Censorship in Ireland?

It all started with a bit of an amusing piece on the evening news.  It seemed that a prankster was walking into Irish art galleries and hanging nude painted portraits of the country’s Taoiseach (the head of the government appointed by the PM).  The portraits were elaborately painted and could be somewhat passable among the other artwork yet gallery patrons asked staff about the pieces and the jig was up.

The country’s state broadcaster decided to do a piece about the interesting prank.

And that ended what must have been a rather uneventful day in Irish news. That is, until the Taoiseach’s office called the state broadcaster to complain. The next evening’s newscast contained this apology:

“On last night’s program we carried a report on the illicit hanging of caricatures of An Taoiseach in two Dublin galleries. RTE News would like to apologize for any personal offense caused to Mr. Cowen or his family or for any disrespect shown to the office of Taoiseach by our broadcast.”

Irish bloggers and columnists are calling the move censorship of the news and we’re already seeing predictable results of amplification caused by the government’s move to meddle.

Senate appointments

I’ve learned of some of the names that are on the Prime Minister’s short-list of potential senators. The PM is expected to name 17 or 18 senators within the next 7 days (according to the latest timetable).

In British Columbia, I’ve heard that olympian Nancy Greene is being considered by the PM.  A gold-medal-winning skier from the 1968 Grenoble olympics, the Prime Minister would be happy to name a Canadian champion to the senate that would underscore Canada’s role in welcoming the world to the Olympics in Vancouver in 2010. It is not yet known if Greene would accept the appointment.

Also in British Columbia, the Prime Minister is said to be looking at making an aboriginal appointment to the senate. Chief Clarence Louie of the Osoyoos First Nations is said to be a name that is on the PM’s short list. Louie is an aboriginal leader who emphasizes increased self-reliance and a shift in responsibility for the way in which first nations communities deal with the state.

In Prince Edward Island, I’ve heard that the Prime Minister may be looking to a former Premier to sit in the senate. Pat Binns is currently the ambassador to Ireland and so, I’ve heard that the PM will look back further to find a senator. James Lee was the Progressive Conservative Premier from 1981-1986. PM Chretien named former PEI Premier Catherine Callbeck to the Senate in 1997, so now that a Senate seat is open to Harper in PEI, I’ve heard that the PM is considering Lee.