Author Archives: Dylan Haskins

This time last year we were in the midst of a short (3 and a half weeks) and intense election campaign, which was ultimately unsuccessful following my elimination in the 4th Count with 1,928 votes. The Standards in Public Office Commission reimburse election expenses up to €8,700 for candidates who are elected or receive over one quarter of the quota in the constituency. The quota of 6,984 in Dublin South East meant I qualified for reimbursement.

Other candidates in Dublin South East who were entitled to reimbursement were: Eoghan Murphy (FG), Lucinda Creighton (FG), Ruairi Quinn (Lab), Kevin Humphreys (Lab), Chris Andrews (FF), Paul Sommerville (Ind) and John Gormley (GP).

Having received a reimbursement of €8,700 to the campaign bank account, and with a surplus remaining from donations made to the campaign, I have decided to donate €10,000 of this money to 10 different charities and causes that carry out important work within the scope of my four campaign policy areas.

These charities and causes have been suggested and selected collectively by eight of the full time campaign team and myself on behalf of all who worked on and contributed to the campaign. None of these people were paid and so these donations are as much from them as from me.

Thanks, once again, to all of the 450 people who donated to the campaign, there wouldn’t have been any expenditure to have reimbursed without your contributions.

-Dylan

The charities chosen are:

Policy Area: Section One – Restoring Faith in our Political System

1. TheStory.ie - €1,000

The Story is a website run by Gavin Sheridan and dedicated to sharing documents, combing and combining data and promoting transparency in public life. It does this through requests under the Freedom of Information Act. It is an experiment in journalism and crowdsourcing hoping to shed light on the government and anyone who spends the Irish taxpayers’ money. Contribute to the discussion on how best to use this donation over on thestory.ie

TheStory.ie is always pleased to receive help in any form, including financial support. For more than eight years Ireland has lived with an odd FOI system where the people pay twice for their own information – citizens hand over money to get information they’ve already paid for. As long as this charging system remains in place, the only solution is to pool resources and obtain information tactically. Donations help greatly in this regard.
-Gavin Sheridan, thestory.ie

Policy Area: Section Two – Putting Society First

2. Educate Together: Secondary Schools Campaign – €1,500

Educate Together is an established school patron body with a thirty year track record of excellence in Irish Education. Formally recognised as a second level patron by the Department of Education and Skills, Educate Together has applied to open its first second-level schools. Educate Together schools are committed to the values laid down in Educate Together’s Charter; that is Educate Together schools are learner centred, multi denominational, co-educational and they are democratically run. The Educate Together approach will move second-level education away from ‘teaching to the test’ towards a greater focus on the learner. To this end, Educate Together is working to adapt its unique ‘Learn Together’ Curriculum for second level. This donation will be used by Educate Together on curriculum development in the coming year, so that active, engaging teaching methods can be used throughout the curriculum, encouraging teachers in Educate Together second-level schools to place a strong emphasis on developing skills in creative and critical thinking, communication, teamwork, research and leadership – skills for the 21st century. For more information go to Educate Together Secondary Schools Campaign.

Dylan is an advocate for change in Irish Society and has been a committed supporter of Educate Together’s campaign for change in Irish Education. Now that Educate Together is a recognised patron at second-level, this kind of financial support is critical to making the dream of Irish parents a reality. This contribution will have significant and immediate impact, and we are delighted to have his ongoing support.
-Mary O’ Donovan, Educate Together

3. Headstrong – €1,000

Headstrong is The National Centre for Youth Mental Health – a non-profit organisation supporting young people’s mental health in Ireland.

We really appreciate Dylan’s support of our work. His commitment, as one of last years youngest candidates and someone who worked so hard to empower young people to have a voice, is something we in Headstrong believe to be critical because young people’s voices need to be heard and used to inform policy and politics.
-Orlaith Foley, Headstrong

4. Cluain Mhuire – €1,000

The Cluain Mhuire Service is a community based adult mental health service serving a population of over 175,000 in the Dublin South East area. The service seeks to accomplish its mission by providing the following services: Acute care and Treatment; in patient service, Outpatient Clinics; Rehabilitation and vocational training; Residential Rehabilitation Service; Liaison Psychiatry Service; Social (drop-in) centres and membership club; Home based interventions and a variety of targeted therapies. Cluain Mhuire is the lead agency in the national pilot providing an early intervention service for psychosis in the East Coast Section of HSE Mid Leinster.

