In Wicklow town earlier today.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is heckled outside the constituency office of Fine Gael’s Andrew Doyle.

And in Portlaw, Co. Waterford…

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Video Fergal O’Brien, pic Cfariw

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 12.50.25

You may have seen Oireachtas Retort tweet to his/her 12,000-plus followers last week to ask if they would like to contribute to a fund – to allow him/her to run an election website.

Well.

She/he writes…

Later this week will see the launch of the new all-singing, all-dancing Oireachtas Retort website. I have plans and hope see to as many through as possible. To be honest I feel like a prick asking for money but I intend to earn it.

…I have six years worth of extensive notes, all the minutiae you wanted to forget, that will be launched into virtual fire pit and finally out of my life thereafter

What Oireachtas Retort will be looking at…

– Each political party and their record

– How the Oireachtas “has been used and abused since Enda Kenny’s ‘democratic revolution'”

– The meaning of opinion polls

– Who profits from the housing and health crises

– Planning and the environment

– Church and state

– The Irish media

–  REDACTED

– An Garda Síochána

– What’s facing today’s under 30s

– Irish Water

– Podcasts

And MORE.

Those who wish to contribute to Oireachtas Retort’s project can do so here

A lot done, more to do. The Oireachtas Retort Election (Oireachtas Retort)

Gaelscoil Phadraig

A demonstration by pupils and staff at Gaelscoil Phadraig, Ballybrack, Co Dublin

A candidate for the Independent Alliance argues that all schools, like their pupils, are not equal.

Carol Hunt writes:

Sick of hearing it yet? The phrase; “cherishing all the children of the nation equally” has been bandied around for decades now, usually when we try to persuade ourselves that we don’t actively target children for abuse or neglect, but that sometimes bad things happen and sure, we’ll say an act of contrition and try to be better in future.

It’s long been argued that the architects of the Irish Proclamation didn’t specifically mean ‘children’ as such, when they included this line – they meant people of all faiths and none should have equal rights before the law in our shiny, new Republic .

Which is probably just as well. Because when it comes to “cherishing all the children of the nation equally”, you’d have to admit that we have failed spectacularly. In fact, you’d be forced to concede that the very opposite would seem to be deliberate government policy for quite some time now.

We’ve long known that Enda and his entourage suffer from a rather pernicious strain of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome (AWS); an illness which makes one’s perceptual reality distorted, where one doesn’t know what’s real and what’s not.

Currently they’re sending members of the Defence Forces around every primary school in the country, armed with tricolours and copies of the proclamation, telling all the children how lucky they are to be living in a Republic which “guarantees… equal rights and equal responsibilities to all its citizens.

Except of course that it does nothing of the sort. The number of young children suffering deprivation in Ireland doubled between 2007 and 2014. But it’s one thing to cite statistics, it’s another to see blatant discrimination right in front of your eyes.

A couple of weeks ago I met a young mother, Grace Byrne from Ballybrack [Co Dublin]. She asked would I come to a protest organised by the teachers, parents and young students of nearby primary school, Gaelscoil Phadraig.

“If we can call it a school”, she added. The teachers were brilliant, she said, the curriculum excellent, the pupils loved it it but…they had no building.

Twenty years the pupils of this school had spent in pre-fabs, despite innumerable promises from politicians of getting a new school.

One mother points to former Minister for Education, Mary Hanafin, and says; “she had the nerve to stand on my doorstep years ago and promised we’d have a new school. My husband wouldn’t come today [to the protest] because he was afraid of what he’d do if he saw her here again, looking for votes.”

I saw the pre-fabs. Some of them were damp, they had mould growing in them.They were a health hazard. Two floors were collapsing. Seriously. They were a danger area.

There was nowhere for the children to play safely. The children – enthusiastic, excited – stood around a tiny square with crayoned posters in their cold hands, singing “Twenty-years-a-waiting”.

The teachers are passionate and devoted to their students. They had, miraculously, won four green flags from An Taisce, despite having no school garden.

They wanted a library, a school hall, a place to safe and healthy place to learn. Is that too much to ask? Seemingly, it is. And despite the blatant disadvantages the school suffers for some reason it doesn’t qualify for DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) status [Dept of Education system for ‘identifying levels of disadvantage’].

They were assessed  for it during the Celtic Tiger and  just missed out. There’s been no assessment since although they’ve begged for it and a nearby school with same demographic gets it.

The next day I’m in another school just a few miles down the road. There is a new bright assembly hall, a big extension; gorgeous playing fields; a full library; warm, dry, well furnished rooms; lots of space and light and everything young students need and deserve to be educated in, to grow up in.

The children are the same though; enthusiastic, excited, hungry for knowledge. The teachers are just as passionate and dedicated to their young charges as those I met the day before.

Anyone who has the nerve to assert that we don’t practice blatant discrimination in the treatment of our children in this country obviously needs to get out more. Or at least that’s what I used to think.

But then I was told by the parents and teachers of Gaelscoil Phadraig that local politicians are very much aware of the dire conditions their young pupils have had to suffer over the past two decades. Many promises were made but none kept. There has been excuse after promise after excuse.

And still no school. Why is this? Is it because it’s not just children who are more equal than others, but also that there are voters who are more equal than others. Citizens who can be relied on to use their vote to retain the status quo are far more valuable to established parties than those who may choose to use it differently.

All voters are not equal you see. Consequently neither are their children. Or their schools.

Carol Hunt is standing as an Independent Alliance candidate in the Dun Laoghaire constituency in the forthcoming General Election.

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Students and general election candidates at a mock election in Galway this morning; and students counting the votes

Second-year business students at Galway/Mayo Institute of Technology held an election debate and mock election involving the general election candidates from the Galway West/South Mayo constituency this morning.

The results…

First place went to Niall Ó Tuathail of the Social Democrats, followed by Fine Gael’s John O’Mahony and Independent Senator Fidelma Healy Eames, who finished third.

Independent Mike Hubbard finished fourth while Independent Noel Grealish finished fifth.

Public Debate (GMIT)

Pics via GMIT