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‘It’s a bit too white and elite,’ says Mary Robinson

Voice Of EU



On Monday morning at the Cop26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Mary Robinson is sitting beneath a huge revolving replica of planet Earth. She lays out the stakes for me: how the world needs to keep within the 1.5 degree temperature increase aspired to five years ago in Paris; how scientific advances have made things far more measurable; and how young activists deserve “action” not “blah, blah, blah”. But she also worries because countries like China aren’t in attendance and that poorer countries are underrepresented.

“We’re not going to have enough of the real voices, because they can’t get to the Cop. It’s a bit too white and elite, frankly, because of Covid and [because] they didn’t manage the security and the prices.” She’s still optimistic. “I have to be a prisoner of hope.”

Most people I speak to on my first day at Cop26 have Mary Robinson’s feeling of worried hope

The Action Hub, in zone B of the Scottish Event Campus, is the bit with the aforementioned globe. There’s a Forest of Promises, which is an artificial tree covered with leaves on which children have written things such as “I promise to use public transport” and “I will use les electrisity”. And there’s an LED tickertape circling the venue to remind everyone where they are and who the partners/sponsors are. The furniture is from Ikea and the television networks have set up studios here. I see Ed Miliband and the actor Mark Strong.

Most people I speak to on my first day at Cop26 have Robinson’s feeling of worried hope. There are an estimated 30,000 attendees, although several thousand of those spend the morning outside queueing in the icy Glasgow cold. That group included Prof Brian Ó Gallachóir and his colleagues from UCC’s Environmental Research Institute, who are here as observers. Like Robinson, he’s conscious of the failure to meet the goals set in Paris, but he also stresses how much good collaborative work gets done in the connections that are made here.

Big screen

We’ve been watching Cop26’s people’s advocate, David Attenborough, deliver his speech on a big screen. Ó Gallachóir notes something Attenborough said about how the countries suffering most from climate change aren’t the ones causing it. His colleague, philosophy lecturer Kian Mintz-Woo, concurs. “Both morally and practically, it’s really important for the western world [to fund] the developing countries to mitigate and adapt. At a symbolic or moral level, it shows that we’re in this together.”

In zone D there is a huge room full of “delegation pavilions” at which various countries, NGOs and companies have demonstrations and talks and, sometimes, free coffee. Prime minister Stefan Löfven is speaking at the Swedish pavilion. The Environmental Defense Fund is promoting a satellite it is launching to monitor methane emissions. Many smaller countries argue for climate justice. At the pavilion of the endangered archipelago of Tuvalu, people are getting selfies with sculptures of polar bears in life jackets and a penguin hanging from a noose.

Greta Thunberg and fellow climate activists during a demonstration at Festival Park, Glasgow, on the first day of the Cop26 UN Climate Change Conference. Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
Greta Thunberg and fellow climate activists during a demonstration at Festival Park, Glasgow, on the first day of the Cop26 UN Climate Change Conference. Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

These are the work of Taiwanese artist Vincent JF Huang. “Sea level is rising. We predict that [there’s] only 20 or 30 more years the Tuvaluans can continue staying on their island. This is quite an urgent situation. Tuvalu was always ignored but I try and use the power of art to help them get more media.” Is it working? He smiles. “You saw a polar bear and you came over.”

Two Swedish girl scouts are being encouraged to create a viral moment by a woman with a phone; “1.5 to stay alive,” coaches the woman, filming it for TikTok. They’re here as observers representing the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.

“Our focus is to show politicians and negotiators [that] we young people are affected by their decisions,” says 20-year-old Siri Ankorfor. “I’m a little bit frustrated because due to the pandemic, they’ve banned all observers from all negotiations… We can follow online, but we can’t be in the room. We can’t show our faces to them so they can see who they’re fighting for. I think they forget about that in meetings with only other people like them.”