Sincere thanks for the very kind donation of € 1,000 to the local Community Mental Health Service for South East Co Dublin. Here at The St John of God Cluain Mhuire Service, we will use the funds to greatest effect and upgrade our Club facilities in the heart of Dun Laoghaire. This will have a knock on effect for 92 people, who all live locally with enduring mental health difficulties & will have their club transformed by your generosity. Once again many thanks for the interest & practical assistance towards your local mental health service. It’s very much appreciated !
-Shane Hill, Director of Nursing, Cluain Mhuire Community Mental Health Service

5. Outhouse – €500

Outhouse is a community and resource centre for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) people and their families. It is based in a community-owned and restored Georgian building in the heart of Dublin City. The primary goal of Outhouse is to provide a safe space where people can: get information and support, meet like-minded others in a relaxed environment, attend events and meetings. It provides a series of integrated services and supports to LGBT people and their families from Dublin and around Ireland. Established in 1996 when there was a complete lack of LGBT-focused community services, we acquired and restored our current space which is held in trust for the LGBT community. Our team of committed staff and volunteers have built up significant expertise and our resource centre is often the first point of contact for the LGBT community. Currently over 25,000 people use Outhouse every year.

The monies will go towards improvements to our entrance hallway. In particular we will be completing work to the rear floor area. This will enhance the appearance and the safety of this area which has not been completed to date. This will complement the already restored front floor area (restored with the aid of Dublin City Council grant 2010). In addition we will box up exposed cabling in the entrance hall and erect signage and notice boards.
-Martha Whyte, Manager, Outhouse

6. Marriage Equality – €500

Currently approximately 6 -10% of the Irish population has no freedom to marry and therefore have no access to all the ordinary rights that are afforded to married couples. Marriage Equality is a campaign working to change that. This donation will go towards projects which help to raise awareness of the need to keep pushing for marriage equality in Ireland, projects such as ‘out to your TD’ campaign, which supports and enables people to become marriage equality advocates themselves.

We are really grateful to Dylan for his generous support and investment in the campaign for equality for same sex couples, our families and our children. As well as using his general election campaign last year to raise awareness about the continued urgent need for marriage equality, he is now also investing in this year’s work. Dylan’s financial support will fund Marriage Equality’s ‘Out to your TD’ campaign – a grassroots lobbying project which enables people to become marriage equality advocates themselves.
-Moninne Griffith, Director, Marriage Equality

Policy Area: Section Three – Reinvigorating the City

7. Dublintellectual ‘City Intersections forum’- €1,000

Dublintellectual is an exciting Arts & Humanities project. It began in 2011 and is all about creating a bridge between the university and the city.

The City Intersections forum, launching in March 2012, will work to provide an all-inclusive arena for discussion of the problems and opportunities facing Dublin today. The series will provide a platform for a collaborative intervention in current debates about the city’s future, by creating a space for academics, practitioners, politicians, creative enterprises, and the general public to meet and work together, fostering ties and nurturing innovation. Events will focus around the materiality of the city – a particular cityscape, a totemic object, a significant building – and launch discussions on critical urban issues and the wider role of Humanities in Irish urban society.

8. Young Social Innovators ‘Speak Out Fora’ – €1,000
Young Social Innovators (YSI) believes that young people are a powerful and largely untapped force for change in their local communities and in wider society. Promoting and leading the way in education for social innovation in Ireland, Young Social Innovators encourages, motivates and creates new opportunities for young people to actively participate in the world around them.

Young Social Innovators is delighted to receive this generous donation from Dylan Haskin’s campaign fund which will contribute to the running of our provincial Speak Out Fora in March 2012. These events will give over 5,000 young people throughout Ireland the opportunity to voice their concerns about some of the most pressing social issues affecting them and their communities and a platform from which to communicate the actions they are taking to address these social needs. Young Social Innovators, like many organizations in the charitable sector in Ireland, is facing huge challenges in the current climate. This contribution comes at a timely point in our annual calendar and we are extremely grateful to Dylan for his support of these events which are important for the young participants of our social innovation programme and for the youth voice of Ireland to be heard.
-Bronagh O’ Hagan, Young Social Innovators

9. Dublin Youth Theatre – €1000

Since its foundation in 1977, by Paddy O’ Dwyer, Dublin Youth Theatre has forged a unique contribution to the worlds of theatre and youth work. Thirty Five years old this year, DYT continues to provide exciting opportunities for young people in the 14 – 22 age group to gain experience in drama, theatre and the related arts. There are currently over 100 members with 100 more auditioning for just 35 places each year. DYT seeks to offer as many young people from greater Dublin as possible the chance to learn social skills through theatre regardless of experience, background, nationality, race, religion or socio-economic status.

