We need to stop this nonsense about teaching coding in primary school

Today there was a story in the Irish Times, headlined ‘Bruton wants lessons in coding for primary school pupils’, announcing that the Irish Minister for Education, Richard Bruton, was considering the introduction of programming into the national curriculum for primary schools.

I’m passionate about programming. I run a software company. I program in my spare time, for fun. I co-organised a hackathon in Limerick  with the sole purpose of programming for fun with other people for an entire day.  I am a host on a podcast with two other programmers where we talk about, among other things, programming. I’ve also spent some time teaching maths and science in secondary school. And I am convinced that the idea of teaching primary school children to program during the school day is nonsense.

The assertion by tech companies that they can’t find programmers is a myth

The Irish Times articles cites lobbying by some tech companies that they can’t find good people. This is a complete myth, a combination of (a) tech companies not wanting to pay programmers decent wages (b) tech companies being really bad at recruitment and (c) tech companies not being willing to take graduates on and help them develop appropriate modern programming skills. I recruited a graduate developer two years ago for my company Reg Point of Sale, and I came across countless IT graduates who still couldn’t find a job six months after graduating, because all the job adverts were looking for 2 years experience. If tech companies would spend their own money investing in people, rather than whining at the government to spend our money, they wouldn’t have a problem.

It’s also worth noting that even if the plaintive cries about a skills shortage from the tech industry were true, it’s not clear how teaching a bunch of eight year-olds how to write for loops would help.

Teaching programming would require a huge continued capital investment

Compulsory programming on the primary school curriculum would be incredibly expensive.  I’m sure some of these tech companies are salivating at the prospect of juicy hardware, software and support contracts, involving proprietary solutions that will obsolete quickly.

We will be teaching skills that will be obsolete by the time these kids graduate

Take the average ten year-old in primary school: the twelve years that will pass before this kid graduates from college is an aeon away in tech terms – especially in programming languages. The concept that a primary school kid could learn skills now that would be useful to the tech industry in twelve years time is not consistent with the rapid change associated with tech and programming.

We could actually end up with less people in tech

Consider a child who has a natural aptitude for problem solving and logical thinking that suggests they might enjoy programming. But what if the teacher doesn’t have a strong grasp of the material, or the myriad of other reasons why a young child might not have a good experience learning a difficult technical craft like programming. Suddenly this child gets it into their head that ‘programming is hard’ or ‘not for them’, even though if they had been exposed to it at a later age, they might have found some of the joy that some of us derive from programming.

We do need investment in primary education, but in things that are useful to a child’s development

If the Minister for Education has some spare cash burning a hole in his pocket, it’s not as if other priorities don’t exist – for example investing in teaching core literacy and numeracy in primary school which has only marginally improved in 35 years, or doing something to attacking the unconscionable difference in education outcomes for kids from poorer backgrounds compared to those from more comfortable backgrounds.

Programming is great and you should try it right now!

Adults have infinitely more problems that can be solved by simple computer programs than children do. So why don’t you pick up Learn Python the Hard Way, and if you get through that, start on Automate the Boring Stuff with Python. If you’re lucky you’ll experience an enormous thrill as the computer starts to do your bidding. Maybe the Minister himself might try his hand at a few if statements while considering whether to foist this stuff on our nation’s children.

I think programming is a great thing to learn. Just not for all primary school kids during the school day. I hope the Minister reconsiders his plan.

Supercalifragilis-HibernoCaledonia

HibernoCaledoniaLike others, I’ve spent the last week in shock over the UK’s vote to leave the EU. I was born and raised in Ireland but my parents are British, my wife grew up in Britain, we both have many family and friends over the water. We were just so gutted and saddened when the Leave result was announced early in the morning. In fact the next day we drove over to South Wales to exhibit our Reg point of sale app. Staying for a few days in a part of the UK knowing that the majority of people around us wanted to Leave was just depressing.

Over the last few days, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been making brave attempts to ‘keep Scotland in the EU’ – but even if there was another independence referendum, it’s difficult to see how Scotland can Remain. Spain will always veto any attempt to admit what they would view as a ‘sub-nation’ to the EU because of concerns about Catalonia’s independence ambitions. Meanwhile over in Ireland we are worried about an uncertain future.

But for those of you in these isles who are full of despondency: don’t worry. I have a plan.

(Your post-Brexit despondency will be lifted if you sing along with the headings. Trust me.)

A country that’s part-British but without the xenophobia

What if Ireland formed a union with Northern Ireland and Scotland, which would then enjoy continued membership of the EU by inheriting Ireland’s seat? We could be one nation together, with significantly devolved powers as currently exist in the Stormont, Holyrood administrations, complemented by a new devolved administration for Dublin. We’d have to have a new federal parliament for HibernoCaledonia, probably in Belfast.

With one stroke we could solve the political status of Northern Ireland. Unionists would not be smothered by a perfidious South intent on dismantling their culture. Nationalists would see a ‘nation once again’, just with an extra bit added on.

If we joined together we’d be bigger than Bulgaria

Population of the Republic of Ireland: 4.6m
Population of Northern Ireland: 1.8m
Population of Scotland: 5.3m

Total population of HibernoCaledonia: 11.7m

HibernoCaledonia would have a GDP of over $567bn, making us the 35th largest economy in the world by that measure. We would be the headquarters of some impressive international companies such as Ryanair and Royal Bank of Scotland, and the new country would be able to challenge for significant inward investment.  We would be the pro-European powerhouse of North-Western Europe, showing the world that internationalism and tolerance is still alive and well in these isles.

Supercalifragilis-HibernoCaledonia!