Humans are actually quite cool and we are really good at fixing things if we work together

Zone F, where all the negotiations are taking place, smells like new carpets and looks like a fancy co-working space. Most here are dressed in sober, well-cut outfits (apart from a few dapper military figures). The space leading to the meetings operates a little like a red carpet, flanked by photographers. At one point a security man guides me gently but firmly out of the path of the fast huddle in which Ursula von der Leyen is travelling. At Cop26 there are two forms of movement. Negotiators walk in packs at speed but everyone else, aware of their mileage, moves more slowly.

At the boundary between zones D and F, there’s a beautiful wooden installation promoting the Eden Project. “A completely destroyed piece of land we turned into a beautiful garden,” explains educator Bran Howell. “Humans are actually quite cool and we are really good at fixing things if we work together… The future’s whatever we want to make. If we can turn this area into something beautiful, then we can do that anywhere in the world.”

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Census 2022 – what difference does it make?

Voice Of EU



Next Sunday, April 3rd, is Census night. Millions of people in homes countrywide will fill in page after page of questions, some of which are deeply personal and many of which might be unfamiliar.

But what it is it all about?

At a basic level, Census 2022 will be used to inform planning of public policy and services in the years ahead, according to the Central Statistics Office.

The questions will cover a range of environmental, employment and lifestyle issues, including the use of renewable energy sources in homes.

The questions will help inform policy development in the areas of energy and climate action, and the prevalence of internet access, to understand the availability of and need for internet connections and range of devices used to access the internet.

Questions also focus on changes in work patterns and will include the trend of working from home and childcare issues, while questions are also asked about the times individuals usually leave work, education or childcare, to help identify and plan for transport pattern needs locally and nationally.

Other topics covered include volunteering and the type of organisations volunteers choose to support, tobacco usage and the prevalence of smoke alarms in the home.

And of course there is a time capsule – the chance to write something which will be sealed for the next 100 years.

In this episode of In The News, the head of census administration Eileen Murphy and statistician Kevin Cunningham about what it all means for us.

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Oscars 2022: Will Smith makes Oscar history after slapping Chris Rock over joke about wife Jada Pinkett Smith | Culture

Voice Of EU



Will Smith took the Oscar for Best Actor at last night’s 94th Academy Awards, but he also became the protagonist of the ceremony for other reasons. The night was following the script, until Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock on the stage after the latter made a joke about the shaved head of the former’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock had quipped that he was “looking forward to GI Jane 2,” in reference to her look. Pinkett Smith has revealed publicly that she has alopecia. It looked as if the moment had been planned, until Smith went back to his seat and shouted: “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.”

The moment, which immediately became Oscar history but for all the wrong reasons, left the attendees with frozen smiles, and asking themselves whether it was possible that a veteran such as Smith could have lost his cool in front of tens of millions of people. After taking the prize for Best Actor, the superstar actor made a tearful apology, saying that he hoped the Academy “will invite me back.” Later on, actor Anthony Hopkins called for “peace and love,” but it was already too late. The incident overshadowed the success of CODA, which took the Oscar for Best Picture. Just like the time when Warren Beatty mistakenly named La La Land as the big winner of the night, no one will speak about anything else from last night’s awards.

At first sight, Smith’s actions looked as if they were scripted. When he first heard Rock’s joke, he laughed. But his wife was seen on camera rolling her eyes, and it was then that the actor got up onto the stage and hit Rock. When he returned to his seat he raised his voice twice to shout “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth,” sending a wave of unease and shock through the attending audience. The fact that he used the f-word, which is prohibited on US television, set alarm bells ringing that this was real and not a planned moment. In fact, the curse word was censored by the broadcaster, ABC, in the United States.

During a break, Smith’s PR manager approached him to speak. In the press room, which the actor skipped after collecting his prize, instructions were given to the journalists not to ask questions about the incident, Luis Pablo Beauregard reports. The next presenter, Sean “Diddy” Combs, tried to calm the situation. “Will and Chris, we’re going to solve this – but right now we’re moving on with love,” the rapper said.

