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A circuitous route to an Irish polling station

A circuitous route to an Irish polling station - local and european elections- 23 may 2014 - China Dubai Hong Kong Thailand dublin votingFrom China (where the masses only get to vote for one party) to Hong Kong (where despite promises of universal suffrage to be introduced in 2017, Hong Kong citizens’ hopes of electing their own Chief Executive by one man one vote is diametrically contrary to the principles of China’s one party authoritarian system. In other words the Chief Executive will always be a hand-picked puppet of Beijing) to Bangkok (at 2.00 am on the 22nd of May, as I was sitting on the airplane in Bangkok Airport during transit Thailand’s military was setting in motion the usurpation of an elected Government, its nineteenth Coup d’Etat) in Dubai (which like China has embraced unbridled capitalism without political freedom), before finally arriving on Tuesday 19th May in an Ireland on the home stretch in the local and European elections campaigns, with the majority of people due to vote three days later.

The last time I voted was in the February 2011 General Election. Following the abysmal mess created by the Fianna Fail / Green Party coalition, I had made a decision to join the Fine Gael Party (I still have the official welcome letter signed by local TD Sean Barrett the Ceann Comhairle, or the speaker of Dáil Éireann). I even met Enda Kenny on his whirlwind visit to Stradbrook Rugby Club to drum up the party faithful Over a cocktail sausage he took my business card, put it inside his breast pocket and said he would be in touch in a few weeks to talk about China (It didn’t register at the time that, although he was to become the next Taoiseach, he was merely just another politician focused on the corridors of power, taking the populist line on anything and everything to get into office).

Anyway, never heard from anyone in Fine Gael again.  So be it.

And so to 23rd May.

Should I vote?

Yes. All people have a right to have a say in what is happening in Ireland. The alternative is a China, Hong Kong, Thailand or Dubai. What would happen if everyone decided not to vote? Where would Ireland’s democracy go? Who would run the country? What type of political system would Ireland have?

Does it matter?

Take the France versus Ireland rugby match setting last 15th March in Paris where Ireland, up against a ferocious French onslaught, held on to win 22:20 and be crowned RBS Six Nations Champions.  One Irish voice cheering alone wouldn’t have been heard, but when all those Irish fans who travelled to Paris collectively stood and shouted “Come on Ireland!”, then it mattered!

Perhaps my vote on its own isn’t going to matter, but I choose to cast my vote because I support Ireland’s democracy, our ability to elect the people who govern us, our right to be free, and our right to show the Government what we think of them.  People power.

Almost 100 years ago, in 1916 a group of Irishmen, including my grandfather, Dr. Michael William O’Reilly, and women stood up to British rule in Ireland and declared an Irish Republic. They were opposed by many of their peers. Seven years later Ireland had a free state. Change can happen.

Around the world on a daily basis people risk their lives by fighting and struggling to earn the right a vote, something which many Irish people take for granted, while past generations of Irishmen and women suffered to get us such a right.

Indifference changes nothing.

A circuitous route to an Irish polling station - local and european elections- 23 may 2014 - China Dubai Hong Kong Thailand ireland

Who will I vote for?

It has been a fairly brutal three years since the 2011 general election. Sure after the shambolic financial mess created by the previous Fianna Fail / Green Party Coalition Government, austerity cuts needed to be made.

However, I don’t like the way the country is being fixed. Inflicting crippling austerity, property tax, and water charges, flawed cuts and knee-jerk decisions, instigated by an increasingly aloof Government / political elite, have had a huge negative bearing on the lives of so many ordinary citizens, particularly the middle classes.

I no longer trust the establishment parties and whips that have caused Ireland so much destruction, while Sinn Fein will never get my vote. This time I will have the pleasure of not putting a number beside the Fine Gael and Labour candidates. Instead, I intend to vote for those independent (and People Before Profit) candidates who can really irritate, by constantly nipping at the heels of, the establishment.

