Stars, misses and a medal on the opening day of European Athletics Championships for Ireland

The opening day of the European Athletics Championships marked the crowning of another Irish world champion. Olive Loughnane was today retrospectively awarded the gold medal from the 2009 20km Walk. She was awarded the medal in a ceremony outside the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam and joins Rob Heffernan as the second Irish Walk World Champion.

Fionnuala McCormick managed a heart-breaking fourth place in her 10,000m final, matching her best Outdoor European Championships performance in 2012. McCormick, formerly Britton, is a double European Cross Country Champion. She was the only Irish athlete to compete in a final on the opening day of the European Championships, alongside Tara Jameson who finished 14th in the same final.

Thomas Barr was the most impressive Irish athlete competing in qualification heats today. Barr won his 400m hurdles heat in a time of 50.17. He posted the second-fasted time across all four heats with a strong sprint in the final 100m. Paul Byrne finished a notable fourth, but failed to join Barr in the 400m semi-finals.

Sinead Denny was the first Irish athlete to taste success in her 400m heat and qualifying for the semi-finals, while Irish teammate Claire Mooney, participating in her first European Athletics Championships, couldn’t make it through her heat.

There were also mixed-fortunes for Irish athletes in the men’s 400m. David Gillick, returning from long-term injury, and Craig Lynch finished eighth and seventh in their respective heats. Brian Gregan ran an impressive 47.02 to finish fifth in his heat, going through to the semi-finals as a fastest runner-up.

Thomas Cotter couldn’t keep with the fast pace of his 3000m and Siofra Cleirigh-Buttner finished fifth in the 800m heats, both failing to qualify for the next round from their respective fields.

Coverage of the European Athletics Championships continues on RTÉ 2 tomorrow from 14:30 and you can follow @irishathletics and the European Athletics website for updates on the rest of the championships.

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The Irish Marriage Equality Referendum a Year on: The wonderful and the problematic

On May 22nd 2015, Ireland voted YES to marriage equality for its LGBTQ citizens. This meant that for the first time same-sex marriage was legalised by national popular vote. ‘A historic moment. ‘A shining beacon for the world’. ‘The day Ireland embraced equality’. These were the news headlines on May 24th after the votes had been counted.

Generally people were both relieved and overjoyed that the referendum had passed: “On this day we became equal citizens”. However, the campaign took an undoubted toll on parts of Ireland’s queer community, with people feeling they had to justify their gender/sexuality to the country for the right to marry.

It was a long, hard-fought campaign, with LGBTQ people, their friends and family forced to go out and convince the rest of the nation that they deserved equal rights of marriage. Although a referendum was the only way to ensure there would be no legal challenge to marriage equality in Ireland it came at a cost. Those advocating a No vote, their discourse around ‘traditional marriage’ being more important than queer people’s rights and the often offensive posters and literature made LGBTQ people feel less worth than their peers.

The campaign was largely fought on the basis of legalising marriage for gay and lesbian people. There was a concerted effort from major groups leading the campaign to focus on gay and lesbian people/relationships, as they believed the public wouldn’t be able to relate to and understand other genders/sexualities such as bisexual, pansexual, transgender and others on both spectrums. This created the unhealthy side-effect of almost every part of the Irish queer community beyond the L and G feeling erased in the debates, canvassing and, eventually, the result. While for many bisexual and transgender people it meant they were also given the right to marry the person they loved from May 23rd onwards, so many didn’t feel the same pure joy as their gay and lesbian peers, as they were erased in the campaign.

This is still an Ireland where young LGBT people are twice as likely to self-harm, three times more likely attempt suicide and had four times the level of anxiety and depression as their peers.

The Marriage Equality referendum did set a positive example for young LGBTQ people. Although LGBTQ people didn’t become equal citizens of Ireland on May 22nd, it set some good examples. While it was far too gay and lesbian-focused, not that equal marriage rights have been granted there is now more of a focus on LGBTQ mental health issues, the often-erased genders and sexualities and other issues facing the Irish queer community.