I know it sounds like a joke but I’m deadly serious. Our three countries face an immense threat with the prospect of Brexit. In our own ways, we would all benefit from the more pluralistic administration that a union would bring. It would put to bed once and for all the Northern Ireland question, which otherwise will continually threaten the peaceful future of the province. The Remain side were right, we are Stronger In. Let’s join our hands and work for a shared European future.

Limerick City candidates answer my questions

I posted a list of all the candidates running in Limerick City, together with a list of questions. Only three candidates responded: James Gaffney, Jan O’Sullivan and Michael Noonan. Here are their answers.

James Gaffney, Green Party

1. How seriously should we take climate change, and what specific policy measures do you think we should take to combat climate change? I’m particularly interested in measures you think that might slow economic growth in the short term but which would have long-term positive effects for our country.

We are the first generation to feel the effects of Climate Change, and the last who can do anything meaningful about it.

The need to address long-term problems, such as climate change, is an overarching value of the Green Party. We support the enactment of national legislation to respond to climate change and transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy. This will reduce our over-dependence on imported sources of fossil fuel energy. Global events related to extreme weather, such as storms and droughts, could compromise our food security and lead to increased immigration into Ireland by ‘climate refugees’.

By 2050, Ireland’s power, heat and transport systems should no longer rely on fossil fuels and our agricultural system should achieve carbon neutrality. This is technologically possible, and would result in greater employment, energy efficiency, security, an improved economy, and improved public health, in addition to contributing to a healthier climate
We need to establish ambitious but realistic binding national greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for 2030 and aim for 100% decarbonisation of the power system and an 80% overall reduction in national emissions by 2050

You mention measures that might slow economic growth in the short-term, however I believe that an Irish economy that is carbon-neutral will be a stronger one. The €5.7 billion a year that we spend on fossil fuels could be kept in our economy rather than going to oil-producing nations. We will also gain a competitive advantage from moving faster than other nations on climate change.

2. Our regional towns and cities are suffering. Here in Limerick we’ve seen our city as well as the villages in our county undermined by ribbon-development and one-off housing in the countryside. How do you think we should balance people’s desires to build where they want, with the need for better planning that avoids sprawl and strengthens our villages, towns and cities?

We need a National Spatial Plan with climate change as a foundation stone.  Any plan that relies on fossil fuels as the driver of an economy will see us falling behind, as the rest of the world switches to a cleaner renewable future. Any plan that thinks Ireland can set the course of our own destiny without an appreciation of global trends is fraught with risk.

In my manifesto I talk about the need for a Regional Authority which would have responsibility for leading on a spatial plan for the Mid-West that would focus on Limerick City as a destination for families and businesses.

The only plan that can succeed is a truly long term one.

Our new national plan puts proper spatial planning at its core. Where we think ahead and plan our public infrastructure so that people from all over Ireland can live and work where there are services and communities. Where we focus on what we can do best at home – in tourism, agri-food, energy, manufacturing and new digital services; where we restore the traditional values of banking to every part of the country so we support sustainable, well paid jobs.
Ours is an investment plan for the next generation.

This election debate is about much more than the fiscal space. It is about the public space.
Whoever is in power in the next Dáil will put resources into the areas that they value. So that’s the question people need to ask of themselves and of politicians as we near polling day.

3. Do you agree with tougher sentencing for criminals, or more rehabilitation? I’m particularly interested in your position on how we should approach drug addiction within the justice system.

We need an after prison support system, with one agency coordinating fully integrated supports for accommodation, education, employment.

We should increase crime preventative measures, e.g. increasing the age limit for the application of the Garda Youth Diversion to 18-24 year olds.

On drug addiction, I feel strongly that this is a medical issue, not a criminal justice issue.

Jan O’Sullivan, Labour Party

1. How seriously should we take climate change, and what specific policy measures do you think we should take to combat climate change? I’m particularly interested in measures you think that might slow economic growth in the short term but which would have long-term positive effects for our country.

I think climate change is one of the most serious issues facing the global population today. During my time as Minister for Trade and Overseas Development Aid I saw at first hand the damage it visits on some of the poorest communities on the planet. I was also proud to work with NGOs and Departmental officials to ensure that tackling climate change had a central role in our Overseas Development Aid policy.

Of course climate change is not just an issue that effects the developing world. Long-term analysis of data demonstrates that our climate is warming with all that this entails, including rising sea levels.

I fully support the climate change legislation that was passed (with all-party support) in the Oireachtas last December. The statutory frameworks established by that legislation (including five yearly national mitigation plans and five yearly national adaptation frameworks) will provide a clear roadmap on what we need to do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and also the steps we need to take to plan for a changing climate.

The legislation will also establish the Climate Change Advisory Council on a statutory basis.
In relation to economic growth I don’t think the issue actually revolves around the rate of economic growth. I think that all activity needs to be sustainable and that smart, green solutions can ensure that economic growth and job creation can go hand-in-hand with good environmental practices.

2. Our regional towns and cities are suffering. Here in Limerick we’ve seen our city as well as the villages in our county undermined by ribbon-development and one-off housing in the countryside. How do you think we should balance people’s desires to build where they want, with the need for better planning that avoids sprawl and strengthens our villages, towns and cities?

The points you raise are very valid. Poor planning decisions can blight a community for decades, even generations.

Planning and development needs to be driven by a long-term vision for a community – not just the demands of one particular sector.

As a former Minister for Housing and Planning I think my track record shows I deliver on these principles.

I oversaw a process that dezoned land which could have accommodated more than 500,000 houses. This was done to limit urban sprawl and to ensure that future development is concentrated in our towns and villages.

