The Importance of Political Education – knowing left from right

In the Irish party system, scholars have been trying to pick apart the policy stances of parties for some years now – with varying degrees of success and insight. Most analyses have concluded that the parties in Ireland offer a far less coherent, integrated ideological choice to voters than parties elsewhere in Europe – and many conclude that FF and FG are practically impossible to seperate in terms of political ideology.

A sentiment analysis I performed with Dr Laura Sudulich of Irish party candidates in the 2007 election looked at how they felt about the terms ‘ Right’ and ‘ Left’. It revealed that FF and FG have no sentiment either way (overall) while Labour and SF members tend to have significantly positive sentiments towards the ‘ Left’ and negative sentiments towards the ‘ Right’ .

Labour’s focus on its leader during the campaign, and FF and FG’s ‘party of government’ approach to political ideology meant that only a few independents and PBP members were focusing on matters of political ideology. Thus the election took place in an ideological vacuum, just as ideological decisions to do with taxation and public spending had to be made. The result was a rather opaque fudge – the implementation of existing policy with cosmetic changes, by new management personnel.

Irish Politics Forum

A very interesting article in today’s Irish Times discusses whether Europe should focus on education in its engagement with Africa. The article argues that political education is vitally important for all sorts of social and political outputs:

‘Individual Africans need to become more politically sophisticated. It is hard to think of a political party in Africa which genuinely professes, let alone practises, a coherent political philosophy. Whereas parties in Europe espouse socialist, liberal or Christian democratic values, there is no indigenous African ideology beyond tribalism. Political parties are more often than not built around a commanding personality who offers tribal leadership and is rewarded with uncritical tribal loyalty’ .

The description of African politics rings some surprising bells for students of Irish politics.

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The Politics of Remembrance: Commemorating 1916

Sinn Fein the party that Griffith founded was most explicitly organized to achieve independence even if it had no direct connection to the Rising of 1916. Labour is linked to the rebellion thru Connolly, but FG and FF connections are much more diluted

Irish Politics Forum

By Timothy J. White and Denis Marnane


Assessing a significant anniversary of an important historical event such as commemorating 1916 is like a juggler keeping three balls in the air. There is the event itself, very likely not something about which there is consensus in terms of interpretation; there is the period of time between then and now in which the event is remembered, in this instance a century; and finally there is the present with its competing agendas for commemoration. These three: history, memory, and commemoration

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art + science colliding, collectives forming

creative collaborative work is at the heart of cultural entrepreneurship. In the Pacific north west, technology plays a really pivotal role


WP_20150325_015There is great momentum gathering in our creative community around the role of artists and designers in scientific inquiry. Access is being created for artists and others to explore, interpret and respond to the revolutionary advances and innovations in genetics, molecular and biomedical science. Facilitating synergies between these realms has been my focus.

This Spring and Summer, Ginny Ruffner, Lisa Goodman, Josef Vascovitz and Gaylene Vaden and I have started to host dinners to further inspire conversations. Ginny Ruffner is an internationally acclaimed glass artist most known for her constantly evolving visual experiments. For over a decade, her work has been strongly influenced by genetics. Her recent exhibition, “Aesthetic Engineering,” at the Huntsville Museum of Art was inspired by recent breakthroughs in genetics and bioengineering and the possibilities of future gene sharing between animal and plant kingdoms. She recently was hosted by The HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology as an artist in residence and continues her creative pursuits…

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