A Foreigner in Ireland - A view on Politics and Life.

Filthy Ireland – Incompetent Local Authorities & Useless Governments!

A week ago, the free local newspaper Dublin People ran a story about the “Plan to end discharge of sewage off Rush coast is progressing” and to say that I was shocked when I read that headline would be a big understatement, I was speechless, appalled and outraged!! And I STILL can’t believe that in 2016 the filthy practice of dumping untreated sewage in the sea continues and will still continue for at least another two years!!

I know that Ireland dirtied our environment that way MUCH longer than it should have, but I thought that during the good years when money was nearly abundant, the filthy practice of sewage dumping had been stopped and that all communities had been equipped with sewage treatment plans. And now I realise that this is probably MUCH worse than this article indicates. If Rush, a village so close to the capital of a European country is such a dirt bag in 2016, then there will probably be MANY more remote places that do the same.

I grew up in a smallish village (half the size of Rush!) in Germany and I remember visiting the local sewage treatment plan when I was in Primary School and that is a long long time away!! And that time that local sewage treatment plan wasn’t new or recent by any means but had been there for many years. Yes, I also know that at that time and still for many years after Ireland was shockingly poor and would have never reached today’s infrastructural level without a huge amount of subsidies from the EU. So everything took a good bit longer, but for god’s sake, this is 2016 and we are still pumping our shite (literally!!) in the sea!?!

What incompetent local or national government has screwed up so much that it took such a long time to make these first steps! And it will take another two years before anything changes!

Useless and incompetent politicians and local authorities!!!

“Freedom of Expression” vs “Discrimination of Women”

On Friday it was announced that the Mayor of Cannes has banned the wearing of Burkinis at the beach in Cannes and thinking about that, I discovered a sizeable conflict in my and maybe your thinking!

I should start with an explanation, Burkinis look like a long-sleeved pyjama and they also have a form of hoodie that covers the head, but does not cover the face. In that respect they differ from Burkas (despite the similar name), which are more like a gown and also cover the face. The head part of a Burkini is more like that of a Hijab. And if all that confuses you, check out this head gear comparison here (with pictures).

Now back to the conflict that I mentioned above. The Cannes Mayor reasoned the ban with “risks of disrupting public order”, which I really don’t get and think is quite far fetched, but my concern is a different one:

I am all for Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Religion. So (as long as I don’t harm anybody else!!) nobody should be told what they are allowed to believe and what not and everybody should be allowed to express their own opinion (as long as they don’t invite others to harm anybody). To “Freedom of Expression” belongs the freedom to wear whatever clothes I want to wear. With that in mind, muslim women should be allowed to wear Burkinis on the beach if they want to do that.

But there is a flipside! Religions and rules about clothing based on your religion is usually man made nonsense and I am strictly against the oppression of women that is practised in nearly all religions and is particularly strong in Islam. And being against oppression, I think the oppressors should not get away with their ridiculous rules and we as a open and tolerant society should stop or at least hinder them from oppressing women.

Can you see the conflict? On one hand, I think women should be allowed to wear what they want, because these clothes rules is only a means to oppress them. So ban Burkas and Hijabs and Burkinis etc. But tolerance means that the woman who WANTS to wear it should be allowed. How can we assess is SHE really wants to wear it or if she obliges because of the threats by her religious leaders?

I know at least one girl who absolutely wanted to wear a Hijab, because she felt it was showing the appropriate respect to her god. And I also know muslim women who have told me that NOT wearing clothes that cover all bit of skins will expose you to such an imitating lecherous attitude in their countries that they happily wear clothes that are covering as much as possible. Sure they would like to change the attitude of the men in their world, but they don’t see that as feasible in the short term.

So, what should we do? Band the Burkini to help or allow the Burkini to be tolerant and accepting?

I know we are not in Cannes (and we don’t have a proper beach), but it is a problem that is already relevant in our society regarding Burkas and Hijabs and Niqabs.

I am rich! I am told! – Spam E-Mails and intelligence

Last week I got an e-mail from “Barr.kalu paul” and he wrote:

HELLO DEAR,

I’m kalu paul,a lawyer in Cotonou, Benin Republic,late Mr.Joerg Slivkanich,a gold merchant who was my client, died as a result of lung cancer without a will, now I want to present your name to late Mr. Joerg,bank so the money left behind by late Mr. Joerg , can be transferred to your account through my help.The amount of U.S.$ 10.5 million deposited in a local bank here,by late Mr. Joerg before his death on November 23, 2012, I need your information so that I can show you the bank as next of kin to Late Mr.Joerg for further process.Please provide name and full address,your age, profession and position,address,email not mail.ur and mobile number for contact purposes,Please reply via personal e-mail,so I will send more details of Mr.Joerg you need to know: kaluequitychambers@gmail.com
+2296-823-8271
Thanks
Barr.kalu paul

So, there you have it! I am rich!!! 10.5mio!? Nice one! :-)

We all get these idiotic mails. The senders send thousands or hundred thousands and sending a mail doesn’t cost a cent to the sender, so if one or two naive people fall for it, they are already making a profit. But I am shocked about the poor quality of the letter. Maybe the dodgy English and punctuation is meant to make it sound authentic?

