Posts Tagged ‘ Change ’

Opinion: Abortion Debate Highlights Political Impotency of the Younger Generation

File:Abortion protest - Barcelona, Spain (8133579204).jpg

Abortion protest – Barcelona, Spain. Photo: David Berkowitz.

As I left my house to go to work yesterday I found, as I regularly do, junk mail crammed into my letter box. But, unlike the usual menu for takeaways or an estate agent trying to get me to sell my rented house, I found a leaflet for anti-abortion. It was well made with good eye-catching design; even the pictures of its featured politicians were Obama-ised like the famous ‘Change’ posters. I left it where it was and continued on my way. Two minutes down the street I met the man who was handing out the flyers. Now, I work in a place where daily I deal with large numbers of elderly and retired people, so take my word for it when I tell you; he was one of the oldest people I have ever seen. He was walking up driveways at the pace of a snail with a limp, and his liver spots were so numerous they could have been freckles on a ginger child. Never before have I seen the division of opinions between the old and the young so perfectly portrayed. And yet, despite this man’s obvious lack of vitality he was standing up and making an effort to involve himself in an issue he feels very strongly about. The same can definitely not be said of the majority of the young people in my generation.

Continue reading

Social Entrepreneurs Inspiring Change

Michael Kelly, Séan Coughlan,Niamh Gallagher, Michelle O'Donnell Keating, Tommy Breen, Sean Love

At a time of such negativity in this country it is refreshing to be in a situation where you are completely immersed in positivity. That was the atmosphere at the Social Entrepreneurs Ireland awards last night where 8 groups were awarded for their efforts to improve Irish society.

Social Entrepreneurs Ireland is a foundation that directly supports high potential social entrepreneurs to enable them to maximise their impact. Since launching in 2005 Social Entrepreneurs Ireland has supported 150 social entrepreneurs, directly investing over €4M into supporting these exceptional individuals.

At the core of their activities is their Social Impact Programme which provides financial investment and direct support to early stage social entrepreneurs through networking opportunities, increased awareness, training and an investment package up to €130,000.

Darren Ryan, Head of Engagement at Social Entrepreneurs Ireland said: “These eight social entrepreneurs have the potential to fundamentally change Ireland, and we are proud to support them on their journey. Seeing such a large crowd here tonight is a great signal of the momentum behind these individuals and the level of support that is out there for innovative ideas for social change.”

One of the supporters in attendance was An Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Mr. Kenny stated his desire to attend is due to his belief in what these people are doing for the improvement of this country, and that the outstanding work and creativity of social entrepreneurs would be vital to our future.

Chief Executive of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, Séan Coughlan, used the attendance of an Taoiseach as an opportunity to call on the government to create a Venture Fund to harness the power of Ireland’s social innovations, a move Mr. Coughlan believes would not only solve some of Ireland’s social problems but also cut costs for the State in the long-term.

“If government and philanthropy were to come together to create a new Venture Fund then we could take the best ideas, rapidly scale them and as a result change Ireland. We have seen this type of approach work in the commercial sector, so why not for initiatives that are for public benefit?” said Mr. Coughlan.


SEI presented 3 major awards on the night, one in the area of education and literacy, one in the area of sustainability and the other  to encourage greater participation of women in politics.

Sean Love, former director of Amnesty Ireland, and writer Roddy Doyle won an award for their venture – Fighting Words, a free creative writing centre for students of all ages. The centre’s aim is to give students confidence in writing, film-making and self-expression and so far has hosted over 26,000 students with three anthologies of short stories having been published and many other film-making, playwriting and other projects have been realised.

GIY Ireland was created by Michael Kelly in 2009 with a plan to empower people from all walks of life to grow their own food and in the process strengthen communities, protect the environment and improve the nation’s general wellbeing. Such a movement would be welcome given that earlier this week in Dublin a conference on nutrition and health stated it’s finding that Ireland has one of the highest rates of obesity in Europe with more than 60% of the adult Irish population either overweight or obese at an annual cost to the State of €1.6bn.

Women For Election is an organisation set up by Niamh Gallagher and Michelle O’Donnell Keating whose vision is of an Ireland with a balanced participation of women and men in political life. Given that Women make up 52% of Ireland’s population, but they currently make up only 15% of our elected representatives it begs the question as to whether large portions of our society are not being represented in politics in Ireland today.

Another five social entrepreneurs were also recognised for their contribution to changing Ireland, and will be provided with a support package worth €35,000 each over a 12 month period. The winners of this award were Lisa Domican of Grace App; Steven Daly of Camara Ireland; Sheila Gallagher and Melissa Griffith of Green Sod Land Trust; Joan Freeman of Pieta House; and Krystian Fikert of MyMind.


In such a difficult era for the nation of Ireland, a country suffering from financial difficulties and loss of economic sovereignty, it is inspiring for us all to see these brave and inventive individuals embarking and what is an arduous and uncertain journey given the frugal situation the country finds itself in. However, through their determination, foresight and creativity they are leading a charge for the improvement of society in this country, finding ways to make change happen despite the challenges and refusing to let a dire time in this nation’s history be an excuse for preventing our country from being the best it can be.

An example of a success story from one of SEI’s previous winners is Fledglings, it provides high quality, affordable early years education for the children of Tallaght West. The HighScope approach adopted by Fledglings is academically proven to have significantly better outcomes for children. The HighScope research demonstrated a social return over the life of the adult of $16 for every $1 invested in early education. The fact that parents are themselves able to take up further training or employment is a positive side-effect; the real benefit lies in the intrinsic value of the early education that the children receive.

If this country can continue to produce programmes like Fledglings that not only solve a social problem but provide a return for the State also then the benefits are obvious. Furthermore, if this country can continue to produce the calibre of people getting involved in social entrepreneurship of some form, then all is not bleak for Ireland’s future.