Our resources are limited and our 200 year old house in the centre of Dublin 1 is bursting at the seams. The donation from your campaign fund will allow us to carry out essential upgrades to our studio and go some way to ensuring we stay open for the young people of Dublin for the foreseeable future.
-Ella Daly, Dublin Youth Theatre

Policy Area: Section Four – Restructuring for a Reliable Economy

10. FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) €1,500

FLAC exists to promote equal access to justice for all, so that the protection and benefits of the law are accessible to all people, regardless of income or background. Concentrating on access to justice, FLAC champions the public interest and human rights of those who lack equality and a voice. We do this through the promotion of legal information and advice, public interest litigation, focus on the defence of the civil legal aid system and reform of social welfare law, debt law and consumer credit law.

In the area of debt and consumer credit law, FLAC campaigns for consistent and fair standards for consumer lending and borrowing and for a fair and effective legal system and infrastructure in relation to debt and debt enforcement. FLAC advocates for greater fairness, consistency and transparency in the administration of the social welfare system. And in relation to civil legal aid, FLAC’s goal is that the right to state-funded legal aid is better realised for those who need it to access justice.


Total amount of donations: €10,000

It is now exactly one year since the first week of my election campaign. According to our final records the campaign received approximately 450 donations amounting to €13,785.00. In order to comply with Standards in Public Office disclosure requirements, only €2000.00 of these donations would need to have been disclosed, however in the interest of full transparency, here is a published statement of all donations received. Thank you once again to all who contributed.

Donations Disclosure Final Statement

A further exciting announcement regarding the Campaign Account balance will be made in the coming days.

Best Blog of a Politician 2011

Posted by Dylan Haskins in Campaign Diary - (Comments Off)

I’m delighted to hear that this website won the award for Best Blog of a Politician at the Irish Blog Awards tonight in Belfast.

The website was an integral part of the campaign because of the many new ways that it allowed me to engage with voters. Firstly it was a hub for all of the social media components – my Twitter, Youtube, Facebook and Linkedin accounts. It also allowed me to present my Policies in an easily readable format where you could focus on areas of particular interest to you.  The blog offered a number of new possibilities for an election campaign, such as the ability to publish my weekly accounts. This set a new standard for transparency in an election. There was also the Answers section, which took questions from constituents on specific issues and responded to them directly and publicly.

I had a huge amount of volunteers, without whom it would simply not have been possible to accomplish the mountain of work required to run a campaign. I’m grateful to each of them for their invaluable contribution to the campaign.

To receive this award tonight is a huge honour, but I cannot take credit for it. Instead, I must defer to some of the people in the back room:

My campaign manager Fionn Kidney was responsible for the online strategy, planning and production. His efficiency and innovation were the driving force behind the campaign.

Una Mullally was responsible for content and media strategy. The demand in this respect was huge, but she was relentless in generating original ideas and delivering on content.

Niall Byrne built, designed and brought the website live in less than a week. He also deservedly won Best Music Blog tonight for the 5th year in a row for Nialler9.com.

Like every other person on the campaign, Fionn, Una and Niall were unpaid volunteers. The reason I stress this is because I could not afford the value of their professionalism. Thanks guys.

Thanks also to Irish Blog Awards organiser Damien Mulley, the judges and the category sponsor Leviathan.ie.

De Volkskrant

Posted by Dylan Haskins in Media - (Comments Off)

Download a PDF of the article here: De Volkskrant newspaper25022011.

Education is a right, not a privilege

Posted by Dylan Haskins in Campaign Diary - (Comments Off)

Education is a right, equal to health and housing. And we need to reassert the right for it to be made available to everyone. In the next Dáil, the government will be looking to source extra revenue from different public services, but politicians must resist the urge to attack our education system, even if they see it as a short-term way of making savings through cuts. Short-term solutions also tend to be short-sighted ones, and an educated workforce is the key to rebuilding our economy. Right now, 50,000 people are set to emigrate this year, and our unemployment rate is the third highest in Europe at 13.5%. What can we do to stem that emigration and create opportunities for employment and sustainable jobs?

Third Level Education

Life in Ireland at the moment presents several obstacles to young people. A €2,000 annual fee for college is prohibitive. Graduates themselves are faced with few job opportunities. Those who want to initiate new businesses or entrepreneurial activities come up against impossible rents despite the vast level of empty space in the city. This is why emigration is now an option that by the end of this year 50,000 more people will have taken. Everything seems so hard, so what can we do it to make it easier?