Also, in my first nine months as Minister I used my powers under Section 31 of the Planning and Development Act on three occasions to overturn decisions contrary to good planning. The specific issues involved zoning for development on flood plains, in areas isolated from towns and zoning that threatened wildlife habitats. In the 10 years before I took office this power was only used eight times.

I also dedicated a significant amount of time and energy to tackling the legacy of unfinished housing developments across the country, a process that has resulted in a 75% reduction in the number of these estates over the past five years.

In my opinion that Development Plan is the most powerful tool to ensure proper planning and development. New planning legislation which is in the pipeline will establish a planning regulator which I fully support. In addition to its investigative functions the regulator will have an education role which I think is vital. At local authority level and in our communities we need to have the knowledge and tools to make locally-based, informed decisions about plans that will impact on our community for decades.

3. Do you agree with tougher sentencing for criminals, or more rehabilitation? I’m particularly interested in your position on how we should approach drug addiction within the justice system.

 

I support judicial discretion in sentencing. While sometimes this can be frustrating I acknowledge that judges hear all the facts of a case during trial and post-conviction details and I think that they are best placed to decide on the length of sentence.

I also fully support acknowledging the medical as well as the criminal aspect of addiction and that this needs to be tackled if individuals and communities are to get relief from the tragedy that alcohol and drug addiction can inflict.

In that regard I have supported my colleague Minister Aodhan O’Riordain’s efforts to establish safe facilities for those who are addicted to drugs where they can also come in contact with services that can assist them.

Michael Noonan, Fine Gael

1. How seriously should we take climate change, and what specific policy measures do you think we should take to combat climate change? I’m particularly interested in measures you think that might slow economic growth in the short term but which would have long-term positive effects for our country.

2. Our regional towns and cities are suffering. Here in Limerick we’ve seen our city as well as the villages in our county undermined by ribbon-development and one-off housing in the countryside. How do you think we should balance people’s desires to build where they want, with the need for better planning that avoids sprawl and strengthens our villages, towns and cities?

3. Do you agree with tougher sentencing for criminals, or more rehabilitation? I’m particularly interested in your position on how we should approach drug addiction within the justice system.

I attach a copy of the Fine Gael Election Manifesto which I trust clarifies the matters you have raised in your correspondence.

Email the General Election 2016 candidates in Limerick City

There will be a general election in February 2016.

In Limerick City, there are currently 8 people looking for our vote.

If we don’t ask questions about things that are important to us, we let the media and focus groups do the asking for us.

I know politics is boring for most people but here are 3 very quick things you can do to exercise your democratic rights:

  1. Check that you’re registered to vote (and remember to vote of course!)
  2. Take the smartvote.ie quiz which attempts to match you to candidates based on your response to certain questions
  3. Email the candidates in your constituency with questions about issues that are important to you.

Here are the email addresses of all the candidates running in Limerick City (alphabetical order!), all nicely formatted so you can paste it into your email client

James Gaffney Green Party <jamescbgaffney@gmail.com>,
Sarah Jane Hennelly Social Democrats <sarahjanehennelly@gmail.com>,
Michael Noonan Fine Gael <minister@finance.gov.ie>,
Willie O’Dea Fianna Fail <willie.odea@oireachtas.ie>,
Kieran O’Donnell Fine Gael <kieran.odonnell@oireachtas.ie>,
Jan O’Sullivan Labour <jan.osullivan@oireachtas.ie>,
Cian Prendiville Anti Austerity Alliance <cian.prendiville@limerick.ie>,
Maurice Quinlivan Sinn Fein <cllrmauricequinlivan@gmail.com>

Or, here’s an email link that should open in your email client, with the To: and Subject: fields filled out for you.

 

Even though I’ve decided on my first preference, I still have to rank everyone else from 2 to 8. I’ve done similar emails in previous elections and the responses have really helped me to decide how to vote.

Here’s my email (I’ll update this post with any responses)

Hi there,

I’m emailing you because you’re running for election in Limerick City. In case you don’t get chance to call to our house in Farranshone, I’d like to ask you a few questions (plus, this way we both get to keep warm and dry!):

  1. Climate Change:
    How seriously should we take climate change, and what specific policy measures do you think we should take to combat climate change? I’m particularly interested in measures you think that might slow economic growth in the short term but which would have long-term positive effects for our country.
  2. Our villages, towns and cities:
    Our regional towns and cities are suffering. Here in Limerick we’ve seen our city as well as the villages in our county undermined by ribbon-development and one-off housing in the countryside. How do you think we should balance people’s desires to build where they want, with the need for better planning that avoids sprawl and strengthens our villages, towns and cities?
  3. Crime:
    Do you agree with tougher sentencing for criminals, or more rehabilitation? I’m particularly interested in your position on how we should approach drug addiction within the justice system.

Thanks in advance for taking the time to answer my questions, and wishing you the very best of luck on the campaign trail,

Thomas.

Why I’m Green

Politics is a minority sport in some ways. Less than 2% of Irish people are members of a political party. I’m one of those wonks, paying my membership dues to the Irish Green Party for the last 9 years.

I blame my wife for joining. It was the day after the election in 2007, and as the early tallies were coming in, it was clear that Bertie Ahern’s Fianna Fail had won a spectacular electoral comeback. The Greens, who we’d voted for, had a disappointing election, retaining its representation of 6 Dáil seats. We were disgusted that populist politics had won out once again.  “Right, that’s it”, I was told as my wife stormed in the door. “We’re doing something about this.  We’re joining the Greens”.

I remember the first few meetings we went to in Dublin, before we moved to Limerick.  What struck me about my fellow members was the ways they were so different from each other: I remember solicitors discussing the intricacies of public transport routes with chefs: youth workers arguing about primary health care with software developers. Despite their differences I could see a huge amount in common: the commitment to evidence-based policies; the strong sense that every political change should decrease inequality; a desire to do the right thing in the long-term, even if it wasn’t popular in the short.

