Friday, March 30, 2012

Twit of the week..... Erm, ‘Tweet’ of the week!

I struggle with the definition of a ‘celebrity’ at the best of times, but when it comes to the definition of an Irish celebrity herein lies a much greater challenge. Like most, I’m not quite sure why many of the so called ‘Irish celebrities’ have acquired the title and furthermore, why such a title requires them to overload the web with a plethora of tweets on the current darling of social media, Twitter.
This week we’ve delved into the intriguing (mundane!) lives of celebrities, which they have so generously shared with us, via Twitter!
Poor DJ Ray Shah seemed to be at breaking point this week... it appears that the life of a DJ is more taxing than one would think.
‘Ah here.... brain is FRIIEEEDDD’
Clearly... as it has impinged upon your ability to spell Ray!! Whatever the reason, it did serve as a gentle reminder that DJs too have brains!! Never doubted you for a minute Ray!
Talking of brains, or lack thereof, Kamal Ibrahim tweeted...
‘It's been an emotional week! :-( I miss everyone already x’
I can’t say the feeling is mutual.... we hadn’t even noticed that Mr. World himself had gone MIA / relocated! Word of advice: staying away from the homeland (your celeb land) for too land will result in a downgrade to your already waning celebrity status! (i.e. no more VIP entrances into Dublin’s finest nightclubs!!)
And then there were those celebrities who proved to us that Twitter is a mere medium on which you can detail to your followers what it is you’ve eaten for breakfast..... or in Niall Horan’s case, what you haven’t!!
‘I’ve been asleep for the last 4 hours... I just woke up and everyone has eaten but me.. no one woke me.’
Ever heard of room service Niall?!? You’re not in Mullingar anymore mate, I’m sure the celeb lifestyle which you are currently enjoying stateside can afford you the luxury that is room service! #stop complaining!
Ah, but do not be fooled, celebrities can deviate from the usual ‘I’ve just had a boiled egg for breakfast’ tweet and can instead  offer something more, something profound perhaps...
‘Looking for inspiration #vipstyleawards ... Hair/make-up/dress’
Actually scrap that, I read the word inspiration and got a little excited! My bad - Pippa O’Connor Ormond is actually just advertising for a new stylist, well that, or she is unaware that she’ll find the aforementioned in her walk in wardrobe!!
Lastly, my tweet of the week comes from an English celebrity and was one which I couldn’t pass as it offers an insightful glance into the life of one of the UK’s finest celebrities.
‘Right, after late nights I'm off to bed early.(Fills hot water bottle, shuffles into slippers, pours toddy, fetches reading glasses).Night...x’
Too much information Richard!! Surely some of the above needs to be censored?! Sometimes, Richard Madeley can get carried away with the alluring existence that most celebrities enjoy... you really are living the dream!!
#never a dull moment on Twitter
The Forgotten Irish Graduate, 17th March 2012

Happy Anniversary Enda and Eamon!!

