It looks like Louis Theroux’s My Scientology Movie won’t get an Irish release due to blasphemy laws (

Last week:  Going Clear



Burn it!



From top last week’s BBC Question time Derek Mooney

There are two chances of a second vote on Brexit

Derek Mooney writes:

I have to confess that my heart sinks a little whenever I hear English Tories or English nationalists, like Nigel Farage, mention Ireland during their rants about the EU.

The reference is usually patronising or condescending or – even worse – is given in the form of advice that would have us join them in their march back to a glorious era that never existed.

This is why my heart sank when Julia Hartley Brewer, a British Talk Radio host, Leave campaigner and former political editor, stated on last Thursday’s BBC Question Time that the EU had forced Ireland, and other countries, to vote again on EU referendums.

Her comments came during the course of a discussion on whether Britain might have another referendum on Brexit – a proposal put forward by the failed Corbyn challenger, Owen Smith MP or that the UK might have a separate vote on the final deal hammered out on the conclusion of the Art 50 negotiations, an idea put forward by Tim Farron’s Liberal Democrats.

Though hearing Hartley-Brewer getting it badly wrong on the notion of the EU ‘forcing’ us to vote again made my heart sink a little,

it sank even further when I realised that she and her fellow panellist that night Jacob Rees-Mogg MP (who looks like he is being portrayed by Joyce Grenfell) may actually have a point, just not the one they think.

Though I and other Remainers may wish it to be otherwise, the hard fact is that Ireland’s voting again on the Nice and Lisbon treaties is not relevant to the UK’s situation for one simple reason: turnout.

In the first referendum on the Nice Treaty (Nice I) in 2001 the turnout was just under 35% – the result then was 54% No: 46% Yes. At second referendum on the Nice Treaty (Nice II) in Oct 2002 the turnout shot up to just under 50% with Yes getting 63% and No dropping to 37%.

It was a broadly similar situation in the case of the two Lisbon Treaty referendums. In Lisbon I in June 2008 the turnout was 53%. No won by 53%:47%. At Lisbon II the turnout had again increased, this time to 59% with Yes now winning by 63%:37%

In both cases the turnout in the first referendum was low to start with, in the case of Nice I it was exceptionally low, just in the mid-30s, so there was a convincing argument to be made for a second vote, particularly when you felt that a second referendum would have a higher turnout.

This was not the case in the UK’s Brexit referendum.

The turnout there was a whopping 72%. This is a substantial turnout. It is much higher that recent UK General Election turnouts, indeed you have to go back to Tony Blair’s 1997 election victory to find a UK general election turnout of over 70%.

The huge political risk you take by having a re-run second Brexit referendum in these circumstances is that you get a lower turnout. It is politically saleable to try to reverse one mandate with a smaller one?

To be clear, turnout alone was not the reason why there were re-runs of the Nice and Lisbon referendums. In both cases post referendum polling and analysis found that the main reason for voting “No” or abstaining was a lack of knowledge of either treaty.

Both “Yes” and “No” voters were highly critical of what they viewed as a dearth of clear, accessible information on the treaty’s merits.

While the Remainers can clearly point to a lot of misinformation from the Leave side, not least the claims that leaving would mean £350 million extra per week for the NHS, they cannot yet point to any substantive research or analysis suggesting any changes in opinion.

Noted UK pollster, Prof John Curtice, reckons that there is little evidence of a “significant rethink” three months on from the result with those who voted Remain still convinced that they were right and likewise for the Leavers.

Very few minds have been changed, though let us see if that remains the case as the details of the Brexit deal on offer emerge during the course of the next year or so.

The problem with all this abstract discussion on a second referendum is that it takes the focus away from the very real and tangible issues with the first result: most crucially that the Hartley Brewer, Farage and others do not want to honour the clear Remain majorities in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Instead they want to use the votes of English and Welsh people to forcibly drag Northern Ireland and Scotland out of the EU against their declared will.

This is no small issue, yet it is receiving scant attention in the UK and, sadly, here.

Voters in both Northern Ireland and Scotland voted convincingly to stay in the EU, by much bigger margins that the people across the UK voted to leave.

Many of those voters in Northern Ireland hold Irish passports and are thus also EU citizens, even if the UK leaves.

Can that citizenship – and the guarantees and privileges it offers – simply be snatched away from them on the say so of 50%+ of voters in the south of England?

As people like Michéal Martin and Colum Eastwood have repeatedly said over the past few weeks and months; trying to drag the North out of the EU against its will ignores the layered complexities of the Irish political process.