IMG_8987
As the Greens have no staff, we run completely on the efforts of volunteers, most of whom thankfully have more ability than the slightly hapless guy pictured above…

I stated earlier that politics is a minority sport, I also think that sometimes we treat politics too much like a sport.  Far too often media covers politics in the manner of which ‘team’ is doing better than another; partisans flood social media with reasons why their side is better than the other shower; soundbites from leaders dominate the discourse.

Yet politics can and should be about something else: the ideas which will shape the future of our society; the collective priorities we want to emphasise;  the rewarding of work and the protection of those who cannot.

And the big one: climate change – the one area where I fear the Irish political system’s tendency to short-termism and populism will lead to significant hardship for future generations.

Between local and national campaigns, next month’s general election will be my fourth time knocking on doors for Green candidates, this time for the fantastic candidate we have running in Limerick City, James Gaffney.  James represents everything I joined the Green Party for: thoughtful, respectful, not afraid to campaign on unpopular issues if they represent the right long-term vision for our country. I know there are many who are pessimistic about the power of politics to change things, but I’ll be knocking on the doors of the voters in Limerick City over the next two months with the firm belief that the Green Party offers a long term vision for a sustainable future.

Paying for water is a good thing

Vartry Reservoir
Vartry Reservoir, a large public works project of the 1800s which helped combat cholera in Dublin. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

We Won’t Pay. That’s the slogan of the Right2Water movement, who are opposed to any water charges for residential households. Thousands of people marched in Dublin recently under the this banner, one of a series of protests since Ireland announced it was going to be one of the last rich countries to introduce water charges. It is clear that the introduction of water charges has made people very angry indeed.

I’ve spoken to friends of mine whose opinions I deeply respect, who plan not to pay their water charges. I’ve read the arguments of people who think water charges are wrong, and although they are wide ranging (fears about privatisation, claims that we already pay for water, accusations of waste), they can all be summarised under the effectively concise slogan: “We Won’t Pay”.

I think they’re wrong. And that is a deeply unpopular thought to have.

I don’t think there is a single person who would agree that the current system introduced is problem-free. But I find the “We Won’t Pay” mantra deeply troubling. It represents such a depressing and nihilistic view of what we can accomplish together.

Most people agree that our water infrastructure is pretty awful in this country. We were cutting off the water supply in our capital city because reserves were so low. The water supply has been undrinkable in certain parts of the country for years. There’s a phrase that pops up with depressing regularity in Irish politics: “decades of underinvestment”, which is certainly true of our water supply. I think the reason for this comes down to our attitude towards the State and its capacity to make things better for its citizens.

Rewind to 1977, when we had a General Election. The party then in opposition, Fianna Fáil, didn’t think that it had a chance of winning thanks to some creative gerrymandering of constituencies by the Fine Gael/Labour government (christened the Tullymander). Perhaps because of this, their manifesto was deeply populist and fiscally irresponsible. Included were commitments to abolish local taxation (‘rates’) and motor tax, resulting in a massive and unexpected majority for Fianna Fail. Because this resulted in a large loss of income for local authorities who were responsible for, amongst other things, water supply and sewerage, we are left now with a water system that is not fit for purpose. Of course the difference could have been made up at any time in subsequent decades by an increase in investment at a national level, successive governments ignored long-term infrastructure in favour of policies that would directly increase the cash in voters’ pockets.

It is pretty much universally acknowledged that the 1977 Fianna Fáil manifesto was a disaster for the country. But forty years later we are still holding the same attitudes, which are neatly summed up as “We Won’t Pay”: receive the most you can from government, and pay the least. This is reinforced by an attitude that government is filled with corrupt, venal individuals who must be trusted as little as possible.

“We Won’t Pay” strikes me as appallingly reductionist. It gives us no hope that we can work together as a country to improve equality in this generation, and improve opportunity for future generations. We are so focused on paying as little as possible that we give up so many opportunities to make things better.

Paying for water is a good thing. It allows us to spend more on our water infrastructure, preventing waste in the mains supply. The introduction of domestic metering has allowed us to identify waste inside our homes, as well as providing valuable employment across the country. Could we pay for water in a better way? Of course. Personally I’d like to see greater incentives for conservation, and an investigation of ways that we can make water charges less regressive to people on low incomes. But to dismiss the very concept of charging for water with the phrase “We Won’t Pay” means we’re left with a peculiarly right-wing (pay less taxes and charges, don’t trust the government) view of the world which leaves us with leaks, contamination, and the unappealing prospect of draining water from the River Shannon to meet the water needs of our capital.

The attitude of “We Won’t Pay”, means that we will get governments who prioritise the short term over the long term, who will pursue populism over justice, and who will continue to store up problems for future generations to deal with. Deeply unpopular it may be, but I believe that paying for water is a good thing.

Limerick City constituency tally Marriage Equality Referendum 2015

DSCF6781DSCF6785DSCF6784Thank you to the amazing volunteers on the YesEquality Limerick team who worked so hard to tally almost every box of votes!

This tally is also available as a .csv file, which can be opened in a spreadsheet.

The tally for the Limerick constituency (county) is also available.

