In the news today…
Hello, and welcome to the first edition of ‘Daily News Ponderings’, the daily post where I will share news stories which have caught my eye/piqued my interest/caused me to sigh in exasperation during the day.
- Firstly, via The Irish Times, a little article from the Old Curiosity Shop aka the legal archives. This demonstrates how law can change and adapt during the years, how politicans respond to the needs of society and the views of the electorate, yet sometimes historic laws still remain – even though they are forgotten and not ‘living’ (by which I mean they are not central to modern life and therefore are not necessarily adhered to).
This article details the implementation of The Statute Law Revision Bill in the Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann (the Dail being the lower chamber and the Seanad being the upper chamber of the Oireachtas, the Irish legislature). This Bill has now revoked 800 years of obsolete proclamations, directions and orders made before 1821 – around 6,000 of same will cease to have legal grounding. The aim of this Bill is to ensure the removal of historic, obsolete laws and orders from the statute book, thereby making it clearer, more concise and an accurate reflection of the modern Irish law of the land. As any students of Irish law, whether North or South, can tell you, that the island still has such historic laws in place is not surprising. I can recall studying legislation dating from 1861 for my Land Law module – and that was just one of many. It certainly reinforces the need for Northern Irish and Irish legislatures to annually review their respective statute books and determine whether legal reform or indeed revocation is necessary.
However, it does provide for interesting reading and shows how the law can shift over time. Particularly, how the law has changed from being at the whim of the monarchy to the express wishes of the electorate.
So, the Republic can say goodbye to antiquated laws, including the following:
- A 1533 proclamation which prohibited criticism of Henry VIII’s marriage to his second wife, Anne Boleyn, after he divorced Catherine of Aragon;
- A 1618 proclamation ordering the Irish to depart with all their belongings from lands given to planters during the Plantation of Ulster; and
- A reward for the capture or death of the “arch traitor” Earl of Tyrone Hugh O’Neill.
2. Via The Indy, an article discussing the wonderful maiden speech of the young SNP MP, Mhairi Black. I pulled an all-nighter on the night of the General Election to watch the drama unfold as the results poured in. I knew Labour would be massacred by the rise of the SNP, but seeing how Douglas Alexander lost his seat of Paisley and Renfrewshire South by such a staggering swing to the SNP was certainly something. Losing it to the lady who would become youngest MP in the House of Commons since at least the Reform Act of 1832 (replacing James Dickson who was around 21 years and 67 days old when elected in 1880) was something else. (It made me wonder about what I have managed to achieve in life!)
Her maiden speech was marvellous because of its openness, frankness and stark truth. It was utterly refreshing to see a young person confidently air her views; views she has formed from her own experience – not as a career politician, but as a young student growing up, volunteering for a charity and studying at university. Her speech was poignant and challenging, resulting no doubt in several blows being thrown at the Tories – but at Labour, too.
‘Now, the Government quite rightly pays for me through tax payers money to be able to live in London whilst I serve my constituents. My housing is subsidised by the tax payer. Now, the Chancellor in his budget said it is not fair that families earning over £40,000 in London should have their rents paid for my other working people. But it is OK so long as you’re an MP? In this budget the Chancellor also abolished any housing benefit for anyone below the age of 21. So we are now in the ridiculous situation whereby because I am an MP not only am I the youngest, but I am also the only 20-year-old in the whole of the UK that the Chancellor is prepared to help with housing. We now have one of the most uncaring, uncompromising and out of touch governments that the UK has seen since Thatcher.’
Ouch, Mr Osborne.
‘I have heard multiple speeches from Labour benches standing to talk about the worrying rise of nationalism in Scotland, when in actual fact all these speeches have served to do is to demonstrate how deep the lack of understanding about Scotland is within the Labour party.‘
Ding, ding. What a KO for Labour, the party that is now virtually extinct in Scotland and never did take seriously the threat it faced from the SNP in the run up to the General Election. In the bloody aftermath of Results Night, Labour, instead of taking time out to undergo a post-mortem rushed instead into a leadership contest which threatens to split the party across political ideological lines as interim leader Harriet Harman faces open criticism over her acceptance of child credit cuts included in the Chancellor’s Emergency Budget. (Do we even really know why exactly it is an emergency budget?)
Both the Conservative government and the Official Opposition of Labour are going to have to keep an eye on this bright and determined MP. The SNP have a fighting asset on their hands. No doubt they are going to use her.
3. Even the IMF thinks the new bailout terms forced upon Greece by a frustrated EU are unduly harsh. Yes, you read that right.
The i100 reports how the IMF, a third of the infamous troika of European money-lenders-cum-crossroad demons, believes the only way to save Greece and ease its debt burden is not through another round of harsh cuts to public services and tax increase, but through an actual debt relief deal instead.
An analysis on its website states that Greek debt – which it gloomily predicts will soon reach 200% of GDP – has become ‘highly unsustainable’. Greece owes – but this is liable to change over time – approximately 10% of its sovereign debt to the IMF. The country has already defaulted on two repayments.
Following on from the referendum last week – the question of which sounded eerily similar to a work of James Joyce and confusingly enough, was in relation to terms not actually still on the table – Grexit still hovers like a spectre over the EU. Although new terms for a bailout have been secured (although Mr Tsipras would probably use a different word), there is still a very real threat to the Eurozone and the EU Member States in general. EU leaders have reached the end of their collective patience and by simply strong-arming Greece, have allowed for calls of concern to gain in volume as people begin to criticise what appears to be the rejection of democracy and the absence of legitimacy.
Poor Greece. It simply feels as though the whole cycle will commence once more within a couple of weeks.
*Did anyone say ‘commercial awareness’…?
4. Irony, thy name is sexism.
The London Evening Standard had this little gem online today. Remember the video highlighting the everyday sexism faced by women in New York? Well, the actress who was filmed being catcalled, propositioned and generally insulted is suing. The director of the video, that is. Not the throngs of men. (That would be something, though.)