When Smith took to the stage to collect his Best Actor award for his role as Richard Williams – the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena – in King Richard, he referred to the character as “a fierce defender of his family.” He continued: “I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people. I know to do what we do you’ve got to be able to take abuse, and have people talk crazy about you and have people disrespecting you and you’ve got to smile and pretend it’s OK.”

He explained that fellow actor Denzel Washington, who also spoke to Smith during a break, had told him: “At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.”

“I want to be a vessel for love,” Smith continued. “I want to be an ambassador of that kind of love and care and concern. I want to apologize to the Academy and all my fellow nominees. […] I look like the crazy father just like they said about Richard Williams, but love will make you do crazy things,” he said. He then joked about his mother, who had not wanted to come to the ceremony because she had a date with her crochet group.

The Los Angeles Police Department released a statement last night saying that Chris Rock would not be filing any charges for assault against Smith. “LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program,” the statement read. “The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.”

On December 28, Pinkett Smith spoke on social media about her problems with alopecia. She stated that she would be keeping her head shaved and would be dealing with the condition with humor. “Me and this alopecia are going to be friends… Period!” she wrote on Instagram.

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House-price inflation set to stay double digit for much of 2022

Voice Of EU



House-price inflation is expected to remain at double-digit levels for much of 2022 as the mismatch between what is for sale and what buyers want continues.

Two new reports on the housing market paint a picture of a sector under strain due to a lack of supply and increased demand driven by Covid-related factors such as remote working.

The two quarterly reports, one each from rival property websites and, suggest asking prices accelerated again in the first quarter of 2022 as the stock of homes available for sale slumped to a new record low.

Myhome, which is owned by The Irish Times, said annual asking-price inflation was now running at 12.3 per cent.


This put the median or typical asking price for a home nationally at €295,000, and at €385,000 in Dublin.

MyHome said the number of available properties for sale on its website fell to a record low of 11,200 in March, down from a pre-pandemic level of 19,000. The squeeze on supply, it said, was most acute outside Dublin, with the number of properties listed for sale down almost 50 per cent compared with pre-pandemic levels.

It said impaired supply and robust demand meant double-digit inflation is likely until at least mid-2022.

“Housing market conditions have continued to tighten,” said author of the myhome report, Davy chief economist Conall Mac Coille.

“The broad picture of the market in early 2022 remains similar to last year: impaired supply coupled with robust demand due to Ireland’s strong labour market,” he said.


“One chink of light is that new instructions to sell of 7,500 in the first 11 weeks of 2022 are well up from 4,800 in 2021, albeit still below the 9,250 in 2019. The flow of new properties therefore remains impaired,” said Mr Mac Coille.

“Whatever new supply is emerging is being met by more than ample demand. Hence, transaction volumes in January and February were up 13 per cent on the year but pushed the market into ever tighter territory,” he said.

He said Davy was now predicting property-price inflation to average 7 per cent this year, up from a previous forecast of 4.5 per cent, buoyed strong employment growth.


Daft, meanwhile, said house asking prices indicated the average listed price nationwide in the first quarter of 2022 was €299,093, up 8.4 per cent on the same period in 2021 and and just 19 per cent below the Celtic Tiger peak, while noting increases remain smaller in urban areas, compared to rural.

Just 10,000 homes were listed for sale on its website as of March 1st, an all-time low. In Dublin, Cork and Galway cities, prices in the first quarter of 2022 were roughly 4 per cent higher on average than a year previously, while in Limerick and Waterford cities the increases were 7.6 per cent and 9.3 per cent respectively.

The report’s author, Trinity College Dublin economist Ronan Lyons, said: “Inflation in housing prices remains stubbornly high – with Covid-19 disturbing an equilibrium of sorts that had emerged, with prices largely stable in 2019 but increasing since.

“As has been the case consistently over the last decade, increasing prices – initially in Dublin and then elsewhere – reflect a combination of strong demand and very weak supply.”

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