8,894,355 reasons why Ireland should continue to uphold the sanctity and dignity of every human life – because both lives matter. Count The Missing People. Baroness O’Loan poignantly Explains what lies behind her Bill to protect workers sacked for refusing to collaborate; What Ireland’s Former Taoiseach Has To Say In Opposing Anti-Life Attempts To Repeal the 8th…

 

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Read here Lady O’Loan’s poignant account of what has motivated her to challenge unjust laws: 

https://www.irishcatholic.com/ireland-crossroads-will-vote-protect-future-generations/

Baroness Nuala O'Loan

 

Why David Quinn is right: Ireland deserves to hear the whole story –

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/were-only-getting-half-the-story-on-abortion-wxjklg755

Eighth Amendment.jpg

What Ireland’s Former Taoiseach Has To Say In Opposing Anti-Life Attempts To Repeal the 8th…

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/former-taoiseach-says-ireland-should-be-proud-of-eighth-amendment-1.3423831 <https://protect-eu.mimecast.com/s/h-9FCK13nCqQRY3cvbRYw?domain=irishtimes.com&gt;

As 100,000 Irish people demonstrate against proposed laws that would allow abortion up to birth on grounds of mental health two  important articles were published this morning by Alban Maginness and William Binchy, spelling out the reasons why both lives matter and why those who care about human rights and the defence of human life should vote no:

https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/opinion/news-analysis/weekends-huge-demonstration-in-dublin-shows-public-unease-at-attempt-to-scrap-8th-amendment-36701217.html

https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/supreme-court-has-given-us-a-clear-choice-in-abortion-referendum-1.3424134 

William Binchy is adjunct professor of law , Trinity College Dublin.

 

 

DavidAlton.net

Legislate for Life

At 7.30pm on Thursday 25th of January in Belfast, Lord (David) Alton will be giving a talk entitled “Legislate for Life” at St Brides Hall, 38 Derryvolgie Avenue, Belfast BT9 6FP . All welcome.

On January 26th The House of Lords will debate Baroness (Nuala) O’Loan’s new Bill on the right of conscientious objection against participating in abortions. The following link takes you to the report of Fiona Bruce MP and other parliamentarians about how conscience has been subverted: 

http://www.conscienceinquiry.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Pro-Life-APPG-Freedom-of-Conscience-in-Abortion-Provision.pdf

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2017 The Irish Independnent and The Eighth Amendment

  • from The Irish Independent

Both Lives Matter….

To view the talk given by David Alton in Dublin on December 3rd, click here:

Ireland 2017 Choose Life.

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Count the Missing Britons and The People Of Ireland Would Be Wiped Out Twice Over

Speaking in an interview with an Irish Radio station before his visit to Ireland this weekend, David Alton set out his reasons why the…

View original post 566 more words

Democracy needs more than votes to sustain it. 

See GIS Reports Online:

https://www.gisreportsonline.com/western-democracy-needs-christian-values,politics,2419.html

GIS 3 Kings

Democracy needs more than votes to sustain it. Without the solder of commonly held values welding together its constituent parts, democracies can easily disintegrate into competing interest groups and warring factions. When the well of public virtue runs dry, democratic countries are in deep trouble.

 

Yet, who can doubt that today, in a bout of self-loathing – and at a time when it is susceptible to new threats to its democratic institutions – Europe has taken to denying its Christian roots? As we try to airbrush out this essential part of our story, we are in grave danger of forgetting what makes us who we are.

 

We turn our back on our identity at our peril. And let us be clear about what alternatives are waiting in the wings.

Crisis-Democracy-2

 

Democracy needs more than votes to sustain it. 

 

Without the solder of commonly held values welding together its constituent parts, democracies can easily disintegrate into competing interest groups and warring factions.

 

Not that democracy is itself a perfect system of government.

 

Winston Churchill (1874-1965) said that, for him, the sight of the little man freely casting his vote made it worth fighting for – but the two-time British prime minister didn’t wax lyrical about democracy, recognizing that other values were needed to underpin it.    

 Churchill-V

In 1947, in the wake of Adolf Hitler’s atrocities, and even as Joseph Stalin continued to murder his own people, Churchill told the House of Commons:

 

“Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…”

 

Judeo-Christian values

But this “least worst form of government,” in this “world of sin and woe” – impaired but always preferable to dictatorship or totalitarianism – cannot function without virtue and commonly held values. When the well of public virtue runs dry, democratic countries are in deep trouble.

 

Churchill was not known as a great churchgoer. When he was once described as “a pillar of the church,” he corrected the speaker by interjecting: “No, no, not a pillar, but a buttress, supporting it from the outside.”  He understood that the “least worst form of government” was dependent on Judeo-Christian values.

 

He argued:

 

“The flame of Christian ethics is still our highest guide. To guard and cherish it is our first interest, both spiritually and materially… Only by bringing it into perfect application can we hope to solve for ourselves the problems of this world and not of this world alone.”

 

In his “Finest Hour’” war speech to the House of Commons, on June 18, 1940, Churchill insisted that: “Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization.”

 

Yet, who can doubt that today, in a bout of self-loathing – and at a time when it is susceptible to new threats to its democratic institutions – Europe has taken to denying its Christian roots? As we try to airbrush out this essential part of our story, we are in grave danger of forgetting what makes us who we are.

 

We turn our back on our identity at our peril. And let us be clear what alternatives are waiting in the wings.

