Yes She Can!

December 7, 2015 |  by  |  Uncategorized  |  No Comments

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The following is an Address I gave at the Trinity College Historical Society on Wednesday, 2nd December 20116 in support of Hillary Clinton’s bid to become the next President of the United States of America. The debate was chaired by RTE’s Marian Finucane.

 

Good evening and thank you Annabel O’Rourke and the society for the invitation to speak to the Trinity College Historical Society on the motion is ‘This house supports Hillary 2016 as President of the United States’.

The United States of America has had 42 Presidents. All share one distinctive trait – they have all been men.

Progress has been made, of course. We currently have the first black president, well over 200 years after George Washington was elected back in 1789. And now we are awaiting the final frontier to be broken — the election of America’s first female president. Hillary Clinton — Yes She Can!

So, why Hillary?

Because she is the real deal. FACT: Hillary Clinton is one of the most accomplished people ever to run for the Presidency with over 40 years in public life. She is a consummate politician. Her actions are rooted in well thought-out strategy, her words are chosen carefully choices and her policies crafted through experience and a passion for democracy for all.

Because she knows defeat. The American political leader Robert Green Ingersoll said, “The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart.” And Hillary has heart and passion. She also has gained, through her experience, : she has learned the value of working with rivals and the importance of compromise to achieve your goals. This is vitally important not only in American politics but politics on the world stage.

She has authentic experience. Over the four decades Hillary Clinton has been in public life she has experienced firsthand many historical events — the Northern Ireland Peace Process, 9/11, the hunt and discovery of Osama Bin Laden. She has also been involved in the decision making process leading up to some of these events and, in others, dealing with the aftermath.

She understands foreign policy. Her exemplary political experience gained a broad global view when she served as Secretary of State under the Obama administration. This experience is critical, especially given the fact the next president of the United States will have to work closely with Vladimir Putin and the rapid rise of ISIS and the threat to world peace.

No candidate, either for the Democrats or the Republicans, can boast such qualifications for the role of President.

However, let’s understand one thing. Hillary Clinton is neither her husband nor President Obama. She is not running for either of their third terms. She is running for her first term. And I will say it again — Yes She Can.

But why should you care? Why should you care about an American president?

You should care, because like it or loath it, America, its economy, its foreign policy and its culture deeply affects us, especially in Ireland.

And while we as a nation, as a people often sneer at America, the worst thing to paraphrase Hillary, that can happen in any democratic society “is to become cynical about the future and lose hope”.

Hillary Clinton offers hope. She offers hope for women, for the world, for the marginalised. She offers hope for Ireland.

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Twenty years ago this week, Hillary Clinton visited Ireland with her husband President Bill Clinton. No president before Bill Clinton ever truly invested energy to resolve the Troubles. However, one of his key advisors in his decision to focus on peace in Northern Ireland, above many other pressing was his wife, Hillary, who saw the potential for peace in Ireland.

In the recent release of his oral histories the late and great Senator Ted Kennedy, a champion of the peace process, gives massive recognition to the role Hillary Clinton, who galvanised community groups and women’s groups on both sides.

President Bill Clinton had taken a huge risk regarding his decision to grant Gerry Adams a US visa, even though “nobody in the US government would approve it.” This was a monumental decision and Hillary played a central role in fast-tracking the decision to allow Adams into the US. The British Government lead by John Major were aghast when the decision was made to allow Gerry Adams, the Sinn Féin leader, a visa to come to America in late January 1994. But this moved proved pivotal in the peace process.

It is the ability to make such pragmatic and incisive moves that separates Hillary from the other candidates. She has been there, done that and bought the t-shirt. No other candidate can boast that fact.

Her track record has proven that Hillary is for Ireland.

She had been in the “centre of the room” during Northern Ireland peace talks. And she has given a commitment to work on resolve the status of the undocumented Irish in America. Her close ties with the Irish American community will also help continue the strong economic ties between our two countries and attract inward investment.

Hillary is also for women. And I quote — “Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights.” During her time in the Obama administration she made gender equality a priority of U.S. foreign policy. She created the ambassador at large for global women’s issues, a post charged with integrating gender throughout the State Department. She is on the record as saying, “It is past time for women to take their rightful place, side by side with men, in the rooms where the fates of peoples, where their children’s and grandchildren’s fates, are decided.”

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Hillary is also for unity. In her role as Secretary of State she was unrelenting in her quest to bring people together. She travelled to 112 countries, making her the most widely travelled secretary of state in history. She was key in rebuilding America’s leadership and prestige overseas after the Bush years. She was key to the agreement to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. She was key in the normalisation of relations with Cuba. As president she will continue this role.

Her campaign is about building a better inclusive democracy for all the people of the USA and beyond.