It’s time to overhaul what is a worn out political system, but nothing will change if people do not get off their backsides and vote.

A circuitous route to an Irish polling station - local and european elections- 23 may 2014 - China Dubai Hong Kong Thailand

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Accurate China Insight: Preparing for Marriage – Ireland to use EU Presidency to lay groundwork for negotiating landmark EU-China Free Trade Agreement?

…..Or at least that’s what reading between the lines would appear to reveal as being the over-riding objective. Today in an address to the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee Richard Bruton TD, Ireland’s Minister of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation,  stated:

“..It was evident at the last Summit that there is considerable richness and potential in our relationship with China. We would like to prepare the ground for the next summit so that the conditions would be ripe to launch negotiations for a landmark investment agreement with market access..”

[Source / read more: http://www.4-traders.com/news/Department-of-Jobs-Enterprise-and-Innovation-of-I-Opening-Remarks-by-Minister-Richard-Bruton-TD–15961031/]

The paragraph immediately preceding this statement refers to FTA [Free Trade Agreement] negotiations with Japan and India, while further down in his speech the Minister speaks of FTAs with individual ASEAN members. 

While the specific language used in relation to China talks about “…a landmark investment agreement with market access..”, given the overall context in which the speech was made, the implication is clear – an FTA between the EU (European Union), China’s largest trading partner, and China is the ultimate goal. Such an objective marks a hugely significant turning point in the development of the EU’s China engagement strategy: Marriage is on the cards.

The visit to Ireland in February 2012 by paramount leader General Secretary Xi Jinping, which was hastily followed up by Irish Prime Minister, Taoiseach Enda Kenny‘s return trip to Beijing the following month, not only demonstrates that China, the EU’s second largest trading partner, would make for an eager marriage companion, but it also signifies China backing for Ireland’s unilateral embracement of the role of EUChina marriage maker as a key feature of its Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Given Minister Bruton’s speech to European Parliament’s International Trade Committee, the acknowledgement by General Secretary Xi Jinping at his March 2012 reunion with Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Beijing that …

“… The development of China-Ireland relations can serve as a driving force in boosting China-Europe ties..”

[Source / read more: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2012/0326/breaking59.html]

…would appear to be prophetic indeed.

Going forward, Ireland’s eager and unilateral adoption of the role of ‘marriage maker’ would seem to indicate a future political relationship with Beijing deriving far more economic benefit to the country than its trading relationship.

Meanwhile, as mentioned in the Accurate China Insight dated 21 November 2013 http://www.accuratelimited.com/blog.view.php?id=ITvZZdNpXFs= all augurs well for Chinese President-designate Xi Jinping‘s return to Ireland in June 2013.

As noted in the Accurate China Insight dated 20th November :

“…Ireland’s Presidency of the Council of The European Union provides a fantastic opportunity for Ireland to yet again punch above its weight in the eyes of China’s leaders and media……. Moreover, EU-China -related summits in Ireland will provide Europeans with their first real chance to measure the mind-set of China‘s new leadership towards its biggest trading partner…”

[Source / read more: http://www.accuratelimited.com/blog.view.php?id=+8G9kXqGg28=]

Accurate China Insight: Ireland to use EU Presidency to lay groundwork for negotiating landmark EU-China Free Trade Agreement?

From engagement to marriage: Ireland takes on the role of EU-China marriage maker

Sources: Accurate China Business Services:  http://www.accuratelimited.com/blog.view.php?id=dOanRm3VH+U=

https://nialljoreilly.wordpress.com/2011/10/14/should-the-ireland-propose-a-free-trade-agreement-with-china/

Niall O’Reilly

Managing Director, Accurate Group – Ireland China Product & Business Development (Export Sourcing Import) Consultancy

Accurate China Insight (1) http://www.accuratelimited.com/blog.php  

Accurate China Insight (2)  

Tel:  Dublin, Ireland +353 1271 1830 /  Hangzhou, China +86 152 5719 4468   

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