 

Evil alternative

 

2017 has seen the centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution, which paved the way for totalitarianism, social engineering, state terror and mass murder, leaving a legacy of prison camps and unmarked graves.

 

It was also the 80th anniversary of Russia’s “Great Terror,” a 1936-1938 purge campaign conducted by Stalin’s secret police that led to the arrest of 1.5 million “anti- Soviet elements,” of whom 700,000 were murdered.

great terror

Over the three decades that Stalin ruled, it is estimated that up to 30 million people were executed, starved to death or perished in labor camps.

 

And Stalinism lives on. Incredibly, it was reported that in this anniversary year a dozen new statues have been erected in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, celebrating Stalin’s achievements. 

 

And not just in Russia. I once visited North Korea’s Palace of Gifts, where a bulletproof railway carriage presented by Stalin to North Korea’s founder Kim Il Sung is the prize exhibit. The Russian despot’s memory and example are equally celebrated in that benighted country’s labor camps, in its purges, executions, its reign of terror and its brazen threats. 

 

And this is to say nothing of the other mass murderers of the 20th century: Mao Zedong of China, Pol Pot of Cambodia, and Adolph Hitler of Germany. 

 

It is always worth reminding ourselves of these horrific acts of barbarism that claimed hundreds of millions of lives as we see new forms of totalitarianism threatening our hollowed-out democracies.

 

This brings to mind Hilaire Belloc’s “Cautionary Tales for Children” and the story of Jim, eaten by a lion after refusing to stay close to his nurse: “And always keep ahold of nurse for fear of finding something worse.”

 

As angry voters become increasingly disillusioned with their leaders and institutions, there is a real danger that they will also let go of nurse and find something infinitely worse. 

 

Today’s follies

What Hitler and Stalin failed to do by force of arms we are in grave danger of permitting by enfeebled indifference: a hollowed-out democracy does not flourish. In a form of collective Alzheimer’s disease, we first forget who we are and then angrily try to eliminate the memory and identity of those with whom we disagree.

 

We have seen crucifixes removed from classrooms; Christian midwives lose their jobs because they refuse to abort a child; universities deny free speech to Christian speakers; political leaders forced from office because they are told their beliefs are incompatible with ascendant angry atheism – like a secular illiberal mirror image of Sharia law.

 

Symbols and representations of who we are matter. They represent continuity and identity. Winston Churchill knew what he was talking about when he insisted that “[t]o guard and cherish it is our first interest, both spiritually and materially…”

 

The removal of this framework of commonly celebrated values that underpin our democratic life has other consequences, too.

religion

The Pew Research Center, a renown independent think tank, found that more than eight in 10 people in the world identify with a religious group.  When 84 percent of the globe’s inhabitants say they cherish religious beliefs, the liberal elites who govern them need to understand and harness those impulses for the common good – not sideline and denigrate believers.

 

If a democracy’s religious citizens are actively discriminated against – and even persecuted – the whole society becomes eviscerated. Co-existence and mutual respect are cornerstones of a genuinely free society.

 

Indeed, without such careful stitchwork, the fabric of society can easily be torn. French philosopher Jacques Maritain understood this when he insisted that Christianity does not need democracy to survive, but democracy needs Christianity if it is to survive.

maritain

In Integral Humanism, Maritain explored ways in which, in a pluralistic society, Christianity should enter the Public Square to inform and affect political discourse, without which democracy cannot thrive.

 

His contention that natural rights are rooted in the natural law led to his involvement in the drafting of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights – a classic example of how a religious dimension is central to how more than three quarters of the planet’s population see the world, and how religious values can enrich and inform.

 

It used to be said by Britain’s Left that the Christian Methodism of John Wesley (1703-1791) saved Britain from the Marxism of the Communist Party. The masses on whom democracy relies certainly need something more than online gambling, pornography and consumerism.

 

Democracy that simply depends on who gets the most votes leaves itself open to populism, opportunism, xenophobia, fake news and manipulation – especially in the era of social (or rather antisocial) media and the Twittersphere. But this is not an entirely new phenomenon. In 1933, after all, Adolf Hitler took 43.9 percent of the German popular vote.

 

Majorities, religion and liberty

An inherent weakness of majoritarianism is that with the adept ability to affect election results through manipulation, fake news, scaremongering, appeals to greed, self-interest and the lowest common denominator, the interests of society as a whole can easily suffer.

John-Stuart-Mill

It can, as John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) argued in 1859 in On Liberty, lead to oppression by majorities comparable to the oppression of tyrants or despots.

 

Since ancient times, we have been well aware of the dangers of scaremongering and scapegoating to win popular acclaim. Plato insisted that the uneducated couldn’t possibly be on a par with the intellectuals and that those best qualified to govern were the philosophers and intellectual elites.

 

Plato’s fear of the masses found an echo in the views of the eighteenth century philosopher Edmund Burke (1729-1797), who said “the tyranny of a multitude is a multiplied tyranny”; in the words of American Founding Father James Madison (1751-1836), who described “the violence of majority faction”; in the 19th century writings of the Whig historian Lord Thomas Macaulay (1800-1859); in Alexis de Tocqueville’s (1805-1859) epochal Democracy in America. And it was the Victorian Liberal historian, Baron John Acton (Lord Acton, 1834-1902), who wrote: “The one pervading evil of democracy is the tyranny of the majority.”

