Shamrock shake: Pfizer's Irish "unpatriotic loophole" ducks US taxes


Pfizer's used a tax-dodge called a "reverse-inversion" to sell itself to a much smaller, Irish pharma company, moving its corporate nationality to Ireland at the stroke of a pen. Read the rest

Ireland legalizes same-sex marriage


Eire we go, at last! The BBC reports that the Republic of Ireland will now permit same-sex couples to wed.

It is not yet known when and where the first same-sex wedding will be held.

But the first people to be affected are same-sex couples who have already wed legally abroad. Their marriages are now automatically recognised by the state.

They include Orla Howard and her wife Dr Grainne Courtney, who were married in the United States in May 2013.

The new rules follow a referendum in May in which Irish voters overwhelmingly supported the change.

Ireland was late to the gay rights party, only decriminalizing homosexual acts in 1993. But now it is the first country to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote.

This leaves Northern Ireland as the last holdout in the Atlantic Archipelagos1; though about 70% of locals support same-sex marriage, conservative protestants in government have apparently used procedural measures to prevent the law being voted upon.

1. Various wee UK tax shelters have yet to permit same-sex weddings, but all have signaled their legislative commitment to marriage equality. Read the rest

Irish government to decriminalise personal quantities of many drugs


Aodhán Ó Ríordáin the Irish Minister of State for New Communities, Culture and Equality, announced that his government is opening safe injection sites, will introduce a new Misuse of Drugs Bill bill in early 2016 that will decrminalise possession of "small amounts" of drugs including heroin, cocaine, and marijuana, and "as far as possible drug addiction should be removed from the criminal justice system." Read the rest

Helen & Graham Linehan's Amnesty video damns Ireland's barbaric abortion laws


In 2004, Helen Linehan terminated a pregnancy she had conceived with her husband, IT Crowd/Father Ted creator Graham Linehan, after discovering that the fetus had acrania and could not survive for more than an hour after the birth. As sad as the occasion was, the pair were more traumatised when the moved to Ireland shortly after and discovered that if Helen had had her abortion there, she'd have faced 16 years in prison. Read the rest

Gorgeous drone footage of Fall farm harvest in County Tipperary, Ireland

Right now, in Ireland, it's silage time.

Airport security confiscates three year old's fart gun

The eagle-eyed aviation security humans at Dublin Airport prevented a desperate toddler from boarding a flight while in possession of a Despicable Me Fart Blaster: "We don’t make the rules but we apply the rules consistently." (via Lowering the Bar) Read the rest

Ireland votes on same-sex marriage


In conservative Ireland, homosexuality remained illegal until 1993. Even divorce only became an option in 1997. But times have changed. The first major international plebiscite on gay marriage is poised to deliver an overwhelming vote in favor of extending the institution to same-sex couples.

"If the Irish can vote “Yes,” the thought goes, anyone can," writes Amy Davidson in The New Yorker. "If they can see how a conservative belief in the institution of marriage and in the unity of families, and an atavistic desire to be present at the wedding of one’s own children, translate into support for same-sex marriage so can, say, Mississippians."

The campaigns, for and against, served to illustrate the broader divisions in Irish society. The No campaign, in particular, made sharp use of fear as a motif, identifying wholesome Catholics as the real victims of intolerance. But the church has paid a high price for its longtime abuses: polls have support for gay marriage at about 70%, though there is some question about the accuracy of polling.

Even if it's close, the pace of change in Ireland has been remarkable. A 2013 International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association map of local support for same-sex relationships put Ireland at only 36%, though it took into account factors other than public opinion.