We need to start by reasserting education as a right, and it needs to be a right for everyone. Since third level fees were abolished, they’ve been steadily returning year upon year through the back door of the ‘registration fee’, which was rebranded by the Fianna Fáil/Green Party government as a ‘Student Contribution’. Labelling this cost – currently standing at €2,000 per year – as a ‘registration fee’ was dishonest, and calling it a ‘student contribution’ is a semantic device that merely puts a different word on ‘fees’. We have to be honest about this –free third level education in Ireland does not exist, and that has to change. The current fees have increased 14 times in as many years, a massive 953% increase. The last increase was the largest so far, a 25% hike from €1,500 to €2,000.

I believe that the only way to foster an equal third level education system is through universal free education, that means removing the prohibitive fees and replacing them with a real registration fee that solely coverers the annual registration costs. This fee should only represent the actual cost of registering a student and no more.

The alternatives proposed by other parties and other candidates – from existing fees, expensive means testing systems, student loan schemes and graduate tax – all throw up the same problems: they stifle equality in education and prohibit universal access to third level education.

Fine Gael’s propositions for third level education are grossly unfair. They propose a graduate tax on students harvested through an increased PRSI contribution that would begin with immediate effect of employment in the State no matter what their income is. In the years ahead, young people will spend their lifetimes paying for the recklessness of the generation that went before them through increased tax rates and other levies. This proposed graduate tax adds insult to that financial injury. It’s also resolutely unrealistic considering our new reality where many of our graduates will in fact be paying tax in countries other than Ireland due to a high rate of emigration. In fact, taxing our graduates would actually become an incentive for them to emigrate.

We need to value education as a priority in funding, especially if we want to establish a solid foundation from which we can rebuild this country. Our educated workforce is fleeing, and those remaining here won’t be able to afford to access the education and skills they need to contribute to our economy. It’s a recipe for disaster.

Primary and Secondary Education

At the moment, 2,899 of the 3,282 primary schools in the State are under the control of the Catholic Church. The current practice of educating the vast majority of the children in this country with one religious ethos presents several obstacles to equality and diversity. It also presents problems in terms of excluding the children of parents who are not Catholic and in most cases, does so without giving them an alternative to educate their children elsewhere. Even senior leaders in the Catholic Church realise that this culture has to change.

The Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin said that the continuing control the Catholic church exerts over State schools is a “historical hangover that doesn’t reflect the realities of the time.” He also called the Catholic church’s responsibility for the functioning of over 90% of our primary schools “unrealistic” and suggested that a nationwide forum take place to discuss new inclusive approaches to public education. This forum needs to happen as a matter of urgency.

The Department of Education and Science should be leading the development of multi-denominational schools. There are 58 Educate Together Schools nationally, with 25 in the greater Dublin area. Its approach should be two-pronged; simultaneously encouraging the roll out of Educate Together schools and also identifying schools that were previously under the control of religious orders but are now only so in name.

In my policy document, I outline how working with Educate Together would be one of the best ways to develop a blueprint for primary and secondary schooling in the 21st century. Educate Together’s system is working.

Educate Together is an example of an independent organisation acting as an agent for change by developing a blueprint that has been successfully replicated across the country. I have already discussed these issues with Educate Together, and will continue to encourage and support existing and new innovative projects like this in all areas.

Many of Fine Gael’s proposals in this area completely unrealistic. They want teachers to hold a Masters degree in their specialised subject. Shouldn’t we first address that teachers should have an undergrad degree in their specialised subject? And will teachers themselves be expected to pay for that further education, or will the Department foot the bill?

Fine Gael’s short-sighted policy on removing Irish as a compulsory subject after the Junior Cert is an ill-fated attempt at populism that is as unnecessary as it is problematic. Fine Gael’s philosophy across the board seems to be to scrap things they deem too hard to fix instead of examining them properly and making them work. We don’t need to get rid of Irish, we need to address how it’s taught in schools. We need to examine the curriculum and update it to a modern interpretation of the use of the language while preserving its cultural content. We need to inject conversation into the curriculum not the ‘learning by heart’ practice that currently stifles the enjoyment of studying Irish, along with hindering one’s ability to progress with it after secondary school.

Where has the Department of Education’s money gone?