Box

% YES

Turnout

Yes

No

Spoilt

EA

Parteen NS 1 61% 41 25 16 0 Killaloe
Parteen NS 2 0 0 0 0 Killaloe
Parteen NS 3 68% 394 267 125 2 Killaloe
Scout Hall Shannon Banks 1 67% 451 295 145 11 Killaloe
Scout Hall Shannon Banks 2 66% 454 300 152 2 Killaloe
Scout Hall Shannon Banks 3 0 0 0 0 Killaloe
JF Kennedy NS 1 60% 283 169 114 0 Limerick City North
JF Kennedy NS 2 56% 373 207 165 1 Limerick City North
JF Kennedy NS 3 61% 436 266 167 3 Limerick City North
JF Kennedy NS 4 63% 441 276 163 2 Limerick City North
JF Kennedy NS 5 0 0 0 0 Limerick City North
JF Kennedy NS 6 52% 387 201 182 4 Limerick City North
Caherdavin Girls NS 1 71% 192 124 51 17 Limerick City North
Caherdavin Girls NS 2 62% 226 139 87 0 Limerick City North
Caherdavin Girls NS 3 64% 356 226 129 1 Limerick City North
Caherdavin Girls NS 4 61% 383 230 150 3 Limerick City North
Caherdavin Girls NS 5 60% 441 261 173 7 Limerick City North
Caherdavin Girls NS 6 62% 272 165 103 4 Limerick City North
Caherdavin Girls NS 7 63% 317 191 114 12 Limerick City North
Caherdavin Girls NS 8 65% 319 203 108 8 Limerick City North
Caherdavin Girls NS 9 64% 403 253 145 5 Limerick City North
Corpus Christi NS 1 70% 258 179 77 2 Limerick City North
Corpus Christi NS 2 72% 252 179 69 4 Limerick City North
Corpus Christi NS 3 70% 106 72 31 3 Limerick City North
Ballynanty Girls NS 72% 379 271 107 1 Limerick City North
St. Lelia’s NS Kileely 1 71% 328 228 94 6 Limerick City North
St. Lelia’s NS Kileely 2 65% 292 186 102 4 Limerick City North
Unitas Club High Road 1 59% 312 182 126 4 Limerick City North
Unitas Club High Road 2 0 0 0 0 Limerick City North
Hassett’s Cross CBS 1 61% 222 135 87 0 Limerick City North
Hassett’s Cross CBS 2 58% 256 146 106 4 Limerick City North
St. Munchin’s Temp Hall 57% 296 167 125 4 Limerick City North
St. Mary’s G Sch Bishop St 1 66% 127 82 42 3 Limerick City North
St. Mary’s G Sch Bishop St 2 68% 246 159 75 12 Limerick City North
St. Mary’s G Sch Bishop St 3 55% 200 109 91 0 Limerick City North
Scoil Ide 1 68% 253 171 82 0 Limerick City North
Scoil Ide 2 75% 333 250 83 0 Limerick City North
Scoil Ide 3 61% 408 246 160 2 Limerick City North
Scoil Ide 4 68% 292 198 92 2 Limerick City North
Scoil Ide 5 56% 306 172 133 1 Limerick City North
Scoil Ide 6 60% 326 190 128 8 Limerick City North
St. Patrick’s Boys NS 1 74% 293 214 75 4 Limerick City North
St. Patrick’s Boys NS 2 69% 243 166 75 2 Limerick City North
St. Patrick’s Boys NS 3 66% 233 154 79 0 Limerick City North
St. Johns GNS & Boys Sch 1 64% 309 196 112 1 Limerick City East
St. Johns GNS & Boys Sch 2 64% 320 200 114 6 Limerick City East
St. John Baptist Killalee 1 55% 157 85 70 2 Limerick City East
St. John Baptist Killalee 2 58% 201 115 82 4 Limerick City East
St. John Baptist Killalee 3 68% 287 191 90 6 Limerick City East
St. Brigid’s NS Singland 1 68% 314 213 99 2 Limerick City East
St. Brigid’s NS Singland 2 62% 347 215 131 1 Limerick City East
St. Brigid’s NS Singland 3 64% 250 161 89 0 Limerick City East
St. Brigid’s NS Singland 4 59% 307 180 125 2 Limerick City East
St. Brigid’s NS Singland 5 63% 312 192 114 6 Limerick City East
St. Brigid’s NS Singland 6 63% 367 225 134 8 Limerick City East
St. Enda’s Community Sch 1 64% 212 135 76 1 Limerick City East
St. Enda’s Community Sch 2 64% 164 103 59 2 Limerick City East
St. Enda’s Community Sch 3 78% 299 231 65 3 Limerick City East
Southill NS 68% 201 130 60 11 Limerick City East