Here's a "Yes campaign" video:

At least 17 counties, and several U.S. states, have institutionalized same-sex marriage. In the U.S., the Supreme Court recently heart arguments in a case that may effectively settle the matter there. Read the rest

Burning Man temple to heal Ireland's Troubles, IRL and in Minecraft

David Best, who builds the enormous, gorgeous temples at Burning Man each year, created "Temple" in London/derry, where survivors of the Troubles have left memorials to their dead in advance of the temple being burned on Mar 21. Read the rest

Irish government retroactively legalizes GCHQ surveillance revealed in Snowden docs

As reported by The Irish Times on Saturday, 6th December; "Foreign law enforcement agencies will be allowed to tap Irish phone calls and intercept emails under a statutory instrument signed into law by Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald." Read the rest

UK psyops created N. Irish Satanic Panic during the Troubles

During the 1970s, when Northern Ireland was gripped by near-civil-war, British military intelligence staged the evidence of "black masses" in order to create a Satanism panic among the "superstitious" Irish to discredit the paramilitaries. Read the rest

Coderdojo: global network of self-directed hacker schools for kids

Glenn sez, "An Irish programmer started with a club in Cork to teach (at no cost) kids aged 5 to 17 how to program. It was such a hit that it's expanded to hundred of cities across 27 countries. CoderDojo has a template that includes self-directed learning with mentors on tap to help out. The notion is to provide kids a productive outlet. Among its successes is an average participation split about halfway between girls and boys in most chapters." Read the rest

Irish Freedom of Information amendment will send FOI fees to infinity

Update: Irish TD Stephen Donnelly namechecked this post in the Irish Parliament. Go, Stephen!

Ireland leads the EU in Freedom of Information fees, and they're the only EU nation that charges anything for an introductory query. Now they're raising those fees, potentially to infinity, through a law that charges you €15 per "unit" of government work necessary to answer your query. "Unit" isn't defined (government agencies get to make it up as they go along) and you have no way of predicting in advance how many units of work will go into your query.

This is actually a worsening of the already terrible FOI bill, which allowed Irish bureaucrats to determine reasonableness of queries based on how hard they'd be to answer if concerned records kept on paper -- even if those records were, actually, in a database that could be queried with a few keypresses.

Irish politicians have taken extraordinary measures to protect the state from the people finding out what it's up to. This is alarming on its face, and would be bad news even if Ireland was a paragon of good governance, and not a nation in economic meltdown that is subjecting its people to brutal austerity after being one of the centres of a corrupt investment bubble. Read the rest

Irish government updates its Freedom of Information law with exciting new "Computers don't exist" provision

When the Irish government updated its Freedom of Information law, it promised something fit for the computer era. To say it did not deliver is rather an understatement.

The new bill (PDF) says: "the FOI body shall take reasonable steps to search for and extract the records to which the request relates, having due regard to the steps that would be considered reasonable if the records were held in paper format."

Get that? The standard for whether a FOI request is reasonable is whether it would be easy to get if the records were on paper and in a filing cabinet. If the records can be retrieved from a database with one click, but would take a hundred years with a filing cabinet, then the records can remain secret forever, because clicking once is deemed unreasonable.

As Simon McGarr puts it: "The Irish State wishes to uninvent computers. Read the rest

Faced with excommunication threat, Irish PM explains separation of church and state to Cardinal

The Catholic Church threatened to excommunicate Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny if he held a scheduled vote on Ireland's new abortion law. He responded:

Everybody’s entitled to their opinion here but as explained to the Cardinal and members of the church my book is the constitution and the constitution is determined by the people. That’s the people’s book. We live in a Republic and I have a duty and responsibility as head of Government to legislate in respect of what the people’s wishes are.

Redditor bleacliath created a great graphic for this quote and posted it to /r/atheism.

Politicians ‘have responsibility’ to legislate on abortion issue Read the rest

Muppet Danny Boy, the only St Paddy's celebration you need

In what's becoming a regular St Paddy's tradition around here, here's the Muppet Danny Boy you know you want to hear but were afraid to ask for.

Irish flags OK again in Florida

The idiots who run Atlantic Beach, Florida, banned the flying of non-US flags, and even cited a Greek restaurant for displaying one. They have been told. [Reuters] Read the rest

How to Cheat in the Leaving Certificate: controversial Irish caper film now on YouTube

Nineties Irish indie feature HOW TO CHEAT IN THE LEAVING CERTIFICATE was recently remastered, and the 1080p telecine created from the original camera negative and is now available in full on YouTube

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