The Department of Education is something of an anomaly in these austere times. With everyone and everything facing cut backs, you wouldn’t imagine that many Departments have a lot of spare change hanging around. But the Department of Education does, it’s just not spending it. Every day children arrive into classrooms that are in fact temporary prefabs. Teachers complain about inappropriate buildings serving as schools and plead for new ones. Principles and Boards of Management ask parents for money to fundraise for new sports halls. The money is there, but the people who need it are just not getting it.

Last year, the Department of Education spend just half of its budget, €381m out of €721. It’s the second year in a row that the department was well behind in its capital spending. The department claimed that they were getting better value for money in building projects and that tenders were now more competitive, but many teachers will tell you that they teach in freezing prefabs, or that they cut down on PE hours because there are not enough facilities, or that a cap on special needs assistants is unfair on those who need the most care, or that understaffing in schools makes for unfair pupil to teacher ratios.

So where does this money go if it’s not spent? The introduction of multi-annual capital envelopes by the Department of Finance in 2003/2004 meant that the declaration of projected expenditure on various projects previously limited to a 12 month period now stretches over a few years, but much of the perceived surplus the Department of Education (as in, the money that it simply didn’t spend) will just be returned to the exchequer and subsumed into a subsequent budget. The Department of Education is allowed carry over just 10% of overall capital funding into the following year, but has to return the rest. This means that money meant for our education system is channelled back into general government spending, and it’s hard not to presume that a lot of that money will be swallowed up by our biggest area of spending at the moment: our bank debt.

If the Department of Finance is providing a budget to the Department of Education and it isn’t being handled properly or spent accordingly and instead bounced back into the exchequer, that’s a complete failure in organisation, management, and ultimately, it’s failing those who are meant to be benefitting from the budget allocated to the Department, children, students and their teachers and parents. We need to address this now, and stop allowing money meant for funding education being spent elsewhere in an unaccountable manner.

Building an internship network and structure

For those who have finished their education this year, be it third level or secondary school, they’re faced with some tough choices. With little employment there’s the prospect of signing on, emigrating, or spending months looking for a job to no avail.

We need to make it easier for people to access some type of employment upon completion of education. We all know now how inefficiently FAS was run. Hopefully a new employment agency (and not just a name change) can assist jobseekers, but there are other ideas we can initiate too.

We need a proper internship structure in place to assist young people in gaining experience and employment. There is not a comprehensive enough structure in place. When jobs are scare there are other ways of bringing graduates into employment and an internship scheme is one of the best ways to do that.

Intern culture is a pretty new phenomenon in Ireland, but its rise has been parallel to falling wages and a lack of jobs. It’s proliferation has also been informal and scattered. Often young people taking up internships are expected to work for free, even though they may be carrying out the same duties as a fulltime staff member, which throws up several ethical questions in the value we place on labour and also favours those who have the connections to gain access to companies.

There are signs that a more organised internship structure is beginning to be put in place. FAS have an Internship Development Programme, for example, and IBEC’s GradLink scheme allows recent graduates to work as intern while still receiving social welfare, but still many businesses choose to recruit interns in a much more informal way, through word of mouth or social networks. In order for our young people and businesses themselves to benefit, we need to develop a proper working internship scheme where the benefits of being involved in it outweigh the benefits of being unemployed.

Civil Service ‘Fast-Stream’

Throughout this campaign I have repeatedly stated the need for a younger generation to have a say in Dáil Eireann, given that we will face the consequence of decisions that the next government will make long into the future. It is equally important that we allow talented graduates to have a senior role in our civil service. This will couple imagination and innovation with the experience of current civil servants.

A scheme to deliver this has been successfully in operation in the United Kingdom for some time.  The Fast Stream system in the UK offers recent graduates a series of placements in the civil service and postings that allow them to move between projects and gain experience in different areas before seeing where they’re best suited within the system. Pay increases are based on performance. In our own civil service there are scatterings of graduate programmes across departments and in institutions such as the Central Bank, but there is no joined up programme that works across all departments, bodies and institutions. We need that kind of scheme. The introduction of a comprehensive fast-stream scheme would not only be a welcome addition to the Civil Service, it would also offer young people an opportunity in the shaping of a new Ireland, and it would allow the best performers and best skilled people to reach senior positions quicker where their expertise can have the positive influence we need right now.

Many things need to change. We need to make Dublin a city our young people want to stay in. To do that, we need to provide both opportunity of education and employment. I have the ideas to make that happen.

There is a lot of good will towards Independents right now, and certainly those running as non-party candidates will benefit from that good will. Independents are going to be extremely important in this election, and many new faces will become new TDs. But in recent days, I’ve become concerned about the neutrality of an independent in my constituency, Paul Sommerville.