Presentation Galvone 64% 372 238 134 0 Limerick City East
Gaelscoil Seoirse 1 63% 135 84 50 1 Limerick City East
Gaelscoil Seoirse 2 61% 120 72 47 1 Limerick City East
Our Lady QoP NS O’Donog 1 58% 314 179 130 5 Limerick City East
Our Lady QoP NS O’Donog 2 60% 321 192 127 2 Limerick City East
Our Lady QoP NS O’Donog 3 65% 277 179 96 2 Limerick City East
Presentation NS Sexton St 3 60% 257 151 102 4 Limerick City East
Presentation NS Sexton St 4 55% 141 78 63 0 Limerick City East
Donoughmore NS 56% 387 216 168 3 Limerick City East
Ahane NS 60% 370 223 146 1 Limerick City East
Lisnagry NS 1 65% 280 183 97 0 Limerick City East
Lisnagry NS 2 63% 431 265 158 8 Limerick City East
Castleconnell NS 1 68% 349 234 111 4 Limerick City East
Castleconnell NS 2 71% 352 249 103 0 Limerick City East
Castleconnell NS 3 64% 376 239 132 5 Limerick City East
Castleconnell NS 4 65% 276 179 95 2 Limerick City East
Milford NS 1 72% 226 160 61 5 Limerick City East
Milford NS 2 61% 240 145 94 1 Limerick City East
Milford NS 3 64% 286 182 102 2 Limerick City East
Milford NS 4 58% 281 160 117 4 Limerick City East
Milford NS 5 53% 258 136 120 2 Limerick City East
Montpelier Comm Ctr 58% 146 84 60 2 Limerick City East
Monaleen NS 1 76% 390 291 93 6 Limerick City East
Monaleen NS 2 79% 434 343 89 2 Limerick City East
Monaleen NS 3 68% 374 251 116 7 Limerick City East
Monaleen NS 4 70% 355 243 106 6 Limerick City East
Bohermore NS 68% 301 206 95 0 Limerick City East
Gaelscoil Caladh an Treo 1 69% 382 264 118 0 Limerick City East
Gaelscoil Caladh an Treo 2 75% 349 260 88 1 Limerick City East
Gaelscoil Caladh an Treo 3 74% 327 241 86 0 Limerick City East
Gaelscoil Caladh an Treo 4 65% 369 235 126 8 Limerick City East
Roxborough NS 59% 109 64 45 0 Limerick City East
OLOL CSG Ballinacurra 3 66% 67 44 23 0 Limerick City East
OLOL CSG Ballinacurra 1 56% 414 228 182 4 Limerick City West
OLOL CSG Ballinacurra 2 0 0 0 0 Limerick City West
OLOL CSG Ballinacurra 4 62% 173 106 66 1 Limerick City West
Scoil Mathair Dé 1 62% 354 219 135 0 Limerick City West
Scoil Mathair Dé 2 56% 343 190 151 2 Limerick City West
Scoil Mathair Dé 3 54% 226 119 103 4 Limerick City West
Model NS 1 61% 248 147 95 6 Limerick City West
Model NS 2 62% 222 136 84 2 Limerick City West
St. Michael’s NS 1 62% 259 160 98 1 Limerick City West
St. Michael’s NS 2 52% 217 111 104 2 Limerick City West
St. Michael’s NS 3 64% 280 178 99 3 Limerick City West
Presentation NS Sexton St 1 77% 95 72 22 1 Limerick City West
Presentation NS Sexton St 2 58% 93 54 39 0 Limerick City West
St. Paul’s NS Dooradoyle 1 67% 375 251 124 0 Limerick City West
St. Paul’s NS Dooradoyle 2 64% 368 233 133 2 Limerick City West
St. Paul’s NS Dooradoyle 3 68% 349 238 111 0 Limerick City West
St. Paul’s NS Dooradoyle 4 58% 359 207 150 2 Limerick City West
St. Paul’s NS Dooradoyle 5 61% 364 216 139 9 Limerick City West
St. Paul’s NS Dooradoyle 6 59% 405 236 166 3 Limerick City West
Co. Library Dooradoyle 1 74% 477 352 125 0 Limerick City West
Co. Library Dooradoyle 2 55% 278 152 126 0 Limerick City West
Co. Library Dooradoyle 3 65% 408 261 142 5 Limerick City West
St. Nessan’s NS 1 62% 481 293 178 10 Limerick City West
St. Nessan’s NS 2 60% 477 285 190 2 Limerick City West
St. Nessan’s NS 3 63% 434 274 158 2 Limerick City West
St. Nessan’s NS 4 63% 392 247 145 0 Limerick City West
St. Nessan’s NS 5 65% 424 273 148 3 Limerick City West
St. Nessan’s NS 6 66% 499 331 168 0 Limerick City West

