The Echo Chamber Podcast, hosted by Tony Groves and Martin McMahon, brings you the voices you need to hear from the Venn Diagram of News, Politics and Culture. Always serious, yet always entertaining, we explore the issues of the day, the problems facing us in society and talk real solutions in a way you won’t hear anywhere else. Often irreverent, each episode aims to bring a unique perspective, break through the PR fog and set the record straight. This is Ireland as it is and Ireland as it can be. So join the fastest growing independent News and Politics podcast. You won’t be sorry you did. Enjoy!
Lebanon was already on its knees before a massive explosion ripped devastatingly through the old city of Beirut. We were delighted to be joined by writer and journalist, Séamus Malekafzali, to take a deep-dive into this tiny country that is too often a strategic chess piece in the games of bigger powers. Séamus explains the nuances and intricacies of modern day Lebanon and how they are interwoven with a colonial past as well as more recent conflicts in the area. A great listen.
Today we are joined by Peace Commissioner and Experience Legal Executive, Roman Shortall, who spoke to #Liveline earlier in the week highlighting how he and his family were targeted at Dublin airport by SIU officers from An Garda Siochana and the Department of Social Protection.
Roman’s account has unearthed a scandal that is forcing the new government in to all sorts of twists and turns and which now encompasses ICCL, the DPC, FLAC and the opposition.
Homelessness in this country is a national outrage and with the loss of another life today we thought we’d talk about it. We also discuss the cruelty of Direct Provision, Taoiseach 1a vs Taoiseach 1b, the Alternative Government looking Alt-wrong at the moment and why viewing those on welfare as unproductive economic units isn’t a bad strategy for at least one of the parties of government. Ans as the “hames” government heads off on their holidays we ask are they taking a break or giving us a break from them?
Late last week we did a Tortoise Shack Live Pod with Hedge Fund Manager, Economist and Co-Author of the new book Angrynomics, Eric Lonergan. We go into the differences between tribal anger and righteous anger and how sometimes anger is a very good thing. We dive into the some of the debates in the book around neoliberal capitalism and inequality, then we go into some of the key solutions Eric and his Coauthor, Mark Blyth suggest. This is a great listen.
In leaving the Green Party, Saoirse McHugh did what she always said that she would do, which is rare in Irish Politics. She joined us to talk about it all. We discuss the last few years, the bullying and battles within the Greens, the new Just Transition Greens grouping, the anger she invokes in the Centrist Dads and why she believes that democracy means a lot more than ticking a box every 4 or 5 years.
We were joined by Assistant Professor in Geography, Trinity College Dublin, Philip Lawton, to look into how are cities evolve. Philip talks us through the ideas around the Tech City, the Alternative Livable City and how the market operates within both. We discuss co-living vs creative density, cycling infrastructure vs car culture and how Covid-19 might change the answers to many of these debates.
Context is everything, be it a ‘Win’ for Ireland with #AppleTax, a ‘Good Day’ for the Data Protection Commissioners in the #MaxSchrems case or a ‘We’re all human’ nap during a vote on workers rights.
When you strip back the spin, the wins, the good days and the we’re all human naps, are not good news for Irish citizens particularly in the context of rising infection numbers. Tony and Martin mull over the week’s goings-on and give their verdict in front an online audience of Tortoise Shack supporters.
Our guest in The Tortoise Shack is author of ‘Overpaid’ and ‘inefficient’: print media framings of the public sector in The Irish Times and The Irish Independent during the financial crisis, Dr Aileen Marron. Aileen points out that the reemergence of these tactics as we begin to see an easing of the Covid-19 restrictions and we talk about how we can spot these narratives and counter them. Whilst this new government has said that they must ‘avoid the perception of implementing austerity’, that is very different to not rolling it out again.
There has not been a single conviction for human trafficking in Ireland. Not one. We are joined in the tortoise shack by CEO of The Immigration Council of Ireland, Brian Killoran, to talk about how a country that was recently identified as a key location for this heinous crime does not appear to be taking it seriously. Brian had some slight audio issues, but do listen, this is an important subject and we all need to be aware of the difference between human smuggling and trafficking and where both are most pervasive.
A new job, a new virus and now a new Government; Political Correspondent with the Irish Examiner, Aoife-Grace Moore, has had a lot to deal with in the last few months. She gives us a look into the role. We also discuss the 145 days to government formation, Sinn Féin, the Left leaning opposition (as well as the opposition to the opposition) and the less than auspicious beginning for this new administration. Finally we delve into the adventures of a Derry Girl in Dublin and discuss how it’s not the role of people from the North to inform us in the South about the history of our island.
At a very basic level the public have a right to know what is done with their money. Reporter, Director of @RightToKnowIE, lecturer at TUD and FOI expert, Ken Foxe was back on the pod to talk FOI, transparency and accountability. He delves into the recent changes that have made things more difficult and explains that while most of the public seem not to care, this information is crucial in a robust democracy. Corruption flourishes in the dark, we need a political champion to shine a spotlight on it.
We are joined in the #TortoiseShack by Gerald Nash TD and Professor Eoin Daly, Lecturer above the bar, School of Law, NUI Galway to discuss the recent controversial High Court judgment which ruled, as unconstitutional, legislation which allowed for the regulation of wages in specific economic sectors – Náisiúnta Leictreach Contraitheoir Eireann v. the Labour Court. We talk about the long history of sectoral orders and the implications for all workers and possibly the minimum wage.