Paul Sommerville is a bright man running on an important single issue with some good ideas. But there is little public awareness of his policies unrelated to the economy, and his rhetoric about marching into meetings in Brussels and telling the Eurocrats who’s boss isn’t very realistic. I’m not convinced we need economists as TDs. We certainly need them in the Department of Finance, but not necessarily in Dáil Eireann.

This week, the director of elections for Fine Gael in my constituency of Dublin South East, Paddy Hayes, emailed Fine Gael activists (see yesterday’s article in The Irish Times) to tell them to encourage voters to give preferences to right-wing independent Paul Sommerville, an Independent candidate in the constituency.  Mr Hayes said Mr Sommerville is “closest to the party in terms of policy and thinking.” Volunteers on my team have also been told by people on the doors in the constituency that Fine Gael canvassers have been telling voters that if they don’t want to vote for Fine Gael, then vote for Paul Sommerville, or if they are giving a vote to Fine Gael to also give Paul Sommerville a preference.  If Fine Gael are canvassing for Paul Sommerville in this constituency, is he still an Independent candidate?

While I was approached by several alliances asking me to affiliate with them in the run up to the campaign, I wanted to remain fully Independent. Many alliances of like-minded Independents have formed since then, and that’s a good thing. It’s a good thing that people with similar interests want to band together and work together and gain strength in numbers, but I felt that I could only truly trust my own ideas. And I believe that if alliances need to happen, they should happen after the election, when Independents with similar policy viewpoints can then come together to build towards a greater influence in the Dail, namely to secure speaking rights, without the constraints of having to answer to a whip. So for now, with the support of a team of 110 volunteers ranging from 18 to 62, we have built a truly Independent campaign.

Even after the election, the legacy of the last government will linger on, so when Ireland sends its delegation to re-negotiate our debts with the EU and the IMF, it must be united in its purpose – to get a better deal for Ireland. No other agendas – party, domestic or political – can be allowed to distract from that central purpose. Too much is at stake for Ireland to send a divided delegation into the debate.

The incoming Minister for Finance must use his government’s new mandate to secure a better deal than the last, divided, weakened and fatally undermined Fianna Fail, Green, Independent government managed. The last government was simply too weak to negotiate from any position of strength. We are living with the consequences of their weakness and division.

In Dublin South East, Paul Sommerville has reasserted his interest in attending those meetings if elected with the support of Fine Gael voters. Fine Gael seem happy with that. It’s not clear what role he sees for himself either in politics or in the delegation to the IMF. Only the Minister for Finance can lead that delegation and direct public officials. Only the Minister for Finance can negotiate and sign the agreement. Whatever deal Sommerville may make with FG, the chances of him becoming Minister for Finance to wield the claims of influence he will have are slim to none. So where Paul Sommerville – Independent, according to his literature - fits into this delegation, is unknown.

If Paul Sommerville wants to be part of the government’s negotiating team, he must do it from within the party of government. The challenge for Mr. Sommerville now is to tell the electorate exactly what relationship he wants to build with Fine Gael. The stakes are too high for Paul Sommerville and Fine Gael to enter into any side agreements when there is more important work to be done. We all know what happened the last time Fine Gael romanced an economic expert. He didn’t last the pace. His name was George Lee.

What I can pledge my supporters is that when elected, I will remain independent, voting for good government and against bad decisions irrespective of the party proposing them, based on my own principles and unsullied by any deals with political parties.

If, as it seems, a vote for Paul Sommerville is a vote for a Fine Gael-supporting TD, then in the interests of transparency, we need to know this before Friday.

The next Dail, and the next few years in this country will be about rebuilding. Rebuilding an economy that was destroyed by irresponsibility, and rebuilding a society that has been damaged by those repercussions.

But we have to rebuild for everyone. In order to progress as a society, we must create a nation built on equality. No longer can we bow to obstacles of vested interests or outdated beliefs. A properly functioning society has to embrace all of its members regardless of gender, age, sexuality, ethnicity or disability.

The section in my policy on Putting Society First is about equality; equality in education, equality in employment legislation and equality in the rights of all of our citizens.