Limerick (county) constituency tally Marriage Equality Referendum 2015

Thank you to the amazing volunteers on the YesEquality Limerick team who worked so hard to tally almost every box of votes!

This tally is also available as a .csv file, which can be opened in a spreadsheet.

Box % YES Turnout Yes No Spoilt EA
Roxborough NS 1 53% 442 233 203 6 Castleconnell (W)
Roxborough NS 2 57% 56 32 24 0 Castleconnell (W)
Ballybrown NS 1 56% 243 135 107 1 Adare (W)
Ballybrown NS 2 60% 299 180 118 1 Adare (W)
Ballybrown NS 3 52% 392 200 184 8 Adare (W)
Patrickswell NS 1 52% 293 150 138 5 Adare (W)
Patrickswell NS 2 56% 271 147 116 8 Adare (W)
Patrickswell NS 3 57% 211 119 90 2 Adare (W)
Killinure NS 59% 279 163 113 3 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Anglesborough NS 56% 306 170 136 0 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Ballylanders NS 1 60% 258 156 102 0 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Ballylanders NS 2 66% 156 103 53 0 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Galbally Comm Ctr 1 52% 237 122 112 3 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Galbally Comm Ctr 2 58% 266 142 104 20 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Ardpatrick Comm Ctr 48% 259 124 135 0 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Kilmallock Girls NS 1 46% 250 113 132 5 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Kilmallock Girls NS 2 52% 286 144 134 8 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Kilmallock Girls NS 3 50% 235 115 115 5 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Kilmallock Girls NS 4 52% 174 87 80 7 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Athlacca NS 53% 65 30 27 8 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Effin NS 1 55% 152 83 68 1 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Effin NS 2 55% 314 173 141 0 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Bilboa NS 57% 293 165 126 2 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Doon CBS 1 77% 195 150 44 1 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Doon CBS 2 55% 361 195 162 4 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Bruff NS 1 60% 358 213 144 1 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Bruff NS 2 61% 252 150 97 5 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Bruff NS 3 49% 284 139 142 3 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Bruree NS 1 58% 383 218 157 8 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Bruree NS 2 59% 395 232 160 3 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Martinstown NS 54% 182 96 81 5 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Knocklong NS 1 58% 419 240 177 2 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Knocklong NS 2 57% 254 142 105 7 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Caherline NS 60% 358 212 144 2 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Cloverfield NS 49% 214 104 108 2 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Caherconlish NS 1 66% 400 264 135 1 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Caherconlish NS 2 57% 344 195 146 3 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Herbertstown NS 56% 373 204 163 6 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Cappamore Comm Ctr 1 55% 340 175 142 23 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Cappamore Comm Ctr 2 53% 310 165 144 1 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Murroe NS 1 57% 419 237 181 1 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Murroe NS 2 57% 470 266 201 3 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Murroe NS 3 67% 419 279 140 0 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Knockadea NS 45% 84 38 46 0 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Glenroe Parish Hall 58% 222 116 83 23 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Dromin Comm Ctr 56% 263 145 115 3 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Glenbrohane NS 52% 170 88 81 1 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Knockea NS 59% 224 133 91 0 Cappamore-Kilmallock
P’green Comm Ctr 1 54% 323 169 146 8 Cappamore-Kilmallock
P’green Comm Ctr 2 0 0 0 0 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Hospital NS 1 45% 332 150 182 0 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Hospital NS 2 52% 266 136 125 5 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Kilbehenny NS 50% 216 108 106 2 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Kilfinane Pr Sch 1 64% 270 171 97 2 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Kilfinane Pr Sch 2 65% 262 170 91 1 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Ballyorgan NS 55% 139 72 60 7 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Kilteely NS 53% 268 140 125 3 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Knockainey NS 0 0 0 0 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Oola NS 1 51% 323 163 154 6 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Oola NS 2 50% 288 143 142 3 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Garrydoolis NS 46% 146 66 78 2 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Meanus Comm Ctr 55% 219 119 98 2 Adare-Rathkeale
Adare NS 1 59% 398 233 162 3 Adare-Rathkeale
Adare NS 2 58% 431 248 179 4 Adare-Rathkeale
Adare NS 3 58% 371 213 155 3 Adare-Rathkeale
Askeaton NS 1 56% 355 197 157 1 Adare-Rathkeale
Askeaton NS 2 54% 311 167 144 0 Adare-Rathkeale
Foynes NS 1 49% 272 131 139 2 Adare-Rathkeale
Foynes NS 2 51% 283 143 136 4 Adare-Rathkeale
Ballingarry NS 1 57% 162 92 70 0 Adare-Rathkeale
Ballingarry NS 2 52% 201 102 94 5 Adare-Rathkeale
Ballingarry NS 3 48% 207 97 104 6 Adare-Rathkeale
Rathkeale GNS 1 46% 331 150 177 4 Adare-Rathkeale
Rathkeale GNS 2 46% 246 113 131 2 Adare-Rathkeale
Rathkeale GNS 3 58% 222 125 92 5 Adare-Rathkeale
Coolcappa Comm Ctr 1 53% 256 133 120 3 Adare-Rathkeale
Coolcappa Comm Ctr 2 59% 281 165 116 0 Adare-Rathkeale
Caherelly NS 1 65% 380 248 132 0 Adare-Rathkeale
Caherelly NS 2 58% 475 275 199 1 Adare-Rathkeale
Caherelly NS 3 64% 169 99 56 14 Cappamore-Kilmallock
Kilfinny NS 49% 344 169 173 2 Adare-Rathkeale
Banogue NS 46% 170 76 91 3 Adare-Rathkeale
Kildimo NS 1 63% 413 259 152 2 Adare-Rathkeale
Kildimo NS 2 61% 362 218 142 2 Adare-Rathkeale
Ballysteen NS 49% 201 98 100 3 Adare-Rathkeale
Pallaskenry NS 1 58% 365 208 152 5 Adare-Rathkeale
Pallaskenry NS 2 59% 353 205 141 7 Adare-Rathkeale
Granagh NS 53% 211 111 100 0 Adare-Rathkeale
Croom NS 1 51% 216 101 97 18 Adare-Rathkeale
Croom NS 2 62% 220 135 82 3 Adare-Rathkeale
Croom NS 3 51% 331 168 163 0 Adare-Rathkeale
Croom NS 4 56% 126 71 55 0 Adare-Rathkeale
Croagh NS 1 54% 298 159 135 4 Adare-Rathkeale
Croagh NS 2 55% 324 165 133 26 Adare-Rathkeale
Kilcolman NS 55% 230 123 100 7 Adare-Rathkeale
Ballyhahill NS 57% 181 103 78 0 Adare-Rathkeale
Fedamore NS 1 60% 240 141 95 4 Adare-Rathkeale
Fedamore NS 2 51% 214 109 105 0 Adare-Rathkeale
Kilcornan NS 59% 428 247 173 8 Adare-Rathkeale
Crecora NS 51% 433 219 211 3 Adare-Rathkeale
Loghill NS 52% 173 85 79 9 Adare-Rathkeale
Cappagh (Nant) NS 53% 381 201 177 3 Adare-Rathkeale
Shanagolden NS 1 62% 166 102 63 1 Adare-Rathkeale
Shanagolden NS 2 50% 234 116 118 0 Adare-Rathkeale
Shanagolden NS 3 59% 198 116 81 1 Adare-Rathkeale
Ashford NS 51% 139 70 68 1 Newcastle
Raheenagh NS 46% 159 73 84 2 Newcastle
Ballyagran NS 53% 400 208 184 8 Newcastle
Kilmeedy NS 49% 262 126 132 4 Newcastle
Cloncagh Library 49% 293 139 147 7 Newcastle
Broadford Comm Ctr 1 49% 247 120 124 3 Newcastle
Broadford Comm Ctr 2 47% 262 122 138 2 Newcastle
Mahoonagh NS 1 50% 341 159 160 22 Newcastle
Mahoonagh NS 2 56% 225 125 98 2 Newcastle
Dromcollogher NS 43% 413 173 230 10 Newcastle
Feenagh NS 56% 297 165 132 0 Newcastle
Knockaderry Comm H 48% 263 124 134 5 Newcastle
Courtney BNS NCW 1 54% 386 207 178 1 Newcastle
Courtney BNS NCW 2 55% 323 174 145 4 Newcastle
Courtney BNS NCW 3 55% 343 187 156 0 Newcastle
Courtney BNS NCW 4 52% 224 104 96 24 Newcastle
Scoil Iosaf NCW 1 59% 343 199 139 5 Newcastle
Scoil Iosaf NCW 2 62% 310 191 115 4 Newcastle
Scoil Iosaf NCW 3 65% 327 211 114 2 Newcastle