The most interesting thing is how they try to create a link to me. My name is Joerg Steegmueller and the person that died was called Joerg Slivkanich, so we MUST be related! Don’t you think!? ;-) But to be honest, it looks as if they just took the part before the @ in the e-mail address and used it with a “Mr.” in front of it. Oddly, however, not to refer to me, but to refer to the dead person who left all the money for me. Imagine my e-mail was smartass@mail.com or something like that. ;-) It would then read “now I want to present your name to late Mr. Smartass,bank”. LOL

There are really some stupid Scammers out there. ;-)

Censorship or not? Maser Art and Dublin City

Dublin is never boring and Dublin City regularly gets into hot water and often enough screws up big time. Something emerged again last week that had “Big Screw-up” written all over it, but is it that?

The Background: Street Artist Maser painted a big mural on the wall of the Project Arts Centre in Temple Bar about 4 weeks ago. It was a read heart that had “Repeal the 8th” written in it. To understand that fully, you need to know that it refers to the 8th amendment, which was added to the Irish constitution in 1983 and which says “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”

Supporters see it as a clause protecting life, but the flip side is that it makes abortion illegal by constitution. Now, abortion was always illegal based on Irish laws and that amendment wouldn’t have been needed, but the anti-abortion campaigners were worried back then that the other laws wouldn’t be strong enough. At the time 67% of the voters in a referendum were in favour of this amendment.

Many people’s views about abortion have changed, however in the last 33 years and these changed views do support the availability of abortion in Ireland either in a restricted number of situations/scenarios or in every situation. And since the Irish laws haven’t prevented abortions, but made it extremely difficult and emotionally stressful for women in Ireland to get an abortion by travelling to other countries, these laws are useless anyway.

Since 1981, the “Repeal the 8th” campaign has grown and become stronger and the website “The HunReal Issues”, which promotes women’s issues, has commissioned street artist Maser to create this mural in Temple Bar.

Dublin City received 50 complaints and then told the Project Arts Centre that they will have to remove the mural because it is against planning legislation. But it seems that legal situation is not crystal clear.

The Journal.ie writes “A spokesperson for Dublin City Council said that class 12 of schedule two in part one of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001 “exempts the painting of the external part of any building or other structure from requiring planning permission”.” So that means you do NOT have to ask for permission to paint the external part of a building, right? But then the Dublin City folks continued saying “Murals and other artistic designs require planning permission when applied to the external part of any structure.” I might be missing something here and maybe the key is in “painting” vs “mural”, but JUST with that information I can’t see how the law was broken.

What got me at first was that the Project Arts Centre said that they never experienced any planning legislation issues despite the fact that they regularly have murals on the side of the building. If a abortion related mural was treated differently by Dublin City than other murals, that would certainly not be ok.

But then I tried to “test” a few other angles:

What if Dublin City didn’t get any complaints for previous paintings? If they don’t get active UNLESS they get complaints, then the current situation is not censorship. – What if previous murals didn’t contain a political (or commercial) message but were just pieces of art? Then it would be more about an “ad” vs a pretty picture. – And how would I feel if someone put a big promotion on a building of an idea I was opposed to? Anti-abortion murals on house walls maybe? How tolerant would we then be?

And taking all this into consideration, I can see why this specific mural is different than someone painting a pretty flower pot on the side of a building.

The mural is the expression of a free opinion and the expression of opinions has to be protected by our laws, but there are MANY ways to express an opinion and not every way has to be allowed. So, I would have a serious problem if it was made illegal to express “Repeal the 8th”, but I don’t think if one path of expression was declared as not permitted.

And, to be honest, it couldn’t have come better for the Repeal the 8th campaign: Many people (including myself) hadn’t heard anything about this mural before Dublin City stepped in. Best PR ever! ;-)

Event Marketing the odd way!

Publishing the Dublin Event Guide (for Free Events) means that occasionally I experience exceptional behaviour of people. (This is the most politically correct way I can describe it.) And this is a story that emerged from that spare-time activity of mine:

Some weeks ago I saw on Social Media that a sizeable event that is happening this weekend had seemingly some event for media to tell them about the event. I didn’t know any details because no details were shared with me. So I contacted the marketing person to suggest to keep the Dublin Event Guide informed as well.

At first I got a mail telling me that they would happily do that the next time they inform the media, but then the next day I got a phone call from the marketing person in which he firstly “interrogated” me about the relative importance of the Dublin Event Guide for his event and after declaring that he will only invite real journalists (he measures that through membership in the Journalist Union NUJ) he wanted to start an argument about who would qualify to be informed and who wouldn’t.

This is just silly!! Every organiser can invite or not invite whoever they want to whatever informational event they run or not. But if there are people offering to spread the word about your event, it is just nonsensical to try to start an argument about their importance or not.

When I tried to say that him and after repeated interruptions, he said in a huff that he would send on any press releases but that he would not provide any other information. WTF!? Is he trying trying to market an event or not? Needless to say that no Press Release was ever sent to me.

That is Event Marketing the odd way!! ;-)