That’s why I will reassert Civil Marriage legislation as a priority in the new Dail term. The introduction of Civil Partnership is a positive step, but it’s not enough. Civil Partnership denies same-sex couples access to the vocabulary of marriage. Civil Partnership fails to protect the children of same-sex couples by alienating the ‘second’ parent. In the Act, children are written out of sections relating to inheritance, maintenance and it does not specify how children should be provided for if the Partnership dissolves. Essentially, the Act says that the children of two same-sex parents legally only have one parent. Civil Partnership does not invent families with same sex parents. There are many such families living in the State and by ignoring their rights the State is denying them the rights that for other every other family are automatic. If we are mature enough to view all members of our society as equal, then why would we provide one set of rights for one group of people and a lesser set of rights for another? And Civil Marriage is not just a ‘gay issue’, it’s an issue for everyone regardless of your sexuality. It’s a civil rights issue.

Fine Gael does not want Civil Marriage. And because of their adamant stance on the issue, it’s clear that they don’t want to afford all of our citizens the same rights, and they don’t want all of our citizens to be treated equally. They don’t want the children of same-sex parents in this country to have the same protection as children in every other kind of family structure. They don’t want gay people to have the same rights and opportunities and access to legal protections as heterosexual people. And as we have seen today (in their deletion of comments from their Facebook page), they don’t want the voices of those who demand equality heard.

We can no longer assist discrimination in our legislation. We can no longer ignore the rights of gay citizens. We need to lead by example and join the global march for equality for all citizens. We need to stop offering diluted forms of ‘equality’ to certain citizens for no good reason other than a legacy of discrimination.

Homophobic bullying is a huge problem in schools, and organisations like BeLonG To do tremendous work with young LGBT people and they need to be supported. But they can’t just be supported in isolation. The State needs to show at a legislative level that we respect all citizens. A country should be judged on how it protects those most vulnerable. And the legacy of a dominant majority should never dictate the lesser rights of any minority.

LGBT people are still verbally and physically attacked simply because of who they are. If the State is not leading by example in our legislation, then how can we end homophobia? If the State discriminates against LGBT people then how can we expect schoolchildren and others not to? If our employment legislation discriminates against gay teachers (as I have detailed in my policy document with regards to Section 37 (1) in the Employment and Equality act 1998, 2004) how can we expect pupils to act respectfully towards each other, no matter what their sexuality?

Freedom of religion is extremely important, but religious beliefs that infringe upon the rights of others have no place in the ruling of our State. If one’s personal or religious beliefs are incompatible with equality, then they need to be cast aside in order to formulate what’s best for society. Personal beliefs are just that, personal. When a politician represents the people, he or she must represent all of us, not just their own opinions. It takes maturity and reason to do this, but the results are unavoidably beneficial.

Donations

  • Total net donations to the campaign for the week ending 18th February were €156. This consisted of online and offline donations.
  • Online donations had a net total after PayPal commission of €106. Total net refunds* of €277 were made.
  • Offline donations to the campaign for the week total €50.
  • This brings total donations from the outset of the campaign to €7,638.

Expenditure

  • Total expenditure for the week was €1,099.
  • Total cash expenditure for the third week was €1,051, consisting predominantly of print production and other campaign materials.
  • Total online expenditure for the third week was €48, consisting of advertising costs.
  • There were credit purchases €1,115 for the week ending 18th February.
  • This brings total cash and credit expenditure from the outset of the campaign to €9,694.

Cash

  • The campaign currently has cash holdings totalling €4,558 which includes a bank account balance of €159, a PayPal account balance of €4003 and petty cash of €396.

Summary balance as of 18th February 2011

  • Cash at hand as at 18th Feb: €4,558
  • Creditors payable as at 18th Feb: €1,115
  • Loans payable as at 18th Feb: -€3,676
  • Campaign balance to date         -€233

* Following the first week of the campaign all donors were contacted to clarify that in the interests of transparency their donations would be listed alongside their names following the election. Having consulted with donors, six who had hoped to support the campaign anonymously were refunded, totaling €277. Following this, all donors were alerted explicitly to our transparency principles in relation to the disclosure of all donations at the end of the campaign

Note: Further essential expenditure on printed materials, media and other expenses will be incurred over the course of the campaign, requiring further fundraising efforts. If you would like to contribute, please visit our donation page.

Download the full statement PDF:

Income & Expenditure 3 – Week ending 180211

Question 23: Will you work to reduce the voting age to 16?

Posted by Dylan Haskins in Answers - (Comments Off)

I don’t view this as a priority right now. 18 is a reasonable voting age. Unfortunately, too few 18 to 30 year olds vote. I want to change that in this election.

The ANSWERS series will be updated daily until Feb 25th. All answers were those given by Dylan to questions received online or on the doorstep.