Don’t you just love the first year of a new relationship?
Ah, the intense excitement and romance of it all; not to mention the chemistry of bonding which floods the brain. The desire to learn more about one another other; the budding relationship is fresh, fun and adventurous.  It has also been revealed that the simplistic act of being in the presence of your other half on a daily basis can stimulate love... So was that the case for Fine Gael and Labour?
One year on, having spent a year cooped up in the Dáil together, we ask, has the union of Fine Gael and Labour been the perfect partnership? Can this coalition stand the test of time? And has the honeymoon period ended for Enda and Eamon?
Sure they had a rocky start to their relationship, with the Tánaiste himself admitting they had been “knocking lumps” out of each during the general election campaign, but the publishing by the Government of its first annual progress reports details that they have made a ‘solid start’ at tackling the problems faced by the State.
The 45 page publication claimed that from 167 policy commitments listed in the implementation plan for the coalition government in their first year together, more than 150 of them had either been delivered or substantial progress had been made. The report also served as a reminder of their ‘achievement’s including the extra mortgage-interest relief for the negative-equity generation, the €10 billion reduction in the interest bill on our bailout loans, the reversal of the cut to the minimum wage by €1, and lastly, and possibly my favourite..... The €4m saved on ministerial car costs!! (Such expenditure was not warranted in the first place!)
(But remember this is their own self assessment of their progress... and as the infamous saying goes, ‘self praise is no praise’)
They did however accept that they had failed to delivered approximately a dozen commitments (how very noble of them!) but emphasised what they claimed were successes on debt reduction, banking and restoring stability (Again debatable!).
Acknowledgement by the Taoiseach Enda Kenny, that as a government they had failed to provide enough support to struggling mortgage holders was welcomed and he alluded to the fact that a temporary cabinet sub-committee had been formed to address the issue of distressed mortgages. (Let’s hope some action on this issue personal insolvency legislation is apparently still awaited.)
Mr Kenny also cited that the burden of the bank bailout was still “too onerous” on taxpayers (You think Enda?).
Also, despite his promise in May 2011, to publish “report cards” evaluating the performance of individual ministers, they were not included in this report. However it was confirmed in recent days that this would not be a public exercise. Instead Mr Kenny met with ministers, senior and junior alike, and had an “honest appraisal” with them prior to the publication of the Government’s performance in this report.
Furthermore, it seems like Mr Kenny is adamant that this coalition will be a match made in heaven; expressing his feelings that “The people will be the judge of the ‘A Class’ in due course at the end of five years”. (You’re sounding overtly confident Enda! Relationships are tricky... Who says it won’t all crumble before then? Who says you won’t be deemed the ‘NG’ class?! Tread carefully Enda, tread carefully!!)
An Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore appeared to be somewhat more in tune with reality reminding us that whilst as a government they had taken over the reins in “horrific circumstances” that they had made progress, but he was not going to exaggerate it. Stating “We know full well the extent of what we have to do and we know full well the difficulties people are having”.
Of course the opposition parties were on hand to suggest that the report was a mere propaganda exercise, but both Taoiseach and Tánaiste denied any such PR exercise was at the heart of this report or that it was a mere ploy to paint a rosy assessment of their progress.
The bleak realism pointed out by opposition parties captured a myriad of ongoing issues they failed to address; the hoards of crowds queuing up at jobs fairs this week  in search of employment opportunities abroad (undoubtedly a case of forced emigration!), unemployment rates and the health budget cutbacks of €750m (a vital service which should not be ignored!).
Fine Gael had previously planned to celebrate their first anniversary in fashion (without inviting the Labour Party along!) by means of a photocall with TD’s and Senators holding up stars in an effort to illustrate their achievements over the past year. Thankfully, for both us and their better half, this ‘supposed’ celebration was cancelled as it was deemed by some clever sod as ‘inappropriate’ (Whoever you are – we are grateful!!). The sheer notion of celebrating alone raised the obvious questions surrounding the cohesiveness of the coalition government. They may have been all smiles at the publication of the annual progress report, but they cannot fool the nation! This is no perfect partnership – this coalition has got to work, for the sake of the nation and our hope of an economic recovery! (This is one relationship that cannot break up!)
Given the sheer scale of the economic crisis, and the major issues which the coalition government has yet to address, it is without a doubt not the time to be celebrating when so many people in the country are struggling – FG and Labour... Enda and Eamon, having reflected on your first year together, it is quite clear that the honeymoon period is most definitely over!!!  Now, get back to work guys... you have one hell of a job YET to do!!  

The Forgotten Irish Graduate, 9th March 2012

Paving the way to recovery? No, instead we’re re-paving Grafton Street!

‘All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes’
So said Winston Churchill, and one can merely hope that we all learn from our mistakes. Yesterday’s revelations regarding the upgrade of Grafton Street would suggest otherwise.
Set the scene, Ireland 2012, a far cry from the Celtic Tiger era it once was, and now a debt ridden state, attempting to cope with a severe economic crisis, a single currency whose future remains uncertain, a banking sector on the brink of breakdown and few employment opportunities resulting in forced emigration. This is unfortunately a scene we are now all too familiar with.
Herein lies some hope; hope that our current government can right the wrongs of the government line up that went before them and repair our demolished economy. But oh, how hope can fade fast....
Yes, we have acknowledged that all men make mistakes (mistakes which we are now forced to pay dearly for courtesy of our previous government!), but surely, the current governments can learn from their mistakes. Not so. Revelations of a planned €4 million upgrade of the paving of Dublin’s Grafton Street due to start early next year would suggest otherwise. Seriously €4m on a pedestrianised street which is functioning fine and sees thousands walk it on a daily basis without complaint? Surely, we have better areas in which we can at this current time deploy such funds.
Pardon me for my ignorance, but how exactly are we to benefit from this upgrade?
Further information released yesterday depicted the new paving, alluding to the intent to use the same grey granite to that of Henry Street coupled with a dark grey way finding path along one side with sections in pink to highlight intersections and points of interest. How very glamorous!! (Please detect the sarcasm!)
Coincidently on the same day on which this information was released news surfaced that Our Lady’s Children’s  Hospital in Crumlin launched an €8m fundraising campaign to renovate the cancer and cardiac units, citing the urgent need to upgrade its old and cramped wards to enable children to be cared for in quality facilities. Dr. Orla Franklin, a consultant paediatric at the hospital said of the situation “Children are fighting aggressive cancers. These tough life struggles are happening in cramped and out of date facilities. This has to change”.
Surely such news pales in comparison to that of the supposed need for the repaving of Grafton Street?
Serious thought must be given to where it is our priorities lie as a nation. It angers me that the country would place prominence at a time like this, given the current economic crisis, on the upgrade of a shopping street – when the welfare of sick children is at stake. It infuriates me that Dublin City Council are injecting €4m into the design of ‘pink sections’ on Grafton Street, when in fact, few will notice such changes and upgrades as it is merely a street in which people walk on.
I urge the government and Dublin City Council to reconsider where it deploys it’s funds – as in a year’s time, I don’t want to walk down Grafton Street, gilt ridden, in the knowledge that I am walking on what could have been the upgrade to a vital service to our country, the health service, and to what could ultimately have saved the lives of children.
The Children’s Medical Research Foundation have pledged €4m to the children’s cancer ward and another €4m for a new cardiac facility and have made a direct appeal to Irish people to help them raise the €8m funding.
To Dublin City Council.... don’t let us spend next year and subsequent years trampling on €4m when instead it could be utilised for the greater good of the country. The paving on Grafton Street has stood the test of time since 1980, it has more time to give, but as the fundraising slogan for Our Lady’s Hospital Crumlin suggests the ‘Sick Children Are Out of Time’.
The future of the country lies with the children of today, not some glamorously paved shopping street. Please we’ve made enough mistakes in this country already.... it’s time we started learning from them. 
The Forgotten Irish Graduate, 7th March 2012 