Men who have had sex with men still cannot donate blood an LGBTQ people are often discriminated against in the health service. They have higher rates of homelessness and many same-sex couples don’t feel comfortable walking down Irish streets holding their partner’s hand. Many trans, gender-fluid and gender-queer people don’t feel comfortable dressing as their preferred gender in public. The Irish education system largely ignores teaching about sexuality and gender beyond what is considered to be the basics.

While Ireland has become more accepting of LGBTQ people, May 22nd 2015 was not the day that they became equal citizens of Ireland, but it was the latest stepping-stone on the rocky path to LGBTQ equality. LGBTQ advocacy groups, queer people and allies shouldn’t stop campaigning and fighting for equality because one major hurdle is knocked down.

Full list of TDs who spoke in Dáil Mental Health Cuts Debate #IAmAReason

The Dáil today discussed proposed cuts to mental health funding for over three hours today. Health Minister Leo Varadkar began the debates with a ten minute speech about the proposed cuts and stayed in the chamber for around half of the debate, citing other ministerial responsibilities for having to leave the debate.

The following 32 TDs spoke on the issue in the Dáil for either five, or ten minutes each, depending on whether they shared their speaking time with another deputy: Continue reading

Old Firm violence a thing of the past?

Celtic and Rangers competed in their last Old Firm Derby in 2015, with Celtic winning 2-0. The match kicked off at 13:30, with no notable crowd violence during the match.

However, a ten-year-old Rangers fan lost three teeth and a man was also left in hospital after being brutally beaten on the night of the game.

Over a year later and the Old Firm rivalry will be re-ignited in a Scottish Cup semi-final this Sunday. With kick-off at midday in Hampden Park, Glasgow, are we likely to see the same violence replicated from previous Old Firm derbies? Continue reading

Trans is normal

How many people reading this don’t know what cisgender means? If you don’t then it’s almost certain that you are cis!

The best definition of cisgender (cis) that I’ve ever heard is that when you popped out of the womb and the doctor slapped you on the bum and, based on your genitalia, said: “It’s a boy”, or “It’s a girl” and you go your whole life not questioning that, then you’re probably cisgender. If at some stage you thought: “I don’t think the doctor was right when he assumed I was a boy/girl”, then it’s likely that you’re in some way trans, gender-fluid, or genderqueer. Continue reading

The GAA in Scotland: Dunedin Connolly’s

Dunedin Connolly’s is the only major Gaelic Football Club in Edinburgh. An Irish sport that isn’t native to Scotland, yet one that has become an important part of many Edinburgh people’s daily lives.

The club was founded in 1988, taking the name Dunedin, Irish translation of Edinburgh, and Connolly’s, named after James Connolly, the famous Irish politician, activist and patriot who was born in Edinburgh and fought in the 1916 Easter rising in Dublin. Continue reading

2016 Kerry general election candidates 8th Amendment stances

On Friday, February 26th, Ireland will vote its 32nd Dáil into power.

Issues such as the economy, housing, health and others have dominated much of the debate around the election, however abortion and the Eighth Amendment are priorities for many voters.

In light of this, I decided to do some digging into the opinions of each of the candidates in my own Kerry constituency in relation to the Eighth Amendment.

This table I have put together firstly looks at whether each candidate’s party plans on holding a referendum on the Eighth Amendment.

It then states whether each individual candidate running in Kerry would like a referendum to he held on the Eighth Amendment, and finally their own personal opinion on whether they would be in favour, or against a a repeal.

Repeal 8th kerry

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Impact of second Healy-Rae running in numbers

The decision of Danny Healy-Rae to run alongside his brother Michael in the upcoming General election has rocked the Kerry political landscape.

The announcement that one of Kerry’s most influential political dynasties are to run a second candidate in the upcoming General Election comes just a day after outgoing Kerry South TD Tom Fleming announced that he would not be seeking re-election. Continue reading

5 reasons why dressing as Caitlyn Jenner pre/post-transition is no joke

So, there are arguments raging as to whether the Caitlyn Jenner pre/post-transition Halloween costume below was funny/appropriate. Some people have questioned whether this costume is insulting to trans people, and others think it’s just a joke. Halloween is a time that you can go out, dress as anything you like and enjoy yourself, but here are 5 reasons why I don’t think this costume is appropriate:

bruce and caitlyn

1. Who even is Bruce anyway?

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