Ériu is our queen?

A message The message ‘Éiru is our Queen‘ appeared on the hills above West Belfast today in relation to the “Royal Fistbump” / handshake of reconciliation between Martin McGuinness and the Queen.

Éiru is the personification of Ireland and goddess of sovereignty.

With her sisters, Banba and Fódla, she was part of an important triumvirate of goddesses. When the Milesians arrived from Galicia each of the three sisters asked that her name be given to the country. This was granted to them, although Ériu (Éire) became the chief name in use (Banba and Fódla are still sometimes used as poetic names for Ireland, much as Albion is for Great Britain).

Curiously, though identified as children of Adam, the sisters are according to the Lebor Gabála “older than Noe… on a peak of a mountain was [Banba] in the Flood.” The only two other people which are said to be this old and to have survived the flood are Tuan mac Carill and Fintan mac Bóchra.

It’s interesting how myths are still used today, even in the political spectrum.

ériu is our queen - image by Phil O'Kane

ériu is our queen - image by Phil O'Kane

“Psychics” take advantage of vulnerable people on national TV

Con artists are everywhere, waiting for the next gullible, and in many cases vulnerable, victim. It shouldn’t be so easy to broadcast such nonsense, but as production company, ESO.TV, recently found out, it is. Their show, Psychic Readings Live, has been airing for the last week on national Irish TV channel TV3, yet clearly no one thought to clarify the authenticity of what they were peddling. Simply call the show to speak with Physic Wayne [Isaacs], at a rate of €2.44/min, and either wait to speak with Psychic Wayne, or connect to one of the specialised psychics.

An investigation carried out by Alan Rice has shown that many of the images used for each of the other “psychics” on the show have in fact been taken from across the web: stock image databases, personal blogs, personal flickr feeds, and Facebook amongst others.

In it’s terms & conditions EOS.tv state:

The psychic services will be provided personally by the psychics and not by the Producer or the Broadcaster. Neither the Producer nor the Broadcaster have any knowledge or psychic ability. The psychic services are for entertainment purposes only. The responsibility of the Broadcaster is to broadcast the Show and the responsibility of the Producer is to produce the show and its services, including enabling the telephone connection between the Callers and the psychics. Neither the Producer nor the Broadcaster or any of their employees, officers, directors or shareholders are and shall be responsible in any manner whatsoever to any act and/or omission of any psychic, including any words, sayings, suggestions, offers etc. of the psychics, and the Caller waives all demands against the Broadcaster and/or the Producer in connection thereto. All responsibility to any such acts and/or omissions shall be borne only by the psychics personally.

The words “The psychic services are for entertainment purposes only” should be clearly stated at the bottom of the screen in large letters, otherwise it is simply the production company execs who are being entertained.

This show is simply taking advantage of vulnerable people, behaving like they have answers, while instead spouting nonsense. And while TheJournal.ie reports TV3’s as saying in response:

The infomercial is produced by an independent 3rd party (ESO.TV) and promotes a service which is licensed by Comreg. The infomercial also meets all premium phone-line and broadcasting regulations. The content is commercial and not a TV3 programme or TV3 content.

This show will still be aired tonight.

Continuing NI gay blood ban continues the prejudice

The Northern Ireland gay blood ban looks set to continue with the news from the DUP’s health minister, Edwin Poots MLA, that he has received some new research strengthening his position.

As reported on the BBC, the minister says he doesn’t want the ban just to apply to gays. But I have an issue with what he has said:

I think that people who engage in high risk sexual behaviour in general should be excluded from giving blood.

And so someone who has sex with somebody in Africa or sex with prostitutes, I am very reluctant about these people being able to give blood.

It is all very well for the minister to hide behind these statements, but he is missing the point. Not all gay men engage in high risk sex.

In the rest of the UK, gay men can give blood providing that they have abstained from sex for a year. But, as Tom Riddington says,

the new guidelines in the rest of the UK still classify all gay men as unsafe as those who use prostitutes or sleep with intravenous drug users. The remaining limitations are a reminder that deeply ingrained discrimination persists.

In the week that the UUP’s Lord Maginnis, on the Nolan Show, suggested that being gay was

deviant and the first step on the rung to bestiality

I am concerned that Mr Poots is hiding behind research to perpetuate deeply ingrained prejudice.

Even the new guidelines in the rest of the UK fail to acknowledge variance in sexual practice in the gay community.

A gay man who uses condoms and only has oral sex with a monogamous partner is immediately excluded from donating. A heterosexual man who does not use contraception and has many partners is not.

The blood transfusion service is using the tag line: Give Blood Not Excuses.

As Stephen Glenn said back in April,

Well it appears that I might just be able to avoid all the excuses at some point over 3,590 days from now, only if I resist the urge to have sex with someone with whom I have same sex attraction for 10 years. Even if I were to only have sex and only safe sex with one man who only has sex with me for that period it won’t be good enough for Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO).

Unlike Stephen, I put myself in the category of not being able to give blood. I am living with HIV. However, most gay men in Northern Ireland are not living with HIV. And if it is HIV that is the major concern, can we please examine the science a little further? How come after a test outside ‘the window’ from when a man had sex with another man, the doctors at the GUM clinics can assure that the person will not be infected yet the SaBTO thinks you have to wait 9 years and 9 months longer than that window person.

Can the minister confirm that he is working with The HIV Support Centre, the Rainbow Project, and the Public Health Agency to ensure that everyone in Northern Ireland heterosexual and homosexual know whether they are living with HIV? I am one of the lucky ones, I know that I am living with HIV. I am on treatment which is working to suppress the virus. This means that I much more healthy than I was when I did not know that I was living with HIV. We should be getting everyone to know their HIV status in Northern Ireland.

Let’s hope that the politicians up on the hill in Stormont will actually question the minister closely on his continuing ban on gay men giving blood, and I will be in touch with my MLAs to ask them to raise these issues.

Originally posted on Gyronny Herald.