 

The antidote that tempers the excesses to which this tyranny can lead must surely be the cultivation of virtue and the harnessing of religious faith as a powerful force for good. De Tocqueville understood this when he insisted that “Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.” In observing American democracy, he noted that “[the] Americans combine the notions of religion and liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive of one without the other.”

 

But as we have disassociated religion and liberty, democracy and faith, we have unstitched the fabric that holds a society together and endangered its future. Too many of our Western elites preen themselves like peacocks while they reject and ridicule the values that offer the best defense against self-serving populism.

 

It is those timeless values that will save democracy.

 

Two princes

Consider, finally, this tale of two princes:

Fyodor Dostoyevsky_

Prince Lev Myshkin, the protagonist of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s masterpiece novel The Idiot, famously stated that “beauty will save the world.” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the Russian Nobel prizewinning author, put a lot of stock in this particular quote in his 1970 lecture sent to the Nobel Committee.    

 

Contrast the credulous, faith-inspired naivety of this afflicted Russian nobleman with the received wisdom that only power, politics, wealth and weapons will save the world.

 

Contrast the counterintuitive, gentle and insightful profundity of Prince Myshkin with the shallow, populist rhetoric that saves no one, but puts the world at risk by threatening social order. 

 

Not that Dostoyevsky was suggesting that beauty alone can save the world. The point was rather that when we allow beauty to touch our hearts, our baser instincts can be tempered – which can be true for both individuals and institutions.

 

In the battlefield that is the heart of man, a small victory occurs when our self-serving is replaced by a love of the common good: giving a life to gain a life.

 

Through the purity and lack of guile that characterizes Prince Myshkin, Dostoyevsky is telling us that the beauty which will save the world is the love of God; that His beauty must change us if we wish to change our families, our communities and our societies.

 

This otherworldly view squarely contradicts a more common belief, best summarized in the 16th century by Niccolo Machiavelli: that princes, the antithesis of Myshkin, can justify all means in politics understood as the pursuit of glory, power, prestige and survival.

 

In The Prince, Machiavelli tells us that the ruler should not hesitate to deceive and be prepared to choose evil as the price of power. The Italian despised many traditional Christian beliefs, turning on their head Christian words such as virtue, believing that real virtue emanated from the pursuit of ambition, glory and power.

 

This, of course, represented a fundamental break with Aquinas and medieval scholasticism and the Aristotelian belief in the pursuit of virtue.  

Aristotle identified the many virtues that enable a person to be a good citizen – and without which the individual and the polis will not thrive.

 

What was true in ancient Greece is true in Europe today.

 

If the imperfect system of democracy is to function and survive, there must be a continuous cultivation of virtue and an upholding of those values that enrich and underpin a system that can so easily be subverted.

Crisis-Democracy-2

Also see: 

Universe Christmas edition page 48

How Food Waste Could Feed Another Billion Poeple; and the scandalous impact of plastics on our environment.

Food-Waste2-2016-620x330

Call To End Food Waste. Click here:

Universe1

Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB)

 

My Lords, has the Minister had a chance to study reports from the Institute of Engineering and the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene which state that between 6% and 10% of greenhouse gases are produced by food waste, that around 100 million tonnes of food was dumped in Europe in the course of the last year alone and that, worldwide, if the food that is being wasted were available to eat, it would feed 1 billion people who are estimated to be without food or hungry today?

Lord Bates (Minister, Conservative)

The noble Lord is absolutely right. Of course, as part of our clean growth strategy, we have an ambition to reduce the level of food waste by half by 2030. The Courtauld initiative is also aiming to reduce food waste between 2015 and 2025. It is also part of the ambition of sustainable development goal 12. So all the strategy, all the rules and all the ambition are there—we just need to see the action.

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Lord Gardiner of Kimble, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL3870):

Question:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the decision of the East of England Co-op to sell food after the best-before date, in order to help reduce food waste; and whether they intend to encourage other supermarket chains to do the same. (HL3870)

Tabled on: 05 December 2017

Answer:
Lord Gardiner of Kimble:

Selling food beyond its best before date is not a food safety issue. The Government encourages all food businesses, large and small, to use the updated Waste & Resources Action Programme guidance to help them put the right date mark on food and help to guide people on the refrigeration and freezing of products which are crucial to reducing the amount of edible food thrown away.

Date and time of answer: 13 Dec 2017 at 15:24.

House of Lords Tuesday November 28th 2017

 

foodwasteactionpage.jpg__1500x670_q85_crop_subsampling-2

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UK ‘faces build-up of plastic waste’

House of Lords January 9th 2018

My Lords, can the Minister tell us what percentage of the some 500,000 tonnes of plastic waste that are estimated to be exported from this country to China each year are actually capable of being recycled? Further, in his response to the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, he did not say anything about incineration. There has been some speculation that the Government might support incineration, but would that not be simply adding one environmental degradation to another?

My Lords, I used the phrase energy recovery. That is via the use of incineration and the source of fuel it provides is a much better use than landfill. Moreover, landfill quantities have been reduced dramatically. Some 3.7 million tonnes of plastic waste are created in this country of which 0.4 million tonnes is sent to China. That actually represents a reduction from 0.7 million tonnes of waste being exported in 2010, so a reducing amount of waste is going to China. However, it is clear that we need to do better, and that is why we are working on this issue.

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By Roger HarrabinBBC environment analyst: Jan 1 2018

The UK’s recycling industry says it doesn’t know how to cope with a Chinese ban on imports of plastic waste.

