Maman Poulet | Clucking away crookedly through media, politics and life

Taking things on the chin

May 10th, 2013 · Irish Politics, Social Media

FG’s Digital Media team have issued advice to TD’s regarding taking social media criticism on the chin. Bizarrely though we are now of course all looking for FG’s #tcot (Top conservative on t’nternet). Does this mean Karl Rove is busy in FG HQ? Or have they been paying the yanks again for spoofery?  We’ll have hashtagarmagedden for sure with this sort of advice.

Minister Reilly would be advised to take all criticism on the chin. Especially when addressing the nursing union at their Annual General Meeting. Working on what the population think is his day job may not be a bad idea either.

If anyone has a copy of the advice tips @ would love to receive it – just so we know what you’ll be doing in a social media crisis like!

Hello by the way. This thing still works 🙂


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Human Rights Practice: Disability and the Mobility Allowance

February 27th, 2013 · Disability, Equality

Today, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Eamon Gilmore, makes Ireland’s first address to the United Nations Human Rights Council. Ireland was elected to the council last year and will sit on it until 2015.

Meanwhile back at the ranch

1. Irish Government found to be breaching equality laws by not assisting older people with disabilities through the Mobility Allowance (Ombudsman’s Report) and Motorised Transport Grant (Ombudsman’s Report) . Had been told by their rights agencies for several years that they were in the wrong.

(The Mobility Allowance is a means tested monthly payment payable by the Health Service Executive (HSE). It is paid to people who are aged 16 and over and under age 66, and who have a disability and are unable to walk or use public transport and ‘who would benefit from a change in surroundings’; (for example, by financing the occasional taxi journey).

2. Government avoid issue of their illegality and discrimination for months, then admit they are in the wrong and finally say that they will have to reform scheme but don’t say how or when. They say if they were to obey the law they could not afford to do so.

3. Twenty days later they scrap scheme entirely before reviewing it so no new people including those on the ever growing waiting lists for a year and more can get it. (In their release scrapping the scheme they list info on other options for people with disabilities many of which are only accessible to people in certain areas and if people have money to pay for the services like taxis and Vantastic or if someone can come pick someone up at a time and place of the services choosing and availability. But there will not be an allowance or it will be reviewed so people won’t have the money to pay or will not be entitled to it. They even mention availability of car parking – but not how one is supposed to have a car to park in it or get a car adapted so you could get into it. )

4. Government say there will be a review for a new scheme but BEFORE the review starts or is completed tell people that already get the allowance that they will also lose the allowance (€208 per month) after 4 months.

5. So in summary Irish Government Human Rights practice: Bad enough they were discriminating against older people with disabilities but now the 5000 people who got the allowance (Total budget €10.9 million) are going to lose it and the hundreds who were on waiting lists for it are told to ‘feck off you are not getting it because Government were infringing human rights of some people who should have got it.’

The Office of the Ombudsman is ignored and now regrets the Government decision, the Equality Authority is toothless and rudderless, and the National Disability Authority – well who knows what they are doing. And oh Ireland has still not fully ratified the United Nation Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. The 1871 Lunacy Act and failure to revoke it prevents her from doing so.

Human Rights – Irish style.


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‘These Women’

January 9th, 2013 · Abortion

Yesterday afternoon during the first day of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children hearings on the government’s intention to legislation for the X case I received an email.

It was the monthly newsletter from the Abortion Support Network, a volunteer run charity based in the UK which provides accommodation, financial assistance and confidential, non-judgemental information to women forced to travel from Ireland and pay privately for abortions in England. It is the only organisation which provides financial assistance to women travelling for termination.

I read the email whilst I watched the last few hours of the day’s hearing. Legislating for X will see abortion provided in the most limited of circumstances where women’s lives are at risk.  Several of the committee members and non members who were permitted to speak were obsessed with whether the suicidal ideation of a woman was a risk and the phrase ‘abortion as cure’ increasingly and offensively was repeated.

Whilst many of those asking questions at the Oireachtas committee hearing referred to ‘these women’, the women that were not being referred to were the 12 women a day who travel to the UK.  (Unless one remembers those women who several witnesses acknowledged were suicidal or experiencing another threat to their life or their health and who travelled to the UK and will continue to do so after legislation for the X case is passed by the Oireachtas.)

Meanwhile many other women will desperately seek assistance and will not have enough money to travel to the UK for the myriad of reasons that women choose to and have to terminate a pregnancy.

The stories of those who the Abortion Support Network helped in December include.

A single mother who planned to travelled by ferry as it was cheaper but was terrified as she’d never left the country before. She was able to borrow some of the money from friends and family and ASN was able to help her make up the shortfall.

A client who rang, frantic, as she’d been misinformed that an abortion at 12 weeks would cost £1,000. ASN was able to give accurate information on clinics and prices.

A young man who had heard someone from ASN speak at a rally in Ireland, and emailed us because his partner has become pregnant and they were seeking information about clinics and prices.

A single mother of four who had spent money on medical abortion medication that didn’t work. Despite being out of work she was then able to raise the money she needed to travel to England for an abortion. Unfortunately, she was further along in pregnancy than she had thought and, while the clinic offered to pay her accommodation for three days until they could give her another appointment, she had no one to care for her children and needed to return home. ASN was able to help her return to England to have the abortion.