The Creative City

Posted by Dylan Haskins in Campaign Diary - (1 Comments)

Coming from a creative background, I’ve seen firsthand the positive impact the arts and creativity have on our city, our communities and all our lives.

Dublin is brimming with creativity, but unfortunately, lots of good ideas and initiatives are slipping through the net, unsupported and meeting too many obstacles to survive.

We saw the interest people have in the arts at the National Campaign For the Arts hustings at Project Arts Centre on Monday, which was packed, with people queuing up the stairs and craning their necks around corners to hear what representatives from the main parties had to say about their arts policies.

There’s often talk about ‘making’ Dublin a creative city. But you can’t do this from the top down. It has to happen from the bottom up. And in order to do that, the people who are actually engaging in cultural and creative activity at a ground level have to be facilitated. This is the difference between manufacturing creativity, which you can’t do, and facilitating what’s already there to allow it to expand and inspire other projects, which is a much more practical and realistic way of harnessing the creativity already existing in our city.

Our city is inherently creative, it’s just that there are blockages to creativity due to the levels of bureaucracy that people have to go through to turn their ideas into real projects. We need to reduce the bureaucratic barriers to a creative city.

When there’s less money available we need to concentrate on providing resources. Those resources don’t necessarily need to cost a tremendous amount. Often people are just looking for a space, which is where my initiative to address Celtic Tiger-era zoning that over-emphasises the need for excessive commercial space in ground floor units, and frees up vacant space for cultural and community projects comes into play.

To help kickstart creative projects that are struggling to find any funding at all, I will establish a Creative Investment Fund by donating one quarter of my yearly TD salary. At a local level this fund will support Creative Partnerships in research and development between arts, culture, education and enterprise organizations that focus on innovation and creativity.

This will provide a competitive ‘creative challenge’ to support new products and services from creative entrepreneurs. The fund will be tailored to the specific needs of the creative and cultural sector and adopt a sustainable seeding and venture capital model.

More funding can be sought by forging connections with the Corporate Social Responsibility funds of the many large corporations based in the constituency. There are also many large international corporations who are currently taking advantage of our extremely competitive corporate tax rates along with the skills of our highly educated constituents as their staff. I envisage that this Creative Investment Fund would be an attractive prospect for them to direct increasing CSR funds.

We don’t need more buildings for artistic initiatives, but we do need to open up existing ones that are disused. There doesn’t necessarily need to be a physical headquarters for creative projects either. If there are many small ideas and small initiatives happening, that creates one overarching buzz of creativity. Creativity begets creativity too. The more that’s going on, the more that’s likely to follow.

We also need to address the rents spaces are charging. Most creative, cultural, and artistic enterprises aren’t going to rake in money in the same way that a packed commercial unit would. But what would be more beneficial for a community, another Spar or a studio space run by a collective? Another mobile phone shop, or community arts workshop?

But it’s not just about space. It’s also about general resources, from staff to equipment. It’s easier to get capital than current expenditure, but there is no point in an arts centre being set up, or a project started, having money allocated to it and then not properly resourced once it’s up and running. That’s a recipe for failure. We need to see through ideas beyond their inception, and support their fruition.

The bureaucracy involved in setting up a new project is another obstacle to the creative city. Luckily most of this bureaucracy arises from our public institutions – so it’s something we can remedy. If you’re an artist, you mightn’t be well versed on the complicated vocabulary of fire certificate applications, health and safety requirements, planning regulations, dance hall licenses etc. These processes stifle initiative and if you manage to eventually get over all the hurdles you probably won’t be as enthusiastic about the core idea as you were at the beginning.  Those application processes need to be easier to figure out. We would be better served to introduce a liaison framework to explain the processes better to those making applications. We need to get rid of the obstacles that prevent people from getting things done, and the thing is, many of these blocks are completely unnecessary and are simply the result of years of red tape tying itself in knots. We need to untie those knots.

We’re constantly told about the economic benefits of the arts, but this isn’t just about tax breaks or tax exemptions, or grants, or people buying into Ireland or visiting Ireland because of our reputation with the arts. Sure, those things are important, but the arts aren’t just another economic asset. The arts are about us. It’s how we express ourselves, how we tell our stories, how we contextualise where we are right now. It’s how we draft history, how we share experiences, how we have a good time, how we reflect and project and satirise and comment. We need to develop a creative city here, and stop exporting our artists to cities that are more encouraging of their ambitions and more accommodating to their needs. We need the release that art and creativity offers, more than ever. And we need to support those who are making it happen.