Britain has been shipping up to 500,000 tonnes of plastic for recycling in China every year, but now the trade has been stopped.

At the moment the UK cannot deal with much of that waste, says the UK Recycling Association.

Its chief executive, Simon Ellin, told the BBC he had no idea how the problem would be solved in the short term.

“It’s a huge blow for us… a game-changer for our industry,” he said. “We’ve relied on China so long for our waste… 55% of paper, 25% plus of plastics.

“We simply don’t have the markets in the UK. It’s going to mean big changes in our industry.”

China has introduced the ban from this month on “foreign garbage” as part of a move to upgrade its industries.

Other Asian nations will take some of the plastic, but there will still be a lot left.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove has admitted that he was slow to spot the problem coming.

The UK organisation Recoup, which recycles plastics, said the imports ban would lead to stock-piling of plastic waste and a move towards incineration and landfill.

Peter Fleming, from the Local Government Association, told the BBC: “Clearly there’s a part to play for incineration but not all parts of the country have incinerators.

Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES

“It’s a challenge – but mostly in the short term… and we will cope. In the longer term we need a much more intelligent waste strategy.”

Any move towards burning more plastic waste, though, would be met with fierce resistance from environmental groups.

‘Wrong answer’

Louise Edge, from Greenpeace, told the BBC: “The government has got us into this mess by continually putting off decisions and passing the buck.

“Incineration is the wrong answer – it’s a high-carbon non-renewable form of generating electricity. It also creates toxic chemicals and heavy metals.

“If you build incinerators it creates a market for the next 20 years for single-use plastics, which is the very thing we need to be reducing right now.”

The government is consulting with industry over a tax on single-use plastics and a deposit scheme for bottles.

Reduce and simplify

Mr Gove told the BBC his long-term goals were to reduce the amount of plastic in the economy overall, reduce the number of different plastics, simplify local authority rules so people can easily judge what’s recyclable and what isn’t as well as increase the rate of recycling.

The UK must, he said, “stop off-shoring its dirt”.

The Commons Environmental Audit Committee said Britain should introduce a sliding scale tax on plastic packaging with the hardest to recycle being charge most and the easiest to recycle being charged least.

There is broad agreement over much of that agenda, but it is not yet clear how the UK will achieve that long-term goal – or how it will solve its short-term China crisis.

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Blue Planet, Plastics, and Their Impact on Marine Life Raised In Parliament , November 22nd 2017

Blue Planet

Lord Alton of Liverpool (Croissbench Peer)

My Lords, did the Minister see the alarming findings of the BBC’s programme on the disposal of plastics and the effects on whales, fish and other marine life described in “Blue Planet”? What advice are the Government giving to local authorities and others to deal more creatively with the disposal of plastics—and indeed the replacement of plastics by materials that can be recycled more easily?

  • Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Conservative, Government Minister)

My Lords, I did not have the privilege of seeing that programme, which I regret as I heard it was extremely good. The noble Lord is right to focus attention on some of the challenges we face. We are improving our position as a nation, but there is much to do. We are in favour of upping the targets that are currently being looked at, and what that improvement will be has yet to be announced—the current target is 60%. The noble Lord is right about the particular problem of marine challenges, which we are also looking at. Black plastics are a particular problem, and we have a working group looking at that.

Blue Planet 2

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Hong Kong Watch Launched At Mr.Speaker’s House as Four Parliamentary Patrons Pledge To Uphold Two Systems One Country.

Hong Kong Watch Launched At Mr.Speaker’s House as Four Parliamentary Patrons Pledge To Uphold Two Systems One Country.

Hong Kong Watch3.jpg

Hong Kong Watch1

https://www.hongkongfp.com/2017/12/12/new-watchdog-aims-blow-whistle-beijing-london-hong-kong-freedoms-rule-law/

https://www.hongkongwatch.org/all-posts/2017/12/11/hong-kong-watch-to-be-a-watchdog-and-a-whistleblower-say-speakers-at-the-launch-of-hong-kong-watch

During the launch of Hong Kong Watch at Mr.Speaker’s House in the British Houses of Parliament, David Alton (Lord Alton of Liverpool), one of the four parliamentary patrons, said that they should “take inspiration from the life of one of the twentieth century’s great  Chinese figures, Watchman Nee, who spent twenty years in Chinese jails, imprisoned for his beliefs. He took the name Watchman and we, too, must be like the Night Watch, Watchmen and women watching out for those who would steal peoples’ rights and appropriate the law and , like the geese that would, at times of danger,  rouse the Roman citadel, be ready to raise our voices – in our case,  to speak out on behalf of the people of Hong Kong.”  

He said that it was in China’s interests to be seen as a great nation that could be trusted to uphold the laws that it had agreed and to safeguard two systems in one country.  

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Press Release: Hong Kong Watch to be ‘a watchdog’ and a ‘whistleblower’ say speakers at the launch of Hong Kong Watch

For immediate release

11 December 2017

A new advocacy organization focused on Hong Kong was launched today at a reception hosted in Speaker’s House, House of Commons in the UK Parliament on Monday, 11 December 2018.

The new organisation, Hong Kong Watch, is a London-based human rights organisation which speakers described as a human rights ‘watchman’ and a ‘whistleblower’ which will speak up if freedom and rule of law are undermined in Hong Kong.

