Protests, walk-outs and stifled progress – Copenhagen so far

Talks at the Copenhagen climate conference were suspended for a period today after a coalition of developing countries withdrew their co-operation. The crucial talks, which had just resumed after a weekend break, were disrupted when the African countries, supported by the G77 and BASIC bloc, staged a walk out, angered that the conference was weakening in support for the Kyoto Protocol. Although, negotiations have since resumed, today’s debacle is just another episode in a conference plagued by drama, bravado and very little real progress.

After war, security

The days since Barack Obama’s speech at the West Point military academy on 1 December 2009 have allowed the immediate response to the new United States strategy in Afghanistan to settle.

After Copenhagen

The climate-change conference at Copenhagen on 7-18 December 2009 has long been surrounded by high (if perhaps unrealistic) hopes that a successor deal to the Kyoto protocol could be reached that would reflect the world’s firm commitment to address a planetary emergency. But as it nears, the expectations have begun to dissolve in a welter of disenchantment and pessimism. Is Copenhagen, after all, bound to fail; and if it is, where does that leave the global effort to avert catastrophe?

Minister Lenihan's VAT reduction is too little, too late

In March of this year, Brian Lenihan said "If I have one act of contrition, I should not have interfered with the VAT rates. It was a mistake and the wrong thing to do. We have lost €700 million in revenue going to the North."

Addressing his comments to the annual lunch of the Sutton-Howth Chamber of Commerce in Dublin, the Minister conceded that the increase in the VAT rate in the October 2008 budget had “sent out the wrong signals”. His unexpected concession came just weeks after Tanaiste Mary Coughlan admitted that the VAT increase had been a "total disaster".

Historic challenge to Ireland’s abortion laws brought to Europe

Today, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) Grand Chamber, which consists of 17 judges, will hear a controversial landmark case on abortion, the outcome of which will have significant implications, both for the Irish state and Europe. The case involves a challenge to Ireland's ban on abortion, lodged with the ECtHR in August 2005 by three women resident in Ireland.

Women are still unequal and unrepresented in Ireland

A more equitable gender balance in positions of leadership and employment would have lessened the impact of the recession on Ireland. Indeed, an increased effort to correct gender imbalances could also hasten our recovery. However, Ireland's gender gap is getting worse, impacting not only the economy, but women's health, violence, children and society as a whole.

Letters, Texts & Emails Wednesday 2 Dec, 2009

Topic: Vincent and guests analyse the Govt/Trade Union agreement in relation to unpaid leave.

Panelists: David Begg of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Fionnan Sheahan; Political editor of the Irish Independent, Ciarán Mac an Bhaird from DCU and Finbar Geaney of the Teachers Union of Ireland.

AIDS stigma remains a problem in Ireland

Today, 1 December 2009, is World AIDS Day. Figures released recently by St. James’s Hospital show a significant increase in new cases of the virus in Ireland for this year. While standards of treatment and prognosis are improving, surveys and anecdotal evidence show there is still a significant stigma attached to HIV and AIDS. This stigma is not only causing hardship to those with the disease, it is also preventing people from seeking tests and treatment for HIV.