It is a refutation of the basic principles of the accommodation achieved in the Good Friday Agreement and that is something that concerns all of us on this island.

We should be debating and discussing this now. We should be looking at the significant consequences of Brexit for our economy, for our trade – both North/South and East/West, our education system, out health service.

We should not allow the foot dragging by the British Government on outlining its terms of exit to stop us from forcefully setting out our concerns and our alternatives.

We need the speedy establishment of the all-island political/civic forum I called for here at the end of June. I know the Taoiseach and his team messed up their first attempt to get the idea up and running, but they need to go again and get it right this time

Derek Mooney is a communications and public affairs consultant. He previously served as a Ministerial Adviser to the Fianna Fáil-led government 2004 – 2010. His column appears here every Monday mid-afternoon. Follow Derek on Twitter: @dsmooney


Johnny Collins and his dad Micheal Collins

Ireland Shed A Tear?

A new play by writer and actor Michael Collins.

To be performed at The New Theatre, Dublin from September 28 until October 2, as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival.

Written to commemorate the first anniversary of the Carrickmines tragedy, Ireland Shed a Tear? is a new play by acclaimed writer and actor, Michael Collins (Pavee Lackeen, Killinaskully, Glenroe, King of the Travellers).

Using song and poetry, it portrays the life experiences of one Traveller family, while engaging the wider community in a dynamic and lighthearted way.

In the aftermath of the fire that claimed the lives of ten members of the Connors and Gilbert families, including a pregnant mother, Tom sees the introduction of a national fire safety audit of Traveller accommodation as an opportunity for a better life for his family.

Living conditions, safety, and issues with his local council might finally be resolved. However, he soon discovers that the battle is far from over.

See here for tickets and times.

Previously: The Trouble With Travellers


Ahead of tonight’s US Presidential Election debate, there’s a decided advantage for Democratic candidate and veteran debater Hillary Clinton in multiple polls ahead of Donald Trump.

On average according to poll aggregator RealClearPolitics, Clinton has a narrow 2.3% lead over Trump in the run-up to the debate.

Trump has resurged from a June slump in the polls to go neck-and-neck, ahead of tonight’s political Superbowl to be held in six fifteen-minute rounds.

Clinton has come under fire in recent weeks from political opponents over health issues and her fitness to contest the election. Meanwhile, the pressure is on Trump to dial back from his grand statements and playing to his well-established peanut gallery.

Fact-checking will come into play during the course of the discussion, but pressure is on both candidates to outline the upsides of their respective vision.

Meanwhile, over at the Guardian, Dan Roberts has compiled ten awkward questions that could put either candidate off their footing this evening.




Who Does The World Want For US President?



Red C poll in yesterday’s Sunday Business Post

Further to the results of yesterday’s Sunday Business Post/Red C poll

Geography lecturer and deputy head of the Geography Department at NUI Maynooth Adrian Kavanagh writes:

After little change in party support levels had been evidenced in the wake of the February general election, a series of opinion polls in July 2016 pointed to significant gains in support for Fianna Fail, pushing that party ahead of Fine Gael in terms of overall support levels.

The latest in series of Red C opinion polls more or less reflects the trend that has been established across all polls from July onwards; showing Fianna Fail standing a few percentage points ahead of Fine Gael in terms of overall support levels.

This also reflects the trend evidenced in the recent Behaviour & Attitudes poll, in which the two largest parties were both seen to lose some ground to Sinn Fein, Labour and the Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit. (This poll, however, sees the Social Democrats standing in notably stronger position than was the case with the Behaviour & Attitudes poll.)

The 25th September Sunday Business Post-Red C opinion poll estimates party support levels as follows: Fianna Fail 27% (down 2% relative to the previous Red C opinion poll), Independents and Others 26% (NC) – including Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 6%, Social Democrats 4%, Green Party 2%, Renua <1%, Independent Alliance 4%, Other Independents 10% – Fine Gael 25% (down 1%), Sinn Fein 15% (up 2%), Labour Party 7% (up 1%).

My constituency-level analysis of these poll figures estimates that party seat levels, should such national support trends be replicated in an actual general election, would be as follows: Fianna Fail 52, Fine Gael 44, Sinn Fein 23, Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 8, Labour Party 7, Social Democrats 4, Independents 20.

As You Were More Or Less…: Constituency-level analysis of Sunday Business Post-Red C opinion poll (25th September 2016) (Adrian Kavanagh)

Red C poll: FF sees support slip for first time since election (Sunday Business Post)

Previously: For Whom The Polls Toll

Pic: Sunday Business Post