The event was introduced by the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Rt Hon John Bercow MP. His remarks were followed by speeches from Benedict Rogers, Chairman of Trustees at Hong Kong Watch, and the patrons of Hong Kong Watch: former Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind QC, former Labour Shadow Foreign Minister Catherine West MP, Former Leader of the Liberal Democrats Lord Paddy Ashdown, independent cross-bench peer Lord David Alton, and Sir Geoffrey Nice QC who was the chief prosecutor in the trial of Slobodan Milosevic.

Drawing on the words of Lord Ashdown and Lord Alton, Benedict Rogers described Hong Kong Watch as a ‘whistleblower’ and a ‘watchman’:

“I think we have two brilliant descriptions of Hong Kong Watch with Lord Ashdown’s description of Hong Kong Watch as a ‘whistleblower’, and Lord Alton’s description of Hong Kong Watch as a ‘watchman’. We will endeavour to do both.”

Benedict Rogers quoted Lord Ashdown, describing Hong Kong Watch as a ‘whistleblower’:

“What will Hong Kong Watch do? Lord Ashdown on a recent visit to Hong Kong said Hong Kong Watch will be a whistleblower, and that is exactly what we will do. We want to build our advocacy on research, on monitoring the situation, drawing on first-hand information, and then we will provide briefings, and seminars: spotlighting the situation. I think one of the reasons for setting up Hong Kong Watch is a sense that there is a lack of awareness about the situation. We want to address this in parliament and policy makers, and further afield.”

Lord Alton said:

“We have got to be watchmen now, and use the freedoms and liberties we enjoy in this very privileged place to speak up on behalf of the people of Hong Kong. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said: ‘not to speak is to speak, and not to act is to act’.”

Lord Ashdown underlined that Hong Kong Watch was designed to be a whistleblower which monitored the actions of both the Chinese government and the government of the United Kingdom.

He said that it was:

“The role of Hong Kong Watch goes two ways. Yes, it is our job to blow the whistle on Beijing when we perceive the Chinese government to have broken the terms of the Joint-Declaration, but it is also our job to say to our own government that: ‘you should stand up and argue our case a little more strongly than you have done so far…’”

Speakers underlined the motivation behind the launch of Hong Kong Watch, raising concerns about the ongoing threat to rule of law and the rights protected in the Sino-British Joint Declaration, the Basic Law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Benedict Rogers delivered a message of support from the former Governor of Hong Kong, Lord Chris Patten, who said:

“Hong Kong was of course guaranteed local autonomy and the continuation of its way of life in the Joint Declaration under the International Treaty between Britain and China which lasts until 2047. It is important that China holds to its obligations under the Joint Declaration. Not only is this important for Hong Kong itself, but it will also be taken as a sign by many countries around the world about how much they can trust China to keep its word as the next few years unfold. It is not external interference if friends or supporters of Hong Kong take a fair, informed and balanced view of the community’s development. It is simply a mark of continuing friendship for a great city.”

Speakers focused on various areas of concern. Sir Geoffrey Nice QC highlighted that ‘the right to take part in the government of one’s country’ through universal suffrage is an inalienable and universal duty, protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Catherine West MP highlighted the importance of academic freedom, while Sir Malcolm Rifkind highlighted the significance of rule of law.

 

Note to Editors

You can find Hong Kong Watch’s website at www.hongkongwatch.org. Please include links to Hong Kong Watch’s twitter (@hk_watch) and facebook (@hongkongwatch1) in articles referring to the organisation. The speeches can be found in full on Hong Kong Watch’s facebook: www.facebook.com/hongkongwatch1.

For further enquiries please email: johnny@hongkongwatch.org
Hong Kong Watch2

New Report Highlights The Position of the Irish Community In Britain Following the UK’s Decision To Leave the EU And Also The Plight Of The Irish Traveller Movement – launched at the House of Lords December 4th – Exchanges in Parliament, December 5th and reply from the Government, December 6th.

New Report Highlights The Plight Of The Irish Traveller Movement – House of Lords Event

House of Lords December 5 th the position of the Irish in Britain post Brexit

 

Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB)

 

My Lords, has the Minister had the chance to look at the report that I sent him last week? It was launched formally here in Parliament last night and concerned the position of the Irish in Britain and how they will be affected after our withdrawal from the European Union. Will he agree to place in your Lordships’ Library a copy of his response, particularly relating to the implications for the 1949 Ireland Act and the common travel area?

 

Lord Callanan (Conservative Minister)

 

The noble Lord asks a good question. I have seen his letter and report. The situation of the Irish in the United Kingdom is of great personal interest to me. I will send him a reply in due course and would be happy to place a copy of it in the Library.

 

November 6th 2017:

Reply from the Government Minister, Lord Callanan. Click here: 

Lord Callanan to Lord Alton 6 December 2017

 

To read the full report click here:

http://travellermovement.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/TTM-Brexit_and_Irish_citizens_in_the_UK_web.pdf

 

The Irish Times: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/irish-in-uk-could-lose-right-to-work-after-brexit-says-report-1.3314983 

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/britain-will-be-free-to-deport-irish-citizens-after-eu-exit-nl0hhcpcm

 

The rights of Irish citizens in a post-Brexit UK  – remarks by David Alton (Lord Alton of Liverpool) host of a parliamentary event held on December 4th 2017:

Firstly, thank you all for attending. It’s great to see so many colleagues from both Houses and also to see Irish civil society organisations represented here today.

I’d like to thank the Traveller Movement for highlighting this critical issue and commissioning a much needed paper.