Her key policy areas include:

1. Immigration reform (let us not and lets not let Hillary forget the Undocumented Irish)

She wants to pass comprehensive immigration reform “once and for all”. She fundamentally believes — “[Comprehensive immigration reform] will strengthen families, strengthen our economy and strengthen our country. That’s why we can’t wait any longer… for a path to full and equal citizenship.”

2. Minimum wage

Hillary Clinton wants a higher minimum wage in the US. She supports a $15 minimum wage. She believes, “No man or woman who works hard to feed America’s families should have to be on food stamps to feed your own families.”

3. Prisons and Justice System

Hillary Clinton believes it is time to end the era of mass incarceration. This is because she knows the system is broken.

  • While black people make up about 30% of the United States’ population, they account for 60% of those imprisoned.
  • According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1-in-3 black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime.
  • The United States has the largest prison population in the world
  • The Vera Institute of Justice reported in 2015 that jails throughout the United States have become warehouses for the poor, the mentally ill and those suffering from addiction as such individuals lack the financial means or mental capacity to post bail.

Hillary Clinton wants to change this.

4. Voting rights

Hillary Clinton wants to expand voting rights in America and has lambasted Republican efforts to restrict them. She wants universal, automatic voter registration for every American when they turn 18. She is on record as saying, “We should be doing everything we can to get our young people more engaged in democracy, not less.”

5. Fixing the Campaign System

Hillary Clinton want to change the rules on campaign finance. She has stated — “We need to fix our dysfunctional political system and get unaccounted money out of it, once and for all, even if that takes a constitutional amendment,” said Mrs Clinton at a speech in Iowa in April.

6. Free community college

Hillary Clinton wants free community college, agreeing with President Barack Obama’s plan. She has expressed her opposition to for-profit colleges that “fraud” students and agrees with loan forgiveness in those cases. Mrs Clinton has also been working on student loan reform, which she is expected to talk about at her campaign event on Saturday in New York City.

Hillary Clinton is for openness, for democracy and for the people. She wants to be president for the disenfranchised, for women, for black, white, for everyone. The world and America needs change. Hillary Clinton will bring change. The world needs Hillary Clinton. The Irish need Hillary Clinton. So join me in not only saying but fundamentally believing – Yes she can!

Is Austerity Good or Bad for Ireland?

September 29, 2015 |  by  |  Economics, Government, Ireland. Inc  |  No Comments

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The pros and cons of austerity will no doubt form the biggest single policy debate in the next general election. People and businesses are still struggling despite the fact that the economy has for the most part crawled out of the black hole it had fallen into during the recession.

Many believe that the citizens of Ireland were asked to bear too much of the brunt when it came to turning the economy around, while the fat cats that made the many flawed decisions that led to Ireland’s implosion paid a relatively meagre price.

The government here chose a very pragmatic and unsentimental approach when it came to getting the economy back on its feet — austerity.

It destroyed many individuals and businesses, and wreaked havoc throughout Ireland’s cities, towns and villages. But with the economy now the fastest growing in Europe for yet another year, Ireland’s fast-track road to recovery is being hailed a sterling example for others to follow.

Of course the other side of the debate is what would have happened if Ireland had burnt the bondholders and refused to play ball with the IMF. We may never know, but the evidence supporting the Government’s difficult and controversial austerity measures is certainly beginning to mount up.

Here is an international take on Ireland’s remarkable management of its once overbearing Debt Mountain and how Ireland Inc is a shining light to other struggling economies:

http://www.wsj.com/article_email/ireland-shows-how-to-ski-down-the-debt-mountain-1443373812-lMyQjAxMTE1NDI3NzAyNjc5Wj

 

The Phoney War: PR V Journalists?

September 25, 2015 |  by  |  Media  |  No Comments

fightI read with interest a piece in the Financial Times highlighting how “the number of people working in public relations in the UK has risen by nearly 50% in the past two years and looks set to exceed the shrinking pool of journalists.” The article went on to predict that by 2015, if the trend continues, the number of PR professionals will outnumber journalists.

The FT went on to highlight how this will impact on “journalists’ ability to interrogate those in power” in a media world “under pressure of time to publish online content”. This will increasingly see journalists “rely on PRs to supply quotes, statistics and context.”

Thankfully, in Ireland the public relations sector has also returned to growth and employment numbers would appear to be up overall. But talk of this phoney war between PR and journalists is not as intense here and I believe this is because there is more of an awareness and acceptance of the symbiotic relationship between both professions.

Public relations and journalism have had a difficult relationship for over a century. And journalists still often believe most PR people spend their time writing press releases and trying to pitch news stories about their clients. This could not be further from the truth.

Changes in PR mean news media outlets have become less and less important to the PR profession. The internet, especially social media, has given companies, governments and public figures their own channels of communication. Public relations has also become more strategic and focuses on all aspects of a company’s reputation management and enhancement.

So increasing numbers of PR people is something that should not strike fear into the heart of journalists. Because quality, trust-worthy journalism is as important to public relations industry as it is to journalists.