I had the idea for Vampire Story a couple of years back, to tie Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, in with modern vampires living in Stoker’s hometown of Dublin. I didn’t realise how big the project would become. Making a film, even a short one, is a piece of work. Dozens of talented people, location permits, equipment hire, the weather, the script – all these have to come together at the right time for magic to even stand a chance of happening. But the magic did happen and we have a vampire’s kiss available now for all the world to see, for free.Continue reading “Vampire kiss for you: shocking, free short film, soundtrack, ebook”
What 420 means, origin story
In 1971, five high school students in San Rafael, California, used the term in connection with a plan to search for an abandoned cannabis crop, based on a treasure map made by the grower (sounds like a movie waiting to happen). The group called themselves The Waldos, met after school at 4:20 PM, and were later popularised by High Times magazine. Now 420, 4/20 or 4:20 (pronounced four-twenty) is used as a general slang or codeword for smoking cannabis, and also represents April 20, an annual occasion for cannabis activities, including pro-legalization marches where it is still illegal.Continue reading “420 is a demand for change. Legalize hemp and cannabis worldwide now”
Varadkar and Flanagan bow to Irish backlash over plan to commemorate British war crimes in Ireland
Ireland’s prime minister, Leo Varadkar (pictured above, at right), and law and order minister, Charlie Flanagan, both from the Fine Gael political party, have been shamed into dropping a contentious commemoration of the Black and Tans and the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC). Blaming the Irish people – who pay his salary – for being immature, Varadkar has refused to stop digging himself deeper into a hole. Varadkar, who has never faced the electorate as prime minister*, and Flanagan planned to commemorate the RIC and the Black and Tans at a ceremony in Dublin Castle, former HQ of the British colonial forces in Ireland, on January 17, 2019.
*Update, 23/01/2020: A general election has been called in Ireland, to take place on 08/02/2020. Come back to Readathriller.com for news and updates.
Update, 14/05/2020: At time of writing, over 3 months after the election, Fine Gael is still in power, with Leo Varadkar still Prime Minister. No party won a majority and the vote went: 1. Sinn Fein 25%; 2. Fianna Fail 22%; 3. Fine Gael 21%. The parties have been unable to form a Government.Continue reading “Black and Tans, Ireland’s colonial history, Britain’s war crimes”
Forget the backstop, let’s deal with the elephant in the room: a united Ireland solves all the problems
The EU knows it, and so does everybody else. The island of Ireland makes more sense as a single administrative area, with the border disappearing completely, mentally as well as physically.
A relic of British colonialism and a botched peace treaty with Irish nationalists, the border was established on 3 May 1921. Its physical manifestation of ugly military fortifications and checkpoints was dismantled with the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. That was a treaty between the British Government and the IRA (Irish Republican Army), which had carried out a terrorist campaign with the objective of a united Ireland and complete British withdrawal. The Good Friday Agreement includes a mechanism for votes on reunification of the island of Ireland.Continue reading “We can resolve Brexit with an all-Ireland vote on reunification and a united Ireland”
You can still go to jail for possessing personal cannabis
A new policy approach towards possession of illegal drugs for personal use in Ireland was announced by Minister for Health Simon Harris, Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan and Minister of State for the National Drugs Strategy Catherine Byrne, in Dublin on 2 August 2019.
The policy has a three strike approach:
- Being caught in possession of any drug for personal use, including cannabis, heroin and cocaine, will first be referred to health professionals.
- A second offence will result in a caution (warning) from police.
- A third personal possession offence will give you a day in court, a criminal record and even prison. Gulp.
Minister Harris said: “This approach will not decriminalise drug use; it is a mechanism to defer people to health and social services for help and support. Ministers Flanagan, Byrne and I are very clear that there are no plans to legalise any type of drugs, including cannabis.”
Readathriller hopes that the Irish Government is being deliberately cagey about legalisation of cannabis so the conservative forces in Ireland aren’t woken from slumber while the country quietly pursues aggressive social reform. Because, even though this is a positive step, the reality is that if a police officer sees you smoking a particular plant three times, then you can be sent to prison. That doesn’t sound fair, does it?