 

Thank you to Simon Cox for what is truly a fantastic and thorough paper, and to Professor Bernard Ryan for his very helpful contributions in its creation – we will be hearing from both in a few moments.

I must confess that I have a personal interest in this issue. I, like many in this room I suspect, have Irish roots. Irish roots I am immensely proud of. My mother emigrated to Britain from the West of Ireland – County Mayo in fact. I and my children also proudly hold Irish citizenship.

 

And this is why I think the issues surrounding the rights of Irish citizens in a post-Brexit UK is so critical. There are not many of us who do not have some connection to Ireland or to Irish people; either through relations or even just friends. There are not many of us who have not had their lives touched, for the better, by the Irish.

Throughout history, the Irish community have been a fundamental part of British society and continue to shape Britain for the better.

 

Take the city of Liverpool where, for nearly two decades, I was a Member of Parliament. It is often described as “the other capital of Ireland” – with three quarters of its population having some Irish antecedents.

 

That community has roots in the Irish Rebellion of 1798 and in the great hunger produced by the Irish Famine of the 1840s. Liverpool elected the only Irish Nationalist MP to sit for an English constituency.

 

Many of its most notable citizens – from the social reformer, Kitty Wilkinson, to the sculptor, Arthur Dooley, from founders of institutions like Dr. John Bligh, to Sir John Brown, and Cork’s Richard Sadleir, Liverpool’s first mayor, countless contributions have been made to the civic life of the city from people in whose veins Irish blood has flowed.

 

Irish people are rooted in so many of our communities, in our churches and in our work places – they have built lives and families here and should continue to be free to do so.

 

The contribution of the Irish is something of which we should be immensely proud and we must ensure their status here is unaffected by Brexit.

Unfortunately, as the paper being launched today clearly demonstrates, the rights of Irish citizens – future generations and those already living here – are at risk and need to be secured with urgency.

 

There are, of course, some parts of the Irish community who will be at greatest risk if these protections are not put in place.

The Irish Traveller community have long faced significant prejudice in Britain. The Traveller Movement’s research – ‘Last acceptable form of racism?’ – recently found that service providers and healthcare providers routinely refuse access to Irish Travellers. A lack of legal and policy clarity in a post-Brexit UK would lead to those officials and private sector staff with prejudice to discriminate – consciously or unconsciously – against Irish Travellers who hold Irish citizenship.

But what we now understand – with great clarity thanks to the work of Simon, Bernard and the Traveller Movement – are the risks that all Irish citizens will face unless action is taken.

 

Despite repeated questions, the British Government has not explained how the Ireland Act 1949 operates to provide the rights to Irish citizens in the UK. Nor has it explained how the Common Travel Area provides Irish citizens with rights to work or receive healthcare. The UK Government has not even addressed its powers to deport Irish citizens.

 

Until Brexit, Irish citizens are protected as EU citizens. After Brexit there will be heightened public expectations about measures directed at people who are not British citizens. Can we safely say that the British Government has ensured that Irish citizens would be protected from such measures?

I am afraid that we cannot. In these most uncertain of times, we cannot rely on warm words or sentiments of shared values and trust.

 

And we most certainly cannot rely on the good nature and good will of Ministers and future Ministers.

 

History has repeatedly demonstrated that times and public attitudes change, and that benign political leaders can be replaced by others less so. Relying on goodwill is not enough.

 

Regulations that can be changed by the executive, and powers to take actions against individuals may be used in ways that run against current expectations.

Without guaranteed legal rights, Irish citizens are at risk of executive action.

 

That is why we need strong and firm leadership from the British government on this issue. We need strong legal guarantees of its promises to Irish citizens. We need clear legal measures in an Act of Parliament.

 

Thanks to this paper we know the gaps in law, but most importantly we know the solutions and the steps the Government needs to and should take. I commend it to you all and I hope it serves as the wakeup call that both the British and Irish Governments need.

 

8,894,355 reasons why Ireland should continue to uphold the sanctity and dignity of every human life – because every life matters. Count The Missing Britons and The People of Ireland Would Be Wiped Out Twice Over. Details of Belfast Talk on January 25th and Baroness O’Loan’s new Bill on abortion and conscientious objection.

Legislate for Life

At 7.30pm on Thursday 25th of January in Belfast, Lord (David) Alton will be giving a talk entitled “Legislate for Life” at St Brides Hall, 38 Derryvolgie Avenue, Belfast BT9 6FP . All welcome.

On January 26th The House of Lords will debate Baroness (Nuala) O’Loan’s new Bill on the right of conscientious objection against participating in abortions. The following link takes you to the report of Fiona Bruce MP and other parliamentarians about how conscience has been subverted: 

http://www.conscienceinquiry.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Pro-Life-APPG-Freedom-of-Conscience-in-Abortion-Provision.pdf

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2017 The Irish Independnent and The Eighth Amendment

  • from The Irish Independent

 

Both Lives Matter….

To view the talk given by David Alton in Dublin on December 3rd, click here:

Ireland 2017 Choose Life.

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Count the Missing Britons and The People Of Ireland Would Be Wiped Out Twice Over

 

Speaking in an interview with an Irish Radio station before his visit to Ireland this weekend, David Alton set out his reasons why the Irish would be unwise to import British abortion laws to the Republic. Listen here:

 

 https://soundcloud.com/user-268048055/2017-12-01-david-alton-on-spirit-radio

 

 Speaking this weekend at a pro-life meeting in Dublin the Crossbench Peer, David Alton (Lord Alton of Liverpool), said that “there are 8,894,355 reasons why Ireland should reject the imposition of British-style abortion laws in Ireland.  That is the number of British lives lost since abortion law was enacted; a law that was supposed to be used only in the most extreme circumstances; a law which has led to 600 lives being lost every day – one every three minutes. That’s equivalent to wiping out almost twice the entire current population of Ireland.

