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Stop Ireland’s SOPA

When it rains, it pours.

In the wake of the SOPA/PIPA furore, up bubbles ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement which, as Forbes reports, contains provisions “just as pernicious as anything we saw in SOPA” and has already been signed or ratified by most of the developed world.

What are the consequences? Well, aside from enforcing food and drug patents that are crippling to the developing world, which is bad enough, the agreement also “bypasses the sovereign laws of participating nations, forcing ISPs across the globe to adopt [its] draconian measures.” Oy vey.

If you thought SOPA would break the internet, ACTA is much worse. And it could become law across the global economy without so much as a murmur of opposition.

That’s just super.

Meanwhile, and closer to home, people are kicking up a fuss about a sneaky little piece of legislation that’s been dubbed ‘Ireland’s SOPA’.

TJ McIntyre’s IT Law in Ireland blog has a concise overview of the Government’s plans to legislate for Irish courts to block access to websites accused of copyright infringement (and possibly other things) at their own discretion.

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Thinking out loud about democracy and its vilification

Three things recently that caught my attention.

First, Family Guy writer Patrick Meighan’s account of his arrest at Occupy LA on 30 November, outlining the tactics employed by police to break up the peaceful protest. Though he backtracks a little at the end, refusing to fully condemn those responsible (a cop-out, and a shame), his story is powerful stuff:

As we sat there, encircled, a separate team of LAPD officers used knives to slice open every personal tent in the park. They forcibly removed anyone sleeping inside, and then yanked out and destroyed any personal property inside those tents, scattering the contents across the park. They then did the same with the communal property of the Occupy LA movement… Note that these were the objects described in subsequent mainstream press reports as “30 tons of garbage” that was “abandoned” by Occupy LA: personal property forcibly stolen from us, destroyed in front of our eyes and then left for maintenance workers to dispose of while we were sent to prison.

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A referendum conundrum

It’s a big polling day next Thursday. Not only do we get to elect a new president (you can follow all the #aras11 shenanigans on Twitter), there’s also a by-election here in Dublin West (most notable for the sad fact that Barry Caesar Hunt — that tosser from The Apprentice — is in the running) as well as two constitutional referenda, on the pay of judges and inquiries by the Oireachtas, that have received virtually no significant media coverage in recent weeks. I mean, I read the news online every day and I only found out about them a week ago!

About that second referendum… I’m broadly in favour of the Oireachtas being allowed to conduct its own inquiries into matters of public interest, but this bit about ‘findings which affect a person’s good name’ has me concerned.

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Thinking out loud about David Starkey, the England Riots, etc

So this David Starkey thing, eh? “The whites have become black”? Enoch Powell? “Jamaican patois”? That old chestnut about black people who ‘sound white’? Really?

Anyway, one thing that stands out for me from the Starkey furore — apart from the hole-digging of an ignorant man, desperately out of touch and out of depth — is the hypocrisy of his subsequent evisceration by the media. That’s the very same media that can’t look at itself and see how it fuels the very stereotypes that influence such misleading attitudes.

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After the quake

These photos of the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami tell a remarkable story. But maybe a more remarkable one is that of Japan’s resilience in the face of disaster. Even amid all the shocking imagery – roads split down the middle, cars and houses washed away and disintegrated in the surge – I’m not left with the same sense of hopelessness that followed the 2004 Asian tsunami.

The fact is, with an earthquake of that sheer magnitude (now thought to be 9.0), and as bad as things are right now, the situation could’ve been far worse. It’s a testament to good forward planning that they aren’t.

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