Marriage is about friendship

DSCF6718
There are 6 days to go until Ireland votes whether to allow same-sex marriage.

The Limerick branch of the YesEquality campaign have been out knocking on doors every weeknight since 9th April. I’ve probably made it out for just over a third of those nights. I am by no means the most prolific, many more have been out more often than I have.

DSCF6727We usually meet at 6pm, after a brief set of introductions and a run through talking points, we head out and knock on doors. Anybody new is warmly welcomed and paired up with someone who has canvassed before. For 2 hours we knock on doors around an estate in Limerick City. About a half of people won’t be in or won’t feel like coming to the door. For the other half we get to have a conversation.

DSCF6737That conversation will go a number of different ways but overwhelmingly it is respectful. If someone comes to the door, invariably we apologise for bothering them. Whether a voter indicates that they are voting yes, or voting no, or are undecided, we ask them if they have any questions or concerns. And at the end of the conversation we thank them for their time.

DSCF6687I have witnessed the incredible strength and dignity of my fellow canvassers as they knock, smile, and ask; night after night. Most people, whether they are voting yes or no, are absolutely lovely. A small proportion are not. But I’m proud to say that I’ve not heard of one canvasser losing their cool. Think of how you would feel to knock on a stranger’s door to ask them for something that you desperately needed, only for them to call you abnormal, or unnatural. Even though this doesn’t happen very often, the fact that it always gets answered with ‘well sorry to bother you and thanks for taking the time to talk to me’ fills me with awe at my fellow canvassers strength and dignity.

DSCF6740I’m a little shy, and even though I have canvassed before as a member of the Green Party, it’s not something that comes naturally to me. I think most of my fellow canvassers are the same: the organisation of this campaign has been remarkably free of ego, we’re not the type of people who are naturally inclined to shout from the rooftops, but we’re at your door because we want to ask, as respectfully as possible, for your vote.

IMG_2051There are times in your life when you make a lot of friends: when you start school or college, your work, or maybe a sport or hobby that you like to do with others. I’m old enough to have finished my education, I run a very small company, and most of my hobbies are fairly solitary, so I never thought that I would have one of those moments where I would make a lot of friends.
DSCF6715
But I think and hope that I have. I have met so many absolutely wonderful people over the past 6 weeks. They have reminded me that marriage is not just about love for your spouse, but about the friends beside you who enrich and support that relationship.

As I write this I am tired and sunburnt, my house is a mess, my feet have blisters and I haven’t seen my wife properly in a month (I am not unique – the irony of a marriage referendum campaign putting extreme stress on so many marriages and hoped-for-marriages is not lost on any of us…). But I think of my new friends, and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to meet such a wonderful set of people.DSCF6657

This referendum is going to be very close. Despite what the polls say, I’ve knocked on enough doors to realise that nothing can be taken for granted.

The enemy of equality is not prejudice. The enemy of equality is complacency.

Please vote yes.DSCF6711

The right to marry

Irish voters will be asked on May 22nd 2015 if they want to allow equal access to marriage for all its citizens.

Many people are complacent that this referendum will pass with a huge majority.

I think they’re wrong.

A low turnout, coupled with the fact that people who are against marriage equality are very likely to vote, would result in a win for the No side.

Yes Equality Limerick canvassers
And what a lovely bunch of canvassers we were

With that in mind, I joined the first door-to-door canvass of the Limerick Yes Equality campaign this evening.

Research shows that the primary thing that changes voters minds is being canvassed.

The weather was glorious, we had a lovely group of people canvassing, and our message that a Yes vote couldn’t be taken for granted was getting a positive reception with people.

Four of us had canvassing experience (two of us were from the Green Party, one from Labour, and one who had canvassed for an Independent candidate), and so we paired off with people who were knocking on doors for the very first time.

Normally I wouldn’t be conscious of peoples’ sexual orientation, but this time it was different.  It was different because those of us who were straight were simply doing some campaigning on a political issue.

The people in our group who are gay were asking people for permission to have the right to get married.

That seems wrong to me.  They shouldn’t have to ask.  Those of us that already have the right to marry should be working as hard as we can to ensure our gay friends, brothers and sisters have the same right.

So even if you think the marriage equality referendum doesn’t directly affect you, please think about joining your local canvassing team for the Yes Equality campaign. If you’re in Limerick, a quick email to yesequalitylimerick@gmail.com will get a quick response.  If you live elsewhere in Ireland, you can find your local group at https://www.yesequality.ie/yes-equality-map/

My wedding day
The happiest day of my life

The day I got married was the happiest day of my life.  I passionately believe in marriage, and being married has been a consistent and powerful force for good in my life.

Those of us who have the right to get married need to step up to the plate and go door to door on behalf of those who don’t have that right.