 

It is instructive that because the same British law was not enacted in the north of Ireland there are 100,000 people (5% of the population) who are alive today who would otherwise be dead.

 

So,  to remedy this, and to make a mockery of devolution,  the British Government has now imposed a policy to pay women to abort their babies in England – and in the case of girls under the age of 16 to remove them from the country and abort them overseas without the knowledge or agreement of their parents.  This smacks of the British policies of the nineteenth century which were based on the recommendation of Malthus that “a large part of the population of Ireland should be swept from the soil” and the beliefs of the twentieth century eugenicists, led by Marie Stopes, who said that the “racially negligent” should be prevented from having babies.

 

Today, Marie Stopes clinics are part of an abortion industry that has generated three quarters of a billion pounds over the past decade. This is all about money and vested interests about ideology and sloganeering, not about love and care for women and their babies.

 

Instead of State abduction and State sponsored abortion, Britain should be insisting that both  lives matter – and supporting both women and their children.  If Britain really believed in equality, and was against discrimination, it would be offering pregnant Northern Irish mothers the same funds – thousands of pounds – to abort their babies to help them, if they wish to go ahead with their pregnancy.  

 

And, as Ireland decides whether to uphold the Eighth Amendment or to adopt British-style laws, let no-one say this is about human rights. The foundational human right is the right to life. Without the right to life, all the others rights are worthless. There are 8,894,355 reasons why Ireland should continue to uphold the sanctity and dignity of every human life – because every life matters.”

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The Times: reports claim that Abortion Committee is Biased

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/ireland/abortion-committee-biased-say-activists-kgd6v6zsm

https://www.rte.ie/news/dublin/2017/1203/924688-pro-life-conference/

Here’s a link to the Irish Times video

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/oireachtas-committee-criticised-at-anti-abortion-convention-1.3314363

I’ve often said that if you could prove to me that the science is wrong and that life doesn’t begin at conception then I would change my mind about the “right” to take the life of an unborn child. This interview takes the same tack. The interviewer sets up a stall with a sign “I’m pro life, change my mind” and invites people to change his mind. Over 1 million people have viewed it. You’d never be allowed to see it on the BBC but you can watch it here:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OCSZYJywQPM

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Also see this moving clip on “the love chromosome”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-tNCFsPAQ94

http://www.thelovechromosome.com/

What kind of country provides a pay packet of £217 million to its highest paid woman – for running a gambling firm? What kind of country produces five billionaires and 15 multimillionaires from the proceeds of gambling – and increased their wealth last year by nearly 20% to £19 billion? – and then turns a blind eye to the 2 million people in the UK who are either problem gamblers or at risk of gambling addiction – including young people driven to suicide?

What kind of country provides a pay packet of £217 million to its highest paid woman – for running a gambling firm? What kind of country produces five billionaires and 15 multimillionaires from the proceeds of gambling – increasing their wealth last year by nearly 20% to £19 billion? – and then turns a blind eye to the 2 million people in the UK who are either problem gamblers or at risk of gambling addiction – including young people driven to suicide?

Today’s debate on Online Gambling: November 24th 2017

 

3.39 pm

 

Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB)

 

My Lords, I too warmly welcome this debate and congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Browne of Belmont, on his speech and on initiating the debate. I wholeheartedly agree with and endorse his remarks, along with those of the other preceding speakers.

 

In preparing for the debate I have been struck by the fact that the problem gamblers I have spoken to are also passionately against the two-tier system referred to by the noble Lord. One of them, Justyn Larcombe, emailed me this morning, giving me permission to quote him. He said:

 

“I am at a loss to understand why the Gambling Commission would have settled for this approach. Given that some companies own multiple sites, it doesn’t take a genius to work out why the industry might have pressured the commission into this bizarre arrangement … When you want to self-exclude, you are desperate and, by definition, you want to cut yourself off from all gambling opportunities. The idea that anyone reaches that point and wants to cut themselves off from bet365, but not Paddy Power, is farcical”.

 

Endorsing a point that we have heard in preceding speeches, he adds:

 

“It is in the middle of the night that the most destructive online gambling takes place. If it could be shut down overnight in the UK, as in Finland, that would really help increase protections for problem gamblers”.

 

I will return to each of Mr Larcombe’s points in my remarks.

 

For 25 years, as a city councillor or Member of the House of Commons, I represented inner-city neighbourhoods in Liverpool. Time and again, I saw the destructive effects of various forms of addiction. Addictive gambling had a corrosive and pernicious effect, with men in particular gambling wages or benefits that their wives and families desperately needed to keep hearth and home together.

 

Fast forward to today and into the world of anti-social media; and as the Gambling Commission reminds us, the overall prevalence of at-risk gambling is at its worst among those who are enticed into online gambling. That tears lives, families and communities apart—and we should all reflect on the sometimes tragic consequences, which include suicide and other well-documented mental, physical, and emotional consequences, as we have heard. We have been reminded of tragic cases: the 23 year-old trainee accountant, Joshua Jones, who in the summer of 2015 leapt from the ninth storey of a London skyscraper to his death because his gambling debts had risen to £30,000; the 18 year-old, Omair Abbas, who committed suicide in 2016, having accumulated just over £5,000 of online gambling debts; and the noble Lord, Lord Morrow, reminded us of the death of a young man in Fermanagh who had accumulated staggering debts. This waste of life, full of promise, is desperately unnecessary. Gambling addiction destroys lives, but it can also destroy communities.

