Julian Assange is no hero

The infamous hacker is revered by many — but there is more than one reason to doubt his motives.

This post originally appeared on Medium.

Julian Assange of Wikileaks fame has been in the news recently because of successive information dumps of Hilary Clinton’s emails, hacked from the accounts of the Democratic National Committee head office, and her chief of staff, John Podesta.

Earlier this week, #freeJulian was trending on Twitter. He is currently residing in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in order to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is facing rape charges. He argues that if he is sent to Sweden, he could be extradited to the US next, where he wouldn’t face a fair trial. This is despite the fact that Sweden doesn’t allow extradition for political crimes.

Given how important Assange and Wikileaks have been in the upcoming election, it’s time to examine whether Assange is really as benign a source as he presents himself.

We tend to give whistleblowers the benefit of the doubt. After all, these are people who risk their reputations, their jobs and jail in order to ensure that citizens see important information, often held by organisations which are shrouded in secrecy.

Here in Ireland, we’ve seen a number of whistleblowers go up against the might of the police in order to inform us of irregularities in the investigation of certain cases, giving preferential treatment to individuals by not reporting driving infractions, and intimidation of people who have reported on police wrongdoing. These people are to be admired.

Edward Snowden recently asked that he be pardoned by the American Government, pointing out that the information he leaked about the systematic data collection by the NSA started an important debate in the country about how to balance the right to privacy against security.

But Julian Assange is a different case altogether.

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How to rebuild the Labour Party

#LabourRebuild is trending on Twitter. But what does Labour need to do to regain its standing in Irish politics?

How do you solve a problem like the Labour party?

Despite historically sticking at around the 10% mark in polls, the last time they had that amount of support was May 2015 according to Red C Research. Instead, they seem to have stagnated at 4-7% since the general election took place in February.

If the problem was that it’s hard to be popular in Government when you have to make a lot of difficult decisions, you would assume that being in opposition would help Labour’s numbers rebound. But the problem runs far deeper.

At the party’s think-in last month, Brendan Howlin said the main challenge would be to rebuild Labour.

If there is any hope of making the Labour Party relevant again, they’re going to have to do three things.

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Beware the Youth Voter

As Government parties scramble to figure out what they did wrong, many still don’t appreciate the seismic shift caused by the increase in voting by young people

“I feel that the youth turnout probably will exceed the average turnout nationally.”

Kevin Donoghue, the Union of Students in Ireland president, has just come from the count in the RDS in Donneybrook to the USI offices in Ringsend. It has already it has become clear that no party has won the day.

“I think there was huge engagement,” Donoghue says. “I’ve been doing voter registration drives and voter registration campaigns with USI for a couple of years and I’ve never seen anything like it before.”

Discussions about the formation of a government are expected to take weeks. Many party strategists say that a lot of soul-searching is needed. The overriding feeling among Fine Gael and Labour members is shock. None of them saw this coming.

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Why We Don’t Get What We Vote For

Why young people are not being represented and what they can do about it

Originally posted on Campus.ie

Pat Leahy wrote a piece in the Sunday Business Post, arguing that Fine Gael are going to war to get the “the middle-ground voters who feel they have a stake in society.”

Leahy didn’t say anything that wasn’t conventional wisdom. Representing other groups is nice, but at the end of the day, it’s the middle who will make or break a party.

We see this reflected in how the parties are campaigning. Each of their key issues speaks to the middle aged tax payer.

We also saw the same thing in the last budget, the budget which supposedly gave something to everyone, except to young people.

The 2011 Census showed there are about 350,000 people aged 13-18, and this group is now at prime university age, 18-23. There are also around the same number of people in the age group just above, aged 24-29. Therefore, more than 1 in 6 people is a ‘young person’.

You would then expect that about 1 in 6 policies would cater to young people, and so would 1 in 6 politicians.

While it goes without saying that young people are not a homogenous group, there are certain issues which affect us particularly which have passed notice and gone under the radar.

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Ireland’s Housing Crisis

The Housing Crisis is the biggest challenge facing our country. But how did we get here?

‘Housing crisis’ has become part of Irish vocabulary in the last couple of years. But what are people talking about when they use the phrase?

Are they talking about rising rents? The increase in homelessness? The growing number of house repossessions? The lack of construction?

Unfortunately, Ireland’s housing crisis does not involve a single issue, but represents a confluence of problems that have been growing under the surface for many years, and each issue exacerbates the others.

Housing Problems

I will look at the issues individually, examining the background, the keys figures, the causes and the suggested solutions.

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Young, Well-Educated, and Offended for a Reason

This article originally appeared on Campus.ie.

The Irish Independent is the latest in a series of publications to publish an article on how millennials hate free speech.
The writer asks “just why are millennials so sensitive?”
It follows the pattern as described by Medium of the various articles on how our young people are stifling free speech because they need to protected from opinions they don’t like.
Katie Byrne first begins by talking about how public figures like Germaine Greer and Julie Bindel were disinvited from giving talks at universities because of transphobic views.
Apparently people who call themselves feminists can’t be transphobic.
She mentions Trinity College banning BNP leader Nick Griffin from speaking a couple of years ago after student backlash.
She also talks about cultural appropriation, trigger warning and micro-aggressions, which have become go-to examples for those pointing at our out of control PC culture.
I have three main responses to these articles which purposely miss the point.

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A Defence of Millennials

This article originally appeared on Independent.ie

Hands up if you can’t stand the word ‘millennial’.

There’s a good reason to. Books describing our generation also call us “Generation Me” , “Excellent Sheep”  and the “Entitled Generation”.

The best summation of why millennials suck was a viral blog post that circulated a couple of years ago called ‘You Are Not Special’ by Wait But Why.

The post argued that the reason we are unhappy is because we all think we are special and expected to find our dream career the moment we leave college.

So basically, we’re entitled.

It is frankly ridiculous to generalise about the largest generation in history, spanning millions and millions of people born between 1982 and 2000, all over the world. Are some young people narcissistic, lazy and entitled? Absolutely. But so are people in every generation.

However I could maybe think of a few reasons that millennials in Ireland might be unhappy, apart from the fact that not everyone realises how special and amazing we are.

How about the fact that most people in our generation will never own a home?


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