A young student who had been experiencing difficulties getting the visa she needed to travel to England for an abortion. Before contacting ASN she had been so desperate that she tried a number of dangerous means to self-induce a miscarriage. After overcoming the visa problems, with a grant from ASN she was able to travel and access an abortion.

 A single mother in her early 30s who took out a loan at extortionate rates but even then was only able to afford some of the costs of travel, the procedure and child care while she was away. ASN was able to make a grant to cover the shortfall.

A woman who had previously suffered a still birth due to serious foetal anomalies. Despite using hormonal contraception to make sure she never had to go through that again she fell pregnant and turned to ASN for help.

A young student who put all her Christmas money towards the cost of flights and procedure. ASN was able to make up the difference.

ASN is not able to help all the women who contact it with financial assistance.  Those who receive grants have them paid direct to clinics.  No matter what happens this year in Ireland women will continue to experience crisis pregnancies and choose to terminate them.  We cannot continue to forget about them or just ‘accept’ that they travel to the UK  ‘so that’s ok then’.

I make a monthly donation to ASN so that women in financial crisis facing crisis pregnancies can be helped to decide themselves what they want to do during that crisis.  It’s not ‘ok’ that women living in Ireland have that decision taken away from them because they cannot afford to travel.  I believe we need to repeal the 8th amendment and respect women’s rights to choose.  Continuing to refer to women whose lives are at risk and all women who are are in crisis and seeking termination for whatever reason as ‘these women’ will not make them disappear.  Ignoring them won’t either.


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Guest Post – Why the Y Factor?

January 7th, 2013 · Feminism, Social Media

Áine Travers, a Y Factor Project Steering Group member writes about the exciting project emerging via the National Womens Council of Ireland?

 There are many things that we young women want for ourselves, and for one another. Some of us have got futures mapped out; others leap head-first into the unknown. The coming years look bright, and sometimes frightening. Possibilities are ripe and inviting; promises of new adventures beckon.

Sometimes though, things are not quite right for us still. Sometimes, in the midst of the melee, and the hustle to find our way, we are left searching for the words to pinpoint what is out of sync. And sometimes, when we do find them, we are made to feel silly and hysterical for it. Irish women have it good, we are told; you have got nothing to complain about.

But sometimes, this is not our experience, and we still find ourselves limited; confined by projections of who we are or should be; what we should do or want; whom we should love; how we should act.

Feminism has a lot to do with choices, and women’s right to make their own. It opposes the denial of choice to women in all its guises. It thwarts efforts to make us feel less capable, less worthy, less dependable-on. It categorically rejects misogyny and stereotypes, wherever they may appear, and anything or anyone that tries to tell us that we are not enough. It tells us that we should never be afraid to stand up and discuss the issues that are important to us, and that no-one has the right to tell us that these are not legitimate.

Some try to place the blame on women and girls for the inequalities that still exist. “Women are their own worst enemy,” they say. But in the Y Factor, we know this could not be further from the truth. We are not enemies; we are friends and allies, and it is for these reasons that the project came into being.

The Y Factor is an initiative for young people to work together towards equality for women, and a project of the National Women’s Council of Ireland. ‘Youth voices for women’s equality’ is our by-line, reminding us that our voices being young, does not mean that our thoughts are less valid. Our opinions matter, and we have come together to support one another in expressing them, to find the words to talk about things that we may not have found the space to talk about before.

We claim our input into discussions which directly concern our lives and futures. We demand respect for our diversity. We say no to the commodification of our sexuality. Together we reject pressures to act in certain ways, present ourselves in certain ways, use our bodies to certain ends.

The energy generated by the project in the women involved so far is invigorating. There is real appetite for what we represent. Young women are once again realising in greater numbers that it will not do to leave our fate resting in the hands of those who do not trouble themselves to seek out our perspectives or value our experiences. We must take our futures into our own hands, and find support and solidarity with one another to take charge and find our own way. We, all of us women and girls, can’t and won’t stand for others telling us what we should think and feel about things that affect our lives.

But we embrace the possibilities of what we can achieve when we come together, realising our potential side by side. We embrace the brilliance brimming over in each and every young woman. This space is ours, to make of it what we want. If you are a young woman with energy to share, we are waiting for you to join the movement. The Y Factor is for you, and wants you to be involved in any way that you can. We are only just getting started here, on what already promises to be quite the adventure; we hope you won’t be missing out.

If you’d like to know more about the Y Factor, you can contact the Y Factor Team by phoning 01-878 7248 or emailing or  You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and, in the New Year, visit our new website.


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Happy New Year

January 6th, 2013 · Blogging, Irish Media, Irish Politics, Social Media

Hello 2013.  The laptop has been turned off since December 21.  It still works and I have remembered how to type!

I’ve been saying a lot to myself in my head in the weeks that have passed. It’s better staying there than here to be honest.  However do go read DoctorFive on Cedar Lounge for a pointer as to what I’ve also been thinking about regarding the Punch and Judy show in Dáil Eireann and attacks on media and social media and dissent from politicians.

While I get my brain in order if you have any reports, leaks, tips, stories, ideas, guest posts, events you think I would be interested in covering online or attending please let me know at tips @

Back to the grindstone in more ways than one.


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