 

Fast forward again to 2017 and visit our hollowed-out high streets, where the dominating prevalence of charity shops and betting shops tell their own story of modern Britain. In a telling and sharp contrast, as local communities are disfigured and struggle for resources, the Local Government Association is right to remind us that the gross gambling yield from fixed-odds betting terminals rose from £1.05 billion in April 2008 to £1.73 billion in March 2016—an increase of 65%. Those figures hardly suggest that the Gambling Act has struck the right balance between the needs of local communities and the rights of multimillion-pound businesses. I particularly agree with the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Chadlington, who told us that we ought to enforce many more restrictions on gambling advertising.

 

The fact that our laws lack balance is also illustrated by the findings of the Gambling Commission, which tells us that the UK now has the largest regulated online gambling market in the world. In one recent year, the remote gambling sector generated a gross gambling yield—defined as the amount retained by operators after the payment of winnings but before the deduction of costs—of a staggering £4.5 billion. That is a 32% market share of an even more staggering £13.8 billion generated over the same period by the gambling industry as a whole. Again, it was the noble Lord, Lord Chadlington, who reminded us of the obscene levels of remuneration by some of the captains of this industry.

 

Problem gamblers in Great Britain—defined as those who gamble to a degree that compromises, disrupts or damages family, personal or recreational pursuits—are estimated to comprise some 430,000 people, mainly men, with a further 2 million deemed “at risk” of problem gambling. To combat that, the commission says that we can harness technology to provide some degree of protection; in particular, it points to the online multi-operator self-exclusion scheme, mentioned by noble Lords in the debate, scheduled to be in place by 2018. However, again, as Justyn Larcombe told me:

 

“I am at a loss to understand why the commission would have settled for this approach”.

 

The Gambling Commission licence conditions and codes of practice, in paragraphs 3.5.4 and 3.5.5, appear to suggest that individual sites should continue to run their own self-exclusion system in addition to MOSES. I am underlining the point of the noble Lord, Lord Browne, which is extremely important. I can see that the Minister may be tempted to suggest that having two systems is better than one; in some situations there can be wisdom in a belt-and-braces approach, but not here. The existence of two systems is likely to generate confusion, whereas problem gamblers, such as Mr Larcombe, want to be able to self-exclude from all legal sites at the same time. I very much hope that we are misreading paragraphs 3.5.4 and 3.5.5 and that GAMSTOP will replace all individual online self-exclusion provisions. However, if it does not, I must ask what evidence the Gambling Commission and the Government have from genuine problem gamblers that there is a desire for a two-tier system. I hope the Minister will reflect on that.

 

As others have done, let me say something about the statutory levy. I particularly endorse what my noble friend Lady Howe said to the House a little while ago. I raised the issue of the Government’s Internet Safety Strategy Green Paper in another context with the Minister who will reply to the debate. I find it quite extraordinary that, without a hint of irony, at the conclusion of page 16 and beginning of page 17, the paper states:

 

While the Secretary of State has the power in legislation to bring forward a gambling levy, in practice the sector provides voluntary contributions and support. The majority of these voluntary payments go to GambleAware, a leading charity in Britain committed to minimising gambling-related harm”.

 

Reading that, it sounds as if the Government are relaying a good-news story of successful self-regulation. Nothing could be further from the truth.

 

The industry is supposed generously to contribute 0.1% of gross gambling yield, £14 million, and yet it cannot manage even that. Last year, it managed only £8 million, sufficient to enable GambleAware to fund treatment for 8,000 people. Yet there are 430,000 problem gamblers in Great Britain. The Secretary of State should use the regulation-making powers afforded to her by Section 123 of the Gambling Act to give effect to the statutory levy. In my judgment, it should be at least at the level of the problem prevalence figure: 0.8% of gross gambling yield.

 

Justyn Larcombe also told me:

 

“It is in the middle of the night that the most destructive online gambling takes place”.

 

He referred to the situation in Finland. To deal with this challenge will necessitate legislation requiring gambling sites not to accept bets between midnight and 6 am, and financial transaction providers not to process gambling transactions between those hours. As well as reducing the hours during which people can gamble, I hope the Minister will consider reducing maximum stakes on fixed-odds betting terminals—B2 gaming machines—to just £2. The current maximum stake of £100 is significantly out of line with the maximum amounts that can be staked on other types of gaming machines. There is also credible evidence that these machines may be addictive particularly to problem gamblers and therefore pose a greater risk to them, as well as being linked to anti-social behaviour and crime in betting shops.

 

Then there is the role of the commission. The commission notes, as others have observed, that in 2008 public confidence and trust in gambling stood at 49%. Today, it stands at just 34%. The commission needs to ask why there has been that decline in public confidence. Along with others in your Lordships’ House, I think that we are all indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Browne, for giving us the chance to raise these points and ask these questions today.

 

 3.49 pm

 

Read the full debate at

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Lords/2017-11-23/debates/4939B7F6-844C-40C0-A420-38E931AE7DDB/OnlineGambling

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