Press release from Irish Department of Health: https://health.gov.ie/blog/press-release/ministers-harris-flanagan-and-byrne-announce-health-led-approach-to-the-possession-of-drugs-for-personal-use/
Full coverage of this story from RTE: https://www.rte.ie/news/crime/2019/0802/1066588-drug-offences-courts/
Check out our post on why Ireland should legalise cannabis (a lot has happened since we published this, just a few weeks ago!).
Ireland a bastion of liberal humanism? You think?
You’d think, wouldn’t you, that Ireland is a bastion of liberal humanism, not at all isolated and insular out there on Europe’s western fringe, but a cosmopolitan, secular, fun place to be. You think?Continue reading “How to stop Ireland’s drug war slaughter: Legalise and control cannabis”
There is no planet B
When Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg decided that she couldn’t wait for the adults to take climate change for the existential threat that it is, and started a school strike to draw attention to the issue, did she imagine the scale of what would come? It was a truly impressive butterfly effect to see schools across Ireland close early so that 10,000 students of all ages could converge on the houses of parliament in Dublin, with dozens more protests across the country.
System change not climate change
In time with a deep drumbeat, the good-natured crowd marched in spring sunshine, from St Stephen’s Green, down Dawson St, and took over all of Molesworth St in front of the Dail, Ireland’s houses of parliament (yes, we kept the British colonial structure after independence in 1921). The placards were many, with some catchy slogans used again and again: There is no planet B. System change not climate change. Even this: F$ck climate change.
The students have called on the Irish Government to declare a climate emergency and have issued a list of six demands to lawmakers:
- A transition to 100% renewable energy by 2030 and a pledge to leave all Irish fossil fuels in the ground.
- A climate emergency declaration – including a national information campaign.
- A socially fair transition to a carbon-neutral society, preventing need for regular citizens to carry the economic burden.
- Immediate implementation of all the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change.
- Stronger regulations on corporations that are causing the climate crisis.
- The implementation of a Green New Deal that ensures all young school leavers can have livelihoods that don’t damage the planet.
This seems like a reasonable start.
Irish Times report on the Dublin event, including video: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/environment/thousands-of-students-in-ireland-join-international-climate-change-protests-1.3827629
Wikipedia article on the movement: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/School_strike_for_climate
Header image: Some of the 10,000-strong crowd, gathered outside Ireland’s parliament, 15 March 2019. Source: Irish Times video report.
Tell a story in 300 words or less
Flash fiction is all about brevity. From Ernest Hemingway’s famed six word story (look it up here!) to the Liberties Flash Fiction competition’s 300 words, it’s a great exercise. My story, Privilege Revoked, won the 2015 competition, and I publish it here for your enjoyment (Note: this story contains the c-word, and I don’t mean Christmas).
by Gary J Byrnes, 2015
Jesus, the heat on Francis Street today. Every day for six months had been the “hottest day ever”. As Tommy passed through the security scanner at the pub entrance, the TV wall babbled about how fossil fuels were the best hope for a sustainable future. His body image flashed onto the scanner screen, every fold of fat on show, each cavity exposed.
‘Jaysus, Tommy. There’s a void in your stomach, cryin’ out for a pint of stout,’ laughed the security twat as he checked Tommy’s toolbox.
Tommy grunted, took his tools, sat himself at the bar. The droid whirred along its rail.
‘Pint of plain, cunt,’ said Tommy, inserting his WorthCard into the slot on the counter. He always took pleasure in this robot’s lack of insult chips. It was the little things.
The robot found a plastic half-litre jug and held it under the relevant dispenser. It suddenly jerked back. No stout flowed.
‘Pardon me, sir or madam. It appears that your WorthCard has declined this transaction. It transpires that your residential water bill has not been discharged to the System’s satisfaction. Alcohol privilege is revoked until the matter is resolved. Thank you and good day.’
The bardroid whirred to another customer.