The Greens voted overwhelmingly for the Program for Government, but while they are now in government, the divisive nature of the debate hasn’t been addressed by the excluding of all of the members who spoke out against what is, in our opinion,a bad deal.
Joining us in The Tortoise Shack is Green Party and Cork City Councillor, Lorna Bogue. We discuss events of the last few months, including her suspension from the party, bullying and the reasons why she is going to stay and fight for climate justice and not settle for becoming a Green Mudguard.
Emergency legislation tends to become permanent, nowhere is this more evident than with the Special Criminal Court. Despite national and international human rights criticism, emergency legislation has been approved again for the 48th year in a row to keep the SCC. We are joined in the #tortoiseshack by Doireann Ansbro, Senior Research and Policy Officer with the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) to discuss the origins, workings and deficits of the SCC. We ask why it is still in operation and has it become a political football.
Just before the election Fine Gael tried to rush through a bill that would make it harder for the average person get access to justice. Guess what is or is not back on the table in the PfG?
We were delighted to be joined by Environmental Law Officer with the Irish Environmental Network, Attracta Uí Bhroin to talk about this, what it means and why we all need to cry stop! We also discuss the intentional vagueness of the PfG, but the certainty of the trade deals.
Tony opens with a brief message for the #NotAllMen Bro’s, before Martin is joined by Medic, Chair of South Dublin County Council and Green Party member, Dr Laura Donaghy, to discuss the internal debate within the Green’s, the proposed Programme for Government and how Green politics has evolved.
Whatever the outcome on Friday, it is abundantly clear that many of their members know that climate policy is housing policy is health policy. How many? We’ll know soon enough.
There’s a lot of admirable aspirations in the Fianna Fail/Fine Gael/Green Party PfG. But it also promises of 7 commissions, 6 task forces, 4 committees, 73 reviews, 2 working groups, 2 forums, 2 councils, 3 citizen’s assemblies, 2 agencies and 1 expert group.
So we were delighted to be joined by UCD Shool of Architecture’s Orla Hegarty and Technological University Dublin’s Lorcac Sirr to run an eye over it. As you’d imagine we went deep into the weeds on housing and looked at what it means for the Land Development Agency, housing delivery, homelessness and direct provision.
It was a great pleasure to be joined in The Tortoise Shack by author, Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Islam, proud Glaswegian, adopted Corkonian and always impeccably attired, Amanullah De Sondy.
Aman tells us about his journey from Glasgow to Jordan to Miami to Cork. We discuss Islam, Catholicism, Paganism and the role religious studies has in our world today. Then Aman talks us through his ups and downs and shares his optimism, something that we could all do with a lot more of. We are very grateful to Aman for his time and can’t recommend this thought provoking interview enough.
As anti-racism protests continue around the world the “tone police” are desperately trying to reassert and protect the old power structures. To discuss this we are joined by former political prisoner, human rights activist and now law student, Ibrahim Halawa. Recorded in front an audience of our patreon supporters, we discuss Black Lives Matter, the microaggressions People of Colour face daily and why saying that Ireland is not as bad as the US is not an excuse for inaction.
Ibrahim is totally open and honest about his experiences and the impact this has had on his mental health.
Martin and Caroline were joined in the #TortoiseShack by Liam Herrick, Executive Director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties. The ICCL has issued a report containing 9 Principles vital to creating a fair and transparent Contact Tracing App. We discuss the app as it is currently proposed, whether it is fit for purpose and the dangers of mission creep. We also discuss the Garda emergency powers and protesting in a time of #Covid19.
Watching the sustained attacks on the Black Lives Matter protests in the US by both an increasingly militaristic police and an increasingly incoherent Divider in Chief, Donald Trump, you can’t but be filled with a sense that we’ve seen this ‘undermining playbook’ before. We are joined by reporter and writer with The Intercept and friend of the pod, Jon Schwarz, to discuss the ongoing events and his recent article – A Short History of U.S. Law Enforcement Infiltrating Protests.
Jon talks us through what is happening on the ground, the sense of exhaustion and a lot more.
The murder of George Floyd by a police officer has sparked protests across America and indeed the world. The actions of the Divider in Chief, President Donald Trump, have only exacerbated the problems. I’m joined in the tortoise shack by Team USA track and field athlete, 3 time Olympic Gold Medalist, 3 time World Champion and writer, Tianna Bartoletta, to discuss these events and the need for us all to meet this moment. As Tianna herself says, we can’t solve our problems with the same thinking that created them. It’s not enough to say ‘I’m not a racist’, we need to active anti-racists.
The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown have affected children in ways that we don’t even yet understand. This is particularly the case for vulnerable children with special needs. Martin is joined by Solicitor, Gareth Noble of KOD Lyons, to discuss the issues and obstacles he is facing in representing children. Gareth explains how the Courts, Tusla and the Department of Children have reacted in these unprecedented times.
The “we’re all in this together” mood music from government changed very quickly and the old economic orthodoxy has looked to reassert itself. Our guest is Associate Professor in UCD and columnist with the Sunday Business Post, Aidan Regan, and this is a must listen for both traditionalists and progressives.
Aidan breaks down how the old ideas no longer fit and how Ireland can use this crisis to reshape itself, and do so far a lot less than the austerity hawks would have you believe.