Friday, October 28, 2011

Dublin Web Summit

More than 1,200 people attended a two-day web technology summit featuring presentations from senior executives and founders of some of the world’s biggest technology and internet companies including Google, Microsoft, YouTube, Skype, Bebo,, and Twitter.

Boxpay, Hittheroad, RedeemGet, Vigill and Vocalytics made presentations in the ESB Energy Ireland-sponsored Spark of Genius competition with a prize fund of €140,000 (almost $200,000). The prize also includes a €100,000 (approximately $142,000) seed investment from ACT Venture Capital.

The Dublin Web Summit, taking place for the seventh time, is the nearly accidental brainchild of 27-year-old Trinity College Dublin graduate Paddy Cosgrave. A company called MiCandidate in 2009, an aggregator of the profiles of political candidates for syndication to the media, had persuaded companies “big media companies around Europe like Sky and the Telegraph” to come to Dublin to evaluate the City. But then MiCandidate was dropped as a sponsor when a management buyout occurred with four weeks to go to the event.

The young Trinity undergraduate Paddy Cosgrave was in a bind. “All these guys were coming over so I was like, f**k, I’d better do something.” He managed to turn the visit into a conference and the rest is history.

An interesting tidbit from this year's summit is the disclosure made by Tony Wang, general manager of Twitter in the United Kingdom in an interview associated with his speech to a standing room only crowd.

Mr Wang said the main considerations when deciding on Twitter offices were availability of skilled staff and good technology infrastructure. Ireland not only has these, but the “friendliness” executives encountered in Ireland was an additional factor. They are establishing an office in Dublin.

One of the most exciting ideas was presented by IfWeRanTheWorld which has an application that harnesses social networks to prompt people to act in ways that will change the world.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

We've Paid Too High a Price By 'Living Inside Bunkers'

The Irish President Mary McAleese, in a bid to increase communications across the sectarian divide, has said, "The openness that faces with genuine curiosity the very otherness of others is far from easy to embrace but we have all paid too high a price for insisting on living inside bunkers where only those who agree with us are welcome and where the voices of the excluded other are muted or silent."

The constitution of the Republic of Ireland is a parliamentary system of government, so the President has largely a ceremonial role. Mrs McAleese was the inaugural speaker at the first Conversations Across Walls and Borders event in First Derry Presbyterian Church in Northern Ireland, outside the Republic of Ireland. Ms. McAlees is approaching the end of her term as President so this speech may be one of her last addresses to the people of Ireland from the post.

Speaking of the City of Londonderry (also called Derry) she said, "That community, like the family if it is to flourish, if it is to be fair, has to let itself be comfortable with diversity and inclusivity,"

Also, she said, "To open ourselves to stories, narratives, perspectives, talents, genius, insights and friendships which are new to us is to open the doors of our lives to a much more exciting and enriching landscape."

She made these comments in the context of the particular difficulties faced by the people of Londonderry (also called Derry). She said, "It has become easier to talk now. The festering wrong that was Bloody Sunday and the Widgery Report that followed it, left this city raw for decades and made healing so very difficult."

Thirteen men died at these protests in 1972 in Londonderry (also called Derry). The Widgery Tribunal released a report soon after the event and largely cleared the soldiers and British authorities of blame.

"The Saville Report opened up the hard truth of that story and remarkably that truth did indeed set many people free in ways that visibly helped a healing process to take hold. The survivors and the families of those who died were vindicated after a long and dignified struggle and the air we breathed after the British Government's apology was fresh and energising."

The Saville Report was published June 15, 2010 and concluded that no stones and no petrol bombs were hurled by protestors before the British soldiers shot at them, and that the civilians were not posing any threat.

Mary McAleese continued with, "On the day following the publication of the Saville Report the leaders of the protestant churches in this city met with the victims and bereaved of Bloody Sunday. We looked on amazed, our hearts lifting as generosity and compassion began to flow spontaneously in both directions. We watched the basic building blocks of peace and reconciliation shift into place, lifted painfully by the only powers that can create peace - human hands and human hearts, bridging the gap of division and difference with humanity and decency."


Click Here to Read the Text of the Entire Speech by Mary McAleese

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Expansion of Terror Murals in Belfast Undercuts Reconcilliation

Ivan Little of the Belfast Telegraph reports on Monday, 3 October 2011

"The UVF has raised tensions and angered community workers and residents in east Belfast by starting to paint another controversial mural of masked paramilitaries wielding guns."

He states it’s the third militaristic mural to go up in the Shankill Road area in recent months and that the new mural replaces a memorial to four of the UVF’s old and more recent leaders including Robert ‘Squeaky’ Seymour who was allegedly murdered by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) at his shop in June 1988. But the prior mural didn’t have any guns. The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) is a loyalist paramilitary group in Northern Ireland formed in early 1966.

Several Shankill Road leaders have been trying to re-brand murals in the area to reflect its cultural and sporting icons instead of lauding violence.

Near the new mural is a mural in tribute to "Chronicles of Narnia" author CS Lewis who was from East Belfast.

A loyalist source claimed the new UVF mural was a direct response to one which was unveiled in the Whiterock area of west Belfast in May depicting an IRA firing party at the 1981 funeral of hunger striker Bobby Sands.

Full Belfast Telegraph Article: "Return of terror murals to Belfast streets angers residents."

More on Peace and Reconcilliation in Ireland