Tommy slumped on his stool, everything finally catching up with him. Twenty years on from the Crash of ‘08, life was shit. No other word for it. Just shit. The EFU – Euro Fascist Union – now controlled every aspect of life. No, call it existence. The fucking robots had all the jobs and the function of the ninety-nine percent came down to serving the elite, tending their droids, managing welfare credits, and not much else.
Tommy snapped open his toolbox, found a nice big wrench.
Would you like to read more Liberties flash fiction?
Get the Liberties Flash Fiction Collection, free from Smashwords (any ebook format or read online): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/568168
Picture the times: Peasants roamed the shabby streets, gathering the droppings from passing horses and the occasional nuggets of coal that fell from carts, numbed the pain of existence with stout and whiskey. It was a filthy land, the deep wounds left by tribal conflicts still oozing poison. Into the social void, the high priests, with their glittering temples and mysterious ways, had assumed absolute power. ‘See this shining thing’, they proclaimed to the uneducated masses. ‘It is all that you need. Let us take your souls, your minds and your bodies, and the shining thing will give you a wonderful life. When you’re dead.’ ‘Oooh,’ gasped the peasants.
That was Ireland, in 1937. That’s when Eamon de Valera and the Catholic Church wrote Ireland’s Consitution. Together.
The Irish Consitution is truly a primitive and uninformed document, written with the specific purpose of keeping the peasants in the shit (literally), while the Church and State could reap their bodies and souls, while maintaining the social order. I believe that the whole Constitution should be discarded, and a completely new document created, one which can be used to unite all the peoples on this island, and with human dignity at its core.
But, for now, we continue to amend the Consitution. On October 26, 2018, Ireland will vote for our President, and voters will also have the opportunity to remove blasphemy from the Constitution.
The current text in the Constitution reads (Article 40.6.1):
The publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law.
Bizarrely, the law defining the offence and penalties only came into effect in 2009. Yes, 2009. A Fianna Fail/Green Party coalition, led by Brian Cowen, decided that, with the world tumbling into a debt-driven cycle of despair, and Ireland selling out her peasants to pay off European banks’ gambling debts, we really needed to get blasphemy onto the statute books for once and for all. Yes, we defined the punishment for blasphemy in 2009.
The Defamation Act 2009
That Act says that a person publishes or utters something blasphemous if they publish or say something that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion, and intend to cause that outrage.
Under the 2009 Act, where a person is accused of the criminal offence of publishing or saying something blasphemous, it is a defence if they can prove that a reasonable person would find genuine literary, artistic, political, scientific or academic value in what they published or said. If convicted of this offence, a person may be fined up to €25,000. There is no prison sentence for this offence.
Freedom of expression
So, let’s get blasphemy out of the Irish Constitution, and let the Government expunge its nastiness from the law. Sedition and indecent matter will stay in, why not just get rid of the whole shitty shooting match? It’s called freedom of expression.
Check out the Preamble to the Irish Constitution
As part of my reasoning for the drafting of an entirely new Constitution for Ireland, I invite you to read the offensive Preamble to the Irish Constitution:
In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred,
We, the people of Éire,
Humbly acknowledging all our obligations to our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ, Who sustained our fathers through centuries of trial,
Gratefully remembering their heroic and unremitting struggle to regain the rightful independence of our Nation,
And seeking to promote the common good, with due observance of Prudence, Justice and Charity, so that the dignity and freedom of the individual may be assured, true social order attained, the unity of our country restored, and concord established with other nations,
Do hereby adopt, enact, and give to ourselves this Constitution.
Update, 27 November, 2018
Today, President Michael D Higgins (who was re-elected, thankfully, on the day of the blasphemy referendum), signed the order that removed the offence of blasphemy from Ireland’s Constitution. 65% voted for this to happen, 35% wanted to keep blasphemy in the Constitution. While it’s shocking that a third of the population still fearss the wrath of the invisible sky god, we must see this outcome as progress. Go, Ireland!
Read the blasphemy referendum results in detail here (I’m worried about Donegal): https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/blasphemy-referendum-results
Make sure you vote!
Join my Facebook group, Secular Ireland: https://www.facebook.com/SecularIreland/