No longer chained to the kitchen sink... But still not pari passu to men!

And so the pay gap lingers on. Irish women earn 17% less than their male counterparts according to the European Commission study released this week.
With twice as many men earning over €50,000 per annum compared to women, one begins to question the supposed egalitarian environment in which we work.
Thankfully, the narrow minded notion that the woman’s place is in the home has long subsided. However, with the aforementioned news of the gender pay gap, a debate of similar prominence will no doubt resurface. The European Commission which undertook the study cites a myriad of reasons for this gender pay gap, including discrimination against women, undervaluing of women’s skills and a low number of women in senior and leadership positions.
The study also suggests that age demographic impacts the pay gap, with Irish women in their twenties earning approximately 90% of what their male colleagues do; those aged between 35-44 years earn 71.5% of what their male colleagues do, with these figures declining further for women aged in their fifties and sixties.
The study also revealed that there is a greater likelihood for Irish women than men to take low paid work. Sure the old ideologies of being ‘a kept woman’ are acceptable, but ‘a kept man’ severely dints the ego and so ensures the majority of men want to snap up the work in the higher pay bracket (and bring home the bacon!). Sidestepping all egotistical reasons for refusing lower paid work, the minor issue of an economic crisis, fewer job opportunities, and high unemployment rates would suggest that one, gender aside, would take any job should one present itself.
Following the revelation of the 17% gender pay gap in Ireland, Orla O’Connor, Chief Executive of the National Women’s  Council said of this: “The gap between women’s and men’s earning needs to be reduced. As the Government persists with its austerity measures, it is vital that actions to improve the position of women in our society are not sidelined.”
President Michael D Higgins, an advocate for progressive change on equal pay for women, alluded to the fact that women outperform men in educational attainment and that the highest percentage of women graduates in Europe are Irish.  He also cited that women should be given a greater role in the new economic model that is being built in Ireland to replace the one that has failed. Here, Here Michael!
But the reality of the situation remains, men do earn more than women and the reasons for suggesting they do are pitiful. Both men and women should remain on equal footing on the pay scale. Women left the aprons, dusters and the comfort of the kitchen sink years ago, they are an extremely well educated demographic in Ireland and so their wages should reflect this. They undoubtedly deserve the same pay packet that their male counterparts enjoy.
On a final note, if we revisit our current economic climate, and those responsible for creating this economic crisis, the greed which engulfed the nation, the demise of the banking sector and property market, and those political figures ‘responsible’ for leading our country during that time..... Excuse the generalisation but it may be fitting to point out that the majority of these figures were men!  Women have not been afforded the opportunity to fill many key decision making roles where the health and recovery of our economy is concerned.  And if these studies are to be believed, men are more expensive to employ; so if the government aren’t willing to tackle the gender pay gap, here’s a suggestion... employ more females in key roles, and save yourself a few quid in the meantime! (Now that’s Budget 2012 sorted and as we’re also deemed the superior gender when it comes to education attainment – I’m sure that’s the economic crisis sorted too... Move over Enda!) 
 The Forgotten Irish Graduate, 4 March 2012