahead

A fairer, sustainable and more equal Ireland is possible said Fr Seán Healy, director of Social Justice Ireland (SJI) today. By Alison Spillane.

In an interview with Politico at the Claiming Our Future (COF) event in the RDS, Fr Healy said that the next step for COF would be to involve more people in the discussion. He said that involvement should be at local, regional, and national level and that there is tremendous potential in developing this type of citizens' forum and addressing the problems we are facing.

Citizens' forum discusses pathways to an equal Ireland

1,000 people have gathered at the RDS today to discuss ways of achieving an equal, sustainable, and inclusive Ireland. The Claiming Our Future (COF) event, organised by civil society groups such as Is Feidir Linn, Social Justice Ireland and the Community Platform, aims to debate and agree on alternative policies for dealing with the recession. By Alison Spillane